65 books like Mr. Palomar

By Italo Calvino,

Here are 65 books that Mr. Palomar fans have personally recommended if you like Mr. Palomar. 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 Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry

Janet Sternburg Author Of Janet Sternburg - I've Been Walking

From my list on discovering how to see.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and a late-life fine arts photographerFor eight years I had been writing a book set in the personal and historical past. I would sit at the computer, shut my eyes, and say to myself, “Go deeper.” Eventually, I was able to recall long-forgotten details. When I looked up from those years of writing, the memoir, entitled Phantom Limb, was finished and being published. However, I discovered that I could no longer see – really see – what was around me. Along the way, I had lost that alert attention to the way light falls, to colors that used to hit me between the eyes. I felt the loss deeply. I’ve always loved to look. I had to do something to summon it back.

Janet's book list on discovering how to see

Janet Sternburg Why did Janet love this book?

In order to retrieve my sense of seeing in the present, I went to my second home in Mexico, read a little each morning, and then went walking without any destination. This is the book I was reading those mornings in Mexico, before my walks. It may seem odd to start with a book about poetry, but this one opened the gate to seeing and to taking my first photograph.

By Jane Hirschfield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Gate Enables passage between what is inside and what is outside, and the connection poetry forges between inner and outer lives is the fundamental theme of these nine essays.

Nine Gates begins with a close examination of the roots of poetic craft in "the mind of concentration" and concludes by exploring the writer's role in creating a sense of community that is open, inclusive and able to bind the individual and the whole in a way that allows each full self-expression. in between, Nine Gates illumines the nature of originality, translation, the various strategies by which meaning unfolds itself…


Book cover of Nothing Special

Janet Sternburg Author Of Janet Sternburg - I've Been Walking

From my list on discovering how to see.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and a late-life fine arts photographerFor eight years I had been writing a book set in the personal and historical past. I would sit at the computer, shut my eyes, and say to myself, “Go deeper.” Eventually, I was able to recall long-forgotten details. When I looked up from those years of writing, the memoir, entitled Phantom Limb, was finished and being published. However, I discovered that I could no longer see – really see – what was around me. Along the way, I had lost that alert attention to the way light falls, to colors that used to hit me between the eyes. I felt the loss deeply. I’ve always loved to look. I had to do something to summon it back.

Janet's book list on discovering how to see

Janet Sternburg Why did Janet love this book?

This is a book that gets obstacles for seeing out of the way. This is the book I turn to if I’m sad, unsure, not confident. It’s not that this Zen master makes me happy or sure of myself. No, she puts my life in perspective: What is the big deal? I imagine her saying. You are a small thing in the universe. But while you are here, it's important to do your work. Read it and you’ll be back in the river, whisked along in the current, one more unimportant but vitally aware part of the great stream of life.

By Charlotte Joko Beck, Steven A. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nothing Special as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WHEN NOTHING IS SPECIAL, EVERYTHING CAN BE

The best-selling author of 'Everyday Zen' shows how to awaken to daily life and discover the ideal in the everyday, finding riches in our feelings, relationships, and work. 'Nothing Special' offers the rare and delightful experience of learning in the authentic Buddhist tradition with a wonderfully contemporary Western master.


Book cover of The Coroner's Lunch

P.L. Doss Author Of Enough Rope

From my list on forensic that are gruesome, but fascinating.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like Patrick in "Rubbernecker," I excelled at dissecting animals in high school and college biology labs. I was also preoccupied by death, specifically violent deaths, and the reasons why people did such horrible things. Perhaps it was because of the Perry Mason mysteries my father gave me when I had a bad case of insomnia at age thirteen. So when I saw my first autopsy while interning at the Fulton County ME's office in Atlanta during graduate school, I was riveted. And while I didn't become a pathologist, my career in the criminal justice field gave me a front-row seat to observe the sad, traumatic, and often violent ways in which disturbed individuals impact society.

P.L.'s book list on forensic that are gruesome, but fascinating

P.L. Doss Why did P.L. love this book?

And now for something completely different, set in the People's Republic of Laos in 1976.

Dr. Siri Paiboun, a former surgeon and socialist activist now old and disillusioned with the Communist Party, has become the country's only coroner. It's a job he hates, made worse by corrupt officials and a judge who tries to turn even blatant homicides into deaths from natural causes. And by the dead, who haunt his dreams. 

Aided only by his Thai nurse, Dtui, and his mentally-challenged morgue attendant, Geung, Siri must deal with the bodies of three men who weren't supposed to be found and the suspicious death of a senior official's wife. Both are political tightropes. As he teeters on them, Siri travels to an unfamiliar area where the people know him—but as the reincarnation of Yeh Ming, an ancient shaman.

Soon, he's having hallucinations that may, in fact, be very real. To save…

By Colin Cotterill,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Coroner's Lunch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Laos in the year 1976, the monarchy has been deposed, and the Communist Pathet Lao have taken over. Most of the educated class has fled, but Dr Siri Paiboun, a Paris-trained doctor remains. And so this 72-year-old physician is appointed state coroner, despite having no training, equipment, experience or even inclination for the job. But the job's not that bad and Siri quickly settles into a routine of studying outdated medical texts, scrounging scarce supplies, and circumnavigating bureaucratic red tape to arrive at justice. The fact that the recently departed are prone to pay Siri the odd, unwanted nocturnal…


Book cover of The Photographer's Eye

Janet Sternburg Author Of Janet Sternburg - I've Been Walking

From my list on discovering how to see.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and a late-life fine arts photographerFor eight years I had been writing a book set in the personal and historical past. I would sit at the computer, shut my eyes, and say to myself, “Go deeper.” Eventually, I was able to recall long-forgotten details. When I looked up from those years of writing, the memoir, entitled Phantom Limb, was finished and being published. However, I discovered that I could no longer see – really see – what was around me. Along the way, I had lost that alert attention to the way light falls, to colors that used to hit me between the eyes. I felt the loss deeply. I’ve always loved to look. I had to do something to summon it back.

Janet's book list on discovering how to see

Janet Sternburg Why did Janet love this book?

At last, a book about photography! And one that is arguably the best from which to learn to see, Szarkowski, the legendary curator who worked at the Museum from 1962 to 1991, has published many influential books. But none more radically and succinctly demonstrates why - as U.S. News & World Report put it in 1990 - his thinking about photography "has become our thinking about photography".

Look and look and look. Keep it on your bedside table. It will be your friend. Learn from it – about composition, about story, about the many ways that one can see. Whether you take a photograph or not, you will learn that ineffable thing that can’t be taught but which can be inspired: how to see. Enjoy!

By John Szarkowski, William Klein (photographer), Paul Strand (photographer) , Lee Friedlander (photographer) , Walker Evans (photographer)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Photographer's Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Photographer's Eye, available again after some years out of print, offers a guide to the medium's visual language through works by such early masters as Atget, Cartier-Bresson, Evans, Strand and Weston. In this re-issue, 172 illustrations reveal the extraordinary range of the photograph from the early days of the medium's development to the mid-1960s. They are accompanied by an essay from Szarkowski, one of the most influential photography curators and critics of our time.


Book cover of A New Theory of Urban Design

Matthew Carmona Author Of Public Places Urban Spaces: The Dimensions of Urban Design

From my list on urban design books that inspired me.

Why am I passionate about this?

Looking at the books I have chosen, one might say they are all rather long in the tooth. They are, yet they are also the books that inspired me to do what I do today which is to teach and research the subject of urban design. I am a Professor of Planning and Urban Design at The Bartlett, UCL and firmly believe that understanding a subject like my own begins from the foundations upwards. Each of these classic texts represents part of those foundations, foundations that my own work attempts to build upon. 

Matthew's book list on urban design books that inspired me

Matthew Carmona Why did Matthew love this book?

This book reports on a research project, this time undertaken by Christopher Alexander and his students.  It is one of a number of books that attempts to ask deep questions about how places grow, and in particular about how they can grow positively in a manner that we instinctively feel to be ‘good.' Like Cullen’s book, this deeply influenced my own studies, this time of planning, when I remember conducting an experiment focused on piecemeal growth with a fellow student. The project emulated Alexander’s method and taught me a key lesson that has informed my own work ever since, namely that urban design is primarily a process. Get the process right and you are much more likely to get the outcomes you desire.

By Christopher Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A New Theory of Urban Design as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this radical new look at the theory and practice of urban design, Christopher Alexander asks why our modern cities so often lack a sense of natural growth, and suggests a set of rules and guidelines by which we can inject that `organic' character back into our High Streets, buildings, and squares. At a time when so many of Britain's inner cities are undergoing, or are in need of, drastic renovation, Christopher Alexander's detailed account of his own experiments
in urban-renewal in San Francisco makes thought-provoking reading.


Book cover of Pacific Natural at Home

Chase Reynolds Ewald and Heather Sandy Hebert Author Of At Home in the Wine Country: Architecture & Design in the California Vineyards

From my list on design on inspired living on the West Coast.

Why are we passionate about this?

At Home in the Wine Country coauthors Heather and Chase love the open, nature-focused attitude toward living that California does so well. Heather worked in the field of architecture for 25 years and is the author of The New Architecture of Wine. Chase has been a western lifestyle writer for 30 years and is the author of 14 books, including Modern Americana, American Rustic, Cabin Style, and Bison. As writers and consultants they work with publishers, magazines, and design, hospitality and wine clients to craft and convey their stories. Heather and Chase live in spectacularly scenic Marin County, halfway between San Francisco and California's iconic wine country.

Chase's book list on design on inspired living on the West Coast

Chase Reynolds Ewald and Heather Sandy Hebert Why did Chase love this book?

Jenny Kayne personifies the easy, laid-back approach to design and life that is so characteristic of California. Comfort plays a role equal to that of style, which is always organic, natural, and textural. Jenni Kayne's style leans toward a neutral palette that embraces and accentuates the light, color, and texture of the California landscape. She shares work from her own home, as well as homes of other creative women who share her natural design ethos.

By Jenni Kayne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A known tastemaker and authority on style, Jenni Kayne spans the worlds of fashion, interiors, and entertaining. Inspired by organic textures, thoughtful simplicity, and natural landscapes, Kayne embodies an earthy and effortless aesthetic one that is intentional and where beauty and authenticity exist in every detail. In her second book Kayne turns to interior design, sharing her beautifully designed interiors as well as the homes of other creative women who embrace a similar natural design ethos. The book introduces the homes by location, spanning varied landscapes and design characteristics: houses by the ocean, desert-style spaces, mountain homes, and abodes in…


Book cover of The Time of the Dark

Steven J. Morris Author Of The Guardian of the Palace

From my list on transport select people from Earth to other realms.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fantasy takes me to a place where I can get out of my own skin, explore new worlds, and live adventures. The stories that pulled folks from our world (for those of you as loosely tethered as I am, I refer to Earth) provided more connection to the idea that I could be in those fantasy worlds and involved in those stories. That’s the bonus level of escapism! I didn’t realize just how many of my favorite stories fell into that category until I wrote this. Those books were definitely instrumental in my writing, though I didn’t follow any of those specific formulas. I’ll have to write another grouping for the other major category of books that influenced my writing.

Steven's book list on transport select people from Earth to other realms

Steven J. Morris Why did Steven love this book?

This is the first book of the three-book Darwath Series. A powerful wizard, in an attempt to save his world, winds up pulling a couple of people over from Earth. The relationships and the struggles, along with the wry humor, make this book great. All of Hambly’s fantasy books that I’ve read have worlds where magic does not come easy, and I always appreciate the price that magic users have to pay. This series of hers has a frighteningly good tale—that ending!

By Barbara Hambly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gil, a graduate student, discovers that her nightmares of people fleeing in panic from a hideous evil are not dreams and that she is standing in the doorway to another world


Book cover of The Squatter and the Don

Carrie Gibson Author Of El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America

From my list on Hispanic writers everyone should know.

Why am I passionate about this?

Carrie Gibson is a London-based writer who grew up in the US and spends as much time as she can in Latin America and the Caribbean. She started out as a journalist, working at UK newspapers, including the Guardian and the Observer, before diving into a PhD and historical research on European colonialism and its legacy in the Americas. She is the author of two books and continues to contribute to media outlets in the UK and US.

Carrie's book list on Hispanic writers everyone should know

Carrie Gibson Why did Carrie love this book?

María Amparo Ruiz de Burton lived through one of the most tumultuous periods of history in California. She was born in Baja California to an elite family but moved to Mexican Alta California, as it was then known, during the Mexican-American War, marrying US army captain Henry Burton and becoming a US citizen. Ruiz de Burton watched California’s transformation under US rule, and this 1885 novel uses fiction to lay bare the very real problem of land dispossession of the Mexican Californians (known as Californios) and the arrival of ‘squatters’ from the eastern US who were claiming contested property. Ruiz de Burton is considered to be one of the earliest Mexican-American female authors to write in English, and this work illustrates how Alta California’s transition to statehood upended the lives of many people who had lived there under Spanish and Mexican rule.

By Maria Amparo Ruiz De Burton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Squatter and the Don, originally published in San Francisco in 1885, is the first fictional narrative written and published in English from the perspective of the conquered Mexican population that, despite being granted the full rights of citizenship under the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848, was, by 1860, a subordinated and marginalized national minority.


Book cover of The Gold in These Hills

Sarah Hanks Author Of Mercy Will Follow Me

From my list on to give you all the feels.

Why am I passionate about this?

The biggest compliment a reader can give me is to tell me my book made them cry. Yes, I love a great tear-jerker. I love writing them, and I love reading them. When we feel more deeply, we can live more fully. Books that evoke emotion can help us tune into our authentic selves and confront falsehoods that have held us back from full victory in our lives. Plus, reading is cheaper than therapy! I seek to bring hope, healing, and freedom through fiction. You have to feel to heal, so bring on all the feels.  

Sarah's book list on to give you all the feels

Sarah Hanks Why did Sarah love this book?

This was a hard pick because I could easily have chosen any of Joanne Bischof’s other books.

She writes with such excellence and depth of feeling that you bond with the characters and go through their trials alongside them. I chose The Gold in These Hills over her other equally loved books because I read it with tears streaming down my face. The theme of restoration after loss and betrayal resonated with me. Deep despair gives way to soul-stretching hope.

Beautiful, quotable prose stuck with me long after I finished. If you want a novel about second chances that speaks deeply to the heart, give this one a try.  

By Joanne Bischof,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gold in These Hills as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When mail-order bride Juniper's husband vanishes, she writes to him-but fears she's waiting for a ghost in a ghost town. A century later, Johnny Sutherland discovers her letters while restoring her abandoned farmhouse. Can her loving words from the distant past change his present?

1902: Upon arriving in Kenworthy, California, mail-order bride Juniper Cohen is met by the pounding of the gold mine, an untamable landscape, and her greatest surprise of all: the kind and charming man who awaits her. But when the mine proves empty of profit, and when Juniper's husband, John, vanishes, Juniper is left to fend for…


Book cover of Women in American Music Women's Studies Kresge College University of California

Bonnie Morris Author Of The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture

From my list on the women’s music movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

My expertise as a scholar of the women’s music movement spans 40 years--ever since I attended my first concert and music festival in 1981. A lecturer at UC-Berkeley, I’m the author of 19 books on women’s history, and published the first book on women’s music festivals, Eden Built By Eves, in 1999 (now out of print.) More recently I’ve organized exhibits on the women’s music movement for the Library of Congress, co-authored The Feminist Revolution (which made Oprah’s list), and I’m now the archivist and historian for Olivia Records.

Bonnie's book list on the women’s music movement

Bonnie Morris Why did Bonnie love this book?

Possibly the best and rarest of all publications about the start of the women’s music movement, this volume was prepared by the students at the University of California at Santa Cruz to serve as a textbook (and record of their experiences) for the first-ever course on feminism and music. Still available to good sleuths who find used copies floating around, the title page is Women in American Music. Women’s Studies, Kresge College, University of California, Santa Cruz, Spring 1975.

The idea for the class was initiated by Karlene Faith, who went on to be an influential producer and distributor; the book she helped edit includes interviews with early Olivia artists who were guest speakers and performers in the class. Before her untimely death, she too was working on a history of Olivia Records.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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