100 books like Be Holding

By Ross Gay,

Here are 100 books that Be Holding fans have personally recommended if you like Be Holding. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Hugh Warwick Author Of Cull of the Wild: Killing in the Name of Conservation

From my list on animals and nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved animals—my adopted parents were not particularly interested, but when I met my biological mother in my mid-30s, I found out where it came from! That innate passion has driven my life. Writers like Jane Goodall were the gatekeepers—showing me the way forward and giving me permission to study and care. We need to learn more about nonhuman animals and the ecosystems that we share to better understand how to redress the damage we have caused. And while facts are important, stories are even more so. Each of these authors manages to weave both together with such great skill.

Hugh's book list on animals and nature

Hugh Warwick Why did Hugh love this book?

I have guru-phobia, so I had avoided this book because so many people I knew were declaring it one of the best books ever and that Robin Wall Kimmerer was wonderful. Stupid, right?! But then I read it and could understand.

More than reading and listening to it, I met the author at a literary festival and was even more impressed by her gentle wisdom. She writes about the importance of reciprocity—about the rest of life being just as important as we are. Her work merges wonderfully with Jane Goodall’s, and I would recommend reading them in tandem. 

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

48 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…

Book cover of Place: New Poems

Leah Naomi Green Author Of The More Extravagant Feast: Poems

From my list on spiritual ecological thought.

Why am I passionate about this?

Leah Naomi Green is the author of The More Extravagant Feast, selected by Li-Young Lee for the Walt Whitman Award of The Academy of American Poets. She received the 2021 Lucille Clifton Legacy Award for compassion, courage, truth-telling, and commitment to justice, as well an Academy of American Poets 2021 Treehouse Climate Action Poetry Prize. The More Extravagant Feast was named “one of the best books of 2020” by The Boston Globe, is a silver winner of the 2020 Nautilus Book Awards, and was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered”. She lives in Rockbridge County, Virginia where she and her family homestead and grow or find much of their food for the year.

Leah's book list on spiritual ecological thought

Leah Naomi Green Why did Leah love this book?

There is not a better poet writing in English. For Graham, language is a beautiful, purposeful tool and she is using it, without pretense, to dig deeper and deeper into the ground of being. She asks the questions beneath the questions, and though she does not pretend to answer them, the reader shares and marvels in her asking, in her attention to being human and alive.

By Jorie Graham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Graham’s poetry is among the most sensuously embodied and imaginative writing we have.”
—New York Times

“One of the most important living poets.”
—Library Journal

Place is a new collection of poems from Pulitzer Prize winner Jorie Graham. An extraordinary American artist whom The New Yorker calls “a mesmerizing voice” Graham is renowned for poetry that is startling, original, and deeply relevant, and has been placed in the poetic lineage of such masters as T.S. Eliot and John Ashbery. In Place, Graham explores the ways in which our imagination, intuition, and experience aid us in navigating a world moving towards…

Book cover of The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry

Courtney White Author Of Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country

From my list on and for learning about regenerative agriculture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and former environmental activist who dropped out of the ‘conflict industry’ in 1997 to start the Quivira Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a radical center among ranchers, environmentalists, scientists, and others around practices that improve resilience in working landscapes. For two decades, I worked on the front lines of collaborative conservation and regenerative agriculture, sharing innovative, land-based solutions to food, water, and climate challenges. I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Courtney's book list on and for learning about regenerative agriculture

Courtney White Why did Courtney love this book?

Farmer and author Wendell Berry is a personal hero of mine. From his home in Kentucky, Berry has been writing about regenerative agriculture for decades. The Art of the Commonplace gathers together twenty of his best essays. They articulate a compelling vision for people dissatisfied with the stress, anxiety, disease, and destructiveness of contemporary life. Berry is also the author of numerous works of poetry and fiction.

By Wendell Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Here is a human being speaking with calm and sanity out of the wilderness. We would do well to hear him." ―The Washington Post Book World

The Art of the Commonplace gathers twenty essays by Wendell Berry that offer an agrarian alternative to our dominant urban culture. Grouped around five themes―an agrarian critique of culture, agrarian fundamentals, agrarian economics, agrarian religion, and geobiography―these essays promote a clearly defined and compelling vision important to all people dissatisfied with the stress, anxiety, disease, and destructiveness of contemporary American culture.

Why is agriculture becoming culturally irrelevant, and at what cost? What are the…

Book cover of Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet

John Bell Author Of Unbroken Wholeness: Six Pathways to the Beloved Community: Integrating Social Justice, Emotional Healing, and Spiritual Practice

From my list on healing broken hearts and our broken world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was a boy growing up in a small working-class shipyard town in the great Pacific Northwest near Seattle, I have experienced the jaw-dropping beauty of the natural world and human kindness overflowing, right alongside the numbing horror of human cruelty, war, racism, and environmental damage. It didn’t make sense, this joy and woe, so I’ve had a life’s mission to find ways of healing and integrating a broken world. These books have been a balm and refuge, offering me a deeper perspective, spiritual grounding, and pathways toward “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.” I hope they might benefit you too. 

John's book list on healing broken hearts and our broken world

John Bell Why did John love this book?

I am deeply troubled by how we are harming the earth, our Mother. I have also been a student of Thich Nhat Hanh’s for over 30 years and now a teacher in his tradition. This is his last book before he passed, and perfect for me, as a spiritual practitioner and an environmental activist. The book is an antidote to my periodic bouts of despair about climate change. It provides penetrating understanding of the suffering on the planet and its root causes in greed, hatred, and the delusion of separateness. I loved his stories, teachings, and practical advice for healing and transforming the roots of suffering that lie deep in my/our consciousness. A profound and moving book that I return to frequently for solace and guidance.

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“When you wake up and you see that the Earth is not just the environment, the Earth is us, you touch the nature of interbeing. And at that moment you can have real communication with the Earth… We have to wake up together. And if we wake up together, then we have a chance. Our way of living our life and planning our future has led us into this situation. And now we need to look deeply to find a way out, not only as individuals, but as a collective, a species.”

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

We face…

Book cover of Finding What You Didn't Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer Author Of Writing Through the Muck: Finding Self and Story for Personal Growth, Healing, and Transcendence

From my list on to get you writing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a published author with an MFA in Writing, I know how hard writing can be in terms of how to find a muse, employ an elusive craft, and deal with the soul-shaking consequences of digging deep. But as a survivor of life, including multiple moves, broken relationships, alcoholism, illness, and debilitating grief, I've also experienced the transformative power of writing. I took that belief into the community, and developed writing workshops for cancer survivors, women facing domestic violence, and many other people wrestling with trauma and illness, often recommending some of these books in my workshops. And along the way, I’ve witnessed time and again what the written word can do. 

G.'s book list on to get you writing

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer Why did G. love this book?

This is one of those gems that can easily get lost in the literary shuffle. Poet-teacher John Fox gets into the craft of writing poetry in Finding What You Didn’t Lose, but it’s not one of those dry books that will get you all tangled up worrying about your iambic pentameters. Instead, he takes you on a beautiful journey, showing how such useful tools as imagery, sound, metaphor, and rhythm can help you express yourself. Quotes and poetry excerpts round out the rich content of this book.

Book cover of Hoarders

Daniel Levin Becker Author Of Many Subtle Channels: In Praise of Potential Literature

From my list on poetry from the outposts of potential literature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been preternaturally attentive to the way words work—as components of meaning, but also as visual, aural, and functional objects with their own erratic behaviors. Since joining the Oulipo in 2009, I’ve had even more occasion to think and talk about how those behaviors can be pointed in a literary direction, and to recognize successful experiments when I read them. 

Daniel's book list on poetry from the outposts of potential literature

Daniel Levin Becker Why did Daniel love this book?

A bracing slap to the face, this book. Or maybe a punch to the gut. The conceit is the series of portraits of hoarders based on the reality show of the same name, and the recipe is to combine their testimonials—“I save old soda cans and turn the tin snips into flowers,” say, or “I want desperately to change”—with lists of objects, described as though in a slow camera pan across a filthy room. But the alchemy is the way Durbin mashes the two together, not quite at random but not correctly either. It’s a harrowing litany of fragments, so specific that the unspoken point is all too clear: what’s broken is much bigger than any of these individual people or things.

By Kate Durbin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Lit Hub Most Anticipated Book of 2021
An NPR Best Book of 2021
An Electric Literature Best Poetry Book of 2021
A Dennis Cooper Best Book of 2021

In Hoarders, Durbin deftly traces the associations between hoarding and collective US traumas rooted in consumerism and the environment. Each poem is a prismatic portrait of a person and the beloved objects they hoard, from Barbies to snow globes to vintage Las Vegas memorabilia to rotting fruit to plants. Using reality television as a medium, Durbin conjures an uncanny space of attachments that reflects a cultural moment back to the reader…

Book cover of You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense

Zachary Austin Behlok Author Of Perspectives

From my list on understanding the world around you.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember, it has been of the utmost importance to find meaning in life—both for myself and for everyone else. I have spent much of my time in the past few years pushing for continued discourse in the fields of philosophy and psychology. I have studied at various educational institutions in these fields, and have thus used that knowledge to discuss topics relating to such on my podcast, Think More, which can be found on Spotify. I founded an online journal titled Modern Rebellion in the hopes of assisting contemporary artists and intellectuals with getting their work out there into the public eye.

Zachary Austin's book list on understanding the world around you

Zachary Austin Behlok Why did Zachary Austin love this book?

Bukowski had a unique perspective on the world, and anyone who has read his work would most definitely agree. This book, which is a collection of some of Bukowski’s greatest pieces in my opinion, has a way of resonating with you on a personal level. Whether it be gaining a newfound perspective on the animals that scurry around our yards, or of a gambler wasting away in a casino on a Monday afternoon, Bukowski has a knack for bringing up the world’s problems in a way that is both depressing and humorous at the same time, while also giving peeks at his wit and charm as well.

By Charles Bukowski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Get So Alone at Times That It Just Makes Sense as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Charles Bukowski examines cats and his childhood in You Get So Alone at Times, a book of poetry that reveals his tender side. He delves into his youth to analyze its repercussions.

Book cover of Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems

Sean Prentiss Author Of Crosscut: Poems

From my list on trail building and traildogs.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1997, I was hired by the Northwest Youth Corps as a trail crew leader. That season, and across five more seasons, I built trails across the Pacific Northwest and Desert Southwest, including in many national parks. Since then, I have been in love with backpacking trails (including hiking the Long Trail and Colorado Trail), building trails, and writing about trails (Crosscut: Poems). I now live in Vermont with my wife and daughter. We have a trail we built that weaves through our woods.

Sean's book list on trail building and traildogs

Sean Prentiss Why did Sean love this book?

There are so few books available about trail building. Riprap might be the oldest and one of the most beautiful. Riprap poetically describes Snyder’s summer trail-building job in 1955 in Yosemite National Park. These poems not only sing about the beauty and physicality of trail building but also echo back on the ancient Chinese poets who Snyder was studying during that time. In the end, Riprap shows us trail building but also illuminates how wildness can infuse the human spirit.

By Gary Snyder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By any measure, Gary Snyder is one of the greatest poets in America in the last century. From his first book of poems to his latest collection of essays, his work and his example, standing between Tu Fu and Thoreau, have been influential all over the world. Riprap, his first book of poems, was published in Japan in 1959 by Origin Press, and it is the fiftieth anniversary of that groundbreaking book we celebrate with this edition. A small press reprint of that book included Snyder's translations of Han Shan's Cold Mountain Poems, perhaps the finest translations of that remarkable…

Book cover of Perfect Black

Ellis Elliott Author Of A Break in the Field

From my list on poetry to feed your distracted self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a dance teacher all of my adult life, and a poetry and word-lover even longer. I love the economy of language, immediacy, and the promise of surprise in poetry. In middle age, I returned to writing just as my body began its slow rebellion, with the added shifts of remarriage and step-parenting a severely disabled son. I went back to grad school and wrote my first book, drawing on the experience of confronting change, just as these recommended poets have done. Each of these poets has a very different story, but what they have in common outweighs their differences, and because of that we are able to see ourselves in their writing.

Ellis' book list on poetry to feed your distracted self

Ellis Elliott Why did Ellis love this book?

This collection teaches me as well, by taking me into the experience of growing up in the Black, rural Appalachian South.

The poems are part memoir, as in writing about the experience of her mother visiting her where she lived with her grandparents, “(We) held hands like we thought/mothers & daughters should/but neither of us knew for sure.” 

They are also part love song to home-cooking, “Every morning of my childhood, my grandmother, who stood a little/ under five feet tall, donned an apron and cooked breakfast. Slow. Precise./ Deliberate. She equated food with love, and she cooked with both a fury/ and a quiet joy.” 

And finally, they are part Black feminist manifesto, “My black body is a boulder, a stop sign. Sometimes i think my body is/ graceful, a song of freedom. Sometimes i think it is something that every/ eye casts away. I must concentrate if i…

By Crystal Wilkinson, Ronald W. Davis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the foreword:

"In Perfect Black, Crystal Wilkinson walks us back down the road she first walked as a girl, wanders us through the trees that lined the road where she grew up, where her sensibilities as a woman and a writer were first laid bare. In one of the first poems that opens the collection she is a woman looking back on her life, on the soil and mountains that first stamped the particular sound of her voice and she is deeply inquisitive about how it all fell into place: "The map of me can't be all hills& mountains…

Book cover of The Sister Arts: The Tradition of Literary Pictorialism and English Poetry from Dryden to Gray

Lawrence Lipking Author Of The Ordering of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century England

From my list on the arts as crucial elements of human life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a chameleon scholar. Though my first love is poetry, I have written about all the arts, about 18th-century authors (especially Samuel Johnson), about theories of literature and literary vocations, about Sappho and other abandoned women, about ancients and moderns and chess and marginal glosses and the meaning of life and, most recently, the Scientific Revolution. But I am a teacher too, and The Ordering of the Arts grew out of my fascination with those writers who first taught readers what to look for in painting, music and poetrywhat works were best, what works could change their lives. That project has inspired my own life and all my writing.

Lawrence's book list on the arts as crucial elements of human life

Lawrence Lipking Why did Lawrence love this book?

In the Restoration and the eighteenth century, the mark of a true poet was to see thingsto describe the visible and invisible worlds so vividly that everyone could see them too. 

Most modern readers are blind to this. But Jean Hagstrum teaches us how to see with eighteenth-century eyes. The pictures that poets make, and the paintings that inspire those visions, come alive in thoughtful readings that focus on the workshops of art: the schools where artists learn the craft of making what is imagined into something that seems real.

By Jean H. Hagstrum,

Why should I read it?

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

5 book lists we think you will like!

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