Discover The Best Books 📚

Shepherd is like wandering around your favorite bookstore but reimagined for the online world. We make book browsing fun and all the recommendations are made by authors, experts, and creators.

We are brand new and have more features coming, sign up here to get a monthly email with early access to new features. In February we will have a new front page and we will start adding genre data toward Summer 2022 (expensive to license).

The best spiritual quests set in Antiquity

A yearning for a happy and meaningful life, as well as struggles with fear, guilt, and unfulfilled wishes, are common to mankind of all ages. My books combine historical and fictional characters to address such timeless spiritual issues from a Christian perspective. During a hiking tour of the Isle of Elba, I discovered the cave where the saintly 6th-century hermit San Cerbone lived in exile. Researching his life inspired me to write a work of historical fiction about that colourful character’s interactions with Silvanus, an unhappy local lad who longs to escape but finds new priorities.

Ben-Hur The Land of Angels Citadel of God: A Novel about Saint Benedict To Forestall the Darkness: A Novel of Ancient Rome, AD 589 The Healing

Explore The Best Books On spiritual quests set in Antiquity

The best books on art influences

As a 5-year-old boy, I was given a tin of watercolour paints by my Grandmother. I had no idea how to use them, and there was no one around to teach me. I had to find my own way. Around the same time I was taken on a day trip to London, where we visited the Tate Gallery. It was there that I was confronted for the first time by the magnificent paintings of J.M.W.Turner. My love for art was ignited. I became a serious student of art, and although I have had to make a living in the world like everyone else, art became my go-to therapy for relief and recreation.

Walter Langley: Pioneer of the Newlyn Art Colony An American Vision: Three Generations of Wyeth Art: N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth, James Wyeth Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates Rowland Hilder Country: An Artist's Memoir Walker Evans First and Last

Explore The Best Books On art influences

The best books to learn about the Holocaust: before, during, and after

I’m a bicultural writer from the U.S. who has always loved reading historical novels, and I recently “found” my writing genre when I published a debut novel, set in Ukraine during the Holocaust. Writing about that horrific time is fraught with difficulty and is often a frightening endeavor. As writers, we’re obligated to get every fact right, as the truth honors the victims and survivors. To that end, I read dozens and dozens of books—history, biographies, art books, memoirs, and fiction. There are many worthy books that could be on this list, but with just 5 to pick, these made a large impact on me beyond just factual research.

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler They Were Like Family to Me: Stories Tzili: The Story of a Life Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory

Explore The Best Books On the Holocaust: before, during, and after

The best books about adventure on the High Seas

I loved the sea even when I was a child in a family that couldn’t afford to spend much time around it! Reading books, I was always drawn to adventure on the seas – the first book I can clearly remember reading was Pinocchio when I was about 8, and the last third with the Terrible Dogfish. My latest novel, Spirits of the Ice Forest, is all about Vikings and their struggle to establish a toehold on Vinland, as well as the Native Americans who resisted them, and both being seafaring people was a huge part of what attracted me to that chapter in history.

Moby-Dick Le Comte De Monte Cristo Treasure Island Great Expectations Jamaica Inn

Explore The Best Books On adventure on the High Seas

The best novels that are character-driven

I’ve been reading for 69 years, writing fiction for 43 years. I’ve read many more than 10,000 books. In my own writing, I begin with characters I create from combinations of traits and personalities I’ve met in life. I get to know them as friends. I then put them into the setting I’ve devised and given them free rein to develop the story. I know the destination, but the route is left to them. This involves much re-writing once the story is down on paper, but allows me to experience the excitement, concern, fear, love, and delights felt by the characters as I write the tale.

A Place Called Schugara The Hermit of Blue Ridge Self Storm Girl Catling's Bane

Explore The Best Books On character-driven novels

The best dystopian sci-fi books

I’ve been hooked on science fiction since I saw Westworld in its first run in 1973, at age 7 (it’s the first movie I saw in a theatre). I started drawing my own sci-fi comics at age 11, when the first Star Wars came out, and kept it up through adolescence. Eventually, my love of sci-fi led me to a passion for philosophy, which I majored in in college. And the philosophy I learned has since informed my later choices in sci-fi reading, and even more my sci-fi writing and illustration. The books I talk about below are very dear to my heart—I’m sure you won’t regret checking them out.

1984 Make Room! Make Room!: The Classic Novel of an Overpopulated Future Greybeard This Perfect Day It Can't Happen Here

Explore The Best Books On dystopian sci-fi

The best bizarrely bewildering but by and by brilliantly beautiful books

Stories that break the rules or attempt ambitious stunts have always intrigued me. Characters who break the fourth wall, non-traditional structures, winking nods to pop culture, hidden messages, silly wordplay, or good old-fashioned WTF moments nobody saw coming. My second novel L Extreme turns my favorite album into a fantastical song by song, chapter by chapter origin story for the record starring a fictionalized version of the musician who created it. Asking “what happens if I pretend this album is the soundtrack to a book?” took me on a long, strange trip in the spirit of these other bizarrely brilliant books that broke the mold for the better. 

The Hike I'm Thinking of Ending Things The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Transformers/Back to the Future The Coma

Explore The Best Books On bizarrely bewildering and brilliantly beautiful

The best books for understanding beer, brewing, and civilization

I was that child who always took things apart to see how they worked. I was always interested in new gizmos and technology, but found myself most drawn to raw materials – how does this make that, and how can I make that better? Eventually, this led me to engineering school and the aerospace industry. Along the way, I got interested in beer and asked, “why didn’t this work?” That question, vehemently directed at my first batch of homebrew, lead to the first edition of How to Brew. Thirty-something years later, I'm the Chief Editor for the Master Brewers Association – an international professional organization for brewers founded in Chicago in 1887.

Tasting Beer: An Insider's Guide to the World's Greatest Drink The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food Ambitious Brew : The Story of American Beer Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing American Sour Beers

Explore The Best Books On understanding beer, brewing, and civilization

The best books for a more fulfilling, successful, and enjoyable creative life

I’m a creative writing professor and the author of five award-winning YA and MG novels. Nevertheless, for decades no matter what I accomplished, I felt like a failure who wasn’t doing enough. Eventually, I drove myself to a breakdown. Having a breakdown (my lucky break!) gave me an opportunity to reassess what creativity is, and to discover better ways to go about it. I’ve since spent the past 5+ years researching creativity, and how to make creative endeavors more effective and enjoyable. I wrote Breakthrough to share some of the life-changing insights and techniques that helped me. Here are a few books that might prove useful in shifting your creative paradigms and enhancing your life. Happy creating!

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles The Artist's Way The Transparency of Things: Contemplating the Nature of Experience

Explore The Best Books On fulfilling, successful, and enjoyable creative life

The best books on women seafarers and pirates

I grew up in Long Beach, California and have always gravitated to port towns and saltwater. I had a summer job as a student working on the famous Hurtigruten cargo ship and traveled up and down the Norwegian coast as a dishwasher. Since then I’ve kayaked, sailed, and wandered the shores of many countries, including the Pacific Northwest, where I live now. Being Irish and Swedish myself, I wanted to make women’s history as seafarers in the cold waters of the North better known. I had a great time researching this travel book about little-known places and women skippers, fishers, and sea goddesses. 

My Ship Is So Small Maiden Voyage Bold in Her Breeches: Woman Pirates Across the Ages She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea Pirates!

Explore The Best Books On women seafarers and pirates