100 books like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

By Maya Angelou,

Here are 100 books that I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings fans have personally recommended if you like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Man’s Search for Meaning

Ricardo Sunderland Author Of The Energy Advantage: How to Go from Managing Your Time to Mastering Your Energy

From my list on non fiction mastering your energy.

Why am I passionate about this?

My purpose is to help leaders connect to and manage their energy. I help them bring coherence to how they lead and reach their full societal impact. For more than a  decade, I have coached 300 of the most senior leaders at some of the largest and most recognizable companies in the world. My recommended to-read book list represents crucible moments in my life and my calling to learn about human energy. Representing different lenses, which are key to adding to a mix of ingredients, allows the reader to drink a potion that will exalt all your buckets (physical, mental, emotional & spiritual) of energy holistically. 

Ricardo's book list on non fiction mastering your energy

Ricardo Sunderland Why did Ricardo love this book?

Besides being one of the best psychologists in mankind's history, Viktor is a masterful storyteller. It's as if I was transported to Auschwitz at the time, where Viktor was imprisoned along with thousands of Jews; in a very compelling way, he leaves no hint of a doubt that it was thanks to his meaning in life that he was able to survive, and the minute that others let go of theirs, they let go of life itself.

In addition, Viktor also shares his logotherapy framework and how it was updated after his terrible experience. If you doubt the power of doing the work to search for your life’s meaning, this book is a must-read. 

By Viktor Frankl,

Why should I read it?

43 authors picked Man’s Search for Meaning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the outstanding classics to emerge from the Holocaust, Man's Search for Meaning is Viktor Frankl's story of his struggle for survival in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Today, this remarkable tribute to hope offers us an avenue to finding greater meaning and purpose in our own lives.


Book cover of The Complete Persepolis

Sara Saedi Author Of I Miss You, I Hate This

From my list on life inside and outside of Iran.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Iranian-American who left the country with my family after the Islamic Revolution. I'm watching the events unfold in Iran since the murder of Mahsa Amini with equal parts sadness and awe. Sadness for the loss of life and awe for the bravery of the young protestors in the country. My books will always have a nod to my culture of origin—whether about growing up in an immigrant household in my memoir, Americanized, or writing an Iranian-American character like Parisa in I Miss You, I Hate This. It's been fascinating to see people in America pay attention to what's happening in Iran and I wanted to share some books that'll help inform their perspective. 

Sara's book list on life inside and outside of Iran

Sara Saedi Why did Sara love this book?

My family fled Iran a couple years after the Islamic Revolution, but growing up, my parents didn’t talk about that period in their life all that much. It was sort of like my friend whose dad never talked about Vietnam. So, even though I was born in Iran post-revolution, I didn’t learn much about the history of the Shah’s downfall until I read Marjane Satrapi’s incredible graphic novels – Persepolis, Books One and Two. Satrapi manages to create a funny and heartbreaking memoir about her adolescence during the revolution and her life as a young ex-pat living in Paris. 

Follow it up with her graphic novella, Embroiderieswhich delves into the sex lives of Iranian women. Another topic that was generally off-limits in our household.

By Marjane Satrapi,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Complete Persepolis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi's best-selling, internationally acclaimed graphic memoir of growing up as a girl in revolutionary Iran. • "That Satrapi chose to tell her remarkable story as a gorgeous comic book makes it totally unique and indispensable" —TIME

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming—both…


Book cover of A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II

David Snell Author Of Sing to Silent Stones: Part One

From my list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

My reading is almost entirely influenced by my own family’s extraordinary history. My mother and father-in-law were both illegitimate. Both suffered for the fact and my father-in-law was 11 years old when he first found out and was reunited with his mother, albeit on a second-class basis compared to his half siblings. My mother trained bomb aimers. My father flew Lancaster bombers and was just 19 years old in the skies above wartime Berlin. My own books combine history, my personal experiences, and my family’s past to weave wartime stories exploring the strains that those conflicts imposed on friendships.

David's book list on wartime books about families torn apart by the conflict in WW1 and WW2

David Snell Why did David love this book?

What I loved about this book is that it is the true story of an American woman living in Nazi-occupied France, where she organised and ran resistance groups and led them in action.

The book, though factual, reads like a fictional novel, and her exploits and shear "daring do" almost beggar belief. She only had one leg, a fact that many who met her were completely unaware of, yet she crossed the Pyrenees on foot in winter!

It didn’t surprise me to find out that the men who "ran" the operations from London and Washington denigrated her achievements and consigned her to obscurity, describing her in the words of the book’s title. But she was a truly amazing heroine, and I would have loved to have met her.

By Sonia Purnell,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked A Woman of No Importance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Chosen as a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, the Seattle Times, the Washington Independent Review of Books, PopSugar, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, BookBrowse, the Spectator, and the Times of London

Winner of the Plutarch Award for Best Biography

"Excellent...This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down." -- The New York Times Book Review

"A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people -- and a little resistance." - NPR

"A…


Book cover of The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Kate Andersen Brower Author Of Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon

From my list on rule-breaking, risk-taking, bad a$# women.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I covered the White House as a young reporter I was always more interested in understanding what was happening in the upstairs residence than in what briefings we were getting from the president’s advisers in the Roosevelt Room. I was raised with the understanding that in the end everyone is equal and that no one, no matter how powerful they are, gets out of the human experience. I think that’s what makes me interested in iconic women, from Elizabeth Taylor to Betty Ford. There’s nothing I like better than reading their letters and trying to understand what made them tick, and how they navigated their complicated and very public lives.

Kate's book list on rule-breaking, risk-taking, bad a$# women

Kate Andersen Brower Why did Kate love this book?

My friend Denise Kiernan shines a light on the thousands of women who worked on the Manhattan Project.

If you’ve seen Oppenheimer and you’re interested in the story behind the development of the atomic bomb, then this book will help you understand the hidden figures behind its creation. What I love the most about Denise’s writing is the way that she brings the mysterious origins of Oak Ridge, a Tennessee town created to house the people working on the bomb, to life. 

At a time when the stakes couldn’t have been higher, women were at the center of the story.

By Denise Kiernan,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Girls of Atomic City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller, now available in paperback—an incredible true story of the top-secret World War II town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the young women brought there unknowingly to help build the atomic bomb.

“The best kind of nonfiction: marvelously reported, fluidly written, and a remarkable story...As meticulous and brilliant as it is compulsively readable.” —Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City

At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, and consumed more electricity than New York City, yet it was shrouded in such secrecy that it did not…


Book cover of The Glass Castle

Christine Amoroso Author Of Bare Naked in Public: An earnest and humorous account of one modern American woman trying to have it all

From my list on memoirs that evoke inspiration empathy compassion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always believed that everyone has a story to tell. I have connected to people throughout my life because I chose to sit, listen, and share stories. I do this in my own neighborhood and on my travels worldwide. I do it with people I don’t have anything in common with and people I think I might not like. Every time, without exception, I learn something. Often, I am inspired. These experiences have tested and grown my compassion, empathy, kindness, and understanding capacity. I suppose this is why I love reading. It’s like meeting strangers and sharing stories. 

Christine's book list on memoirs that evoke inspiration empathy compassion

Christine Amoroso Why did Christine love this book?

I loved Jeanette Walls honest and raw telling of her father’s mental illness and her mother’s unorthodox mothering and the impact they both had on her childhood and adulthood. People with mental illness are often portrayed as villains with no redeeming qualities.

Still, Walls finds the bits and pieces of her father that are beautiful, made her childhood sometimes magical, and led to her own successful career and life. 

By Jeannette Walls,

Why should I read it?

23 authors picked The Glass Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major motion picture starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson.

This is a startling memoir of a successful journalist's journey from the deserted and dusty mining towns of the American Southwest, to an antique filled apartment on Park Avenue. Jeanette Walls narrates her nomadic and adventurous childhood with her dreaming, 'brilliant' but alcoholic parents.

At the age of seventeen she escapes on a Greyhound bus to New York with her older sister; her younger siblings follow later. After pursuing the education and civilisation her parents sought to escape, Jeanette eventually succeeds in her quest for the 'mundane,…


Book cover of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Jessica Willis Fisher Author Of Unspeakable: Surviving My Childhood and Finding My Voice

From my list on courage to tell my survivor story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am through and through a storytelling creature and fell in love with books as a child. I first aspired to be a librarian, then an author. Life took me in other directions, and when I found songwriting as a teen, I figured it would be the closest I would ever come to my original dreams. It was not until I escaped from my abusive family as a young adult and dove headfirst into therapy that I realized my story was far darker than I had ever let myself admit. I am now a singer-songwriter and memoirist who believes that sharing our stories with one another will change the world. 

Jessica's book list on courage to tell my survivor story

Jessica Willis Fisher Why did Jessica love this book?

Sent to me by a dear friend just when I needed it, this delightfully cheeky book about writing gave me the push to be courageous and truthful both in life and in my written endeavors.

Full of candid advice, hilarious anecdotes, and helpful information, this book is half manual and half a memoir of Lammott’s escapades in authorship. It speaks directly to the part of us that holds our deepest stories and silently longs to make them into something useful, beautiful, and meaningful–whether or not we plan to share them with the world. 

By Anne Lamott,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Bird by Bird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An essential volume for generations of writers young and old. The twenty-fifth anniversary edition of this modern classic will continue to spark creative minds for years to come. Anne Lamott is "a warm, generous, and hilarious guide through the writer’s world and its treacherous swamps" (Los Angeles Times). 

“Superb writing advice…. Hilarious, helpful, and provocative.” —The New York Times Book Review

For a quarter century, more than a million readers—scribes and scribblers of all ages and abilities—have been inspired by Anne Lamott’s hilarious, big-hearted, homespun advice. Advice that begins with the simple words of wisdom…


Book cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Kai Storm Author Of That One Voice

From my list on fiction novels that will make you believe they’re real.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m Kai Storm, author of reality-based urban fiction and erotica, erotica blogger, YouTuber, and Podcaster. I love reading books that feel real, that make you feel, and that teach you something as they entertain you.

Kai's book list on fiction novels that will make you believe they’re real

Kai Storm Why did Kai love this book?

This book scared the hell out of me when I was a teenager because its vivid descriptions stayed in my dreams yet it never stopped me from reading and loving the entire book.

It taught me a lot about following your intuition and/or gut feelings. Although it has been a long time since I read it, the main thing I remember is that your intuition is your protector, and listening to that inner voice helps a lot along the way.

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Their Eyes Were Watching God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cover design by Harlem renaissance artist Lois Mailou Jones

When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds ...

'For me, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece…


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

Mimi Zieman Author Of Tap Dancing on Everest: A Young Doctor's Unlikely Adventure

From my list on women exploring the world and self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an OB/GYN, passionate about adventuring beyond what’s expected. This has led me to pivot multiple times in my career, now focusing on writing. I’ve written a play, The Post-Roe Monologues, to elevate women’s stories. I cherish the curiosity that drives outer and inner exploration, and I love memoirs that skillfully weave the two. The books on this list feature extraordinary women who took risks, left comfort and safety, and battled vulnerability to step into the unknown. These authors moved beyond the stories they’d believed about themselves–or that others told about them. They invite you to think about living fuller and bigger lives. 

Mimi's book list on women exploring the world and self

Mimi Zieman Why did Mimi love this book?

I loved reading about a woman discovering her strength in the outdoors. This was the first book I read framed around a solo hiking trip but about deeper themes such as processing grief and searching for identity.

I was absorbed by the book’s masterful structure that weaves in these bigger themes while making me feel like I was on that trail with her. Strayed’s voice is captivating and witty, and her observations are wise. This book did not inspire me to hike solo – I’d done that already – but it inspired me to become a writer. An equally daunting challenge. 

By Cheryl Strayed,

Why should I read it?

29 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 House on Mango Street

Namrata Poddar Author Of Border Less

From my list on debuts that subvert the mainstream Westerns.

Why am I passionate about this?

Namrata Poddar is an Indian American writer of fiction and nonfiction, literature and writing faculty at UCLA, and Interviews Editor for Kweli where she curates the series, “Race, Power and Storytelling.” Her work has explored ways in which writers from across the world decolonize Literature. Her debut novel, Border Less, was a finalist for Feminist Press’s Louise Meriwether Prize, longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and featured in several media outlets including the “Most Anticipated” 2022 books for The Millions and Ms. Magazine. She holds a PhD in French literature from the University of Pennsylvania, an MFA in Fiction from Bennington College, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Transnational Cultures from UCLA. 

Namrata's book list on debuts that subvert the mainstream Westerns

Namrata Poddar Why did Namrata love this book?

Written in 46 short vignettes, this is a coming-of-age story of Esperanza Cordero, a young girl growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago. Yet the novel is anything but one protagonist’s story, as it consistently juxtaposes Esperanza’s story with stories of secondary characters who make a brief appearance in the novel to seldom reappear and tie loose ends of the “sub-plots”: Marin, Louie, Alicia, Geraldo, Rafaela, Minerva, and others. Narrative continuity via a protagonist’s psychological journey that is a key trait of coming-of-age novels, or of mainstream Western or realist novels at large, is repeatedly disrupted here, making the reader wonder, who is the novel’s protagonist?: Esperanza, Mango Street, or its Brown community, or young Latina girls and women in a 20th century USA, alluded by “las Mujeres” to whom the book is dedicated.

By Sandra Cisneros,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The House on Mango Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A coming-of-age classic, acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught in schools and universities alike, and translated around the world—from the winner of the 2019 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes-sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous-Sandra Cisneros' masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

“Cisneros draws…


Book cover of Invisible Man

Matthew Daddona Author Of The Longitude of Grief

From my list on philosophical novels I can’t stop thinking about.

Why am I passionate about this?

Philosophical novels challenge rather than appease. They subvert. They obscure. As a former acquisitions editor at major publishing houses, I am confounded by the scarcity of chances taken on books that don’t fit the status quo or, are "difficult." I am most interested in how books—even when they meander and cavort—lead to surprising and unsettling revelations. Or how they don’t lead to revelations at all but keep the reader guessing as to when some semblance of grace will be achieved. I don’t wish to sound pessimistic; if anything, I wish to be realistic. Philosophical novels are reflections of life, which is often confusing, contradictory, and, yes, difficult. With a touch of grace for good measure.

Matthew's book list on philosophical novels I can’t stop thinking about

Matthew Daddona Why did Matthew love this book?

Perhaps the most “realistic” novel of this bunch, Ralph Ellison’s National Book Award-winning novel follows an unnamed black narrator’s life in a small southern town, as detailed through his memories, dreams, and desires.

Ellison didn’t intend to write a “protest novel,” apparently, but it has become exactly that: a protestation of the inequities of an American system designed to keep Black people in the shadows. The novel’s voice, though singular, is representative of an entire social movement. A perfect novel. 

By Ralph Ellison,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Invisible Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In this deeply compelling novel and epic milestone of American literature, a nameless narrator tells his story from the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. 

He describes growing up in a Black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood," before retreating amid violence and confusion.

Originally published in 1952 as the first novel by a then unknown author, it remained on the bestseller list for…


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Interested in Arkansas, childhood, and African Americans?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Arkansas, childhood, and African Americans.

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