100 books like It Can't Happen Here

By Sinclair Lewis,

Here are 100 books that It Can't Happen Here fans have personally recommended if you like It Can't Happen Here. 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 Memoirs of Hadrian

Larry Mellman Author Of The Man With Sapphire Eyes

From my list on historical fiction with a twist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved historical fiction as a reader, but my passion to write it caught fire during the years I lived in Venice, Italy, when I discovered the curious institution of the ballot boy within the Byzantine complexities of the thousand-year Venetian Republic. Since ballot boys were randomly chosen over a period of six hundred years, choosing my particular Doge and ballot boy required a survey of the entire field before I circled in on Venice, 1368, IMHO the peak brilliance of that maritime empire. It is a peculiarity of history that the names of all 130 doges of Venice are recorded, but none of their ballot boys are mentioned. The challenge was irresistible. 

Larry's book list on historical fiction with a twist

Larry Mellman Why did Larry love this book?

It’s not Hadrian’s love affair with the beautiful boy Antinous that swept me off my feet, nor the way Hadrian makes him a god after his mysterious death and builds a city dedicated to worshiping him.

That’s only a small part of a book overflowing with the emperor’s interior life, his fears and doubts and dreams. Yourcenar spent most of her life on and off writing this book, her life’s work. Filled with the exhilaration and perplexity of achieving absolute power and then holding onto it, we experience Hadrian as a profoundly paradoxical genius from the inside out. 

By Grace Frick, Marguerite Yourcenar,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Memoirs of Hadrian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Framed as a letter from the Roman Emperor Hadrian to his successor, Marcus Aurelius, Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian is translated from the French by Grace Frick with an introduction by Paul Bailey in Penguin Modern Classics.

In her magnificent novel, Marguerite Yourcenor recreates the life and death of one of the great rulers of the ancient world. The Emperor Hadrian, aware his demise is imminent, writes a long valedictory letter to Marcus Aurelius, his future successor. The Emperor meditates on his past, describing his accession, military triumphs, love of poetry and music, and the philosophy that informed his powerful…


Book cover of 1984

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Author Of Legacy of the Third Way

From my list on books to take you to the future.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I've been captivated by evolution and its implications for the future. I immersed myself in classical works of philosophy and literature that explored human emotions and our relentless drive to succeed against all odds, advancing human knowledge and shaping society. This fascination with understanding the future led me to write op-ed pieces on foreign policy and geopolitics for prominent newspapers in South Asia. My desire to contribute to a better future inspired me to author three nonfiction books covering topics such as the Islamic Social Contract, Lessons from the Quran, and Reflections on God,  Science, and Human Nature. 

Abdul's book list on books to take you to the future

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Why did Abdul love this book?

Humans are always curious about what the future will look like. They are also concerned about the state impinging on their privacy and interfering with their lives. George Orwell masterfully combined these two human impulses in his classic novel. He wrote the book in 1949 to present his view of the future.

I read this book when I was in my mid-20s. I found it an interesting read, especially since many of his predictions did not come true. I was curious to know how past generations viewed our generation. 

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

42 authors picked 1984 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU . . .

1984 is the year in which it happens. The world is divided into three superstates. In Oceania, the Party's power is absolute. Every action, word, gesture and thought is monitored under the watchful eye of Big Brother and the Thought Police. In the Ministry of Truth, the Party's department for propaganda, Winston Smith's job is to edit the past. Over time, the impulse to escape the machine and live independently takes hold of him and he embarks on a secret and forbidden love affair. As he writes the words 'DOWN WITH BIG…


Book cover of The Plot Against America: A Novel

Keith Madsen Author Of The Bridles of Armageddon

From my list on fiction about insurrection and threat to democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised in Kansas, a conservative, Republican state. My parents were conservative Republicans. We went to a fundamentalist church, where the minister preached about Revelation and warned against the dangers of “humanism”. He said the Bible predicted an end time where God would violently destroy the evil world. I have grown away from such ideas, but I understand the cultural milieu out of which such Christian extremism comes. Fortunately, I also learned from my parents the values of honesty and love for all people. Those values call me to look at today’s right-wing authoritarianism, and to find the hope that will lead us to something better. 

Keith's book list on fiction about insurrection and threat to democracy

Keith Madsen Why did Keith love this book?

Recent authoritarian trends and attempts to re-establish white supremacy are not new in America.

In this novel, Philip Roth envisions an alternate history where Charles Lindbergh has defeated Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 Presidential election. He then proceeds to collude with Adolph Hitler and seeks to establish anti-Semitism throughout the country.

The novel is based on the actual attitudes which Lindbergh had toward Jews and other minorities. Of course, this is not truly an insurrection. Still, it is a portrayal of how extreme right-wing attitudes can seek to rob people of our hard-won democracy.

I was raised with a deep respect for freedom for all people in this country. My family had several Jewish friends and we loved and learned from them.

By Philip Roth,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Plot Against America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'He captures better than anyone the collision of public and private, the intrusion of history into the skin, the pores of every individual alive' Guardian

'Though on the morning after the election disbelief prevailed, especially among the pollsters, by the next everybody seemed to understand everything...'

When celebrity aviator, Charles A. Lindbergh, wins the 1940 presidential election on the slogan of 'America First', fear invades every Jewish household. Not only has Lindbergh blamed the Jews for pushing America towards war with Germany, he has negotiated an 'understanding' with the Nazis promising peace between the two nations.

Growing up in the…


Book cover of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Johannes Lenhard Author Of Making Better Lives: Hope, Freedom and Home-Making among People Sleeping Rough in Paris

From my list on understanding poverty today, from the bottom up.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an anthropologist and studied homelessness in Paris and London for the last decade. I was drawn into the world of people on the streets when I moved to London and started observing their parallel world. I spent almost a year with people on the street in London and two years in Paris. I volunteered in day centers, safe injection facilities, and soup kitchens and slept in a homeless shelter. Since I finished my first book on my observations in Paris, I have advised both policymakers on homelessness and written countless journalistic articles. My goal is always to provide a clearer picture of homelessness through the eyes of the people themselves. 

Johannes' book list on understanding poverty today, from the bottom up

Johannes Lenhard Why did Johannes love this book?

I met Matthew Desmond before he became one of the youngest Professors with his own center at Princeton University. He was visiting London, had just published his first book, and was still finishing the research for this book.

Desmond did an enormous amount of field research; he spent months living in a trailer park, on top of thousands of hours in archives and courtrooms where eviction cases are decided. The result is the best book I have ever read about poverty.

What happens when ‘normal people’ get evicted? Desmond’s story is rich and personal, and that is what we need: we need to understand the lives of poor people better in order to finally decide that we must change the systems that put them there. 

By Matthew Desmond,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION*
'Beautifully written, thought-provoking, and unforgettable ... If you want a good understanding of how the issues that cause poverty are intertwined, you should read this book' Bill Gates, Best Books of 2017

Arleen spends nearly all her money on rent but is kicked out with her kids in Milwaukee's coldest winter for years. Doreen's home is so filthy her family call it 'the rat hole'. Lamar, a wheelchair-bound ex-soldier, tries to work his way out of debt for his boys. Scott, a nurse turned addict, lives in a gutted-out trailer. This is…


Book cover of The Name of the Rose

Amelia Vergara Author Of Firefax

From my list on fiction full of intrigue, danger, and high adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a physician assistant and paramedic with ten brothers and sisters, an all-consuming love of the outdoors and adventure, and a fascination with history, particularly early US history. I love reading and writing the kind of books that I would like to read. My debut novel, Firefax, was written in large part as an escape from the horrors of serving in the hospital as a physician assistant during the delta wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope it provides my readers with an escape from their own struggles as well. 

Amelia's book list on fiction full of intrigue, danger, and high adventure

Amelia Vergara Why did Amelia love this book?

A dark, twisted story of intrigue within the walls of an abbey in the fourteenth century.

Every character has some dark past that they are hiding, and everyone is part of the ever-deepening mystery, riddles piling upon riddles, as bodies pile upon bodies. The further into the abbey’s maze of secrets you become entangled, the more you’ll love it. The characters are deep and complicated, the world in which they live is richly imagined, and the final denouement will leave you breathless.

A book whose mysteries and philosophical dialogues will stay with you long after you close the final page. 

By Umberto Eco,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Name of the Rose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Read the enthralling medieval murder mystery.

The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective.

William collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey where extraordinary things are happening under the cover of night. A spectacular popular and critical success, The Name of the Rose is not only a narrative of a murder investigation but an astonishing chronicle of the Middle Ages.

'Whether…


Book cover of Make Room! Make Room!: The Classic Novel of an Overpopulated Future

Prentis Rollins Author Of The Furnace: A Graphic Novel

From my list on dystopian sci-fi that are dear to my heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been hooked on science fiction since I saw Westworld in its first run in 1973, at age 7 (it’s the first movie I saw in a theatre). I started drawing my own sci-fi comics at age 11, when the first Star Wars came out, and kept it up through adolescence. Eventually, my love of sci-fi led me to a passion for philosophy, which I majored in in college. And the philosophy I learned has since informed my later choices in sci-fi reading, and even more my sci-fi writing and illustration. The books I talk about below are very dear to my heart—I’m sure you won’t regret checking them out.

Prentis' book list on dystopian sci-fi that are dear to my heart

Prentis Rollins Why did Prentis love this book?

Written in 1966, Make Room! Make Room! was the basis for the 1973 film Soylent Green—it’s one of those great books that (like The Exorcist) was totally overshadowed by its equally great film version. It’s set in 1999, in a grossly overpopulated and polluted world in which people are scrambling for ever-diminishing resources. It mainly follows the life of NYC detective Andy Rusch and his elderly roommate Sol—who has finagled a bicycle-powered generator to run the TV and refrigerator in their small apartment. Rusch falls in love with Shirl, the young mistress of a rich man whose murder Rusch is investigating, but Shirl dumps him when she realizes she has better options with the rich rather than the poor.

Make Room! Make Room! is a cautionary tale about unchecked population, and it’s driven not so much by plot as by what Harry Harrison had on his mind: pollution,…

By Harry Harrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gangster is murdered during a blistering Manhattan heat wave. City cop Andy Rusch is under pressure solve the crime and captivated by the victim's beautiful girlfriend. But it is difficult to catch a killer, let alone get the girl, in crazy streets crammed full of people. The planet's population has exploded. The 35 million inhabitants of New York City run their TVs off pedal power, riot for water, loot and trample for lentil 'steaks' and are controlled by sinister barbed wire dropped from the sky.

Written in 1966 and set in 1999, Make Room! Make Room! is a witty…


Book cover of Greybeard

Prentis Rollins Author Of The Furnace: A Graphic Novel

From my list on dystopian sci-fi that are dear to my heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been hooked on science fiction since I saw Westworld in its first run in 1973, at age 7 (it’s the first movie I saw in a theatre). I started drawing my own sci-fi comics at age 11, when the first Star Wars came out, and kept it up through adolescence. Eventually, my love of sci-fi led me to a passion for philosophy, which I majored in in college. And the philosophy I learned has since informed my later choices in sci-fi reading, and even more my sci-fi writing and illustration. The books I talk about below are very dear to my heart—I’m sure you won’t regret checking them out.

Prentis' book list on dystopian sci-fi that are dear to my heart

Prentis Rollins Why did Prentis love this book?

Late in the 20th Century, an ‘accident’ occurred whereby nuclear bombs detonated in orbit above earth—the resulting radiation has rendered mankind sterile. Algy Timberlane—aka ‘Greybeard’—is in his mid-50’s, a veritable stripling in an increasingly geriatric world. He, his wife Martha, and a few aging friends set off on an odyssey down the river Thames, to explore what’s left of their crumbling, dying world—and maybe find some spark of hope for the future.

Greybeard is a marvel to behold.  It’s one of the few books that’s not only about the hideous injustices of growing old, but also about a world that’s grown old and is facing death. What would people do if they knew that theirs was literally the last generation, that there would be no one to carry on their work? It’s an unsettling question to wrap your mind around—but Greybeard faces it without flinching, and with moving, thought-provoking…

By Brian W. Aldiss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Human reproduction has ceased and society slowly spirals in this “adult Lord of the Flies” by a Grand Master of Science Fiction (San Francisco Chronicle).

After the “Accident,” all males on Earth become sterile. Society ages and falls apart bit by bit. First, toy companies go under. Then record companies. Then cities cease to function. Now Earth’s population lives in spread‑out, isolated villages, with its youngest members in their fifties. When the people of Sparcot begin to make claims of gnomes and man‑eating rodents lurking around their village, Greybeard and his wife set out for the coast with the hope…


Book cover of This Perfect Day

Mal Warwick Author Of Hell on Earth: What we can learn from dystopian fiction

From my list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was twelve years old, my picture appeared in my hometown newspaper. I was holding a huge stack of books from the library, a week’s reading. All science fiction. I’ve read voraciously for the past seventy years—though much more widely as an adult. I’ve also had a life founding several small companies and writing twenty books. But I’ve continued to read science fiction, and, increasingly, dystopian novels. Why? Because, as a history buff, I think about the big trends that shape our lives. I see clearly that climate change, breakthroughs in technology, and unstable politics threaten our children’s future. I want to understand how these trends might play out—for better or for worse.

Mal's book list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”

Mal Warwick Why did Mal love this book?

The news is full of stories about chilling developments in artificial intelligence.

And you don’t have to venture into the fantasy world of killer robots to be terrified. Already, “chatbots” are blurring the lines between human and machine intelligence.

It’s gotten to the point that you can’t trust what you see or read online—because it may have been created by some AI designed to cheat or scare you into doing something you really don’t want to do.

Ira Levin’s novel, published in 1970, shows us a world ruled by artificial intelligence. It’s dystopia in the truest sense—and it’s likely to frighten you, as it did me.

By Ira Levin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Marvellously entertaining. A cross between Brave New World and Doctor Who' Look Magazine

Considered one of the great dystopian thrillers - alongside A Clockwork Orange and Brave New World- Ira Levin's terrifying glimpse into the future continues to fascinate readers even forty years after publication.

Set in a seemingly perfect global society, where uniformity is the defining feature, one man leads the resistance against UniComp - a central computer that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. All ethnic groups have been eugenically merged into a single race called 'The Family',…


Book cover of My America 1928-1938

Dale Maharidge Author Of Fucked at Birth: Recalibrating the American Dream for the 2020s

From my list on to understand America in the 2020s.

Why am I passionate about this?

How I grew up in Ohio informs my work: my raging war-ravaged father dreams of being his own boss; in our basement he grinds steel tools on massive iron machines, a side business after his day job in a factory; as a teen, I begin grinding with him; Dad is hit by a drunk driver and he cannot work for months; I am not old or skilled enough as a machinist to save the business; our mother who drives a school bus feeds our family with charity food. I fear I will grow up to be a blue-collar worker facing all the precarity that comes with this existence.

Dale's book list on to understand America in the 2020s

Dale Maharidge Why did Dale love this book?

I grew up listening to my elders about the 1930s. I’ve read dozens of books about that decade,  and this is the best in terms of the documentation of average Americans. We absolutely must understand the 1930s to deal with what faces us in the nation and world in the 2020s. Adamic was an immigrant who believed in the potential of America, and about half of this book is his reporting around America, with a focus on the working class. The other half is memoir. The reporting is deep, the writing beautiful. 

Book cover of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Loretta Pyles

From my list on rewilding and falling in love with outdoor adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I built snow forts, climbed the white birch tree in my front yard, and talked to a rabbit named Bobby who lived in the bushes. I rode my bike on adventures, getting lost and exploring woods, ditches, and surrounding landscapes. In a household where I often felt unsafe, time outdoors was a refuge. Working in a career as a university professor of social work for the past 20 years, I have used mindful outdoor experiences, as well as yoga and meditation, as a source of healing. And I have loved sharing these practices with my students. Today, I am documenting my rewilding adventures in my van which has been a joyful way to honor my inner child.

Loretta's book list on rewilding and falling in love with outdoor adventure

Loretta Pyles Why did Loretta love this book?

I remember reading this book on a camping trip. It’s a story of the nomad movement, particularly focused on low-income adults who are forced to live in their cars, campers, and RVs.

I fell in love with the grit and resilience of the people who often face difficult circumstances but embrace the minimalism, connection to the natural world, and community they build on the road out in wild places in the desert Southwest.

You might be familiar with the movie that came out a few years ago, but I highly recommend the book, which I couldn’t put down.

By Jessica Bruder,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the beet fields of North Dakota to the campgrounds of California to Amazon's CamperForce programme in Texas, American employers have discovered a new, low-cost labour pool, made up largely of transient older adults. These invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in RVs and modified vans, forming a growing community of nomads.

Nomadland tells a revelatory tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy-one which foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, it celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these…


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