100 books like All the King's Men

By Robert Penn Warren,

Here are 100 books that All the King's Men fans have personally recommended if you like All the King's Men. 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 Lincoln in the Bardo

Alison L. McLennan Author Of The Secret Story of a Mormon Turned Madam

From my list on existential and experimental historical fiction.

Who am I?

My imagination opened a portal into the past. And then I found myself spending years researching, reading, and traveling to historical sites across the western United States. Upon visiting historical places, I sometimes become overwhelmed by a visceral sense that is difficult to describe but has compelled me to write about people and places whose stories and spirits are lost and forgotten. An anecdote about a madam in a local museum stirred around in my consciousness for many years before I started writing Ophelia’s War as my MFA thesis. 

Alison's book list on existential and experimental historical fiction

Alison L. McLennan Why did Alison love this book?

I loved this novel because it was haunting, historical, and existential with an experimental format that blew my mind almost like an intense meditation session.

While some people may find the experimental format jarring, it transported me to a surreal disorienting dimension similar to a dream or bardo state. If you’re not familiar with the Bardo, it’s worth researching.

The word Bardo in the title is what originally attracted me to the novel because of my interest in Buddhism. Yet the bardo in this novel reminded me more of Dante’s Inferno!

The technique used at the beginning to establish the time and setting was ingenious, yet I did wonder if it was entirely fiction or pulled from the historical record. It seems people either really love this novel or have some synapses blown. In my case, it was both. 

By George Saunders,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Lincoln in the Bardo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017 A STORY OF LOVE AFTER DEATH 'A masterpiece' Zadie Smith 'Extraordinary' Daily Mail 'Breathtaking' Observer 'A tour de force' The Sunday Times The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns…


Book cover of Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

Who am I?

I am a highly experienced outdoorsman, musician, songwriter, and backcountry guide who chose teaching as a day job. As a writer, however, I am a promoter of creative and literary nonfiction, especially nonfiction that features a thematic thread, whether it be philosophical, conservation, historical, or even unique experiential. The thread I used for thirty years of teaching high school and honors English was the thread of Conservation, as exemplified by authors like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Edward O. Wilson, Al Gore, Henry David Thoreau, as well as many other more contemporary authors.

Mark's book list on creative nonfiction books that entertain and teach through threaded essays and stories

Mark Doherty Why did Mark love this book?

Reading Terry Tempest Williams’ book brought me an intimate awareness of the magical beauty of The Great Salt Lake ecosystem and its abundant, fascinating bird life, while at the same time, the book educated me about the long-term impacts on both wildlife and human life from all who lived downwind of the 1950’s Western nuclear weapons testing and development.

I loved the themes of wild bird habitats and migratory bird refuges that ran throughout the book, and I truly felt the emotive connection that Williams created between wild birds and human lives.

The honesty about increased cancer rates and the ultimate death of her mother added a poignant, bittersweet element that brought me to emotional tears as well.

By Terry Tempest Williams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the herons, owls, and snowy egrets that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. One event was nature at its most random, the other a by-product of rogue technology: Terry's mother, and Terry herself, had been exposed to the fallout of atomic bomb tests in the 1950s. As it interweaves these narratives of dying and accommodation, Refuge transforms…


Book cover of Grizzly Years: In Search of the American Wilderness

Rick Bass Author Of Fortunate Son: Selected Essays from the Lone Star State

From my list on resistance.

Who am I?

I’m a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction living in northwest Montana’s Yaak Valley. I moved here from Mississippi 35 years ago to live in the mountains and write short stories, novellas, novels, but have gotten sucked into decades of battling a recalcitrant U.S. Forest Service intent on building roads and clearcutting in this incredibly unique ecosystem—the Yaak Valley, is the lowest elevation in Montana, the wettest valley, and an ancient inland rainforest that contains 25% of the entire state of Montana’s “species of concern.” Chief among these are the valley’s last 25 grizzlies: one of the rarest subpopulations in North America. Loving a thing deeply is almost always revolutionary. Revolution: to turn. To change. To revolve, evolve, return. To turn around.

Rick's book list on resistance

Rick Bass Why did Rick love this book?

Doug Peacock’s Grizzly Years is revolutionary on two counts. The tale of a Green Beret medic devastated from his tours trying to sew soldiers and civilians back together in the killing fields of Vietnam, who seeks—and finds—recovery in the American wilderness: Wyoming’s Wind Rivers, the desert Southwest, and, always, the mountains of Montana—particularly Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. That wilderness can save our lives is a beautifully simple and revolutionary concept for many—that it is not a thing to be frightened of, but celebrated, preserved, defended.

In Montana’s backcountry, Peacock was drawn to the grizzlies, observed them at a distance, respectfully, and began filming them. His portraits of them playing show them to be what they are, but what not many had thought—incredibly social, certainly incredibly intelligent, but most of all, incredibly playful sentient beings. What’s revolutionary about this is also so simple: observation, and keen attention to detail, is…

By Doug Peacock,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For nearly twenty years, alone and unarmed, author Doug Peacock traversed the rugged mountains of Montana and Wyoming tracking the magnificent grizzly. His thrilling narrative takes us into the bear's habitat, where we observe directly this majestic animal's behavior, from hunting strategies, mating patterns, and denning habits to social hierarchy and methods of communication. As Peacock tracks the bears, his story turns into a thrilling narrative about the breaking down of suspicion between man and beast in the wild.


Book cover of One of Us: A Biologist's Walk Among Bears

Rick Bass Author Of Fortunate Son: Selected Essays from the Lone Star State

From my list on resistance.

Who am I?

I’m a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction living in northwest Montana’s Yaak Valley. I moved here from Mississippi 35 years ago to live in the mountains and write short stories, novellas, novels, but have gotten sucked into decades of battling a recalcitrant U.S. Forest Service intent on building roads and clearcutting in this incredibly unique ecosystem—the Yaak Valley, is the lowest elevation in Montana, the wettest valley, and an ancient inland rainforest that contains 25% of the entire state of Montana’s “species of concern.” Chief among these are the valley’s last 25 grizzlies: one of the rarest subpopulations in North America. Loving a thing deeply is almost always revolutionary. Revolution: to turn. To change. To revolve, evolve, return. To turn around.

Rick's book list on resistance

Rick Bass Why did Rick love this book?

Dr. Barrie Gilbert’s memoir, One of Us: A Biologist’s Walk Among Bears, is nothing if not a magnificent portrait and case study of humility. A half-century of incisive study and research into the baits, and needs and, perhaps most importantly, social complexity and intense attachments and intelligence of grizzly bears should be the lede here—not a single incident from Gilbert’s youth, when he surprised a mother grizzly with cubs while coming over a ridge into the wind. But so goes storytelling. Imbued with the compassion and generosity of the forgiven, Gilbert’s acute and intimate knowledge of the animal Indigenous cultures referred to as “the Real Bear” is unprecedented and unequaled in the tattered and impoverished remains of contemporary society in which so many have lost—are bereft of—any attachment to the wilderness from which we were birthed.

By Barrie Gilbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Barrie Gilbert's fascination with grizzly bears almost got him killed in Yellowstone National Park. He recovered, returned to fieldwork and devoted the next several decades to understanding and protecting these often-maligned giants. He has spent thousands of hours among wild grizzlies in Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks, Alberta, coastal British Columbia, and along Brooks River in Alaska's Katmai National Park, where hundreds of people gather to watch dozens of grizzlies feast on salmon. His research has centered on how bears respond to people and each other, with a focus on how to keep humans and bears safe.

Drawn from his…


Book cover of Joe

Rick Bass Author Of Fortunate Son: Selected Essays from the Lone Star State

From my list on resistance.

Who am I?

I’m a writer of fiction and creative nonfiction living in northwest Montana’s Yaak Valley. I moved here from Mississippi 35 years ago to live in the mountains and write short stories, novellas, novels, but have gotten sucked into decades of battling a recalcitrant U.S. Forest Service intent on building roads and clearcutting in this incredibly unique ecosystem—the Yaak Valley, is the lowest elevation in Montana, the wettest valley, and an ancient inland rainforest that contains 25% of the entire state of Montana’s “species of concern.” Chief among these are the valley’s last 25 grizzlies: one of the rarest subpopulations in North America. Loving a thing deeply is almost always revolutionary. Revolution: to turn. To change. To revolve, evolve, return. To turn around.

Rick's book list on resistance

Rick Bass Why did Rick love this book?

Fiction as literature of the resistance? Larry Brown’s Joe is a top candidate for what I’d call The Great American Novel. There are many entries, of course: as many stories as there are communities, past, present, and even future. 

What I love about Joe is the simplicity of metaphor. A backwoods ne’er-do-well, Joe Ransom makes his living killing—literally—the great wild biodiversity hardwood powerhouse forests of the Mississippi bottomlands by injecting them with poison so that they die, and the rich forest can be converted to the homogenous, fast-growing, essentially sterile monoculture of southern yellow pine. His way of life—wild, reckless, dangerous—is disappearing as well, and as he kills the thing he loves most, he drinks himself ever-deeper into harm’s way and seeks a violence commensurate with the one he is inflicting upon the forest. Worse yet, he begins to train a young acolyte, an orphan disciple, Gary Jones. The sentences…

By Larry Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Brilliant . . . Larry Brown has slapped his own fresh tattoo on the big right arm of Southern Lit.” ―The Washington Post Book World

Now a major motion picture starring Nicolas Cage, directed by David Gordon Green.

Joe Ransom is a hard-drinking ex-con pushing fifty who just won’t slow down--not in his pickup, not with a gun, and certainly not with women. Gary Jones estimates his own age to be about fifteen. Born luckless, he is the son of a hopeless, homeless wandering family, and he’s desperate for a way out. When their paths cross, Joe offers him a…


Book cover of Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics

Charles Robbins Author Of The Accomplice

From my list on political bosses.

Who am I?

Political power has intrigued me since I read Macbeth and Machiavelli in high school – how to acquire it, wield it, and keep it, and how it seduces and ultimately corrupts. Political bosses fascinated me – Svengalis who built empires, often through charisma, populism, and ruthlessness. I began writing about politics as a newspaper reporter, then ran press shops for lawmakers and candidates, including a presidential campaign; co-wrote three nonfiction books with senators, including a former majority leader; then turned to writing fiction, a passion since boyhood, largely under the theme “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  

Charles' book list on political bosses

Charles Robbins Why did Charles love this book?

Plunkitt infected me with “the political bug.” George Washington Plunkitt’s “very plain talks on very practical politics” showed me the joys of playing the political game, of devising and executing strategies and tactics, of outwitting opponents. I first read Riordon’s classic for grade school and loved its gritty romp through turn-of-the-century New York. I reread the book for a college history course and came to appreciate politics as the art of the possible – and to see the innate conflict between ambition and conscience. After seven years in journalism, I “crossed to the dark side” and became a political operative, partly because Plunkitt had shown me that playing politics can be far more rewarding – and fun – than watching it.

By William L. Riordan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Plunkitt of Tammany Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A political machine member describes its operations


Book cover of Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

Baron Birtcher Author Of South California Purples

From my list on discovering a great new thriller series.

Who am I?

I’ve been a traditionally published author of thrillers and mysteries for nearly 20 years. I grew up in rural southern California (yes, it was rural then) surrounded by open spaces, riding horseback through the rolling cattle pastures of San Juan Capistrano. My recollections of those experiences, and the culture shift that inevitably arises out of every generation is a deep and fascinating well from which to draw stories and the characters who flesh them out. My thrillers have won a number of literary awards, and have been bestsellers—for which I am profoundly grateful. I hope you’ll join to relive the ethos, the passion, and the challenges faced when the Old West meets the New.

Baron's book list on discovering a great new thriller series

Baron Birtcher Why did Baron love this book?

While more manageable in size, this novel hits on every cylinder.

Spectacular insights into the Old West and the New are told with language that somehow manages to be both elegant and gritty at the same time. 

Sometimes the scene descriptions are rendered sparely, other times with a nearly poetic hand, but at all times create a durable and memorable backdrop for the drama.

If you are a writer, this is a book you’ll want to read more than once or twice, just as you will likely find yourself re-reading entire paragraphs just to experience the language for a second time.

This book was a significant catalyst in my career, and proved foundational in my pursuing the crafting of a new contemporary western thriller series of my own. 

There is a reason Cormac McCarthy is considered a modern treasure, and this book is one of his most (in my opinion)…

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Blood Meridian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.


Book cover of To Kill a Mockingbird

Galynne Matichuk Author Of Girls, Guys, and a Tangle of Ties

From my list on telling a story to touch the heart.

Who am I?

I have been a voracious reader all my life. As a child, my happy place was the public library. I realized quickly that not all novels had the same effect. Most stories were enjoyable, but there were some books that told a story to make a point. These were stories with characters that I couldn’t forget, and I was challenged, encouraged, and inspired by what I read. These novels changed me for the better. I am grateful for authors who wrote stories with purpose. Now I have an opportunity to tell a story that will have an impact and make a difference in the lives of those who read it. 

Galynne's book list on telling a story to touch the heart

Galynne Matichuk Why did Galynne love this book?

This book has fallen in and out of favor over the years, but I applaud and defend it as one of the most brilliant and moving books ever written.

There is something powerful about walking beside a young child and seeing the world through her eyes. Maycomb is not a perfect town. The neighbors and townsfolk are not perfect people. There is much to confuse in the court case taken on by Atticus Finch.

But as Scout tries to make sense of injustice in a broken world with broken people, she learns about character, choice, and courage. She will also find loyalty, love, and hope in the most unexpected of places.

By Harper Lee,

Why should I read it?

30 authors picked To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel - a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped…


Book cover of Pop. 1280

Lynn A. Higgins Author Of Bertrand Tavernier

From my list on to read in with the eccentric movie adaptations.

Who am I?

I'm a recently retired Professor of French literature and cinema studies at Dartmouth College. Because I love both books and movies, I developed a course on adaptation, which I taught with pleasure for many years. I wanted to give students the opportunity to learn how to analyze literary texts and films, separately and in juxtaposition, and they especially enjoyed discovering how the “same” story works quite differently in different media. In addition to the two volumes on Tavernier, my published books include New Novel, New Wave, New Politics: Fiction and the Representation of History in Postwar France; Parables of Theory: Jean Ricardou’s Metafiction; and Rape and Representation (co-edited with Brenda Silver).

Lynn's book list on to read in with the eccentric movie adaptations

Lynn A. Higgins Why did Lynn love this book?

I was introduced to this book through Tavernier’s brilliant adaptation, Clean Slate (Coup de Torchon, 1981). Set in Texas, Thompson’s novel was published in 1964, during the Civil Rights Movement, and it offers a portrait of petty-minded racism in the continuing aftermath of slavery. Tavernier’s adaptation transposes the story to 1930s French colonial West Africa. I remain haunted by the ways the two settings illuminate each other. Tavernier’s blending of a deadly serious historical crisis with touches of comedy—slapstick even—brings both eras and the novel itself to life in enjoyable and instructive ways.

By Jim Thompson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Pop. 1280 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic crime novel from 'the best suspense writer going, bar none' New York Times

Nick Corey likes being the high sheriff of Potts County. But Nick has a few problems that he needs to deal with: like his loveless marriage, the pimps who torment him, the honest man who is running against him in the upcoming elections and the women who adore him.

And it turns out that Nick isn't anything like as amiable, easy-going or as slow as he seems. He's as sly, brutal and corrupt as they come.


Book cover of Look Homeward, Angel

Beverly A. Li Author Of The Elbow Grease Legacy

From my list on seeking to unravel dysfunctional family cycles.

Who am I?

It took a career as a librarian to help me understand my need for order, instead of the emotional chaos I grew up with in a large family. Being the child of an alcoholic father and a codependent mother gave me little personal value. After gaining some sense of worth in college, I wanted to give my kids the stability and support every child deserves, but I had to learn how to do this. I used my resources: education, self-scrutiny, honesty, art, nature, and the good Lord of the universe.

Beverly's book list on seeking to unravel dysfunctional family cycles

Beverly A. Li Why did Beverly love this book?

As a leader in autobiographical fiction, Wolfe writes of a large family dominated by an alcoholic, authoritarian father who is highly dramatic in words and behavior.

His wife’s determination to survive by running a boarding house and investing in real estate leaves little time for parental attention to the needs of their children.

While most grow to repeat the dysfunctional family habits that hinder healthy development, the youngest child, with the help of his teachers, struggles enough to finally take steps away from the pain, and out of the cycle, as I did with my own life.

By Thomas Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Look Homeward, Angel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The spectacular, history-making first novel about a young man’s coming of age by literary legend Thomas Wolfe, first published in 1929 and long considered a classic of twentieth century literature.

A legendary author on par with William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Wolfe published Look Homeward, Angel, his first novel, about a young man’s burning desire to leave his small town and tumultuous family in search of a better life, in 1929. It gave the world proof of his genius and launched a powerful legacy.

The novel follows the trajectory of Eugene Gant, a brilliant and restless young man whose…


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