The best fiction books that are secretly philosophy books

Why am I passionate about this?

This list is specifically “secret” philosophy books. There were plenty of novels (Victor Hugo, Milan Kundera, Robert Pirsig) that I love, but they don’t hide the fact that they’re significantly philosophy books. My degree is in philosophy (BA, UCLA), with a special interest in ethics, ethical questions. I still really love the marriage of fiction and philosophy especially when it’s done subtly and beautifully. I am the author of three books: Approaching the Natural, Raising Healthy Parents. and Six Truths. I hold a BA in Philosophy from UCLA, am a public speaker, podcaster (What Sid Thinks Podcast), certified nutritionist & running coach, Oxygen Advantage breathing instructor, and founder of Small Steppers


I wrote...

Six Truths: Live by These Truths and Be Happy. Don't, and You Won't.

By Sid Garza-Hillman,

Book cover of Six Truths: Live by These Truths and Be Happy. Don't, and You Won't.

What is my book about?

Everyone wants to be happy. Everyone. We certainly have opinions about what choices someone might make to get there but we absolutely want happiness, and as much of it as possible. Six Truths is simple, accessible, cutting edge, edgy, and most of all, necessary. Sid Garza-Hillman has taken all he's learned as a nutritionist, philosopher, speaker, podcaster, Small Steps coach, ultramarathoner, father, and husband, and distilled it into six truths. Six truths that, if you live by them, will deliver you a happy life.

In Six Truths, Garza-Hillman, uses his usual funny, smart, no BS approach to helping you live your best life.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Sportswriter

Sid Garza-Hillman Why did I love this book?

I’m not a sports fan. My good friend, Ryan Harty (author of one of my favorite short story compilations: “Bring me your saddest Arizona”) recommended this book to me many years ago. I’m not a sports fan but he assured me it had very little if anything to do with sports. He was right about that! I gave it a shot and was immediately transported into the narrative. It’s still in my top 5 all-time favorite book list. Ford’s ability to communicate existential crises in deeper but simple ways is so, so good. Frank Bascombe, the protagonist is detached in a way that is both beautiful and unsettling.

By Richard Ford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a sportswriter, Frank Bascombe makes his living studying people--men, mostly--who live entirely within themselves. This is a condition that Frank himself aspires to. But at thirty-eight, he suffers from incurable dreaminess, occasional pounding of the heart, and the not-too-distant losses of a career, a son, and a marriage. In the course of the Easter week in which Ford's moving novel transpires, Bascombe will end up losing the remnants of his familiar life, though with his spirits soaring.


Book cover of Moonglow

Sid Garza-Hillman Why did I love this book?

This is a memoir of sorts, but a fiction book nevertheless. Again, the philosophy of life is shown through the dying grandfather. The book highlights the sometimes blurry lines between right and wrong, but also standing up for what is right, questions of personal sacrifice for the common good, and more.

By Michael Chabon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A Telegraph Book of the Year * A New York Times Notable Book of the Year * A Washington Post Book of the Year * A Wall Street Journal Book of the Year * A Slate Book of the Year

'Probably Chabon's greatest, a piece of sustained writing that will be hard to see outdone in 2017' The Times

'Entirely sure footed, propulsive, the work of a master at his very best. The brilliance of Moonglow stands as a strident defence of the form itself, a bravura demonstration of the endless mutability and versatility…


Book cover of The Darling

Sid Garza-Hillman Why did I love this book?

At times a difficult (but great) read, The Darling tackles some big ethical and political subjects. Banks addresses the power of speech (and silence), the separation of emotions from choice, and the sometimes necessity of compartmentalizing traumatic experiences in order to survive. I found the protagonist’s voice compellingly detached with just the right amount of compassion and engagement (similar, in fact to Frank’s voice in The Sportswriter).

(Side note, Banks’ Rule of the Bone almost made this list as well…)

By Russell Banks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hannah Musgrave has always been on the run: from her adoring parents, her many lovers, even from herself. As a young woman, she dropped out of her privileged Boston world to work for the terrorist group the Weathermen. Her activities put Hannah on the FBI's most wanted list forcing her to flee to Liberia in West Africa. There she marries an ambitious, young politician and settles down to being a wife and mother. Liberia, in the meantime, is a country waiting to explode. A century of American exploitation has created a corrupt elite and a fragile military state where the…


Book cover of Skinny Legs and All

Sid Garza-Hillman Why did I love this book?

The least “secret” of on the list, this book is still excellent. Tom Robbins is one of my favorite authors (I’ve read nearly everything he’s ever written). He has incredible freedom of language (the author version of my favorite singer-songwriter, Vic Chesnutt). Jitterbug Perfume is also one of my favorites, but in that book, Robbins gets a bit too blatant/heavy-handed in his delivery, whereas Skinny Legs and All grabbed me right out of the chute and kept me glued to the pages for the rest of the ride.

By Tom Robbins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An Arab and a Jew open a restaurant together across the street from the United Nations....

It sounds like the beginning of an ethnic joke, but it's the axis around which this gutsy, fun-loving, and alarmingly provocative novel spins, in which a bean can philosophizes, a dessert spoon mystifies, a young waitress takes on the New York art world, and a rowdy redneck welder discovers the lost god of Palestine-while the illusions that obscure humanity's view of the true universe fall away, one by one, like Salome's veils.

Skinny Legs and All deals with today's most sensitive issues: race, politics,…


Book cover of All the Pretty Horses

Sid Garza-Hillman Why did I love this book?

This book explores honor, principles, ethics, religion, and more, is a powerhouse (in fact, the whole trilogy could be on this list as well). I was drawn to the old-school “cowboy” ethic (idealized to be sure, but in many ways the modern world is moving further and further away from principled action/standing up for what is right regardless of the outcome).

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked All the Pretty Horses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John Grady Cole is the last bewildered survivor of long generations of Texas ranchers. Finding himself cut off from the only life he has ever wanted, he sets out for Mexico with his friend Lacey Rawlins. Befriending a third boy on the way, they find a country beyond their imagining: barren and beautiful, rugged yet cruelly civilized; a place where dreams are paid for in blood.

The first volume in McCarthy's legendary Border Trilogy, All The Pretty Horses is an acknowledged masterpiece and a grand love story: a novel about the passing of childhood, of innocence and a vanished American…


You might also like...

Return to Hope Creek

By Alyssa J. Montgomery,

Book cover of Return to Hope Creek

Alyssa J. Montgomery Author Of A Spanish Seduction

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian USA Today bestselling romance author who writes contemporary romance and uses the pen name Alyssa James to write medieval romance. I think the makeover trope resonates with me because although I’m no beauty queen now, I was definitely an ugly duckling in my teens. For reasons best known to him, my father insisted on close-cropped hair, and financial circumstances dictated out-of-style hand-me-down clothing. After university, I found my own style, but it wasn’t until I was accepted as an international flight attendant that I believed that I couldn’t be all that ugly if Qantas employed me!

Alyssa's book list on makeover romances

What is my book about?

Return to Hope Creek is a second-chance rural romance set in Australia.

Stella Simpson's career and engagement are over. She returns to the rural community of Hope Creek to heal, unaware her high school and college sweetheart, Mitchell Scott, has also moved back to town to do some healing of his own.

Mitchell, a former NFL quarterback, doesn't need the complication of encountering Stella again so long after the messy end to their relationship, but as each tries to build a new life, they are drawn together and find their chemistry is just as strong as ever.

Will their love be stronger the second time around?

Return to Hope Creek

By Alyssa J. Montgomery,

What is this book about?

When two old flames come back to their home town, sparks are bound to ignite. A rural romance from USA Today bestselling author Alyssa J. Montgomery.


A horrific car accident ended former world number-one Stella Simpson’s tennis career, and a betrayal ended her relationship with her fiancé/coach. When a family friend offers to sell her half of a property in the rural community where she grew up, it seems like the perfect place to escape, heal and begin the next phase of her life. Until she discovers that the man who broke her heart ten years ago has bought the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Liberia, family secrets, and the USA Mexico border?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Liberia, family secrets, and the USA Mexico border.

Liberia Explore 11 books about Liberia
Family Secrets Explore 179 books about family secrets
The USA Mexico Border Explore 25 books about the USA Mexico border