100 books like Finish Strong

By Barbara Coombs Lee,

Here are 100 books that Finish Strong fans have personally recommended if you like Finish Strong. 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 When Breath Becomes Air

Mahala Yates Stripling Author Of Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature

From my list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an independent scholar who read Mortal Lessons, Richard Selzer’s book of essays about our common human condition - mortality. I began writing the biography of this Yale surgeon who influenced the literature-and-medicine movement, ushering in patient-centered care. I read everything by and about him, gaining a background in the medical humanities. In the middle of this project, I was asked to write Bioethics and Medical Issues in Literature. The first edition came out in 2005; subsequently I updated and published a second paperback edition in 2013, accessible by the general public and used as a complete curriculum. Clearly, reading literature helps us explore what makes us human.

Mahala's book list on medical/scientific stories that show what it means to be human

Mahala Yates Stripling Why did Mahala love this book?

Dr. Kalanithi’s memoir is surprisingly uplifting. A non-smoker, he was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer in 2013. He was an American neurosurgeon, and his wife Lucy, an internal medicine doctor, is now a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Stanford.

I find it brave that they decided to have a child in the midst of Paul’s treatment. Cady was eight months old when her father died in 2015 at the age of 37. His jargon-free writings from a doctor-patient point of view show they lived intentionally, finding joy and meaning, regardless of a terminal diagnosis. Medical training is based on empirical science; however, Paul’s despair caused him to return to the devout Christianity of his youth. He found its language better suited to grasping hope and love in human life. 

By Paul Kalanithi,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked When Breath Becomes Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Rattling. Heartbreaking. Beautiful.' Atul Gawande, bestselling author of Being Mortal

What makes life worth living in the face of death?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity - the brain - and…

Book cover of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Sam Carr Author Of All the Lonely People: Conversations on Loneliness

From my list on the psychological challenges of being human.

Why am I passionate about this?

I guess we all have a "calling." Mine has always been to explore the deeper, darker, less palatable aspects of being human. I’m a bit like a space explorer of the human psyche. I’m lucky in the sense that my day job permits me to research, teach, and better understand things like love, death, and loneliness. I’ve been researching and writing about them for many years now. I always treasure books that help me to shed light on these themes. They are like shiny pebbles or jewels that I pick up and keep in my pocket. I hope you enjoy and learn from some of the treasures in my personal collection!  

Sam's book list on the psychological challenges of being human

Sam Carr Why did Sam love this book?

This book invited me to think about how we age and meet death in contemporary Western societies.

I have seen people close to me die. I watched as my grandma, then my grandpa, and then my father passed away. They each, in different ways, faced the brutal realities of growing old and they encountered a healthcare system that ultimately medicalized their death and the aging process–striving to ‘eek out’ more time, as though that was the only honorable thing to do.

Atul Gawande’s book really taught me to reflect critically on that.

By Atul Gawande,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Being Mortal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?




For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn't matter whether you were five or fifty - every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality - about what it's…

Book cover of How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter

Jennie Dear Author Of What Does It Feel Like to Die?: Inspiring New Insights Into the Experience of Dying

From my list on the experience of dying.

Why am I passionate about this?

When my mother enrolled in hospice after years of living with cancer, the nurse asked her: Do you want to know what will happen to your body as it starts shutting down? That was the first time anyone talked with us about the dying process. The question came as an immense relief, eventually inspiring this book. After witnessing the difficulties and surprising joys of my mother’s dying experience, I began hospice volunteering. Later, I spent three intensive stints volunteering at San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project. And as a former journalist and associate professor of English, I began researching and interviewing experts. Their deep caring and knowledge inform this book.

Jennie's book list on the experience of dying

Jennie Dear Why did Jennie love this book?

Until I began researching death and dying, I hadn’t realized my quest was so literal-minded. Despite the satisfyingly large number of relevant books, most circle around the subject, focusing on areas such as grief, the importance of creating a living will, or funeral planning—all important topics, but I wanted to learn about dying itself.

Then I discovered Nuland’s book. Chapter by chapter, he describes what we know about the physical experience of dying, depending on the type of death: Heart attacks, murders, falls, Alzheimer’s, cancer. Nuland’s background is in surgery, and his descriptions are neither graphic nor gory, but he doesn’t flinch from providing details. Although his book was first published in 1993, no one has yet matched its straightforward, informative approach.

By Sherwin B. Nuland,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How We Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The definitive resource on perhaps the single most universal human concern: death.

Even more relevant than when it was first published, this edition addresses contemporary issues in end-of-life care and includes an all-embracing and incisive afterword that examines the state of health care and our relationship with life as it approaches its terminus. How We Die also discusses how we can take control of our own final days and those of our loved ones.

"Nuland's work acknowledges, with unmatched clarity, the harsh realities of how life departs… There is compassion, and often…

Book cover of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

Mikkael A. Sekeres Author Of Drugs and the FDA: Safety, Efficacy, and the Public's Trust

From my list on the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly in medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a cancer doctor, I have spent two decades dedicated to understanding the causes and therapy of cancer, how my patients experience their diagnosis and treatment, and how meaningful improvements in their experience should be reflected in the criteria we use to approve cancer drugs approval in the U.S., to improve their lives. In over 100 essays published in outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post and in two books, I sing the stories of my patients as I learn from their undaunted spirits and their utter humanity, as I try to figure out how to be a better doctor, and a better person.

Mikkael's book list on the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly in medicine

Mikkael A. Sekeres Why did Mikkael love this book?

Less than a century ago, having a diagnosis of cancer was almost universally a death sentence, if the word was even uttered at all.

In The Emperor of All Maladies, Mukherjee (who overlapped in training with me) takes us back in time to the heroic – and at times cavalier and even brutal – procedures and discoveries that led to the very first cancer treatments, some of which are told by the people who pioneered those therapies.

By Siddhartha Mukherjee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2011

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction 2011

Shortlisted for the Duff Cooper Prize 2011

Shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize

In The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee, doctor, researcher and award-winning science writer, examines cancer with a cellular biologist's precision, a historian's perspective, and a biographer's passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with - and perished from - for more than five thousand years.

The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience and perseverance, but also…

Book cover of When My Time Comes: Conversations about Whether Those Who Are Dying Should Have the Right to Determine When Life Should End

Barbara Coombs Lee Author Of Finish Strong: Putting Your Priorities First at Life's End

From my list on opening to death to live your most joyful life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first started tending patients at age 15, as a candy striper at St. Joseph Hospital. That was a long time ago, and since then I’ve learned much at patients’ bedsides, in Congress, statehouses and courtrooms. Through sequential careers in nursing, medicine, law, and advocacy, I learned that end-of-life experiences have the most to teach us about being truly present to our lives, about learning to love well and growing in wisdom. Personal autonomy, individual empowerment, and guided planning are all key to moving past our fear of death. In the end, as Seneca observed, “The art of living well and dying well are one.”

Barbara's book list on opening to death to live your most joyful life

Barbara Coombs Lee Why did Barbara love this book?

Diane is the curious and savvy public radio journalist who educated even as she entertained so many Americans, presenting conversations on every aspect of life in arts, science, and politics. I came to know Diane when I appeared on her show and was transfixed by watching her expertly navigate advanced broadcast technology even as she sized up her guests, crafted questions from her own astute observations, and coaxed her guests to reveal things they perhaps did not intend. In this book, she shares her most personal side as she considers options at the end of a life well-lived. Her wisdom is gleaned from personal history plus thousands of interviews, and she generously shares it with us. 

By Diane Rehm,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When My Time Comes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The renowned radio host and one of the most trusted voices in the nation candidly and compassionately addresses the hotly contested right-to-die movement, of which she is one of our most inspiring champions. The basis for the acclaimed PBS series.

Through interviews with terminally ill patients and their relatives, as well as physicians, ethicists, religious leaders, and representatives of both those who support and vigorously oppose this urgent movement, Rehm gives voice to a broad range of people personally linked to the realities of medical aid in dying. With characteristic evenhandedness, she provides the full context for this highly divisive…

Book cover of The Compound Effect:  Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success

Marty Boardman Author Of Foreclosure Secrets: How I Built a 7-Figure Business Flipping Houses Most Investors Are Too Afraid to Buy

From my list on to build great habits as a real estate investor.

Why am I passionate about this?

I built a 7-figure business buying foreclosures in multiple states and with my book you’ll discover how to duplicate my success and drastically reduce your learning curve.  I've flipped hundreds of houses buying directly from homeowners in foreclosure and at auctions in Arizona, Illinois, and Wisconsin. I was guest #1 on the popular BiggerPockets podcast as well as a featured contributor to the website. I've also been featured in numerous real estate articles for USA Today, Reuters, and the Arizona Republic. And I'm the founder of FixandFlipHub.com, a real estate education company that has helped hundreds of real estate entrepreneurs start and scale their businesses.

Marty's book list on to build great habits as a real estate investor

Marty Boardman Why did Marty love this book?

Are you consistently inconsistent? In other words, do you have a sincere desire to start real estate investing, or scale your current business, but are constantly veering off-course because life keeps getting in the way? Me too. In this book you’ll learn the importance of making small, daily decisions that will, over time, result in exponential growth in your personal and financial life.

By Darren Hardy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Compound Effect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do you want success? More success than you have now? And even more success than you ever imagined possible? That is what this book is about. Achieving it.   No gimmicks. No hyperbole. Finally, just the truth on what it takes to earn success   As the central curator of the success media industry for over 25 years, author Darren Hardy has heard it all, seen it all, and tried most of it. This book reveals the core principles that drive success. The Compound Effect contains the essence of what every superachiever needs to know, practice, and master to obtain extraordinary success.…

Book cover of The One Thing You'd Save

John Micklos Jr. Author Of Raindrops to Rainbow

From my list on recent picture books with a message.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written 60 books over the past 20 years. My titles include picture books, poetry books, and dozens of nonfiction books covering a wide range of history and social studies topics. My picture books deal with concepts such as counting and colors. I enjoy rhyming and wordplay and conveying ideas in simple terms. 

John's book list on recent picture books with a message

John Micklos Jr. Why did John love this book?

It begins with a simple assignment—a teacher asks her class the one thing they’d save if their home were on fire. The answers, ranging from practical items such as cell phones, laptops, and wallets to priceless mementos such as a sweater knitted by gran, a baseball star’s autograph, and a lock of hair from a younger brother who died, reveal a lot about the students’ backgrounds and priorities. The text is written in a line structure called sijo—an ancient form of traditional Korean poetry. Simple black-and-white illustrations provides a nice complement to the text. This is a great book to get kids thinking about what is really important in their lives. 

By Linda Sue Park, Robert Sae-Heng (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The One Thing You'd Save 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?

If your house were on fire, what one thing would you save? Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park explores different answers to this provocative question in linked poems that capture the diverse voices of a middle school class. Recipient of four starred reviews!

"[Park's] message is powerful: We don’t need a great blazing tragedy to determine what we hold most precious in our lives; we can define what’s vital through our thoughts and memories, always at hand, in our heads and hearts—safe, where the flames don’t reach."—New York Times Book Review

When a teacher asks her class what one thing they…

Book cover of Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America

Robert Chernomas Author Of Neoliberal Lives: Work, Politics, Nature, and Health in the Contemporary United States

From my list on class warfare and that the wrong class is winning.

Why am I passionate about this?

Neoliberalism and I have grown up in opposition to one another over the past four decades. As a professor of economics, union, and political activist I have observed, wrote about, and resisted its effects on the life chances of the great majority of its citizens with particular focus on the United States as its primary protagonist and gatekeeper. The opposition to this transformative epoch included writing about the significant contributions of my profession to Neoliberal economics in two previous books; The Profit Doctrine: The Economists of the Neoliberal Era and Economics in the 21st Century: A Critical Perspective.

Robert's book list on class warfare and that the wrong class is winning

Robert Chernomas Why did Robert love this book?

For Martin Gilens, the normal business of governing in the U.S. is largely untroubled by the preferences and desires of anybody but the wealthy.  Gilens looks at thousands of proposed policy changes, and the degree of support for each among poor, middle-class, and affluent Americans. His findings: when preferences of low- or middle-income Americans diverge from those of the affluent, there is virtually no relationship between policy outcomes and the desires of less advantaged groups. In contrast, affluent Americans’ preferences exhibit a substantial relationship with policy outcomes whether their preferences are shared by lower-income groups or not.

By Martin Gilens,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Can a country be a democracy if its government only responds to the preferences of the rich? In an ideal democracy, all citizens should have equal influence on government policy--but as this book demonstrates, America's policymakers respond almost exclusively to the preferences of the economically advantaged. Affluence and Influence definitively explores how political inequality in the United States has evolved over the last several decades and how this growing disparity has been shaped by interest groups, parties, and elections. With sharp analysis and an impressive range of data, Martin Gilens looks at thousands of proposed policy changes, and the degree…

Book cover of Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Markus Eberl Author Of War Owl Falling: Innovation, Creativity, and Culture Change in Ancient Maya Society

From my list on innovation in the past when this wasn't yet a thing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, I love prehistoric things and what can I learn from them about the people that made them and left them behind. I study ancient Maya commoners in what is now modern Guatemala. Their material remains are humble but include depictions and symbols normally found in the palaces of Maya kings and queens. First I wondered and then I studied how the title-giving war owl fell into the hands of Maya commoners. By approaching this process as innovation, I discuss creativity in the past and cultural changes that result from it.

Markus' book list on innovation in the past when this wasn't yet a thing

Markus Eberl Why did Markus love this book?

This book introduced the concept of nudging into the public discourse, and I guess all of us have encountered it one way or the other. How many reminders have I gotten to sign up for this or that program?… Alas, I love Thaler and Sunstein's concept of choice architects. It made me think about power as a capacity to affect not only people but also the very framework in which people make decisions.

By Cass R. Sunstein, Richard H. Thaler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now available: Nudge: The Final Edition

The original edition of the multimillion-copy New York Times bestseller by the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, Richard H. Thaler, and Cass R. Sunstein: a revelatory look at how we make decisions—for fans of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow

Named a Best Book of the Year by TheEconomist and the Financial Times

Every day we make choices—about what to buy or eat, about financial investments or our children’s health and education, even about the causes we champion…

Book cover of The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

Patrick Forsyth Author Of Successful Time Management: How to be Organized, Productive and Get Things Done

From my list on common sense to help you succeed in business.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having begun my career in publishing, I worked for many years as a management consultant and trainer; alongside that, I have written and published many books offering advice on management, marketing, and job skills, like the time management book shown above, a bestseller now in its sixth edition. I have always thought management often fails by overlooking the importance of issues rather than finding things difficult; I hope my business writing helps identify priorities and shows that the deployment of various techniques and skills can be manageable–and useful.

Patrick's book list on common sense to help you succeed in business

Patrick Forsyth Why did Patrick love this book?

This was perhaps the first bestselling business book and became a classic. Drucker coined many maxims, for example, saying that if you don’t know where you are going, any road will do. This is obvious, but how many flounder for lack of clear objectives?

Good, sound common sense is here that stands a new look in the present day, even if it comes from a time when legislation and political correctness made things more straightforward while leaving some current issues unaddressed.

By Peter F. Drucker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Effective Executive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What makes an effective executive?

The measure of the executive, Peter F. Drucker reminds us, is the ability to "get the right things done." This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked as well as avoiding what is unproductive. Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that mold them into results.

Drucker identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned: Managing time Choosing what to contribute to the organization Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect Setting the right priorities…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in decision making, terminal illnesses, and personal values?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about decision making, terminal illnesses, and personal values.

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