100 books like A Gesture Life

By Chang-Rae Lee,

Here are 100 books that A Gesture Life fans have personally recommended if you like A Gesture Life. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity

Pietra Rivoli Author Of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade

From my list on economics and globalization.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor at Georgetown University, and I have long been interested in the promise and peril of global markets and the fundamental question of why some countries are rich and others poor. I've always loved looking at globalization at ground level: My travels to Chinese factories, Washington trade negotiations, and African cocoa farms have been great adventures of both mind and spirit, and I always leave with a new friend who has illuminated my understanding of this complex world. But in a late-life shift (that is not as random as it sounds) my current work revolves around criminal justice in the US. I currently direct the Pivot Program at Georgetown.

Pietra's book list on economics and globalization

Pietra Rivoli Why did Pietra love this book?

Zingales is a brilliant academic economist, but this book leads the reader with both head and heart. Zingales is concerned that the US is on a path to similarities with his native Italy, where markets and politics are both corrupted by cronyism and nepotism. The book’s appeal is that Zingales's compelling argument cannot be put in a left or right box. He lays out evidence to suggest that more open competition will address both the inequality concerns of liberals, as well as the free market priorities of conservatives. Today, Zingales seems to suggest, we have the worst of both worlds.

By Luigi Zingales,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Capitalism for the People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in Italy, University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales witnessed firsthand the consequences of high inflation and unemployment--paired with rampant nepotism and cronyism--on a country's economy. This experience profoundly shaped his professional interests, and in 1988 he arrived in the United States, armed with a political passion and the belief that economists should not merely interpret the world, but should change it for the better. In A Capitalism for the People, Zingales makes a forceful, philosophical, and at times personal argument that the roots of American capitalism are dying, and that the result is a drift toward the more corrupt…


Book cover of The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty

Joseph P. Forgas Author Of The Psychology of Populism: The Tribal Challenge to Liberal Democracy

From my list on why populism threatens liberal democratic societies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an experimental social psychologist and Scientia Professor at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. I grew up in Hungary, and after an adventurous escape I ended up in Sydney. I received my DPhil and DSc degrees from the University of Oxford, and I spent various periods working at Oxford, Stanford, Heidelberg, and Giessen. For my work I received the Order of Australia, as well as the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, the Alexander von Humboldt Prize, and a Rockefeller Fellowship. As somebody who experienced totalitarian communism firsthand, I am very interested in the reasons for the recent spread of totalitarian, tribal ideologies, potentially undermining Western liberalism, undoubtedly the most successful civilization in human history.

Joseph's book list on why populism threatens liberal democratic societies

Joseph P. Forgas Why did Joseph love this book?

This is one of the best books I have read that helps to understand the reasons behind the fascinating and unpredictable rise of Western liberal civilization.

Humans lived in abysmal conditions for tens of thousands of years, poor, wretched, exposed to violence, war, illness, and untimely death for most of our evolutionary history. The emergence of Western liberal civilization is truly an amazing break with our miserable past. How did this happen?

The authors argue that there is a very precarious path to be followed between totalitarian and imposed order, and chaotic individualism, and Western civilization happened to find almost by chance that delicate balance as a result of a combination of historical, ideological, and other circumstances. 

By Daron Acemoglu, James A. Robinson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Narrow Corridor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Why is it so difficult to develop and sustain liberal democracy? The best recent work on this subject comes from a remarkable pair of scholars, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. In their latest book, The Narrow Corridor, they have answered this question with great insight." -Fareed Zakaria, The Washington Post

From the authors of the international bestseller Why Nations Fail, a crucial new big-picture framework that answers the question of how liberty flourishes in some states but falls to authoritarianism or anarchy in others--and explains how it can continue to thrive despite new threats.

In Why Nations Fail, Daron…


Book cover of The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy

Harald Sander Author Of Understanding the New Global Economy: A European Perspective

From my list on how to make globalization work for all people.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a boomer and working-class kid, I experienced living conditions improving rapidly. This sparked my interest in studying international and development economics to explore how we can create a better and more equitable world. As professor of international economics, I have been researching and teaching for many years about what is now known as “globalization”. This taught me two things that inspired me to write my latest book: First, to understand the process and consequences of (de-)globalization, in-depth study is essential to avoid popular misconceptions about the global economy; and, second, globalization needs to be carefully managed to make it work for all people.

Harald's book list on how to make globalization work for all people

Harald Sander Why did Harald love this book?

This is one of the most influential books on economic globalization written in the last decade, and it will certainly continue to be crucial to understand the future of globalization.

Rodrik’s Globalization Paradox pinpoints the key policy trade-offs in a globalized economy: If policymakers opt for “hyper-globalization” while insisting on national decision-making, they could find their societies in the “golden straitjacket” of global capitalism.

Alternatively, they could give up sovereignty to democratically legitimized “global governance”.

As the latter is difficult to achieve and often unacceptable to national policymakers, Rodrik argues for limiting hyper-globalization.

The existence of a globalization paradox as well as Rodrik’s conclusion, has been hotly discussed, but the ongoing debate only proves the importance of his book.

By Dani Rodrik,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Globalization Paradox as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this eloquent challenge to the reigning wisdom on globalization, Dani Rodrik reminds us of the importance of the nation-state, arguing forcefully that when the social arrangements of democracies inevitably clash with the international demands of globalization, national priorities should take precedence. Combining history with insight, humor with good-natured critique, Rodrik's case for a customizable globalization supported by a light frame of international rules shows the way to a balanced prosperity as we confront today's global challenges in trade, finance, and labor markets.


Book cover of Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

Lodewijk Smets Author Of Retooling Development Aid in the 21st Century: The Importance of Budget Support

From my list on economic growth and international development.

Why am I passionate about this?

As Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Lucas put it, "Once you start thinking about economic growth, it's hard to think about anything else." That's why I am eager to share the best books on economic development with you! I am a Senior Economist at the World Bank, the world's premier development institution. Over the years, I have developed a deep interest in what makes countries prosper, have published extensively on the topic in academic journals, and earned a PhD in Economics along the way. As a development practitioner, I have been supporting sustainable growth across the globe, with working experience in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Pacific. 

Lodewijk's book list on economic growth and international development

Lodewijk Smets Why did Lodewijk love this book?

The book, written in a very accessible manner, helps to understand the constraints the poor face and how they make decisions on matters such as education, healthcare, savings, entrepreneurship, and a variety of other issues.

Duflo and Banerjee, recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economics, advocate for the use of randomized controlled trials and, most importantly, to actually listen to what the poor have to say.

The book won the 2011 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. To me, it was an eye-opener and a refreshing way to rethink poverty reduction.

By Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Poor Economics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do the poor borrow to save? Why do they miss out on free life-saving immunizations, but pay for unnecessary drugs? In Poor Economics , Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo, two practical visionaries working toward ending world poverty, answer these questions from the ground. In a book the Wall Street Journal called marvellous, rewarding," the authors tell how the stress of living on less than 99 cents per day encourages the poor to make questionable decisions that feed,not fight,poverty. The result is a radical rethinking of the economics of poverty that offers a ringside view of the lives of…


Book cover of The Bird Artist

Solveig Eggerz Author Of Seal Woman

From my list on where characters don’t mingle much and talk funny.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written all my life. This includes freelance writing as well as reporter jobs at small, weekly newspapers in the DC/VA area. I have also taught writing (creative and technical writing) to students as diverse as jail inmates, residents of homeless shelters, military officers at the Pentagon, CIA employees, and firefighters at Ronald Reagan National Airport. Both of my published novels are works of historical fiction set in my native Iceland: Seal Woman and Sigga of Reykjavik. These novels cover the time 1908 to 1955, a period when Iceland was a little-known island. I have always been drawn to novels about isolated, cold-weather places where unusual characters and mannerisms flourish. 

Solveig's book list on where characters don’t mingle much and talk funny

Solveig Eggerz Why did Solveig love this book?

The author presents a setting so stark, so isolated, so deprived of diverse demographic and cultural experiences that the reader experiences the characters as not so much shaped by the setting but as emerging from it. Communications among the residents of the tiny fishing village off the Newfoundland coast, Witless Bay, are spare and quirky and often misunderstood. An aggressive young female character, Margaret, elbows her way through it, and a passive male artist, Fabian, drifts into actions he regrets, yet the two fulfill one another. In paragraph one, Fabian confesses to murder, but this story is about psychological survival not murder. It asks the question, how do eccentric characters, pushed together and doomed to struggle for existence in a remote, weather-beaten setting, near a turbulent ocean, survive? The role of coffee in their survival rings true as Howard Norman’s protagonist states, “I had drunk coffee since I was five…

By Howard Norman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Bird Artist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Fabian Vas, who lives in Witless Bay, Newfoundland and who earns his living as a bird artist. However, it also emerges that he has murdered the lighthouse keeper, Botho August.


Book cover of The Dutch House

Joanne McLaughlin Author Of Chasing Ashes

From my list on digging out when life just buries you.

Why am I passionate about this?

That moment when you realize, whew, you’ve survived the catastrophe, but the greater challenge lies ahead? That intrigues me. Maybe that’s because my grandmother was struck by a Vespa in Italy when I was five years old, and we traveled home by ship through a hurricane that rocked much of the East Coast. Stories about “What’s next?” and “How do we push the rubble away?” are my go-to now, as they were during the years I worked as a journalist, first as a reporter, then for much longer as an editor. After my husband’s death in 2011, clearing the rubble yielded the first two installments of my vampire trilogy. 

Joanne's book list on digging out when life just buries you

Joanne McLaughlin Why did Joanne love this book?

Its setting in suburban Philadelphia (near my old house) drew me to this book. But I loved it for the way Patchett unwinds the event that upends everything two siblings understand about and expect from their lives.

I’ve experienced how a single accident or illness can change the course of the future. What I recognized and connected with was this book’s portrayal of what I call the Grief Cha-Cha, two steps forward, three steps backward, and how sometimes what you grieve isn’t so much the person you’ve lost as the person that loss makes you. 

By Ann Patchett,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Dutch House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lose yourself in the story of a lifetime - the unforgettable Sunday Times bestseller 'Patchett leads us to a truth that feels like life rather than literature' Guardian Nominated for the Women's Prize 2020 A STORY OF TWO SIBLINGS, THEIR CHILDHOOD HOME, AND A PAST THAT THEY CAN'T LET GO. Like swallows, like salmon, we were the helpless captives of our migratory patterns. We pretended that what we had lost was the house, not our mother, not our father. We pretended that what we had lost had been taken from us by the person who still lived inside. In the…


Book cover of The Shipping News

Timothy P. Munkeby Author Of The Advocate

From my list on transporting you to a new place in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent most of my youth playing sports, and so was forced into being a closet reader, only sissies read books. I never watched TV as a kid. I was always buried in a book that transported me somewhere. These were the days when I had to read with a flashlight under the covers until I was caught and told to shut my darn book and go to sleep. This led to a degree in creative writing and a first career stint teaching the subject. Then, after retiring from founding a financial planning company, I started writing and hope I can transport others.

Timothy's book list on transporting you to a new place in your life

Timothy P. Munkeby Why did Timothy love this book?

I felt like I was transported to Newfoundland. It is now on my bucket list. The personal growth of the main character, Quoyle, is profound. At first you almost despise him for his failings, but the reader ends up loving him. The cast of characters is quirky but extremely entertaining. When the house was dragged across the ice and cabled to the rocks, I could tangibly feel the cables quiver. Beautifully written.

By Annie Proulx,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Shipping News as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Irish Times International Fiction Award and America's National Book Award, this story features Quoyle, a failed journalist, a failed husband and a born loser who heads for a remote corner of Newfoundland with his two daughters and eccentric aunt.


Book cover of Gap Creek

Solveig Eggerz Author Of Seal Woman

From my list on where characters don’t mingle much and talk funny.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written all my life. This includes freelance writing as well as reporter jobs at small, weekly newspapers in the DC/VA area. I have also taught writing (creative and technical writing) to students as diverse as jail inmates, residents of homeless shelters, military officers at the Pentagon, CIA employees, and firefighters at Ronald Reagan National Airport. Both of my published novels are works of historical fiction set in my native Iceland: Seal Woman and Sigga of Reykjavik. These novels cover the time 1908 to 1955, a period when Iceland was a little-known island. I have always been drawn to novels about isolated, cold-weather places where unusual characters and mannerisms flourish. 

Solveig's book list on where characters don’t mingle much and talk funny

Solveig Eggerz Why did Solveig love this book?

This depiction of a life of poverty in southern Appalachia around 1900 would be too sad to warrant its reading, were it not for its strong and sensitive narrator, Julie Harmon. The author describes the mundane details of butchering a hog or washing of a dead man’s feet within the context of the marriage of Hank and Julie, poor, uneducated, and perhaps mismatched young people who face one adversity after another. The details of ordinary life blossom into unexpected meaning in the interpretation of a sensitive narrator who not only cherishes details, but who is also exquisitely aware of her own feelings. She speaks in the straightforward language of an uneducated person rather than in the flowery prose of a voice attuned to expressing itself. Yet her presentation takes on the poetry of a clever woman gifted with a unique interiority.

Through Julie, the author renders nuanced feelings in a…

By Robert Morgan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gap Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller & Oprah's Book Club Pick

Young Julie Harmon works “hard as a man,” they say, so hard that at times she’s not sure she can stop. People depend on her to slaughter the hogs and nurse the dying. People are weak, and there is so much to do. At just seventeen she marries and moves down into the valley of Gap Creek, where perhaps life will be better.

But Julie and Hank’s new life in the valley, in the last years of the nineteenth century, is more complicated than the couple ever imagined. Sometimes it’s…


Book cover of Strangers We Know

Danna Smith Author Of The Complete Book of Aspen

From my list on that prove DNA sucks at keeping secrets.

Why am I passionate about this?

The Complete Book of Aspen is based on my DNA experience. I was crushed after taking a DNA test to learn that the man who raised me was not my biological father. It rocked the foundation my life was built upon. Suddenly I was struggling with my identity, wondering why I am who I am. This led to a deep dive into DNA-related books. I read everything I could, from DNA science to memoirs to novels whose characters were affected by DNA discoveries. I liked seeing how these brave souls handled their heartbreak. Not only is the subject fascinating, but it’s also comforting to know, fictional or not, that we're never alone.

Danna's book list on that prove DNA sucks at keeping secrets

Danna Smith Why did Danna love this book?

Imagine this. You were adopted as a child. You’re now an adult with a medical condition. So, you take a DNA test to find blood relatives who could shed some light and family history on your disease. But you get the shock of your life when an FBI agent shows up and tells you they received your test results too and you are related to a serial killer! Ivy’s life spins out of control as she travels to meet her relatives and find a killer. Ivy is told that her mother was murdered by The Full Moon Killer and now she is getting too close…could she be the next victim? A chilling novel with lots of twists that left me thinking if I were in Ivy’s shoes, just this once, I’d rather DNA kept secrets.

By Elle Marr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The search for a serial killer leads a woman into the twisted tangle of her own family tree in a chilling novel by the #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Missing Sister and Lies We Bury.

Adopted when she was only days old, Ivy Hon knows little about her lineage. But when she's stricken with a mystery illness, the results of a genetic test to identify the cause attract the FBI. According to Ivy's DNA, she's related to the Full Moon Killer, who has terrorized the Pacific Northwest for decades. Ivy is the FBI's hope to stop the enigmatic…


Book cover of Then She Found Me

Stephanie Kepke Author Of Feel No Evil

From my list on flawed, yet sympathetic characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

In second grade my teacher told me I should be a writer—I haven’t wavered in my path since. I was a voracious reader as a child and regularly snatched books off my mom’s night table. My love for flawed characters grew with each book I devoured. I felt a connection with these characters, which fueled my dream to become a writer. When I was twenty-one years old and studying writing, I wrote in my journal, “I want to write books that make people cry.” I love to explore the gray areas in life, and I’m honored that readers have told me my books do make them cry (and laugh). 

Stephanie's book list on flawed, yet sympathetic characters

Stephanie Kepke Why did Stephanie love this book?

I love this book because, beyond the fabulous, richly layered story, it takes what should be unlikeable characters and makes you root for them. April Epner is flawed—brittle, sarcastic and closed off at times—but I love her.

As a reader, I can understand why she is the way she is, and that’s the key to making her sympathetic and likable. The payoff is so satisfying when April makes a deep emotional connection and opens up. Bernice Graverman, April’s newfound biological mom, is tacky, loud and over the top, and yet, I was rooting for her. She has a tough shell, but there’s a touching hidden vulnerability.

One more thing I loved about this book…I lived in Quincy, MA (outside of Boston), where this story is set, for five years—it perfectly captures what life was like there in the nineties.

By Elinor Lipman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Then She Found Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

April Epner teaches high school Latin, wears flannel jumpers, and is used to having her evenings free. Bernice Graverman brandishes designer labels, favors toad-sized earrings, and hosts her own tacky TV talk show: Bernice G!

But behind the glitz and glam, Bernice has followed the life of the daughter she gave up for adoption thirty-six years ago. Now that she's got her act together, she's aiming to be a mom like she always knew she could. And she's hurtling straight for April's quiet little life....


5 book lists we think you will like!

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