100 books like Hope in the Dark

By Rebecca Solnit,

Here are 100 books that Hope in the Dark fans have personally recommended if you like Hope in the Dark. 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 It's Ok That You're Not Ok: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand

Colin Campbell Author Of Finding the Words: Working Through Profound Loss with Hope and Purpose

From my list on helping cope with grief and loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve sat in many grief circles and listened to fellow grievers share their pain at being abandoned or misunderstood by their friends and families as they grieve. Often we suffer the secondary loss of community because our culture has not taught us how to grieve or how to be a friend to those in grief. My wife and I found some invaluable tools that helped us communicate our needs to our community, and keep them close on our grief journey. One of those tools is grief books. I’ve read dozens of them, and while everyone responds to grief books differently, I think these five books are the very best.

Colin's book list on helping cope with grief and loss

Colin Campbell Why did Colin love this book?

Devine does a wonderful job of validating our feelings and our needs as we grieve.

It is filled with many wonderful pieces of wisdom about grief. The most helpful insight she offered me was the distinction she drew between the healthy pain of grief versus the unnecessary and unhelpful suffering that so often accompanies grief.

She provides practical advice on how to be kind to ourselves as we grieve. We can’t “fix” our grief and loss, but we can be kind to ourselves on this difficult journey.

By Megan Devine,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked It's Ok That You're Not Ok as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



When a painful loss or life-shattering event upends your world, here is the first thing to know: there is nothing wrong with grief. "Grief is simply love in its most wild and painful form," says Megan Devine. "It is a natural and sane response to loss."

So, why does our culture treat grief like a disease to be cured as quickly as possible?

In It's OK That You're Not OK, Megan Devine offers a profound…

Book cover of Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy

Alena Dillon Author Of My Body Is a Big Fat Temple: An Ordinary Story of Pregnancy and Early Motherhood

From my list on for expecting moms who want the truth.

Why am I passionate about this?

There is a dearth of books that span the emotional journey into motherhood. An old adage directs authors to write the book they would like to read, so I kept that in mind as I began the journey myself. Throughout my pregnancy and postpartum experience, I was often surprised by perfectly ordinary occurrences that aren’t often discussed. There is a hush cast on anything that isn’t purely nurturing and romantic, which means that mothers who encounter unpleasantness are blindsided, and consider themselves aberrations. I wrote my book as honestly as possible to normalize the normal and to offer myself as a compatriot to those mothers. 

Alena's book list on for expecting moms who want the truth

Alena Dillon Why did Alena love this book?

This book delves into the science of pregnancy, but through a feminist lens. Through extensive research, Garbes details just how the female body creates life, a sometimes grisly and often wonderous process, as well as pans across our culture, with all its pitfalls, to explain just why women deserve better support through medical care and social nets.

By Angela Garbes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A candid, feminist, and personal deep dive into the science and culture of pregnancy and motherhood

Like most first-time mothers, Angela Garbes was filled with questions when she became pregnant. What exactly is a placenta and how does it function? How does a body go into labor? Why is breast best? Is wine totally off-limits? But as she soon discovered, it’s not easy to find satisfying answers. Your obstetrician will cautiously quote statistics; online sources will scare you with conflicting and often inaccurate data; and even the most trusted books will offer information with a heavy dose of judgment. To…

Book cover of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

Monna Wong Author Of Management In a Changing World: How to Manage for Equity, Sustainability, and Results

From my list on helping managers build resilience in challenging times.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a manager and leader in social justice nonprofits and campaigns for almost 15 years. A lot of my work has been in fast-paced environments with high stakes and few resources. Consequently, I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to lead effectively under less-than-ideal conditions—whether that’s because of a tough political climate, financial constraints, or supporting staff through personal crises. I know from experience that social justice leaders and managers are often called to show up as our best selves so that we can support our teams to do their best work. In order to do this, we need to build our internal reserves to lead effectively. 

Monna's book list on helping managers build resilience in challenging times

Monna Wong Why did Monna love this book?

Emergent Strategy draws lessons from both the natural world and science fiction (inspired by Octavia Butler’s work) to provide guidance and wisdom for organizing and movement work.

adrienne maree brown offers a smorgasbord of principles, concepts, quotes, and stories to support organizers and leaders to solve complex problems, instigate social change, and create lasting impact. This book is a great source of inspiration for managers and leaders feeling stuck in the face of great uncertainty.

By Adrienne Maree Brown,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Emergent Strategy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Octavia Butler, radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help to shape the futures we want.

Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This…

Book cover of Year of Zines: In Which Sarah Mirk (That’s Me) Somewhat Obsessively Tries to Make a Zine Every Day for a Year

Megan Rosenbloom Author Of Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation Into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

From my list on when life throws you a curveball.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a librarian, writer, and proponent of the death positive movement. I’ve found some people assume that being death positive means a certain callousness. For me the opposite is true: I’m an anxious ball of feelings both for myself and towards others, and the death positive mindset helps me cope better with life’s curveballs. I can say with a degree of certainty that we’ve all been pitched some doozies lately, so I wanted to offer up some books that nourish in times of darkness without turning away in denial.

Megan's book list on when life throws you a curveball

Megan Rosenbloom Why did Megan love this book?

What I love about Mirk’s book is the physically productive response to anxiety, the unselfconscious approach to creating physical art and words, and how the physical creation is so personal yet so universal. The dedication of creating a zine a day is monkish in its attention and yet also achievable in a way that is inspiring. Make art for your own sake, because it’s good for you even if it’s not “good”. Use it to get to know and love yourself better.

By Sarah Mirk,

Why should I read it?

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

Book cover of Getting to Maybe: How the World Is Changed

Niki Harré Author Of Psychology for a Better World: Working with People to Save the Planet

From my list on living well together.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a psychologist with environmental interests people often ask me about hope. It goes something like this: “Climate change is pushing us toward disaster! What is your source of hope?”  I finally figured out that I only have one source of hope. It is that we, as people, are able to work together just well enough to keep it all afloat. There’s a lot involved in working together – learning to listen with compassion, run good meetings, empower everyone to give of their best, and rebuild trust when it starts to break down. I’ve been researching these topics in community settings for the past 15 years. 

Niki's book list on living well together

Niki Harré Why did Niki love this book?

This was the book that introduced me to complex systems. Many people have become familiar with complex systems in recent years as we’ve been exposed to talk of feedback loops and probability through discussions on climate change. Little inputs can make a big difference and big inputs sometimes collapse under the weight of their own inertia. This book has one of those titles that work their way into your imagination – getting to maybe?

It does not suggest you set goals and work, head down, towards your personal mission. It suggests that you take a look around, gather with others, invite ideas based on people’s passions, and get started. It is all about experimenting and learning together. Then, maybe, something will good will happen. The book offers plenty of inspiring examples of significant social change as a result of genuine innovation and listening to many voices.

By Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman, Michael Patton

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A practical, inspirational, revolutionary guide to social innovation

Many of us have a deep desire to make the world around us a better place. But often our good intentions are undermined by the fear that we are so insignificant in the big scheme of things that nothing we can do will actually help feed the world’s hungry, fix the damage of a Hurricane Katrina or even get a healthy lunch program up and running in the local school. We tend to think that great social change is the province of heroes – an intimidating view of reality that keeps ordinary…

Book cover of Skill in Action: Radicalizing Your Yoga Practice to Create a Just World

Courtney Seiberling Author Of YOGA's YAMAS and NIYAMAS: 10 Principles for Peace & Purpose

From my list on the philosophy behind yoga.

Why am I passionate about this?

The physical practice of yoga transformed my relationship to my body, but the philosophy of yoga changed my life. When I began to study the Sutras, my mind became calmer; I had a greater capacity to listen and be patient in my relationships, and my quality of life improved. As I studied philosophy more, my perspective shifted from lack and blame to abundance and self-awareness. Knowing there is more to yoga than just the physical practice, I find it important to honor the tradition the way it was intended: as a whole system for the mind, body, and spirit to reduce the suffering of all beings.

Courtney's book list on the philosophy behind yoga

Courtney Seiberling Why did Courtney love this book?

Michelle Cassandra Johnson knows yoga is both a personal practice to ease suffering and one that calls on us to lessen the suffering of others. She connects the philosophy to social justice so well, it’s as though she sat alongside the original scholars of the Sutras. Her book is packed with quiet wisdom, prompts, meditations, reflection, and so much heart. It’s both a workbook and a philosophy text, a resource, and an awakening. If you can study the book with her, do. She has many online offerings. Her presence is comforting, affirming, bold, and her book reflects these qualities.

By Michelle Cassandra Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Transform your yoga practice into a force for creating social change with this concise, eloquent guide to social justice tools and skills.

Skill in Action asks you to explore the deeply transformational practice of yoga as a way to become an agent of social change and work toward a just world. Through yoga practices and philosophy, this book explores liberation for ourselves and others, while asking us to engage in our own agency--whether that manifests as activism, volunteer work, or changing our relationships with others and ourselves. To provide…

Book cover of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China

Burnaby Hawkes Author Of The Haze

From my list on understanding modern Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hawkes (MD, BScN, MGA) is a novelist, YouTuber, and former analyst for the NATO Association of Canada. His writings have appeared in Heater, The Raven Chronicles, ArabLit, and many other magazines and publications. His recent espionage novel, The Haze, is set in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Burnaby's book list on understanding modern Asia

Burnaby Hawkes Why did Burnaby love this book?

I first heard about this book when it won the 2014 National Book Award in nonfiction. After reading it, it became clear to me this was one of the best books written about China. Evan Osnos, a staff writer at the New Yorker, has delivered a coup de force that unravels the social dynamics of Chinese society. In recent memory, no serious book has attempted to do the same. You will learn about the clash of individualism vs. plutocracy in present-day China and how that manifests on the street. You will also understand the economic ailments that afflict modern China. It is beautifully written.

By Evan Osnos,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction finalist
Winner of the 2014 National Book Award in nonfiction.

As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval.

Age of Ambition provides a vibrant, colorful, and revelatory inner history of China during a moment of profound transformation.

From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy-or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don't see…

Book cover of The Quiet Before

Jacob Harold Author Of The Toolbox: Strategies for Crafting Social Impact

From my list on social change strategy.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was eight years old, my family went for a hike on Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak in my home state of North Carolina. We stumbled on a horror scene: most of the trees on the mountain were scarred skeletons; we were witnesses to mass death from acid rain. Since then, I’ve devoted myself to trying to nudge human action towards good. At Greenpeace I chained myself to fences, at the Hewlett Foundation I oversaw millions of dollars in grants, as GuideStar CEO I helped lead a technology platform used by millions of donors and do-gooders. I’ve been blessed to work with some of the best thinkers and doers in business, philanthropy, and government.

Jacob's book list on social change strategy

Jacob Harold Why did Jacob love this book?

How do movements begin? Beckerman looks to history, drawing lessons from a dozen social movements.

In particular, he explores the communications tools (petitions, zines, private chat rooms) that movements have used over the centuries to organize their thinking and plan their actions. Traveling from Manchester to Moscow to Minneapolis, the reader is reminded that our work now is part of a chain of history.

We are not the first, nor will we be the last. But we can learn from the past even as we confront an uncertain future. 

By Gal Beckerman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The Quiet Before is a fascinating and important exploration of how ideas that change the world incubate and spread.' Steven Pinker

'Filled with insightful analysis and colourful storytelling... Rarely does a book give you a new way of looking at social change. This one does.' Walter Isaacson

Why do some radical ideas make history?

We tend to think of revolutions as loud: frustrations and demands shouted in the streets. But the ideas fuelling them have traditionally been conceived in much quieter spaces, in the small, secluded corners where a vanguard can imagine alternate realities. This extraordinary book is a search…

Book cover of Jonathan Schell: The Fate of the Earth, the Abolition, the Unconquerable World

William Knoblauch Author Of Nuclear Freeze in a Cold War: The Reagan Administration, Cultural Activism, and the End of the Arms Race

From my list on the Cold War in the 1980s.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the decade and in the Cold War came during graduate school. This was where I discovered Carl Sagan’s theory of a nuclear winter: that after a nuclear war, the debris and smoke from nuclear bombs would cover the earth and make it inhabitable for life on earth. Tracing debates between this celebrity scientist and U.S. policymakers revealed a hesitancy on either side to even consider each other’s point of view. This research made me reconsider the pop culture of my youth—films like The Day After and Wargames, music like “Shout” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and books from Don DeLillo’s White Noise to Dr. Seuss’ Butter Battle Book—and ultimately see them as part of a political contest in which lives—our lives—were in the balance.  

William's book list on the Cold War in the 1980s

William Knoblauch Why did William love this book?

In the 1940s, journalist John Hersey wrote an eye-opening expose on the effects of the atomic bombing of Japan with Hiroshima. In doing so, Hersey began to shape the already-contested memory of why America dropped “the bomb.” Following in Hersey’s footsteps, in the early 1980s Jonathan Schell penned a straightforward warning about the atomic age. After interviewing scientists, policymakers, and intellectuals, he began to pen an accessible essay exposing of what would happen to earth after a nuclear war. The result was Fate of the Earth, and it went on to become one of the most impactful pieces of non-fiction of the decade. It helped to validate scientist Carl Sagan’s controversial “nuclear winter” hypothesis, and inspired an untold number of the public to engage in antinuclear activism. To appreciate the early 1980s as a period of intense nuclear fear, this is a must-read.

By Jonathan Schell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a collected edition of three classic accounts of our nuclear predicament and the way forward to a peaceful world, by the Rachel Carson of the antiwar movement.

Brave, eloquent, and controversial, these classic works by Jonathan Schell illuminate the nuclear threat to our civilization, and envision a way forward to peace. In The Fate of the Earth--an international bestseller that inspired the nuclear freeze movement--Schell distills the best available scientific and technical information to imagine the apocalyptic aftereffects of nuclear war. Dramatizing the stakes involved in abstract discussions of military strategy, when first published…

Book cover of Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls Who Dare to Be Different

Renée Sentilles Author Of American Tomboys, 1850-1915

From my list on tomboys by a historian of tomboys.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young girl, I thought I was a tomboy—or I wanted to be one, because the image of a “normal” girl was far too pink and frothy and shallow for my tastes. For me, being a tomboy was less about being boy-like than being unable to claim the markers of femininity. As a historian of women and girls, I wondered how young women saw their futures in this modernizing America, with its True Women and New Women and the opening of advanced education. Did tomboys grow into the rebels who changed the world? Or, like the tomboys in so many fictional stories, did they renounce their assertive sense of self upon marriage and motherhood?

Renée's book list on tomboys by a historian of tomboys

Renée Sentilles Why did Renée love this book?

This one is for girls who want to know more about tomboys in the here and now. Davis essentially asks “how did we get to this time of transgender and nonbinary identity?” She interrogates the term “tomboy” as a way of understanding how our understanding of gender norms has changed and remained unchanged—at the same time.

By Lisa Selin Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on the author’s viral New York Times op-ed, this heartfelt book is a celebration and exploration of the tomboy phenomenon and the future of girlhood.

We are in the middle of a cultural revolution, where the spectrum of gender and sexual identities is seemingly unlimited. So when author and journalist Lisa Selin Davis's six-year-old daughter first called herself a "tomboy," Davis was hesitant. Her child favored sweatpants and T-shirts over anything pink or princess-themed, just like the sporty, skinned-kneed girls Davis had played with as a kid. But "tomboy" seemed like an outdated word—why use a word with "boy"…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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