65 books like Hunger

By Knut Hamsun,

Here are 65 books that Hunger fans have personally recommended if you like Hunger. 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 Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Stephen Benz Author Of Topographies

From my list on the spirit of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

Why am I passionate about this?

Traveling, meeting people, hearing stories, learning about places and landscapes—this is what my writing is all about. Sometimes it takes the form of nonfiction, sometimes poetry. I’ve had a wandering spirit from early on, finding joy and wonder as a child while sitting in the backseat on road trips, or taking the bus cross-state, or (best of all) riding on a train going anywhere. Reading Kerouac’s On the Road brought everything together: heading out with no particular destination in mind other than finding oneself on the road. And then writing it all down, telling the story. Here are some books that have rekindled the Kerouac spirit for me.

Stephen's book list on the spirit of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

Stephen Benz Why did Stephen love this book?

Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was first published when I was a teenager. I was aware of the book’s unforeseen popularity and countercultural reputation, but it proved too daunting for me at the time. I read it years later, after I had read Blue Highways, and was immediately enthralled with the road trip dimension of the book (Pirsig travels from Minneapolis to San Francisco on his motorcycle, accompanied by his son and some friends—not on the same motorcycle, of course). It’s a compelling journey across the austerely beautiful northern tier of the American West; it’s also a darker journey into the narrator’s troubled past. Much of the book is given to philosophical inquiry—an intellectual trip that’s just as compelling as the physical journey.

By Robert M. Pirsig,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.


Book cover of The Master and Margarita

Robert Wynne-Simmons Author Of Blood on Satan's Claw: or, The Devil's Skin

From my list on supernatural challenging the way we see the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born a polymath in Cheam, Surrey, England. Even as a child I had a passionate interest in music, architecture, film, poetry, drama, and storytelling. I lived very much in the world of my imagination and was able to apply it to a wide variety of projects. I have worked in Film, TV, Theatre, and have written scripts, plays, novels, songs, a musical, and an opera, all different in feeling. I have therefore had a special interest in innovative artistic work, and story-telling which pushes the boundaries of the imagination.

Robert's book list on supernatural challenging the way we see the world

Robert Wynne-Simmons Why did Robert love this book?

People who read The Master and Margarita will tell you that it is one of the greatest books they have ever read, but few can tell you why. It defies description.  It is truly unique. 

It opens on a blistering hot day in Moscow, a paradox in itself. The devil, seemingly out of Goethe’s Faust, is on a visit to the town. He and his strange entourage would be laughable, if they were not so lethal. Only the madness of Stalin’s paranoid Communism could have created such a story.

Bulgakov has an uncanny way of investing even the most unlikely scenes with intense realism. You never doubt him.  At times hilarious, at times terrifying, the book shows us what a fragile hold we have on reality.

By Mikhail Bulgakov, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (translator)

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked The Master and Margarita as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Bulgakov is one of the greatest Russian writers, perhaps the greatest' Independent

Written in secret during the darkest days of Stalin's reign, The Master and Margarita became an overnight literary phenomenon when it was finally published it, signalling artistic freedom for Russians everywhere. Bulgakov's carnivalesque satire of Soviet life describes how the Devil, trailing fire and chaos in his wake, weaves himself out of the shadows and into Moscow one Spring afternoon. Brimming with magic and incident, it is full of imaginary, historical, terrifying and wonderful characters, from witches, poets and Biblical tyrants to the beautiful, courageous Margarita, who will…


Book cover of Down and Out in Paris and London

Patrick Bringley Author Of All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me

From my list on bringing you deep inside fascinating workplaces.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked for ten years as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as narrated in my memoir, All the Beauty in the World. I’ve found that readers are fascinated by the art in the Met but also by the “living museum,” which includes five hundred security guards keeping watch over millions of visitors each year. I’ve read a variety of workplace memoirs to study how authors depict the rhythms of work and the feel of particular workplaces. I’m especially passionate when there are larger themes at play and thus clear reasons why we should care.

Patrick's book list on bringing you deep inside fascinating workplaces

Patrick Bringley Why did Patrick love this book?

Orwell is my favorite nonfiction writer.

This is a workplace memoir in part because of the engaging, disgusting scenes where he labors as a plongeur (dishwasher) in a grimy French restaurant. But in a broader sense, it’s a book about the hard work of being poor.

Every sentence is intelligent and the overall thrust is deeply moral—Orwell’s calling card.

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Down and Out in Paris and London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of 1984, the classic semi-autobiographical story about the adventures of a penniless British writer in two cities.

Down and Out in Paris and London follows the journey of a writer among the down-and-out in two great cities. Without self-pity and often with humor, this novel is Orwell at his finest-a sobering, truthful protrayal of poverty and society.


Book cover of Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing up

Hallgrímur Helgason Author Of The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning

From my list on me-against-the-world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hallgrimur Helgason is an Icelandic artist and writer born in Reykjavik in 1959. He started out as a painter but then also took up writing. Since 1990 he has published eleven novels, the most well-known being 101 Reykjavik, which was turned into a popular film, The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning, and The Woman at 1000°. Helgason has also published 4 books of poetry and is an active political columnist. His books have been translated into 14 languages and three of them have been nominated for the Nordic Prize of Literature. Helgason won the Icelandic Literature Prize three times. In 2020 he was awarded the French medal Officier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres.

Hallgrímur's book list on me-against-the-world

Hallgrímur Helgason Why did Hallgrímur love this book?

The great Chinese British powerhouse writes about her childhood in a poor coastal village in post-Mao’s China where she’s made to live with her grandparents and life is rough and hard, especially for a girl. It’s a very atmospheric tale, that paints a vivid picture of this incredible society. It’s also a Cinderella story, about a suffering child that, thanks to incredible stubbornness and stamina, rises up to become one of the twelve (out of a million or so) applicants that are accepted into the Chinese Film School in Beijing each year. She later moves to England and her descriptions of the west are super fresh and priceless.

By Xiaolu Guo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Once Upon A Time in the East as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Xiaolu Guo meets her parents for the first time when she is almost seven. They are strangers to her.

When she is born her parents hand her over to a childless peasant couple in the mountains. Aged two, and suffering from malnutrition on a diet of yam leaves, they leave Xiaolu with her illiterate grandparents in a fishing village on the East China Sea. It's a strange beginning.

A Wild Swans for a new generation, Once Upon a Time in the East takes Xiaolu from a run-down shack to film school in a rapidly changing Beijing, navigating the everyday peculiarity…


Book cover of Woman at Point Zero

Katharine Quarmby Author Of The Low Road

From my list on female characters who rise from the ashes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who loves reading novels, encompassing everything from romance to historical and crime. I've always loved resilient female characters in the books I've read, from children’s fiction onward. When I started writing The Low Road I didn’t know that a couple of years later we as a family would experience multiple bereavement in just a few months, and that grief is imbued in every page of the novel. In The Low Road, I hope I've also paid homage to the power of women, that dogged and patient holding on and enduring of pain, that is at the heart of so many of the lives we live as girls and women.

Katharine's book list on female characters who rise from the ashes

Katharine Quarmby Why did Katharine love this book?

I read this years ago and then devoured all of Nawal el Sadawi’s books, fiction and non-fiction.

I have Iranian heritage on my birth father’s side and have always been fascinated in the life I could have lived as an Iranian girl, if I had been raised there instead of the UK.

So reading Nawal ed Sadawi’s books, set in Egypt where she was born, educated, and worked as a doctor and writer, gave me an insight I really wanted into Islamic societies and how women can live in them.

Woman at Point Zero is harrowing, brilliant, immersive, and painful, taking as its theme the story of Firdaus, who tells the story of why she has killed a man before she is executed. She explains why and her courage and eloquence have stayed with me ever since.

We need these stories of women on the edge who still, somehow, resist…

By Nawal El Saadawi, Sherif Hetata (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Woman at Point Zero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'An unforgettable, unmissable book for the new global feminist.'
The Times

'All the men I did get to know filled me with but one desire: to lift my hand and bring it smashing down on his face.'

So begins Firdaus's remarkable story of rebellion against a society founded on lies, hypocrisy, brutality and oppression. Born to a peasant family in the Egyptian countryside, Firdaus struggles through childhood, seeking compassion and knowledge in a world which gives her little of either. As she grows up and escapes the fetters of her childhood, each new relationship teaches her a bitter but liberating…


Book cover of Römische Tage

Hallgrímur Helgason Author Of The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning

From my list on me-against-the-world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hallgrimur Helgason is an Icelandic artist and writer born in Reykjavik in 1959. He started out as a painter but then also took up writing. Since 1990 he has published eleven novels, the most well-known being 101 Reykjavik, which was turned into a popular film, The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning, and The Woman at 1000°. Helgason has also published 4 books of poetry and is an active political columnist. His books have been translated into 14 languages and three of them have been nominated for the Nordic Prize of Literature. Helgason won the Icelandic Literature Prize three times. In 2020 he was awarded the French medal Officier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres.

Hallgrímur's book list on me-against-the-world

Hallgrímur Helgason Why did Hallgrímur love this book?

Germans have been in love with Italy since always, a love that found its culmination with Goethe’s famous Italienische Reise in 1816. It’s a love that lasts forever, for it’s a love that never finds fulfillment. Germans are like the stuffed up straight guy who’s in love with a lively beauty above their level, that is Italy; they’re forever stuck in the moment of enchantment, they can never grasp or really fathom their love, let alone turn it into a real affair or just begin to understand this incredible woman. Promising young German writer Strauss takes up residence in the famous Via Corso in Rome (close to Casa di Goethe), and tries to make his moment come alive under the heavy burden of history. Maybe not as urgent or dramatic as the other four books, but still here we have a one man-boy against all of Rome, all of our…

By Simon Strauss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ein Sommer in Rom Ein junger Mann kommt in die ewige Stadt, um die Gegenwart abzuschtteln. Er sucht einen eigenen Weg, fhlt fremde Zeiten in sich leben. In Rom erinnert er sich. In Rom verliebt er sich. In Rom trauert er. Er trifft auf auergewhnliche Menschen und findet seine Aufgabe: Alles wahrnehmen, nichts auslassen. Rmische Tage fhrt zu den vielen Anfngen und Enden unserer Welt und fragt, was wir morgen daraus machen. Der Erzhler zieht in eine Wohnung schrg gegenber der Casa di Goethe und die Stadt wird ihm zur Geliebten. Ihre Geschichten spielen vor seinem Auge: Der Mord an…


Book cover of Goat Days

Hallgrímur Helgason Author Of The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning

From my list on me-against-the-world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hallgrimur Helgason is an Icelandic artist and writer born in Reykjavik in 1959. He started out as a painter but then also took up writing. Since 1990 he has published eleven novels, the most well-known being 101 Reykjavik, which was turned into a popular film, The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning, and The Woman at 1000°. Helgason has also published 4 books of poetry and is an active political columnist. His books have been translated into 14 languages and three of them have been nominated for the Nordic Prize of Literature. Helgason won the Icelandic Literature Prize three times. In 2020 he was awarded the French medal Officier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres.

Hallgrímur's book list on me-against-the-world

Hallgrímur Helgason Why did Hallgrímur love this book?

In early 2016 I stayed in Kochi, Kerala, in the south of India, working on a novel. There I came across the local bestseller Goat Days by the Bharein-based Indian author, Benyamin, and was totally blown away. It's a powerful tale of a young Indian worker named Najeeb Muhammad, who, like many of his countrymen, goes to work in Saudi Arabia, dreaming of earning some money for his family back home. His dream turns into a nightmare when he is taken as a slave to a remote desert farm where he has to take care of the goats and dwell among them. He is forced to live alone in the desert with all its hardships, sandstorms, heat, and general dryness, treated like an animal by his Saudi master. Still, hope prevails. This is one of the ultimate "me-against-the-world" books. Its strength is underlined by the fact that it's banned in…

By Benyamin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the southern Indian state of Kerala, Najeeb's dearest wish is to work in a Persian Gulf country and earn enough money to send some back home. One day, he finally achieves this dream, only to be propelled by a series of incidents grim and absurd into a slave-like existence, herding goats in the middle of the Saudi desert. Memories of his loving family and of the lush, verdant landscape of his village haunt Najeeb, whose only solace is the companionship of goats. In the end, the lonely young man is forced to contrive a hazardous scheme to escape his…


Book cover of Ham on Rye

James Tyler Ball Author Of Matita: The Tragic Tale of a Writer's Pencil

From my list on the outrageous but still have serious meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by absurdist comedy and ideas for as long as I can remember. At sixteen, I wrote my first book, Mr A, which followed a man who would turn into a superhero after taking LSD and his talking dog. As an adult, I continue to revel in these types of stories. I brought this passion to my chart-topping debut non-fiction book, where I interviewed several people who believe McDonald’s has interdimensional properties. Now, I hold no bars in fiction writing, having authored a ‘genius of a book’ that follows a talking pencil.

James' book list on the outrageous but still have serious meaning

James Tyler Ball Why did James love this book?

Many of us writers are subject to the terrible cliché of substance abuse, none so much as Charles Bukowski. Having dabbled in the debauched myself, Ham on Rye sadly reflects what life could be like if the idiocy of adolescence continues into adulthood. This book is hilarious, vulgar, shocking, and oddly insightful. Not only is this my favourite Bukowski book, but it’s the book that introduced me to his work and changed my writing forever.

By Charles Bukowski,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ham on Rye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INTRODUCTION BY RODDY DOYLE

'He brought everyone down to earth, even the angels' LEONARD COHEN

Charles Bukowski is one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century. The autobiographical Ham on Rye is widely considered his finest novel. A classic of American literature, it offers powerful insight into his youth through the prism of his alter-ego Henry Chinaski, who grew up to be the legendary Hank Chinaski of Post Office and Factotum.


Book cover of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

James Tyler Ball Author Of Matita: The Tragic Tale of a Writer's Pencil

From my list on the outrageous but still have serious meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by absurdist comedy and ideas for as long as I can remember. At sixteen, I wrote my first book, Mr A, which followed a man who would turn into a superhero after taking LSD and his talking dog. As an adult, I continue to revel in these types of stories. I brought this passion to my chart-topping debut non-fiction book, where I interviewed several people who believe McDonald’s has interdimensional properties. Now, I hold no bars in fiction writing, having authored a ‘genius of a book’ that follows a talking pencil.

James' book list on the outrageous but still have serious meaning

James Tyler Ball Why did James love this book?

When I first watched the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead film starring Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, I was enamoured by the rhythm and dialogue. Reading the play, however, is even more brilliant. It’s fast-paced, confusing, and hilarious. In fact, it played a huge hand in inspiring my latest book. I would never have grasped the English language so tightly had it not been for this book. 


By Tom Stoppard,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed as a modern dramatic masterpiece, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead is the fabulously inventive tale of Hamlet as told from the worm’s-eve view of the bewildered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s play. In Tom Stoppard’s best-known work, this Shakespearean Laurel and Hardy finally get a chance to take the lead role, but do so in a world where echoes of Waiting for Godot resound, where reality and illusion intermix, and where fate leads our two heroes to a tragic but inevitable end.

Tom Stoppard was catapulted into the front ranks of modem playwrights overnight when Rosencrantz…


Book cover of Mockingbird

John A.A. Logan Author Of The Survival of Thomas Ford

From my list on spiritual freedom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been searching for spiritual freedom since the age of four when I was sent to school. Soon I recognised books as an escape from the limitations of the physical world and into the dream world. Each of the five books below have made serious contributions to this psycho-spiritual escape plan, and have lifted my spirit to that higher dimension of freedom. I live in the Scottish Highlands, as my ancestors did, in a misted swirl of ghostly archetypes, mountains, deer, lochs, and brooding skies. Even here though, an escape tunnel is needed into the deepest realm of mind, where the stories and mystery hide away until the moment needed. 

John's book list on spiritual freedom

John A.A. Logan Why did John love this book?

A future run by robots, with one robot above all others, and his only desire to be able to die, which he cannot achieve alone. All books forgotten, humans with no memory of how to read, until one lonely man teaches himself by watching old, silent, subtitled films from centuries earlier. He meets his rebellious female counterpart, and the idea of a future free of the state drugs, public human immolations, and mind-numbing rule by dumb robot, begins to take form. Is there time left to revive a barren, childless, thoughtless, hopeless world, and bring to life again the oldest of dreams? In any case, 'Only the mockingbird sings at the edge of the woods.' 

I fear the future described in this masterpiece ever growing near, but the escape hatch from such horrors may lie here also in Tevis' pages. 

By Walter Tevis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This sci-fi masterpiece is “a moral tale that has elements of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Superman, and Star Wars” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).
 
In a world where the human population has suffered devastating losses, a handful of survivors cling to what passes for life in a post-apocalyptic, dying landscape. People wander, drugged and lulled by electronic bliss, through a barren landscape with no children, no art, and where reading is forbidden. From this bleak existence, a tragic love triangle springs forth. Spofforth, the most perfect machine ever created, runs the world, but his only wish is to die.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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