The best books at the intersect of fantasy, nature, and travel

Dael Sassoon Author Of The Lightbringer: Through the Elder Stone
By Dael Sassoon

Who am I?

I've always been fascinated by stories of fantastical lands where people have powers and meet a variety of otherworldly obstacles that they have to surmount. During my travels as an environmental researcher, I found myself in the depths of the Amazon rainforest and the frozen terrains of Iceland and have become inspired by the nature that surrounded me, as well as the myths and legends of other cultures. Through my words, I try and evoke a sense of enchantment and escapism, in the attempt to invite the reader to travel with me to mysterious lands full of unexpected challenges, inhabited by eccentric people and the persistent threat of powerful enemies.


I wrote...

The Lightbringer: Through the Elder Stone

By Dael Sassoon,

Book cover of The Lightbringer: Through the Elder Stone

What is my book about?

All that Jason wanted was to be a travel photographer. When his ship sinks on the coast of Greenland and he crosses through a magical portal, his life takes an unexpected turn. Waking up in a fantastical world, the legendary Flare now rushes through Jason’s veins. He is given the chance to save an enchanted world from the ominous grasp of the tyrant Emperor Darkstrom, who spreads death across the land. Before he can go back home, Jason must embrace his new identity as a Lightbringer and learn how to control his newfound powers. The people and nature of Valkadia depend on it. Will he be able to come to terms with his new identity, or will the journey get the better of him?

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Journey to the Center of the Earth

By Jules Verne,

Book cover of Journey to the Center of the Earth

Why this book?

A beautiful classic. To me, this is perhaps the book that started it all—my passion for exploration, nature, planet Earth. Featuring a geologist and his nephew as its main characters, this book tells the story of the ultimate trip to the unknown and is filled with old-fashioned mystery, suspense, and thrill. Verne is the master of painting through words and instills a fervid curiosity in the reader as they are accompanied through a fantastical subterranean world filled with endless seas, primordial forests, and prehistoric creatures. Needless to say, this story is magical and a gold mine for the imagination of adventure-lovers. 

Journey to the Center of the Earth

By Jules Verne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Journey to the Center of the Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The reason Verne is still read by millions today is simply that he was one of the best storytellers who ever lived." — Arthur C. Clarke
An adventurous geology professor chances upon a manuscript in which a 16th-century explorer claims to have found a route to the earth's core. Professor Lidenbrock can't resist the opportunity to investigate, and with his nephew Axel, he sets off across Iceland in the company of Hans Bjelke, a native guide. The expedition descends into an extinct volcano toward a sunless sea, where they encounter a subterranean world of luminous rocks, antediluvian forests, and fantastic…


The Day of the Triffids

By John Wyndham,

Book cover of The Day of the Triffids

Why this book?

In The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham tells us that nature is not just something to explore, exploit or take inspiration from, but something to fear if not treated properly. The triffids, giant plants that can walk and kill humans with a sting, begin to take over the world when a meteor shower makes everyone blind—everyone except for William Masen. In a dystopian, post-apocalyptic story of survival and societal collapse, we see the natural world fighting back against the self-righteous superiority of humans. This is a beautifully written, inspirational book that successfully delivers a strong message with a very contemporary significance.

The Day of the Triffids

By John Wyndham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Bill Masen wakes up in his hospital bed, he has reason to be grateful for the bandages that covered his eyes the night before. For he finds a population rendered blind and helpless by the spectacular meteor shower that filled the night sky, the evening before. But his relief is short-lived as he realises that a newly-blinded population is now at the mercy of the Triffids.

Once, the Triffids were farmed for their oil, their uncanny ability to move and their carnivorous habits well controlled by their human keepers. But now, with humans so vulnerable, they are a potent…


American Gods

By Neil Gaiman,

Book cover of American Gods

Why this book?

American Gods has everything to do with mythology and travel and is a social commentary about the morals of modern-day society. We follow the life of Shadow Moon after his release from prison and the death of his wife through a gritty, dark, gory world where ancient gods are struggling against the ‘new’ gods. People have lost their connection to nature, family values, and their spiritual identity, and they no longer pray to Odin, Czernobog, or the Queen of Sheeba. Now they worship media, the internet, and credit cards. The old gods want their place back, the new gods want a monopoly over America, and a war is brewing. While it is not a book for the faint-hearted, it is nothing short of magical and epic. 

American Gods

By Neil Gaiman,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked American Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a STARZ® Original Series – Season 3 premiere in January 2021

“Pointed, occasionally comic, often scary, consistently moving and provocative….American Gods is strewn with secrets and magical visions.”—USA Today

Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred text. A modern masterpiece from the multiple-award-winning master of innovative fiction, Neil Gaiman.

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Washington Post) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is the story of Shadow—released from prison just days after…


The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho,

Book cover of The Alchemist

Why this book?

Another beautiful classic that will make anyone want to pack their bags and leave to discover the wonders of the world. Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy, dreams about a treasure hidden by the Pyramids of Egypt. After he meets the old king of Salem, who offers him magical stones to help him along his path, he embarks on an enchanting trip across the Mediterranean. We are taught about the importance of following dreams, overcoming difficulties, and being open to what life throws at us. Santiago finds his one true love, learns alchemy, crosses endless deserts, escapes thieves, and earns what we all look for—the knowledge of his own identity. Not just a beautiful magical realism novel, but a never-ending provider of food for thought. 

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Alchemist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A global phenomenon, The Alchemist has been read and loved by over 62 million readers, topping bestseller lists in 74 countries worldwide. Now this magical fable is beautifully repackaged in an edition that lovers of Paulo Coelho will want to treasure forever.

Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. This is such a book - a beautiful parable about learning to listen to your heart, read the omens strewn along life's path and, above all, follow your dreams.

Santiago, a young shepherd living in the hills of Andalucia, feels that there is…


Circe

By Madeline Miller,

Book cover of Circe

Why this book?

Set in the ancient realm of Greek mythology, Madeline Miller gives her novel a surprisingly contemporary feeling. By recounting the tales of the witch Circe, daughter of the titan Helios, this book celebrates the strength of a woman who stands against the anger and vengefulness of mortals and Olympian gods, drawing strength from the nature of the island of Aiaia where she has been banished. While becoming skilled in Pharmaka, the art of doing witchcraft with herbs grown where gods have died, Circe meets legendary figures like Daedalus, Odysseus, Jason, and famed gods like Apollo and Athena. Circe is an ode to ancient myths and teaches us to break free from conformity, fight for what we love, and use nature to heal ourselves and the rest of the world. 

Circe

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The international Number One bestseller from the author of The Song of Achilles, shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

Woman. Witch. Myth. Mortal. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Survivor. CIRCE.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child - not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in explorers, heroes, and widower?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about explorers, heroes, and widower.

Explorers Explore 70 books about explorers
Heroes Explore 58 books about heroes
Widower Explore 25 books about widower

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Into the Wild, The Wall, and Chocolat if you like this list.