100 books like Musashi

By Eiji Yoshikawa, Charles Terry (translator),

Here are 100 books that Musashi fans have personally recommended if you like Musashi. 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 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

PJ Caldas Author Of The Girl from Wudang: A Novel About Artificial Intelligence, Martial Arts and Immortality

From my list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a nerd who fights. Started my professional life as a programmer, then switched to telling stories in advertising and entertainment. But my passion for technology and martial arts have always played a role in my life. Influenced by my father’s stories about judo, I studied a lot of styles of fighting, including kung fu, karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and also dabbled with boxing, Muay Thai, capoeira, taichi, bagua, Silat, and judo. Along that journey, one of my favorite ways to learn was by watching my female training partners, and how they had to develop a much more nuanced and sophisticated technique. An experience that would later inspire the birth of The Girl from Wudang.

PJ's book list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence

PJ Caldas Why did PJ love this book?

I guess Rowling’s world of wizardry doesn’t show very often in lists about violence. But for me, it read like it.

The saga (in particular its fifth volume, The Order of The Phoenix) is not too different from the gnarliest Kung Fu legends and bloodiest stories of Samurai. The only difference is that the martial arts practiced in Hogwarts uses Wands instead of fists or swords. So, if you liked Harry Potter, here you go: like me, you enjoy stories not only with violence, but *about* violence.

About its lure, its bliss, its improvisational intelligence, and its incredible ability to shape individuals of any kind. Just like it did with my father, myself, and now my son.

By J.K. Rowling,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

The fifth adventure in the spellbinding Harry Potter saga - the series that changed the world of books forever Dark times have come to Hogwarts. After the Dementors' attack on his cousin Dudley, Harry Potter knows that Voldemort will stop at nothing to find him. There are many who deny the Dark Lord's return, but Harry is not alone: a secret order gathers at Grimmauld Place to fight against the Dark forces. Harry must allow Professor Snape to teach him how to protect himself from Voldemort's savage assaults on his mind. But they are growing stronger by the day and…


Book cover of Fight Club

PJ Caldas Author Of The Girl from Wudang: A Novel About Artificial Intelligence, Martial Arts and Immortality

From my list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a nerd who fights. Started my professional life as a programmer, then switched to telling stories in advertising and entertainment. But my passion for technology and martial arts have always played a role in my life. Influenced by my father’s stories about judo, I studied a lot of styles of fighting, including kung fu, karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and also dabbled with boxing, Muay Thai, capoeira, taichi, bagua, Silat, and judo. Along that journey, one of my favorite ways to learn was by watching my female training partners, and how they had to develop a much more nuanced and sophisticated technique. An experience that would later inspire the birth of The Girl from Wudang.

PJ's book list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence

PJ Caldas Why did PJ love this book?

A little confession: fighting awakens a beast inside of me.

Sometimes when I’m in a crowded place, I walk by someone, usually a bigger person, and wonder: “Can I take him down?” Other times, especially in situations of conflict and mostly in the business world, I catch myself looking at my opposition and think “I can totally crush you if I want.” 

I’m not sure Palahniuk has ever traded punches with another human being. But one thing he got right: learning to fight, especially at a place that makes you spar at every session, often creates this maddening sense of power, that can be dangerous, but is a little fun too.

By Chuck Palahniuk,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Fight Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chuck Palahniuk showed himself to be his generation's most visionary satirist in this, his first book. Fight Club's estranged narrator leaves his lackluster job when he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret after-hours boxing matches in the basements of bars. There, two men fight "as long as they have to." This is a gloriously original work that exposes the darkness at the core of our modern world.


Book cover of American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China

PJ Caldas Author Of The Girl from Wudang: A Novel About Artificial Intelligence, Martial Arts and Immortality

From my list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a nerd who fights. Started my professional life as a programmer, then switched to telling stories in advertising and entertainment. But my passion for technology and martial arts have always played a role in my life. Influenced by my father’s stories about judo, I studied a lot of styles of fighting, including kung fu, karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and also dabbled with boxing, Muay Thai, capoeira, taichi, bagua, Silat, and judo. Along that journey, one of my favorite ways to learn was by watching my female training partners, and how they had to develop a much more nuanced and sophisticated technique. An experience that would later inspire the birth of The Girl from Wudang.

PJ's book list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence

PJ Caldas Why did PJ love this book?

East and West have massively different approaches to fighting. To how it’s trained, to what’s the goal of training… this book is about that contrast.

About the cultural shock experienced by the first American to study at the legendary Shaolin Temple, in China. That’s what my brain said, at least. But if I have to be honest, while I let Polly carry me through his report, I was mostly living the ultimate fantasy of any martial artist of my generation, which is becoming a Shaolin monk, just like those I grew up watching on TV. Thank you, Matt.

By Matthew Polly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The raucously funny story of one young American's quest to become the baddest dude on the planet (and possibly find inner peace along the way)

Growing up a ninety-eight-pound weakling tormented by bullies in the schoolyards of Kansas, Matthew Polly dreamed of one day journeying to the Shaolin Temple in China to become the toughest fighter in the world, like Caine in his favorite 1970s TV series Kung Fu.

American Shaolin is the story of the two years Matthew spent in China living, studying, and performing with the Shaolin monks. The Chinese term for tough training is chi ku ("eating…


Book cover of Why We Fight: One Man's Search for Meaning Inside the Ring

PJ Caldas Author Of The Girl from Wudang: A Novel About Artificial Intelligence, Martial Arts and Immortality

From my list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a nerd who fights. Started my professional life as a programmer, then switched to telling stories in advertising and entertainment. But my passion for technology and martial arts have always played a role in my life. Influenced by my father’s stories about judo, I studied a lot of styles of fighting, including kung fu, karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and also dabbled with boxing, Muay Thai, capoeira, taichi, bagua, Silat, and judo. Along that journey, one of my favorite ways to learn was by watching my female training partners, and how they had to develop a much more nuanced and sophisticated technique. An experience that would later inspire the birth of The Girl from Wudang.

PJ's book list on the beauty, madness, and humor behind violence

PJ Caldas Why did PJ love this book?

“Many mixed martial artists claim they experience something like bliss at the moment they lose consciousness from a choke.” That’s a real quote from the book, which tells a personal journey of a 33-year-old man trying to to understand what it’s like to hit and get hit, and why some weirdos like me love it so much.

Count that as self-discovery if you’re fighter or an observational expedition if you can’t understand how someone can be one. Either way, keep that quote away from my wife, before she starts to rethink the decision to get our son into martial arts too.

By Josh Rosenblatt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

A physical and philosophical mediation on why we are drawn to fight each other for sport, what happens to our bodies and brains when we do, and what it all means

Anyone with guts or madness in him can get hit by someone who knows how; it takes a different kind of madness, a more persistent kind, to stick around long enough to be one of the people who does the knowing.

Josh Rosenblatt was thirty-three years old when he first realized he wanted to fight. A lifelong pacifist with a…


Book cover of The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi

Pamela S. Turner Author Of Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune

From my list on pre-modern Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write books for young readers about history, science, and nature. I lived in Japan for six years and became fascinated with Japanese history—particularly the late 12th-century civil war recounted in the medieval classic The Tale of the Heike. I especially loved stories about Minamoto Yoshitsune, the warrior who won the war but was destroyed by his elder brother Yoritomo, who became the first Shogun and kicked off the 700-year reign of the samurai. I spent two years researching Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune and loved every minute of it. I’m also a second-degree black belt in kendo (Japanese sword fighting).

Pamela's book list on pre-modern Japan

Pamela S. Turner Why did Pamela love this book?

Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) has an almost mythic status as Japan’s greatest swordsman. As a teenager, he fought on the losing side at Sekigahara, and went on to become a renowned duelist. The two-sword style he created (nitoryu) is still practiced as part of modern kendo (Japanese sword fighting). It wasn’t just Musashi’s technical mastery that left mouths agape, but also his ability to psych out his opponents. If you’ve never heard of his famous duel against Sasaki Kojiro on Funa Island, you’re in for a treat. Wilson’s short biography captures Musashi in all his enigmatic glory.

By William Scott Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An expert on samurai history paints a vivid, multi-faceted portrait of feudal Japan and Miyamoto Musashi—the legendary swordsman who wrote the classic martial arts treatise, The Book of Five Rings
 
Born in 1584, Miyamoto Musashi was the legendary samurai known throughout the world as a master swordsman, spiritual seeker, and author of the classic book on strategy, The Book of Five Rings. Over 350 years after his death, Musashi and his legacy still fascinate readers worldwide, inspiring artists, authors, and filmmakers.
 
In The Lone Samurai, respected translator and expert on samurai culture William Scott Wilson presents both a vivid account…


Book cover of Inuyasha, Vol. 1

Janelle McCurdy Author Of The Lightcasters

From my list on for gamers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been a gamer, even now that passion burns bright. My favourite genres being FPS, Horror, Fighting, and adventure games. There's nothing like delving into a new game and feeling the adrenaline that comes with slaying beasts and leveling up, or getting emotional during a cinematic movie-like horror game. I've been gaming since I was a child all the way up until today. Gaming has always had my heart, which has led to me writing books inspired by gaming as well as being a gaming content creator, posting reviews on my website and social media. I love the fast-paced feeling you get whilst gaming and wanted to echo that in my storytelling.

Janelle's book list on for gamers

Janelle McCurdy Why did Janelle love this book?

One of the first manga books I ever read and one of the reasons I fell in love with the fantasy genre as a whole which then spread into gaming.

Set in Feudal Japan, a school girl named Kagome one day falls in a well and finds herself in a completely different timezone, where there are demons, priestess, and a particular dog eared half demon named Inuyasha...

It's a rollercoaster ride of emotions and heart, and this one I actually wished had been turned into a game as it would have been so much fun.

By Rumiko Takahashi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rumiko Takahashi's manga epic in its original format - historical action and romance from one of Japan's most beloved creators.

Kagome is a modern Japanese high school girl. Never the type to believe in myths and legends, her world view dramatically changes when, one day, she's pulled out of her own time and into another! There, in Japan's ancient past, Kagome discovers more than a few of those dusty old legends are true, and that her destiny is linked to one legendary creature in particular - he dog like half-demon called Inuyasha! That same trick of fate also ties them…


Book cover of Elric of Melniboné

JR Konkol Author Of Citadel of the Fallen

From my list on fantasy to draw you into a dark, dangerous world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I came of age in the early 80s, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, not very far from where Gary Gygax and others invented Dungeons and Dragons. I grew up playing role-playing games. When other kids were running around, we were gathered around huge tables, rolling dice, and having fun. But that wasn’t enough. I went on to invent my own games, and build my own worlds. Over the decades, we wove rich tapestries of adventures together into intricate stories that beg to be told. So, seeing no other option, I became an author.

JR's book list on fantasy to draw you into a dark, dangerous world

JR Konkol Why did JR love this book?

This was the first fantasy series I read, and it changed my life. Elric of Melniboné is a glorious blend of Grimdark and Sword and Sorcery, that starts a satisfying series, which, in and of itself, is the cornerstone of a larger collection of fantasy works.

So many works have borrowed from Elric, you really owe it to yourself to read the original. The books are short, and read quite quickly. There is incredible pathos within the story arc, and a deep, dark creativity to the worldbuilding.

By Michael Moorcock,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Elric of Melniboné as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Michael Moorcock comes the first book in his famous Elric of Melniboné series, brought to vivid new life with stunning illustrations.

In one of the most well-known and well-loved fantasy epics of the 20th century, Elric is the brooding, albino emperor of the dying Kingdom of Melnibone. With Melnibone’s years of grandeur and decadence long since passed, Elric’s amoral cousin Yrkoon sets his eyes on the throne. Elric, realizing he is his country’s best hope, must face his nefarious cousin in an epic battle for the right to rule.

Elric of Melnibone is…


Book cover of The Alchemist of Souls

Caitlin Sumner Author Of Alexander's Lost General

From my list on historical fiction you can't put down.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was in 6th grade, and homeschooling, I discovered Ancient Egypt. That year I had some health problems, which ended up essentially cancelling school for that year, and I was allowed to do whatever I wanted. I spent the entire year studying Egypt. My passion for history spiralled from there, and I've spent the interveaning years studying periods of history from Ancient Egypt to the Italian Rennaisance. I always wanted to be a writer and discovering that Historical Fiction as a genre was eye-opening for me. Since then I hardly read anything else (except fantasy) and all my personal works are Historical Fiction. 

Caitlin's book list on historical fiction you can't put down

Caitlin Sumner Why did Caitlin love this book?

As with most of my books, I came across these entirely by accident. I don't remember how or where, but I picked one up and then I was on the hunt for the other two. These books are fun, historical with a twist of the fantastic, with secrets, intrigue, and some very interesting and subtle romantic plotlines woven in. I've read these a couple of times now and whenever I glance at my shelf I remember that I want to read them again, to see if I can find something new once more.

By Anne Lyle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers' wake, bringing Native American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I's capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador's bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally--and Mal his soul.

File Under: Fantasy [ Midsummer Magic | Skraylings | Double Trouble | Comedy of…


Book cover of The Three Musketeers

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?

The action in this book just keeps pumping.

Each of the heroes is a deep, fully realized person, plagued with flaws, some of them almost unforgiveable. Each character must face their own demons in this fast-paced, mysterious adventure. This book has espionage, swordplay, constant danger, friendship, even romance, everything you could wish for.

It is a swashbuckling tale following the impetuous and brave-to-a-fault D’Artagnan as he grows from an idealistic boy to a man, chasing his calling to fight among the hallowed ranks of the King’s musketeers. 

By Alexandre Dumas,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Three Musketeers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"We read The Three Musketeers to experience a sense of romance and for the sheer excitement of the story," reflected Clifton Fadiman. "In these violent pages all is action, intrigue, suspense, surprise--an almost endless chain of duels, murders, love affairs, unmaskings, ambushes, hairbreadth escapes, wild rides. It is all impossible and it is all magnificent."

First published in 1844, Alexandre Dumas's swashbuckling epic chronicles the adventures of D'Artagnan, a gallant young nobleman who journeys to Paris in 1625 hoping to join the ranks of musketeers guarding Louis XIII. He soon finds himself fighting alongside three heroic comrades--Athos, Porthos, and Aramis--who…


Book cover of Gideon the Ninth

Tim Pratt Author Of Heirs of Grace

From my list on fantasy with women heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been reading fantasy for 42 years and writing it for 40, and because I was raised by badass women, I've always enjoyed tales of clever, kickass, indomitable heroines. I've written a bunch of them (a dozen books in an urban fantasy series about a sorcerer named Marla Mason; four books in the Axiom space opera series about ship captain Callie Machedo and her love interest, time refugee xenobiologist Elena Oh; contemporary fantasy/romance Heirs of Grace, about an art student who discovers a magical inheritance, and more). I'm also a longtime book reviewer, editor at SF/fantasy trade magazine Locus, and frequent award juror (Bradbury Prize, Philip K. Dick Award, and more), so... I think about SF/fantasy books a lot. 


Tim's book list on fantasy with women heroines

Tim Pratt Why did Tim love this book?

Gideon the Ninth lit up the sky of the science fiction/fantasy world when it was published, launching the Locked Tomb series (which is ongoing, and great; third volume Nona the Ninth is especially lovely).

It's been described as "lesbian necromancers in space" but it's more "lesbian necromancer and swordsperson on various weird planets in the far future with a god-emperor who uses death magic to fight planet-sized spectral monsters...." for a start.

The whole series is enigmatic, complex, and laced through with humor, action, and yearning, but the first book is notable for the power of Gideon's voice.

By Tamsyn Muir,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked Gideon the Ninth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

15+ pages of new, original content, including a glossary of terms, in-universe writings, and more!

A USA Today Best-Selling Novel!

"Unlike anything I've ever read. " --V.E. Schwab

"Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!" --Charles Stross

"Brilliantly original, messy and weird straight through." --NPR

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense.

Tamsyn Muir's Gideon the Ninth, first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Japan, Samurais, and feudalism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Japan, Samurais, and feudalism.

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Feudalism Explore 17 books about feudalism