100 books like Clarissa Oakes

By Patrick O'Brian,

Here are 100 books that Clarissa Oakes fans have personally recommended if you like Clarissa Oakes. 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 Rites of Passage

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by "sea stories" since I could read, maybe before. I was born in Liverpool, my dad was in the navy, my family ran an 18th-century inn named the Turk’s Head after a nautical knot, and I’ve directed or written more than twenty films, plays, and novels with the sea as their setting. But they’re not really about the sea. For me, the sea is a mirror to reflect the human condition, a theatre for all the human dramas I can imagine. More importantly, I’ve read over a hundred sea stories for research and pleasure, and those I’ve chosen for you are the five I liked best.

Seth's book list on books about the sea that aren’t just about sailing on it, or fighting on it, or drowning in it, but are really about the human condition

Seth Hunter Why did Seth love this book?

Golding will forever be remembered for Lord of the Flies, but I think this is better (and so did he, apparently, a lot better).

It’s the story of people on a seemingly endless voyage from England to Australia in the 19th century, but for me, it’s like a spaceship on a voyage to another planet, like the spaceship in Alien with its own monsters aboard, the social mores, the injustices, the class privileges and prejudices, the sexual hangups, and the guilty secrets they carry with them. Pity poor Australia!

For me, it demonstrates that the sea can be a metaphor for reading (and writing). You embark on a journey, and you want to get to the end, but in a way, you want it to last forever.

By William Golding,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rites of Passage 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?

Sailing to Australia in the early years of the nineteenth century, Edmund Talbot keeps a journal to amuse his godfather back in England. Full of wit and disdain, he records the mounting tensions on the ancient, stinking warship, where officers, sailors, soldiers and emigrants jostle in the crammed spaces below decks.Then a single passenger, the obsequious Reverend Colley, attracts the animosity of the sailors, and in the seclusion of the fo'castle something happens to bring him into a 'hell of self-degradation', where shame is a force deadlier than the sea itself.


Book cover of Star of the Sea

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by "sea stories" since I could read, maybe before. I was born in Liverpool, my dad was in the navy, my family ran an 18th-century inn named the Turk’s Head after a nautical knot, and I’ve directed or written more than twenty films, plays, and novels with the sea as their setting. But they’re not really about the sea. For me, the sea is a mirror to reflect the human condition, a theatre for all the human dramas I can imagine. More importantly, I’ve read over a hundred sea stories for research and pleasure, and those I’ve chosen for you are the five I liked best.

Seth's book list on books about the sea that aren’t just about sailing on it, or fighting on it, or drowning in it, but are really about the human condition

Seth Hunter Why did Seth love this book?

I love this story because, for me, it’s a perfect example of why a ship is such a great platform for storytelling, a moving stage for a compelling cast of characters to act out the drama of their past and present lives while heading into an uncertain future.

The Star of the Sea is a "coffin ship," the name given to the leaking hulks that transported a million emigrants from Ireland to America during the Great Famine of the 1840s.

It’s a historical novel but for me, a timeless story about emigration and the human condition, of refugees fleeing the monsters of their past, war, famine, disease, whatever, into what they hope will be a brighter future, and of what happens to them on the way.

By Joseph O'Connor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Star of the Sea 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?

* Over a million copies sold *

Rediscover Joseph O'Connor's monumental #1 international bestseller.

In the bitter winter of 1847, from an Ireland torn by injustice and natural disaster, the Star of the Sea sets sail for New York.

On board are hundreds of fleeing refugees. Among them are a maidservant with a devastating secret, bankrupt Lord Merridith and his family, an aspiring novelist and a maker of revolutionary ballads, all braving the Atlantic in search of a new home. Each is connected more deeply than they can possibly know.

But a camouflaged killer is stalking the decks, hungry for…


Book cover of The Cruel Sea

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by "sea stories" since I could read, maybe before. I was born in Liverpool, my dad was in the navy, my family ran an 18th-century inn named the Turk’s Head after a nautical knot, and I’ve directed or written more than twenty films, plays, and novels with the sea as their setting. But they’re not really about the sea. For me, the sea is a mirror to reflect the human condition, a theatre for all the human dramas I can imagine. More importantly, I’ve read over a hundred sea stories for research and pleasure, and those I’ve chosen for you are the five I liked best.

Seth's book list on books about the sea that aren’t just about sailing on it, or fighting on it, or drowning in it, but are really about the human condition

Seth Hunter Why did Seth love this book?

I love this book because it’s the best book I’ve ever read about love at a time of war.

Put simply, this is the story of an escort ship during the Battle of the Atlantic in WW2, but there’s nothing simple about it. Montserrat uses the sea and the ever-present danger of the U-boats as a monstrous vice to squeeze blood onto the page.

All the hopes and fears of his characters, their passions and guilts, their love of life, and of their male comrades and the women they leave behind them. It’s all there under the magnifying lens of the war at sea, and of all five books, this is the best about the sea itself, the all-pervasive, relentless leviathan that rages and roars and rampages across every page.

By Nicholas Monsarrat,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Cruel Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on the author's own vivid experiences, The Cruel Sea is the nail-biting story of the crew of HMS Compass Rose, a corvette assigned to protect convoys in World War Two.

Darting back and forth across the icy North Atlantic, Compass Rose played a deadly cat and mouse game with packs of German U-boats lying in wait beneath the ocean waves.

Packed with tension and vivid descriptions of agonizing U-boat hunts, this tale of the most bitter and chilling campaign of the war tells of ordinary, heroic men who had to face a brutal menace which would strike without warning…


Book cover of This Thing of Darkness

Robert J. Lloyd Author Of The Bloodless Boy

From my list on science-based historical fiction novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write as Robert J. Lloyd, but my friends call me Rob. Having studied Fine Art at a BA degree level (starting as a landscape painter but becoming a sculpture/photography/installation/performance generalist), I then moved to writing. During my MA degree in The History of Ideas, I happened to read Robert Hooke’s diary, detailing the life and experiments of this extraordinary and fascinating man. My MA thesis and my Hooke & Hunt series of historical thrillers are all about him. I’m fascinated by early science, which was the initial ‘pull’ into writing these stories, but the political background of the times (The Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis, for example) is just as enticing. 

Robert's book list on science-based historical fiction novels

Robert J. Lloyd Why did Robert love this book?

Historical fiction at its very best; it’s so sad that Thompson died shortly after the book's publication. This book follows Charles Darwin circumnavigating the world aboard The Beagle but is told largely from the viewpoint of the Beagle’s captain, Robert FitzRoy.

The science, then, is mainly Darwin’s theories of evolution by natural selection. But it’s also an account of FitzRoy’s meteorology: he was the person entrusted to set up Britain’s Met Office.

This may all seem a bit dry, but I thought it was as exciting as the best thrillers. It’s a big book, 700 pages or more, but I raced through it.

By Harry Thompson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked This Thing of Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is an epic novel of sea-faring adventure set in the 19th century charting the life of Robert Fitzroy, the captain of 'The Beagle' and his passenger Charles Darwin. It combines adventrure, emotion, ideas, humour and tragedy as well as illuminating the history of the 19th century. Fitzroy, the Christian Tory aristocrat believed in the sanctity of the individual, but his beliefs destroyed his career and he committed suicide. Darwin, the liberal minor cleric doubts the truth of the Bible and develops his theory of evolution which is brutal and unforgiving in human terms. The two friends became bitter enemies…


Book cover of Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art

Corey Anton Author Of Sources of Significance: Worldly Rejuvenation and Neo-Stoic Heroism

From my list on language and symbols and how they relate to the human condition.

Why am I passionate about this?

Corey Anton is Professor of Communication Studies at Grand Valley State University, Vice-President of the Institute of General Semantics, Past President of the Media Ecology Association, and a Fellow of the International Communicology Institute. He is an award-winning teacher and author. His research spans the fields of media ecology, semiotics, phenomenology, stoicism, death studies, the philosophy of communication, and multidisciplinary communication theory.

Corey's book list on language and symbols and how they relate to the human condition

Corey Anton Why did Corey love this book?

Susanne K. Langer was a philosopher of aesthetics, and a specialist in the nature of symbolism and language. This classic book, dedicated to Alfred North Whitehead, contains her now somewhat famous distinction between “presentational forms” and “discursive forms,” which refers, roughly to symbolism such as sculpture and architecture which present much-at-once, and symbolism such as music and language which disclose their meaning linearly over time. She also brilliantly lays out her views on “Language,” where in a chapter by that name, she critiques instinct theories, challenges naïve views, and speculates on how human beings are evolutionary descendants of singing, dancing, pantomiming apes.

By Susanne K. Langer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Philosophy in a New Key as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Modern theories of meaning usually culminate in a critique of science. This book presents a study of human intelligence beginning with a semantic theory and leading into a critique of music.

By implication it sets up a theory of all the arts; the transference of its basic concepts to other arts than music is not developed, but it is sketched, mainly in the chapter on artistic import. Thoughtful readers of the original edition discovered these far-reaching ideas quickly enough as the career of the book shows: it is as applicable to literature, art and music as to the field of…


Book cover of Report to Greco

Odie Hawkins Author Of Shackles Across Time

From my list on understanding the human condition.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a great African-American writer because I have not spent eons in jail (taught writing classes there), never been shot by the police (yet), and I have a number of interesting books for sale ranging from Urban, Erotic, Science-Fiction, Fiction and Pan-African Occult. My books have been used in writing classes in colleges, universities, and prisons. I was one of the panelists for Professor Justin Gifford's presentation at the Modern Language Association Conference at the Hilton, LA Live. Also, I participated in a California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) event, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the “Watts Rebellion”. I have agreed to let this university archive my works.

Odie's book list on understanding the human condition

Odie Hawkins Why did Odie love this book?

This Cretan writer, who is most often identified as a Greek, asks us to probe our deepest identity, to be honest with ourselves. I think that that should be the first premise of an honest writer…an honest person. When you are born you are told early what to believe. Why you should believe. Who you and what you should believe or not believe in. At some point in your own life, you must resolve what you yourself accept for your own belief system. You should determine what is or is not important to you. Only then can you live YOUR LIFE.

By Nikos Kazantzakis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kazantzakis's autobiographical novel Report to Greco was one of the last things he wrote before he died. It paints a vivid picture of his childhood in Crete, still occupied by the Turks, and then steadily grows into a spiritual quest that takes him to Italy, Jerusalem, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Russia and the Caucasus, and finally back to Crete again. At different times Nietzshe, Bergson, Buddha, Homer and Christ dominate as his spiritual masters.


Book cover of The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy

Shimon Edelman Author Of Life, Death, and Other Inconvenient Truths: A Realist's View of the Human Condition

From my list on the human condition and exploring it from different angles.

Why am I passionate about this?

In a sense, I have been working on the material for my book, Life, Death, and Other Inconvenient Truths, for my entire life. The 38 short chapters that comprise it span a range of topics: alphabetically, from ambition and anxiety, through love and mathematics, to war and youth. For whatever it is worth, I have had first-hand experience (in three languages, on three continents) learning, researching, teaching, enjoying, suffering, and fighting — in other words, living — all but one of them (the exception is one that technically cannot be lived through, but can still be pondered and written about). My five recommendations reflect this life-long interest in the human condition, which I am excited to share with you.

Shimon's book list on the human condition and exploring it from different angles

Shimon Edelman Why did Shimon love this book?

A better world is possible — just not through the kind of progress touted by liberal politicians. In this 1982 collection, Bookchin sketches such a new world, based on his concept of social ecology — a prescient integration of the people’s desires for a better life, for personal freedom, and for coexistence, mutual aid, and respect.

By Murray Bookchin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“The very notion of the domination of nature by man stems from the very real domination of human by human.” With this succinct formulation, Murray Bookchin launches his most ambitious work, The Ecology of Freedom. An engaging and extremely readable book of breathtaking scope, its inspired synthesis of ecology, anthropology and political theory traces our conflicting legacies of hierarchy and freedom from the first emergence of human culture to today’s globalized capitalism, constantly pointing the way to a sane, sustainable ecological future.

Murray Bookchin, cofounder of the Institute for Social Ecology, has been an active voice in the ecology and…


Book cover of Raw Thoughts: A Mindful Fusion of Poetic and Photographic Art

Ryan A. Kovacs Author Of Create Destruction: Phase I

From my list on human choice & consequence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I firmly live by the saying, “Where we are in life is a direct reflection of the choices we’ve made, or failed to make.” The theme of choice and consequence has not just been a way of living but the very trope in all my novels. The beauty in showing the process of making a choice, for my characters, in their stories, brings them to life. It forces the reader to step inside that decision tree, to analyze and predict the outcome despite the unknown. We are continuously propelled into the unknown and we make choices based on the notion of understanding what those choices will mean.

Ryan's book list on human choice & consequence

Ryan A. Kovacs Why did Ryan love this book?

When it comes to poetry, one can’t help but visualize the emotions often conveyed as readers see with their mind’s eye.

In this book of visceral poetry, John eloquently touches on different motifs with poems and photography, all while exploring the human condition, giving true shape and identity to each piece.

From one poet to another, the principles of understanding require an inward look at oneself, and John does this without blemish. Striking heart cords to the tune of sophisticated emotions in their simplest form, Raw Thoughts lives up to its title.

By John Casey, Scott Hussey (photographer),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Raw Thoughts: A Mindful Fusion of Poetic and Photographic Art is a visceral exploration of mindfulness and hope via a symbiotic fusion of poetic and photographic art. Each successive poem-photo pairing (each 'raw thought') builds on an underlying philosophy that compels us to assess and adjust what and how we think, with the aim of improving our lives-and by extension, the lives of those around us.

Raw Thoughts is Book One in The Raw Thoughts Series. Book Two is titled Meridian: A Raw Thoughts Book.

Raw Thoughts was nominated for the National Book Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize. Select…


Book cover of Hustle

Joe Clifford Author Of Junkie Love: A Story of Recovery and Redemption

From my list on what addiction is really like, no punches pulled.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a mystery writer and teacher now. Back then, I spent 10 years homeless and addicted on the streets of San Francisco. I could always return to Mom in CT and get put in a cushy rehab. Until I couldn't. And then she was dying, and my younger brother was addicted and soon he'd be dead too. It got scary at the end because I wasn't just some white suburban kid playing a scumbag junkie. I was a scumbag junkie. But why do I have a passion for the topic? I guess it's because it isn't all bad. I know that sounds weird, but being homeless and addicted has moments of beauty and joy too. 

Joe's book list on what addiction is really like, no punches pulled

Joe Clifford Why did Joe love this book?

The brilliance of Hustle is the way it juxtaposes the everyday addict's life. Sure, there's the big crime and action, bad guys, car chases. Again, that part fiction. But Hustle lives and breathes in between. In the minutia. Of the doldrums of, as Lou Reed once so eloquently sang, waiting for the man. It's the quiet moments and small conversations between Big Rich and Donny, where we see their humanity. As warped and twisted as the world may be around them, they never lose that appeal: being victims of the human condition. And like I said, living this life with Tom (the drug part), I can honestly say it was those little conversations that give you something to laugh about and a little hope to hold onto. 

By Tom Pitts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two young hustlers, caught in an endless cycle of addiction and prostitution, decide to blackmail an elderly client of theirs. Donny and Big Rich want to film Gabriel Thaxton with their cell phones during a sexual act and put the video up on YouTube. Little do they know, the man they’ve chosen, a high-profile San Francisco defense attorney, is already being blackmailed by someone more sinister: an ex-client of the lawyer’s. A murderous speed freak named Dustin has already permeated the attorney’s life and Dustin has plans for the old man. The lawyer calls upon an old biker for help…


Book cover of Always Coming Home

Valerie Nieman Author Of In the Lonely Backwater

From my list on young women saving their own lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like my narrator Maggie, I was a child, then a teen wandering the woods and dreaming of a life. I’ve always hated those books/TV shows/films where women, especially young women, are helpless and reliant on a man to get them out of trouble. I gravitate toward stories where females figure out their own paths, not always to a happy ending. I’m still a wanderer today, mostly solo, from New York City to the vast Highlands of Scotland, and while the world can seem scary, I’m confident and free on my own. 

Valerie's book list on young women saving their own lives

Valerie Nieman Why did Valerie love this book?

This is an incredibly intricate book, braiding many strands together to tell the story of people who “might be going to have lived a long, long time from now in Northern California.” One thread tying it all together is Stone Telling, a young girl caught between her mother’s rich tribal life and the militaristic city life of the man who is her father. She tells him, “I am a woman, and make my own choices,” but learns that is not the case in the land of the Condors. Her story illuminates two of the many ways to be human. (I’m re-reading this now.)

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Always Coming Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An "ethnographic" novel that portrays life in California's Napa Valley as it might be a very long time from now, imagined not as a high tech future but as a time of people once again living close to the land.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the human condition, masculinity, and France?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the human condition, masculinity, and France.

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France Explore 894 books about France