100 books like Better to Have Loved

By Judith Merril, Emily Pohl-Weary,

Here are 100 books that Better to Have Loved fans have personally recommended if you like Better to Have Loved. 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 In Memory Yet Green: The Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1920-1954

Lavie Tidhar Author Of The Circumference of the World

From my list on science fiction’s golden age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Golden Age of science fiction, when a group of young dreamers formed the genre as we know it today. I grew up far away from their world, on a small kibbutz in Israel, and the lives of those god-like beings seemed as remote and as impossible as the moon. I grew up to eventually write stories of my own, and even got to meet some of my childhood heroes, and eventually I thought it would be fun to write a book that was partially about them. I read every book I could get my hands on to try and better understand that time when science fiction was born.

Lavie's book list on science fiction’s golden age

Lavie Tidhar Why did Lavie love this book?

The first part of Isaac Asimov’s autobiography provides a fascinating, clear-eyed glimpse into the emerging world of science fiction as the young Asimov grows up in New York, works in his immigrant parents’ candy store, and dreams of writing stories.

There’s a certain innocence in the pre-war world where young kids were dreaming up science fiction, and Asimov is at his best here, relying on extensive diary records to recall his first meetings with Campbell, Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard, to name a few. A window into a long-vanished world, it is never less than compelling.

By Isaac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Memory Yet Green as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Candidly recounting his lifetime in science and science fiction, Asimov describes his life as a child prodigy, a fifteen-year-old college freshman, and a brilliant teacher whose classes ended with standing ovations


Book cover of The Way the Future Was: A Memoir

Lavie Tidhar Author Of The Circumference of the World

From my list on science fiction’s golden age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Golden Age of science fiction, when a group of young dreamers formed the genre as we know it today. I grew up far away from their world, on a small kibbutz in Israel, and the lives of those god-like beings seemed as remote and as impossible as the moon. I grew up to eventually write stories of my own, and even got to meet some of my childhood heroes, and eventually I thought it would be fun to write a book that was partially about them. I read every book I could get my hands on to try and better understand that time when science fiction was born.

Lavie's book list on science fiction’s golden age

Lavie Tidhar Why did Lavie love this book?

Growing up in New York around the same time as Asimov was Fred Pohl, young, ambitious, argumentative, and occasionally brilliant.

We meet many of the same people – and see the same events – that Asimov describes, in a somewhat different light, as Pohl forges his own path through the emerging world of science fiction, as an agent, editor, and writer in his own right.

It’s beautifully written and again, provides a fascinating insight into that long-ago world, complete with its many petty feuds – that the socialist Pohl was banned from the first Worldcon only to start his own competing event across the street is a marvelously entertaining anecdote recounted both here and by Asimov.

By Frederik Pohl,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Way the Future Was as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the Grand Masters of SCi-Fi relates tales of the early days of the genre becoming important.


Book cover of Rocket to the Morgue

Lavie Tidhar Author Of The Circumference of the World

From my list on science fiction’s golden age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by the Golden Age of science fiction, when a group of young dreamers formed the genre as we know it today. I grew up far away from their world, on a small kibbutz in Israel, and the lives of those god-like beings seemed as remote and as impossible as the moon. I grew up to eventually write stories of my own, and even got to meet some of my childhood heroes, and eventually I thought it would be fun to write a book that was partially about them. I read every book I could get my hands on to try and better understand that time when science fiction was born.

Lavie's book list on science fiction’s golden age

Lavie Tidhar Why did Lavie love this book?

Anthony Boucher straddles the history of both crime fiction and science fiction.

As the founding editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction he has an oversized role in the history of the genre. As a crime writer, he gave his name to the Anthony Awards, which are handed out every year at the annual Bouchercon.

His SF story “The Quest for Saint Aquin” is a classic. None of this, admittedly, has much to do with Rocket to the Morgue, Boucher’s roman-à-clef mystery set in pre-WW2 California in which the emerging world of science fiction comes to glorious life. A young L. Ron Hubbard makes an appearance, as do Robert A. Heinlein and the rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons.

The mystery matters less than the characters, who though moving under different names are all very much true to life.

By Anthony Boucher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rocket to the Morgue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Golden Age mystery set in the Golden Age of science fiction

Legendary science fiction author Fowler Faulkes may be dead, but his creation, the iconic Dr. Derringer, lives on in popular culture. Or, at least, the character would live on if not for Faulkes’s predatory and greedy heir Hilary, who, during his time as the inflexible guardian of the estate, has created countless enemies in the relatively small community of writers of the genre. So when he is stabbed nearly to death in a room with only one door, which nobody was seen entering or exiting, Foulkes suspects a…


Book cover of The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril

Craig McDonald Author Of One True Sentence

From my list on suspenseful thrillers where fact & fiction meet.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a career journalist/communications specialist and historical suspense novelist, the intersection of fact and fiction has always been a fascination and an inspiration. In journalism and nonfiction reportage, the best we can hope to ascertain are likely facts. But in fiction—particularly fiction melded with history—I believe we can come closest to depicting something at least in the neighborhood of truth. My own novels have consistently employed real people and events, and as a reader, I’m particularly drawn to books that feature a factual/fictional mix, something which all five of my recommended novels excel in delivering with bracing bravado.

Craig's book list on suspenseful thrillers where fact & fiction meet

Craig McDonald Why did Craig love this book?

Pulp magazines were the forerunners of comic books, and two of the greatest pulp characters, Doc Savage and the Shadow, inspired Superman and Batman, essentially kickstarting the superhero industry. I grew up and cut my future fiction writer’s teeth on paperback Doc Savage and Shadow pulp reprints—the primary authors behind these respective pulp heroes.

Lester Dent and Walter B. Gibson clash and eventually join forces to combat a Depression-era menace that could only spring from classic pulps in Malmont’s brilliant meta novel. L. Ron Hubbard and H.P. Lovecraft also make the scene creepily in this intoxicating brew tailor-made for pulp fiction and 20th-century noir-fiction lovers.

By Paul Malmont,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?

Take a journey back to the desperate days of America post the Great Depression, when the country turned to the pulp novels for relief, for hope and for heroes. Meet Walter Gibson, the mind behind The Shadow, and Lester Dent, creator of Doc Savage, as they challenge one another to discover what is real and what is pulp.

From the palaces and battlefields of warlord-plagued China to the seedy waterfronts of Rhode Island; from frozen seas and cursed islands to the labyrinthine tunnels and secret temples of New York's Chinatown,…


Book cover of The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State

Kristen R. Ghodsee Author Of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence

From my list on women and socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an ethnographer, I have been studying the lives of ordinary women in socialist and post-socialist countries in Eastern Europe for over twenty-five years. I have always been fascinated by the differences in women’s life options in the presence or absence of robust social safety nets. As a scholar, I’ve spent decades working in archives and interviewing people across the region, and I have written eight books about the various gendered experiences of everyday life in Eastern Europe. As a professor, I have taught a course called “Sex and Socialism,” almost every year for eighteen years and I am always reading widely in this field to look for new material for my syllabi.

Kristen's book list on women and socialism

Kristen R. Ghodsee Why did Kristen love this book?

Engels provides the canonical theoretical framework for understanding how capitalism uniquely impacts women’s lives and how a more collectivized economy lays the foundation for women’s full emancipation. While many subsequent feminist and socialist scholars have disagreed with this book, The Origin of the Family is a classic that has inspired countless generations of theorists and activists. 

By Friedrich Engels,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State: in the Light of the Researches of Lewis H. Morgan (German: Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats) is an 1884 historical materialist treatise by Friedrich Engels. It is partially based on notes by Karl Marx to Lewis H. Morgan's book Ancient Society (1877). The book is an early anthropological work and is regarded as one of the first major works on family economics.

Following the death of his friend and co-thinker Karl Marx in 1883, Friedrich Engels served as his literary executor, actively organizing and preparing for…


Book cover of Woman Under Socialism

Kristen R. Ghodsee Author Of Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence

From my list on women and socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an ethnographer, I have been studying the lives of ordinary women in socialist and post-socialist countries in Eastern Europe for over twenty-five years. I have always been fascinated by the differences in women’s life options in the presence or absence of robust social safety nets. As a scholar, I’ve spent decades working in archives and interviewing people across the region, and I have written eight books about the various gendered experiences of everyday life in Eastern Europe. As a professor, I have taught a course called “Sex and Socialism,” almost every year for eighteen years and I am always reading widely in this field to look for new material for my syllabi.

Kristen's book list on women and socialism

Kristen R. Ghodsee Why did Kristen love this book?

Written while August Bebel was serving a jail term under Germany’s anti-socialist laws, Woman and Socialism was published in over fifty editions and in more than twenty languages between 1879 and 1914. The first English edition was published in 1908 and became something of a sensation in the United Kingdom and the United States. Unlike other men in the labor movement at the time, Bebel believed that women were the full equals of men and should have the same economic, social, and political rights. More importantly, he argued that socialism would give women economic independence, and that this would allow them more freedom in their personal lives, including in their choice of a sexual partner. The book sometimes feels as radical today as it was 150 years ago.

By August Bebel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This collection of literature attempts to compile many of the classic works that have stood the test of time and offer them at a reduced, affordable price, in an attractive volume so that everyone can enjoy them.


Book cover of Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis

Xenia A. Cherkaev Author Of Gleaning for Communism: The Soviet Socialist Household in Theory and Practice

From my list on the possibility of collectivist modern life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am interested in how regimes of ethics and property interrelate, and how this interrelation informs political thought: in questions of cooperatives and collectives, customary use-rights, and household economies. I'm an anthropologist by training and geographically I work in Russia. I've written about socialist property law and stolen late-Soviet penguins, Stalin-era mine-detection dogs and perestroika-era saints, möbius bands, 19th-century Russian cheese-making co-operatives, New World Order theories of “The Golden Billion” and other important matters.

Xenia's book list on the possibility of collectivist modern life

Xenia A. Cherkaev Why did Xenia love this book?

Mises' warnings about socialism bringing about the end of civilization have entered popular lore a sort of common sense, so it's worthwhile to read the original.

This book is less a scientific analysis than an ode to market liberalism: to “the desperate struggle of lovers of freedom prosperity and civilization against the rising tide of totalitarian barbarism.” At stake is the very possibility of non-market modernity.

Mises argues that modern society cannot function without a market defined by acquisitive trade: individuals' peaceful cooperation hinges on their ability to make rational choices about their production and consumption of things, and such choices are possible only when a system of competitive market price expresses the true value of every commodity.

“The socialist order of society,” he warns, “is not realizable” and will lead to the collapse of (western) civilization itself: “Nomad tribes from the Eastern steppes would again raid and pillage Europe,…

By Ludwig Von Mises,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a newly annotated edition of the classic first published in German in 1922. It is the definitive refutation of nearly every type of socialism ever devised. Mises presents a wide-ranging analysis of society, comparing the results of socialist planning with those of free-market capitalism in all areas of life. Friedrich Hayek's foreword comments on the continuing relevance of this great work: "Most readers today will find that Socialism has more immediate application to contemporary events than it had when it first appeared."


Book cover of People's Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons

Danny Katch Author Of Socialism....Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation

From my list on winning socialism in our lifetime.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a socialist for my entire adult life and a wise-ass for even longer. As a writer I’ve found a way to combine these two passions, using humor to introduce complex economic and political ideas to a new audience, as well as poke fun at politicians, CEOs, and even myself and my fellow activists. Not all of the books on this list use humor the way I do, but they have all helped me keep my sunny disposition by giving me inspiration that the socialist cause is more dynamic and multifaceted than ever. 

Danny's book list on winning socialism in our lifetime

Danny Katch Why did Danny love this book?

In order to have socialism, we need to have a planet on which to be socialists—preferably a planet that isn’t constantly on fire or under water from climate change. So we need to convert our energy systems from fossil fuels to renewables like solar and wind, but as Ashley Dawson argues in this great book, we can’t afford to then let energy corporations start owning sunlight and air the way they do oil and coal. 

People’s Power introduces us to the age-old idea of commonly owned natural resources and looks to modern examples from around the world where cities, towns, and countries and pioneering ways to make the “energy commons” a reality.

By Ashley Dawson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked People's Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The science is conclusive: to avoid irreversible climate collapse, the burning of all fossil fuels will have to end in the next decade. In this concise and highly readable intervention, Ashley Dawson sets out what is required to make this momentous shift: simply replacing coal-fired power plants with for-profit solar energy farms will only maintain the toxic illusion that it is possible to sustain relentlessly expanding energy consumption. We can no longer think of energy as a commodity. Instead we must see it as part of the global commons, a vital element in the great stock of air, water, plants,…


Book cover of The Socialist Phenomenon

Andrei Znamenski Author Of Socialism as a Secular Creed: A Modern Global History

From my list on the history of socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Andrei Znamenski spent 35 years exploring religions, ideologies, and utopias. Formerly Associate Professor at Alabama State University, a resident scholar at the US Library of Congress, and then a visiting professor at Hokkaido University in Japan, he is currently Professor of History at the University of Memphis. Znamenski studied indigenous religions of Siberia and North America, including Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. At some point, he became intrigued with Western idealization and romanticization of non-Western cultures and spiritualities, the topic that he covered in his The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western Imagination. His Socialism as a Secular Creed, which is a logical follow-up to that project, is an attempt to examine the socialist phenomenon as a political religion of the modern age.

Andrei's book list on the history of socialism

Andrei Znamenski Why did Andrei love this book?

A Soviet dissident scientist and prominent conservative ideologist of Russian nationalism, Shafarevich (1923-2017) traces the roots of modern socialism to statist and collectivist experiments in ancient Egypt, China, and Inca civilizations. He also explores the aggressive egalitarianism of modern socialism’s predecessors among European eschatological movements in medieval and early modern Europe (e.g., Lollards in England, Taborites in Bohemia, Peasants’ War during the Protestant Reformation in Germany, and the Jesuit state in Paraguay). Among other things, the author examines in detail the early 1920s Bolshevik activities in Russia, Maoist assaults on traditional society in China, and the rise of the Western New Left in the 1960s. According to Shafarevich, each time leading to disastrous and suicidal results, socialism represents humanity’s “death wish”; the writer implies that one might slow down this enduring and recurrent dark side of human existence, but, ultimately, we will always have to deal with the socialist phenomenon…

By Igor Shafarevich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Socialist Phenomenon is a powerful survey  of socialism  and socialist thought from ancient times to the present day. Most assume that socialism and communism began with the writings of Karl Marx, but through his book Shafarevich lays out with amazing clarity that socialism is an evil that has been present in man’s thoughts and actions for thousands of years. 

In the age of “democratic socialism” and other modern iterations, The Socialist Phenomenon reminds us of the truth about socialism and the dangers that come when societies embrace socialist policies and ideals.


Book cover of Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies

Andrei Znamenski Author Of Socialism as a Secular Creed: A Modern Global History

From my list on the history of socialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Andrei Znamenski spent 35 years exploring religions, ideologies, and utopias. Formerly Associate Professor at Alabama State University, a resident scholar at the US Library of Congress, and then a visiting professor at Hokkaido University in Japan, he is currently Professor of History at the University of Memphis. Znamenski studied indigenous religions of Siberia and North America, including Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. At some point, he became intrigued with Western idealization and romanticization of non-Western cultures and spiritualities, the topic that he covered in his The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western Imagination. His Socialism as a Secular Creed, which is a logical follow-up to that project, is an attempt to examine the socialist phenomenon as a political religion of the modern age.

Andrei's book list on the history of socialism

Andrei Znamenski Why did Andrei love this book?

This volume complements well the Muravchik book. Written in an easy user-friendly language, the text represents a set of short essays that deal with socialist construction in various countries (Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Kim Il Sung North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Castor’s Cuba, Chavez Venezuela). Besides these well-known cases of socialism, Niemietz, a libertarian scholar of a German extract, gives an excellent succinct analysis of the Eastern German communist regime from 1945 to its collapse in 1989.  The reader should also benefit from reading his comprehensive introductory chapter on the enduring appeal of socialism. Both high and home school and college instructors, who want to challenge the dominant socialism-friendly educational mainstream, may want to use Muravchik’s book and this one as textbooks.

By Christian Niemietz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Socialism is strangely impervious to refutation by real-world experience.
Over the past hundred years, there have been more than two dozen attempts to build a socialist society, from the Soviet Union to Maoist China to Venezuela. All of them have ended in varying degrees of failure.
But, according to socialism's adherents, that is only because none of these experiments were "real socialism".
This book documents the history of this, by now, standard response.
It shows how the claim of fake socialism is only ever made after the event. As long as a socialist project is in its prime, almost nobody…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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