100 books like Happiness

By Aminatta Forna,

Here are 100 books that Happiness fans have personally recommended if you like Happiness. 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 Lincoln in the Bardo

Sarah Porter Author Of Projections

From my list on unusual ghost stories for someone who loves spooky.

Why am I passionate about this?

The uncanny slips into the gaps between the objective world and the world of human experience with all its dreams, apprehensions, and intuitions. This intermediate space is the habitat of ghosts and also the zone where my mind does its wanderings. It's where my books come, and explorations of that space in other peoples' books draw me in, deeply and inescapably.

Sarah's book list on unusual ghost stories for someone who loves spooky

Sarah Porter Why did Sarah love this book?

I honestly think this is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read.

In writing about haunting, I always confront the question of what pins ghosts to the living world. I loved the poignancy of Saunders’s ghosts and the desperate denial of their own deaths that they cling to.

I have a special love of books written in a multiplicity of voices; the way Saunders writes his ghostly chorus is so virtuosic it took my breath away. 

By George Saunders,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Lincoln in the Bardo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017 A STORY OF LOVE AFTER DEATH 'A masterpiece' Zadie Smith 'Extraordinary' Daily Mail 'Breathtaking' Observer 'A tour de force' The Sunday Times The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns…


Book cover of All the King's Men

Georg Loefflmann Author Of The Politics of Antagonism: Populist Security Narratives and the Remaking of Political Identity

From my list on understand how populism works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Lecturer in US Foreign Policy at Queen Mary University of London, and I work on issues of national security and identity, political rhetoric and the role of the everyday in shaping politics, especially media and popular culture. I have written extensively on American politics and US foreign policy over these past years with two published monographs and more than a dozen articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, plus a couple of op-eds and multiple TV and radio appearances. My most recent research project explores the role of populism under the Trump presidency and its political impact in the United States.

Georg's book list on understand how populism works

Georg Loefflmann Why did Georg love this book?

This book is maybe my favorite novel ever written about politics and the lengths that some men are willing to go in the pursuit of power.

It features a memorable cast of characters, most importantly, of course, the figure of Governor Willie Stark, the quintessential populist politician, who manipulates others for his own gain and demonstrates a total lack of morals. Set in the 1930s, the story of Stark’s rise to power and eventual downfall always strikes me for how contemporary it feels and how many parallels it offers with the populist politics of our own time. 

By Robert Penn Warren,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked All the King's Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16.

What is this book about?

Willie Stark's obsession with political power leads to the ultimate corruption of his gubernatorial administration.


Book cover of My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson

James Sulzer Author Of The Voice at the Door

From my list on poets and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I “discovered” the poetry of Emily Dickinson and put her verse to music. Later, at Yale University I delved deeper into the power of rhythms, the beauty of images, the clarity of insights—how they combine to create a genuine poetic voice that reveals an interior world. Politics, of course, define our interactions in the exterior world, and great novels meld these two elements—poetry and politics—into a seamless union. I’ve been inspired to write novels about two poets—Emily Dickinson and John Keats—to bring the reader into the intense, poetic world of their blazing interiors and their unique outward politics.

James' book list on poets and politics

James Sulzer Why did James love this book?

In contrast to my first pick, My Wars are Laid Away in Books is a calm, scholarly, relentless search for the literal facts of the life of a great but enigmatic poet—Emily Dickinson. Habegger also shows considerable literary acumen in analyzing the context and vigor, and passions of Dickinson’s poetry. Though other biographies of Dickinson are better known, this is the one that gave me the best factual basis for my book, my intensely poetic novel about Dickinson’s personal politics and astonishing genius.

By Alfred Habegger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Wars Are Laid Away in Books as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Emily Dickinson, probably the most loved and certainly the greatest of American poets, continues to be seen as the most elusive. One reason she has become a timeless icon of mystery for many readers is that her developmental phases have not been clarified. In this exhaustively researched biography, Alfred Habegger presents the first thorough account of Dickinson’s growth–a richly contextualized story of genius in the process of formation and then in the act of overwhelming production.

Building on the work of former and contemporary scholars, My Wars Are Laid Away in Books brings to light a wide range of new…


Book cover of Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party

James Sulzer Author Of The Voice at the Door

From my list on poets and politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I “discovered” the poetry of Emily Dickinson and put her verse to music. Later, at Yale University I delved deeper into the power of rhythms, the beauty of images, the clarity of insights—how they combine to create a genuine poetic voice that reveals an interior world. Politics, of course, define our interactions in the exterior world, and great novels meld these two elements—poetry and politics—into a seamless union. I’ve been inspired to write novels about two poets—Emily Dickinson and John Keats—to bring the reader into the intense, poetic world of their blazing interiors and their unique outward politics.

James' book list on poets and politics

James Sulzer Why did James love this book?

This is a complete history of the Black Panther party in the US—its origins, its leaders, its political struggles, its accomplishments and controversies, and its ultimate dissolution. The unique poetry of the Panthers’ public pronouncements—by Bobby Seale, Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, and others—comes vividly to life, as people of color confront a world of limited horizons and thwarted desires. In my new novel, I meld these voices with the beat poetry of Allen Ginsberg (who was a central figure in the 1970s New Haven gathering).

By Joshua Bloom, Waldo E. Martin Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Oakland, California, in 1966, community college students Bobby Seale and Huey Newton armed themselves, began patrolling the police, and promised to prevent police brutality. Unlike the Civil Rights Movement that called for full citizenship rights for blacks within the U.S., the Black Panther Party rejected the legitimacy of the U.S. government and positioned itself as part of a global struggle against American imperialism. In the face of intense repression, the Party flourished, becoming the center of a revolutionary movement with offices in 68 U.S. cities and powerful allies around the world. Black against Empire is the first comprehensive overview…


Book cover of Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way

Paul J. Zak Author Of Immersion: The Science of the Extraordinary and the Source of Happiness

From my list on happiness that will improve your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my view, there is no bigger quest than to understand how to live a long and fulfilled life. Most of my professional life has focused on running neuroscience experiments in my academic laboratory and developing technologies for companies I have started to understand and increase happiness. I have devoted 20 years to this quest and I continue to work to build a happier and healthier world. I am one of the most cited scientists in this area and also regularly communicate to the general public through TED talks, books, magazine articles, and public lectures.    

Paul's book list on happiness that will improve your life

Paul J. Zak Why did Paul love this book?

This book asks if those who live the longest are also the happiest. The short answer is sometimes...and that is what makes this book interesting. Part travelog, part science, this book connects happiness to the quality and length of life and argues that connections to others and a rich social life are what allow people to flourish with long and happy lives. I was surprised by the contribution of diet and exercise to one's happiness and while I'm already committed to a healthy diet and consistent exercise, these findings lead me to include these factors in my own research on happiness. One mystery the book does not solve (but my research has contributed to), is why those who are old tend to be quite happy even when they have lost spouses, friends, and children. The causation appears to be bidirectional between the biological basis for happiness and life circumstances. 

By Dan Buettner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What makes us happy? It's not wealth, youth, beauty, or intelligence, says Dan Buettner. In fact, most of us have the keys within our grasp. Circling the globe to study the world's happiest populations, Buettner has spotted several common principles that can unlock the doors to true contentment with our lives. Working with leading researchers, Buettner identifies the happiest region on each of four continents. He explores why these populations say they are happier than anyone else, and what they can teach the rest of us about finding contentment. His conclusions debunk some commonly believed myths: Are people who have…


Book cover of The Voices We Carry: Finding Your One True Voice in a World of Clamor and Noise

Geanne Meta Author Of Parenting Well After Childhood Abuse: Be a Great Parent Even if Yours Were Crap

From my list on self-help I wish I’d read sooner.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been on a quest of healing my childhood trauma for decades. Now I’m living with gratitude and a zest for life. Let my research help you on your own unique journey. Since you’re reading this, it may be the exact time for you to move forward on your self-actualization trip! Here’s a tip: You don’t need “improvement.” You’re already good – you just need help to find it inside and believe it. Here are 5 books that helped me accept myself, made me think differently about others, and opened new possibilities for happiness and peace. 

Geanne's book list on self-help I wish I’d read sooner

Geanne Meta Why did Geanne love this book?

I love the way the author uses honest stories to impart valuable life lessons. He humbly shares what a jerk he had been and how he learned to be more tolerant and loving in relationships.

As a hospital chaplain he hears intimate life stories and often, dying wishes. This is where such profound wisdom comes from, I believe. God is mentioned a few times but there is no judgment or preaching from this guy.

I highlighted so much in this book I almost ran out of ink! I will be going back whenever I need inspiration.

By J. S. Park,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Reclaim Your Headspace and Find Your One True Voice

As a hospital chaplain, J.S. Park encountered hundreds of patients at the edge of life and death, listening as they urgently shared their stories, confessions, and final words. J.S. began to identify patterns in his patients’ lives—patterns he also saw in his own life. He began to see that the events and traumas we experience throughout life become deafening voices that remain within us, even when the events are far in the past. He was surprised to find that in hearing the voices of his patients, he began to identify his…


Book cover of Reasons to Stay Alive

Cory Reese Author Of Stronger Than the Dark: Exploring the Intimate Relationship Between Running and Depression

From my list on decreasing the mind funk of depression.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the past, I had written a few books about running ultramarathons. After being diagnosed with a chronic health condition, the sport I felt so much passion about began to slip away. I noticed myself falling into depression. Even though I’ve worked as a social worker for nearly 20 years, there was so much about depression that I didn’t completely understand until I experienced it myself. My path toward healing became the storyline for my book Stronger Than the Dark, and increased my desire to advocate for the importance of mental health.

Cory's book list on decreasing the mind funk of depression

Cory Reese Why did Cory love this book?

Haig pulls back the curtain and paints a powerful picture of what depression looks like and feels like. His writing is infused with raw vulnerability, and gives voice to what so many people all around us are experiencing. He shows that even when we’re feeling lost in the darkness of depression, we can make it back to the light.

By Matt Haig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE NUMBER ONE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?

Aged 24, Matt Haig's world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

'I wrote this book because the oldest…


Book cover of Hot Milk

Zoë Coyle Author Of The Dangers of Female Provocation

From my list on women pushed to the edge.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a woman and so like all of us who have lived long enough, I have been pushed to the edge. I’m fascinated with what society tells us we are and are not meant to feel or express. In part this is because I teach emotional intelligence and empathy, also because I am the mother of four and the more emotional literacy I have, the richer my life is. I’m not interested in having any emotions disavowed for anyone of any gender. I teach wholehearted leadership with my company Pilot Light and also speak to school students and other groups about feminism, gratitude, courage, pornography, creativity, overwhelm, and vulnerability. 

Zoë's book list on women pushed to the edge

Zoë Coyle Why did Zoë love this book?

This mesmerised me and I still think about it often.

A daughter has taken her mother to Spain to see a doctor who they hope will be able to cure her from a mysterious physical paralysis. 

This is a throbbing sun-bleached, Mediterranean world, explorations of troubled familial bonds, of the nature of sexuality, an examination of exile, reminding me at times of Virginia Woolf in its interiority – and the writing is masterly: “My love for my mother is like an axe. It cuts very deep.”

A constellation of symbols scattered throughout with such a deft touch that it left me in love with Levy and wishing she was my friend in real life not just in the magic world of the written page.

By Deborah Levy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2016
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOLDSMITHS PRIZE 2016

Plunge into this hypnotic tale of female sexuality and power - from the author of Swimming Home and The Man Who Saw Everything

'Propulsive, uncanny, dreamlike. A feverish coming-of-age novel' Daily Telegraph

'A triumph of storytelling' Literary Review
_________________________________

'Today I dropped my laptop on the concrete floor of a bar built on the beach. My laptop has all my life in it and knows more about me than anyone else. So what I am saying is that if it is broken, so am I . . .'…


Book cover of The Secrets of Paper and Ink

Jennifer Deibel Author Of The Lady of Galway Manor

From my list on to scratch your travel itch.

Why am I passionate about this?

After living in Europe for nearly 10 years, I’ve spent more time in planes, trains, and cars than I could ever count. I was able to travel more in that time than I ever dreamed possible, making trips ranging from Gibraltar to Romania to the Isle of Skye. Most of my time was spent all around Ireland where I took tour groups around to help them get beyond Blarney and experience the real Ireland.

Jennifer's book list on to scratch your travel itch

Jennifer Deibel Why did Jennifer love this book?

This is one of my top favorite books of all time. It ticks all the boxes: travel, drama, romance, friendship, books, tea. In this time-slip women’s fiction read, we get to experience the magic of Cornwall in both modern-day and more than 150 years ago. The rich characters provide depth and intrigue, with just enough touch of romance to keep you turning pages. But the real start of the show is the Cornish countryside, cuisine, and culture. If you’re looking to escape in your armchair to an enchanting land, this story is for you.

By Lindsay Harrel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Brought together across time by a love of story, three women in England fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives.

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn't dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite…


Book cover of The Bridal Chair: A Novel of Love and Art in WWII Paris

Susan Blumberg-Kason Author Of Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

From my list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Susan Blumberg-Kason and I write books about strong women who have a strong sense of place. I think we are all partly defined by where we live and I enjoy examining how our environment informs our choices. My first book centers around someone I know very well—me! My memoir, Good Chinese Wife, takes place in my favorite city—Hong Kong—the place where I came of age and married for the first time, as well as China and a few cities in the US. I’m also a sucker for a good cover and I absolutely love my Good Chinese Wife cover!

Susan's book list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers

Susan Blumberg-Kason Why did Susan love this book?

Marc Chagall is a household name to arts aficionados, but his daughter Ida was also renowned in the Paris art world before World War II. This lovely novel tells of the overbearing way Chagall treated Ida and how he viewed her more as an assistant than a daughter. And when she married, he painted “The Wedding Chair” as a gift to her, which represented his anger at her leaving. This novel helped bring about a new trend to recount the untold stories of women alongside—or even in front of—famous men.

By Gloria Goldreich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"In prose as painterly and evocative as Chagall's own dazzling brushstrokes, Gloria Goldreich finely evokes one of the most significant masters of modern art through the discerning eyes of [his] loyally protective daughter."—Cynthia Ozick, award-winning author of Foreign Bodies

An exquisite, haunting exploration of the complex mind of Marc Chagall, and the artist's famous chair, through the eyes of his daughter during World War II—perfect for fans of Mrs. Poe and The Paris Wife

Beautiful Ida Chagall, the only daughter of Marc Chagall, is blossoming in the Paris art world beyond her father's controlling gaze. But, her newfound independence is…


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