100 books like H is for Hawk

By Helen Macdonald,

Here are 100 books that H is for Hawk fans have personally recommended if you like H is for Hawk. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of My Sister, the Serial Killer

Jane De Suza Author Of When Impossible Happens

From my list on books to make you laugh when you’re trying to look serious.

Why am I passionate about this?

Out of all the flattering reviews of my books, my favourite is of a reader choking on her lunch. My book was about death. The reader, who survived, said it made her laugh so hard. I write about tough times by bringing out the it’s okay to smile now bits. The Midnight Years is about teen mental health, Happily Never After is about loneliness, and Flyaway Boy is about stereotyping. Making people laugh through tears is a tough task. Here are some books that cracked it.

Jane's book list on books to make you laugh when you’re trying to look serious

Jane De Suza Why did Jane love this book?

Not a situation I’d find myself in. Neither, I hope, will you. Korede’s problem in this quirky book is dark and unusual: having to protect a sister who kills her suitors.

The plot goes from unpredictable to weird. The older sister, a nurse committed to saving lives, has to choose between her code of ethics and her love for her pretty, precocious sister, who keeps killing her boyfriends.

A story this morbid, narrated with straight-faced, deadpan humour, has made this book one of my picks.

By Oyinkan Braithwaite,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked My Sister, the Serial Killer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sunday Times bestseller and The Times #1 bestseller

Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019
Winner of the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller
Capital Crime Debut Author of the Year 2019

'A literary sensation'

'A bombshell of a book... Sharp, explosive, hilarious'
New York Times

'Glittering and funny... A stiletto slipped between the ribs and through the left ventricle of the heart' Financial Times

When Korede's dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what's expected of her: bleach, rubber…

Book cover of Mozart's Starling

Tove Danovich Author Of Under the Henfluence: Inside the World of Backyard Chickens and the People Who Love Them

From my list on animals helping us understand ourselves.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a freelance journalist who started writing about animals after getting and falling in love with a flock of chickens. Animals are fascinating in their own right but the way we talk about them, and our relationships, shine a fascinating light on humans and what we value. My work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Country Living, and many others. 

Tove's book list on animals helping us understand ourselves

Tove Danovich Why did Tove love this book?

Starlings are everywhere and yet I hadn’t properly seen them until I picked up this book.

The author combines the history of our relationship with the starling, a reviled bird that is nevertheless so much like us, with an up-close view of the species through a pet starling named Carmen. This book will leave you enchanted by the chatty birds. 

By Lyanda Lynn Haupt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mozart's Starling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On May 27th, 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met a flirtatious little starling who sang (an improved version of!) the theme from his Piano Concerto Number 17 in G to him. Knowing a kindred spirit when he met one, Mozart wrote "That was wonderful" in his journal and took the bird home to be his pet. For three years Mozart and his family enjoyed the uniquely delightful company of the starling until one April morning when the bird passed away.

In 2013, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of Crow Planet, rescued her own starling, Carmen, who has become a part of her…

Book cover of The Cloudspotter's Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds

Tom Ireland Author Of The Good Virus: The Amazing Story and Forgotten Promise of the Phage

From my list on science about way more than science.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a science journalist and magazine editor. I feel really lucky to be a bioscience specialist – it really is at the forefront of solving some of the great challenges of our time, from making sustainable fuels and materials, to climate change mitigation, age-related disease, pandemics, food security, habitat restoration…plus there’s an incredible diversity of life on our planet still to be discovered. I always try to relate scientific progress to our everyday lives: it’s not just about creating new knowledge, it is about how that knowledge might improve our health, change our outlook, transform society, or protect the planet. 

Tom's book list on science about way more than science

Tom Ireland Why did Tom love this book?

Thanks to this beautiful book, I try to take a moment each day to look up at the sky.

The Cloudspotter’s Guide is so much more than just a guide to the science of how clouds form, or the different types – it’s a reminder to appreciate the unbelievably beautiful and epic natural forms that float above us every day.

Clouds, writes Pretor-Pinney, are ‘the most egalitarian of nature’s displays – we all have a good view of them’. And his guide is as much about how to take pleasure in this daily display as it is about the science of atmospherics, precipitation, and altitude. 

I bought this book so long ago its pages are yellowing and falling out. But when I’m busy and stressed, I still daydream of being able to sit in my garden and do nothing but watch the clouds roll by. When I am aboard a…

By Gavin Pretor-Pinney,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Cloudspotter's Guide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now in paperback: the runaway British bestseller that has cloudspotters everywhere looking up.

Where do clouds come from? Why do they look the way they do? And why have they captured the imagination of timeless artists, Romantic poets, and every kid who's ever held a crayon? Veteran journalist and lifelong sky watcher Gavin Pretor-Pinney reveals everything there is to know about clouds, from history and science to art and pop culture. Cumulus, nimbostratus, and the dramatic and surfable Morning Glory cloud are just a few of the varieties explored in this smart, witty, and eclectic tour through the skies.


Book cover of Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot

Martha W. Murphy Author Of CRU Oyster Bar Nantucket Cookbook: Savoring Four Seasons of the Good Life

From my list on the eclectic reader of nonfiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a narrative nonfiction writer interested in a broad range of topics, including but not limited to: food and the people who bring it to us; travel and life in faraway places; human health and the role of medicine; memoir as one person’s story yet illustrative of the human spirit; and the unique and remarkable role dogs play in our lives. I am the same kind of reader: I read across a range of topics, mostly nonfiction. The bookshelves in my house and the record of titles I’ve checked out from my local library show an eclectic taste, as do the books I’m recommending here. I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Martha's book list on the eclectic reader of nonfiction

Martha W. Murphy Why did Martha love this book?

I expected a book of insider stories about the hidden world of commercial airline travel from the people who make it possible, but instead I found a beautifully written, lyrical, and awestruck look at what it means to travel high above the Earth’s surface day after day, zooming between cities on opposite sides of the world.

I have never had the physics of flight, gravitational pull, wind, storms, and clouds explained so clearly and compellingly. I frequently reread passages for their beauty and emotion and completely unique fresh perspective. I knew flying was a sophisticated skill, but this book made it clear how truly complex a pilot’s job is.

The author’s love of his hard-won occupation is enthralling, making this a book to share with aspiring aviators in your life.  

By Mark Vanhoenacker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

**Sunday Times Bestseller**
**Book of the Week on Radio 4**

'One of the most constantly fascinating, but consistently under-appreciated aspects of modern life is the business of flying. Mark Vanhoenacker has written the ideal book on the subject: a description of what it's like to fly by a commercial pilot who is also a master prose stylist and a deeply sensitive human being. This is a man who is at once a technical expert - he flies 747s across continents - and a poet of the skies. This couldn't be more highly recommended.' Alain de Botton

Think back to when…

Book cover of All the Light We Cannot See

Michael Allan Scott Author Of Facing North, Headed South

From my list on brilliant genre defying storytelling.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m of the opinion that good writers draw from life experience. Here are the broad strokes: a Boy Scout reporter at the 1964 national Jamboree, a drummer in country, rock, and jazz bands, a SCUBA instructor, a commercial real estate developer, a drug addict, and an inmate in the penal system. I’ve been reading and writing almost from day one. Most of my early work is crap. I’ve learned the hard way what makes a story worth telling and how best to tell it. Read my recommendations and decide for yourself. After all, it’s your opinion that counts.  

Michael's book list on brilliant genre defying storytelling

Michael Allan Scott Why did Michael love this book?

This book has everything I look for in great storytelling in spades: real people doing their best to cope with extraordinary circumstances, masterfully crafted by an author who loves his work.

Some will call this a historical novel; some will pigeonhole it as a war novel. In my view, it easily exceeds all such classifications. It is an incredible piece of work. I use this book for reference, to remind me how it’s done. 

By Anthony Doerr,

Why should I read it?

40 authors picked All the Light We Cannot See as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II

Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.'

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her the way home. The microscopic…

Book cover of The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape

Susan Cole Author Of Holding Fast: A Memoir of Sailing, Love, and Loss

From my list on huge life changes and the stories behind them.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived on or around sailboats for over thirty years. I had never sailed before meeting my husband. Many people dream of sailing off but few actually go. In 1996, we sailed away to the Caribbean with our seven-year-old daughter. Although I didn’t want to go, by the end of the voyage I found an inner strength that has stayed with me. The books I chose are all about making huge changes, taking leaps of faith. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Susan's book list on huge life changes and the stories behind them

Susan Cole Why did Susan love this book?

James Rebanks was born in England’s Lake District into a family who valued the hard work and ancient traditions of shepherding in the high hills. Later, he winds up at Oxford, seemingly headed for a life of financial success in the city, and realizes that while the world at large may value such success, he values the quiet, steady, solitary shepherd’s life and chooses that instead. He beautifully depicts a life steeped in tradition, honoring the seasons, and filled with characters. I loved learning about a slice of life that I knew little about.

By James Rebanks,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Shepherd's Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Affectionate, evocative, illuminating. A story of survival - of a flock, a landscape and a disappearing way of life. I love this book' Nigel Slater

'Triumphant, a pastoral for the 21st century' Helen Davies, Sunday Times, Books of the Year

'The nature publishing sensation of the year, unsentimental yet luminous' Melissa Harrison, The Times, Books of the Year

Some people's lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks' isn't. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and…

Book cover of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Duncan Hubber Author Of Notes from the Citadel: The Philosophy and Psychology of A Song of Ice and Fire

From my list on The best philosophical fantasy novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an academic at the University of Queensland whose research areas include horror films, screen trauma theory, the cinematic representation of urban spaces, and the collision of romanticism and postmodernism in fantasy literature. My first book, POV Horror: The Trauma Aesthetic of the Found Footage Subgenre, was adapted from my PhD thesis. I am an avid member of the A Song of Ice and Fire fandom, and my second book represents over a decade of talking and writing about George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, having grown out of conversations in forums, podcasts, symposiums, and fan conventions, as well as my own background in literary analysis and research.

Duncan's book list on The best philosophical fantasy novels

Duncan Hubber Why did Duncan love this book?

Clarke transports the reader to England during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. There is, however, one small twist: magic once existed in this world and has now returned through two men, drastically changing the course of history and society.

The story is rich in gothic atmosphere and wry humour, and is positively bursting with ideas (there are almost 200 footnotes!). Clarke imbues her protagonists with conflicting approaches to the pursuit of knowledge, with Norrell representing cautious rationality and conservative methodology, while Strange embodies an adventurous spirit and a willingness to embrace the arcane and often the dangerous.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of…

Book cover of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Jim Landwehr Author Of Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir

From my list on the trials and joys of outdoor adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a lover of all things outdoors since I was a boy. After my father was killed at a young age, my brothers and I took his love for outdoor adventure and made it our own. Fully aware of all that can go wrong, my brothers and I went into our ventures with a keen sense of humor. Camping, fishing, and kayaking all come with their own challenges and requisite hilarious moments. It is these moments of adversity, and personal risk, that are sometimes lightened by a good dose of laughter and levity.

Jim's book list on the trials and joys of outdoor adventure

Jim Landwehr Why did Jim love this book?

Much like A Walk in the Woods, Wild takes an ordinary person and puts them in an extremely challenging environment only to show they were unprepared for the rigors of the great outdoors.

Strayed has a similar goal to Bryson, but chooses the Pacific Crest Trail. The hike is an attempt at self-discovery as well as to challenge herself after experiencing various addictions and the loss of her mother. Strayed’s motives are not unlike those of my brothers and I as we ventured into the BWCAW while navigating our young lives as twenty-somethings.

By Cheryl Strayed,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the…

Book cover of The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts

J. Nicole Jones Author Of Low Country: A Memoir

From my list on voice-driven, suck-you-in narrations: both memoir and fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writers often get labeled as either nonfiction or fiction writers. In grad school, it was very difficult to study across genres, which I found very frustrating: To me, the most important thing about a book has always been the voice. A novel? A memoir? Essays? Stories? Don’t pin me down, just give me something with a voice that propels me forward, that is unique and sparkling and unputdownable. When I find books with voices so singular and propulsive, I return to them over and over. 

J.'s book list on voice-driven, suck-you-in narrations: both memoir and fiction

J. Nicole Jones Why did J. love this book?

There is nothing like this groundbreaking memoir—it is as good as it getsand it has probably influenced every memoir since (including my own).

Kingston is a poet, and I find it impossible not to sink into the striking, gorgeous language and imagery as she describes growing up between multiple worlds: the China her parents emigrated from, the California of a first-generation daughter of immigrants, the ghost-filled China of her mother’s “talk stories,” and her inner life and growing awareness. She weaves family stories, famous myths, and her own girlhood experiences into a beautiful and unforgettable narrative.

I probably re-read it once a year.

By Maxine Hong Kingston,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Woman Warrior as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • With this book, the acclaimed author created an entirely new form—an exhilarating blend of autobiography and mythology, of world and self, of hot rage and cool analysis. First published in 1976, it has become a classic in its innovative portrayal of multiple and intersecting identities—immigrant, female, Chinese, American. 

“A classic, for a reason” – Celeste Ng via Twitter

As a girl, Kingston lives in two confounding worlds: the California to which her parents have immigrated and the China of her mother’s “talk stories.” The fierce and wily women warriors of…

Book cover of The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness

Deb Aronson Author Of How to Raise a Rhino

From my list on humans bonding with wild animals.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion is writing about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, rather than famous people or people with some unusual skill, like being a math genius or something. This passion led me to Anna Merz’s story and my growing appreciation of the power of the animal/human connection and how much communication can take place without language.

Deb's book list on humans bonding with wild animals

Deb Aronson Why did Deb love this book?

Montgomery is one of my favorite non-fiction authors. She has written about her family’s pet pig, and she’s written about every creature, from hummingbirds and snakes to condors and pink dolphins.

But this book is, for me, one of the most eye-opening books I’ve ever read. It’s not a friendship/relationship in the same way as my other book recommendations, but Montgomery writes about a single octopus and its exploits in an aquarium. We learn just how smart and funny! octopuses are.

Also, because of this book, I cannot eat calamari anymore.

By Sy Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Soul of an Octopus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Sy Montgomery's The Soul of an Octopus does for the creature what Helen Macdonald's H Is for Hawk did for raptors' New Statesman
'Charming and moving...with extraordinary scientific research' Guardian
'An engaging work of natural science... There is clearly something about the octopus's weird beauty that fires the imaginations of explorers, scientists, writers' Daily Mail

In 2011 Sy Montgomery wrote a feature for Orion magazine entitled 'Deep Intellect' about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death. It went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in grief, spirituality, and mourning?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about grief, spirituality, and mourning.

Grief Explore 79 books about grief
Spirituality Explore 288 books about spirituality
Mourning Explore 137 books about mourning