95 books like Blood Meridian

By Cormac McCarthy,

Here are 95 books that Blood Meridian fans have personally recommended if you like Blood Meridian. 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 The Things They Carried

Ellen Birkett Morris Author Of Beware the Tall Grass

From my list on a well-rounded look at Americans touched by the Vietnam War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about the Vietnam War because my male relatives served and came back changed by the experience. I spent ten years as the editor of The Patton Saber, writing articles about the experience of World War II soldiers, but when I came across an idea for a novel about past life memories, I decided to focus on memories of the Vietnam War. What I love about this list is that it reflects many facets of the war, including soldiers, nurses, veterans, and the family members touched by those affected by war.

Ellen's book list on a well-rounded look at Americans touched by the Vietnam War

Ellen Birkett Morris Why did Ellen love this book?

O’Brien’s depiction of American soldiers in Vietnam was vivid and moving. It gave me a deeper understanding of the soldier’s experience. His artful use of the metaphor of what they carried revealed not only the items on hand but also the psychological baggage each soldier dealt with.

The stories were haunting and made me a full witness to the complexity of war and the many ways it is experienced. It is artfully written, moving, complex, touching and unforgettable.

By Tim O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Things They Carried as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The million-copy bestseller, which is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

'The Things They Carried' is, on its surface, a sequence of award-winning stories about the madness of the Vietnam War; at the same time it has the cumulative power and unity of a novel, with recurring characters and interwoven strands of plot and theme.

But while Vietnam is central to 'The Things They Carried', it is not simply a book about war. It is also a book about the human heart - about the terrible weight of those things we carry through…

Book cover of The Iliad

Nick Stevenson Author Of Nethergeist

From my list on compelling world building in fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been intrigued by fantastical world-building that is complex, detailed, forensically credible, and immeasurably encyclopedic in scope. It should propel you to a world that feels almost as real as the world you leave behind but with intricate magic systems and razor-shape lore. Ironically, some of my choices took a while to love, but once they “sunk in,” everything changed. Whenever life gets too much, it has been cathartic, essential even, to transport to another universe and find solace in prose dedicated to survival, soul, and renewal.

Nick's book list on compelling world building in fantasy

Nick Stevenson Why did Nick love this book?

This may be considered an odd choice on the surface, given the true events of the Trojan War. This was also another I initially struggled with. Nevertheless, despite the factual elements, it’s viewed as one of the earliest epic fantasies in Western literature, along with The Odyssey, which came after.

Centered on just a few days of the ten-year siege of Troy, the lives of humans and their gods are intricately linked. It is one of the earliest examples of pathos with much sympathy actually lying with the enemies, the Trojans, a people based in Asia Minor, and their allies from all over the region. Outside the gods, it also references monsters such as Bellerophon, the Gorgon, and centaurs, with the gods often used as a plot device to refract the emotions and flaws of the characters.

The world-building is vivid and rich in dactylic hexameter, a rhythmic style.…

By Homer, Robert Fagles (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the greatest epics in Western literature, THE ILIAD recounts the story of the Trojan wars. This timeless poem still vividly conveys the horror and heroism of men and gods battling amidst devastation and destruction, as it moves to its tragic conclusion. In his introduction, Bernard Knox observes that although the violence of the Iliad is grim and relentless, it co-exists with both images of civilized life and a poignant yearning for peace.

Book cover of A Game of Thrones

Teresa M. Schulz Author Of Barbed Wire and Daisies

From my list on thriller/suspense escapism with strong female protagonists, full of grit, sass, and humour.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always had a wicked imagination and loved to tell stories. Unfortunately, this had me naively believing in fairy tales and happy endings. Cinderella has a lot to answer for. My kind heart and trusting nature were a magnet for bad men, and boy, did I suffer because of it. The term “Viking Berserker” comes to mind. This is why I have a passion for reading about strong women. I’ve learned (through reading books – such as those on my recommended list) that to survive, you have to have hope for a better future, and inspiring people – within inspiring stories – can often give you that hope.

Teresa's book list on thriller/suspense escapism with strong female protagonists, full of grit, sass, and humour

Teresa M. Schulz Why did Teresa love this book?

A medieval world with dire wolves, dragons, and John Snow.

But seriously, Daenerys was a favourite of mine in that series. I have mentioned earlier that I love when the underdog wins – well I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but in my mind, that young woman who came from a place of being bullied by her crazy brother, pursued by a vengeful enemy on the iron throne, challenged by Dothraki, and judged by almost everyone else, grew in confidence, strength and courage to become a force to be reckoned with. She earned the title "Mother of Dragons."

There were several other strong females in this series: Arya, Sansa, Catelyn, Brienne, and Ygritte, to name a few. At times, the story is a bit gruesome and not for the faint-hearted – but definitely a good series to read.

By George R. R. Martin,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked A Game of Thrones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HBO's hit series A GAME OF THRONES is based on George R R Martin's internationally bestselling series A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, the greatest fantasy epic of the modern age. A GAME OF THRONES is the first volume in the series.

'Completely immersive' Guardian

'When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground'

Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

From the fertile south, where heat breeds conspiracy, to the vast and savage eastern lands, all the way to the frozen…

Book cover of Lonesome Dove

Lee Goldberg Author Of Calico

From my list on humor that makes us human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing crime stories since I was a child. They entertained me and helped me cope with a lot of family strife. My first novel was published in college and sold to the movies, which got me into screenwriting, leading to writing hundreds of hours of TV and fifty novels to date. The one thing all of my stories share is humor because I believe it’s an essential part of life–and of memorable story-telling. Humor makes characters come alive, revealing shades of personality and depths of emotion you wouldn’t otherwise see. Here are five books that taught me that it’s true and that continue to influence me as a writer. 

Lee's book list on humor that makes us human

Lee Goldberg Why did Lee love this book?

This is my favorite book of all time, by far. It’s a sprawling, epic Western for people who don’t like Westerns. But that’s just one of the many things it does brilliantly.

McMurtry was the master at finding humor in every character, no matter how loathsome or pitiful, and in every situation, no matter how heart-breaking or violent, without sacrificing or undercutting anything for a laugh. He makes the humor seem as natural as breathing, crying, or bleeding, which is a vital coping mechanism for dealing with life…it certainly is in my own.

But McMurtry taught me how to incorporate that into my storytelling and how important humor is in humanizing characters. It’s how he got me to emotionally invest in his characters and almost believe they are real. Perhaps that’s why this novel is the only one I have re-read multiple times in my life that I still wish…

By Larry McMurtry,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Lonesome Dove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a powerful, triumphant portrayal of the American West as it really was. From Texas to Montana, it follows cowboys on a grueling cattle drive through the wilderness.

It begins in the office of The Hat Creek Cattle Company of the Rio Grande.
It ends as a journey into the heart of every adventurer who ever lived . . .

More than a love story, more than an adventure, Lonesome Dove is an epic: a monumental novel which embraces the spirit of the last defiant wilderness of America.

Legend and fact, heroes and outlaws,…

Book cover of Naked Lunch: The Restored Text

David David Katzman Author Of A Greater Monster

From my list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer, artist, and actor throughout my life, I’ve explored and enjoyed many artistic forms. While I appreciate books across many genres, I elevate to the highest level those works that manage to break conventional boundaries and create something original. In my own work, I have always challenged myself to create something unique with a medium that has never been done before. At the same time, I have sought to discover a process and resulting work that inspires readers’ own creativity and challenges them to expand their imagination. 

David's book list on shattering the conventions of what a novel can be

David David Katzman Why did David love this book?

First published in 1959, Naked Lunch was shocking then, and it still retains its power today. Both in content and structure, Naked Lunch is powerful and wholly original.  In effect, it becomes more than a work of fiction, it becomes an experience. Burroughs invented a technique called the “cut-up method,” where he cut up his coherent storyline into paragraphs, scenes, and even sentences, then reordered them both randomly and editorially. The disorder thematically represents the chaos of existence and the universe, and it also disrupts the reader. Like the book or not, it shakes you into realizing that there are possibilities beyond the conventional.

Burrough’s language is honed to a razor’s edge, and I find that many of the sentences in Naked Lunch burn like fire. The meaning of the title as Burroughs explains it is to bare the naked truth of reality on the end of a fork. From…

By William S. Burroughs Jr., James Grauerholz, Barry Miles

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since its original publication in Paris in 1959, Naked Lunch has become one of the most important novels of the twentieth century.

Exerting its influence on the relationship of art and obscenity, it is one of the books that redefined not just literature but American culture. For the Burroughs enthusiast and the neophyte, this volume—that contains final-draft typescripts, numerous unpublished contemporaneous writings by Burroughs, his own later introductions to the book, and his essay on psychoactive drugs—is a valuable and fresh experience of a novel that has lost none of its relevance or satirical bite.

Book cover of Killing Floor

Tina O’Hailey Author Of Dark Drink

From my list on unconventional, stubborn, loyal characters with explorer’s hearts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose my favorite books, and through careful psyche analysis, I see a theme in them: stubborn characters who persevere through miserable elements. I cave, hike, kayak, motorcycle, etc. A lot of it is not comfortable. It starts with having an explorer’s heart. It isn’t glamorous. It is 90% talking yourself into the fact that you can do something you at first don’t believe you can do. The similar-minded friends that one finds along the way are lifelong, and there’s a bond that forms from crazy people like this. That comes through in my writing – companionship against a backdrop of stubborn exploration in an indifferent environment.

Tina's book list on unconventional, stubborn, loyal characters with explorer’s hearts

Tina O’Hailey Why did Tina love this book?

Reacher is dedicated to his “family” 5000%. Nothing else matters. Nothing. He is an incredibly simple and driven character who cannot resonate with the world around him nor give a moment to care that he does not. He is. That is all. Family is his team and, in this case, one actual family member. All are on equal footing.

While most details from books fade from my memory, this book (read when it first came out and eons before the TV show) is etched into my memory completely. The characters, the places, the fights, the sights and smells. I fell for Reacher’s plight and his steadfast mission to prove his innocence. My favorite image is hobo Reacher sleeping wherever and thinking nothing strange in that.

By Lee Child,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Killing Floor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He's just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he's arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Reacher knows is that he didn't kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn't stand a chance of convincing anyone. Not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

Book cover of All the King's Men

Georg Loefflmann Author Of The Politics of Antagonism: Populist Security Narratives and the Remaking of Political Identity

From my list on understand how populism works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Lecturer in US Foreign Policy at Queen Mary University of London, and I work on issues of national security and identity, political rhetoric and the role of the everyday in shaping politics, especially media and popular culture. I have written extensively on American politics and US foreign policy over these past years with two published monographs and more than a dozen articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, plus a couple of op-eds and multiple TV and radio appearances. My most recent research project explores the role of populism under the Trump presidency and its political impact in the United States.

Georg's book list on understand how populism works

Georg Loefflmann Why did Georg love this book?

This book is maybe my favorite novel ever written about politics and the lengths that some men are willing to go in the pursuit of power.

It features a memorable cast of characters, most importantly, of course, the figure of Governor Willie Stark, the quintessential populist politician, who manipulates others for his own gain and demonstrates a total lack of morals. Set in the 1930s, the story of Stark’s rise to power and eventual downfall always strikes me for how contemporary it feels and how many parallels it offers with the populist politics of our own time. 

By Robert Penn Warren,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked All the King's Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16.

What is this book about?

Willie Stark's obsession with political power leads to the ultimate corruption of his gubernatorial administration.

Book cover of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Tim O'Leary Author Of Men Behaving Badly

From my list on characters you love to hate.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Tim O’Leary and two of my books, Dick Cheney Shot Me in the Face–And Other Tales of Men in Pain and Men Behaving Badly, emanate from the minds of protagonists trying to do the right thing the wrong way or evil characters doing the wrong thing they believe to be right. I’m particularly drawn to those wonderful literary psychopaths that draw you in with compelling personalities, while reviling the reader with their heinous actions. 

Tim's book list on characters you love to hate

Tim O'Leary Why did Tim love this book?

I found this book in college, and at the time, I thought it was the most unique book I had ever read.

Thompson’s “Gonzo Journalism” was fresh, funny, and thought-provoking, with a subtext of modern poetry, political activism, and a sense of humor I have never seen replicated.

By Hunter S. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like, "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive ..."'

Hunter S. Thompson is roaring down the desert highway to Las Vegas with his attorney, the Samoan, to find the dark side of the American Dream. Armed with a drug arsenal of stupendous proportions, the duo engage in a surreal succession of chemically enhanced confrontations with casino operators, police officers and assorted Middle Americans.

This stylish reissue of Hunter S. Thompson's iconic masterpiece, a controversial bestseller when…

Book cover of Sula

Nell Freudenberger Author Of The Limits

From my list on what it’s really like to be a teenage girl.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Los Angeles in the 80s and 90s. I was a shy teenager, an obsessive reader, and a secret writer.  I went to an all-girls high school where we wore uniforms, did a lot of homework, and mostly had no idea how to meet boys. The teen girls I encountered in movies, TV shows, and even literature were sexualized to the point of being unrecognizable to me. Now that I work with teenagers (and am a mom to one), I’m fascinated by the variability of girls this age, their wide-ranging intelligence, passions, and ways of being in the world. I love novels that reflect that complexity.

Nell's book list on what it’s really like to be a teenage girl

Nell Freudenberger Why did Nell love this book?

This is my favorite of Toni Morrison’s novels because of the utterly original world she creates in the fictional Ohio neighborhood called “The Bottom.” Every time I read it, I find something new in the friendship between the main characters, Nel and Sula, a kind of relationship I recognized immediately.

I was a rule-abiding, quiet teenager who strived for approval from adults but was always attracted to bolder, less conventional friends. I often think about a scene in which Nel and Sula are walking down the street together, experiencing the sudden sense of power that comes with men’s attention and their whispered words, “pig meat.” I don’t know another book that gets at the threat and the mystery of sexual life so honestly or in such original language.

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Extravagantly beautiful... Enormously, achingly alive... A howl of love and rage, playful and funny as well as hard and bitter' New York Times

As young girls, Nel and Sula shared each other's secrets and dreams in the poor black mid-West of their childhood. Then Sula ran away to live her dreams and Nel got married.

Ten years later Sula returns and no one, least of all Nel, trusts her. Sula is a story of fear - the fear that traps us, justifying itself through perpetual myth and legend. Cast as a witch by the people who resent her strength, Sula…

Book cover of In the Rogue Blood

Alden Bell Author Of The Reapers Are the Angels

From my list on in the tradition of William Faulkner.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer, I’ve been deeply influenced by Southern literature—especially the work of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. Even though I’m not from the South myself, I am drawn to Southern writers’ immodesty. I believe much of contemporary literature is too timid. It is about the mundane, the everyday.  It does not elevate; instead, it diminishes.  Much of the literature of the South is biblical in its sensibilities.  It is unafraid to deal with the big universal issues with language that is equally big and universal.  It does not pander to modesty or postmodern selfconsciousness. It is audacious. It’s the kind of writing that made me want to write.

Alden's book list on in the tradition of William Faulkner

Alden Bell Why did Alden love this book?

Mixing Faulkner’s gothic language with McCarthy’s sense of history, Blake writes a story of two brothers torn apart by circumstance and their experiences in the Mexican-American War.  Blake captures that sense of aimless wandering that echoes Faulkner’s stories—the rootless characters meandering across the country, not only unsure of their destinations but maybe even indifferent to them. To me, one of the most profound twists in the book is that the brothers don’t seem to care which side of the war they participate in. They are itinerants whose purpose in the world is simply circumstantial; they are instruments of universal forces that they neither question nor understand. 

By James Carlos Blake,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Rogue Blood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The offspring of a whore mother and a homicidal father, Edward and John Little are driven from their home in the Florida swamplands by a sching parent's treacheries, and by a shameful, horrific act that will haunt their dreams for the rest of their days. Joining the swelling ranks of the rootless--wandering across an almost surreal bloodland populated by the sorrowfully lost and defiantly damned--two brothers are separated by death and circumstance in the lawless "Dixie City" of New Orelans, and dispatched by destiny to opposing sides in a fierce and desperate territorial struggled between Mexico and the United States.…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in outlaws, massacres, and American Indians?

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