100 books like Nomad

By Mary Anne Fitzgerald,

Here are 100 books that Nomad fans have personally recommended if you like Nomad. 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 Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa: Timbúktu, Sókoto, and the Basins of the Niger and Bénuwé

Marq de Villiers Author Of Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold

From my list on African cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Africa and have been infatuated with its history and cultures all my life. Of the 48 countries sharing the African mainland, I have spent time in all but four. True, a few only for a laughably brief stay (I wandered across the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border once by mistake, not knowing I had crossed; there was no sign of a border post or any guards. I stayed only for the rest of the day, never leaving the beach, before wading back to Cameroon.) But others I have lived in for years, and have travelled extensively to famous and obscure regions alike, especially in the Sahel

Marq's book list on African cultures

Marq de Villiers Why did Marq love this book?

This is exploration literature at its very best. Heinrich Barth was inclined to pedantry, but he was thorough and meticulous (his maps were models of their kind); he was also a skilled linguist (fluent in Arabic, he later published vocabularies of eight African languages including Tamashek and Hausa, and learned enough Hausa on a single journey from Ghat to Agadez to be able to converse freely).

He stayed in the Sahara for six years in the 1840s, and returned with massive journals packed with priceless ethnographic and geographic information, only to find fame passing him by. His contemporary, David Livingstone, was much more suited than the stolid German to a life of the celebrity traveler, and spoke much more eloquently at revival meetings and at conventions of Geographical Societies. (Livingstone met Barth once, and gave him an inscribed copy of his Missionary Travels, which must have grated). Barth’s massive…

By Henry Barth, Heinrich Barth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Book cover of Conversations with Ogotemmêli: An Introduction to Dogon Religious Ideas

Marq de Villiers Author Of Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold

From my list on African cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Africa and have been infatuated with its history and cultures all my life. Of the 48 countries sharing the African mainland, I have spent time in all but four. True, a few only for a laughably brief stay (I wandered across the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border once by mistake, not knowing I had crossed; there was no sign of a border post or any guards. I stayed only for the rest of the day, never leaving the beach, before wading back to Cameroon.) But others I have lived in for years, and have travelled extensively to famous and obscure regions alike, especially in the Sahel

Marq's book list on African cultures

Marq de Villiers Why did Marq love this book?

At first glance, a difficult read. Griault shares many of the faults of French academic writing, opaque and ambiguous in turn. But it is worth the effort. The elderly sage, Ogotemmêli, is patient with outsider obtuseness, and the book is a fascinating look into the complicated and sophisticated cosmology of African spirituality, so different in tone and structure from those we are familiar with in the west. In the end, this book easily puts the lie to commonplace western notions of African religions, that they are mere animism, or obsessed with ancestors. As the Times Literary Supplement put it at the time, ‘… [this] will prove of interest and enlightenment to those still inclined to underestimate African subtlety and sophistication." Too true.

By Marcel Griaule,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1948 as Dieu D'Eau, this near-classic offers a unique and first-hand account of the myth, religion, and philosophy of the Dogan, a Sudanese people.


Book cover of Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth

Marq de Villiers Author Of Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold

From my list on African cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Africa and have been infatuated with its history and cultures all my life. Of the 48 countries sharing the African mainland, I have spent time in all but four. True, a few only for a laughably brief stay (I wandered across the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border once by mistake, not knowing I had crossed; there was no sign of a border post or any guards. I stayed only for the rest of the day, never leaving the beach, before wading back to Cameroon.) But others I have lived in for years, and have travelled extensively to famous and obscure regions alike, especially in the Sahel

Marq's book list on African cultures

Marq de Villiers Why did Marq love this book?

All right, so a Nobel laureate doesn’t need any encomiums from me, but what the hell. Soyinka’s first book in nearly half a century is revealing, enlightening, satirical, gleeful and just plain damn funny, while telling you more about the chaotic politics and sociology of his native Nigeria than you ever thought possible, a wonderful window into Africa’s most populous country.

By Wole Soyinka,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Soyinka's greatest novel ... No one else can write such a book' - Ben Okri 'A lion of African literature' - Financial Times 'Chronicles is many things at once: a caustic political satire, a murder mystery, a conspiracy story and a deeply felt lament for the spirit of a nation' - Juan Gabriel Vasquez, New York Times A FINANCIAL TIMES AND SPECTATOR BOOK OF THE YEAR To Doctor Menka's horror, some cunning entrepreneur has decided to sell body parts from his hospital for use in ritualistic practices. Already at the end of his tether from the horrors he routinely sees…


Book cover of Loot: Britain and the Benin Bronzes

Marq de Villiers Author Of Timbuktu: The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold

From my list on African cultures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Africa and have been infatuated with its history and cultures all my life. Of the 48 countries sharing the African mainland, I have spent time in all but four. True, a few only for a laughably brief stay (I wandered across the Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea border once by mistake, not knowing I had crossed; there was no sign of a border post or any guards. I stayed only for the rest of the day, never leaving the beach, before wading back to Cameroon.) But others I have lived in for years, and have travelled extensively to famous and obscure regions alike, especially in the Sahel

Marq's book list on African cultures

Marq de Villiers Why did Marq love this book?

This is far more than a colonial era whodunit, a recounting of yet another colonial atrocity – though it is that in spades.  Yes, in 1897 the British occupation army reacted to the killing of a a few colonial officials by razing an empire to the ground, careless of its causes and its effects. So much, so commonplace. But what an empire! The Benin artworks the army looted, subsequently dispersed to museums around the globe, were and still are a revelation to those whose notions of African art were to that point limited to masks and fetishes. A mere catalogue of the pieces would be enough to explain why Picasso, among other artists, was captivated by the art of Africa, but Philips has done more than that – he puts the looted artifacts into their context and into their culture. There is nothing didactic or preachy about this book, but…

By Barnaby Phillips,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Prospect Best Book of 2021

'A fascinating and timely book.' William Boyd

'Gripping...a must read.' FT

'Compelling...humane, reasonable, and ultimately optimistic.' Evening Standard

'[A] valuable guide to a complex narrative.' The Times

In 1897, Britain sent a punitive expedition to the Kingdom of Benin, in what is today Nigeria, in retaliation for the killing of seven British officials and traders. British soldiers and sailors captured Benin, exiled its king and annexed the territory. They also made off with some of Africa's greatest works of art.

The 'Benin Bronzes' are now amongst the most admired and valuable artworks in the…


Book cover of Africa's Discovery of Europe, 1450-1850

Onyeka Nubia Author Of Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, Their Presence, Status and Origins

From my list on history books about everyone and for everyone.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Onyeka Nubia is a pioneering and internationally recognised historian, writer, and presenter. He is reinventing our perceptions of diversity, the Renaissance, and British history. Onyeka is the leading historian on the status and origins of Africans in pre-colonial England from antiquity to 1603. He has helped academia and the general public to entirely new perspectives on otherness, colonialism, imperialism, and World Wars I and II. He has written over fifty articles on Englishness, Britishness, and historical method and they have appeared in the most popular UK historical magazines and periodicals including History Today and BBC History Magazine. Onyeka has been a consultant and presenter for several television programmes on BBC.

Onyeka's book list on history books about everyone and for everyone

Onyeka Nubia Why did Onyeka love this book?

Northup provocatively challenges our perceptions of the early modern world. By offering a relativist view and investigating the primary sources written by Africans themselves the Africans of the early modern period. They reveal much about sixteenth and seventeenth-century Europe, as well as African civilizations.     

By David Northup,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Africa's Discovery of Europe, 1450-1850 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This groundbreaking book examines the full range of African-European encounters from an unfamiliar African perspective rather than from the customary European one. By featuring vivid life stories of individual Africans and drawing upon their many recorded sentiments, David Northrup presents African perspectives that persuasively challenge stereotypes about African-European relations as they unfolded in Africa, Europe, and the Atlantic world between 1450 and 1850. The text features thematically organized chapters that explore first impressions, religion and politics, commerce and culture, imported goods and technology, the Middle Passage, and Africans in Europe. In addition, Northrup offers a thoughtful examination of Africans' relations…


Book cover of The Zanzibar Chest: A Story of Life, Love, and Death in Foreign Lands

Anjan Sundaram Author Of Breakup: A Marriage in Wartime

From my list on foreign correspondent memoirs of Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied reporters' memoirs of Africa for my PhD in journalism at the University of East Anglia, under Giles Foden, author of The Last King of Scotland. I was fascinated by how foreign correspondents are aided by local reporters, who unfortunately often don’t receive much credit or commensurate pay for their contributions to international news. This inequality is changing, but not quickly enough, and it affects the kinds of news that we all receive, and how western lives, for example, are often respected more than others. 

Anjan's book list on foreign correspondent memoirs of Africa

Anjan Sundaram Why did Anjan love this book?

I met Aidan in Bunia, on the frontline of the Congo war, where he kindly offered his help, and then, not knowing who he was, I discovered his memoir in the Nairobi airport.

His story of starting as a lowly stringer and working his way up resonated with my own journey as a stringer for The AP in DR Congo, a journey I recount in my first memoir, Stringer.

"Congo is a tough place," he told me in Bunia, "not many people move here to report." I enjoyed reading a book by a reporter who wanted to help young stringers.

By Aidan Hartley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A deeply affecting memoir of a childhood in Africa and the continent's horrendous wars, which Hartley witnessed at first hand as a journalist in the 1990s. Shortlisted for the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction, this is a masterpiece of autobiographical journalism.

Aidan Hartley, a foreign correspondent, burned-out from the horror of covering the terrifying micro wars of the 1990s, from Rwanda to Bosnia, seeks solace and solitude in the remote mountains and deserts of southern Arabia and the Yemen, following his father's death. While there, he finds himself on the trail of the tragic story of an old friend…


Book cover of Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil

Leif Wenar Author Of Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World

From my list on why oil is a curse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Stanford professor who became fascinated with oil and everything it does to for us and to us. For years I traveled the world talking to the people who know petroleum: executives in the big oil companies, politicians and activists, militants and victims, spies and tribal chiefs. Blood Oil explains what I learned and how we can make our oil-cursed world better for all of us. 

Leif's book list on why oil is a curse

Leif Wenar Why did Leif love this book?

If you love villains, you’ll love this book (plus all these villains are real).

Psychopathic dictators, Russian arms dealers, ultra-violent warlords, and corrupt French presidents all show the evil oil can inspire—and the ruin it can bring to a country. I had to put this book down a few times; the depravity around oil can shock even those of us who think we’ve heard it all.

By Nicholas Shaxson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Each week the oil and gas fields of sub-Saharan Africa produce over a billion dollars worth of oil yet this rising tide of money is not promoting stability or development but instead is causing violence, poverty and stagnation. "Poisoned Wells" exposes the root causes of this paradox of poverty from plenty, and explores the mechanisms by which oil causes grave instabilities and corruption around the globe. Shaxson's access as a journalist to the key players in African oil results in an explosive story.


Book cover of Paths in the Rainforests: Toward a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa

James A. Robinson Author Of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

From my list on Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a social scientist who has been doing fieldwork and research in Africa since 1999. For me, there’s no more fascinating part of the planet – Africa is the cradle of civilization, more diverse than anywhere else and culturally and institutionally vibrant and creative. I have worked in Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe investigating the determinants of political institutions and economic prosperity. I have taught courses on Africa at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, the University of Ghana at Legon and this summer the University of Nigeria in Nsukka.

James' book list on Africa

James A. Robinson Why did James love this book?

A seminal history of the development of political institutions in Central Africa over the past 2,000 years. Africa took a very different path into the modern world than Eurasia did and instead of building large centralized and repressive states instead innovated all sorts of different ways of reconciling the autonomy of the individual, men and women, and the local community, with the benefits of living in larger societies. These historical processes still shape Africa today.

By Jan Vansina,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vansina’s scope is breathtaking: he reconstructs the history of the forest lands that cover all or part of southern Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Congo, Zaire, the Central African Republic, and Cabinda in Angola, discussing the original settlement of the forest by the western Bantu; the periods of expansion and innovation in agriculture; the development of metallurgy; the rise and fall of political forms and of power; the coming of Atlantic trade and colonialism; and the conquest of the rainforests by colonial powers and the destruction of a way of life.

“In 400 elegantly brilliant pages Vansina lays out five…


Book cover of Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone

Roy M. Griffis Author Of The Old World

From my list on history that reads like the most gripping fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love history that is about people. The discoveries they made or the adventures they had (or endured) are thrilling and fascinating, but it’s the people who make it compelling. From Ernest Shackleton dumping handfuls of gold on the ice to show his stranded men he was committed to getting them out of Antarctica alive, to a fussy young William Travis writing desperately for help that would never come, and being of the first to die during the attack on the Alamo…the best books make those events, the times, and the stakes very very real. And the very best histories give you the humanity of the choices and decisions that led them there.

Roy's book list on history that reads like the most gripping fiction

Roy M. Griffis Why did Roy love this book?

This is another story that has been parodied out of any semblance of the magnificently foolish endeavor that ended up becoming almost noble. While today the idea would be risible, this book contextualizes the time and culture that created a national hero of the Reverend Livingstone, a clergyman traveling to “darkest Africa” to spread the Good Word to the savages and why finding him became a Western obsession. The insights into the day-to-day life and difficulties of the many and varied characters, tribes, and nations are balanced nicely against the struggles of the main characters to find their way through Africa and life itself.

By Martin Dugard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1866 Britain's foremost explorer, Dr David Livingstone, went in search of the answer to an age-old geographical riddle: where was the source of the Nile? Livingstone set out with a large team, on a course that would lead through unmapped, seemingly impenetrable terrain into areas populated by fearsome man-eating tribes. Within weeks his expedition began to fall apart - his entourage deserted him and Livingstone vanished without trace. He would not be heard from again for two years.
While debate raged in England over whether Livingstone could be found in the unmapped wilderness of the African interior, James Gordon…


Book cover of Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar

Benjamin Radford Author Of Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction and Folklore

From my list on (real-life) monsters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by monsters. Growing up I saw television shows and read books about famous ones like Bigfoot and Nessie, and always wanted to search for them and discover the truth. That led me to a degree in psychology to learn about human cognition and perception, and a career in folklore to understand how legends and rumors spread. But I also wanted field experience, and spent time at Loch Ness, in Canadian woods said to house Sasquatch, to the Amazon, Sahara, and the jungles of Central America looking for the chupacabra. Along the way became an author, writing books including Tracking the Chupacabra, Lake Monster Mysteries, Big—If True, and Investigating Ghosts

Benjamin's book list on (real-life) monsters

Benjamin Radford Why did Benjamin love this book?

While some people may not think of genies (or jinn) as monsters in the same category as Bigfoot or dragons, from a cultural and folkloric point of view they definitely are.

Most Americans probably think of the wisecracking genie in Disney’s Aladdin, but belief in genies is both serious and widespread. In his book Legends of the Fire Spirits journalist Robert Lebling describes how the creatures appear in the Koran (hint: it’s closer to the recent film Three Thousand Years of Longing).

They are in some ways the Muslim equivalent of Christian angels, imbued with magical powers and viewed by the devout not as real and tangible as you or I. What I love about this book is how Lebling reveals the real stories of jinn—in both their wonder (granting wishes) and terrible vengeance (mass murder).

As with all monsters, whether you believe in them or not is…

By Robert Lebling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Legends of the Fire Spirits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the magical tale of Aladdin in "The Arabian Nights", the genie that suddenly appears out of the lamp is powerful, playful and utterly mysterious. Supernatural, shape-shifting figures have been given many names over the ages - genie, demon, spirit, ghoul, shaitan and jinn. Those who have seen them believe jinn shadow us in our daily lives, causing endless mischief, providing amazing services and sometimes inducing sheer terror. "Legends of the Fire Spirits" explores the enduring phenomenon of the jinn. From North Africa to Central Asia, from the Mediterranean to sub-Saharan Africa and beyond, this riveting book draws on long-forgotten…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Kenya, Africa, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Kenya, Africa, and presidential biography.

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