100 books like Buddenbrooks

By Thomas Mann, John Edwards (translator),

Here are 100 books that Buddenbrooks fans have personally recommended if you like Buddenbrooks. 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 Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Guido Alfani Author Of As Gods Among Men: A History of the Rich in the West

From my list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was a student, I have been fascinated with social and economic inequality–the more so because back then, my professors seemed to disregard this subject of study. So, I made it one of my own main areas of research: I simply needed to understand more about the nature and the causes of inequality in human societies. In recent years, I have been busy researching economic inequality in different historical settings, also looking at specific socioeconomic strata. I began with the poor, and more recently, I focused on the rich. In my list of recommendations, I included books that, I believe, are particularly insightful concerning wealth and the wealthy.

Guido's book list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general

Guido Alfani Why did Guido love this book?

This is a book that truly transformed the field of inequality studies by bringing wealth inequality to the fore of the debate–both within the academy and across civil society. It is also a very readable book, packed with interesting examples and useful and relevant information.

Although I have always thought (and I am in very good company…) that it could have been a bit shorter, it is very well worth the effort of going through its about seven hundred pages.

By Thomas Piketty, Arthur Goldhammer (translator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Capital in the Twenty-First Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times #1 Bestseller
An Amazon #1 Bestseller
A Wall Street Journal #1 Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
A Sunday Times Bestseller
A Guardian Best Book of the 21st Century
Winner of the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award
Winner of the British Academy Medal
Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award

What are the grand dynamics that drive the accumulation and distribution of capital? Questions about the long-term evolution of inequality, the concentration of wealth, and the prospects for economic growth lie at the heart of political economy. But satisfactory answers have been hard…


Book cover of The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality

Guido Alfani Author Of As Gods Among Men: A History of the Rich in the West

From my list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was a student, I have been fascinated with social and economic inequality–the more so because back then, my professors seemed to disregard this subject of study. So, I made it one of my own main areas of research: I simply needed to understand more about the nature and the causes of inequality in human societies. In recent years, I have been busy researching economic inequality in different historical settings, also looking at specific socioeconomic strata. I began with the poor, and more recently, I focused on the rich. In my list of recommendations, I included books that, I believe, are particularly insightful concerning wealth and the wealthy.

Guido's book list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general

Guido Alfani Why did Guido love this book?

I have always loved Branko Milanović’s way of addressing complex topics in a very accessible and usually highly original way.

In this book, Milanović pays much attention to the rich and the super-rich and devises a way of comparing their wealth across the ages by asking this simple question: how much labour could they command in their own historical period and socio-economic context?

So, for example, Marcus Licinius Crassus, the richest Roman of Caesar’s times, could, with the yearly income from his vast possessions, command the work of 32,000 people. But, as Milanović argues, today’s super-rich are richer than past ones–circa 2010, the richest person in the world was the telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, who could command the work of 440,000 Mexicans.

By Branko Milanovic,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Haves and the Have-Nots as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who is the richest person in the world, ever? Does where you were born affect how much money you'll earn over a lifetime? How would we know? Why- beyond the idle curiosity- do these questions even matter? In The Haves and the Have-Nots , Branko Milanovic, one of the world's leading experts on wealth, poverty, and the gap that separates them, explains these and other mysteries of how wealth is unevenly spread throughout our world, now and through time. Milanovic uses history, literature and stories straight out of today's newspapers, to discuss one of the major divisions in our social…


Book cover of The Rich: From Slaves to Super-Yachts: A 2,000-Year History

Guido Alfani Author Of As Gods Among Men: A History of the Rich in the West

From my list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was a student, I have been fascinated with social and economic inequality–the more so because back then, my professors seemed to disregard this subject of study. So, I made it one of my own main areas of research: I simply needed to understand more about the nature and the causes of inequality in human societies. In recent years, I have been busy researching economic inequality in different historical settings, also looking at specific socioeconomic strata. I began with the poor, and more recently, I focused on the rich. In my list of recommendations, I included books that, I believe, are particularly insightful concerning wealth and the wealthy.

Guido's book list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general

Guido Alfani Why did Guido love this book?

Among all recent non-academic books on the lives, deeds, and misdeeds of the super-rich across history, John Kampfner’s book is, in my view, the best.

Kampfner selects fascinating examples, ranging from the Classical Age until today, and does not limit himself to the West. His narrative is engaging and often witty.

This is not an academic book, but it is pretty well-researched. Although it makes some concessions to the “eat the rich” tendencies of our times, overall, the book provides a convincing and valuable picture of the sins (and less so, of the virtues) of the most affluent across history.

By John Kampfner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Orwell Prize shortlisted author of Freedom for Sale, The Rich is the fascinating history of how economic elites from ancient Egypt to the present day have gained and spent their money.

Starting with the Romans and Ancient Egypt and culminating with the oligarchies of modern Russia and China, it compares and contrasts the rich and powerful down the ages and around the world. What unites them? Have the same instincts of entrepreneurship, ambition, vanity, greed and philanthropy applied throughout?

As contemporary politicians, economists and the public wrestle with the inequities of our time - the parallel world inhabited…


Book cover of The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century

Guido Alfani Author Of As Gods Among Men: A History of the Rich in the West

From my list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was a student, I have been fascinated with social and economic inequality–the more so because back then, my professors seemed to disregard this subject of study. So, I made it one of my own main areas of research: I simply needed to understand more about the nature and the causes of inequality in human societies. In recent years, I have been busy researching economic inequality in different historical settings, also looking at specific socioeconomic strata. I began with the poor, and more recently, I focused on the rich. In my list of recommendations, I included books that, I believe, are particularly insightful concerning wealth and the wealthy.

Guido's book list on the rich, the super-rich, and wealth inequality in general

Guido Alfani Why did Guido love this book?

In this book, Walter Scheidel proficiently exploits the new information that we now have available about wealth inequality in the past to make one bold claim: across history, only catastrophes and large-scale violence (the “Great Leveler”) could significantly reduce economic inequality. Otherwise, the concentration of political power and of coercive force in a few hands also led wealth to become ever more concentrated.

This is a rather depressing view, with which I partially disagree for scientific reasons (as it downplays the importance of human agency and of our collective choices).

Nevertheless, I love this book for its scope, its ambition, and the treasure trove of information about the Classical Age and non-Western societies and cultures that it brings to the debate on wealth inequality in human history.

By Walter Scheidel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that it never dies peacefully. The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world. The "Four Horsemen" of leveling-mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues-have repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich. Today, the violence that reduced inequality…


Book cover of When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Alice O'Keeffe Author Of On The Up

From my list on books for frazzled parents–and their children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began writing my book when my older son was two, and my youngest was less than six months. And if that sounds like a bad idea to you–it was! But despite the madness of trying to write a novel in 5-minute parcels of time, for me, it was a necessary way to reclaim some of my individuality at a time when I often felt I was losing it. I’m so glad I have my book to remind me of the very particular challenges of new parenthood. These are some books I found that helped me do just that.

Alice's book list on books for frazzled parents–and their children

Alice O'Keeffe Why did Alice love this book?

Fiction can help parents and children put our situations into perspective. During lockdown, my 10-year-old and I treasured some rare moments of calm reading Judith Kerr’s book.

This classic children’s book tells the story of a Jewish family’s escape from Nazi Germany and subsequent exile in Switzerland and France. It surveys some of the most dramatic events of the 20th century with a convincing child’s-eye view and reassures us that a loving family can survive and even thrive in the very worst of times.

By Judith Kerr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

This semi-autobiographical classic, written by the beloved Judith Kerr, tells the story of a Jewish family escaping Germany in the days before the Second World War.

This beautiful new edition celebrates the fifty year anniversary of an adventure that Michael Morpurgo called "The most life-enhancing book you could ever wish to read."

Suppose your country began to change. Suppose that without your noticing, it became dangerous for some people to live in it any longer, and you found, to your surprise, that your own father was one of those people. This is what happened to Anna in 1933.

Anna is…


Book cover of Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

Jennifer Lang Author Of Places We Left Behind: A Memoir-in-Miniature

From my list on home and why it isn’t obvious for everyone.

Why am I passionate about this?

For my first 18 years, I slept in the same room (opposite my parents) in the same house (116 Monticello Avenue) in the same city (Piedmont) in the same state (CA) in the same country (USA), but soon after leaving for college in Evanston, IL, I pined for elsewhere and ended up peripatetic. That peripateticness plagued me, as a woman/wife/mother. While growing our family, my French husband and I moved: Israel to France to California to New York to Israel to New York to Israel. Finally, in my early fifties, I understood home is more about who you are than where you live. 

Jennifer's book list on home and why it isn’t obvious for everyone

Jennifer Lang Why did Jennifer love this book?

A difficult-to-categorize story (illustrated memoir, graphic memoir, is it even memoir?), Belonging is about a young girl growing up in Karlsruhe, Germany, where she notices something strange in their backyard. But when she asks her mother, she doesn't get a clear answer.

Decades later, after leaving home in search of something unnamable, she returns to confront her family, their past, her country of birth, its past, and to own it. Throughout the colorful, inventive pages, Krug incorporated her illustrations, photos, archival research, German products, family tree, and more as she tells the story of Heimat—what it means to belong.

After hearing her speak and reading her book, I knew words did not suffice to tell my own story.  

By Nora Krug,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

* Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award * Silver Medal Society of Illustrators *

* Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Comics Beat, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Kirkus Reviews, andLibrary Journal

This“ingenious reckoning with the past” (The New York Times), by award-winning artist Nora Krug investigates the hidden truths of her family’s wartime history in Nazi Germany.

Nora Krug was born decades after the fall of the Nazi regime, but the Second World War cast a long shadow over her childhood and youth in the city…


Book cover of Exit Berlin: How One Woman Saved Her Family from Nazi Germany

Michael Hickins Author Of The Silk Factory: Finding Threads of My Family's True Holocaust Story

From my list on the Holocaust and generational trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the Holocaust, which is that my father lost some members of his family. An email from a nephew I didn’t know existed sent me on a trail of documents that led me to a much deeper understanding of not just the Holocaust as a historical event, but more broadly about the impact that it had on the families of survivors, of people who were spared internment for one reason or another, but were wracked by guilt, besieged by family members who were not so lucky, and who passed down their feelings of guilt, anger, and pessimism to future generations.

Michael's book list on the Holocaust and generational trauma

Michael Hickins Why did Michael love this book?

Even those of us who are familiar with historical details of the Holocaust have a mostly generalized understanding of the fraught relationships between US-based Jews and Jews in Europe.

Bonelli uses primary source materials, mainly letters, to inform a very well-crafted narrative in service of educating American Jews about the travails of European Jewry and helps explain the older generation of Jews to an often-befuddled younger generation.

By Charlotte R. Bonelli, Natascha Bodemann (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The agonizing correspondence between Jewish family members ensnared in the Nazi grip and their American relatives

Just a week after the Kristallnacht terror in 1938, young Luzie Hatch, a German Jew, fled Berlin to resettle in New York. Her rescuer was an American-born cousin and industrialist, Arnold Hatch. Arnold spoke no German, so Luzie quickly became translator, intermediary, and advocate for family left behind. Soon an unending stream of desperate requests from German relatives made their way to Arnold's desk.

Luzie Hatch had faithfully preserved her letters both to and from far-flung relatives during the World War II era as…


Book cover of A Night Divided

A.L. Sowards Author Of A Waltz with Traitors

From my list on immersing you in the struggle for freedom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved history—in both fiction and nonfiction forms. The events from history that tend to stick with me the most are stories of individuals or groups who face enormous odds in their quest to live a life of freedom. History is full of oppression, tyranny, and tragedy, but it’s also full of individuals and groups that have stood against evil, even when it’s dangerous or difficult or unlikely to succeed. Immersing myself in those stories is one of the ways I honor those who have struggled and sacrificed.

A.L.'s book list on immersing you in the struggle for freedom

A.L. Sowards Why did A.L. love this book?

When the Berlin Wall goes up, Gerta’s family is divided.

Her father and one brother are in the west. Gerta, her mother, and her brother Fritz are in the east. Four years later, the Statsi has their eye on Gerta’s family, Fritz is due to be drafted, and then Gerta catches sight of her father on the other side of the wall, signaling something about digging.

If they’re ever going to be free, they must do something daring, and do it soon. Though written for young readers, the excellent pacing, realistic characters, and powerful themes about freedom and family make this book a great read for all ages. 

By Jennifer A. Nielsen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Night Divided as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A stunning thriller from NYT bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

A Night Divided joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!With the rise of the Berlin Wall, Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall,…


Book cover of A Castle in Wartime: One Family, Their Missing Sons, and the Fight to Defeat the Nazis

Isabel Vincent Author Of Overture of Hope: Two Sisters' Daring Plan that Saved Opera's Jewish Stars from the Third Reich

From my list on heroes and anti-heroes in WW2 and the Holocaust.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in the Holocaust and the Second World War during my senior year of high school. I took a literature class entitled “Man’s Inhumanity to Man,” which focused a great deal on the literature that emerged from the Holocaust. At the end of the year, I had the great honor to meet author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel who had actually read my essay (my teacher knew him, and gave it to him to read) and encouraged me to keep writing. I am fascinated by stories of survival and the quiet heroism that characterized women like Ida and Louise Cook.

Isabel's book list on heroes and anti-heroes in WW2 and the Holocaust

Isabel Vincent Why did Isabel love this book?

This is an extraordinary story of a brave German woman whose diplomat father and Italian aristocrat husband decide to resist the Nazis.

When German troops enter Italy, Fey von Hassell finds herself trapped with her young children in a 12th-century villa in northern Italy while her husband joins the anti-fascist underground in Rome and her father decides to join the group that plots to kill Adolf Hitler. Nazi stormtroopers take over the villa and later arrest Fey.

Using archival materials and family letters, Caroline Bailey reconstructs Fey’s harrowing journey—moved from prison to prison and concentration camp to concentration camp. Her two young boys are taken away from her, and sent to a Nazi orphanage. Fey’s single-minded mission to find her children reads like a good thriller.

By Catherine Bailey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I was gripped by A Castle in Wartime--it contained more tension, more plot in fact--than any thriller."--Kate Atkinson, author of Big Sky and Case Histories

An enthralling story of one family's extraordinary courage and resistance amidst the horrors of war from the New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Rooms.

As war swept across Europe in 1940, the idyllic life of Fey von Hassell seemed a world away from the conflict. The daughter of Ulrich von Hassell, Hitler's Ambassador to Italy, her marriage to Italian aristocrat Detalmo Pirzio-Biroli brought with it a castle and an estate in the north…


Book cover of Sophie Scholl: The Real Story of the Woman who Defied Hitler

Greg Lewis Author Of Defying Hitler: The Germans Who Resisted Nazi Rule

From my list on the Germans who stood up to the Nazis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and television producer who researches and writes in an attic surrounded by tumbling bookshelves. When I was young I watched a BBC series called Secret Army which got me hooked on the people who stood up to the Nazis when their country was occupied. Over the years I’ve travelled around Europe to interview many of WW2’s resisters and veterans, and I became interested in the people inside Germany who defied the Nazis. Trying to tell the stories of the people who dared to oppose Hitler became something of an obsession.

Greg's book list on the Germans who stood up to the Nazis

Greg Lewis Why did Greg love this book?

The story of Sophie Scholl and the student resistance group, the White Rose, never fails to being me to tears.

Sophie, her brother Hans, and friends in Munich printed and distributed thousands of anti-Nazi leaflets, which describe a post-war need for international cooperation. She believed that it was wrong for anyone to side with their own nation if they knew that nation was doing wrong.

She and her friends paid the price for their resistance but remained defiant to the end. Sophie wrote one word on the back of the indictment against her: ‘Freedom’.

Never has her story been more inspiringly told than by McDonough.

By Frank McDonough,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On 22 February 1943, Sophie Scholl, a 21-year-old student at Munich University, was executed by the Nazi regime, along with two fellow students from the White Rose resistance movement. They had fought against Hitler's tyranny, not with bullets and bombs, but with words, printed in leaflets, that proclaimed a passionate desire to live in a free and democratic society. Her brave and principled stand made her a legend in Germany, and she was voted 'Woman of the Century' by a popular women's magazine in 1999. Frank McDonough has used a variety of original documents from German archives, including letters and…


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