100 books like Boyhood

By J. M. Coetzee,

Here are 100 books that Boyhood fans have personally recommended if you like Boyhood. 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 West with the Night: A Memoir

Steven Faulkner Author Of Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty & Loss

From my list on travel that enrich landscape with history.

Why am I passionate about this?

After reading travel books that voyaged beyond mere tourism into the life of the land, its people, and its histories, I found myself longing to launch my own journeys. I took a thousand-mile canoe trip with my son following the 1673 route of the French explorers Marquette and Joliet; I crossed the Rockies with two sons by foot, mountain bike, and canoe following Lewis and Clark and their Nez Perce guides; I took to sea kayak and pontoon boat with a son and daughter, 400 miles along the Gulf Coast in pursuit of the 1528 Spanish Narvaez Expedition. Writing of these journeys gave me the chance to live twice.

Steven's book list on travel that enrich landscape with history

Steven Faulkner Why did Steven love this book?

Beryl Markham was a bush pilot in Africa during the early years of aviation. She is a marvelous writer and an adventurous soul. Ernest Hemingway wrote of her: “Did you read Beryl Markham’s book? I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could put pen to paper except to write in her flyer’s log book. As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I am completely ashamed of myself as a writer.... She can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers.”

Hemingway is right. This is the best written travel book I’ve read. I grew up in what is now called South Sudan, not far from Kenya where Markham grew up. Her writing brings back the land and people, the weather and hardships, the beauty of that land and its lonely skies.

By Beryl Markham,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked West with the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WEST WITH THE NIGHT appeared on 13 bestseller lists on first publication in 1942. It tells the spellbinding story of Beryl Markham -- aviator, racehorse trainer, fascinating beauty -and her life in the Kenya of the 1920s and 30s.

Markham was taken to Kenya at the age of four. As an adult she was befriended by Denys Finch-Hatton, the big-game hunter of OUT OF AFRICA fame, who took her flying in his airplane. Thrilled by the experience, Markham went on to become the first woman in Kenya to receive a commercial pilot's license.

In 1936 she determined to fly solo…


Book cover of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood

Selina Molteno Author Of The Secret Son of Wallis Simpson: My Quest for the Truth

From my list on white Africans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born into a third-generation white South African family. I came to Europe at the age of 18 to pursue a career as a ballet dancer and became interested in liberation politics in the 1960s, working for some years for the Anti-Apartheid Movement in London. It almost goes without saying that Black Africans should be at the centre of books about Africa. In an era in which the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ has gained so much acceptance, it seems almost quixotic to focus on white Africans. However, this is a fascinating group of people who have made a notable contribution to the continent, winning thirteen of the twenty-eight Nobel Prizes awarded to Africans.

Selina's book list on white Africans

Selina Molteno Why did Selina love this book?

This memoir of Alexandra Fuller’s childhood is a hilarious take on her family’s experience of farming in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia in the 1970s and 1980s. It is a refreshing reminder of what it was like to live and grow up as a member of the white minority intent on remaining in power during a fast-changing, violent, and deeply unstable period in the history of southern Africa. It is a wonderful portrayal of some of the traumas of growing up with a witty, mad, and heavy-drinking mother who had to endure the unspeakable tragedy of losing a child, a chain-smoking father who farmed by day and fought terrorists by night, and a glamorous older sister. It is a book that keeps you laughing or crying the whole way through.

By Alexandra Fuller,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an introduction by author Anne Enright.

Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book award, a story of civil war and a family's unbreakable bond.

How you see a country depends on whether you are driving through it, or live in it. How you see a country depends on whether or not you can leave it, if you have to.

As the daughter of white settlers in war-torn 1970s Rhodesia, Alexandra Fuller remembers a time when a schoolgirl was as likely to carry a shotgun as a satchel. This is her story - of a civil war, of a quixotic battle…


Book cover of What Is the What

Harriet Levin Millan Author Of How Fast Can You Run

From my list on astonishing idealism and survival in East Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first met Michael Majok Kuch and he asked me if I was interested in writing his life story, I knew nothing about South Sudan. Over the next several years, we met weekly. I’d interview him, write a chapter, research it, and then show it to him for his approval. I read everything I could find on South Sudan and the adjacent countries. In fact, I became so obsessed with Michael's culture that once I read Francis Mading Deng's Dinka Folktales, Mike’s sister arranged a meeting between Francis Mading Deng and me. These books prepared me for writing How Fast Can You Run, helping other “Lost Boys” of Sudan reunite with their mothers.

Harriet's book list on astonishing idealism and survival in East Africa

Harriet Levin Millan Why did Harriet love this book?

When One Book, One Philadelphia called me in my office at Drexel University and asked me to select 10 students to interview 10 South Sudanese refugees for a One Book project, I read Dave Egger’s epic tale of Valentino Achak Deng’s survival as a so-called “Lost Boy" of Sudan. Valentino along with thousands of other “Lost Boys” was forced to separate from his parents at a young age and trek thousands of miles across Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya without resources to food or water to arrive at several refugee camps. This is Valentino’s story yet it resonates with fleeing people worldwide. Anyone who lives in freedom will stop and listen to the plight of others after reading this astonishing book.

By Dave Eggers,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked What Is the What 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?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The epic novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with thousands of other children —the so-called Lost Boys—was forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven and trek hundreds of miles by foot, pursued by militias, government bombers, and wild animals, crossing the deserts of three countries to find freedom.

When he finally is resettled in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges. Moving, suspenseful, and unexpectedly funny, What Is the What is an astonishing novel that…


Book cover of Sufferings in Africa: The Astonishing Account of a New England Sea Captain Enslaved by North African Arabs

Tim Bascom Author Of Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia

From my list on memoirs of American and European expats in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since spending seven years of my youth in East Africa, I have read the literature of that continent. I have relished the incredible novels of authors like Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Maaza Mengiste, but I have also sought out stories of those who entered Africa from outside, wanting to confirm my experience and to make sense of it. My reading has included masterpieces like Abraham Verghese’s novel Cutting for Stone or Ryszard Kapuscinski’s journalistic expose The Emperor. But here are a few personal memoirs that have given me a basis for my own understanding of being an expatriate shaped profoundly by life in Africa.  

Tim's book list on memoirs of American and European expats in Africa

Tim Bascom Why did Tim love this book?

This remarkable tale is not as well known as others, in part because it was written in 1817 and by a less accomplished writer, but it is hard to beat as a true account of nearly unsurvivable hardship. Captain James Riley, captured when his American ship—Commerce—runs aground south of Morocco, is taken into the Sahara desert along with several of his crew as slaves of Bedouins. Barefoot, terribly sunburnt, forced to drink camel urine, they walk hundreds of miles behind their master’s camels until finally ransomed by an American consul. This shocking reversal of the usual slavery tale is a poignant indictment of the slave trade. Abraham Lincoln claimed that Sufferings in Africa, along with The Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress, had the most effect on his political ideology.

By James Riley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In August 1815, New England sea captain James Riley and his crew were shipwrecked off the coast of Moroccan Western Sahara. They headed inland, only to be captured by marauding Sahrawi natives who kept them as slaves. Riley and his crew were beaten, sun-burnt, starved, and forced to drink camel urine before eventually being rescued.

Abraham Lincoln, listed Riley's narrative, alongside the Bible and Pilgrim's Progress, as one of the three most influential works that shaped his views on slavery.


Book cover of Move Your Shadow: South Africa, Black and White

Kenneth P. Vickery Author Of The African Experience: From "Lucy" to Mandela

From my list on Southern Africa as picked by a historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

For fifty years I have studied and taught the history of Africa, which  makes me about the luckiest guy around.  My focus has been on Southern Africa, and especially Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.  Aside from the fantastic physical beauty, the region attracts because of the comparability of its history and experience with that of the United States at many points:  for instance, a colonial past, systems of slavery, and fraught [to say the least] racial dynamics.  I have enjoyed 23 journeys or lengthier sojourns in Southern Africa, and have taught at five universities, including North Carolina State, Duke, and the University of Zimbabwe as a Fulbright Lecturer.

Kenneth's book list on Southern Africa as picked by a historian

Kenneth P. Vickery Why did Kenneth love this book?

Move Your Shadow is a masterpiece of reportage. Lelyveld, a former executive editor of the New York Times, spent considerable periods in apartheid South Africa in both the 1960s and the 1980s. The sixties was the period of “baaskap”—“bosshood” apartheid, when the perverse racist cruelties of the system were imposed with a sledgehammer. I would call the eighties the era of “facelift” apartheid—why, the word was hardly used by the regime anymore. 

To paraphrase Gramsci, the old world was dying, a new one struggled to be born. Monsters abounded. Nobody captured the period better than Lelyveld. The chapter on Philip Kgosana, the idealist who led Cape Town demonstrations in 1960—at age 19—was betrayed by the state, and wound up in exile in Sri Lanka—is worth the price of the book.

By Joseph Lelyveld,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drawing on his tours in South Africa as a correspondent for the "New York Times," the author details the absurdities, rationalizations, inequities, and cruelties of apartheid, showing what it means to suffer and survive under the restrictions of racial separation


Book cover of Life & Times of Michael K

Justin Fox Author Of The Cape Raider

From my list on South Africa’s landscape and beauty.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a South African travel writer and novelist with a particular passion for the sublime landscape, wildlife, oceans, and wilderness of our corner of Africa. Growing up in Cape Town, I have spent the last 25 years travelling around the subcontinent writing and photographing for travel and wildlife magazines, and writing books about the landscape and its people. My two latest novels are set in the Cape, and although they are World War II adventure stories, they are also celebrations of our unique coastline, maritime culture, and the oceans that wash our shores. All my writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, ends up being a love letter to the landscape.

Justin's book list on South Africa’s landscape and beauty

Justin Fox Why did Justin love this book?

The Life and Times of Michael K is a beautifully written allegory about the troubled apartheid era in South Africa. The author, Nobel Laureate JM Coetzee, was one of my lecturers at the University of Cape Town and this is my favorite book of his. It provides superb descriptions of the arid South African landscape and how a solitary figure ekes out an existence: alone, off-grid, reclusive… waiting for the tide of history to turn. The novel is set in the heart of the Karoo, a semi-desert region that I love to visit to get away from the city and its strife.

By J. M. Coetzee,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Life & Times of Michael K as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From author of Waiting for the Barbarians and Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee.

J.M. Coetzee's latest novel, The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking. Late Essays: 2006-2016 will be available January 2018.

In a South Africa turned by war, Michael K. sets out to take his ailing mother back to her rural home. On the way there she dies, leaving him alone in an anarchic world of brutal roving armies. Imprisoned, Michael is unable to bear confinement and escapes, determined to live with dignity. This life affirming novel goes to the center of human experience-the need for an…


Book cover of Jump and Other Stories

Samrat Upadhyay Author Of Mad Country

From my list on fiction that make political feel intensely persona.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Nepal, where politics was part and parcel of everyday life. During my childhood and teenage years, we lived under a monarchy, where the king was supreme. Yet there was always a simmering tension between what was a mildly authoritarian rule and what the people’s aspirations were. As I grew into adulthood, Nepal saw a massive uprising that ushered in a multiparty system, then later, after a bloody Maoist civil war, the overthrow of the crown. Yet, even amidst all these political upheavals, people do live quotidian lives, and the space between these two seemingly disparate things has always felt like a literary goldmine to me. 

Samrat's book list on fiction that make political feel intensely persona

Samrat Upadhyay Why did Samrat love this book?

While I was a graduate student of writing, I devoured every novel and story by Nadine Gordimer, whose body of work is astounding in how it combines artistic sensibility with a moral vision. Most important, Gordimer, with her unflinching and unrelenting gaze at the horror of apartheid in South Africa, taught me the value of passion in writing. Gordimer is known mostly for her novels, but her short stories are equally sharp and biting in their critique, and she uses the form’s precision to devastating effect. What is striking in Jump and Other Stories is the diversity of her characters and situations, thereby illuminating every corner of the racial injustices in her country.  

By Nadine Gordimer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fifteen thematically and geographically wide-ranging stories from the Nobel Prize Winner, with settings ranging from suburban London to Mozambique.


Book cover of White Tribe Dreaming: Apartheid's Bitter Roots Witnessed By Eight Generations Of An Afrikaner Family

Lewis DeSoto Author Of A Blade of Grass

From my list on about life, literature and South Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up during the apartheid era of racial segregation and oppression. A Blade of Grass was written with a sense of exile and regret, but also with love. It is not overtly about South Africa and apartheid. It asks a fundamental question: Where is home, and how shall we live there?

Lewis' book list on about life, literature and South Africa

Lewis DeSoto Why did Lewis love this book?

I was born in South Africa almost 300 years to the day after the first white Europeans arrived to establish a permanent home at the tip of the continent.

This book begins with that arrival and follows the history of the author’s family through eight generations.

It is a history of individuals, related by bloodlines, but diverse in ambitions and actions, and seeks to trace and explicate how some of those first settlers and their descendants became the Afrikaners of the 20th century. 

While my own antecedents are less well documented, I like to believe that they are not dissimilar to de Villiers’s,  and were touched by the same major events in the history of the Afrikaners.

By Marq de Villiers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a history of the Afrikaner as seen through the history of one family, the de Villiers, who first moved to South Africa in the 1600s. The book traces the history of the family and the Afrikaner, showing how the Afrikaner acted at the turning points in their history and revealing how that has made them what they are today. It also charts the development of the hallmarks of apartheid, including the pass system and tribe mentality. Journalist Marq de Villiers includes memorable scenes from the family's history culled from the diaries and papers.


Book cover of Imaginings of Sand

Gretchen McCullough Author Of Shahrazad's Gift

From my list on books influenced by Thousand and One Nights.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a fiction writer and currently live in Cairo, where I have lived for over twenty years. I noticed that the way I started telling stories was influenced by learning Arabic and by listening to the stories of the people in the city. My interest in Arabic also led me to read Arabic literature, like A Thousand and One Nights.   

Gretchen's book list on books influenced by Thousand and One Nights

Gretchen McCullough Why did Gretchen love this book?

I admired the creativity and originality of this epic novel. Brink has yoked the harsh political reality of South Africa with the frame of the One Hundred and One Nights

On the eve of cataclysmic change in nineties South Africa, a young South African émigré, Kristien, who lives in London, has been summoned back to her grandmother’s deathbed. In between the tense atmosphere before impending elections in post-apartheid South Africa, the ancient Ouma tells her granddaughter the history of all of the women in their Afrikaans family, blending fable, African folktale, and actual fact. One relative even turns into a tree! Once Ouma finishes her last story, there is one more tragedy which hits very close to home.

I loved the wide sweep of this novel, which reminded me somewhat of Faulkner, that traces the literal Calvinism and fierce militarism of the first Afrikaans settlers to South Africa—and…

By Andre Brink,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When expatriate Afrikaner Kristien Müller hears of her grandmother's impending death, she ends her self-imposed exile in London and returns to the South Africa she thought she'd escaped. But irrevocable change is sweeping the land, and reality itself seems to be in flux as the country stages its first democratic elections. Kristien's Ouma Kristina herself is dying because of the upheavals: a terrorist attack on her isolated mansion has terminally injured her. As Kristien keeps vigil by her grandmother's sickbed, Ouma tells Kristien stories of nine generations of women in the family, stories in which myth and reality blur, in…


Book cover of How Long Will South Africa Survive?: The Looming Crisis

Gail Nattrass Author Of A Short History of South Africa

From my list on modern South Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Gail Nattrass was born in Northern Rhodesia. She was educated at Mufulira High School and the universities of Natal, Rhodesia, Nyasaland, and UNISA. She relocated to South Africa with her husband in 1967, and subsequently lectured in the history department at the School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand for 20 years. She has written materials for students and presented papers on various aspects of South African and international history at four universities in South Africa. She is also the author of The Rooiberg Story, the co-editor with S B Spies of Jan Smuts: Memoirs of the Boer War, and a contributor to They Shaped Our Century and Leaders of the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902.

Gail's book list on modern South Africa

Gail Nattrass Why did Gail love this book?

R W Johnson, an international commentator on South African affairs, first wrote a book with this question in 1977. It provided a controversial and highly original analysis of the survival prospects of the apartheid regime. 

Now, after more than twenty years of post-apartheid ANC (African National Congress) majority rule, the situation has become so crucial that he feels the question must be posed again. He moves from an analysis of Jacob Zuma’s corrupt rule to the increasingly dire state of the economy and concludes that South Africa under the ANC is fast slipping backward.

He feels that twenty years of ANC rule have shown that the party is hopelessly ill-equipped to cope with the challenges of running a modern industrial economy.

By R.W. Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Long Will South Africa Survive? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1977, Johnson's best-selling How Long Will South Africa Survive? offered a controversial and highly original analysis of the survival prospects of apartheid. Now, after more than two decades of ANC in government, he believes the question must be posed again. 'The big question about ANC rule,' Johnson writes, 'is whether African nationalism would be able to cope with the challenges of running a modern industrial economy. Twenty years of ANC rule have shown conclusively that the party is hopelessly ill-equipped for this task. Indeed, everything suggests that South Africa under the ANC is fast slipping backward and that even…


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Interested in apartheid, Ethiopia, and Kenya?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about apartheid, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

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