100 books like Zero History

By William Gibson,

Here are 100 books that Zero History fans have personally recommended if you like Zero History. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Parable of the Sower

Joanne McLaughlin Author Of Chasing Ashes

From my list on digging out when life just buries you.

Who am I?

That moment when you realize, whew, you’ve survived the catastrophe, but the greater challenge lies ahead? That intrigues me. Maybe that’s because my grandmother was struck by a Vespa in Italy when I was five years old, and we traveled home by ship through a hurricane that rocked much of the East Coast. Stories about “What’s next?” and “How do we push the rubble away?” are my go-to now, as they were during the years I worked as a journalist, first as a reporter, then for much longer as an editor. After my husband’s death in 2011, clearing the rubble yielded the first two installments of my vampire trilogy. 

Joanne's book list on digging out when life just buries you

Joanne McLaughlin Why did Joanne love this book?

I used to be paid to ponder the end of the world as we know it: I was a health editor during the early years of the COVID pandemic; at the same time, I was editing environmental stories.

What I loved most about this book is that the worst has already occurred, and the protagonist, a teenager, chooses her own new way to navigate what’s still to come. I was engaged by the concepts of resilience as a survival skill, reinvention as a necessity, and rebirth as an act of personal and global faith.

I am not a fan of religion as such, but this book made me believe.  

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Parable of the Sower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The extraordinary, prescient NEW YORK TIMES-bestselling novel.

'If there is one thing scarier than a dystopian novel about the future, it's one written in the past that has already begun to come true. This is what makes Parable of the Sower even more impressive than it was when first published' GLORIA STEINEM

'Unnervingly prescient and wise' YAA GYASI

--

We are coming apart. We're a rope, breaking, a single strand at a time.

America is a place of chaos, where violence rules and only the rich and powerful are safe. Lauren Olamina, a young woman with the extraordinary power to…


Book cover of New York 2140

Carl Abbott Author Of Imagining Urban Futures: Cities in Science Fiction and What We Might Learn from Them

From my list on science fiction with really cool cities.

Who am I?

I discovered science fiction at age nine with Rocketship Galileo and Red Planet and have never lost my love for speculative worlds, even after growing up to follow a career teaching and writing about the history of cities and city planning. In recent years, I’ve also begun to write about the field of SF. So it is one-hundred-percent natural for me to combine the two interests and explore science fiction cities. I try to look beyond the geez-whiz technology of some imagined cities to the ideas of human-scale planning and community that might make them fun places to visit or live in if we could somehow manage to get there.  

Carl's book list on science fiction with really cool cities

Carl Abbott Why did Carl love this book?

For me, the worst thing about New York is getting stuck in traffic.

In the New York of 2140, that’s not a problem because rising sea levels have drowned much of Manhattan and motorboats zip through the flooded streets like it’s a high-rise Venice. Future New York is also a city whose residents are coping with the planet’s new reality.

In the midst of climate gloom, it is refreshing to imagine a scenario where New Yorkers can come together through cooperative action to take control of their own future.

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked New York 2140 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOMINATED FOR THE HUGO AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL 2018

'A towering novel' - Guardian

'Relevant and essential' - Bloomberg Businessweek

As the sea level rose, every street became a canal, every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.

New York Times bestselling author Kim Stanley Robinson delivers a bold and brilliant vision of New York in the next century.

'New York may be underwater but it's better than ever' - New Yorker

'Massively enjoyable' - Washington Post

'Gripping . . .…


Book cover of The Windup Girl

Mal Warwick Author Of Hell on Earth: What we can learn from dystopian fiction

From my list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”.

Who am I?

When I was twelve years old, my picture appeared in my hometown newspaper. I was holding a huge stack of books from the library, a week’s reading. All science fiction. I’ve read voraciously for the past seventy years—though much more widely as an adult. I’ve also had a life founding several small companies and writing twenty books. But I’ve continued to read science fiction, and, increasingly, dystopian novels. Why? Because, as a history buff, I think about the big trends that shape our lives. I see clearly that climate change, breakthroughs in technology, and unstable politics threaten our children’s future. I want to understand how these trends might play out—for better or for worse.

Mal's book list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”

Mal Warwick Why did Mal love this book?

Climate change aside, what scares me the most about technology today is the capacity for bioengineering to run amok.

What happens when scientists monkey around with deadly viruses—and one escapes from the lab? What if some rogue researcher creates an entirely new lifeform that proves toxic to humans? Or some experimental microbe—an effort to save the world’s butterflies, for instance—proves to kill off bees instead?

This novel, which won major awards, depicts a frightening future world wrought by bioengineering. And you wouldn’t want to live there anymore than I do. 

By Paolo Bacigalupi,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Windup Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE HUGO, NEBULA, LOCUS, JOHN W. CAMPBELL AND COMPTON CROOK AWARDS

The Windup Girl is the ground-breaking and visionary modern classic that swept the board for every major science fiction award it its year of publication.

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's calorie representative in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, he combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl - the beautiful and enigmatic Emiko - now abandoned to the slums. She is one of the New People, bred to suit the whims of…


Book cover of Never Let Me Go

Suzanne Heywood Author Of Wavewalker: A Memoir of Breaking Free

From my list on coming-of-age that will rip your heart out.

Who am I?

I'm fascinated by these books about coming of age because they all share elements of my own experience. While I was growing up, I was told by my parents that my life on board our boat Wavewalker was ‘privileged’ and that I was lucky not to live a ‘boring’ life like other children. It took me a long time to question this view, and even longer to find an escape. As an adult looking back, I now know that many of the things I was told by my parents were not true. That experience of growing up and discovering that what you have been told is not right is deeply disturbing, while also being liberating.

Suzanne's book list on coming-of-age that will rip your heart out

Suzanne Heywood Why did Suzanne love this book?

I love Kazuo Ishiguro’s work and this is my favourite book of his.

Never Let Me Go is the fictional story of a childhood that initially seems acceptable, despite the early indications that something strange is going on. As the story proceeds, however, it becomes clear that this is a horrific world, one in which children are being grown for their organs.

But the power of the story for me is not the revelation itself but the way in which it is revealed, layer by layer, as the characters become older and more knowing. That experience of becoming aware that all is not right with your world, and then trying to come to terms with that, is something I can resonate with.

By Kazuo Ishiguro,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Never Let Me Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most acclaimed novels of the 21st Century, from the Nobel Prize-winning author

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewed version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now thirty-one, Never Let Me Go dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense…


Book cover of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Claudia Joseph Author Of Diana: A Life in Dresses

From my list on inspirational fashion.

Who am I?

Ever since I was a child, growing up in Gloucestershire, England, I have been passionate about fashion and made and designed my own clothes. I originally wanted to be a fashion designer but feared my drawing wasn’t good enough so studied journalism at the London College of Fashion and went to work for Condé Nast Publications. I later became a newspaper journalist but my love of fashion never went away - I did a millinery course with designer Edwina Ibbotson and a bag designing course at my alma mater. Since then, I have written many articles on fashion and the Royals as well as a number of books.

Claudia's book list on inspirational fashion

Claudia Joseph Why did Claudia love this book?

After the death of Lee Alexander McQueen in 2010, I was fortunate to meet his sister Janet and do an interview with her for the Mail on Sunday.

I was later invited to the launch of the V&A’s exhibition Savage Beauty alongside Lee’s brothers and sisters. This book reminds me of Lee’s extraordinary talent and a very special evening.

By Andrew Bolton, Solve Sundsbo (photographer),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Celebrating the astounding creativity and originality of designer Alexander McQueen, who relentlessly questioned and confronted the requisites of fashion

"An authoritative and moving insight into the legacy of the British designer."-Carola Long, Financial Times

"McQueen's brilliance is celebrated in this sumptuous tome."-Harper's Bazaar

"Excellent."-Huffington Post

Arguably the most influential, imaginative, and provocative designer of his generation, Alexander McQueen both challenged and expanded fashion conventions to express ideas about race, class, sexuality, religion, and the environment. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty examines the full breadth of the designer's career, from the start of his fledgling label to the triumphs of his own…


Book cover of His Majesty's Hope

Joyce Tremel Author Of Death On A Deadline

From my list on historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated with historical fiction, especially the World War II era, ever since I listened to my mother playing her Big Band Records. I’ve also loved mysteries since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book. Once I discovered historical mysteries, I haven’t been able to separate the two. I’ve recently expanded my interest to include the first world war. There are so many great stories that I’m afraid I’ll never get to read them all. It was really hard to narrow down my list to five books and I hope you’ll love the ones I’ve chosen for you.

Joyce's book list on historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs

Joyce Tremel Why did Joyce love this book?

I adore this entire series, and especially this third book. Maggie Hope, who started out as a typist for Winston Churchill is now a full-blown spy for MI-5 and is sent to Germany.

I love seeing Maggie’s development throughout the series. Even when faced with what seem like insurmountable odds, she doesn’t give up. Maggie is the epitome of a woman working not only in a job that was likely considered “man’s work” but doing it splendidly.

By Susan Elia MacNeal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked His Majesty's Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, whip-smart heroine Maggie Hope returns to embark on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.

World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to…


Book cover of Salt Lick

Jane Rogers Author Of The Testament of Jessie Lamb

From my list on believable British stories set in the near future.

Who am I?

Writing my eighth novel, The Testament of Jessie Lamb, I had to move the story into the future in order to explore the topics I was trying to understand. I think through writing: sometimes I feel it is only through writing that I really engage with the world. Work on Jessie Lamb entailed a lot of scientific and future research, and after that I read more and more future fiction, with an increasing appetite for the work of writers who are really interested in exploring where we are headed as a species, and how we might try to survive the damage we have inflicted on the earth.

Jane's book list on believable British stories set in the near future

Jane Rogers Why did Jane love this book?

I came across Salt Lick when hunting for novels on the topic of climate breakdown.

I was looking for writers who go beyond the doom and gloom, to find either rays of hope or at the very least a story where life and love might survive. For me, hope was an essential element in Jessie Lamb’s story. And in Salt Lick, Allison does deliver a dogged kind of hope for her strange trio of wandering central characters.

Beyond that, she delivers bewitchingly beautiful prose; her first page is a masterclass in description.

By Lulu Allison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION

'A compelling fable of decline, a lament for a way of life, and a warning about what society is already becoming. It is a capsule of England and its dystopian present ... as sad and angry as it is memorable' Ronan Hession

'Salt Lick is that rare beast - imaginative, risky storytelling where every sentence is a gift' Heidi James

Britain is awash, the sea creeps into the land, brambles and forest swamp derelict towns. Food production has moved overseas and people are forced to move to the cities for work. The countryside…


Book cover of Foundation

Bill Thompson Author Of Callie

From my list on kick off a great series.

Who am I?

During my decades in the corporate world, I traveled extensively and spent months in England, where I became a devoted Anglophile. I am privileged to have met Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, and to have attended a knighting at Westminster. English history fascinates me, but so do gripping spy thrillers occurring in European and Middle Eastern settings. There’s nothing better than finishing a satisfying first book in a series—fiction or not--and deciding to ration the remaining ones so you can savor the experience a little longer! 

Bill's book list on kick off a great series

Bill Thompson Why did Bill love this book?

Peter Ackroyd has written several wonderful books about London, the Thames, and aspects of English life, but this six-volume series (the last to come in 2023) is the best and most comprehensive I’ve found. It’s a delightful trip through history, not only covering the politics of the times but giving insight into the daily lives of people from one era to the next, how towns became cities, infrastructure and the system of government developed. The page counts are daunting, but don’t be dissuaded—nobody can make history come alive better than Ackroyd.

By Peter Ackroyd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first book in Peter Ackroyd's history of England series, which has since been followed up with two more installments, Tudors and Rebellion.

In Foundation, the chronicler of London and of its river, the Thames, takes us from the primeval forests of England's prehistory to the death, in 1509, of the first Tudor king, Henry VII. He guides us from the building of Stonehenge to the founding of the two great glories of medieval England: common law and the cathedrals. He shows us glimpses of the country's most distant past--a Neolithic stirrup found in a grave, a Roman fort, a…


Book cover of Blind Justice

Laura C. Stevenson Author Of All Men Glad and Wise: A Mystery

From my list on mysteries that make a time and place come alive.

Who am I?

I’m an historian who writes novels, and an avid reader of historical murder mysteries—especially ones whose characters are affected by social, religious, and political change. Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the breakup of rural British estates between 1880 and 1925, when, in a single generation, the amount of British land owned by the aristocracy fell from 66% to perhaps 15%. I thought it might be interesting to set a “country house” mystery on one of the failing estates, with a narrator influenced by the other great change of the period: from horses to automobiles. “Interesting” was an understatement; writing it was eye-opening.  

Laura's book list on mysteries that make a time and place come alive

Laura C. Stevenson Why did Laura love this book?

Blind Justice, set in 1768, is the first of Bruce Alexander’s 11 Sir John Fielding mysteries. Its hero is the famous blind magistrate of London’s Bow Street Court; its narrator is thirteen-year-old Jeremy Proctor, whom Fielding’s wisdom has saved from an unjust accusation of theft. The pair investigate the death of Sir Richard Goodhope, who has been discovered shot in his library, locked from the inside. Sir John assumes suicide, but Jeremy’s observation of a detail that the magistrate could not see suggests murder. Proof of murder involves following Goodhope’s history through London’s streets, gambling houses, coffee houses, and great houses—to Drury Lane theater and Newgate—in a compelling portrait of eighteenth-century London.

By Bruce Alexander,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first of a series of novels set in 18th-century London and featuring Sir John Fielding - magistrate, detective, founder of the Bow Street Runners, half-brother of Henry, and confidant of such notables as Johnson and Boswell. Sir John is blind, and uses a young orphan as his "eyes".


Book cover of The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840

Melissa McShane Author Of Burning Bright

From my list on touring the unfamiliar corners of Regency England.

Who am I?

I’ve loved the Regency era since first reading Jane Austen’s novels, but in writing my series of 19th-century adventure fantasies, I discovered there was so much more to the period than I’d ever dreamed. Though their culture and traditions aren’t like ours, I’m fascinated by how much about the lives of those men and women is familiar—the same desires, the same dreams for the future. I hope the books on this list inspire in you the same excitement they did in me!

Melissa's book list on touring the unfamiliar corners of Regency England

Melissa McShane Why did Melissa love this book?

Captain Gronow shed some light on the darker aspects of the Regency period, which was a time before law enforcement as we know it. But it wasn’t all bad—the Bow Street Runners were the start of a new era of policing. I was fascinated by the story of how these first detectives came to be and how much truth was behind the myth, especially since the myth has become a popular one for fiction writers in recent years.

By J. M. Beattie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first comprehensive study of the Bow Street Runners, a group of men established in the middle of the eighteenth century by Henry Fielding, with the financial support of the government, to confront violent offenders on the streets and highways around London. They were developed over the following decades by his half-brother, John Fielding, into what became a well-known and stable group of officers who acquired skill and expertise in investigating crime,
tracking and arresting offenders, and in presenting evidence at the Old Bailey, the main criminal court in London. They were, Beattie argues, detectives in all but…


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