The most recommended books about hostages

Who picked these books? Meet our 25 experts.

25 authors created a book list connected to hostages, and here are their favorite hostage books.
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Book cover of Bel Canto

Heidi Matonis Author Of Hatching Love

From my list on optimists and animal lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an optimist. I jump out of bed in the morning ready to read and write. With my dog and cat by my side and a cup of coffee in hand, I lose myself in whatever I am working on. I am deeply curious about a gamut of subjects and constantly challenge myself to learn more. I am persistent and not afraid of hard work. Nature and animals are my bottomless well of inspiration and joy. I very much believe life is a journey and I try to enjoy each step.

Heidi's book list on optimists and animal lovers

Heidi Matonis Why did Heidi love this book?

If you read one book in your life, read Bel Canto. 

Ann Patchett’s writing is always sublime but her characters in this book are unforgettable. She stages a hostage situation in an undisclosed South American country. Over time, the young terrorists and the group of international strangers find a way to live and even thrive together. 

The novel revolves around the one female hostage, a beautiful opera singer. Her singing charms the most hardened terrorists and most skeptical politicians.

By Ann Patchett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of The Women's Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

The poignant - and at times very funny - novel from the author of The Dutch House and Commonwealth.

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honour of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxane Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerised the international guests with her singing.

It is a perfect evening - until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves…


Book cover of The Girls I’ve Been

Julia Stone Author Of The Accident

From my list on a character pretending to be someone they’re not.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a psychologist by profession and I’m fascinated by the way personalities develop and change with life events. In novels, I’m drawn towards wounded characters who are searching for something to make them feel whole. Common issues I see in my psychotherapy work include imposter syndrome, low self-esteem, feelings of not being good enough. Many people try to hide their vulnerability behind a mask, faking confidence or bravado, or pretending to be something they’re not. But these fictional characters take it up a level, one small step at a time, until the lies build and they end up in a web of deceit with no way out.

Julia's book list on a character pretending to be someone they’re not

Julia Stone Why did Julia love this book?

This book is aimed at a young adult audience, and it’s a fun pacey read. The author uses a ticking clock in her chapter titles – ‘(12 minutes captive) 1 lighter; no plan’ – which ups the tension. There are two stories running in parallel – the current events in a bank and the back story of Nora’s life. I enjoyed the small glimpses of the protagonist’s childhood and I was dying to know more about the relationship with her mother. Why did the mother force Nora to assume so many different identities? Who is Nora really?

By Tess Sharpe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Girls I’ve Been as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a Netflix film starring Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown - this must-read psychological thriller, perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying, will leave you guessing until the final page.
'Unlike anything I've read before... immediate, gripping, incredibly tense, heart-breaking, heart-warming and FUN! ' - Holly Jackson, author of A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

As an ex con artist, Nora has always got herself out of tricky situations. But the ultimate test lies in wait when she's taken hostage in a bank heist. And this time, Nora doesn't have an escape plan ...

Meet Nora.…


Book cover of Me & Mr. Cigar

JL Civi Author Of Timely Persuasion

From JL's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Eclectic Weird Connector of dots

JL's 3 favorite reads in 2023

JL Civi Why did JL love this book?

Gibby Haynes from the band Butthole Surfers wrote a YA novel about a boy and his supernatural dog? You had me at hello!

If you’re familiar with the musician, this book is as wild as you’d imagine and then some. Saying anything more would spoil the fun. 

It’s a trip worth taking, with enough heart to leave you fulfilled beyond the lightweight Fear & Loathing vibe throughout. I didn’t always understand what was going on, but I also didn’t want it to end.

By Gibby Haynes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Me & Mr. Cigar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

From the wild and wonderful mind of Gibby Haynes—world famous Butthole Surfers front man/lyricist and self-proclaimed eternal Texan adolescent—comes the surreal tale of seventeen-year-old Oscar Lester and his trusted dog, Mr. Cigar.

Oscar and his dog have made a pretty good life for themselves, despite the fact that Oscar’s family has all but vanished—his father is dead; his mother has a new boyfriend. His older sister, Rachel, fled five years ago . . . right after Mr. Cigar bit off her hand.

Despite the freak accident, Oscar knows his dog is no menace. Mr. Cigar is a loyal protector: a…


Medical Hostages

By Shawn Jennings,

Book cover of Medical Hostages

Shawn Jennings Author Of Locked In Locked Out: Surviving a Brainstem Stroke

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

The five recommended nonfiction books on my list profoundly affected my life in my time of need. I struggled when a minor accident led to a brainstem stroke and being locked in at 45. How would I find happiness now? How can I go on? These five books gave me the strength to work hard, accept what couldn’t be improved, and be grateful for each day of good health. I hope the recommended books will help you prepare for the day your life will change...and it will.

Shawn's book list on accepting and moving on from a tragedy

What is my book about?

Duke, the leader of a bike gang, is in custody for murder. He plans an escape by feigning illness and hospitalization. But an unexpected turn of events results in two gang members and Duke holding a medical floor of patients hostage. Patients will die if the police don't meet their demands within hours.
The drama follows Duke and Drs. Mindy Fletch, director of the Intensive Care Unit, and Craig Russell, a family medicine resident, in this tense hostage stand-off.

Will the bikers find freedom? Will hostages die? Can Mindy and Craig survive and prevent deaths? In times of stress, people often discover new directions and strengths.

Medical Hostages

By Shawn Jennings,

What is this book about?

Duke, the leader of a bike gang, is in custody for murder. He plans an escape by feigning illness and hospitalization. But an unexpected turn of events results in two gang members and Duke holding a medical floor of patients hostage.


Patients will die if the police don't meet their demands within hours.


The drama follows Duke and Drs. Mindy Fletch, director of the Intensive Care Unit; and Craig Russell, a family medicine resident; in this tense hostage stand-off.


Will the bikers find freedom? Will hostages die? Can Mindy and Craig survive and prevent deaths?


In times of stress, people…


Book cover of Under an Afghan Sky

Stephanie Chitpin Author Of Keep My Memory Safe: Fook Soo Am, The Pagoda

From my list on expanding perspectives and empathy for others.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Full Professor of Leadership within the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa, Canada. I am the recipient of the 2020 Research Excellence Award. My research, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Ontario Ministry of Education, Canada, is international in scope. I am also the founder of the Equitable Leadership Network at the University of Ottawa. 

Stephanie's book list on expanding perspectives and empathy for others

Stephanie Chitpin Why did Stephanie love this book?

Fung writes a powerful story about survival, her captivity, and her indomitable spirit under the most perilous of circumstances that she lived through in Kabul, Afghanistan after being grabbed by the Taliban. As the Canadian reporter describes her bone-chilling account of the horrific twenty-eight days, I am left in awe of her strength and courage. 

By Mellissa Fung,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Under an Afghan Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In October 2008, Mellissa Fung, a reporter for CBC’s The National, was leaving a refugee camp outside of Kabul when she was kidnapped by armed men. She was forced to hike for several hours through the mountains until they reached a village; there, the kidnappers pushed her towards a hole in the ground. “No,” she said. “I am not going down there.”

For more than a month, Fung lived in that hole, which was barely tall enough to stand up in, nursing her injuries, praying and writing in a notebook. Under an Afghan Sky is the gripping tale of Fung’s…


Book cover of The Desert and the Sea: 977 Days Captive on the Somali Pirate Coast

Jere Van Dyk Author Of Captive: My Time as a Prisoner of the Taliban

From my list on courage, camaraderie, and survival in the face of danger.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Washington State. My father and my uncles fought in WWII; one was captured in Africa, and one was the first to fly over the Himalayas. My father wanted me to be a missionary, but I was drawn to the world. I became a runner and loved the camaraderie in track and field, but I was uncomfortable in college and didn't like my coach. I wanted to go far away. I began my career as an aide in the U.S. Senate but left and became a journalist in Afghanistan. Each of these books is a story of courage, camaraderie, and survival. I hope you enjoy them.

Jere's book list on courage, camaraderie, and survival in the face of danger

Jere Van Dyk Why did Jere love this book?

Since 9/11, beginning with the slaughter of Daniel Pearl of the Wall Street Journal by al-Qaida in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2002, the kidnapping of journalists has grown to become a state-sponsored industry, mainly in the Muslim world from the Philippines to Africa, to the Middle East. Many survivors write about their kidnappings.

I especially liked Michael Scott Moore's book, in part because I know him, but more because he was held and tormented for three years in the desert by Somali pirates; yet forgives them to save himself. Moore is a German-American journalist and a surfer from California who also lives in Berlin. I loved his courage of diving, naked, from the deck of the ship he was on into the Red Sea, and swimming for freedom.

To be a kidnap victim is to live in a primal, sometimes reptilian world. I liked that he didn't hold back in telling…

By Michael Scott Moore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Michael Scott Moore, a journalist and the author of Sweetness and Blood, incorporates personal narrative and rigorous investigative journalism in this profound and revelatory memoir of his three-year captivity by Somali pirates-a riveting,thoughtful, and emotionally resonant exploration of foreign policy, religious extremism, and the costs of survival.

In January 2012, having covered a Somali pirate trial in Hamburg for Spiegel Online International-and funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting-Michael Scott Moore traveled to the Horn of Africa to write about piracy and ways to end it. In a terrible twist of fate, Moore himself was kidnapped…


Book cover of A House in the Sky

Susan Pohlman Author Of Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home

From my list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the transformational power of travel ever since my husband and I unexpectedly signed a lease to an apartment on the Italian Riviera instead of divorce papers. The power of that year abroad saved our marriage, united our family of four in a sacred way, and introduced us to the many cultures of Europe. I learned the crucial difference between taking a trip and embarking on a journey. Capturing a travel experience on the page for those who can’t journey to a destination themselves is a joy and a privilege I don’t take lightly. Publishing this memoir allowed me to pivot in my career to a full-time writer and writing coach/editor.

Susan's book list on travel memoir for women on women (and men) who travel

Susan Pohlman Why did Susan love this book?

There have been only a handful of books that I have been unable to put down.

This memoir is one of them. In 2008, Amanda Lindhout began her career as a reporter by traveling to Somalia. On her fourth day, she and another journalist were abducted and held for ransom.

She recounts her harrowing experience in captivity (460 days) in vivid, and heart-wrenching detail. When she is most desperate, she travels in her mind to A House in the Sky enabling her to block out her dire circumstances and let in a ray of hope.

This is a true story you will never forget.

By Amanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A House in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BREAKING NEWS: Amanda Lindhout’s lead kidnapper, Ali Omar Ader, has been caught.

Amanda Lindhout wrote about her fifteen month abduction in Somalia in A House in the Sky. It is the New York Times bestselling memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most remote places and then into captivity: “Exquisitely told…A young woman’s harrowing coming-of-age story and an extraordinary narrative of forgiveness and spiritual triumph” (The New York Times Book Review).

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself visiting its exotic locales. At the…


Book cover of The Risen Empire

Ronald A. Geobey Author Of Gods of Kiranis

From my list on science fiction and fantasy for exploring new worlds.

Why am I passionate about this?

While Dune, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica (1980s), and other SF staples laid the foundation for my love of SFF, I was also reading about the universe from a young age. Along came Star Trek: The Next Generation in the ‘90s and the stage was set. Completing Bachelor’s Degrees in Ancient History & Archaeology; Religions & Theology; and a PhD in Near and Middle Eastern Studies copper-fastened my passion for the ancient world and the history of religion, and along with reading historical fiction and fantasy, everything merged into the almost allegorical universe you’ll find in Kiranis. Lovers of all the above will find something here.

Ronald's book list on science fiction and fantasy for exploring new worlds

Ronald A. Geobey Why did Ronald love this book?

I had been reading Heroic and Epic Fantasy for years, and I’d purposely avoided reading Sci-Fi, convinced that it would influence my burgeoning plot development. I wanted to maintain my plot integrity and not be subconsciously led by other authors in the genre (but of course I couldn’t avoid the influence of the SF I watched on TV). Of course, I was missing out on some great writing. I was enthralled by this story—it combined an undead trope with space opera, as the ‘risen empire’ maintains its territory while facing an external threat from the technologically hybrid Rix. There’s a fascination with the potential of biological augmentation and the place of AI in our distant future (consider ‘immortal’ humans against potentially ‘eternal’ hybrid humans), but this story is extremely character-driven and concerned with the place of the individual. The fictional science was breathtaking and not without research, but what stuck…

By Scott Westerfeld,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Risen Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The undead Emperor has ruled his mighty interstellar empire of 80 human worlds for 1600 years. Because he can grant a form of eternal life-after-death, creating an elite known as the Risen, his power is absolute. He and his sister, the Child Empress, who is eternally a little girl, are worshipped as living gods. No one can touch them. No until the Rix, machine-augmented humans who worship planetary Al compound minds. The Rix are cool, relentless fanatics, and their only goal I to propagate such Als throughout the galaxy. They seek to end, by any means necessary, the Emperor's prolonged…


Book cover of Cold Silence

JB Schroeder Author Of Runaway

From my list on women confronting danger to reclaim their lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love stories about everyday people ripped out of their normal lives and forced to face the craziest situations head-on. I mean, can you even imagine? Could you find a way to survive and win? To face down life-threatening danger and evil people and rise from the ashes stronger and smarter? I’m pretty sure I’d kill if it meant protecting my children…but strand me in the wilderness and I’d likely perish from eating the wrong berries. I hate to be hungry, but I love to bring edgy romantic suspense and twisty psychological suspense to readers. Enjoy!

JB's book list on women confronting danger to reclaim their lives

JB Schroeder Why did JB love this book?

Fair warning: this book is extra dark, with an extra disturbing serial killer, probably because his methods seem terrifyingly possible. Not a read for everyone! That said, Toni Anderson books are one of my absolute auto-buys for romantic suspense. This series is about hostage negotiators, and it’s fascinating stuff. Hero Shane is part of the Hostage Rescue Team and Yael is a computer whiz. Always excellent writing, great dialogue, fabulous characters, harrowing danger, and sexy romance. I’ve read loads of Toni Anderson and she never disappoints!

By Toni Anderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A determined FBI agent hunts a sadistic serial killer in this “steamy” (Kirkus Review) Romantic Thriller with a “masterful plot” (The BookLife Prize) by New York Times bestselling author Toni Anderson.

“Think of the best mystery thriller you’ve ever read, and I guarantee COLD SILENCE will surpass it!” —⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Goodreads review.

FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Shane Livingstone is frustrated when an injury sidelines him during an operation to catch a sadistic killer. A killer who auctions off vicious ways to torture his victims and screens the events for money on the dark web. When a teammate dies during the…


Book cover of Dead Falls: A Jessica Anderson K-9 Mystery

Laurie Buchanan Author Of Impervious: A Sean McPherson Novel

From my list on mysteries and thrillers paw-fect for dog lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hi, my name is Laurie Buchanan, and I'm addicted to dogs. I was nicknamed "Dr. Doolittle" at seven, and the moniker has stuck. Why? Because I have a way with all animals, but dogs in particular. I've been owned by dogs (not the other way around) since elementary school—from Irish wolfhounds to Scottish Terriers and everything in between—Poodles, Collies, Dalmatians, and mixed breeds. Not only do I enjoy reading books that feature K9 characters, but I also write them—The Sean McPherson crime thriller series. I do my best plotting during my daily six-mile walk with my four-legged companion, Henry, a not-so-standard Standard Poodle.

Laurie's book list on mysteries and thrillers paw-fect for dog lovers

Laurie Buchanan Why did Laurie love this book?

I love a good storyline, but even more so when it’s well-supported.

The author, D.L. Keur, offers captivating information about search and rescue, hostage rescue, pack interactions, human-K9 communication, and human psychology. I love the dogs—yes, plural—and the relationships with their human companions.

Speaking of which, the human characters are realistic. Just like people in real life, they’re flawed, which to my way of thinking, makes a story even more believable and relatable.

By D. L. Keur,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Den of Lions: Memoirs of Seven Years

Teresa Fava Thomas Author Of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946–75: From Orientalism to Professionalism

From my list on Americans living and working in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

Teresa Fava Thomas, Ph.D. is a professor of history at Fitchburg State University and author of American Arabists in the Cold War Middle East, 1946-75: From Orientalism to Professionalism for Anthem Press. I became interested in people who became area experts for the US State Department and how their study of hard languages like Arabic shaped their interactions with people in the region.

Teresa's book list on Americans living and working in the Middle East

Teresa Fava Thomas Why did Teresa love this book?

Journalist Terry Anderson was working for the Associated Press, as part of a small contingent of American and British reporters living and working during the war in Lebanon. Taken hostage in 1985 and held for seven years Anderson describes how he coped with long years of punishment, extremes of loneliness, and isolation, then ultimately reached freedom. 

By Terry Anderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On March 16, 1985, Associated Press's Chief Middle East Correspondent, Terry Anderson, was kidnapped on the streets of Beirut. 2454 days - nearly seven years - later, he emerged into the light. "Den of Lions" is his memoir of that harrowing time; months of solitary confinement, beatings and daily humiliation. It is a story of personal courage, of brave and unflinching support for his fellow prisoners, but it is above all a love story - Madeleine Bassil, his fiancee, contributes her own chapters to their story, bringing up their child, Sulome, who never saw her father until she was six…