74 books like When We Lost Our Heads

By Heather O'Neill,

Here are 74 books that When We Lost Our Heads fans have personally recommended if you like When We Lost Our Heads. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Second Life of Mirielle West

Molly O'Keefe Author Of The Sunshine Girls

From my list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved historical novels since my mom first read Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid. They are the novels I reach for first and love the most. The creative glimpse into other times and lives is, to me, the most exciting reading experience. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. My latest book – The Sunshine Girls is a dual narrative timeline, set in the current day and the 1960s-1980s. 

Molly's book list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II

Molly O'Keefe Why did Molly love this book?

Amanda Skenandore’s beautiful and insightful novel about a silent film star who was sent to live in a Louisiana Leper Colony in the 1920s. The book is rich and full of surprising historical details. While it might seem like a downer – it is funny and heartwarming, with a beautiful coming-of-age story and romance at its heart.  Absolutely fascinating.

By Amanda Skenandore,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Second Life of Mirielle West as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The glamorous world of a silent film star’s wife abruptly crumbles when she’s forcibly quarantined at the Carville Lepers Home in this page-turning story of courage, resilience, and reinvention set in 1920s Louisiana and Los Angeles. Based on little-known history, this timely book will strike a chord with readers of Fiona Davis, Tracey Lange, and Marie Benedict.
 
Based on the true story of America’s only leper colony, The Second Life of Mirielle West brings vividly to life the Louisiana institution known as Carville, where thousands of people were stripped of their civil rights, branded as lepers, and forcibly quarantined throughout…


Book cover of Mary Jane

Molly O'Keefe Author Of The Sunshine Girls

From my list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved historical novels since my mom first read Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid. They are the novels I reach for first and love the most. The creative glimpse into other times and lives is, to me, the most exciting reading experience. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. My latest book – The Sunshine Girls is a dual narrative timeline, set in the current day and the 1960s-1980s. 

Molly's book list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II

Molly O'Keefe Why did Molly love this book?

Mary Jane is a kind of a quiet novel. It lulls you into a false security with its lyrical prose and fantastic 1970s historical details about a teenage girl coming of age in Baltimore. She gets a job as a babysitter for a respectable neighborhood doctor – but the doctor is a psychiatrist hired to help a famous musician get sober. This book is funny and tender and sharp all at once. And it reminded me of my childhood.

By Jessica Anya Blau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mary Jane as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The best book of the summer." -- InStyle

"I LOVED this novel....If you have ever sung along to a hit on the radio, in any decade, then you will devour Mary Jane at 45 rpm." -Nick Hornby

Almost Famous meets Daisy Jones & The Six in this "delightful" (New York Times Book Review) novel about a fourteen-year-old girl's coming of age in 1970s Baltimore, caught between her straight-laced family and the progressive family she nannies for-who happen to be secretly hiding a famous rock star and his movie star wife for the summer.

In 1970s Baltimore, fourteen-year-old Mary Jane loves…


Book cover of Such a Pretty Girl

Molly O'Keefe Author Of The Sunshine Girls

From my list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved historical novels since my mom first read Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid. They are the novels I reach for first and love the most. The creative glimpse into other times and lives is, to me, the most exciting reading experience. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. My latest book – The Sunshine Girls is a dual narrative timeline, set in the current day and the 1960s-1980s. 

Molly's book list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II

Molly O'Keefe Why did Molly love this book?

NYC in the ’70s gets the spotlight with all of its grit and glitter in this extremely thoughtful and thought-provoking novel about a mother and daughter. It’s not just rich in fascinating detail about the time and setting, it’s a nuanced look at women’s sexuality and the price of fame and family obligations.

By T. Greenwood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Such a Pretty Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Perfect for fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jodi Picoult, and Emma Cline, this vividly lyrical, evocative novel from the award-winning author transports readers to the gritty atmosphere of 1970s New York City as the precarious lines between girl and woman, art and obscenity, fetish and fame flicker and ignite for a young girl on the brink of stardom and a mother on the verge of collapse.

“A gorgeously written, emotionally resonant novel about mothers and daughters.” —Jillian Cantor, USA Today bestselling author

In 1970s New York, her innocence is seductive.
Four decades later, it’s a crime...

Living peacefully in Vermont,…


Book cover of The Thread Collectors

Molly O'Keefe Author Of The Sunshine Girls

From my list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved historical novels since my mom first read Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid. They are the novels I reach for first and love the most. The creative glimpse into other times and lives is, to me, the most exciting reading experience. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. My latest book – The Sunshine Girls is a dual narrative timeline, set in the current day and the 1960s-1980s. 

Molly's book list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II

Molly O'Keefe Why did Molly love this book?

This novel set in 1863 during the Civil War, about two women – one enslaved in New Orleans, the other Jewish and living in New York City who risk everything for the soldiers they love. There is so much fascinating historical detail in this book - the war, the experience of Black men as soldiers, the brutal life of enslaved women in the deep south, the community they created because of and despite of the brutality. Northern free women and their domestic roles and limitations – the communities they built. It’s about bravery and needlepoint. Seriously.

By Shaunna J. Edwards, Alyson Richman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Thread Collectors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An unforgettable story of female strength, hope and friendship. This collaborative work is magnificent—a true revelation!” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman with the Blue Star

“A brilliant story brimming with unexpected friendships and family ties. Historically sound and beautifully stitched, The Thread Collectors will stay with you long after the last page is turned.” —Sadeqa Johnson, international bestselling author of Yellow Wife  

1863: In a small Creole cottage in New Orleans, an ingenious young Black woman named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. Bound…


Book cover of Mansfield Park

Eleanor Bourg Nicholson Author Of Brother Wolf

From my list on good and evil without being cloying or preachy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an omnivorous reader, a literature teacher, a novelist, and a homeschooling mother of five. I’m a firm believer that literature should be delightful and instructive, and that reading wonderful books should inspire a growth in virtue. At the same time, I loathe cloying, proselytizing presentations of goodness. This is one of the many reasons I love the Gothic; the genre permits me to play around with good and evil, virtue and vice—without preachiness. I am also absolutely terrified of the task of writing a book list and am now going to bury my face in a book before I have time to second-guess any of my own choices.

Eleanor's book list on good and evil without being cloying or preachy

Eleanor Bourg Nicholson Why did Eleanor love this book?

Jane Austen is unparalleled in her depiction of good and evil on a domestic level. While the situations are slightly less dramatic than in the other books I have selected, Mansfield Park compellingly presents the consequences of habituated action. Fanny Price is not perfect and certainly not most people’s cup of tea, but, like all Austen heroines, represents virtue and a growing self-knowledge over the course of the novel. The Crawford siblings are vivid examples of dulled moral vision. Without committing the literary sin of giving away the end, I will say that the “anti-romance” trajectory of the plot is wonderfully satisfying. Further, Sir Thomas Bertram may be my favorite male Austen character of all.

By Jane Austen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Mansfield Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Full of the energies of discord - sibling rivalry, greed, ambition, illicit sexual passion and vanity' Margaret Drabble

Jane Austen's profound, ambiguous third novel is the story of Fanny Price, who is accustomed to being the poor relation at Mansfield Park, the home of her wealthy plantation-owning uncle. She finds comfort in her love for her cousin Edmund, until the arrival of charismatic outsiders from London throws life at the house into disarray and brings dangerous desires to the surface. Mansfield Park is Austen's most complex work; a powerful portrayal of change and continuity, scandalous misdemeanours and true integrity.

Edited…


Book cover of The Space Between Us

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Author Of Independence

From my list on the many mysteries of India.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and a professor, I love sharing knowledge of my birth country (India) and the experiences of Indian immigrants in America. My first book, Arranged Marriage, is about the transformed lives of immigrant women and won an American Book Award. Mistress of Spices is about a spice-shop owner who knows magic, was a national bestseller, and became a film. One Amazing Thing is a multicultural novel about nine people trapped by an earthquake, was a Citywide Read in over 25 US cities. Recently, fascinated by the richness of Indian history, I have delved into it in novels like The Last Queen, set in the 1800s, and Independence, set in the 1940s. 

Chitra's book list on the many mysteries of India

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Why did Chitra love this book?

Set in the present-day cosmopolitan city of Mumbai, India, the novel follows the lives of two women: Serabai Dubash, a middle-class widow, and her maidservant, Bhima. The pair experience similar situations in their lives: abuse, the death or absence of a husband, and the longing for a better future. They both have pregnant daughters, a fact that becomes significant as the novel progresses.

This book shows us the difficulties faced by women in Indian society but also their courage. Ultimately it is an upbeat book with great spirit. The plot twist at the end, and the resolution, blew me away. 

By Thrity Umrigar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Space Between Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this beautifully crafted novel about the interlinked lives of two women, Thrity Umrigar explores the complex relationships between the classes in India, rarely addressed in contemporary fiction.

'Bhima is real. She worked in the house I grew up in, year after year, a shadow flitting around our middle-class home, her thin brown hands cleaning furniture she was not allowed to sit on, cooking food she was not allowed to share at the family dining table, dusting the stereo that mainly played American rock and roll, music that was alien and unfamiliar to her, that only reminded her of her…


Book cover of The Guest

Michael Kiggins Author Of And the Train Kept Moving

From my list on unreliable and morally compromised characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was introduced to many authors published by Grove Press, I have been intrigued by transgressive literary fiction, especially stories and novels that feature narrators and protagonists whose unreliability and moral culpability fuel plots to surprising yet inevitable climaxes. Lesser writers of such works use the shocking and revolting as crutches for vapid prose, failing to lead readers to revelations that can be found in the darkest places and in the unlikeliest of people. What better accomplishment can any writer ask for except getting readers, in some way, to identify with characters whom they would avoid in real life?

Michael's book list on unreliable and morally compromised characters

Michael Kiggins Why did Michael love this book?

Cline’s novel is one of the most unsettling books I read this summer.

Readers follow the protagonist as she slowly and inescapably sinks lower and lower, all while losing her grip on reality. In almost every chapter, she disrupts, if not ruins, the lives of the people she uses in various schemes in the hopes of convincing the older rich man whom she had been sleeping with to take her back.

The novel has a languid pace, but there are so many exquisite passages peppered throughout the creeping dread as you watch the protagonist’s increasingly destructive choices play out.

By Emma Cline,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Guest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* A TIMES 'Book of 2023' * 'Addictive' STYLIST Books to Look Out For 2023 * 'Destined to be the status read of 2023' HARPER'S BAZAAR BEST NEW FICTION * 'The perfect summer read' CULTURE WHISPER * An EVENING STANDARD 'Best New Books for Spring' * A Financial Times Best Summer Read 2023 *

Summer is coming to a close on Long Island, and Alex is no longer welcome...

One misstep at a dinner party and the older man she's been staying with dismisses her with a ride to the train station and a ticket back to the city. With…


Book cover of Ain't She Sweet?

Katherine Grace Author Of Just a Fling

From my list on second-chance romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading romance novels since I was way too young to be reading romances and I love the romance genre. I’m a fan of many tropes, but second-chance romance is one of my favorites and it is the main trope in my debut novel, Just a Fling. When I read romance, I want to read stories that make my heart break and then stitch it back together. Second-chance romances do that because they capture the essence of hope and forgiveness. They give readers the opportunity to experience the beauty and power of forgiveness and to believe in the transformative power of love.

Katherine's book list on second-chance romance

Katherine Grace Why did Katherine love this book?

Ain't She Sweet is my favorite second-chance romance. It will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love all over again.

It's about Sugar Beth Carey, the ultimate mean girl, who returns to her hometown and tries to make amends for all the drama she caused in the past. And of course, there's a handsome man from her past, Colin Byrne, who she just can't resist.

With hilarious banter, relatable characters, and steamy scenes, Ain't She Sweet is a must-read for romance junkies.

By Susan Elizabeth Phillips,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ain't She Sweet? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In high school Sugar Carey had reigned supreme. She alone had decided what or who was cool. Her spiral perm had been the perm against which all others were measured, and her opinion on which boys were acceptable to date the only one that counted. A beautiful, blonde - if not always benevolent - dictator, she had a reputation for being the wild child of Parrish, Mississippi, the girl most likely to set the world on fire, and leave a trail of destruction in her wake. When she left home she swore she'd never return. Only now, fifteen years and…


Book cover of The Last of Her Kind

Kathleen Donohoe Author Of Ghosts of the Missing

From my list on books that feature complex friendships between women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and am the middle daughter of three. My sisters and I were close in age, and, of course, our home was girl-centered. The three of us attended the same all-girls Catholic high school, though we each had our own friends. Because of my childhood, I love books that explore how women make friends and keep them, how we let them go, and why. The genesis of friendships interests me, whether childhood, high school, college or motherhood. I love to read books by women where girlfriendships are not an afterthought or window dressing but central to the characters’ inner lives and the story being told. 

Kathleen's book list on books that feature complex friendships between women

Kathleen Donohoe Why did Kathleen love this book?

I recommend The Last of Her Kind by Sigrid Nunez because I found it an absorbing portrait of a friendship in which I wasn’t sure if the two people in it even liked each other. Georgette, called George, is from a working-class family, and Ann is her wealthy college roommate. It is the late 1960s. For me, the book had a fresh angle on the protest movements. George’s focus in college is trying to pull herself up.

To me, George and Ann’s friendship is like a house on a cliff–dangerous, depending on what door you open. This book has stayed with me because it explores why people remain friends, even if the relationship is difficult to the point of pain. 

By Sigrid Nunez,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last of Her Kind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is Columbia University, 1968. Ann Drayton and Georgette George meet as roommates on the first night. Ann is rich and radical; Georgette, the narrator of "The Last Of Her Kind", is leery and introverted, a child of the very poverty and strife her new friend finds so noble. The two are drawn together intensely by their differences; two years later, after a violent fight, they part ways. When, in 1976, Ann is convicted of killing a New York cop, Georgette comes back to their shared history in search of an explanation. She finds a riddle of a life, shaped…


Book cover of The Last Mrs. Parrish

CJ Vermote Author Of Do I Know You

From my list on suspense with a splash of paranormal.

Why am I passionate about this?

My love for reading suspense helped me develop the desire to write novels. It is as if I always have a movie in my head, so why not write them out. I have dyslexia, and reading along with learning is a challenge, but both have become my escape. I’ve always been fascinated by how a good suspense plays out and the relief that comes with the resolution. I added the paranormal world because I had a NDE (near death experience) in the 80s and became open to the paranormal. I became unafraid and see the paranormal as good. 

CJ's book list on suspense with a splash of paranormal

CJ Vermote Why did CJ love this book?

I have been subjected to the control of a narcissist and reading this book was something I felt deep. 

Liv Constantine brought forth the reality of what the outside world sees in a marriage, compared to what goes on behind closed doors. The control a spouse can have on a loved one puts a different spin on love.

I couldn’t help but feel the love grow and wonder what could go wrong when two people are so happy together. Having another woman setting up a plan to steal a husband made her despicable, but in the end, it became an amazing escape for one Mrs. Parrish. 

I felt so connected to the character in this book, not as a victim but as a woman who regained her strength and escaped.

By Liv Constantine,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last Mrs. Parrish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Deliciously duplicitous. . . . equally as twisty, spellbinding, and addictive as Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl or Paula Hawkins's The Girl on the Train."-Library Journal (starred review)The mesmerizing debut about a coolly manipulative woman and a wealthy "golden couple," from a stunning new voice in psychological suspense.Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve.Amber Patterson is fed up. She's tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more-a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the upper class, social class, and female friendship?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the upper class, social class, and female friendship.

The Upper Class Explore 89 books about the upper class
Social Class Explore 91 books about social class
Female Friendship Explore 122 books about female friendship