100 books like Aftershocks

By Nadia Owusu,

Here are 100 books that Aftershocks fans have personally recommended if you like Aftershocks. 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 The Shadow of the Sun

Mark Weston Author Of The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries

From my list on travel in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I first visited Africa in 2004 I’ve found it difficult to tear myself away. I’ve lived in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, and Sudan and travelled in all corners of the continent. I’ve participated in a revolution, hung out with the illegal fishermen of Lake Victoria, been cursed—and protectedby witch doctors, and learned Swahili. I’ve also read extensively about the place, written three books about it, and broadcast from it for the BBC World Service. In my other life I research and write about international development for universities and global organisations. This too has a focus on Africa.

Mark's book list on travel in Africa

Mark Weston Why did Mark love this book?

This short book is without doubt the best introduction to African travel (and in my opinion one of the greatest travel books ever written).

Ranging across the whole continent, Kapuscinski’s evocative writing, although not always sticking religiously to factual details, captures the essence—and the magic—of the place like nobody else can. The book, along with his other great works on Africa Another Day of Life and The Emperor, was a major influence on both why I wanted to get to know Africa and how I write about it. 

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Shadow of the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Only with the greatest of simplifications, for the sake of convenience, can we say Africa. In reality, except as a geographical term, Africa doesn't exist'. Ryszard Kapuscinski has been writing about the people of Africa throughout his career. In astudy that avoids the official routes, palaces and big politics, he sets out to create an account of post-colonial Africa seen at once as a whole and as a location that wholly defies generalised explanations. It is both a sustained meditation on themosaic of peoples and practises we call 'Africa', and an impassioned attempt to come to terms with humanity itself…


Book cover of Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From my list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Susan Lewallen Why did Susan love this book?

This is the best Peace Corps Volunteer memoir I’ve read. It’s unusual in that it’s focused on the story of Monique Dembele, a traditional birth attendant in a small village in Mali, rather than on the PCV, Kris Holloway. We get to know Monique through Kris’s eyes—and Kris so obviously loves her friend and delights in the rural Malian community where she’s stationed. The cultural exchange and friendship that Kris experienced and describes are what Peace Corps is supposed to be about. This was a satisfying matchup of two young women from radically different worlds who saw beyond their differences into their common humanity. Holloway is a gifted writer, providing a chance to look into the world of rural West African women in the late 1980s. Mali slipped into ongoing civil unrest in the years after Kris left; it's heart wrenching to realize what that meant to the very communities…

By Kris Holloway,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Monique and the Mango Rains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Monique Dembele saves lives and dispenses hope in a place where childbirth is a life-and-death matter. Her unquenchable passion to improve the lot of the women and children in her West African village is matched by her buoyant humour in the face of unhappy marriage and backbreaking work. This is the deeply compelling story of the rare friendship between a young development volunteer and this midwife who defies tradition and becomes - too early in her own life - a legend.


Book cover of Whites

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From my list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Susan Lewallen Why did Susan love this book?

This collection of six short stories, set in Botswana in the mid-1980s, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1987. It made my list because Rush puts a variety of privileged, well off and well-educated expats—Boers, Europeans, and Americans—under a microscope and provides a real and exquisitely detailed view of the expat life in Botswana in that era—it doesn’t always look good. Clearly, the expat lives are in stark contrast to those of the Batswana's, and Rush is generally careful to stick with what he knows; in only one story is the POV character Batswanan. It’s easy to see Rush’s experience as a poet in this literary fiction and the story lines are unique.

By Norman Rush,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Whether they are Americans, Brits, or a stubborn and suicidally moral Dutchman, Norman Rush's whites are not sure why they are in Botswana. Their uncertainty makes them do odd things. Driven half-mad by the barking of his neighbor's dogs, Carl dips timidly into native witchcraft—only to jump back out at the worst possible moment. Ione briskly pursues a career as a "seducer" ("A seductress was merely someone who was seductive and who might or might not be awarded a victory. But a seducer was a professional"), while her dentist husband fends off the generous advances of an African cook. Funny,…


Book cover of White Dog Fell from the Sky

Susan Lewallen Author Of Distorted Vision

From my list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve lived and worked intensely in the medical field for over two decades in many countries in Africa. I’ve seen global health programs from the academic, research, developmental, and humanitarian viewpoints of both Africans and Europeans. It’s a complicated mix of politics, good intentions, and, sometimes, egos. There’s much to be learned from both fiction and nonfiction about the complexity of it all. 

Susan's book list on postcolonial Africa through the eyes of foreigners

Susan Lewallen Why did Susan love this book?

This slow, haunting novel shows newly independent Botswana in the 1960s, when Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana’s first president, welcomed Europeans to help build the country. Alice is an American anthropologist working for the government; her marriage to another American, in the Ministry of Finance, dissolves, as he embraces the ex-pat lifestyle and she falls in love with the country. An equally important POV character is Isaac, a South African medical student who has to flee for safety to Botswana after witnessing a killing by the South African police. He finds work as Alice’s gardener and a relationship based on mutual respect ensues. When he falls afoul of the law, he disappears, his life once again in danger. Meanwhile, Alice suffers in a tragic love affair. Both he and Alice lose what they love most, but Alice has the grace to understand that his suffering is worse. Their stories play out…

By Eleanor Morse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked White Dog Fell from the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An extraordinary novel of love, friendship, and betrayal for admirers of Abraham Verghese and Edwidge Danticat

Eleanor Morse's rich and intimate portrait of Botswana, and of three people whose intertwined lives are at once tragic and remarkable, is an absorbing and deeply moving story.

In apartheid South Africa in 1977, medical student Isaac Muthethe is forced to flee his country after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force. He is smuggled into Botswana, where he is hired as a gardener by a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who has abandoned her Ph.D. studies to…


Book cover of Black, Jewish, and Interracial: It's Not the Color of Your Skin, but the Race of Your Kin, and Other Myths of Identity

Cheryl Lynn Greenberg Author Of Troubling the Waters: Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century

From my list on Black-Jewish relations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor who teaches and works in the field of African American History. Because I am both white and Jewish, I’ve been repeatedly asked to give talks about relationships between African Americans and white Jewish Americans, and about what “went wrong” to shatter the “grand alliance” of the civil rights movement embodied by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. I had no answer, but I suspected that none of the stories that we had been told, whether good or bad, were fully true. So I went back to the sources and uncovered a complex and multilayered history. Black and Jewish collaboration was never a given, and underlying tensions and conflicts reflected the broader realities of race and class in the U.S. In the book I explored how these historical and political forces operated, and continue to resonate today.

Cheryl's book list on Black-Jewish relations

Cheryl Lynn Greenberg Why did Cheryl love this book?

Not all Jews are white. Again, there are a number of wonderful books by African American Jews that remind us of this fact, and how often we use the word “Jewish” to refer only to Jews of European descent. Azoulay insists on confronting this unthinking racism head-on by reflecting on her experiences as a Black woman who struggled to feel at home in the Jewish community. Too often “Black-Jewish relations” as a phrase defines two discrete communities. This book reminds us that this distortion of the truth both erases Jews of color and lets white Jews avoid taking responsibility for challenging social systems that privilege whiteness.

By Katya Gibel Azoulay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How do adult children of interracial parents-where one parent is Jewish and one is Black-think about personal identity? This question is at the heart of Katya Gibel Azoulay's Black, Jewish, and Interracial. Motivated by her own experience as the child of a Jewish mother and Jamaican father, Gibel Azoulay blends historical, theoretical, and personal perspectives to explore the possibilities and meanings that arise when Black and Jewish identities merge. As she asks what it means to be Black, Jewish, and interracial, Gibel Azoulay challenges deeply ingrained assumptions about identity and moves toward a consideration of complementary racial identities.
Beginning with…


Book cover of The Invisible Line: A Secret History of Race in America

Lisa Alther Author Of Washed in the Blood

From my list on Melungeons and their history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first heard about Melungeons when a babysitter told me they would “git” me if I didn’t behave.  She said they lived in caves outside our East Tennessee town and had six fingers on each hand.  I consigned these creatures to myth and nightmares, until a cousin informed me that some of our shared ancestors were Melungeons and showed me scars from the removal of his extra thumbs.  For the next ten years I visited sites related to Melungeons and interviewed many who claimed Melungeon ancestry, running DNA tests on some. This research yielded my memoir Kinfolks: Falling Off The Family Tree and my historical novel Washed In The Blood.

Lisa's book list on Melungeons and their history

Lisa Alther Why did Lisa love this book?

This book features a trio of true-life stories from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries about families whose ancestors were enslaved but who, by a variety of stratagems, managed to cross the color line and become “white” in the eyes of others – and eventually in the eyes of their own descendants. These stories illustrated for me the actual permeability of racial categories, hinging largely on one’s physical appearance and possessions.  In other words, the lighter your skin and the larger your bank account, the greater the possibility that others will allow you to be whoever you say you are.

By Daniel J. Sharfstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"An astonishingly detailed rendering of the variety and complexity of racial experience in an evolving national culture."
-The New York Times Book Review

In the Obama era, as Americans confront the enduring significance of race and heritage, this multigenerational account of family secrets promises to spark debate across the country. Daniel J. Sharfstein's sweeping history moves from eighteenth-century South Carolina to twentieth-century Washington, D.C., unraveling the stories of three families who represent the complexity of race in America. Identifying first as people of color and later as whites, the families provide a lens through which to examine how people thought…


Book cover of Passing

Faith Knight Author Of As Grey As Black and White

From my list on exploring biracial identity in the 20th century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the product of biracial parents, and the idea of passing or not has always fascinated me as well as disgusted me. The reasons one would want to pass in this era are much different than the survival aspect my ancestors who passed had to consider in the 19th century. In writing my YA historical novels, being biracial always enters in, no matter the topic, because it is who I am and, in the end, always rears its head for consideration.

Faith's book list on exploring biracial identity in the 20th century

Faith Knight Why did Faith love this book?

I’ve read this book several times and saw the 2021 film. This is the quintessential novel on how skin color can affect one's choices in life as well as the life one is relegated to.

It made me really contemplate how someone can move from one world to another with either no concern (as in the case of Clare) or major angst, as in the case of Irene.

I loved this book because the struggles were real, and the end was unexpected.

By Nella Larsen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A classic, brilliant and layered novel that has been at the heart of racial identity discourse in America for almost a century.

Clare Kendry leads a dangerous life. Fair, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a white man unaware of her African American heritage and has severed all ties to her past. Clare's childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, but refuses to acknowledge the racism that continues to constrict her family's happiness. A chance encounter forces both women to confront the lies they have told others - and the…


Book cover of The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother

Steve Pemberton Author Of The Lighthouse Effect: How Ordinary People Can Have an Extraordinary Impact in the World

From my list on demonstrating the power of the human spirit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m most drawn to stories of overcoming. My own childhood was about exactly that-overcoming a multi-generational inheritance of family separation and orphaned children. When I wrote my first book about that story, A Chance in the World, an unanticipated magic unfolded: I began to receive stories of strangers from all across the world who wrote to tell me their own story of overcoming. Each and every day I hear from someone and the steady stream of those stories of overcoming affirms something I have to come to learn: we all have a story and none of us look like that story.

Steve's book list on demonstrating the power of the human spirit

Steve Pemberton Why did Steve love this book?

Even a casual glance at today’s headlines will show how race continues to be a perplexing issue in our society. And it shouldn’t be. But we need examples of how to navigate the complexities of race and McBride’s powerful memoir shows us how.

His deep loveand appreciationfor his mother and coming to terms with her story while still standing in his own truth as a Black man is instructive and inspiring…and a reminder that there is nothing greater than love.

By James McBride,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Color of Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_______________ 'A triumph' - New York Times Book Review 'A startling, tender-hearted tribute to a woman for whom the expression tough love might have been invented' - The Times 'As lively as a novel, a well-written, thoughtful contribution to the literature on race' - Washington Post _______________ MORE THAN TWO YEARS ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST _______________ From the New York Times bestselling author of Deacon King Kong and The Good Lord Bird, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, came this modern classic that Oprah.com calls one of the best memoirs of a generation and that…


Book cover of Whale Talk

Paul Volponi Author Of The Great G.O.A.T. Debate: The Best of the Best in Everything from Sports to Science

From my list on for fearless readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent 16 years teaching in NYC public schools, six of them on Rikers Island the world's biggest jail where I helped incarcerated teens improve their reading and writing skills. That experience helped to launch me on my own writing career. The job of the author? To hold up a mirror to society and reflect upon the page what the reader may not have experienced yet or missed seeing in the world outside the borders of a book.

Paul's book list on for fearless readers

Paul Volponi Why did Paul love this book?

I once traveled in a compact car across Michigan with Crutcher, my wife, and daughter. His conversation was as magnificent as his prose. Whale Talk brings together a group of high school misfits that comprise their school's swim team. Guess what? The school doesn't have a pool, which is fine because only one of them can swim anyway. Read and enjoy a master at work in Crutcher.

By Chris Crutcher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whale Talk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

"A truly exceptional book."-Washington Post

There's bad news and good news about the Cutter High School swim team. The bad news is that they don't have a pool. The good news is that only one of them can swim anyway. Bestselling author Chris Crutcher's controversial and acclaimed novel follows a group of outcasts as they take on inequality and injustice in their high school.

"Crutcher's superior gifts as a storyteller and his background as a working therapist combine to make magic in Whale Talk. The thread of truth in his fiction reminds us that heroes can come in any shape,…


Book cover of Native Guard

Gabriel Spera Author Of Twisted Pairs: Poems

From my list on for people who enjoy poetry that looks like poetry.

Why am I passionate about this?

I can’t guess how many great poems I have committed to memory. In waiting rooms, or in the checkout line, I recite them to myself. In this way, poetry helps me not only understand the world we live in, but live in it without going crazy. And while I love all poetry, I’ve always found that poetry in traditional forms—with meter and rhyme—is easier to remember. That’s one reason why I’ve always been drawn to formal verse. In my own poetry, I strive to uphold that tradition, while inventing new forms that spring organically from the subject at hand. I trust these books will demonstrate I’m not alone.

Gabriel's book list on for people who enjoy poetry that looks like poetry

Gabriel Spera Why did Gabriel love this book?

This book, justly honored with the Pulitzer Prize, surprised me with its formal range and intensity of experience.

Trethewey is celebrated as a chronicler of our collective history, but I was far more taken with the poems of personal history—and, more specifically, personal loss. The poems that examine the absence left by her mother’s untimely death are, to me, the defining poems of the book. These often exemplify her gift for presenting the most telling detail or selecting the word that will resonate on the broadest level.

Let me hone in on one poem, “Myth,” a recasting of the Orpheus story. What astonished me about this poem was the formal structure. It consists of two sections of nine lines, each arranged in terza rima stanzas. The second section rewrites the first half—in reverse! The effect is to convey the experience of descending into the darkness of the underworld and then…

By Natasha Tretheway,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for poetry and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey's elegiac Native Guard is a deeply personal volume that brings together two legacies of the Deep South.
The title of the collection refers to the Mississippi Native Guards, a black regiment whose role in the Civil War has been largely overlooked by history. As a child in Gulfport, Mississippi, in the 1960s, Trethewey could gaze across the water to the fort on Ship Island where Confederate captives once were guarded by black soldiers serving the Union cause.?
The racial legacy of the South touched Trethewey's…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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