16 books like Excellent Sheep

By William Deresiewicz,

Here are 16 books that Excellent Sheep fans have personally recommended if you like Excellent Sheep. 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 Humanity at Sea: Maritime Migration and the Foundations of International Law

Robert F. Barsky Author Of Clamouring for Legal Protection: What the Great Books Teach Us about People Fleeing from Persecution

From my list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have taught a broad array of humanities and social sciences courses over the years, sometimes employing case studies from the realm of law, most notably stories about undocumented migrants, refugees, or homeless people. I’ve also had occasion to teach in law schools, usually in ways that bridge the gap between the legality of forced displacement, and the lived experiences of those who have done it. I won a Rockefeller Foundation grant to write my newest book, Clamouring for Legal Protection, in which I considered the idea that we can learn a lot about refugees and vulnerable migrants with references to people we know well: Ulysses, Dante, Satan, and even Alice in Wonderland.

Robert's book list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises

Robert F. Barsky Why did Robert love this book?

This book addresses the well-known issue of refugees who are attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in order to gain refugee status in Europe, but it does so by adding historical detail that helps us to understand the legal issues pertaining to their flight. Mann links these overloaded vessels filled with desperate peoples to the actions of Jewish migrants to Palestine after WWII, Vietnamese 'boatpeople', Haitian refugees seeking to reach Florida, Middle Eastern migrants and refugees bound to Australia, and Syrian refugees currently crossing the Mediterranean, and then legal responses by states and international organizations to these movements. Along the way, he also helps us to understand the value of reading works by twentieth-century thinkers such as Hannah Arendt and Emmanuel Levinas, and other legal materials to form a rich account of an issue of increasing global concern.

By Itamar Mann,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This interdisciplinary study engages law, history, and political theory in a first attempt to crystallize the lessons the global 'refugee crisis' can teach us about the nature of international law. It connects the dots between the actions of Jewish migrants to Palestine after WWII, Vietnamese 'boatpeople', Haitian refugees seeking to reach Florida, Middle Eastern migrants and refugees bound to Australia, and Syrian refugees currently crossing the Mediterranean, and then legal responses by states and international organizations to these movements. Through its account of maritime migration, the book proposes a theory of human rights modelled around an encounter between individuals in…


Book cover of Tears of Salt: A Doctor's Story of the Refugee Crisis

Robert F. Barsky Author Of Clamouring for Legal Protection: What the Great Books Teach Us about People Fleeing from Persecution

From my list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have taught a broad array of humanities and social sciences courses over the years, sometimes employing case studies from the realm of law, most notably stories about undocumented migrants, refugees, or homeless people. I’ve also had occasion to teach in law schools, usually in ways that bridge the gap between the legality of forced displacement, and the lived experiences of those who have done it. I won a Rockefeller Foundation grant to write my newest book, Clamouring for Legal Protection, in which I considered the idea that we can learn a lot about refugees and vulnerable migrants with references to people we know well: Ulysses, Dante, Satan, and even Alice in Wonderland.

Robert's book list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises

Robert F. Barsky Why did Robert love this book?

This moving narrative describes the life of a doctor working on the Italian island of Lampedusa, who learns firsthand about hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern refugees fleeing civil war and terrorism and hoping to make a new life in Europe. Dr. Pietro Bartolo, who runs the lone medical clinic on the island, took care of these refugees for more than 25 years, before being the subject of a remarkable film, which is both fictional and real, called Fire At Sea. That film, and this book, shed light on the remarkable life and work of Dr. Bartolo and, moreover, tells the stories of refugees, alive and dead, whose worlds collided with a complex geopolitical system that creates hardship, and then seeks ways of helping those affected.

By Pietro Bartolo, Lidia Tilotta,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Situated more than one hundred miles off Italy's southern coast, the rocky island of Lampedusa has hit world headlines in recent years as the first port of call for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle Eastern refugees fleeing civil war and terrorism and hoping to make a new life in Europe. Dr. Pietro Bartolo, who runs the lone medical clinic on the island, has been caring for many of them-both the living and the dead-for a quarter century. Tears of Salt is Dr. Bartolo's moving account of his life and work set against one of the signal crises of…


Book cover of Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation

Robert F. Barsky Author Of Clamouring for Legal Protection: What the Great Books Teach Us about People Fleeing from Persecution

From my list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have taught a broad array of humanities and social sciences courses over the years, sometimes employing case studies from the realm of law, most notably stories about undocumented migrants, refugees, or homeless people. I’ve also had occasion to teach in law schools, usually in ways that bridge the gap between the legality of forced displacement, and the lived experiences of those who have done it. I won a Rockefeller Foundation grant to write my newest book, Clamouring for Legal Protection, in which I considered the idea that we can learn a lot about refugees and vulnerable migrants with references to people we know well: Ulysses, Dante, Satan, and even Alice in Wonderland.

Robert's book list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises

Robert F. Barsky Why did Robert love this book?

This book assesses the value of liberal education, and the importance of (re) reading the so-called ‘classics,’ rather than resorting to short snippets of articles, YouTube videos, or chapters which make short and pointed arguments about specific issues. The great classics have changed Roosevelt Montás’s life in ways that are to me familiar, since I’ve enjoyed watching the fruits of liberal education as they transformed his life of my own students over the years.

By Roosevelt Montás,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Dominican-born academic tells the story of how the Great Books transformed his life-and why they have the power to speak to people of all backgrounds

What is the value of a liberal education? Traditionally characterized by a rigorous engagement with the classics of Western thought and literature, this approach to education is all but extinct in American universities, replaced by flexible distribution requirements and ever-narrower academic specialization. Many academics attack the very idea of a Western canon as chauvinistic, while the general public increasingly doubts the value of the humanities. In Rescuing Socrates, Dominican-born American academic Roosevelt Montas tells…


Book cover of The Lives of Literature: Reading, Teaching, Knowing

Robert F. Barsky Author Of Clamouring for Legal Protection: What the Great Books Teach Us about People Fleeing from Persecution

From my list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have taught a broad array of humanities and social sciences courses over the years, sometimes employing case studies from the realm of law, most notably stories about undocumented migrants, refugees, or homeless people. I’ve also had occasion to teach in law schools, usually in ways that bridge the gap between the legality of forced displacement, and the lived experiences of those who have done it. I won a Rockefeller Foundation grant to write my newest book, Clamouring for Legal Protection, in which I considered the idea that we can learn a lot about refugees and vulnerable migrants with references to people we know well: Ulysses, Dante, Satan, and even Alice in Wonderland.

Robert's book list on to help us harness the ‘classics’ to address crises

Robert F. Barsky Why did Robert love this book?

Weinstein takes the age-old question – what is literature? – and transforms it into why we (would want to) read literature. For him, literature changes us, allows us to be someone else, and provides us insight into the world we inhabit, and many more worlds we haven’t. He reads a broad array of works, from Sophocles to James Joyce and Toni Morrison, and thinks about such issues as identification, empathy, and sympathy with those we come to ‘know’ through our reading.

By Arnold Weinstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mixing passion and humor, a personal work of literary criticism that demonstrates how the greatest books illuminate our lives

Why do we read literature? For Arnold Weinstein, the answer is clear: literature allows us to become someone else. Literature changes us by giving us intimate access to an astonishing variety of other lives, experiences, and places across the ages. Reflecting on a lifetime of reading, teaching, and writing, The Lives of Literature explores, with passion, humor, and whirring intellect, a professor's life, the thrills and traps of teaching, and, most of all, the power of literature to lead us to…


Book cover of Small Admissions

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Author Of Girls with Bright Futures

From my list on college admissions mania.

Why are we passionate about this?

When each of our older boys were in the midst of the college admissions process, our husbands suffered life-threatening health crises. It was such a bizarre coincidence that we both experienced intense brushes with mortality during this time of high anxiety. The juxtaposition between health and college admissions gave us a unique perspective and led us to explore the impacts of college admissions anxiety on families, friendships, students, and school communities. We had entirely plotted Girls With Bright Futures and were nearly through the first draft when the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal broke in March 2019. We felt like the headlines had been ripped from our manuscript!

Tracy's book list on college admissions mania

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Why did Tracy love this book?

We read several popular novels that explore competitive school environments. One of the best in this sub-genre is Small Admissions, by Amy Poeppel, which provides a fictional glimpse into the cut-throat world of Manhattan prep school admissions and ultra-competitive parents. Poeppel crafts a fun, wicked read with sharp dialogue. We could easily imagine what would happen when the children in Small Admissions apply to college…their parents would fit in well with the characters in our book.

By Amy Poeppel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Small Admissions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

People's Book of the Week

"The Devil Wears Prada meets Primates of Park Avenue." -The New York Times

"Perfect for fans of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep."-Booklist

Top 6 Books You Need to Read-BuzzFeed

Best Books to Give Every Book Lover on Your List-Town and Country

One admission can change your life...forever.

When ambitious grad student Kate Pearson's handsome French "almost fiance" ditches her, she definitely does not roll with the punches, despite the best efforts of family and friends. It seems that nothing will get Kate out of pajamas and back into the world.

Miraculously, one cringe-worthy job interview leads to…


Book cover of Guilty Admissions: The Bribes, Favors, and Phonies Behind the College Cheating Scandal

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Author Of Girls with Bright Futures

From my list on college admissions mania.

Why are we passionate about this?

When each of our older boys were in the midst of the college admissions process, our husbands suffered life-threatening health crises. It was such a bizarre coincidence that we both experienced intense brushes with mortality during this time of high anxiety. The juxtaposition between health and college admissions gave us a unique perspective and led us to explore the impacts of college admissions anxiety on families, friendships, students, and school communities. We had entirely plotted Girls With Bright Futures and were nearly through the first draft when the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal broke in March 2019. We felt like the headlines had been ripped from our manuscript!

Tracy's book list on college admissions mania

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Why did Tracy love this book?

This well-researched non-fiction book by powerhouse investigative reporter Nicole LaPorte of Fast Company provides a fascinating look at some of the behind-the-scenes, real-world parenting dynamics that set the stage for Operation Varsity Blues. In addition to all the juicy details LaPorte reveals about Los Angeles’ elite private school ecosystem, we particularly love the way she traces the origins of college admissions mania all the way back to kindergarten. If you’ve ever wondered how community group-think can lead to lawlessness and a total abandonment of ethics and values, Guilty Admissions takes readers on a tantalizing journey into the competitive-parenting abyss, LA-style.

By Nicole Laporte,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

GUILTY ADMISSIONS weaves together the story of an unscrupulous college counselor named Rick Singer, and how he preyed on the desperation of some of the country's wealthiest families living in a world defined by fierce competition, who function under constant pressure to get into the "right" schools, starting with pre-school; non-stop fundraising and donation demands in the form of multi-million-dollar galas and private parties; and a community of deeply insecure parents who will do anything to get their kids into name-brand colleges in order to maintain their own A-list status.

Investigative reporter Nicole LaPorte lays bare the source of this…


Book cover of The Gifted School

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Author Of Girls with Bright Futures

From my list on college admissions mania.

Why are we passionate about this?

When each of our older boys were in the midst of the college admissions process, our husbands suffered life-threatening health crises. It was such a bizarre coincidence that we both experienced intense brushes with mortality during this time of high anxiety. The juxtaposition between health and college admissions gave us a unique perspective and led us to explore the impacts of college admissions anxiety on families, friendships, students, and school communities. We had entirely plotted Girls With Bright Futures and were nearly through the first draft when the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal broke in March 2019. We felt like the headlines had been ripped from our manuscript!

Tracy's book list on college admissions mania

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Why did Tracy love this book?

Holsinger’s debut novel was published in 2019, only a few months after the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal burst into public view, capturing the attention of a horrified nation. While The Gifted School tells the story of four friends in Colorado as their children are applying (and the parents jockeying) for admission to a middle school for gifted and talented students, the parenting mania themes are cut from the same cloth. With humor and wisdom, Holsinger deftly handles the intricacies and dynamics within and across each of the four families. The twists and turns are surprising, the characters extremely well-drawn, and readers are guaranteed to cringe as the parents in the story make one bad decision after another, suffering under—and ultimately succumbing to—the weight of their anxieties. Delicious fun!

By Bruce Holsinger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"Wise and addictive... The Gifted School is the juiciest novel I've read in ages... a suspenseful, laugh-out-loud page-turner and an incisive inspection of privilege, race and class."--J. Courtney Sullivan in The New York Times

"The summer read that predicted the college-admissions scandal." -The Wall Street Journal

Smart and juicy, a compulsively readable novel about a previously happy group of friends and parents that is nearly destroyed by their own competitiveness when an exclusive school for gifted children opens in the community

This deliciously sharp novel captures the relentless ambitions and fears that animate parents and their children…


Book cover of Admission

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Author Of Girls with Bright Futures

From my list on college admissions mania.

Why are we passionate about this?

When each of our older boys were in the midst of the college admissions process, our husbands suffered life-threatening health crises. It was such a bizarre coincidence that we both experienced intense brushes with mortality during this time of high anxiety. The juxtaposition between health and college admissions gave us a unique perspective and led us to explore the impacts of college admissions anxiety on families, friendships, students, and school communities. We had entirely plotted Girls With Bright Futures and were nearly through the first draft when the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions scandal broke in March 2019. We felt like the headlines had been ripped from our manuscript!

Tracy's book list on college admissions mania

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman Why did Tracy love this book?

This is an engrossing novel with big ripped-from-the-headlines vibes. Told from the point of view of high school senior Chloe Berringer, whose Lori Loughlin-like actress mother becomes ensnared in a college admissions scandal, Buxbaum’s story expertly imagines the impact of such a scandal might have on a young college applicant and her family. Using a Now/Then format, Buxbaum’s juicy and compelling story provides a many-layered and fascinating peek under the veil of one family’s secrets and lies in the name of Operation-Varsity-Blues-style ambition. And although Admission was originally classified as a Young Adult novel, we feel confident recommending it to adults as well. In fact, it would make for an excellent mother-daughter “buddy read!”

By Julie Buxbaum,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Admission as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

Lie. Cheat. Bribe. How far would you go to get into your dream school? How far would your parents go? Inspired by the recent college admissions scandal, this ripped-from-the-headlines YA novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things sees one teenage girl's privileged world shatter when her family's lies are exposed.

It's good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer--she has it all--money, privilege, and a ticket to the college of her dreams. Or at least she did until the FBI came knocking on her front door, guns at the ready, and her future went up in…


Book cover of G. Patrol

John Sadler Author Of Blitzing Rommel

From my list on the War in the Desert 1940 – 1943.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a successful published author of military history nonfiction and fiction with 44 titles in print and have been a lifelong obsessive on the subject of WWII which was my parents’ war. I started on a diet of black & white war movies, then epics such as Tobruk, Raid on Rommel et al. I have been lecturing on the subject at the former Centre for Lifelong Learning at Newcastle University (Now the ‘Explore’ Programme) for 25 years. I am also an experienced and much travelled WWII Battlefield tour guide, with experience of guiding all the major Western Front campaigns. I’m a lifelong historical interpreter and re-enactor.

John's book list on the War in the Desert 1940 – 1943

John Sadler Why did John love this book?

One aspect of this book which appeals is that whilst most of the LRDG Patrols were drawn from the New Zealanders, South Africans & Rhodesians, whose civvy lives in the outdoors naturally fitted them for the rigours of desert warfare and who embodied a fair level of independence of spirt, the Guards represent the very epitome of elitism, spit & polish and rigid hierarchies that you’d expect of the most conventional of conventional forces. Yet they achieved great success within the altogether unconventional ranks of LRDG.

By Michael Crichton- Stuart,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Snobbery: The American Version

Loretta Graziano Breuning Author Of Status Games: Why We Play and How to Stop

From my list on status anxiety.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up around a lot of suffering over status. I didn’t want to suffer, so I kept trying to understand why everyone plays a game that they insist they don’t want to play. I found my answer when I studied evolutionary psychology. This answer really hit home when I watched David Attenborough’s wildlife documentaries. I saw the social rivalry among our mammalian ancestors, and it motivated me to research the biology behind it. I took early retirement from a career as a Professor of Management and started writing books about the brain chemistry we share with earlier mammals. I’m so glad I found my power over my inner mammal!

Loretta's book list on status anxiety

Loretta Graziano Breuning Why did Loretta love this book?

He sums it up in one brilliant sentence: 

“Envy is the only one of the 7 deadly sins that isn’t fun.”

The author is a great observer of the snobbery that surrounds you in daily life, from fashion snobs to intellectual snobs. He’s a “snobographer,” according to one reviewer.

This book invites you to laugh at the snobs, not to change your thinking. Pointing fingers feels good in the short run, but my books show that it hurts you in the long run. We all have the one-upping impulse because we’re all mammals. If you hate people who do this, you end up hating yourself. You may insist that you don’t care about status, but moral superiority is just more one-upping.

So enjoy with caution.

By Joseph Epstein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Observations on the many ways we manage to look down on others, from “a writer who can make you laugh out loud on every third page” (The New York Times Book Review).

Snobs are everywhere. At the gym, at work, at school, and sometimes even lurking in your own home. But how did we, as a culture, get this way? With dishy detail, Joseph Epstein skewers all manner of elitism as he examines how snobbery works, where it thrives, and the pitfalls and perils in thinking you’re better than anyone else.
 
Offering arch observations on the new footholds of snobbery,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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