100 books like Wild Swans

By Jung Chang,

Here are 100 books that Wild Swans fans have personally recommended if you like Wild Swans. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Christine Amoroso Author Of Bare Naked in Public: An earnest and humorous account of one modern American woman trying to have it all

From my list on memoirs that evoke inspiration empathy compassion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always believed that everyone has a story to tell. I have connected to people throughout my life because I chose to sit, listen, and share stories. I do this in my own neighborhood and on my travels worldwide. I do it with people I don’t have anything in common with and people I think I might not like. Every time, without exception, I learn something. Often, I am inspired. These experiences have tested and grown my compassion, empathy, kindness, and understanding capacity. I suppose this is why I love reading. It’s like meeting strangers and sharing stories. 

Christine's book list on memoirs that evoke inspiration empathy compassion

Christine Amoroso Why did Christine love this book?

I was intrigued by the title, so I had to read it. And because Trevor Noah was reading the audio version, I had to listen. His story was poignant, heartbreaking, and, at times, hilarious. I found myself literally laughing out loud. His life experience couldn’t be farther away from my own.

I learned so much about South Africa, its history, its people, and its culture. I love a good inspirational rags-to-riches story, and this book did not disappoint.  

By Trevor Noah,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Born a Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE THURBER PRIZE

The compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his…


Book cover of Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family

Rosemary Sullivan Author Of Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille

From my list on courage and putting your life on the line.

Why am I passionate about this?

In Villa Air-Bel, I wrote about an extraordinary man, Varian Fry. A journalist sent to France in 1940 with a list of 200 artists to save, he expected to stay 2 weeks. He stayed 15 months, establishing the Emergency Rescue Committee. By the time the Vichy police expelled him, he’d saved 2,000 people. Who has the courage to put their lives on the line for strangers? In The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation, I recorded how five people risked their lives to hide the Frank family until they were finally betrayed. Two of the helpers were sent to concentration camps.  It takes courage to resist Fascism. Would I/ we have that courage?

Rosemary's book list on courage and putting your life on the line

Rosemary Sullivan Why did Rosemary love this book?

Miep Gies was one of the people who hid Anne Frank, her family, and four friends in the Secret Annex in Amsterdam in 1942.

At great risk, four of Otto Frank’s employees secured food stamps from the underground and took care of the hiders for an astonishing two years and one month before they were betrayed. Gies’s book gives a real sense of what it was like to live under enemy occupation when it was impossible to trust anyone.

“We were no longer keeping silent. We had lost the habit of speech. Do you understand the difference?” she once said. She didn’t consider herself heroic for helping the Franks. “It was simple. You were asked. You said yes.”

By Miep Gies, Alison Leslie Gold,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Anne Frank Remembered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the millions moved by Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, here is Miep Gies's own astonishing story. For more than two years, Miep and her husband helped hide the Franks from the Nazis. Like thousands of unsung heroes of the Holocaust, they risked their lives every day to bring food, news, and emotional support to its victims. From her remarkable childhood as a World War I refugee to the moment she places a small, red-orange-checkered diary -- Anne's legacy -- into Otto Frank's hands, Miep Gies remembers her days with simple honesty and shattering clarity. Each page…


Book cover of Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China

Deborah Shlian Author Of Rabbit in the Moon

From my list on China's myths, religions, politics, and culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose the dramatic backdrop of the Tiananmen massacre because after my first trip to China in the 1980’s I became a host family for mainland students studying at UCLA where I was Medical Director of Student Health. During those weeks in 1989 many students communicated with friends and family back in China using our fax machine. From their perspective, the conflict was a generational struggle between the very old leaders, many of whom marched with Mao and who were desperate to hang onto power (and therefore for my plot would want to get their hands on an elixir to double their lifespan), and the younger generation anxious for reforms.

Deborah's book list on China's myths, religions, politics, and culture

Deborah Shlian Why did Deborah love this book?

This is the second book by Peter Hessler that I have read (River Town was the first). Having visited China several times since the 1980s, when the country was first open to visitors from the West to my more recent trips, I have seen so much change. What I like about this book is how Hessler, a reporter who has lived and taught English in China, tries to describe and explain these changes.

By Peter Hessler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Peter Hessler's previous book River Town was a prize-winning, poignant and deeply compelling portrait of China. Now, in Oracle Bones, Hessler returns to the country, excavating its long history and immersing himself in the lives of young Chinese as they migrate from the traditional Chinese countryside to the booming ever-changing cities and try to cope with their society's modern transformation.


Book cover of The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom

Deborah Shlian Author Of Rabbit in the Moon

From my list on China's myths, religions, politics, and culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose the dramatic backdrop of the Tiananmen massacre because after my first trip to China in the 1980’s I became a host family for mainland students studying at UCLA where I was Medical Director of Student Health. During those weeks in 1989 many students communicated with friends and family back in China using our fax machine. From their perspective, the conflict was a generational struggle between the very old leaders, many of whom marched with Mao and who were desperate to hang onto power (and therefore for my plot would want to get their hands on an elixir to double their lifespan), and the younger generation anxious for reforms.

Deborah's book list on China's myths, religions, politics, and culture

Deborah Shlian Why did Deborah love this book?

I am delighted to recommend this book. Not only is it a fascinating true story, but it is also a page-turner. The story starts in 1937 when Joseph Needham, an English biochemist, falls in love with a Chinese student. He travels to China with her, where he begins a lifelong quest to document the scientific contributions of ancient China.

By Simon Winchester,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Who Loved China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In sumptuous and illuminating detail, Simon Winchester, the bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman ("Elegant and scrupulous"—New York Times Book Review) and Krakatoa ("A mesmerizing page-turner"—Time) brings to life the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who unlocked the most closely held secrets of China, long the world's most technologically advanced country.

No cloistered don, this tall, married Englishman was a freethinking intellectual, who practiced nudism and was devoted to a quirky brand of folk dancing. In 1937, while working as a biochemist at Cambridge University, he instantly fell in love with a visiting Chinese…


Book cover of Life and Death in Shanghai

Noel Anenberg Author Of The Karma Kaper

From my list on majestic stories that lift our spirits.

Why am I passionate about this?

I enjoyed writing The Karma Kaper. Just as there's tragedy and comedy in every aspect of our lives there's humor in crime. It's fun bringing that humor to my audience. I also believe in justice for all. Sadly, as American courts are currently more concerned with criminals' rights than victims' rights there are no guarantees victims will receive the justice they deserve. No one can predict if a jury of 12 will find a defendant who has committed a crime guilty. Then, there's the highest court of appeal - fiction! Between the covers of a novel, a crafty writer can ensure just verdicts and devise macabre punishments for the bad guys! It doesn't get any better! 

Noel's book list on majestic stories that lift our spirits

Noel Anenberg Why did Noel love this book?

In elegant prose, Nien Cheng, a Shell Oil Company in 1966, recounts her life in Shanghai in 1966, when Chairman Mao launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

Mao’s Red Guards ransacked Cheng and her husband’s bourgeois home and then delivered her to No. 1 Detention House in Shanghai where she was held in solitary confinement of 7 years until her rehabilitation and release after several struggle trials.

Her work is prescient as the United States in under attack by a radical woke ideology. Many Americans have been cancelled or have been made to attend struggle sessions.  

Nein Chen is a heroic woman, a brilliant writer, and an example of how one courageous woman can stand up to a totalitarian regime. 

By Cheng Nien,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Life and Death in Shanghai as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A first-hand account of China's cultural revolution.

Nien Cheng, an anglophile and fluent English-speaker who worked for Shell in Shanghai under Mao, was put under house arrest by Red Guards in 1966 and subsequently jailed. All attempts to make her confess to the charges of being a British spy failed; all efforts to indoctrinate her were met by a steadfast and fearless refusal to accept the terms offered by her interrogators. When she was released from prison she was told that her daughter had committed suicide. In fact Meiping had been beaten to death by Maoist revolutionaries.


Book cover of Love in a Fallen City

Janet Beard Author Of The Atomic City Girls

From my list on women’s experiences of World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, I was aware that the city had historical significance but also that it wasn’t particularly famous, at least to people from outside the region. I’ve always been drawn to these sorts of overlooked stories from history, which are, not coincidentally, often women’s stories. Women made up the majority of workers in Oak Ridge during World War II, and for decades afterward, their stories were generally viewed as less important than male-dominated narratives of the war. But I’ve always believed that women’s stories are no less interesting than men’s. These books look at history’s worst conflict from unique perspectives that foreground the female experience. 

Janet's book list on women’s experiences of World War II

Janet Beard Why did Janet love this book?

Though these collected stories were popular in Chang’s native China when first published in the 1940s, decades passed before they were translated into English. The title story brings war-torn Hong Kong to life, but even against the most dramatic political backdrop, Chang’s focus is firmly on women and relationships. Though the time and place may seem remote, readers will find universal emotions in these carefully constructed tales. 

By Eileen Chang, Karen S. Kingsbury (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Love in a Fallen City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Masterful short works about passion, family, and human relationships by one of the greatest writers of 20th century China. 

A New York Review Books Original

 

“[A] giant of modern Chinese literature” –The New York Times

 

"With language as sharp as a knife edge, Eileen Chang cut open a huge divide in Chinese culture, between the classical patriarchy and our troubled modernity. She was one of the very few able truly to connect that divide, just as her heroines often disappeared inside it. She is the fallen angel of Chinese literature, and now, with these excellent new translations, English readers can…


Book cover of Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley

Samantha Silva Author Of Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft

From my list on Wollstonecraft.

Why am I passionate about this?

After 15 years as a screenwriter (and some heartbreaking near misses with the big screen), I turned my pen to novel writing, with an adaptation of a script I’d sold four times. My new book, Love and Fury: A Novel of Mary Wollstonecraft, is hot off the press this year and tells the story of one of the great writers and thinkers of the late 18th century, mother of Mary Shelley, and widely regarded as the mother of feminism. I’m drawn to larger-than-life, brilliant, charismatic, complicated figures whose own trajectories have altered our own. I’m now at work on a collection of short stories and an adaptation of Mr. Dickens and His Carol for the stage.

Samantha's book list on Wollstonecraft

Samantha Silva Why did Samantha love this book?

The giants of English biography (Janet Todd, Claire Tomalin, Lyndall Gordon) have written brilliant books about Wollstonecraft, but the one I went back to time and again (most dog-eared, underlined, annotated) was this dual biography of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley. An absolute page-turner, it reads like a novel, bringing this extraordinary mother and daughter to vivid life in alternating chapters that reveal parallels in who they were, what they believed, and how they lived.

By Charlotte Gordon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Romantic Outlaws as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

***AS READ ON BBC RADIO 4***
NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER

'A gripping account of the heartbreaks and triumphs of two of history's most formidable female intellectuals, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley. Gordon has reunited mother and daughter through biography, beautifully weaving their narratives for the first time.' Amanda Foreman

English feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and author Mary Shelley were mother and daughter, yet these two extraordinary women never knew one another. Nevertheless, their passionate and pioneering lives remained closely intertwined, their choices, dreams and tragedies eerily similar.

Both women became famous writers and wrote books that changed literary history,…


Book cover of Educated: A Memoir

Christine Amoroso Author Of Bare Naked in Public: An earnest and humorous account of one modern American woman trying to have it all

From my list on memoirs that evoke inspiration empathy compassion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always believed that everyone has a story to tell. I have connected to people throughout my life because I chose to sit, listen, and share stories. I do this in my own neighborhood and on my travels worldwide. I do it with people I don’t have anything in common with and people I think I might not like. Every time, without exception, I learn something. Often, I am inspired. These experiences have tested and grown my compassion, empathy, kindness, and understanding capacity. I suppose this is why I love reading. It’s like meeting strangers and sharing stories. 

Christine's book list on memoirs that evoke inspiration empathy compassion

Christine Amoroso Why did Christine love this book?

The survivalist family drama, paranoia, and isolation seemed an impossible life for Tara Westover to escape. This memoir had a suspense and thriller aspect that I loved. I could not put it down.

Her ability to stand up to her parents and an abusive older brother without means showed true grit. She is an admirable and inspirational human being. I love stories where humans overcome great adversity.  

By Tara Westover,

Why should I read it?

26 authors picked Educated as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MULTI-MILLION COPY BESTSELLER

Selected as a book of the year by AMAZON, THE TIMES, SUNDAY TIMES, GUARDIAN, NEW YORK TIMES, ECONOMIST, NEW STATESMAN, VOGUE, IRISH TIMES, IRISH EXAMINER and RED MAGAZINE

'One of the best books I have ever read . . . unbelievably moving' Elizabeth Day
'An extraordinary story, beautifully told' Louise O'Neill
'A memoir to stand alongside the classics . . . compelling and joyous' Sunday Times

Tara Westover grew up preparing for the end of the world. She was never put in school, never taken to the doctor. She did not even have a birth certificate…


Book cover of Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

Marianne C. Bohr Author Of The Twenty: One Woman's Trek Across Corsica on the GR20 Trail

From my list on by women about outdoor adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I married my high school sweetheart and travel partner, and followed my own advice to do graduate work, and started my career working for the French National Railroad in New York City, mapping itineraries for travelers to Europe. Travel means the world to me and if I don’t have a trip on the horizon, I feel aimless and untethered. I worked in book publishing for 30 years and dropped out of the corporate rat race to take a gap year abroad. I wrote about our “Senior year abroad” in my first book Gap Year Girl. I returned to the US to teach middle school French and organize student trips to France. 

Marianne's book list on by women about outdoor adventure

Marianne C. Bohr Why did Marianne love this book?

I read Tracks when I was in a travel book club 35 years ago and the author’s adventure has stuck with me.

It’s the story of a young woman who crosses the Australian desert from Alice Springs to Hamelin Pool on Australia’s western coast. She undertakes the journey with her dog, and four camels and as happens on such quests, Davidson encounters myriad setbacks: extreme heat, no water, wild animals, and poisonous snakes.

The author does a great job of describing the beauty and harshness of the infinite desert and her surprise at the generosity of those she met. As a young woman, Tracks inspired me to undertake my own adventures and I continue them today in my sixties. Hiking across England with my dog is on the calendar for next year.

By Robyn Davidson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A revised, reissued fortieth anniversary edition of this prize-winning, bestselling account of one woman's solo journey across 1,700 miles of Australian Outback 'I experienced that sinking feeling you get when you know you have conned yourself into doing something difficult and there's no going back.' So begins Robyn Davidson's perilous journey across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert to the sea with only four camels and a dog for company. Enduring sweltering heat, fending off poisonous snakes and lecherous men, chasing her camels when they get skittish and nursing them when they are injured, Davidson emerges as an extraordinarily courageous…


Book cover of My Family and Other Animals

Ayser Salman Author Of The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit in

From my list on new worlds that made me feel less like an outsider.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Iraq, and grew up mostly in the Southern United States—with a brief stint in Saudi Arabia. My father taught me the importance of books and reading. And I found it was the best way to escape from the constant fish-out-of-water feeling that followed me through my nomadic childhood. I grew up, and grew out of those feelings… most of the time. But I never outgrew reading and I still love when a book sucks me in and makes me lose myself completely. These are a few of those books. 

Ayser's book list on new worlds that made me feel less like an outsider

Ayser Salman Why did Ayser love this book?

I was nine and still getting used to life in America after moving from Iraq five years prior, when my family moved us to Saudi Arabia. Scared and lonely, I felt more like an outsider than ever before and reading became my solace. I discovered this hilarious book and instantly fell in love with it; mainly because it depicted the author’s dysfunctional British family during their time living abroad in Corfu. In addition to the humor that naturally comes from “fish out of water” stories, it was the first time I’d read a literary account about a family as colorful as mine. It encouraged me to view my family not as a source of annoyance (as I’d been doing prior to that point) but as a source of entertainment.

By Gerald Durrell,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked My Family and Other Animals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiration behind ITV's hit family drama, The Durrells.

My Family and Other Animals is Gerald Durrell's hilarious account of five years in his childhood spent living with his family on the island of Corfu. With snakes, scorpions, toads, owls and geckos competing for space with one bookworm brother and another who's gun-mad, as well as an obsessive sister, young Gerald has an awful lot of natural history to observe. This richly detailed, informative and riotously funny memoir of eccentric family life is a twentieth-century classic.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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