100 books like Black Mass

By John Gray,

Here are 100 books that Black Mass fans have personally recommended if you like Black Mass. 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 The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics

Firmin Debrabander Author Of Life After Privacy: Reclaiming Democracy in a Surveillance Society

From my list on stoic themes, influence and inspiration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved the Stoics, from the first time I read Seneca. I appreciate that they seek to speak to a wider audience than most philosophers, on issues that concern many: happiness, anxiety, pain, loss. The Stoics were wonderful writers, whose influence has been manifest throughout western philosophy. And they extended their expertise beyond the academy, and were very involved in politics. Seneca was the advisor to the emperor Nero; Cicero, who dabbled in Stoicism, was perhaps the most famous senator of Rome. Marcus Aurelius was emperor. 

Firmin's book list on stoic themes, influence and inspiration

Firmin Debrabander Why did Firmin love this book?

Each chapter in this book wrestles with central themes of Hellenistic Philosophy, which includes Stoicism, but also Epicureanism and Skepticism. The essays are wonderfully written, and deal with pressing eternal problems, such as the political significance of anger, and the nature and pitfalls of physical pleasure. Dr. Nussbaum relates the Stoics and other Hellenistic philosophers to pressing contemporary issues and concerns.


By Martha C. Nussbaum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Epicureans, Skeptics, and Stoics practiced philosophy not as a detached intellectual discipline but as a worldly art of grappling with issues of daily and urgent human significance. In this classic work, Martha Nussbaum maintains that these Hellenistic schools have been unjustly neglected in recent philosophic accounts of what the classical "tradition" has to offer. By examining texts of philosophers such as Epicurus, Lucretius, and Seneca, she recovers a valuable source for current moral and political thought and encourages us to reconsider philosophical argument as a technique through which to improve lives. Written for general readers and specialists, The Therapy…


Book cover of The Human Condition

Jennifer Banks Author Of Natality: Toward a Philosophy of Birth

From my list on birth, one of our greatest underexplored subjects.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a family that was focused on people, poetry, and politics. My parents both worked with children with disabilities in Massachusetts and my mother ran a daycare center in our house. As a reader, student, poet, and then editor, I’ve drawn on those experiences and expectations, and have searched through books looking for their echoes. Since 2007, I've edited books at Yale University Press where I'm currently Senior Executive Editor. I have a BA from Cornell University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. I've also worked in various publishing roles at ICM, Continuum, and Harvard University Press.

Jennifer's book list on birth, one of our greatest underexplored subjects

Jennifer Banks Why did Jennifer love this book?

First published in 1958, this is one of Hannah Arendt’s most influential books and in it she attempts to define the human condition in the aftermath of World War II, developing her concept “natality.” 

It’s a challenging book that I’ve wrestled with and argued with and never forgotten. It includes some of her most powerful and frequently cited passages about birth. Lately, I’ve been returning to its opening pages, in which she discusses the launch of Sputnik into space. 

She saw this launch not as an exciting technological breakthrough, but as a fateful repudiation of our earthly existence, an existence that was defined by birth with possibilities and limitations.

By Hannah Arendt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The past year has seen a resurgence of interest in the political thinker Hannah Arendt, "the theorist of beginnings," whose work probes the logics underlying unexpected transformations-from totalitarianism to revolution.

A work of striking originality, The Human Condition is in many respects more relevant now than when it first appeared in 1958. In her study of the state of modern humanity, Hannah Arendt considers humankind from the perspective of the actions of which it is capable. The problems Arendt identified then-diminishing human agency and political freedom, the paradox that as human powers increase through technological and humanistic inquiry, we are…


Book cover of St. Paul: The Apostle We Love to Hate

Firmin Debrabander Author Of Life After Privacy: Reclaiming Democracy in a Surveillance Society

From my list on stoic themes, influence and inspiration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved the Stoics, from the first time I read Seneca. I appreciate that they seek to speak to a wider audience than most philosophers, on issues that concern many: happiness, anxiety, pain, loss. The Stoics were wonderful writers, whose influence has been manifest throughout western philosophy. And they extended their expertise beyond the academy, and were very involved in politics. Seneca was the advisor to the emperor Nero; Cicero, who dabbled in Stoicism, was perhaps the most famous senator of Rome. Marcus Aurelius was emperor. 

Firmin's book list on stoic themes, influence and inspiration

Firmin Debrabander Why did Firmin love this book?

Karen Armstrong’s book on St Paul –her second—is wonderful. It takes into account recent scholarship on the historical Paul, and in accessible fashion, explains what was controversial about his agenda, and what was likely omitted or edited out of his work. Paul’s mission was influenced in no small part by the prevalent Stoic thinking—above all, cosmopolitanism: Paul was a cosmopolitan, literally, a citizen of no place—but of the universe itself. And central to his understanding of Jesus’ teaching, Paul wished to wash away the parochial distinctions that divide us. Hence the baptismal cry he advised: no more Greek or Jew, man or woman, master or slave!

By Karen Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

St Paul is known throughout the world as the first Christian writer, authoring fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament. But as Karen Armstrong demonstrates in St Paul: The Misunderstood Apostle, he also exerted a more significant influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the world than any other figure in history.

It was Paul who established the first Christian churches in Europe and Asia in the first century, Paul who transformed a minor sect into the largest religion produced by Western civilization, and Paul who advanced the revolutionary idea that Christ could serve as a model for…


Book cover of The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments

Firmin Debrabander Author Of Life After Privacy: Reclaiming Democracy in a Surveillance Society

From my list on stoic themes, influence and inspiration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved the Stoics, from the first time I read Seneca. I appreciate that they seek to speak to a wider audience than most philosophers, on issues that concern many: happiness, anxiety, pain, loss. The Stoics were wonderful writers, whose influence has been manifest throughout western philosophy. And they extended their expertise beyond the academy, and were very involved in politics. Seneca was the advisor to the emperor Nero; Cicero, who dabbled in Stoicism, was perhaps the most famous senator of Rome. Marcus Aurelius was emperor. 

Firmin's book list on stoic themes, influence and inspiration

Firmin Debrabander Why did Firmin love this book?

The Stoics were expansive philosophers, in that they were concerned about many diverse aspects of our existence: politics, ethics, epistemology, therapy, cosmology. The Stoics also aimed for their philosophy to be practical; hence, they wrote in accessible, readable fashion, so their teachings could reach many. The New York Times philosophers’ column, “The Stone,” shares Stoic concerns in applying philosophical thinking to a wide variety of topics, in a manner accessible to many. The Stone Reader is an anthology of some of the most popular essays from the New York Times column; the essays touch on many subjects, such as violence, anxiety, happiness, faith, and political power.

By Peter Catapano, Simon Critchley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Once solely the province of ivory tower professors and university classrooms, contemporary philosophy was emancipated from its academic closet in 2010, when The Stone was launched in The New York Times. First appearing online, the column has attracted millions of readers through its accessible examination of topics like the nature of science, consciousness and morality, while also probing more contemporary issues such as the morality of drones, gun control and the gender divide.

Collected for the first time, The Stone Reader presents 133 influential pieces, placing nearly the entirety of modern philosophical discourse at a reader's grasp. With an introduction…


Book cover of Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution: Reform, Revolution, and Royalism in the Northern Andes, 1780–1825

Wim Klooster Author Of Revolutions in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History

From my list on the Age of Revolutions.

Why am I passionate about this?

To an Atlantic historian like me, the era of revolutions is one of the most dramatic historical periods, which erased many of the structures on which the Atlantic world had been built for centuries. It raised many hopes, which were often defeated, but lasting advances were made nonetheless.  

Wim's book list on the Age of Revolutions

Wim Klooster Why did Wim love this book?

An important and original work that privileges the vantage point of blacks and indigenous people. Historians have often portrayed the royalist side in the Spanish American wars as conservative and backward, but by analyzing the political strategies of nonwhites, this book shows convincingly that their affiliation with the Spanish Crown was a sensible one. 

By Marcela Echeverri,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Royalist Indians and slaves in the northern Andes engaged with the ideas of the Age of Revolution (1780-1825), such as citizenship and freedom. Although generally ignored in recent revolution-centered versions of the Latin American independence processes, their story is an essential part of the history of the period. In Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution, Marcela Echeverri draws a picture of the royalist region of Popayan (modern-day Colombia) that reveals deep chronological layers and multiple social and spatial textures. She uses royalism as a lens to rethink the temporal, spatial, and conceptual boundaries that conventionally structure historical…


Book cover of On Revolution

Dean Hammer Author Of Rome and America: Communities of Strangers, Spectacles of Belonging

From my list on the connection of ancient Rome to an American identity.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with the relationship between Rome and America grows out of the work I have done on early American culture, contemporary political thought, and ancient Rome. My most recent work, Rome and America: Communities of Strangers, Spectacles of Belonging, took shape through a lot of conversations over the years with friends and colleagues about the different tensions I saw in Roman politics and culture around questions of national identity, tensions that I saw being played out in the United States. I don’t like tidy histories. I am drawn to explorations of politics and culture that reveal the anxieties and dissonance that derive from our own attempt to resolve our incompleteness. 

Dean's book list on the connection of ancient Rome to an American identity

Dean Hammer Why did Dean love this book?

I first encountered this book in my senior seminar in college. Little did I know how much Hannah Arendt’s works would figure into my own thinking and writing. In On Revolution, Arendt provides a provocative interpretation of how the American founders looked to Rome, specifically Virgil, for their own understanding of founding. My current book begins with Arendt’s insight but departs substantially from her conclusion.

By Hannah Arendt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tracing the gradual evolution of revolutions, Arendt predicts the changing relationship between war and revolution and the crucial role such combustive movements will play in the future of international relations.

She looks at the principles which underlie all revolutions, starting with the first great examples in America and France, and showing how both the theory and practice of revolution have since developed. Finally, she foresees the changing relationship between war and revolution and the crucial changes in international relations, with revolution becoming the key tactic.


Book cover of Anatomies of Revolution

Graeme Gill Author Of Revolution and Terror

From my list on understand why, as Mao said, “revolution is not a dinner party”.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became passionate about this subject when I was at university and I realised that so many revolutions that were conducted in the name of high ideals ended up involving considerable suffering and death on the part of the ordinary people. And not just the ordinary people, but the revolutionaries as well. Why, I wondered, was this the case, and did it mean, as many in the 1960s and 1970s argued, that revolution was ultimately self-defeating? The quest to answer these questions remains on-going, but the books I have suggested have helped me to make some headway towards a resolution.

Graeme's book list on understand why, as Mao said, “revolution is not a dinner party”

Graeme Gill Why did Graeme love this book?

I loved this 2019 mainly theoretical study because of the ambition it reflected and the major advances it provided. Lawson’s distinctions between revolutionary situations, revolutionary trajectories, and revolutionary outcomes provide an innovative framework for understanding revolutions.

Its analytical methodology, combined with some case studies, constitutes an immensely rich and engaging study of revolution, which helped to clarify much of my own thinking on this subject. This combination of theory and case studies made this a joy to read.

Book cover of Nazaré

Kris Neri Author Of Magical Alienation

From my list on magic to make you feel happy and even enchanted.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having heard Celtic legends as a kid made me want to either become a leprechaun or a goddess with the power to remake the world’s worst parts. Although I didn’t achieve either, I write about both, as well as other quirky people who march to the rhythm of delightfully offbeat drummers. I so adore eccentric people and jaunty environments, I’ve built a career out of writing them. That has allowed me to capture the sassy voice of the daughter of madcap Hollywood stars, the outrageous garments worn by a cheerfully fake psychic, and the journey of a brokenhearted chef who can’t quote an adage normally to save her life.

Kris' book list on magic to make you feel happy and even enchanted

Kris Neri Why did Kris love this book?

Nazaré is a charming fable, showcasing the pursuit of justice in an authoritarian world. Kin, a young homeless boy, originally accused of sorcery and forced to flee, eventually leads a band of revolutionaries pitted against their oppressive dictator. His army is made up of delightful misfits, along with a variety of wild animals.

I love the rebels in this parable for the modern world. How could any writer or reader not appreciate revolutionaries who, while living rough in the countryside, impose a reading hour on their members. There is such beauty in the author’s language, unexpected humor throughout, and the most appealing charm.

If you believe in magic, as well as the the power of right to prevail against tyranny, despite impossible odds, this is the novel for you.

By JJ Amaworo Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nazaré tells the story of a peasants’ revolt in the polyglot city of Balaal. The story begins with a miracle. A homeless boy sees a whale washed up on the beach. He alerts the local fishermen, and soon the whole town is trying and failing to push it back into the ocean. With just the boy left to accompany the whale now in its dying throes, a freak wave pulls the creature back into the sea. This is an omen. Change is coming.

The boy and the washerwoman who adopts him cobble together a ramshackle army of fishermen, shopkeepers, lapsed…


Book cover of The Anatomy of Revolution Revisited: A Comparative Analysis of England, France, and Russia

Graeme Gill Author Of Revolution and Terror

From my list on understand why, as Mao said, “revolution is not a dinner party”.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became passionate about this subject when I was at university and I realised that so many revolutions that were conducted in the name of high ideals ended up involving considerable suffering and death on the part of the ordinary people. And not just the ordinary people, but the revolutionaries as well. Why, I wondered, was this the case, and did it mean, as many in the 1960s and 1970s argued, that revolution was ultimately self-defeating? The quest to answer these questions remains on-going, but the books I have suggested have helped me to make some headway towards a resolution.

Graeme's book list on understand why, as Mao said, “revolution is not a dinner party”

Graeme Gill Why did Graeme love this book?

I found this comparative study of England, France and Russia an elegant and theoretically sophisticated analysis of three of what are considered to be the “great revolutions”.

It is a 2014 reworking of the 1938 classic by Crane Brinton and, like its predecessor, its great strength is in its comparative historical analysis. I loved the depth of historical analysis of each of the case studies, with sufficient detail to enable me at times to reach different conclusions from the author.

It was also able to go beyond Brinton’s original, in terms both of its historical detail and theoretical sweep. Its ambition, grounded in the case studies, was exhilarating.

Book cover of States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China

Graeme Gill Author Of Revolution and Terror

From my list on understand why, as Mao said, “revolution is not a dinner party”.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became passionate about this subject when I was at university and I realised that so many revolutions that were conducted in the name of high ideals ended up involving considerable suffering and death on the part of the ordinary people. And not just the ordinary people, but the revolutionaries as well. Why, I wondered, was this the case, and did it mean, as many in the 1960s and 1970s argued, that revolution was ultimately self-defeating? The quest to answer these questions remains on-going, but the books I have suggested have helped me to make some headway towards a resolution.

Graeme's book list on understand why, as Mao said, “revolution is not a dinner party”

Graeme Gill Why did Graeme love this book?

This is a terrific book that transformed our thinking about revolution. A comparative study of France, Russia, and China, it adopts a structural approach to revolution rather than seeing it as a result of the actions of particular revolutionaries.

What I found stimulating about this book was the way it brought together the role of the state and the impact of international factors in bringing about revolution. Its argument, while not without shortcomings, moved our understanding of revolution onto a richer and more complex theoretical basis than it had been before. A major work bringing the study of the state and the study of revolution together in an intellectually exciting way.

By Theda Skocpol,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

State structures, international forces, and class relations: Theda Skocpol shows how all three combine to explain the origins and accomplishments of social-revolutionary transformations. Social revolutions have been rare but undeniably of enormous importance in modern world history. States and Social Revolutions provides a new frame of reference for analyzing the causes, the conflicts, and the outcomes of such revolutions. It develops a rigorous, comparative historical analysis of three major cases: the French Revolution of 1787 through the early 1800s, the Russian Revolution of 1917 through the 1930s, and the Chinese Revolution of 1911 through the 1960s. Believing that existing theories…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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