The best books about inheritances

9 authors have picked their favorite books about inheritances and why they recommend each book.

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King Lear

By William Shakespeare,

Book cover of King Lear

When I first sat down to write a novel about three sisters, step one was to reread King Lear which is about exactly that. The three sisters in Lear are quite different from mine. Among other things, they like each other much less. But for that delicate sisterly balance between so-glad-I-have-you-to-share-the-burdens-of-an-aging-parent and I-might-actually-have-to-kill-you, nothing beats King Lear.

Who am I?

I like books about big families, especially unusual ones, but I have only one sister and only one child, so when I set out to write about these families, I read about them first. We place so much importance on how kids are raised, what kind of childhood and home life and family they have growing up, what gifts and what challenges they’re bestowed by genetics, history, identity, society, circumstance. Siblings usually share all or at least most of these markers and yet turn into often wildly different adults. It’s also true that all those fine sibling balances – love/hate, adored/annoyed, admired/appalled, alike/different – are great fun to read and write.

I wrote...

One Two Three

By Laurie Frankel,

Book cover of One Two Three

What is my book about?

From a New York Times bestselling author comes a timely, topical novel about love and family that will make you laugh and cry...and laugh again. How do you let go of the past when the past won't let go of you?

Everyone knows everyone in the tiny town of Bourne. But the Mitchell sisters are especially beloved, and not just because they’re teenage triplets. Mirabel is the smartest person anyone has ever met, and no one is fooled by her wheelchair or her Voice app into thinking otherwise. Monday is the town’s purveyor of books now that the library’s closed—tell her the book you think you want, and she’ll pull the one you actually do from the microwave or her underwear drawer. Mab’s job is hardest of all: get good grades, get into college, get out of Bourne.

Bleak House

By Charles Dickens,

Book cover of Bleak House

The omniscient narrator in this classic novel speaks to the reader in a dispassionate present-tense voice that helps reinforce the satirical tone and immediacy of the novel. Dickens, who grew up in a debtor’s prison and included his bleak observations of life in a debtor’s prison in many of his great novels, used his fiction to shine a light on the social injustices of Victorian life. Bleak House shines much of that light on the punitive legal system (sound like today?), which Dickens exposed in some of his other novels as well. In thinking about the many theatrical and film adaptations made of this novel, we can see how much easier that work was due to the present tense writing, which creates the immediacy and suspense found in many great films.

Who am I?

I’ve studied the art of fiction for many years and was fortunate to have great teachers along the way who knew how to analyze novels to help anyone interested in writing fiction to better see how they work. I also enjoy editing fiction written by other novelists, as this invariably leads to a better understanding of what is possible through the written word. I worked for many years as a bookseller and within the publishing industry. As a bookseller, I set a goal of reading at least one novel from every author in the classics section, and managed to do that.

I wrote...

Young Again

By Don Trowden, Valerie McKee,

Book cover of Young Again

What is my book about?

Young Again combines music, magic, and romance in an uplifting fantasy novel. Mabel Johnson has recently turned ninety years old and lives alone near Clarksdale, Mississippi. She is nostalgic thinking back on her Grammy award-winning career as a blues and jazz performer. In frequent pain, she no longer can play the piano, and compounding matters, her granddaughter was recently killed in a tragic car accident.

Mabel’s great-granddaughter Priscilla comes to visit for the week and prays that Mabel can be young again. When her prayer is answered, the two ladies set off on a week of romantic and musical adventures entangling a handsome young doctor, a music mogul, a homeless person, and an aspiring singer down on her luck.

The Schirmer Inheritance

By Eric Ambler,

Book cover of The Schirmer Inheritance

A World War II bomber pilot returns home thoroughly determined to have no more excitement in his life. He settles down in a quiet wills-and-trusts practice. In a dusty file about an unclaimed estate, he sees that a missing heir may be living in Europe. Searching for this heir, he is pulled into Cold War politics, kidnaped, and dragged into Communist Albania, where his fate becomes an international incident. The law overtakes George in a thoroughly believable way; it is an example of why readers fear the law, which may at any moment demand that we sacrifice our comfort, our place in society, and even our very lives.

Who am I?

Garrett Epps is the author of two published novels and five works of non-fiction about the U.S. Constitution. He graduated from Duke Law School in 1991; since then he has taught Constitutional Law at the American University, the University of Baltimore, Boston College, Duke University, and the University of Oregon. For ten years he was Supreme Court Correspondent for The Atlantic, and covered from close up cases involving the Affordable Care Act, same-sex marriage, and the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. He is now Legal Affairs Editor of The Washington Monthly, and at work on a novel about crime and justice during the years of Southern segregation. 

I wrote...

Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America

By Garrett Epps,

Book cover of Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America

What is my book about?

The Fourteenth Amendment, enacted after the Civil War, changed the Constitution, and America, in more ways than we can count. It is the Amendment’s Citizenship Clause that made birthright citizenship part of our fundamental law; the Equal Protection Clause that doomed school segregation and other racist laws; the Due Process Clause that guarantees the right to use contraceptives, choose abortion, or marry a partner of either sex.

The story of that Amendment’s Framing in 1866 is often referred to but seldom told. Democracy Reborn is the only current one-volume history of how the Amendment came to be. The story memorably involves such figures as Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Charles Sumner, Andrew Johnson, and Walt Whitman.

The Forgotten Garden

By Kate Morton,

Book cover of The Forgotten Garden

Let’s escape to London and Australia! This historical mystery is written from three generational viewpoints spanning the 1900s, 1970s, and 2000s. Cassandra is mourning her beloved grandmother, Nell, when she stumbles upon an old family secret. Solving the mystery leads her not only to answers surrounding her family but herself as well. Morton masterfully moves between countries and protagonists making you lose yourself in her writing. I dare you to try and put it down!

Who am I?

I love to travel and explore new cultures! In 2012, my husband and I competed on the CBS reality television show The Amazing Race and got to travel the world. This once-in-a-lifetime experience fueled my passion for travel. My debut novel Beneath the Sand was inspired by a trip to the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. You can escape into Ancient Rome and learn a few things along the way in my book. I have found that these books on my list will make it feel like you are in another place just as if you have traveled there yourself.

I wrote...

Beneath the Sand

By Katherine L. Bichler,

Book cover of Beneath the Sand

What is my book about?

Growing up in the caverns underneath the colosseum is anything but ordinary for a Roman teenager like Noemi. Helping her father train wild beasts for the emperor’s extravagant shows and being feted with romantic gifts from her fiancé, hers is a life few girls could imagine.

While Noemi loves the lions beneath the colosseum and the bloody shows above, her sister, Livia, is a contrast in extremes stopping at nothing to improve her social life. And then there’s Cato, a top-ranked gladiator who is keeping a risky secret of his own. Noemi, Livia and Cato find that keeping secrets is not just child’s play, but dangerous games with deadly consequences. Can they all fool the emperor long enough to avoid a date with the executioner?

The Night Country

By Melissa Albert,

Book cover of The Night Country: A Hazel Wood Novel

So this is actually the sequel to another amazing book called The Hazel Wood, but we get to see more romance blossoming in this one. I adore this author. She has that rare ability to completely suck in a reader and paint the inside of their mind. There’s a delicious bleakness to the writing, the plot relentlessly dark and challenging. It covers so many enduring themes such as sacrifice and normalcy versus the extraordinary. And the romance is so atypical as well. There’s no true linear journey, and their feelings are compromised by these big divisive issues. Such as ending certain worlds to save other worlds.

Who am I?

I love weird situations. I have been writing since I was four years old, and have been patiently waiting for the man who appreciates my wide range of vocal inflections. Books have always been companions for me. It helped me develop empathy for others at a young age. Reading about situations that involve people who are nothing like you helps you think beyond yourself. I think that is partly why I’ve always gravitated towards books with unique plots and characters. There’s something invigorating about a story that breaks the mold and offers something new, even if it’s a little strange. The books I’ve recommended all have heavily influenced me and my writing throughout the years. 

I wrote...

The Island of Lote

By Emily Kinney,

Book cover of The Island of Lote

What is my book about?

There is fire in Milo Hestler’s spirit, despite feeling tamped down for years. Her parents see past her, not understanding that dragging their teenage daughter from new home to new home isn’t exactly supplying friends and favor. And she’s finally had enough.

However, the adventure she anticipated when first boarding the plane is far from the one she gets. Milo didn’t ever expect to wash up on tropical sands, the tawny head of a sun-baked boy mere inches from her face. And she certainly didn’t expect to be wearing a ring that would connect her to him. And to the whole island. But the fire inside her was about to come out.

Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune

By Rory Muir,

Book cover of Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune: How Younger Sons Made Their Way in Jane Austen's England

In Regency England, the first-born son inherited the property, while the younger brothers had to choose between a handful of “genteel” professions such as the army, the navy, and the church. It was these younger sons (such as Jane Austen’s two sailor brothers), who fanned out across the globe and changed the world forever. We learn about their aspirations and frustrations as they struggle to get ahead in a world where promotion was based on patronage, not merit, and corruption was pretty much taken for granted. Muir gives us an appreciation of the hardships of Regency life, even for the privileged classes. I wish that more history was taught this way, with a lens on the economic drivers of human behavior. 

Who am I?

I’m a writer of Jane Austen-inspired fiction who fell down a research rabbit hole and perhaps I’ll never climb out. Dr. Johnson said, “The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading… a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” The five books I’m recommending offer a window into the long 18th century, the era of the Enlightenment, and the dawn of the industrial revolution. In these books I’ve met philosophers, romantics, and reformers who brought literacy to the underclass and emancipation to the enslaved. These books have helped me place the characters of my novels within a fascinating, consequential period of history. 

I wrote...

A Contrary Wind: A Variation on Mansfield Park

By Lona Manning,

Book cover of A Contrary Wind: A Variation on Mansfield Park

What is my book about?

Fanny Price, an intelligent but timid girl from a poor family, lives at Mansfield Park with her wealthy cousins. But the cruelty of her Aunt Norris, together with a broken heart, compel Fanny to run away and take a job as a governess. Far away from everything she ever knew and the man she secretly loves, will Fanny grow in strength and confidence? Will a new suitor help her to forget her past? Or will a reckless decision ruin the lives of those she holds most dear? 

The Lord of Stariel

By A.J. Lancaster,

Book cover of The Lord of Stariel

Imagine if Downton Abbey neighbored Faerie. Then make the idea ten times more awesome, and you have The Lord of Stariel. I discovered it right before the final book in the quartet came out and binged them all.

The premise—a family’s magical estate will choose its next lord after the old one passes on—is intriguing enough. But what really sold me on this book is Hetta, the prodigal daughter. She’s level-headed, sharp-witted, and unwilling to be limited by society’s (or her family’s) ideas about the proper role of a lady. 

I don’t want to tell you too much about her counterpart—the book should unfold its secrets. But he’d make a strong showing in a Best Hero contest.

Who am I?

I write romantic fantasy set in twisted versions of the United States because half of me wishes magic were real. (The wiser half thinks that would be a disaster.) Typical contents of my books: banter, antagonist love interests, dramatically billowing coats, twisty plots, and oppressive systems in need of taking down... by bantering antagonists in magnificent coats. I consume books like they’re as necessary as food—and aren’t they, really? 

I wrote...


By Colleen Cowley,

Book cover of Subversive

What is my book about?

In an America controlled by wizards and 100 years behind on women's rights, Beatrix Harper counts herself among the resistance—the Women's League for the Prohibition of Magic. Then Peter Blackwell, the only wizard her town has ever produced, unexpectedly returns home and presses her into service as his assistant.

Beatrix fears he wants to undermine the League. His real purpose is far more dangerous for them both.

The Nest

By Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney,

Book cover of The Nest

When brainstorming “comps” for my book, my first impulse was to cite Sweeney’s debut, but that seemed presumptuous given that The Nest was an instant NYT bestseller and named best book of 2016 by countless reviewers. But like my own debut, The Nest is a darkly comic exploration of middle-aged siblings, their relationships and rivalries, and the way that money can insinuate itself into our lives in ways both unwelcome and unimaginable. 

Who am I?

As Korean immigrants growing up in largely white suburbs, my siblings and I were keen observers of American life particularly the customs and affectations of the upper class. A tight-knit trio, we learned how to fit in to our adopted country by inhaling pop culture: television and movies, books and magazines, album covers and clothing catalogues. The one thing we valued above all else was humor. To this day, my favorite books are those that make me laugh, cry, and nod in delighted recognition—sometimes simultaneously.

I wrote...

A Good Family: A Novel

By A.H. Kim,

Book cover of A Good Family: A Novel

What is my book about?

A Good Family has been hailed as a “lively suspense diversion” (Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post) and an “addictive, over-the-top dramedy that would make for a great TV series” (Publishers Weekly). Combining elements of black comedy and domestic noir, A Good Family is told from the alternating perspectives of Hannah Min, a Korean-American law librarian, and Beth Lindstrom, her glamorous sister-in-law who pleads guilty to a white-collar crime related to her work as a high-powered pharmaceutical executive. While in prison, Beth suspects someone in the family set her up and asks Hannah to help figure out who it was. My debut novel was inspired by my personal experience supporting my brother and nieces while my sister-in-law served time in Alderson Women’s Prison.

The Eyes of the Dragon

By Stephen King,

Book cover of The Eyes of the Dragon

“Did they all live happily ever after? They did not. No one ever does, in spite of what the stories may say.” This is a book I have read over and over again, and I never tire of it. Unlike the horror books he is well known for, this one was written by Stephen King for his daughter, and it is rooted firmly in a fairy-tale world, featuring a brave prince, his not-so-brave brother, a hunted dragon, and a truly nasty magician. However, King has injected this tale with his own, unique flair for interesting characters and truly gut-churning scenarios, and the story is all the better for it. 

Who am I?

My mum tells me I used to sit with a book of fairytales open on my lap, aged three, and ‘read’ them out loud. Of course, I wasn’t reading them because I couldn’t read yet; I had memorised them all, word for word. Later, having consumed all the traditional tales and still with a hunger for more, I began reading modern fairytales. They opened up a whole new world; a world of light and darkness where anything at all is possible and unusual characters and events cascade from the pages. And then I realised I could actually write my own…

I wrote...

The Blackwood Crusade

By Jo Danilo, Dr Melchior Williams,

Book cover of The Blackwood Crusade

What is my book about?

What if the folklore of old was based in truth? And what if just one girl was charged with the task of destroying it all?

Christina never wanted the job. She didn’t even know faeries existed, let alone how dangerous they can be. But a devastating encounter makes her change her mind and she is catapulted into a violent, supernatural world of faerie killing. It is only with the help of three ragtag friends that she can hope to come out of the battle alive. A crooked fairy-tale full of twists and turns and generously sprinkled with magic. 

Reason and Romance

By Debra White Smith,

Book cover of Reason and Romance: A Contemporary Retelling of Sense and Sensibility

As a longtime fan of Jane Austen, this modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility is the epitome of romance for me, containing all the feels. There is a beautiful sense of longing, as Elaina attempts to be the voice of reason in her highly emotion-driven family while struggling between her natural caution and a yearning attraction for Ted Farris. It’s the sense of emotional constraint that makes this romance so powerful to me, as Elaina’s qualities of reticence seem rare these days. If you want an inspiring, sweet romance with a hint of Jane Austen, then this is a great book to check out.

Who am I?

I’m a long-time lover of Christian romance, and now with over a dozen Christian historical romance books published, and a similar amount of Christian contemporary romances published or soon to be, I think I’m someone who has a true appreciation for romance that is soul-stirringly Christian, not just clean or sweet, but which contains truths that will inspire and encourage as well as entertain with swoon-worthy romance.

I wrote...

The Breakup Project

By Carolyn Miller,

Book cover of The Breakup Project

What is my book about?

New Year. New Resolution. New Romance? What happens when the best-laid plans break a friendship? As the twin sister of hockey’s hottest forward, romance-loving Bree Karlsson is used to being ignored, leading to a New Year’s resolution to not date any athlete in her attempt to find Mr. Right. But what happens when the man who might prove to be her personal Mr. Darcy is her brother’s hockey-playing best friend?

This friends-to-more romance has plenty of heart, humor, and swoon-worthy kisses in this first book of the Original Six, a sweet Christian contemporary romance series.

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