100 books like Light on the Sound

By S.P. Somtow, Mikey Jiraros (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that Light on the Sound fans have personally recommended if you like Light on the Sound. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Left Hand of Darkness

Sara Jo Easton Author Of A Dream of Light

From my list on LGBTQ+ to annoy the people trying to ban them.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Sara Jo Easton, and I’m the bisexual author of the Zarder novels, a fantasy series where a race of dragon-like creatures called Onizards learns to get past their prejudices. When I was at a book signing for my third book, The Blood of Senbralni, a strange man loudly declared I was part of an agenda to turn people to homosexuality and Satan with my evil dragons. To be clear, I am not and will never be affiliated with Satan. I made a vow that every book I wrote from that point forward would have at least one LGBTQ+ romance with a happy ending to annoy people like that man.

Sara's book list on LGBTQ+ to annoy the people trying to ban them

Sara Jo Easton Why did Sara love this book?

If you’re like me, you are a sucker for stories about an outsider finding themselves in a new society and having to struggle and adapt to circumstances they don’t fully understand.

Genly Ai is a man who is sent to the planet Gethen to convince the people there to join a planetary alliance. The problem is Genly is so fixated on his manhood and personal identity that he can’t adapt culturally in a world where everyone is genderfluid.

Genly’s political mistakes get him into a lot of trouble that his lone ally Estraven tries to save him from, and it is only by learning to accept differences and listen to Estraven that Genly finally succeeds in his quest.

You can’t go wrong with the engrossing worldbuilding in this book, and as a bonus the people trying to ban LGBTQ+ books will be extremely annoyed if you read a book where…

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Left Hand of Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION-WITH A NEW INTRODUCTION BY DAVID MITCHELL AND A NEW AFTERWORD BY CHARLIE JANE ANDERS

Ursula K. Le Guin's groundbreaking work of science fiction-winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants' gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters...

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an…


Book cover of Kindred

Hajar Yazdiha Author Of The Struggle for the People's King: How Politics Transforms the Memory of the Civil Rights Movement

From my list on understanding revisionist history politics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied forty years of the political misuses of the memory of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement as a sociologist at USC and the daughter of Iranian immigrants who has always been interested in questions of identity and belonging. My interest in civil rights struggles started early, growing up in Virginia, a state that celebrated the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday alongside Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I wanted to understand how revisionist histories could become the mainstream account of the past and how they mattered for the future of democracy.

Hajar's book list on understanding revisionist history politics

Hajar Yazdiha Why did Hajar love this book?

I am, to put it lightly, obsessed with the way Octavia Butler revolutionizes the timescape and invites us to speculate about worlds that could be. In this and so many of her books, her vision of Afrofuturism is one that reminds us that our ancestral pasts and our imagined futures are always connected. 

I thought a lot about the future when I wrote my book, and I share Butler’s conviction that there is collective healing and liberation in revisiting and reimagining the past.

I also love that my neighborhood library in Pasadena is the one Octavia Butler used to frequent!

By Octavia E. Butler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Parable of the Sower and MacArthur “Genius” Grant, Nebula, and Hugo award winner

The visionary time-travel classic whose Black female hero is pulled through time to face the horrors of American slavery and explores the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.

“I lost an arm on my last trip home. My left arm.”

Dana’s torment begins when she suddenly vanishes on her 26th birthday from California, 1976, and is dragged through time to antebellum Maryland to rescue a boy named Rufus, heir to a slaveowner’s plantation. She soon…


Book cover of Meet Me at Infinity

Mike Cooley Author Of Crystal Warrior

From my list on fantasy and science fiction with feminist themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing fantasy and science fiction, I enjoy writing about strong female characters and strong female leads. I also like exploring fundamental questions such as what it means to be human. I grew up reading all the science fiction and fantasy I could get my hands on, and that vast landscape of stories has influenced my writing in many ways. I love to explore the limits of consciousness and darkness. I hope the books on this list inspire you and make you think. They have all influenced me in one way or another and made me a better writer.    

Mike's book list on fantasy and science fiction with feminist themes

Mike Cooley Why did Mike love this book?

James Tiptree Jr. is really Alice Sheldon. She wrote under a male pseudonym for many years due to the male domination of science fiction at the time. Meet Me at Infinity is a great introduction to her work, as it contains both fiction and biographical pieces. She’s a tremendous writer who I found to be very inspiring. Her ability to craft impactful stories with strong female characters is amazing. The Tiptree Award is named after her. 

By James Tiptree,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Meet Me at Infinity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of the writings of Alice B. Sheldon (1915-1987) who produced science fiction under the name of James Tiptree Jr. It includes an early story published under her own name in the New Yorker and many of her colourful non-fiction pieces.


Book cover of Babel-17/ Empire Star

Mike Cooley Author Of Crystal Warrior

From my list on fantasy and science fiction with feminist themes.

Why am I passionate about this?

When writing fantasy and science fiction, I enjoy writing about strong female characters and strong female leads. I also like exploring fundamental questions such as what it means to be human. I grew up reading all the science fiction and fantasy I could get my hands on, and that vast landscape of stories has influenced my writing in many ways. I love to explore the limits of consciousness and darkness. I hope the books on this list inspire you and make you think. They have all influenced me in one way or another and made me a better writer.    

Mike's book list on fantasy and science fiction with feminist themes

Mike Cooley Why did Mike love this book?

From the strong female protagonist—who is telepathic and a poet—to the use of language as a kind of mind weapon, to the non-traditional exploration of sexuality, I found this novel to be original and interesting. It also explores the nature of perception, which is something I have always been interested in. Samuel is a genius, and I very much enjoy the way he writes. 

By Samuel R. Delany,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Babel-17/ Empire Star as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Nebula Award Winner: “By looking at a typical space opera adventure from a different angle, Delany . . . give[s] us a weird, welcoming book” (Tor.com).

 At twenty-six, Rydra Wong is the most popular poet in the five settled galaxies. Almost telepathically perceptive, she has written poems that capture the mood of mankind after two decades of savage war. Since the invasion, Earth has endured famine, plague, and cannibalism—but its greatest catastrophe will be Babel-17.
 
Sabotage threatens to undermine the war effort, and the military calls in Rydra. Random attacks lay waste to warships, weapons factories, and munitions dumps,…


Book cover of Women and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Ritchie Robertson Author Of The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness, 1680-1790

From my list on the Enlightenment.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2021 I retired as Schwarz-Taylor Professor of German at Oxford. For many years I had been interested not only in German literature but in European literature and culture more broadly, particularly in the eighteenth century. Oxford is a centre of Enlightenment research, being the site of the Voltaire Foundation, where a team of scholars has just finished editing the complete works of Voltaire. When in 2013 I was asked to write a book on the Enlightenment, I realized that I had ideal resources to hand – though I also benefited from a year’s leave spent at Göttingen, the best place in Germany to study the eighteenth century. 

Ritchie's book list on the Enlightenment

Ritchie Robertson Why did Ritchie love this book?

O’Brien looks at the place of women in the British Enlightenment in two ways. Historians, especially in Scotland, offered progressive narratives of the history of civilization, in which women had the task of softening the manners of history’s male protagonists. Women writers, on the other hand, could not be reduced to such a subordinate role, but were independent-minded and often radical. We have all heard of the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, but she had many predecessors, notably the politically radical historian Catharine Macaulay, whose voices are presented here.

By Karen O’Brien,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

During the long eighteenth century, ideas of society and of social progress were first fully investigated. These investigations took place in the contexts of economic, theological, historical and literary writings which paid unprecedented attention to the place of women. Combining intellectual history with literary criticism, Karen O'Brien examines the central importance to the British Enlightenment both of women writers and of women as a subject of enquiry. She examines the work of a range of writers, including John Locke, Mary Astell, David Hume, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, T. R. Malthus, the Bluestockings, Catharine Macaulay, Mary Wollstonecraft and the first female…


Book cover of The Second Shift: Working Families and the Revolution at Home

Winnie M. Li Author Of Complicit

From my list on stories to fuel your feminist fire.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author and activist, I use fiction as a way of exploring social issues which mean a lot to me. As a woman of color, that means writing protagonists who encounter sexism, racism, class, and geographic inequality—but who combat those injustices in inventive and heroic ways. For me, the story is always about being human: trying to understand why a character acts a certain way in a certain situation. After all, aren’t we all trying to pursue our own desires against a backdrop of societal expectations? A good storywhether fiction or non-fictionbrings these conflicts to emotional, vivid life, and roots them in a reality we can all relate to. 

Winnie's book list on stories to fuel your feminist fire

Winnie M. Li Why did Winnie love this book?

Unrecognised female labor is also the subject of this captivating non-fiction book by Hochschild, a sociologist drawing upon decades of research with fifty heterosexual couples in the Bay area. Hochschild is well-known for identifying ‘the second shift’ of childcare and domestic chores that working women often perform at home, on top of their professional commitment. This results in a rampant inequality of leisure time, and compounded with unequal pay in the workplace, exacerbates gender injustice in contemporary American society. But Hochschild also provides powerful examples of couples who counter-act this norm, while showing how individual attitudes towards gender and domestic responsibilities are influenced by class, ethnicity, and upbringing. Fascinating and illuminating. 

By Arlie Russell Hochschild, Anne Machung,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An updated edition of a standard in its field that remains relevant more than thirty years after its original publication.

Over thirty years ago, sociologist and University of California, Berkeley professor Arlie Hochschild set off a tidal wave of conversation and controversy with her bestselling book, The Second Shift. Hochschild's examination of life in dual-career housholds finds that, factoring in paid work, child care, and housework, working mothers put in one month of labor more than their spouses do every year. Updated for a workforce that is now half female, this edition cites a range of updated studies and statistics,…


Book cover of The Chronology of Water: A Memoir

Christie Tate Author Of Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life

From my list on the glorious truth of women’s bodies and their lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading almost exclusively memoirs and personal essays for over a decade. The women who generously wrote about their bodies—the bowels, the breasts, the bad sex—lit up the path for me when I was drowning in my own body shame and body confusion. Every year I read at least 50 memoirs, and the ones on this list are the ones I revisit over and over. I also study writing with Lidia Yuknavitch at Corporeal Writing, where I first heard six years ago that “the body has a point of view.” I love this as a writer and a reader. So much of women’s bodies and experiences has been hidden away or unstoried, but those days are coming to a close, and these writers are leading the way.

Christie's book list on the glorious truth of women’s bodies and their lives

Christie Tate Why did Christie love this book?

Yuknavitch’s memoir is a gloves-off gut-punch of stories about her life as a competitive swimmer, a daughter of a tyrannical father, and an artist-in-the-making. Best of all: The sex scenes are like nothing I’ve ever read. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE.

By Lidia Yuknavitch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the debris of her troubled early life, Lidia Yuknavitch weaves an astonishing tale of survival. A kind of memoir that is also a paean to the pursuit of beauty, self-expression, desire - for men and women - and the exhilaration of swimming, The Chronology of Water lays a life bare.

It is a life that navigates, and transcends, abuse, addiction, self-destruction and the crushing loss of a stillborn child. It is the life of a misfit, one that forges a fierce and untrodden path to creativity and comes together in the shape of love.


Book cover of The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror

Yvesdot Author Of Something's Not Right

From my list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read.

Why am I passionate about this?

It took me far too long to realize that I, childhood absorber of all things fantastical, counted as an SFF fan; all the books I saw listed as “popular” or “classic” SFF were cis/het white dude parties. But SFF at its best uses the fantastical as metaphor for the mundane; imagines better (or worse) worlds; does something different, in screaming color! Who can do that better than the books lost on the fringes? To that end, I’ve organized this list based on rough reverse popularity, so if you don’t find something new by the beginning, you’ll almost certainly get it by the end. Happy reading!

Yvesdot's book list on LGBT-friendly SFF you absolutely should read

Yvesdot Why did Yvesdot love this book?

The Merry Spinster falls into my big bucket of fairytale retelling faves, but it hardly sticks to tradition: rather than simply following old plots, Lavery draws on the tone and style of classic fairy tales to create a gender-warped world where daughters use he/him pronouns and mermaids are sort of, but distinctly not, girls. Even better, the playful attitude towards gender now seems to foreshadow Lavery’s own coming out and transition, both occurring after he published this book—something that fills me with a special kind of trans-author love. Reading this for the first time, I had the sensation of slipping pleasantly into an utter dreamworld of gender/sexuality beauty, like a warm bath: I recommend you fall in, too.

By Daniel M. Lavery,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A collection of darkly mischievous stories based on classic fairy tales"--Front flap.


Book cover of Half in Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Nellie Y. McKay

Alison M. Parker Author Of Unceasing Militant: The Life of Mary Church Terrell

From my list on biographies of Black women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian who just spent over a decade writing the biography of the civil rights activist and feminist activist, Mary Church Terrell. I wrote two other history books before I wrote Unceasing Militant, my first biography. I so enjoyed writing it that I plan on writing another, this time on a black woman named Mary Hamilton who was a leader in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in the 1960s. The authors I selected approached their biographies of black women with respect and critical compassion.

Alison's book list on biographies of Black women

Alison M. Parker Why did Alison love this book?

Benjamin’s Half in Shadow is an excellent exploration of the life of Nellie Y. McKay (1930-2006), a pioneering scholar of black women’s literature. Fearing it could damage her career in the academy, McKay declined to be caricatured as an older, divorced, black single mother of two children. So, she hid this from all her academic colleagues and friends, including her closest ones. The driving force of Benjamin’s book is trying to make sense of the private life and professional motivations of McKay’s choice to live her life “half in shadow.” Benjamin suggests that black women in the academy face similar pressures to achieve in and conform to predominantly white spaces in ways that do not easily allow them to bring their entire selves into the light.

By Shanna Greene Benjamin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nellie Y. McKay (1930-2006) was a pivotal figure in contemporary American letters. The author of several books, McKay is best known for coediting the canon-making Norton Anthology of African American Literature with Henry Louis Gates Jr., which helped secure a place for the scholarly study of Black writing that had been ignored by white academia. However, there is more to McKay's life and legacy than her literary scholarship. After her passing, new details about McKay's life emerged, surprising everyone who knew her. Why did McKay choose to hide so many details of her past? Shanna Greene Benjamin examines McKay's path…


Book cover of The Home Maker

Larry Zuckerman Author Of Lonely Are the Brave

From my list on men and women breaking unwritten rules.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teenager, I began to question the myths my parents told about our family, but when saying so caused trouble, I confided my stories to paper instead. That’s how I became a writer. My first love has always been fiction, but I broke into print writing history—about quirky subjects in which I find deep meaning, like the potato’s revolutionary influence on the Western world, or how the invasion and occupation of Belgium in 1914 foretold Nazi Europe. My fascination with subversion shapes my novels too—my quiet, lonely protagonists would never storm the barricades yet appear radical because of how they live, a circumstance I know well.

Larry's book list on men and women breaking unwritten rules

Larry Zuckerman Why did Larry love this book?

Canfield may have been the first to write a novel in which wife and husband swap roles as parental caregiver and breadwinner—in 1924, no less, well before modern feminism.

As a former full-time father, I admire the premise and how she draws it out, not least because she depicts with perfect pitch the social pressures her characters face.

The storytelling may seem dated in spots, but her characters’ lives ring true, and the way they come to recognize that their individual talents run contrary to societal rules—and what they do about that—reminds me of my own experience.

By Dorothy Canfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in feminism, the Age of Enlightenment, and gender?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about feminism, the Age of Enlightenment, and gender.

Feminism Explore 339 books about feminism
The Age Of Enlightenment Explore 143 books about the Age of Enlightenment
Gender Explore 32 books about gender