10 books like Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Lincoln in the Bardo. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Out of Sheer Rage

By Geoff Dyer,

Book cover of Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence

Emma Darwin Author Of This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin: a writer’s journey through my family

From the list on failing to write a book.

Who am I?

Alongside writing, I’ve been running workshops, teaching and mentoring writers for nearly twenty years, helping people get unstuck and keep going. So I spend most of my working life thinking about creativity and writing—then suddenly I, too, couldn’t write the book I needed to write. Every book in this list is about not-writing for different reasons, in different circumstances, but between them they tell us so much about how we write, why we write, how we get writing to happen—and what’s happening when we can’t. These very different stories resonate with each other, and I hope some of them resonate with you.

Emma's book list on failing to write a book

Discover why each book is one of Emma's favorite books.

Why did Emma love this book?

First, because it’s incredibly funny. Geoff Dyer set out—he says—to write a sober, serious study of D. H. Lawrence, but life, travel arrangements, random people and his own inertia kept getting in the way. The story of his odyssey doesn’t just evoke all the things about writing that we’ve always suspected (that it’s hard; that it’s easy; that we often wonder why on earth we do it; that we never question that we want to do it). It also, by stealth, evokes and explains an amazing amount about Lawrence, and why he’s a writer that so many people love—or hate—so passionately. 

Out of Sheer Rage

By Geoff Dyer,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Out of Sheer Rage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recounts the author's experiences visiting the places D.H. Lawrence lived while actively not working on a book about Lawrence and not writing his own novel.


The Invention of Wings

By Sue Monk Kidd,

Book cover of The Invention of Wings

T.K. Thorne Author Of Noah's Wife

From the list on history’s remarkable women.

Who am I?

T.K. Thorne became a police officer during the first decade of women policing in Birmingham, Alabama, retiring as a captain. Her background as a woman in a macho man’s world helped inform the writing of award-winning historical novels about completely unknown women in two of the world’s oldest and most famous stories—the tale of Noah’s flood and the burning of Sodom (Noah’s Wife and Angels at the Gate). An experienced speaker, T.K. shares the fascinating background research into the culture of those early civilizations, as well as the scientific discoveries behind the flood in the Mideast and first-hand information gained from her personal trips to the area.

T.K.'s book list on history’s remarkable women

Discover why each book is one of T.K.'s favorite books.

Why did T.K. love this book?

This masterpiece is a story of the Grimké sisters, Sarah and Angelina—path-breakers in the abolitionist and women’s rights movements—interwoven with the story of Hetty, a young slave girl given to Sarah on her 11th birthday.

Hetty and Sarah find their way through the prejudice and barriers of a patriarchal society that views them as less than. Both learn to soar.

This book affected me deeply as a writer. Kidd is simply a master of words. But the story itself stripped away my naivety about what our society would look like had these women not taken on the patriarchal system. It is jolting to realize that the fight for women’s rights is not over, but ongoing.

We owe such a debt to those who struggled through the painful and sometimes deadly slings and arrows of culture to stand up for what was right. And we are not done.

The Invention of Wings

By Sue Monk Kidd,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Invention of Wings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees and the forthcoming novel The Book of Longings, a novel about two unforgettable American women.

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty "Handful" Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke's daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something…


Living with Awareness

By Sangharakshita,

Book cover of Living with Awareness: A Guide to the Satipatthana Sutta

Maitreyabandhu Author Of Thicker than Blood (Friendship on the Buddhist Path)

From the list on Buddhism, meditation, and philosophy.

Who am I?

Maitreyabandhu started attending classes at the London Buddhist Centre (LBC) in 1986. He was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1990 and given the name Maitreyabandhu. Since then he has lived and worked at the LBC, teaching Buddhism and meditation, and leading retreats. He has written three books on Buddhism, Thicker than Blood: Friendship on the Buddhist Path, Life with Full Attention: A Practical Course in Mindfulness, and The Journey and the Guide: A Practical Guide in Enlightenment. Maitreyabandhu is also a prize-winning poet having written three poetry collections with Bloodaxe Books. Maitreyabandhu founded PoetryEast in 2010 where he interviews well-known artists and writers, including Antony Gormley, Wendy Cope, and Colm Tóibín. He is the co-founder, with Dr. Paramabandhu Groves, of Breathing Space, the LBC’s health and wellbeing project.

Maitreyabandhu's book list on Buddhism, meditation, and philosophy

Discover why each book is one of Maitreyabandhu's favorite books.

Why did Maitreyabandhu love this book?

There’s a lot of writing out there about mindfulness and meditation, but this book is really the place to start. Sangharakshita writes with a depth of clarity that manages to be inspiring, philosophical, and practical all at the same time. I can find books on mindfulness worthy and dull. This book is neither. My copy is covered with highlighter pen!

Living with Awareness

By Sangharakshita,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A discussion of the issues raised in the Satipatthana Sutta, the foundational Buddhist discourse on meditation and the importance of mindfulness and awareness in daily life. We can learn to live more fully by living every moment to the full.


Change Your Mind

By Paramananda,

Book cover of Change Your Mind: A practical guide to Buddhist meditation

Maitreyabandhu Author Of Thicker than Blood (Friendship on the Buddhist Path)

From the list on Buddhism, meditation, and philosophy.

Who am I?

Maitreyabandhu started attending classes at the London Buddhist Centre (LBC) in 1986. He was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1990 and given the name Maitreyabandhu. Since then he has lived and worked at the LBC, teaching Buddhism and meditation, and leading retreats. He has written three books on Buddhism, Thicker than Blood: Friendship on the Buddhist Path, Life with Full Attention: A Practical Course in Mindfulness, and The Journey and the Guide: A Practical Guide in Enlightenment. Maitreyabandhu is also a prize-winning poet having written three poetry collections with Bloodaxe Books. Maitreyabandhu founded PoetryEast in 2010 where he interviews well-known artists and writers, including Antony Gormley, Wendy Cope, and Colm Tóibín. He is the co-founder, with Dr. Paramabandhu Groves, of Breathing Space, the LBC’s health and wellbeing project.

Maitreyabandhu's book list on Buddhism, meditation, and philosophy

Discover why each book is one of Maitreyabandhu's favorite books.

Why did Maitreyabandhu love this book?

More and more people are drawn to meditation but it’s easy to be confounded by all those books and online teachings. This book is a great way to start. A simple guide to Buddhist meditation – to what it means, and how to do it – it’s practical, clear, helpful, and short.

Change Your Mind

By Paramananda,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Provides traditional practices for the readers to learn how to exchange stress and anxiety for calm and clarity of mind, and transform anger and fear into kindness and self confidence. The author guides on meditation with anecdotes and tips, from his experience of teaching meditation of more than 15 years.


The Master and His Emissary

By Iain McGilchrist,

Book cover of The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

Fernanda Pirie Author Of The Rule of Laws: A 4,000-Year Quest to Order the World

From the list on making us rethink global history.

Who am I?

I'm an anthropologist on a mission to discover how people have used, and abused, law over the past 4,000 years. After a decade in a wig and gown at the London Bar, I headed back to university to pursue a long-standing interest in Tibetan culture. I spent two years living with remote villagers and nomads, freezing over dung fires, herding yaks, and learning about traditional legal practices. Now, based at the University of Oxford, I’ve turned to legal history, comparing ancient Tibetan texts with examples from all over the world. The Rule of Laws brings a long sweep of legal history and its fascinating diversity to a wide audience.

Fernanda's book list on making us rethink global history

Discover why each book is one of Fernanda's favorite books.

Why did Fernanda love this book?

Philosopher and psychiatrist McGilchrist presented a bold thesis about the working of the human mind. It has profound implications for the way we understand human societies. We’ve long known that the two halves of the brain perform different functions but, using approachable case studies and clearly presenting the science, the first half of the book argues that the left, more rational, part of the brain is dangerously dominant. Controlling and grasping, it needs to remain subordinate to the more inclusive, humane, and intuitive functions of the right brain. McGilchrist goes on to trace the consequences for the development of human societies and their problems. The ideas linger, relevant to practically all aspects of our lives.

The Master and His Emissary

By Iain McGilchrist,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A pioneering exploration of the differences between the brain's right and left hemispheres and their effects on society, history, and culture-"one of the few contemporary works deserving classic status" (Nicholas Shakespeare, The Times, London)

"Persuasively argues that our society is suffering from the consequences of an over-dominant left hemisphere losing touch with its natural regulative 'master' the right. Brilliant and disturbing."-Salley Vickers, a Guardian Best Book of the Year

"I know of no better exposition of the current state of functional brain neuroscience."-W. F. Bynum, TLS

Why is the brain divided? The difference between right and left hemispheres has been…


The Essential Sangharakshita

By Urgyen Sangharakshita, Emily Stout,

Book cover of The Essential Sangharakshita: A Half-Century of Writings from the Founder of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order

Maitreyabandhu Author Of Thicker than Blood (Friendship on the Buddhist Path)

From the list on Buddhism, meditation, and philosophy.

Who am I?

Maitreyabandhu started attending classes at the London Buddhist Centre (LBC) in 1986. He was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1990 and given the name Maitreyabandhu. Since then he has lived and worked at the LBC, teaching Buddhism and meditation, and leading retreats. He has written three books on Buddhism, Thicker than Blood: Friendship on the Buddhist Path, Life with Full Attention: A Practical Course in Mindfulness, and The Journey and the Guide: A Practical Guide in Enlightenment. Maitreyabandhu is also a prize-winning poet having written three poetry collections with Bloodaxe Books. Maitreyabandhu founded PoetryEast in 2010 where he interviews well-known artists and writers, including Antony Gormley, Wendy Cope, and Colm Tóibín. He is the co-founder, with Dr. Paramabandhu Groves, of Breathing Space, the LBC’s health and wellbeing project.

Maitreyabandhu's book list on Buddhism, meditation, and philosophy

Discover why each book is one of Maitreyabandhu's favorite books.

Why did Maitreyabandhu love this book?

Buddhism is still misunderstood in the modern world. It can seem all fuzzy ‘being-in-the-moment’ meditation or a rather cold, analytical non-self philosophy. Sangharakshita is the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order and my own teacher (I knew him personally). This book collects together some of his essential teaching and thought, illuminating ancient Buddhism wisdom for a modern world.

The Essential Sangharakshita

By Urgyen Sangharakshita, Emily Stout,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Profoundly knowledgeable and articulate, and equally at home with science, philosophy, myth, art, and poetry, Urgyen Sangharakshita uses every inner avenue to communicate the timeless Dharma to the Western mind. Engaging both the intellect and the heart countless times in a single chapter, the author draws remarkably apt examples from sources as diverse as Orwell, Aeschylus, and Jane Austen. This distilled volume is a primer to the breadth and depth of Buddhist thought and practice.


The King Must Die

By Mary Renault,

Book cover of The King Must Die

Emily Mitchell Author Of The Last Summer of the World

From the list on reminding you how strange the past really was.

Who am I?

I’ve always been interested in history. I grew up in London, where there's a lot of it. But what made me want to write fiction about the past was experiences of imaginative affinity for certain other times and places. My first book is set during World War One. I've always felt connected to the change in sensibility that many people went through then, from an optimistic, moralistic, Victorian outlook, in which, to quote Paul Fussell from The Great War and Modern Memory, people “believed in Progress and Art and in no way doubted the benignity even of technology” to an understanding that human beings and our societies contained deeper, more persistent shadows. 

Emily's book list on reminding you how strange the past really was

Discover why each book is one of Emily's favorite books.

Why did Emily love this book?

The challenge of writing historical fiction set in the distant past is bridging the vast gap between our modern understanding of the world and that of our distant forebears, since even our most basic assumptions and values undergo enormous changes over time. Those who love Renault’s works about classical antiquity relish the ability of her novels to truly carry us into another world, to make it felt and intelligible. This novel follows the fortunes of the mythic hero Theseus, from his origins in Troizen to his departure for Athens to find his father, his achievement of the kingship of Eleusis, his voluntary enslavement in Crete as a bull-dancer, an acrobat who vaults over living animals for spectacle, his confrontation with the minotaur and his eventual return home, older and more baffled by existence. It gives dimension to the mythic hero, a complexity that is at once familiar and profoundly, unsettlingly…

The King Must Die

By Mary Renault,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The King Must Die as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Theseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery - can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father's sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus's perilous journey to his father's palace to claim his birth right, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story.


Middle Passage

By Charles Johnson,

Book cover of Middle Passage

Emily Mitchell Author Of The Last Summer of the World

From the list on reminding you how strange the past really was.

Who am I?

I’ve always been interested in history. I grew up in London, where there's a lot of it. But what made me want to write fiction about the past was experiences of imaginative affinity for certain other times and places. My first book is set during World War One. I've always felt connected to the change in sensibility that many people went through then, from an optimistic, moralistic, Victorian outlook, in which, to quote Paul Fussell from The Great War and Modern Memory, people “believed in Progress and Art and in no way doubted the benignity even of technology” to an understanding that human beings and our societies contained deeper, more persistent shadows. 

Emily's book list on reminding you how strange the past really was

Discover why each book is one of Emily's favorite books.

Why did Emily love this book?

The question of how to portray a historical atrocity like slavery in a work of fiction is obviously monumental. Toni Morrison, Gayl Jones, Colson Whitehead, and John Keene have approached this with consummate brilliance by writing the experience and subjectivity of enslaved and formerly-enslaved people. Johnson, however, focuses on the perpetrators: the men who engage in and profit from the capture and trafficking of other human beings. As in Mantel’s novel, the choice of the protagonist is key. Rutherford Calhoun is a ne’er-do-well free Black man from New Orleans who runs away on a ship to escape debts and engagement to a woman whose love he hasn’t done much to deserve. It turns out this ship is bound for Africa to collect a cargo of people, members of the Allmuseri tribe, an ethnicity Johnson invented for his fiction. But along with the people, they are also collecting something much more…

Middle Passage

By Charles Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Celebrating Fifty Years of Picador Books

Winner of the National Book Award 1990

The Apocalypse would definitely put a crimp in my career plans.

Rutherford Calhoun, a puckish rogue and newly freed slave, spends his days loitering around the docks of New Orleans, dodging debt collectors, gangsters, and Isadora Bailey, a prim and frugal woman who seeks to marry him and curb his mischievous instincts. When the heat from these respective pursuers becomes too much to bear, he cons his way on to the next ship leaving the dock: the Republic. Upon boarding, to his horror he discovers that he…


Beloved

By Toni Morrison,

Book cover of Beloved

Rosemary Dun Author Of Only Hummingbirds Fly Backwards

From the list on whose women characters don’t or won’t conform.

Who am I?

Books provided me with many role models, from writer Jo of Little Women to the swashbuckling Angelique of bodice-ripping yarns… No wonder Elizabeth I (the supreme non-conformist) remains my favourite royal, and Jane Austen (mistress of the sharp aside) a return-to read. Women going against what's expected of them informed my early awakenings as a feminist as the women of my favourite books - in differing domestic settings and social mores – strove to be their authentic selves. I’ve lived a good portion of my life vicariously through novels – reading voraciously from a very young age – my mother, also a reader and non-conformist in her own way, informed the person and writer I've become.

Rosemary's book list on whose women characters don’t or won’t conform

Discover why each book is one of Rosemary's favorite books.

Why did Rosemary love this book?

Set at a time of slavery in the U.S., Sethe, a former slave, makes a terrible – and to her the only - choice to save her girl child from the horrors faced by women in slavery.

Beloved is the daughter who haunts her, and their tale has haunted me ever since.

Beloved

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…


Sing, Unburied, Sing

By Jesmyn Ward,

Book cover of Sing, Unburied, Sing

Lucy Blue Author Of The Devil Makes Three

From the list on hauntings.

Who am I?

As a goth chick from the American South, I’m obsessed with stories of old evil from the past finding its way into the present. I even live in a haunted house, a disintegrating Craftsman built in 1901. Our ghosts are very cozy, two cat-loving maiden ladies who were co-presidents of the local temperance society. We’ve given up on keeping liquor in our liquor cabinet; bottles cracking and leaking, glassware broken for no reason. And we’ve gotten so used to seeing and hearing their famous cat, Tom, we barely react anymore—a huge orange tabby tomcat who runs past our feet and jumps on the foot of our bed. 

Lucy's book list on hauntings

Discover why each book is one of Lucy's favorite books.

Why did Lucy love this book?

Reading this book made me stop writing my own Southern gothic ghost book in the middle, rethink it completely, and start over again from scratch, and I wasn’t even mad about it. It’s just that good. It’s about thirteen-year-old Jojo and his family—his much-loved and very much dying grandmother, his strong, silent, and protective grandfather, his wild child mother, Leonie, his baby sister, Kayla, who looks to Jojo to keep her safe, and his white father, Michael, who just got out of jail. Everybody has secrets, and everybody sees ghosts. This literary novel won the National Book Award, but I promise you, horror readers, it will scare you silly and break your heart. 

Sing, Unburied, Sing

By Jesmyn Ward,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Sing, Unburied, Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018 WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2017 ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2017 SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE NEW STATESMAN, THE FINANCIAL TIMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, TIME AND THE BBC Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Finalist for the Kirkus Prize Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award 'This wrenching new novel by Jesmyn Ward digs deep into the not-buried heart of the American nightmare. A must' Margaret Atwood 'A powerfully…


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