100 books like In the Forest of No Joy

By J.P. Daughton,

Here are 100 books that In the Forest of No Joy fans have personally recommended if you like In the Forest of No Joy. 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 King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

Leif Wenar Author Of Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World

From my list on why oil is a curse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Stanford professor who became fascinated with oil and everything it does to for us and to us. For years I traveled the world talking to the people who know petroleum: executives in the big oil companies, politicians and activists, militants and victims, spies and tribal chiefs. Blood Oil explains what I learned and how we can make our oil-cursed world better for all of us. 

Leif's book list on why oil is a curse

Leif Wenar Why did Leif love this book?

Oil isn’t the only natural resource that can curse: the Belgian colonizers inflicted decades of extraordinary brutality on the peoples of the Congo while extracting their ivory and rubber.

Hochschild paints horrific vistas of extreme greed and violence, and also tells the stories of the heroic individuals who resisted it. I didn’t know much about real ‘The Heart of Darkness’ before reading this book—now I know that the true savages were the Europeans.

By Adam Hochschild,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked King Leopold's Ghost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize, King Leopold's Ghost is the true and haunting account of Leopold's brutal regime and its lasting effect on a ruined nation. With an introduction by award-winning novelist Barbara Kingsolver.

In the late nineteenth century, when the great powers in Europe were tearing Africa apart and seizing ownership of land for themselves, King Leopold of Belgium took hold of the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. In his devastatingly barbarous colonization of this area, Leopold stole its rubber and ivory, pummelled its people and set up a ruthless regime that would reduce…


Book cover of Heart of Darkness

Tristan Nettles Author Of The Shepherd: A Bronze Age Tale

From my list on books to read when living on a small island.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up reading, mostly due to a speech impediment that left me awkward and shy. I was lucky enough to experience world travel at a young age. My parents' divorce set me on a different path. Five middle schools and seven high schools later, I volunteered as a Marine Corps infantryman. I left the USA in 2015 to travel the world, from Micronesia to Nepal to Honduras and even Ukraine, where I fought with the Ukrainian Foreign Legion. 

Tristan's book list on books to read when living on a small island

Tristan Nettles Why did Tristan love this book?

This macabre classic offers a glimpse into the darker realms of man and the depravities made capable. This is a book which pits man against his most dangerous foe, himself.

There are no Hollywood endings here. Just the real bloody nature of expansion into the wild Congo by a single ruthless man who infuses the mystical with the divine to maintain a brutal domination. 

By Joseph Conrad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although Polish by birth, Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) is regarded as one of the greatest writers in English, and Heart of Darkness, first published in 1902, is considered by many his "most famous, finest, and most enigmatic story." — Encyclopaedia Britannica. The tale concerns the journey of the narrator (Marlow) up the Congo River on behalf of a Belgian trading company. Far upriver, he encounters the mysterious Kurtz, an ivory trader who exercises an almost godlike sway over the inhabitants of the region. Both repelled and fascinated by the man, Marlow is brought face to face with the corruption and despair…


Book cover of Travels in the Congo

Edward Berenson Author Of Heroes of Empire: Five Charismatic Men and the Conquest of Africa

From my list on the impact of European colonialism on Africa and Africans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent most of my career teaching and writing about French history. In the 1990s, it became belatedly clear to me and other French historians that France shouldn’t be understood purely as a European nation-state. It was an empire whose imperial ambitions encompassed North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Indochina, and India. By the twentieth century, and especially after 1945, large numbers of people from those colonial places had emigrated to mainland France, claiming to belong to that country and asserting the right to live there. Their presence produced a great deal of political strife, which I wanted to study by looking at France’s colonial past.

Edward's book list on the impact of European colonialism on Africa and Africans

Edward Berenson Why did Edward love this book?

This travel diary by the Nobel Prize winning French writer was published in 1927 and expertly translated by his lifelong friend Dorothy Bussy. Gide dedicated his book and its sequel, Return from Chad, to Joseph Conrad, whose Congolese itinerary Gide retraced in part. In 1926 and 1927, the Frenchman spent ten months in Equatorial Africa with his lover Marc Alégret, making no secret of his sexual preference for young men and boys. In these travelogues, Gide fiercely criticized French colonialism and especially France’s “concessionary companies,” the large monopolistic firms that cruelly exploited Congolese laborers forced under inhuman conditions to harvest raw rubber. France’s Congo colony reproduced the excesses of its Belgian counterpart, despite the efforts of Gide and other prominent French figures to reform it.

By Andre Gide,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French


Book cover of Citizenship Between Empire and Nation: Remaking France and French Africa, 1945-1960

Edward Berenson Author Of Heroes of Empire: Five Charismatic Men and the Conquest of Africa

From my list on the impact of European colonialism on Africa and Africans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent most of my career teaching and writing about French history. In the 1990s, it became belatedly clear to me and other French historians that France shouldn’t be understood purely as a European nation-state. It was an empire whose imperial ambitions encompassed North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Indochina, and India. By the twentieth century, and especially after 1945, large numbers of people from those colonial places had emigrated to mainland France, claiming to belong to that country and asserting the right to live there. Their presence produced a great deal of political strife, which I wanted to study by looking at France’s colonial past.

Edward's book list on the impact of European colonialism on Africa and Africans

Edward Berenson Why did Edward love this book?

In this superb, prize-winning book, Cooper shows that despite France’s often gruesome treatment of its African colonies, its postwar leaders tried to make amends. After taking power in 1958, Charles de Gaulle gave each of France’s African territories three choices: 1) full departmental status within the French Republic (à la Martinique and Guadeloupe); 2) internal autonomy and democratic self-government in a newly dubbed French Community modeled on the British Commonwealth; 3) complete independence with a cutoff of all financial assistance. Every territory voted for option 2, except Guinea, which chose independence. Although the Community option ultimately fell apart, Cooper shows nonetheless that there was nothing inevitable about the devolution of France’s African empire into a series of independent nation-states.

By Frederick Cooper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the French public debates its present diversity and its colonial past, few remember that between 1946 and 1960 the inhabitants of French colonies possessed the rights of French citizens. Moreover, they did not have to conform to the French civil code that regulated marriage and inheritance. One could, in principle, be a citizen and different too. Citizenship between Empire and Nation examines momentous changes in notions of citizenship, sovereignty, nation, state, and empire in a time of acute uncertainty about the future of a world that had earlier been divided into colonial empires. Frederick Cooper explains how African political…


Book cover of Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America

Sarah Deutsch Author Of Making a Modern U.S. West: The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940

From my list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast.

Why am I passionate about this?

At some point I decided that if I was going to teach US history, I better have a good sense of what the place looked like. So I drove across the country—and then back again—and then again, and then once more, each time at a different latitude. I drove through North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana and Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, up and down California, Oregon and Washington, and on and on. I got addicted to seeing the landscape in all its amazing variety and vastness, and seeing the landscape made the histories come alive. 

Sarah's book list on reimagining our mythic American West and its cast

Sarah Deutsch Why did Sarah love this book?

I remember driving across a barren southwestern landscape and suddenly, in the distance, miles away, seeing a train snake across the desert. Trains are sort of magical to me. They change the relation of space and time. And they create and destroy fortunes. Richard White lays bare the era of massive railroad building, financial shenanigans, and the players at all levels. With his signature humor, he reveals the absurdity behind the mythology of the railroad barons and how the West got built.

By Richard White,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This original, deeply researched history shows the transcontinentals to be pivotal actors in the making of modern America. But the triumphal myths of the golden spike, robber barons larger than life, and an innovative capitalism all die here. Instead we have a new vision of the Gilded Age, often darkly funny, that shows history to be rooted in failure as well as success.


Book cover of Thomas the Tank Engine's Hidden Surprises

Jack Payton Author Of Billy Balloon

From my list on children’s stories you wish you had written.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wrote Billy Balloon in fourth grade for a writing exercise. I remember the teacher reading it to the whole class. I was filled with pride. Then through the years I’d revisit the story and think about getting it published. Many years later, with the support and encouragement from my family, I finally decided to go through with it. We then went from wanting to publish one book to building a brand similar to Curious George and Thomas the Train. We had such a great experience and fun time we also decided to share the adventure with others. We invite readers to submit ideas for other books in the Billy Balloon series through our website

Jack's book list on children’s stories you wish you had written

Jack Payton Why did Jack love this book?

This is another impressive and prolific book series.

The magic here is how trains on set tracks on an island can have such big and diverse personalities. Thomas was the little engine trying to do big things.

In a way he is like a little kid growing up and exploring their independence. He tries to show he can do things the bigger trains (or kids) can.

My kids and I had a great time growing up alongside Thomas. My son always carried a small Thomas toy in his pocket.

I would notice he would pat his pocket whenever he needed extra encouragement, for example, at the park among the bigger kids.

By Rev. W. Awdry, Josie Yee (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thomas the Tank Engine's Hidden Surprises as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thomas is going on a special trip to the circus, and there are lots of wonderful things to discover along the way--a beautiful hot air balloon, a playful dolphin, and a barrel of monkeys, just to name a few! Lift and peek behind the many flaps and see the hidden surprises. Preschoolers will want to climb on board with this fun transportation shaped flap book, bursting with treasures on every page!


Book cover of Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000-Mile Adventure

Kate McGovern Author Of Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen

From my list on trains from a train aficionado.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took my first cross-country train ride with my mom when I was seven years old. That gave me the train bug. Since then, I’ve been across the United States three times via rail, across Europe, and all over northern India with my husband, too. I think train travel is a very special way to see a place. You’re going past backyards and back roads. You see the whole landscape, and you meet so many people you wouldn’t otherwise. I’ve never set out to write a “train book,” but trains play an important role in two of my three novels. I can’t get away from them, even in my imagination. 

Kate's book list on trains from a train aficionado

Kate McGovern Why did Kate love this book?

I read Monisha Rajesh’s earlier travel memoir, Around India in 80 Trains, while planning my own train journey in India. In this one, she circumvents the entire globe (technically more than once in terms of mileage). It’s the kind of book I wish I’d written myself because I would love to do a train journey like this! I love Rajesh’s descriptions of the places she passes through and the people she meets along the way, and of course, how it changes her to see the world through this lens.

By Monisha Rajesh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Around the World in 80 Trains as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER AWARD FOR BEST TRAVEL BOOK SHORTLISTED FOR THE STANFORD DOLMAN TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 'Monisha Rajesh has chosen one of the best ways of seeing the world. Never too fast, never too slow, her journey does what trains do best. Getting to the heart of things. Prepare for a very fine ride' Michael Palin From the cloud-skimming heights of Tibet's Qinghai railway to silk-sheeted splendour on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, Around the World in 80 Trains is a celebration of the glory of train travel and a witty and irreverent look at the…


Book cover of The Great Railway Bazaar

Matthew Stevenson Author Of Reading the Rails

From my list on getting inspired to ride a train.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an American writer who lives in Switzerland, in the vineyards outside Geneva, but I grew up in the 1960s riding night trains around the United States in the company of my father, who loved trains and rode them for his work. From the soaring columns of New York’s Pennsylvania Station, we took trains to Chicago, Wyoming, Denver, Albuquerque, New Orleans, and beyond. In my adult writing life, I've taken trains across Russia, China, India, Australia, the Middle East, Japan, and just about every corner of Europe. Once, I rode all the trains in East Africa between Nairobi and Johannesburg, during which excursion the Tazara Express was three days late into Kapiri Mposhi, Tanzania.

Matthew's book list on getting inspired to ride a train

Matthew Stevenson Why did Matthew love this book?

In the early 1970s, the prolific Paul Theroux decided to ride as many trains as he could find between London and Japan, and to come back on the Trans-Siberian from Vladivostok. There are a few gaps in his rail line (Afghanistan isn’t well served by trains but he does manage to catch a Kyber Pass local), but otherwise he stitches together an itinerary that takes him across the Balkans, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Southeast Asia, and finally Japan. He chats up everyone he meets, and the book is a cross between a compelling account of numerous train journeys and novelistic dialogue with his fellow travelers (including poor Mr. Duffill who in Venice gets off and misses the train he and Theroux were on). Theroux can be cynical, but it is cynicism born of honesty, and it’s impossible to read this book and not want to ride night trains across India…

By Paul Theroux,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Great Railway Bazaar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fired by a fascination with trains that stemmed from childhood, Paul Theroux set out one day with the intention of boarding every train that chugged into view from Victoria Station in London to Tokyo Central, and to come back again via the Trans-Siberian Express. This is his story.


Book cover of Indian Railways: The Weaving of a National Tapestry

Rajendra B. Aklekar Author Of India’s Railway Man: A Biography of E. Sreedharan

From my list on railways and trains.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rajendra B. Aklekar (born 1974) is an Indian journalist with over 25 years of experience and author of best-selling books on India’s railway history and heritage. He is also the biographer of India’s legendary railway engineer Dr. E Sreedharan. With museology from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharasj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai, Aklekar is also a Google-certified Digital Marketer. Aklekar, associated with the Indian Railway Fans’ Club Association, Indian Steam Railway Society, Rail Enthusiasts Society, has contributed significantly while setting up the Rail Heritage Gallery at the UNESCO-listed Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station, formerly Victoria Terminus building, Bombay, and documentation of heritage relics of India’s first railway.

Rajendra's book list on railways and trains

Rajendra B. Aklekar Why did Rajendra love this book?

This is another book on the same subject written by an eminent historian and economist. I am recommending this book because of the clear and categorical historical decade-wise demarcations since the inception of railways in India since the 1830s. The 20th century is summarised in one entire chapter, bringing a contemporary context. One of the best parts of the book is a timeline of the government policies and committees on Indian Railways in a tabular form that gives a quick summary of how the organization progressed in its different forms, including the seamless transfer from old colonial railways to national railways adding the current reforms and policies. Another key feature of the book is that it gives a timeline of the various railway companies and railway lines spread across India.

I am also proud to mention that the book liberally quotes my first book when it mentions India’s railway…

By Bibek Debroy, Sanjay Chadha, Vidya Krishnamurthi

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The fascinating story of the network that made modern India The railways brought modernity to India. Its vast network connected the far corners of the subcontinent, making travel, communication and commerce simpler than ever before. Even more importantly, the railways played a large part in the making of the nation: by connecting historically and geographically disparate regions and people, it forever changed the way Indians lived and thought, and eventually made a national identity possible. This engagingly written, anecdotally told history captures the immense power of a business behemoth as well as the romance of train travel; tracing the growth…


Book cover of All Aboard With E.M. Frimbo: World's Greatest Railroad Buff

Matthew Stevenson Author Of Reading the Rails

From my list on getting inspired to ride a train.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an American writer who lives in Switzerland, in the vineyards outside Geneva, but I grew up in the 1960s riding night trains around the United States in the company of my father, who loved trains and rode them for his work. From the soaring columns of New York’s Pennsylvania Station, we took trains to Chicago, Wyoming, Denver, Albuquerque, New Orleans, and beyond. In my adult writing life, I've taken trains across Russia, China, India, Australia, the Middle East, Japan, and just about every corner of Europe. Once, I rode all the trains in East Africa between Nairobi and Johannesburg, during which excursion the Tazara Express was three days late into Kapiri Mposhi, Tanzania.

Matthew's book list on getting inspired to ride a train

Matthew Stevenson Why did Matthew love this book?

Sadly, much of Mr. Frimbo’s train world no longer exists, at least in the United States, but this book—a collection of delightful essays from train journeys—is a fitting legacy to a departed rail network. Whitaker was a copyeditor at The New Yorker. Later he traveled with Tony Hiss, also at The New Yorker, and the two have preserved in print the quirkiness and greatness of what were America’s passenger trains, from the Twentieth Century Limited to long-forgotten branch lines.

By Rogers E. M. Whitaker, Tony Hiss, Mark Livingston (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Aboard With E.M. Frimbo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

International in scope, this series of non-fiction trade paperbacks offers books that explore the lives, customs and thoughts of peoples and cultures around the world.


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