100 books like Astra

By Cedar Bowers,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Hideous Kinky

Buffy Cram Author Of Once Upon an Effing Time

From my list on living that 60s cult/commune life.

Who am I?

I grew up living in a housing co-op on Vancouver Island, BC. While not technically a commune, it did have some of the hallmarks. There were gangs of partially clothed kids roaming wild. There were a bunch of idealistic adults who had dreams of shared land stewardship and, well, shared everything. The housing project succeeded in many ways (it still exists today) and, it failed in other ways (over the years there were many fractures in the community). I’ve always been fascinated by attempts at communal living. I suppose my obsession with cult life is just an extension of this. It is my life imagined one step further.

Buffy's book list on living that 60s cult/commune life

Buffy Cram Why did Buffy love this book?

This book is about a young mother who takes her two daughters to Marrakech, Morocco in the 1960s so she can study Sufism, which, although not technically a “cult” does seem rather cult-like when described from the point of view of a five-year-old child who is watching her mother do strange ritual spinning to try to annihilate her ego.

You might remember the 1998 movie adaptation of this book starring Kate Winslet, but I think the book is better because of its dreamy, almost other-worldly descriptions of street life in Marrakech. This gem of a book is steeped in childlike wonder and longing and it will be over far too soon.

By Esther Freud,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An unusual story about Marrakesh in the 1960's told through the eyes of a five year old child.


Book cover of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Buffy Cram Author Of Once Upon an Effing Time

From my list on living that 60s cult/commune life.

Who am I?

I grew up living in a housing co-op on Vancouver Island, BC. While not technically a commune, it did have some of the hallmarks. There were gangs of partially clothed kids roaming wild. There were a bunch of idealistic adults who had dreams of shared land stewardship and, well, shared everything. The housing project succeeded in many ways (it still exists today) and, it failed in other ways (over the years there were many fractures in the community). I’ve always been fascinated by attempts at communal living. I suppose my obsession with cult life is just an extension of this. It is my life imagined one step further.

Buffy's book list on living that 60s cult/commune life

Buffy Cram Why did Buffy love this book?

Okay, I might be stretching the definition of “cult” with this one, but hear me out.

This book—which is technically non-fiction, but reads an awful lot like a novel—tells the true story of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters’ efforts to dose America with LSD-laced Kool-Aid in the 1960s. But it’s Kesey’s ramblings about creating a new religion and the devotion of the unhinged misfits who orbit around him that make me see the Merry Pranksters as cult-like.

Reading this book, I get the feeling that if Kesey hadn’t been stopped by the FBI, he very well might have changed the world. Or did he manage to change the world anyway? I’ll let you decide.

By Tom Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I looked around and people's faces were distorted...lights were flashing everywhere...the screen at the end of the room had three or four different films on it at once, and the strobe light was flashing faster than it had been...the band was playing but I couldn't hear the music...people were dancing...someone came up to me and I shut my eyes and with a machine he projected images on the back of my eye-lids...I sought out a person I trusted and he laughed and told me that the Kool-Aid had been spiked and that I was beginning my first LSD experience...


Book cover of Greenwood

Eva Silverfine Author Of How to Bury Your Dog

From my list on our connections with the natural environment.

Who am I?

Although I grew up in New York City, from a young age I was drawn to the natural world, particularly through gardening and camping trips. Eventually I studied biology in college and earned a Master’s researching stream ecology. I also always imagined myself a writer. For years my writing was solely in letters and journals, but during my Master’s I started a novel featuring an immature mayfly in the stream (it was somewhat autobiographical). Ecology is all about the connection of organisms to their environment and to one another, and I think this perspective of connectedness has embedded itself deeply in my writing and my life.

Eva's book list on our connections with the natural environment

Eva Silverfine Why did Eva love this book?

I particularly love books that combine the trifecta of engaging story; interesting, complex characters; and good writing with real substance (as in, I stop to think about the content). Greenwood has all of these.

The writing is particularly lyrical—I could fill this space with beautiful quotes. The author takes the reader through four generations of a family, with each generation intimately connected to trees in different ways—from lumbermen to environmental activist to woodcraftsman to botanist.

And as the author “takes a core” through a family tree, the story captures both the characters’ relationships to one another as well as to the world in which they live. I cannot recommend this book enough!

By Michael Christie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The truth is that all family lines, from the highest to the lowest, originate somewhere, on some particular day. Even the grandest trees must've once been seeds spun helpless on the wind, and then just meek saplings nosing up from the soil.'

2038. On a remote island off the Pacific coast of British Columbia stands the Greenwood Arboreal Cathedral, one of the world's last forests. Wealthy tourists flock from all corners of the dust-choked globe to see the spectacle and remember what once was. But even as they breathe in the fresh air and pose for photographs amidst the greenery,…


Book cover of Drop City

Buffy Cram Author Of Once Upon an Effing Time

From my list on living that 60s cult/commune life.

Who am I?

I grew up living in a housing co-op on Vancouver Island, BC. While not technically a commune, it did have some of the hallmarks. There were gangs of partially clothed kids roaming wild. There were a bunch of idealistic adults who had dreams of shared land stewardship and, well, shared everything. The housing project succeeded in many ways (it still exists today) and, it failed in other ways (over the years there were many fractures in the community). I’ve always been fascinated by attempts at communal living. I suppose my obsession with cult life is just an extension of this. It is my life imagined one step further.

Buffy's book list on living that 60s cult/commune life

Buffy Cram Why did Buffy love this book?

T.C. Boyle is the master of writing novels in which two seemingly disparate storylines are headed for a collision course.

In this novel, he writes about the inhabitants of Drop City, a drugged-out hippy commune in California. And, in alternating chapters, he writes about the inhabitants of a remote village in Alaska, who are struggling to prepare for winter. These two storylines may seem to have nothing to do with one another until you realize both worlds are at a breaking point.

Finding out how these two casts of characters would eventually collide kept me up way past my bedtime a few nights in a row and I’m not mad about it!

By T.C. Boyle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is 1970, and a down-at-the-heels California commune devoted to peace, free love, and the simple life has decided to relocate to the last frontier-the unforgiving landscape of interior Alaska-in the ultimate expression of going back to the land. Armed with the spirit of adventure and naive optimism, the inhabitants of "Drop City" arrive in the wilderness of Alaska only to find their utopia already populated by other young homesteaders. When the two communities collide, unexpected friendships and dangerous enmities are born as everyone struggles with the bare essentials of life: love, nourishment, and a roof over one's head. Rich,…


Book cover of The Girls

Buffy Cram Author Of Once Upon an Effing Time

From my list on living that 60s cult/commune life.

Who am I?

I grew up living in a housing co-op on Vancouver Island, BC. While not technically a commune, it did have some of the hallmarks. There were gangs of partially clothed kids roaming wild. There were a bunch of idealistic adults who had dreams of shared land stewardship and, well, shared everything. The housing project succeeded in many ways (it still exists today) and, it failed in other ways (over the years there were many fractures in the community). I’ve always been fascinated by attempts at communal living. I suppose my obsession with cult life is just an extension of this. It is my life imagined one step further.

Buffy's book list on living that 60s cult/commune life

Buffy Cram Why did Buffy love this book?

If you’re as obsessed with Charles Manson as I am, you’ll love this novel, which tells the story of Evie, a bored and misguided 14-year-old girl who ends up inadvertently joining a cult that, while not directly stated to be the Manson cult, certainly alludes to it.

In this cult, the leader is Russell Hadrick, and though I find him less charismatic than Manson, he wields the same power over people. The other cult members and their eventual crime is the same as the real-world cult too. What I’m most impressed with about this book is the way it details everyday cult life, what with its musty piles of communal clothes, the tedium of chores, and the listlessness of too many people with too much time on their hands.

By Emma Cline,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping and dark fictionalised account of life inside the Manson family from one of the most exciting young voices in fiction.

If you're lost, they'll find you...

Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed.

It's the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful.

If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where…


Book cover of Little Fortress

Karen Hofmann Author Of What Is Going to Happen Next

From my list on families and growing up in rural British Columbia.

Who am I?

I grew up in a rural community and have lived most of my adult life in a small city in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. I’m fascinated with West Coast culture, particularly the Canadian version of it, which is connected to the environment and outdoors, shaped by more recent immigration and its sense of distance and disconnect from the country’s capital and economic and social centres, and informed by a more gentle climate. Rural west coast culture is especially rich in iconoclasts, those who live outside the norm, and I’ve explored these sorts of characters in all four of my novels and my short story collection.

Karen's book list on families and growing up in rural British Columbia

Karen Hofmann Why did Karen love this book?

Laisha Rosnau is a prize-winning poet, and her literary skills shine in this novel about a noble Italian family, the Caetanis, who immigrate from Italy to Vernon, BC to escape the rise of fascism. Based on a true story, this intricate novel explores the bonds of family and friendship, the contrasts in class and changing times, and the hardships and beauties of life in a rural area through the lives of three women. I was captivated by the characters and the gorgeous, insightful writing. Ofelia and Sveva Caetani and their personal secretary, Miss Juul, will stay with you forever as women creating home and family in the face of exile, loss, and sweeping change.

By Laisha Rosnau,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on the true story of the Caetanis, Italian nobility driven into exile by the rise of fascism, the long-awaited second novel by award-winning author Laisha Rosnau follows this once glittering family to British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. When Ofelia Caetani takes her daughter, Sveva, into seclusion after the death of the duke, they are cared for by their personal secretary, Miss Jüül, who brings her own secrets to their twenty-five-year retreat from the world. As the stories of these three remarkable women unfurl in unexpected and often tragic ways, Little Fortress is revealed as a graceful and intricate tale of…


Book cover of The Tree Whisperer: Writing Poetry by Living in the World

Karen Hofmann Author Of What Is Going to Happen Next

From my list on families and growing up in rural British Columbia.

Who am I?

I grew up in a rural community and have lived most of my adult life in a small city in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. I’m fascinated with West Coast culture, particularly the Canadian version of it, which is connected to the environment and outdoors, shaped by more recent immigration and its sense of distance and disconnect from the country’s capital and economic and social centres, and informed by a more gentle climate. Rural west coast culture is especially rich in iconoclasts, those who live outside the norm, and I’ve explored these sorts of characters in all four of my novels and my short story collection.

Karen's book list on families and growing up in rural British Columbia

Karen Hofmann Why did Karen love this book?

I loved this book for the beauty of the prose and for Harold Rhenisch’s inimitable voice, his language, his wit, his eye for detail. Rhenisch has published many books of poetry and non-fiction about the BC Interior, and it’s difficult to choose just one. I liked this, a study of the apple and the rose, of pruning trees, of BC Interior orcharding, of a unique lifestyle and culture, and of life and living. Rhenisch is one of the best Canadian writers and should be more well-known.  

By Harold Rhenisch,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Sisters of Grass

Karen Hofmann Author Of What Is Going to Happen Next

From my list on families and growing up in rural British Columbia.

Who am I?

I grew up in a rural community and have lived most of my adult life in a small city in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. I’m fascinated with West Coast culture, particularly the Canadian version of it, which is connected to the environment and outdoors, shaped by more recent immigration and its sense of distance and disconnect from the country’s capital and economic and social centres, and informed by a more gentle climate. Rural west coast culture is especially rich in iconoclasts, those who live outside the norm, and I’ve explored these sorts of characters in all four of my novels and my short story collection.

Karen's book list on families and growing up in rural British Columbia

Karen Hofmann Why did Karen love this book?

There’s so much to love about this book: the language, the location, the history, the characters. Anna, a young woman who is creating an exhibit on textiles from 19th-century Interior BC, discovers a box of the personal effects of a woman who lived decades before. Margaret is the daughter of an Aboriginal mother and a settler father. Kishkan recreates the unique beauty of the South Cariboo/Nicola valley landscape as a backdrop to this intricately woven story of family, friendship, love—and train robbers.

By Theresa Kishkan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her vibrant first novel, Sisters of Grass, Theresa Kishkan weaves a tapestry of the senses through the touchstones of a young woman's life. Anna is preparing an exhibit of textiles reflecting life in central British Columbia a century ago. In a forgotten corner of a museum, she discovers a dusty cardboard box containing the century-old personal effects of a Nicola valley woman. Fascinated by the artifacts, she reconstructs the story of their owner, Margaret Stuart. Margaret, the daughter of a Native mother and a Scottish-American father, she tries to fit into both worlds. She's taught photography by a visiting…


Book cover of Commune: Book 1

Devon C Ford Author Of Survival

From my list on current post-apocalyptic series.

Who am I?

I’ve long had a passion (read: obsession) with the apocalypse in whatever form it takes. I’ve written viral pandemics, zombie outbreaks, post-nuclear survival, dystopian totalitarianism, extinction-level-event, alien invasion, WW3… all of them have the theme of the great reset. The ability to reinvent yourself in the new world. The erasure of your life and the clean slate to try again and become who you want to be. I read and listen to this genre as well as write it because I'm passionate about the worlds writers create and the way their characters adapt to overcome the challenges my own have faced. As a former police officer, I’ve probably spent too many night shifts pondering the end of the world.

Devon's book list on current post-apocalyptic series

Devon C Ford Why did Devon love this book?

Joshua is another author with multiple series, but Commune is a standout piece of literature. His style is subtle and suggestive, making the reader pay attention so they don’t miss the nuances and the snippets of backstory. That said, his action sequences are fast and brutal with a realism that hits home. The humour of the characters throughout is so genuine it’s a stroke of brilliance.

Full disclosure – I loved this series so much I’m writing more Commune with him!

By Joshua Gayou,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The world has ended.

A few have survived.

But is survival worth the loss of humanity?

Finding a friend in the apocalypse isn't easy, and for Jake Martin, it's been damn-near impossible.

Life has become an endless trek for canned food, shelter, and avoiding those who've turned to killing for anything all while trying not to become a killer himself.

When Jake encounters Billy, an elderly wanderer on the highway to ruined Las Vegas, everything changes. Billy reminds him of life before the world ended, of when being human meant acting like more than a mindless beast. Although their bond…


Book cover of The Carhullan Army

C.B. Bernard Author Of Small Animals Caught in Traps

From my list on how dark things can get for people.

Who am I?

I wrote a novel whose characters fight to survive depression, grief, loss, and abuse. Though it’s got a sense of humor, it gets dark. People ask, why read a book like that when real life is dark enough? Because we don’t just read to escape from the world—we read to understand it. Fiction can help explain the awful things we might witness or experience or hear about. It can also help us feel less alone in our own sadness and grief. Without darkness, light is meaningless. Without pain, we have no use for hope. Who wants to live in a world without hope? 

C.B.'s book list on how dark things can get for people

C.B. Bernard Why did C.B. love this book?

There’s so much of dystopian fiction written these days—and for good reason—but Hall led the pack with this 2007 book, which shares DNA with The Handmaid’s Tale and Children of Men. Read now, it feels not just more timely, somehow, but also more possible. The world is in disarray after “the collapse,” with food and power rationed for a populace that numbs itself with drugs between meaningless and oppressive factory shifts. The brutal Authority has seized control of women’s bodies, enforcing compulsory contraception and a pregnancy lottery. When the nameless narrator sets out to find a cadre of women—the army of the title—rumored to be living outside the reaches of the Authority, Hall nurtures our hope like a wounded bird even as she hurtles us inexorably toward disaster.  

By Sarah Hall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The world has changed. War rages in South America and China, and Britain - now entirely dependent on the US for food and energy - is run by an omnipresent dictatorship known simply as The Authority. Assets and weapons have been seized, every movement is monitored and women are compulsorily fitted with contraceptive devices. This is Sister's story of her attempt to escape the repressive regime. From the confines of her Lancaster prison cell she tells of her such for The Carhullan Army, a quasi-mythical commune of 'unofficial' women rumoured to be living in a remote part of Cumbria...


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the communes of France, British Columbia, and utopian?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the communes of France, British Columbia, and utopian.

The Communes Of France Explore 28 books about the communes of France
British Columbia Explore 47 books about British Columbia
Utopian Explore 63 books about utopian