100 books like How Beautiful We Were

By Imbolo Mbue,

Here are 100 books that How Beautiful We Were fans have personally recommended if you like How Beautiful We Were. 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 On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal

Emily Andrews Author Of Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change

From my list on adaptation to climate change.

Who am I?

For the publication of our book, Climate Adaptation: Accounts of Resilience, Self-Sufficiency and Systems Change, I have worked closely with activists and academics from around the world, hearing more about the work they do and the unique and individual ways they have made adaptations within their communities. This experience has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of climate adaptation as a topic, both in a scientific and a cultural sense, thus meaning I have been more readily able to recognise the qualities of a great adaptation book!

Emily's book list on adaptation to climate change

Emily Andrews Why did Emily love this book?

Naomi Klein highlights the role of our economy in determining how we adapt to climate change, exploring some of the deep-rooted problems that we face. Again, this book values the importance of grassroots action when it comes to changing our society, despite governments and large corporations being the cause of the problem.

By Naomi Klein,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked On Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Naomi Klein's work has always moved and guided me. She is the great chronicler of our age of climate emergency, an inspirer of generations' - Greta Thunberg

For more than twenty years Naomi Klein's books have defined our era, chronicling the exploitation of people and the planet and demanding justice. On Fire gathers for the first time more than a decade of her impassioned writing from the frontline of climate breakdown, and pairs it with new material on the staggeringly high stakes of what we choose to do next.

Here is Klein at her most prophetic and philosophical, investigating the…


Book cover of A Children's Bible

Peter Friederici Author Of Beyond Climate Breakdown: Envisioning New Stories of Radical Hope

From my list on making it through climate breakdown.

Who am I?

I consider myself a topologist of story, ever fascinated by the shapes stories take, and how those underlying forms—as much as their specific content—guide our reactions and our emotions. In a social-media-saturated age, it’s more important than ever that we practice the skills of comprehending story landscapes so that we can understand who benefits from them—and who doesn’t. Ditch the GPS: whether memoir, reportage, or fiction, these books showcase some of the map-and-compass skills we all need to navigate a complicated new era.

Peter's book list on making it through climate breakdown

Peter Friederici Why did Peter love this book?

During a group summer vacation on a beachy East Coast hideaway, the age-old dynamics of young vs. old—and the have-a-lots vs. the have-less—are in full play. The result sounds like any number of 20th-century American literary dramas, until it becomes clear that the disasters that loom are far larger than any single-family or community. Millet’s playful, snarky novel is a portrayal of what may come as the young realize how thoroughly older generations have sold out their future. The adults may be lost, but the kids are alright.

By Lydia Millet,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Children's Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet's sublime new novel-her first since the National Book Award-longlisted Sweet Lamb of Heaven- follows a group of eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their parents at a lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their elders, who pass their days in a hedonistic stupor, the children are driven out into a chaotic landscape after a great storm descends. The story's narrator, Eve, devotes herself to the safety of her beloved little brother as events around them begin to mimic scenes from his cherished picture Bible.

Millet, praised as "unnervingly talented" (San Francisco Chronicle), has produced a…


Book cover of Migrations

Eva Silverfine Author Of How to Bury Your Dog

From my list on our connections with the natural environment.

Who am I?

Although I grew up in New York City, from a young age I was drawn to the natural world, particularly through gardening and camping trips. Eventually I studied biology in college and earned a Master’s researching stream ecology. I also always imagined myself a writer. For years my writing was solely in letters and journals, but during my Master’s I started a novel featuring an immature mayfly in the stream (it was somewhat autobiographical). Ecology is all about the connection of organisms to their environment and to one another, and I think this perspective of connectedness has embedded itself deeply in my writing and my life.

Eva's book list on our connections with the natural environment

Eva Silverfine Why did Eva love this book?

I am in awe of Charlotte McConaghy’s skill—both at crafting beautiful prose and using the length of her novel to unfold the story of its main character (I have now seen her do this twice).

In a world in which many animals are extinct, Franny is on an obsessive mission to follow the migration of the last Arctic terns. It takes the course of the novel to understand Franny’s motivation, given to the reader in pieces and thereby made somewhat of a puzzle. Franny is a complex character, and coming to understand her and why she identifies with the terns offered me a sense of gratification.

McConaghy’s ability to connect her character’s personal peril to another species’ ecological peril rings authentic.

By Charlotte McConaghy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'An extraordinary novel... as beautiful and as wrenching as anything I've ever read' Emily St. John Mandel

A dark past. An impossible journey. The will to survive.

Franny Stone is determined to go to the end of the earth, following the last of the Arctic terns on what may be their final migration to Antarctica.

As animal populations plummet, Franny talks her way onto one of the few remaining boats heading south. But as she and the eccentric crew travel further from shore and safety, the dark secrets of Franny's life begin to unspool.

Haunted by love and violence, Franny…


Book cover of Gold Fame Citrus

Sandra K. Barnidge Author Of Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction

From my list on climate change that pull no punches.

Who am I?

I’m a science communicator turned fiction writer with a special interest in the impact of environmental crises on small towns and overlooked places. My short fiction has appeared in various journals, including The Fiddlehead, Nimrod, Barren, and Reckon Review. I’m currently writing a novel about hurricane chasers along the Gulf Coast.

Sandra's book list on climate change that pull no punches

Sandra K. Barnidge Why did Sandra love this book?

This speculative dystopia about drought-ruined California is equal parts lyrical gut-punch and surrealist adventure story. Main characters Luz and Ray set up residence in an abandoned celebrity mansion, subsisting on whatever they can scavenge. Their precarious existence is upended when they cross paths with a toddler, and the trio sets off into the Dune Sea in search of a life that offers more than mere survival. A warning: this is not a cool breeze of a read. But if you’re curious about the psychic impact of prolonged heat, thirst, and desperation, Watkins offers a masterclass on the grimy reality of human resilience in a hostile world of our own making.

By Claire Vaye Watkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Haunting and beautifully written first novel by the award-winning author of Battleborn, set among a cult of survivors in a dystopian American desert

'A Mad Max world painted with a finer brush' Elle

'An unforgettable journey into a hauntingly imagined near-future' Ruth Ozeki

'Set in a drought-ravaged Southern California trolled by scavengers, Gold Fame Citrus burns with a dizzying, scorching genius' Vanity Fair

Desert sands have laid waste to the south-west of America. Las Vegas is buried. California - and anyone still there - is stranded. Any way out is severely restricted. But Luz and Ray are not leaving. They…


Book cover of Appleseed

Sandra K. Barnidge Author Of Everything Change: An Anthology of Climate Fiction

From my list on climate change that pull no punches.

Who am I?

I’m a science communicator turned fiction writer with a special interest in the impact of environmental crises on small towns and overlooked places. My short fiction has appeared in various journals, including The Fiddlehead, Nimrod, Barren, and Reckon Review. I’m currently writing a novel about hurricane chasers along the Gulf Coast.

Sandra's book list on climate change that pull no punches

Sandra K. Barnidge Why did Sandra love this book?

This remixing of the American legend of Johnny Appleseed with climate science, ecoterrorism, and elements of Roman mythology results in a very big book — literally. At almost 500 pages, there’s a lot of, well, everything. But at its organic core, this is a story about the preservation of our most basic and necessary elements. As the story moves further into the distant future, the fight to protect the scraps and slivers of non-robotic life becomes more focused as it does urgent. By the end, what emerges is the gnawing sense that perhaps the mythology we’ve constructed around technology as our salvation is inhibiting the mysterious yet ultimately more powerful magic of a natural world quite capable of re-propagating itself if only we humans could bring ourselves to stand aside.

By Matt Bell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK · A PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER BEST OF THE YEAR

“Woven together out of the strands of myth, science fiction, and ecological warning, Matt Bell’s Appleseed is as urgent as it is audacious.” —Kelly Link, Pulitzer Prize finalist and national bestselling author of Get in Trouble

A “breathtaking novel of ideas unlike anything you’ve ever read” (Esquire) from Young Lions Fiction Award–finalist Matt Bell, a breakout book that explores climate change, manifest destiny, humanity’s unchecked exploitation of natural resources, and the small but powerful magic contained within every single apple. 

In eighteenth-century Ohio, two brothers travel…


Book cover of Running

Aya de Leon Author Of A Spy in the Struggle

From my list on action to solve the climate crisis.

Who am I?

I am obsessed with books about people fighting for social justice—particularly around racism and the climate crisis (which are definitely interconnected). I have two main approaches: people with longstanding commitments to making change who take increasingly bold steps to fight for justice, and the accidental activists, who had no intention of taking on injustice, but found themselves in unexpected circumstances and rose to the occasion. I write stories about people—mostly women of color—who are part of teams and movements who fight to make the world right, and win. I think of myself as trying to create roadmaps for us to win in the fight against racism and the climate crisis in the real world.

Aya's book list on action to solve the climate crisis

Aya de Leon Why did Aya love this book?

When fifteen-year-old Cuban American Mariana Ruiz’s father runs for president, Mari starts to see him with new eyes. Throughout his successful political career, he has always had his daughter’s vote, but the campaign brings a whole new level of scrutiny to Mariana and the rest of her Cuban American family. As Mari begins to learn about the details of her father’s political positions—particularly some very questionable stances on the environment— she realizes that her father is not the man she thought he was. As the climate crisis escalates around them in Florida, she begins to connect with activist teens.

I love how this novel traces a young woman’s political awakening, and how sometimes standing up for what you believe in begins with standing up to your family.

By Natalia Sylvester,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Running 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?

When fifteen-year-old Cuban American Mariana Ruiz's father runs for president, Mari starts to see him with new eyes. A novel about waking up and standing up, and what happens when you stop seeing your dad as your hero - while the whole country is watching. In this thoughtful, authentic, humorous, and gorgeously written novel about privacy, waking up, and speaking up, Senator Anthony Ruiz is running for president. Throughout his successful political career he has always had his daughter's vote, but a presidential campaign brings a whole new level of scrutiny to sheltered fifteen-year-old Mariana and the rest of her…


Book cover of Depart, Depart!

Aya de Leon Author Of A Spy in the Struggle

From my list on action to solve the climate crisis.

Who am I?

I am obsessed with books about people fighting for social justice—particularly around racism and the climate crisis (which are definitely interconnected). I have two main approaches: people with longstanding commitments to making change who take increasingly bold steps to fight for justice, and the accidental activists, who had no intention of taking on injustice, but found themselves in unexpected circumstances and rose to the occasion. I write stories about people—mostly women of color—who are part of teams and movements who fight to make the world right, and win. I think of myself as trying to create roadmaps for us to win in the fight against racism and the climate crisis in the real world.

Aya's book list on action to solve the climate crisis

Aya de Leon Why did Aya love this book?

When an unprecedented hurricane devastates the city of Houston, Noah Mishner finds shelter in the Dallas Mavericks’ basketball arena. Though he finds community among other queer refugees, Noah fears his trans and Jewish identities put him at risk with certain “capital-T” Texans. His fears take form when he starts seeing visions of his great-grandfather Abe, who fled Nazi Germany as a boy. As the climate crisis intensifies and conditions in the shelter deteriorate, Abe’s ghost grows more powerful. Ultimately, Noah must decide whether he can trust his ancestor — and what he’s willing to sacrifice in order to survive.

I love the way that this novella offers a deeply intersectional view of the climate crisis, and how critical it is to find solidarity among vulnerable populations whose vulnerability increases during disasters.

By Sim Kern,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When an unprecedented hurricane devastates the city of Houston, Noah Mishner finds shelter in the Dallas Mavericks' basketball arena. Though he finds community among other queer refugees, Noah fears his trans and Jewish identities put him at risk with certain "capital-T" Texans. His fears take form when he starts seeing visions of his great-grandfather Abe, who fled Nazi Germany as a boy. As the climate crisis intensifies and conditions in the shelter deteriorate, Abe's ghost grows more powerful. Ultimately, Noah must decide whether he can trust his ancestor - and whether he's willing to sacrifice his identity and community in…


Book cover of Waiting for the Night Song

Aya de Leon Author Of A Spy in the Struggle

From my list on action to solve the climate crisis.

Who am I?

I am obsessed with books about people fighting for social justice—particularly around racism and the climate crisis (which are definitely interconnected). I have two main approaches: people with longstanding commitments to making change who take increasingly bold steps to fight for justice, and the accidental activists, who had no intention of taking on injustice, but found themselves in unexpected circumstances and rose to the occasion. I write stories about people—mostly women of color—who are part of teams and movements who fight to make the world right, and win. I think of myself as trying to create roadmaps for us to win in the fight against racism and the climate crisis in the real world.

Aya's book list on action to solve the climate crisis

Aya de Leon Why did Aya love this book?

Cadie Kessler has spent decades trying to cover up one truth. One moment. But deep down, didn’t she always know her secret would surface? An urgent message from her long-estranged best friend Daniela Garcia brings Cadie, now a forestry researcher, back to her childhood home. Now grown up, bound by long-held oaths, and faced with truths she does not wish to see, Cadie must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to protect the people and the forest she loves, as drought, foreclosures, and wildfire spark tensions between displaced migrant farmworkers and locals.

I love how Carrick-Dalton gives us parallel storylines about a secret buried by her protagonist and the truth of the climate crisis that the fossil fuel industry wants to bury.

By Julie Carrick Dalton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Waiting for the Night Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Most Anticipated book by Newsweek * USA Today * CNN * Parade * Buzzfeed * Medium * GoodReads * PopSugar * Frolic Media * Betches * The Nerd Daily * SheReads and more

"Smart and searingly passionate...an illuminating snapshot of nature, betrayal, and sacrifices set in the evocative New Hampshire wilderness."--Kim Michele Richardson, bestselling author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

A startling and timely debut, Julie Carrick Dalton's Waiting for the Night Song is a moving, brilliant novel about friendships forged in childhood magic and ruptured by the high price of secrets that leave you forever…


Book cover of The Childhood of Jesus

Peter Gadol Author Of The Stranger Game

From my list on invented places that haunt us into thinking about the world.

Who am I?

As much as I enjoy traveling to real places in fiction, I find that authors who ask me to inhabit a world of their own making make me think more deeply, and these are also the novels I dream about when I’m not actually reading them, the pages I cannot wait to return to when I can pick up the book again. By exiting the world we inhabit, and occupying a world very much like our own, I end up reflecting more thoughtfully about the contemporary moment, and in a way, feel more connected. I tried to create such a world in The Stranger Game, and this is something I hope to do again in a future novel.

Peter's book list on invented places that haunt us into thinking about the world

Peter Gadol Why did Peter love this book?

In conjuring a nation's refugees and writing in his typically austere style, the South African Nobelist JM Coetzee asks us to reflect on our current world with all of its harsh and maddening disparities. In three novels, Coetzee tells a fable-like story of one charismatic boy who can never be understood, never followed, never appreciated fully for his wisdom. Coetzee’s distillation of everyday suffering is haunting, yet ultimately cathartic.

By J. M. Coetzee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Nobel Prize-winning author of Waiting for the Barbarians, The Life & Times of Michael K and Disgrace.

Nobel laureate and two-time Booker Prize winner J. M. Coetzee returns with a haunting and surprising novel about childhood and destiny that is sure to rank with his classic novels.

Separated from his mother as a passenger on a boat bound for a new land, David is a boy who is quite literally adrift. The piece of paper explaining his situation is lost, but a fellow passenger, Simon, vows to look after the boy. When the boat docks, David and Simon…


Book cover of Blindness

Marcia Calhoun Forecki Author Of Blood of the White Bear

From my list on pandemics, historical, or fictional.

Who am I?

I divide my reading between works of imagination and historical nonfiction. All good fiction requires research to enhance it’s authenticity. Several years ago, I published a story set in the 1918 influenza epidemic. The research for the story was fascinating, and led me to John M. Barry’s book included in my recommendations. After editing a memoir for retired screenwriter and film director, Gerald Schnitzer (sadly now deceased), he invited me to co-author a novel set in the Four Corners featuring a virologist who combines science and spirituality to find a cure for a pandemic, which became Blood of the White Bear

Marcia's book list on pandemics, historical, or fictional

Marcia Calhoun Forecki Why did Marcia love this book?

Magical realism is accepting the impossible as a premise. José Saramago creates an inexplicable epidemic of "white blindness" which spares few in a single city. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, where they are victimized by criminals who hold everyone captive, steal food rations, and rape women. One eyewitness to this nightmare guides seven strangers through barren city streets in an uncanny procession through fearsome surroundings. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the twentieth century, this powerful novel of man's will to survive against all odds. José Saramago was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature.

By José Saramago,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Blindness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

No food, no water, no government, no obligation, no order.

Discover a chillingly powerful and prescient dystopian vision from one of Europe's greatest writers.

A driver waiting at the traffic lights goes blind. An ophthalmologist tries to diagnose his distinctive white blindness, but is affected before he can read the textbooks.
It becomes a contagion, spreading throughout the city. Trying to stem the epidemic, the authorities herd the afflicted into a mental asylum where the wards are terrorised by blind thugs. And when fire destroys the asylum, the inmates burst forth and the last links with a supposedly civilised society…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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