100 books like Lucy

By Donald Johanson, Maitland Edey,

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

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Book cover of The Time Machine

Philippa M. Steele Author Of Exploring Writing Systems and Practices in the Bronze Age Aegean

From my list on highlighting the fragility of human culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor at Cambridge University, and following years of training in ancient languages and linguistics, I am currently running a research project on the visual aspects of writing systems. Recently, I’ve become passionate about using research on ancient languages and writing to try to help communities today who are in danger of losing their linguistic traditions (I've started an Endangered Writing Network)–which is why the fragility of human culture is high on my agenda. Ultimately, I’d like the world to be a better place for my baby son to grow up in, and I hope to use my academic work to help people in some small way.

Philippa's book list on highlighting the fragility of human culture

Philippa M. Steele Why did Philippa love this book?

For me, this is the ultimate science fiction story: the Victorian inventor whose contraption works so well that he can travel to witness the end of human society. I first saw the film, with the wonderful Rod Taylor, then loved the book—what a story!

The Morlocks terrified me as a child, but as I grew older, I realized there is much more complexity to these apparent antagonists. Who should we sympathize with more, the Eloi who have forgotten all human knowledge and leave their books crumbling as they frolic mindlessly, with no sense of social responsibility, or the resourceful Morlocks who have no choice but to live their lives in the shadows?

The hero’s devastation is palpable when he learns where mankind’s journey ultimately leads.

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Time Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

A brilliant scientist constructs a machine, which, with the pull of a lever, propels him to the year AD 802,701.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition of The Time Machine features an introduction by Dr Mark Bould.

The Time Traveller finds himself in a verdant, seemingly idyllic landscape where he is greeted by the diminutive Eloi people. The Eloi are beautiful but weak and indolent, and the explorer is perplexed by…


Book cover of The Descent Of Man

Michael Ruse Author Of Why We Hate: Understanding the Roots of Human Conflict

From my list on why such nice people as we are so nasty.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised a Quaker in England in the years after the Second World War. Quakers don’t have creeds, but they have strong beliefs about such things as the immorality of war. In the 1950s there was also huge prejudice, particularly against homosexuality which was then illegal. Issues like these gnawed at me throughout my 55-year career as a philosophy professor. Now 82 and finally retired, I'm turning against the problems of war and prejudice, applying much that I've learnt in my career as a philosopher interested in evolutionary theory, most particularly Charles Darwin. For this reason, intentionally, Why We Hate: Understanding the Roots of Human Conflict is aimed at the general reader.  

Michael's book list on why such nice people as we are so nasty

Michael Ruse Why did Michael love this book?

Understanding human nature – nice and nasty – demands that we dig into the past, and this brings us at once to evolution. What are we and why are we? The powerful conceptual tool that we use for explanations is Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection. The Descent of Man is about human evolution. At times it reads very much like something out of the nineteenth century – Charles Darwin’s discussion of women makes your hair stand on end (and, if it doesn’t, it should). But the central doctrine of evolution through natural selection brought on by the struggle for existence is right there and once you grasp that, you have grasped the key to unlocking the main issues.

By Charles Darwin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Descent Of Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Descent of Man, Darwin's second landmark work on evolutionary theory (following The Origin of the Species), marked a turning point in the history of science with its modern vision of human nature as the product of evolution. Darwin argued that the noblest features of humans, such as language and morality, were the result of the same natural processes that produced iris petals and scorpion tails.


Book cover of Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

Michael Muthukrishna Author Of A Theory of Everyone: The New Science of Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going

From my list on changing how you see the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of economic psychology at the London School of Economics with affiliations in developmental economics and data science. Before that, I was at Harvard in Human Evolutionary Biology. During my PhD, I took graduate courses in psychology, economics, evolutionary biology, and statistics. I have undergraduate degrees in engineering and in psychology and took courses in everything from economics and biology to philosophy and political science. As a child, I witnessed the civil war in Sri Lanka; a violent coup in Papua New Guinea; the end of apartheid in South Africa, living in neighboring Botswana; and London’s 7/7 bomb attacks. I’ve also lived in Australia, Canada, USA, and UK.

Michael's book list on changing how you see the world

Michael Muthukrishna Why did Michael love this book?

The new science of DNA reveals a lot about how we think about identity.

Humans are a migratory species and our stories are complicated. Ancient DNA don't always match people's stories about their ancestors. Rather than being in a place for thousands of years, sometimes we replaced those who were there before or only the males of the group.

Sometimes we completely replaced the group that was there before but the original group's culture persisted or even replaced the invading culture. The book complicates our understanding of indigeneity and belonging.

By David Reich,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Who We Are and How We Got Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The past few years have witnessed a revolution in our ability to obtain DNA from ancient humans. This important new data has added to our knowledge from archaeology and anthropology, helped resolve long-existing controversies, challenged long-held views, and thrown up remarkable surprises.

The emerging picture is one of many waves of ancient human migrations, so that all populations living today are mixes of ancient ones, and often carry a genetic component from archaic humans. David Reich, whose team has been at the forefront of these discoveries, explains what genetics is telling us about ourselves and our complex and often surprising…


Book cover of War, Peace, and Human Nature: The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views

Michael Ruse Author Of A Philosopher Looks at Human Beings

From my list on human evolution and the human story.

Why am I passionate about this?

Our discovery that we are modified monkeys rather than modified mud is a human achievement on a par with a Mozart opera or a Vermeer painting. As a historian and philosopher of science, my lifelong mission has been to see how this knowledge transcends earlier myths about divine creation and opens the way to a far richer and more optimistic vision of human nature, our achievements, and our future possibilities. New knowledge can be terrifying. It can also be exciting and liberating. It is an obligation, a privilege, and a joy to be able to express our full humanity. The authors I shall introduce exemplify this so very much.

Michael's book list on human evolution and the human story

Michael Ruse Why did Michael love this book?

From anthropology and archeology, Douglas Fry and his co-contributors tell us that our ancestors were hunter-gatherers, in small bands, on a five-million-year camping trip around the globe. We had to have adaptations for harmonious communal living. Wary of strangers, we would realize that wanting to fight them was stupid. Man the “killer ape” is fiction. Then, 10,000 years ago, came agriculture, with a population explosion producing abundant goods that others would covet. The consequence was war and prejudice and other vile beliefs and behaviors. Ex-Quaker as I am, I have written a book, Why We Hate: The Roots of Human Conflict, appearing in Spring 2021, arguing that, by making the appropriate cultural moves, we can again attain our natural state of cooperation and peaceful living.

By Douglas P. Fry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked War, Peace, and Human Nature as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Have humans always waged war? Is warring an ancient evolutionary adaptation or a relatively recent behavior-and what does that tell us about human nature? In War, Peace, and Human Nature, editor Douglas P. Fry brings together leading experts in such fields as evolutionary biology, archaeology, anthropology, and primatology to answer fundamental questions about peace, conflict, and human nature in an evolutionary context. The chapters in this book
demonstrate that humans clearly have the capacity to make war, but since war is absent in some cultures, it cannot be viewed as a human universal. And counter to frequent presumption the actual…


Book cover of The Shadow of the Sun

Mark Weston Author Of The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries

From my list on travel in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I first visited Africa in 2004 I’ve found it difficult to tear myself away. I’ve lived in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, and Sudan and travelled in all corners of the continent. I’ve participated in a revolution, hung out with the illegal fishermen of Lake Victoria, been cursed—and protectedby witch doctors, and learned Swahili. I’ve also read extensively about the place, written three books about it, and broadcast from it for the BBC World Service. In my other life I research and write about international development for universities and global organisations. This too has a focus on Africa.

Mark's book list on travel in Africa

Mark Weston Why did Mark love this book?

This short book is without doubt the best introduction to African travel (and in my opinion one of the greatest travel books ever written).

Ranging across the whole continent, Kapuscinski’s evocative writing, although not always sticking religiously to factual details, captures the essence—and the magic—of the place like nobody else can. The book, along with his other great works on Africa Another Day of Life and The Emperor, was a major influence on both why I wanted to get to know Africa and how I write about it. 

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Only with the greatest of simplifications, for the sake of convenience, can we say Africa. In reality, except as a geographical term, Africa doesn't exist'. Ryszard Kapuscinski has been writing about the people of Africa throughout his career. In astudy that avoids the official routes, palaces and big politics, he sets out to create an account of post-colonial Africa seen at once as a whole and as a location that wholly defies generalised explanations. It is both a sustained meditation on themosaic of peoples and practises we call 'Africa', and an impassioned attempt to come to terms with humanity itself…


Book cover of The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Author Of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

From my list on rulers behaving badly in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University. They use the mathematical approach of game theory to understand the incentives of leaders in different settings. The Dictator’s Handbook distills decades of academic work into a few essential rules that encapsulate how leaders come to power and remain there.

Bruce's book list on rulers behaving badly in Africa

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Why did Bruce love this book?

All of Kapuscinski’s books are gems. He traveled Africa and other parts of the developing world as a Soviet journalist. The Emperor describes the rule and decline of the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie. The dry day-to-dry accounts of the emperor’s benign neglect for his people is chilling. Haile Selassie knew to keep those around him happy and not to worry about the people: “A man starved all his life will never rebel…. No one raised his voice or hand there. But just let the subject start to eat his fill and then try to take the bowl away, and immediately he rises in rebellion. The usefulness of hunger is that a hungry man thinks only of bread.”.

By Ryszard Kapuściński,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A "sensitive, powerful ... history" (The New York Review of Books) of a man living amidst nearly unimaginable pomp and luxury while his people teetered netween hunger and starvation.

Haile Selassie, King of Kings, Elect of God, Lion of Judah, His Most Puissant Majesty and Distinguished Highness the Emperor of Ethiopia, reigned from 1930 until he was overthrown by the army in 1974. While the fighting still raged, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Poland's leading foreign correspondent, traveled to Ethiopia to seek out and interview Selassie's servants and closest associates on how the Emperor had ruled and why he fell. This is Kapuscinski's…


Book cover of I Didn't Do It for You: How the World Betrayed a Small African Nation

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Author Of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics

From my list on rulers behaving badly in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith are professors of politics at New York University. They use the mathematical approach of game theory to understand the incentives of leaders in different settings. The Dictator’s Handbook distills decades of academic work into a few essential rules that encapsulate how leaders come to power and remain there.

Bruce's book list on rulers behaving badly in Africa

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita And Alastair Smith Why did Bruce love this book?

Wrong’s account of Eritrea’s bid for independence from Ethiopia highlights the conflict between the needs of the people and the wants of leaders. The title of her book is taken from what a soldier liberating Ethiopia from Italian rule told a local and sets the tone of the book. Time and again Wrong describes how leaders will starve their own people or bomb their own soldiers provide it help keep them in power.

By Michela Wrong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Didn't Do It for You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One small East African country embodies the battered history of the continent: patronised by colonialists, riven by civil war, confused by Cold War manoeuvring, proud, colorful, with Africa's best espresso and worst rail service. Michela Wrong brilliantly reveals the contradictions and comedy, past and present, of Eritrea.

Just as the beat of a butterfly's wings is said to cause hurricanes on the other side of the world, so the affairs of tiny Eritrea reverberate onto the agenda of superpower strategists. This new book on Africa is from the author of the critically acclaimed In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz.

Eritrea…


Book cover of Boyhood

Tim Bascom Author Of Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia

From my list on memoirs of American and European expats in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since spending seven years of my youth in East Africa, I have read the literature of that continent. I have relished the incredible novels of authors like Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Maaza Mengiste, but I have also sought out stories of those who entered Africa from outside, wanting to confirm my experience and to make sense of it. My reading has included masterpieces like Abraham Verghese’s novel Cutting for Stone or Ryszard Kapuscinski’s journalistic expose The Emperor. But here are a few personal memoirs that have given me a basis for my own understanding of being an expatriate shaped profoundly by life in Africa.  

Tim's book list on memoirs of American and European expats in Africa

Tim Bascom Why did Tim love this book?

Some would claim Coetzee’s Boyhood is an autobiographical novel, and others would insist it is a fictionalized memoir. In any case, it is a powerful depiction of a child’s experience of being raised in the harsh, racist culture of Afrikaners in apartheid South Africa. Maybe because the author decided to tell the story from the 3rd person perspective—as if standing outside of himself—the bleakness of his home and community presses home twice as hard. One senses, behind the cruelty and callousness, the buried ugliness of entrenched bigotry. I lived in a kinder missionary community, learning to admire the people I encountered in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan, but over time I had to recognize subtler prejudices that went with that evangelistic expatriate culture. Boyhood spoke to me in a necessary, truth-telling way that was not comfortable but very important.

By J. M. Coetzee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The critically acclaimed author of In the Heart of the Country tells his personal story of growing up under apartheid in South Africa with a father he cannot respect and a mother he both adores and despises. 12,500 first printing.


Book cover of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

Susan McCormick Author Of The Fog Ladies

From my list on mysteries with senior sleuths and older characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a doctor, an award-winning writer, and lifelong lover of mysteries. Many mysteries feature smart characters. I prefer those with wise characters, who can teach me something about a life well-lived. Or not. Sometimes the mistakes are more instructive and more fun. Stories with older characters offer a plethora of life experience and wisdom, and usually poignancy and humor as well. From my life as a doctor and my daily visits to my mother’s retirement community dinner table, I see seniors who are strong, wise, vital, and often overlooked. I love stories that give voice to this robust and rich generation who have so much to offer.

Susan's book list on mysteries with senior sleuths and older characters

Susan McCormick Why did Susan love this book?

Some might consider this cheating, as Mma Ramotswe’s age is not obvious as the books progress, but after 23 adventures, I will count her tending toward middle if not old age.

If she is not, the gentle mannerisms and thoughtful concerns of her and her husband, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, definitely put the books into this category of wise and poignant characters.

There may still be a mystery to each book, but these stories offer marriage advice, friendship advice, life advice in as joyful and tranquil a way possible.

By Alexander McCall Smith,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Precious Ramotswe, a cheerful woman of traditional build, is the founder of Botswana's first and only ladies' detective agency. Here is a gentle interpretation of the detective role: solving her cases through her innate wisdom and understanding of human nature, she 'helps people with problems in their lives'. With a tone that is as elegant as that which is unfailingly used by his protagonist, Alexander McCall Smith tenderly unfolds a picture of life in Gaborone with a mastery of comic understatement and an evident sympathy for his subjects and their milieu. In the background of all this is Botswana, a…


Book cover of Africa Solo: My World Record Race from Cairo to Cape Town

Sean Conway Author Of Big Mile Cycling: Ten Years. 60000 Miles. One Dream

From my list on long distance cycling.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sean Conway is a record-breaking endurance cyclist who has cycled over 100,000 miles in the last decade including cycling around the world, LEJOG twice, and the world record for the fastest person to cycle across Europe.

Sean's book list on long distance cycling

Sean Conway Why did Sean love this book?

Having grown up in Africa I found Mark’s Cairo to Cape Town cycling world record captivating from start to finish. Completing the ride in 41 days (which is faster than many people drive it) was a feat of unimaginable endurance.

By Mark Beaumont,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR ADVENTURE TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR

In the spring of 2015, Mark Beaumont set out from the bustling heart of Cairo on his latest world record attempt - solo, the length of Africa, intending to ride to Cape Town in under 50 days. Seven years since he smashed the world record for cycling round the world, this would be his toughest trip yet. And he would set a new mark that would simply break the limits of endurance.

Despite illness, mechanical faults, attempted robbery and stone-throwing children, as well as dehydration in the deserts and unprecedented levels of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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