The best thought-provoking books that expand your mind

Who am I?

The material I've been drawn to on the topics of consciousness, connection, technology, and futurism have been magnetic.  In my purpose as a writer, I had a calling to explore the way systems in our universe work, from the fungal communication networks in forests to the formation of universes light years beyond our naked eye and our evolving place in it all. When it comes to technology and spirituality I'm all in on the research. I’ve imbibed countless books across these schools of thought and the most incredible part is when the dots between all of them connect and I find ways to weave them into a narrative story. 

I wrote...

Seneca Rebel

By Rayya Deeb,

Book cover of Seneca Rebel

What is my book about?

In the not-too-distant future, math genius Doro Campbell is introduced to the Seneca Society: a secretive, technologically-advanced subterranean utopia dedicated to inventing and perfecting the most effective ways to benefit our planet. But there’s a hitch. Like all that have come before her, Doro is given the ultimatum: Stay in Seneca forever, or leave now with no memory of the place, its goals, and its inhabitants. She stays.

Her ideals are shattered when, together with biotechnology whiz, Dominic Ambrosia, Doro uncovers profound deceptions beneath the surface of this all too-perfect community. Will one teenage girl have what it takes to go up against swarms of drones, psychological manipulation, and biological attacks, to uncover the truth and change the trajectory of the world?

The books I picked & why

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

The Dispossessed

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Book cover of The Dispossessed

Why this book?

When I was taking a literature course my freshman year at Virginia Tech, we were assigned to read The Dispossessed. My professor had us read the Tao Te Ching at the same time so we could see how Taoist principles were expressed in the book. We also looked at how the fundamentals of anarchism and quantum physics were a part of the story. With an incredibly rich world layered with unique characters, The Dispossessed really sucked me in, but it was especially meaningful to me because it was the first time that I experienced a book written by a woman, that was an anthropological exploration of such powerful ideas and themes.


Brave New World

By Aldous Huxley,

Book cover of Brave New World

Why this book?

This book came out almost a century ago, after World War I, so I think it is an awesome, classic commentary, or warning if you will, on the dangers of technology in society. A hundred years later and we are still enamored with the capabilities of technology but questioning where our reliance on it will take us. Sometimes a book hits so hard and stays with us because it is unique and well written, but I think its true power and relevance aren’t revealed until it proves itself to be prophecy. This is the case with Brave New World.


Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

By Suzanne Simard,

Book cover of Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Why this book?

Suzanne Simard’s journey into finding a deeper understanding of the forest cracked the code on a truth that has been there all along. How many times I have walked through a forest and not in million years did I imagine those trees were talking. Not just talking but supporting each other in elaborate networks that uncannily mirror the way we humans take care of each other. Simard’s scientific findings are a beautiful insight, and her passion reminds us that there is so much more than meets the eye going on below the surface. This book about the fungal communication networks in the forest, speaks to my heart deeply about the undeniable connectivity in all of life. It is a book that shows us how when you seek, you shall find truth.


Power vs. Force

By David R. Hawkins,

Book cover of Power vs. Force

Why this book?

Power vs. Force is up there as one of the most mind-expanding books I have ever read in my life. Of the nine books by Hawkins that I read, I want to give a shout-out to this one for having such a strong impact on my spiritual trajectory. Not only is the writing gorgeous, filled with heart, and easy to read, it made me think deeply about love and courage. When I finished Power vs. Force I was equally in pain that it was over and total bliss that I’d been blessed with such wisdom that has since improved my quality of life. Don’t take it from me, Mother Teresa gave Hawkins this praise: “[A] beautiful gift of writing... [You] spread joy, love, and compassion through what you write. The fruit of these three is peace, as you know...” - Mother Teresa


The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

By Ray Kurzweil,

Book cover of The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

Why this book?

I saved the most influential book on me writing my own book for last. Ray Kurzweil’s theory of “the singularity” between human beings and machine intelligence sucked me into the rabbit hole and I never looked back. For one, it is completely fascinating to imagine humanity merging with rapidly advancing technology, and intelligence expanding at an exponential rate. More importantly, I wanted to better understand the world of the future that my two little girls will be a part of one day. The more I learned as I delved into futurism, technology, and what it all means for humanity, the more of a story I was compelled to tell. Writing my book series has been my chance to play out some highly-likely scenarios life might take on and the importance of introspection, consciousness, faith, and love through it all.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in evolution, trees, and totalitarianism?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about evolution, trees, and totalitarianism.

Evolution Explore 81 books about evolution
Trees Explore 31 books about trees
Totalitarianism Explore 34 books about totalitarianism

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size, and The Dopaminergic Mind in Human Evolution and History if you like this list.