100 books like Every Day Is for the Thief

By Teju Cole,

Here are 100 books that Every Day Is for the Thief fans have personally recommended if you like Every Day Is for the Thief. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Two Princes of Calabar: An Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Odyssey

Vincent Carretta Author Of Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man

From my list on recover early Black Atlantic lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I decided to familiarize myself with eighteenth-century authors of African descent by editing their writings, I didn’t anticipate becoming their biographer. In annotating their writings, I quickly became intrigued and challenged by trying to complete the biographical equivalent of jigsaw puzzles, ones which often lack borders, as well as many pieces. How does one recover, or at least credibly speculate about, what’s missing? Even the pieces one has may be from unreliable sources. But the thrill of the hunt for, and the joy of discovering, as many pieces as possible make the challenge rewarding. My recommendations demonstrate ways others have also met the biographical challenge.

Vincent's book list on recover early Black Atlantic lives

Vincent Carretta Why did Vincent love this book?

English enslavers called Ancona Robin Robin John and Little Ephraim Robin John “princes” because they were literate English-speaking members of one of two ruling African slave-trading families in present-day southeastern Nigeria.

The lives of the Johns illuminate the surprisingly complex relationships among the participants in the transatlantic slave trade, when African suppliers of enslaved Africans often had as much economic and political power as their European customers.

The English allies of the rival family captured the two men during a trade war between the families in 1767.

They were taken to the Caribbean and North America, with several escapes and recaptures, before being brought to England, where they successfully sued for their freedom. They returned to the family business in Africa.  

By Randy J. Sparks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1767, two "princes" of a ruling family in the port of Old Calabar, on the slave coast of Africa, were ambushed and captured by English slavers. The princes, Little Ephraim Robin John and Ancona Robin Robin John, were themselves slave traders who were betrayed by African competitors-and so began their own extraordinary odyssey of enslavement. Their story, written in their own hand, survives as a rare firsthand account of the Atlantic slave experience.

Randy J. Sparks made the remarkable discovery of the princes' correspondence and has managed to reconstruct their adventures from it. They were transported from the coast…

Book cover of Americanah

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 book is the best love story I’ve read, full stop. There’s nothing like the first time you fall in love, and Ifemelu and Obinze’s relationship reminded me of that feeling—its paralyzing awkwardness and overwhelming joy.

Before I read this book, I’d never thought about what it must be like for immigrants from Africa to encounter (and enter) the long and tortured story of race in America for the first time, and the novel gave me a lot to think about on that score. I also love a novel that takes me somewhere I’ve never been, and the scenes of contemporary Lagos, where Ifemelu and Obinze are reunited, come alive in Adichie’s precise and brilliant description. 

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Introducing the Collins Modern Classics, a series featuring some of the most significant books of recent times, books that shed light on the human experience - classics which will endure for generations to come.

How easy it was to lie to strangers, to create with strangers the versions of our lives we imagined.

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria. Self-assured Ifemelu heads for America. But quiet, thoughtful Obinze finds post-9/11 America closed to him, and plunges into a dangerous undocumented life in London.

Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria,…

Book cover of Notes on Grief

Bella Rainey Author Of The First Year

From my list on feeling validated in your grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

After losing my dad to suicide, I jumped into the only thing I could think to do: writing. After spending a full 365 days writing about my grief, it only felt right to share it with other people for the sake of feeling less alone through the isolating journey of parent loss. Through that process, I have learned so much about myself, societal ways of grieving, and the un-comfiest parts of grief. I know how hard it can be to talk about someone you miss and are also mad at simultaneously, so my suggestions are truly from the heart to help process those difficult and big emotions. 

Bella's book list on feeling validated in your grief

Bella Rainey Why did Bella love this book?

This book dives in head-first to the concepts of sudden loss.

When you lose someone, it can never be explained as easy – but losing someone when you had no idea they would be gone so soon is the least easy way to watch them go. This book shows how many of us are connected by grief and loss, and how important conversation and connection are for the sake of getting better.

Plus, the book is in relation to loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding another layer of relatability to thousands of people. 

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A personal and powerful essay on loss from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the bestselling author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.

'Grief is a cruel kind of education. You learn how ungentle mourning can be, how full of anger. You learn how glib condolences can feel. You learn how much grief is about language, the failure of language and the grasping for language'

On 10 June 2020, the scholar James Nwoye Adichie died suddenly in Nigeria.

In this tender and powerful essay, expanded from the original New Yorker text, his daughter, a self-confessed daddy's girl, remembers her beloved father.…

Book cover of Little Bee

Laurie Boris Author Of Boychik

From my list on are not your grandfather’s immigration story.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many of you, my ancestors were immigrants. Mine were Eastern European, some from villages now in Ukraine. Growing up, I heard stories of relatives fleeing the Cossacks, the pogroms, and basically getting out while the getting was good, all for the promise of a better life. Some didn’t make it—they died in gas chambers and work camps. Some didn’t survive the hardships of their new worlds. The ones who thrived were tough, worked hard…yes, some were bitter, but they all had hope. This hope, despite everything, is universal, yet very personal, which is why I’m so drawn to these refugee and immigrant stories from all over the world.

Laurie's book list on are not your grandfather’s immigration story

Laurie Boris Why did Laurie love this book?

I knew nothing about this book’s author but was immediately hooked by the engaging voice of the young protagonist. I would have followed her anywhere. She led me out of Nigeria, on the run from warlords who burned her village, to a refugee detention center in the UK. Then on the loose, an undocumented young Nigerian woman searching for the one man in London who could vouch for her. What she does find is the man’s widow. And I found a story I couldn’t stop reading. Only later did I learn that the author is a man. And that he’d written the book to shine a light on the cruelty done to Nigerians in the name of oil rights, and the mistreatment of refugees in UK detention centers. Well done, Chris.

By Chris Cleave,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Millions of people have read, discussed, debated, cried, and cheered with Little Bee, a Nigerian refugee girl whose violent and courageous journey​ puts a stunning face on the worldwide refugee crisis​.

“Little Bee will blow you away.” —The Washington Post

The lives of a sixteen-year-old Nigerian orphan and a well-off British woman collide in this page-turning #1 New York Times bestseller, book club favorite, and “affecting story of human triumph” (The New York Times Book Review) from Chris Cleave, author of Gold and Everyone Brave Is Forgiven.

We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is…

Book cover of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Tobi Ogundiran Author Of Jackal, Jackal: Tales of the Dark and Fantastic

From my list on modern mythology and folktale for the curious.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated with mythology in all its shapes and forms. It fascinates me how cultures the world over have similar pantheons, for example, without any cultural cross-pollination. What I like to do in my fiction is blend various myths to create something new. And sometimes I create my own myths. It takes a curious, imaginative mind to come up with these myths, and most importantly a child-like sense of wonder, which, sadly, is extinguished by society as one is forced to “grow up”. I don’t ever want to lose that sense of wonder—to observe the world and see beauty and possibilities at every corner—so I preserve and interrogate it in my fiction.

Tobi's book list on modern mythology and folktale for the curious

Tobi Ogundiran Why did Tobi love this book?

This book is a phantasmagorical trip. This was one of the first, if not the first, African novel to be written in English.

The language, told in a broken English that is nonetheless poetic, (Tutuola’s education was incomplete) adds to the surreal nature of the story. I like it because it is the kind of story I grew up listening to: tales of people venturing into the forest and the wondrous adventures they have therein.

The basic premise goes thus: When war comes to a Nigerian village, a young boy and his brother flee into the forest and begin a surreal journey through the realm of ghosts. Folktales and legends abound in the pages of this book.

By Amos Tutuola,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Life in the Bush of Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, Amos Tutuola's second novel, was first published in 1954. It tells the tale of a small boy who wanders into the heart of a fantastical African forest, the dwelling place of innumerable wild, grotesque and terrifying beings. He is captured by ghosts, buried alive and wrapped up in spider webs, but after several years he marries and accepts his new existence. With the appearance of the television-handed ghostess, however, comes a possible route of escape.

'Tutuola ... has the immediate intuition of a creative artist working by spell and incantation.' V. S. Pritchett,…

Book cover of The Bad Immigrant

Benjamin Kwakye Author Of Obsessions of Paradise

From my list on the complexities of migration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Ghana and migrated to the US, where I have spent most of my adult life. The antipathy in certain circles towards immigrants still surprises me. I have tried to address this in my own way through fiction in the hope that readers can come to see migrants as multi-dimensional people with similar hopes, dreams, and aspirations. As such, I am similarly drawn to books that address the humanity of migrants. It has always been my belief that a better understanding of those we think are different from us will help bridge our various divides. I hope my recommendations help get readers there. One book at a time.

Benjamin's book list on the complexities of migration

Benjamin Kwakye Why did Benjamin love this book?

Writing about a Nigerian family’s migration from Nigeria to the US, I appreciated Atta’s ability to masterly cover a wide range of issues without losing focus.

I was totally charmed by the remarkable way in which this novel managed to take me along on a journey that ultimately raises deep appreciation of each character’s point of view in the course of touching on issues such as interracial as well as intra-racial tensions and familial strains exacerbated in a new geographic and cultural environment.

By Sefi Atta,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An account of an immigrant family's struggle and the lessons learned about diversity

Writing at the height of her powers, The Bad Immigrant cements Sefi Atta’s place as one of the best storytellers of our time. Through the voice of her first male protagonist, Lukmon, Atta peels away nuanced layers to expose the realities of migration from Nigeria to the USA, such as the strains of adjustment and the stifling pressure to conform without loss of identity.

Covering a wide range of issues, including interracial and intra-racial tensions, and familial strains exacerbated in a new geographic and cultural environment, this…

Book cover of What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories

Ama Asantewa Diaka Author Of Someone Birthed Them Broken: Stories

From my list on the inner lives of women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am invested in how women juxtapose the day-to-day with the bizarre. I am curious about how women balance their lives with the insoluble and how this contributes to the fluidity of their identities. I live with women, I work with women, I shop with them, eat with them, sit next to them on the bus, I am friends with women, laugh with them, I pray with them, I am these women. In whichever format my work takes shape–whether subtle or direct, either as a performer, writer, designer, or community catalyst, I am committed to intentionally making space for womanhood. Please enjoy my book list.

Ama's book list on the inner lives of women

Ama Asantewa Diaka Why did Ama love this book?

I am in love with Lesley’s writing, and everyone should be. Period. I will recommend this book a thousand times. The first time I read it, I was left feeling hopeful–hopeful that stories are soft, intentional, deliberate, magical things that can shift people and places enough to make a difference or change minds. With each story in this collection, Lesley peels away the layers (sometimes softly, sometimes jarring) of lives, relationships, and women.

By Lesley Nneka Arimah,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A PBS NewsHour/New York Times Book Club Pick






A dazzlingly accomplished debut collection explores the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends to one another and to the places they call home. 

In “Who Will Greet You at Home,” a National Magazine Award finalist for The New Yorker, A woman desperate for a child weaves one out…

Book cover of The Man Died: Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka

Odafe Atogun Author Of Taduno's Song

From my list on political resistance.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager in the 80s, I witnessed the evils of dictatorship up to the 90s. And it was at that time that I became fascinated with the late iconic Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti, who used his music as a weapon against tyranny. I read books such as The Man Died by Wole Soyinka, Animal Farm by George Orwell and Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton, and my love for protest literature was formed. Growing up, Fela Kuti’s philosophy shaped me and I found myself identifying with the downtrodden. And then I began to explore universal themes such as love, courage, and sacrifice through my writing.    

Odafe's book list on political resistance

Odafe Atogun Why did Odafe love this book?

I think this book is very important because Soyinka shows that the right of the people to protest cannot be restricted by walls or chains. That the oppressor is totally helpless against the will of the people, as also shown in Taduno’s Song by the protagonist Taduno and Kongi, a character modelled on Soyinka. Imprisoned without trial by the authorities at the start of the Nigerian civil war, Wole Soyinka’s prison notes provide records of the twenty 27 months he spent in solitary confinement, the very basis of the words that would cement his place as a prisoner of conscience and give rise to a body of work that would illuminate the world.

By Wole Soyinka,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

. Shipped from the U.K. All orders received before 3pm sent that weekday.

Book cover of Open City

Ted Pelton Author Of Malcolm & Jack: And Other Famous American Criminals

From my list on historical 2000s novels that aren’t all the same.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of American literary history. Still, as an undergraduate, I studied with a charismatic, postmodern French-American fiction writer, Raymond Federman, who, in a theatrical accent, called me by my last name, “Pel-tone.” Atop the Kurt Vonnegut I’d read in high school that gave me my taste for crazy, socially-conscious novels that I have tried myself also to write, I imbibed the books Federman sent my way: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett. In years since, I’ve championed innovative novels through my own small press, Starcherone Books. I am an artist whose greatest passion is discovering writing that makes me see in new ways.

Ted's book list on historical 2000s novels that aren’t all the same

Ted Pelton Why did Ted love this book?

All that happens throughout most of this book is that a Nigerian grad student in psychiatry nightly wanders end-to-end the streets of New York City, observing. And yet I couldn’t put this book down, riveted by this angry mind on fire and the differences in the landscape he sees from the one I thought I knew so well.

Author Teju Cole is highly visual, as one would expect from one whose other job as he wrote this was as photography editor of the New York Times Magazine. But then, as you get to the ending of his narrator’s musings, as you feel you have a handle on this plotless novel, the trap is sprung so that you cannot but reevaluate everything that has come before. This book is a stunner!

By Teju Cole,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Open City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling debut novel from a writer heralded as the twenty-first-century W. G. Sebald.

A haunting novel about national identity, race, liberty, loss and surrender, Open City follows a young Nigerian doctor as he wanders aimlessly along the streets of Manhattan. For Julius the walks are a release from the tight regulations of work, from the emotional fallout of a failed relationship, from lives past and present on either side of the Atlantic.

Isolated amid crowds of bustling strangers, Julius criss-crosses not just physical landscapes but social boundaries too, encountering people whose otherness sheds light on his own remarkable journey…

Book cover of A Month and a Day: A Detention Diary

Andrew Cairns Author Of The Witch's List

From my list on set in Africa that move, uplift, and inspire.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Scottish writer who enjoys travelling and meeting people of different cultures and beliefs. I have always been a fan of adventure stories, particularly those with a strange or supernatural bent. My travels to The Ivory Coast and North Africa, hearing accounts of various witch stories, and encountering strange events and practices firsthand inspired me to write The Witch’s List Trilogy: the first two books published and the third in progress. 

Andrew's book list on set in Africa that move, uplift, and inspire

Andrew Cairns Why did Andrew love this book?

This is an interesting and moving account by Nigerian writer, Ken Saro-Wiwa, which describes his non-violent struggle against big petroleum companies and the military dictatorship who were involved in human rights and environmental abuses of the Ogoni people. He describes his detention and the events leading up to it in harrowing detail and gives lucid convincing arguments against his accusers. A truly inspirational message, especially given that much of it was written in secret in prison, and knowing that he was unjustly tried and executed in 1995, shortly after the book’s publication. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

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