10 books like Affliction

By Russell Banks,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Affliction. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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China Boy

By Gus Lee,

Book cover of China Boy

Lee depicts the world of San Francisco through the eyes of a young Chinese-American boy, navigating the grownup world of race, class, and urban life, and trying to find the place where he fits, in between his family and ethnicity, and his modern American sensibility.  Also worth noting, Kai-Ting’s encounters with African-Americans, Chicanos and other Chinese people, in a novel that has nary a white person in it. 

China Boy

By Gus Lee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"What a knockout. An incredibly rich and new voice for American literature...China Boy grabs the reader's heart and won't let go."-Amy Tan, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club

"A fascinating, evocative portrait of the Chinese community in California in the 1950s, caught between two complex, demanding cultures."-The New York Times Book Review

Kai Ting is the only American-born son of a Shanghai family that fled China during Mao's revolution. Growing up in a San Francisco multicultural, low-income neighborhood, Kai is caught between two worlds-embracing neither the Chinese nor the American way of life. After his mother's death, Kai is…


Recent History

By Anthony Giardina,

Book cover of Recent History

The novel has a remarkable twist on the traditional coming of age story; it’s also a novel about a straight guy coming to terms with his own homophobia.  It’s not a novel about a gay boy, but more a novel about a sraight boy’s understanding of how deeply homophobia has infected his life. 

Recent History

By Anthony Giardina,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The new novel from an acclaimed short story writer - a brilliantly observed portrait of a man teetering on the edge of abandoning his marriage for a homosexual affair

As a husband, Luca Carcera hides his emotions behind the safety of routine domesticity. With his spice jars and cookbooks stacked perfectly in the kitchen, he feels in some measure of control. He loves his wife, but is struggling to come to terms with the secret desires which lie beneath his role as a steady, suburban, middle-class husband. His parents, Lou and Dorothy, spent 14 years together before Lou abandoned his…


Death of a Salesman

By Arthur Miller,

Book cover of Death of a Salesman

This play has so many layers: men’s relationship to work, marriage, fatherhood, unrealized ambitions, and the costs of buying your own bullshit.  See it with Dustin Hoffman or Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Death of a Salesman

By Arthur Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning tragedy of a salesman's deferred American dream

Ever since it was first performed in 1949, Death of a Salesman has been recognized as a milestone of the American theater. In the person of Willy Loman, the aging, failing salesman who makes his living riding on a smile and a shoeshine, Arthur Miller redefined the tragic hero as a man whose dreams are at once insupportably vast and dangerously insubstantial. He has given us a figure whose name has become a symbol for a kind of majestic grandiosity-and a play that compresses epic extremes of humor and anguish,…


Moby-Dick

By Herman Melville,

Book cover of Moby-Dick

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is a book that only became understandable after multiple readings. When I was younger, I was bored struggling through this book; I didn’t enjoy the whaling history or whale biology and none of it added up to a novel. Still, I wanted to know why so many people believed it was the finest novel ever written. And now, having read the book at least a dozen times, I see that Melville’s wild construction justifies the epic confrontation between whale and man. I see the relationship of the Old Testament God to the White Whale that Ahab cannot best. I can honestly say that I love this book I once hated.

Moby-Dick

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Moby-Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Melville's tale of the whaling industry, and one captain's obsession with revenge against the Great White Whale that took his leg. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes a biography of Herman Melville and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom or at home to further engage the reader in the work at hand.


The Will to Change

By bell hooks,

Book cover of The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

The world of individual men is shaped by our continuing social, economic, and political power. But “men” aren’t one uniform group. We experience the world through our socio-economic class, ‘race’, sexual and gender orientations, ethnicity, physical differences, and more. When bell hooks died in 2021, we lost one of the US’s great feminists who long explored the intersectional nature of women’s oppression. She also wrote with great compassion about men, as you can also see in her book, We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity.

The Will to Change

By bell hooks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Everyone needs to love and be loved-even men. But to know love, men must be able to look at the ways that patriarchal culture keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving.

In The Will to Change, bell hooks gets to the heart of the matter and shows men how to express the emotions that are a fundamental part of who they are-whatever their age, marital status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. But toxic masculinity punishes those fundamental emotions, and it's so deeply ingrained in our society that it's hard for men to not comply-but…


Masculinity and Sexuality in Modern Mexico

By Víctor M. Macías-González (editor), Anne Rubenstein (editor),

Book cover of Masculinity and Sexuality in Modern Mexico

This is a solid edited volume that has contributions from leading scholars of Mexican history exploring straight and gay sexualities from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century in different parts of the country. The chapters examine a wide range of interesting topics including cinema and movie going, public bathhouses, prostitution, elopement, and mariachi culture to untangle how masculinities are historically constructed and to interrogate the concepts of macho and machismo.

Masculinity and Sexuality in Modern Mexico

By Víctor M. Macías-González (editor), Anne Rubenstein (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Masculinity and Sexuality in Modern Mexico as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Masculinity and Sexuality in Modern Mexico, historians and anthropologists explain how evolving notions of the meaning and practice of manhood have shaped Mexican history. In essays that range from Texas to Oaxaca and from the 1880s to the present, contributors write about file clerks and movie stars, wealthy world travelers and ordinary people whose adventures were confined to a bar in the middle of town. The Mexicans we meet in these essays lived out their identities through extraordinary events--committing terrible crimes, writing world-famous songs, and ruling the nation--but also in everyday activities like falling in love, raising families, getting…


Becoming Men of Some Consequence

By John A. Ruddiman,

Book cover of Becoming Men of Some Consequence: Youth and Military Service in the Revolutionary War

The men who fought the American Revolution were often young, in their teens and twenties, and the war coincided with their transition to adulthood, interrupting the traditional passage into beginning a career and forming a family. Ruddiman recaptures what it meant for the revolution to happen not just at a particular time in the nation’s history but at a particular time in the lives of the men who fought it. For officers, the war was an unmatched opportunity to enhance their social status because it cemented their reputation as gentlemen—especially when they really weren’t genteel by any other standard. It’s a reminder that status mattered a lot, even in an army fighting against aristocracy.

Becoming Men of Some Consequence

By John A. Ruddiman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming Men of Some Consequence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Young Continental soldiers carried a heavy burden in the American Revolution. Their experiences of coming of age during the upheavals of war provide a novel perspective on the Revolutionary era, eliciting questions of gender, family life, economic goals, and politics. ""Going for a soldier"" forced young men to confront profound uncertainty, and even coercion, but also offered them novel opportunities. Although the war imposed obligations on youths, military service promised young men in their teens and early twenties alternate paths forward in life. Continental soldiers' own youthful expectations about respectable manhood and their goals of economic competence and marriage not…


Beyond Combat

By Heather Marie Stur,

Book cover of Beyond Combat: Women and Gender in the Vietnam War Era

(Spoiler alert: I appear in Ms. Stur’s book, albeit briefly)

Beyond Combat is one of the few books that examines the role of the more than 60,000 women who served in military and civilian capacities in Vietnam and the gender stereotypes that accompanied them. In addition to nurses, who formed the largest group of U.S. military women in Vietnam, Stur highlights those who served under the auspices of the Red Cross Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas program. These young college graduates were commonly known as “donut dollies” because of their girl-next-door appeal. “Our job was to lift the guys’ spirits,” recalls donut dollie Jeanne Christie. Music was one way the donut dollies did that. “Some of us DJ’d at various bases during our time in-country,” adds Bobbi McDaniel Stephens. “I took dedications from the guys,” a playlist she says included “Get Back,” “My Girl,” and “He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother,”…

Beyond Combat

By Heather Marie Stur,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Beyond Combat investigates how the Vietnam War both reinforced and challenged the gender roles that were key components of American Cold War ideology. Refocusing attention onto women and gender paints a more complex and accurate picture of the war's far-reaching impact beyond the battlefields. Encounters between Americans and Vietnamese were shaped by a cluster of intertwined images used to make sense of and justify American intervention and use of force in Vietnam. These images included the girl next door, a wholesome reminder of why the United States was committed to defeating Communism, and the treacherous and mysterious 'dragon lady', who…


Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire

By Amy S. Greenberg,

Book cover of Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire

Better than any other study on filibustering, Amy Greenberg treats it through the lens of gender, and she is particularly interested in public opinion about filibustering. Mass rallies in support of filibuster invasions of Cuba and Central America occurred in U.S. cities in the 1850s, providing funds, recruits, and moral support for criminal enterprises. What did gender have to do with who approved of filibustering, and who didn’t? What did filibustering have to do with ideas about what constituted proper masculinity? Did women participate in filibustering in any way, and did images of exoticized women in other parts of the world affect the attitudes of male filibusters?

Greenberg uses a fascinating variety of sources, including cartoons, poetry, travel accounts, and artwork, to convey the ambience of the filibustering world. Intriguingly, she both links and differentiates what she found about U.S. expansionist initiatives in Latin America before the Civil War to…

Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire

By Amy S. Greenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The US-Mexico War (1846-8) brought two centuries of dramatic territorial expansionism to a close, seemingly fulfilling America's Manifest destiny. Or did it? As politicians schemed to annex new lands in Latin America and the Pacific, some Americans took expansionism into their own hands. From 1848-60, an epidemic of unsanctioned attacks by American mercenaries (filibusters) took place. This book documents the potency of Manifest destiny in the antebellum era, and situates imperial lust in the context of social and economic transformations that were changing the meaning of manhood and womanhood in the US. Easy victory over Mexico in 1848 led many…


Angry White Men

By Michael Kimmel,

Book cover of Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era

The rise of far-right movements and the attempts to roll back the rights of all women and the basic civil rights of Black people have been fueled by angry white men. Michael Kimmel’s brilliant book is a powerful critique of the hateful beliefs and actions of these men, but manages to speak about them with empathy. Because he also interviews men who have left neo-Nazi organizations, he leaves us with a very hopeful message.

Angry White Men

By Michael Kimmel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We hear them on talk radio airwaves bellowing about minorities. We watch them organize anti-immigration demonstrations on the border. We read their opinions regarding the demise of white male privilege. And sometimes, tragically, we witness their aggression through vigilante violence, as in the cases of Wade Michael Page, James Eagan Holmes, Elliot Rodger, George Zimmerman, and many more. They are America's angry white men, including "men's rights" activists who think white men are the victims of discrimination, as well as members of the "white wing" of the rightward fringes of the American political spectrum. Why are they so angry?

Sociologist…


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