100 books like Parable of the Sower

By Octavia E. Butler,

Here are 100 books that Parable of the Sower fans have personally recommended if you like Parable of the Sower. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Plague

By Albert Camus,

Book cover of The Plague

Alexander Fisher Author Of Delirium

From the list on where a catastrophe makes society fall apart.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by the strangeness of human character when tested to the limit by overwhelming catastrophe. I’ve always wanted to write a story that brings into stark relief the courage, fear, ambition, tragedy, absurdity, and the ecstatic. In other words, a disaster. And if character is destiny, then an apocalypse maybe the best way to show us who we really are and where we’re going. My debut novel, Delirium focuses on these extremes of character. And after writing it I reached one indelible conclusion: that the human being is the most disturbed creature, but also the most hopeful.

Alexander's book list on where a catastrophe makes society fall apart

Why did Alexander love this book?

Camus’ Stranger brought me to this book and I was once more pulled in by the same direct prose, the same detachment and the same philosophical inquisitiveness.

There’s a feeling that plagues are inevitable, that they will come no matter what we do, and that our efforts to stop them always degenerate into the absurd. But what struck me most was that this is not fatalism, because although the collective effort is largely useless, hope lies in the small acts of kindness between individuals.

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Its relevance lashes you across the face.” —Stephen Metcalf, The Los Angeles Times • “A redemptive book, one that wills the reader to believe, even in a time of despair.” —Roger Lowenstein, The Washington Post 

A haunting tale of human resilience and hope in the face of unrelieved horror, Albert Camus' iconic novel about an epidemic ravaging the people of a North African coastal town is a classic of twentieth-century literature. 

The townspeople of Oran are in the grip of a deadly plague, which condemns its victims to a swift and horrifying death. Fear, isolation and claustrophobia follow as they…

Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Book cover of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Monna Wong Author Of Management In a Changing World: How to Manage for Equity, Sustainability, and Results

From the list on helping managers build resilience in challenging times.

Who am I?

I’ve been a manager and leader in social justice nonprofits and campaigns for almost 15 years. A lot of my work has been in fast-paced environments with high stakes and few resources. Consequently, I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to lead effectively under less-than-ideal conditions—whether that’s because of a tough political climate, financial constraints, or supporting staff through personal crises. I know from experience that social justice leaders and managers are often called to show up as our best selves so that we can support our teams to do their best work. In order to do this, we need to build our internal reserves to lead effectively. 

Monna's book list on helping managers build resilience in challenging times

Why did Monna love this book?

Braiding Sweetgrass is a beautiful meditation on the interconnectedness of living things. It has shaped my thinking about ecosystems—not just in the natural world, but within social justice movements, communities, and organizations.

The concept of being in the “right relationship,” which comes from many Indigenous cultures, is one that has greatly influenced how I lead and manage, and Robin Wall Kimmerer’s deep dive into the relationship between humans and the natural world is incredibly thoughtful and thought-provoking.

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

39 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…

The Doomsday Machine

By Daniel Ellsberg,

Book cover of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Nicholas Mee Author Of Gravity: From Falling Apples to Supermassive Black Holes

From the list on when contemplating the risks of nuclear technology.

Who am I?

I have always had a passion to engage with the deepest questions of existence, from the interpretation of quantum mechanics to string theory and cosmology. My desire to understand is driven purely by curiosity, and my aim in writing about these topics is to make the wonders of the universe as widely accessible as possible. But scientific knowledge and the advance of technology also has a potentially darker side. It is vital for the future of humanity that science is widely understood so that democratic informed decisions can be made to safeguard against its misuse, and this was the motivation for recommending my list of books.

Nicholas' book list on when contemplating the risks of nuclear technology

Why did Nicholas love this book?

Few topics are more important than the survival of humanity.

Daniel Ellsberg was a strategic military analyst and presidential advisor who worked for the RAND Corporation and later the Pentagon. His book The Doomsday Machine focuses on how the United States planned for nuclear war in the 1950s and 1960s and offers his first-hand account of the Cold War arms race and how the world teetered on the brink of nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

It is a stark reminder that for the foreseeable future we are condemned to live in a world where a small number of individuals wield the power to effectively end human civilization. There is no better account of how lucky we are to be here.

By Daniel Ellsberg,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non-Fiction

From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, the first insider expose of the awful dangers of America's hidden, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that is chillingly still extant

At the same time former presidential advisor Daniel Ellsberg famously took the top-secret Pentagon Papers, he also took with him a chilling cache of top-secret documents related to America's nuclear program in the 1960s. Here for the first time he reveals the contents of those now-declassified documents and makes clear their shocking relevance for today.

The Doomsday Machine is Ellsberg's hair-raising…

The Overstory

By Richard Powers,

Book cover of The Overstory

Sue Burke Author Of Semiosis

From the list on making you love plants.

Who am I?

A house plant in my living room attacked another plant, wrapping itself around it and killing it. Then another plant tried to sink roots into a neighbor. I began to do a little research, then a lot of research, and learned that plants accomplish amazing feats. They can tell by the angle of the sun when spring is coming, and they can call parasitic wasps to rid themselves of caterpillars. Plants vastly outweigh and outnumber animals, so they run this planet. What if, on another planet, they could think like us… and that’s why I wrote a novel.

Sue's book list on making you love plants

Why did Sue love this book?

Now for some fiction about trees, or rather, how people react to threats against trees and are drawn together to defend them.

The interlocking stories of a dozen characters take place over decades, much as a tree grows, connecting each life to lives that last far beyond them. In our world, we often endanger trees without a thought. This novel won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction because it can make you think. If your mind were only a slightly greener thing,” a tree says early in the novel, “we’d drown you in meaning.”

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of-and paean to-the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours-vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see…

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of The Road

Peter Kalu Author Of One Drop

From the list on bleak urban futures that give you a sense of hope.

Who am I?

I spent most of my childhood hiding under the table reading science fiction and fantasy books to avoid having to communicate with the weird people claiming to be my family up in the world above. After a while, the local library turned me away saying they had no more books left on those shelves, so I started writing my own. I like a mix of urban themes like in Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and dystopias like George Orwell’s 1984. That said, I love most futurist novels that have a love story at their centre, because despite everything I’m a romantic.

Peter's book list on bleak urban futures that give you a sense of hope

Why did Peter love this book?

This is a straight whisky of a dystopian novel. The prose is stark, all bones, no flesh, and the story fizzes along with a simple ‘journey’ plot. What you get along the way is skeletal poetry, honed so finely, so sparsely, so skillfully.

The prose is stripped of ornamentation, floridity, anything that detracts from the deep magnetism of this father and son’s quest through a dystopian wilderness. You end the novel breathless, praying this scenario never comes to pass, and in awe of McCarthy’s storytelling skills.

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • A searing, post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son's fight to survive, this "tale of survival and the miracle of goodness only adds to McCarthy's stature as a living master. It's gripping, frightening and, ultimately, beautiful" (San Francisco Chronicle).

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if…

The Uninhabitable Earth

By David Wallace-Wells,

Book cover of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Lewis H. Ziska Author Of Greenhouse Planet: How Rising CO2 Changes Plants and Life as We Know It

From the list on climate and plants, from forests to farms.

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated with plants. Their shapes, their colors, their beauty, even the plants that are known to be harmful to humans (poison ivy, puncture vine) had appeal to me. Plants are, by far, the most prolific, the biggest, the oldest, the most complex of organisms. And yet, as a pre-med student, classes on botany were never recommended. Sad. These books delve into the complexity, the wonder of plants, and how they interact with humans. From the sheer poetic pronouncements of Michael Pollan to the straightforward prose of Richard Manning, here is a chance to see the breadth and depth; our rewards and struggles with the plant kingdom.  

Lewis' book list on climate and plants, from forests to farms

Why did Lewis love this book?

A well-written erudite work that explores all aspects of civilization relative to the degree and rate of global warming. It illustrates a broad and compelling narrative of all the plant aspects, from Hunger to Policy. It uses language that is incredibly descriptive, and very relatable to bring the impact of climate change home to readers who may be unfamiliar with all of the complexities of climate change.

By David Wallace-Wells,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'An epoch-defining book' Matt Haig
'If you read just one work of non-fiction this year, it should probably be this' David Sexton, Evening Standard

Selected as a Book of the Year 2019 by the Sunday Times, Spectator and New Statesman
A Waterstones Paperback of the Year and shortlisted for the Foyles Book of the Year 2019
Longlisted for the PEN / E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

It is worse, much worse, than you think.

The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says…

Born a Crime

By Trevor Noah,

Book cover of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Rosalyn W. Berne Author Of Waiting in the Silence

From the list on people who show moral courage.

Who am I?

I am an ethicist—a scholar and professor who thinks and writes about “right” and “wrong” in terms of human behaviors, actions, and relationships, especially where technology is involved. I went into this field because my first pregnancy was a baby girl named Zoe whose brain never developed (anencephaly). When I tried to do what I thought was right, arranging to have her organs donated, some thought it was wrong, and my efforts ultimately failed. In working through my grief, I wrote a SF novel about one woman’s struggles and strength in the face of a frightening use of technology. Books about enduring personal struggles with integrity remind me that this is part of life. 

Rosalyn's book list on people who show moral courage

Why did Rosalyn love this book?

Trevor Noah is the funniest living comedian, and he is brilliant. Who would ever guess that his childhood was filled with so much trauma? Being set in Apartheid South Africa, I was able to keep a personal distance from the story. But it still touched and inspired me, perhaps because my own children are mixed race and had they been born there, I’d not have been allowed to marry or live with their father. Unimaginable. This autobiographical accounting of Trevor’s tormented life is a testimony to his inner strength. An average person from his background might be in prison or dead. But not Trevor. The question is why he made it through with such integrity and heart. He gives a lot of credit to his mother and I appreciate that.

By Trevor Noah,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Born a Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


The compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his…

The Ministry for the Future

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Book cover of The Ministry for the Future

Nick Fuller Googins Author Of The Great Transition

From the list on ward away your global warming anxiety.

Who am I?

I was working installing solar panels in rural Maine when I first had the idea to write a climate crisis novel. I grew up in the woods of New England, and have always loved nature, but I was feeling pretty despondent about global warming. I started to wonder: what would it feel like to be part of a mass mobilization installing solar, wind, and so on, to save the planet? Those were the seeds of the novel. When I’m not writing, I’m a fourth grade teacher. I worry about the planet my students will inherit, and if I’m doing enough to make that world as hopeful as possible.

Nick's book list on ward away your global warming anxiety

Why did Nick love this book?

I read this novel when I was about three-quarters finished with my novel, and was just blown away by the attention to detail, possibilities, and hope between the pages.

This is another hopeful near-future novel, in which humanity is trying its best to overcome the worst of climate change. Unlike my novel, however, which is told from the perspective of one family, Ministry for the Future is a truly global story, with dozens and dozens of narrators, many unnamed, who give us snapshots everywhere from the Arizona border to Antarctica to Switzerland to India, all coalescing into what becomes a global movement to try to save the planet.

This novel is a little lighter on plot, but fascinating as a menu of hopeful options and possibilities for what could be done if humanity really got its act together. 

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked The Ministry for the Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“The best science-fiction nonfiction novel I’ve ever read.” —Jonathan Lethem
"If I could get policymakers, and citizens, everywhere to read just one book this year, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future." —Ezra Klein (Vox)

The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, postapocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us. Chosen by Barack Obama as one of his favorite…

The Savage Kind

By John Copenhaver,

Book cover of The Savage Kind

Valerie Nieman Author Of In the Lonely Backwater

From the list on young women saving their own lives.

Who am I?

Like my narrator Maggie, I was a child, then a teen wandering the woods and dreaming of a life. I’ve always hated those books/TV shows/films where women, especially young women, are helpless and reliant on a man to get them out of trouble. I gravitate toward stories where females figure out their own paths, not always to a happy ending. I’m still a wanderer today, mostly solo, from New York City to the vast Highlands of Scotland, and while the world can seem scary, I’m confident and free on my own. 

Valerie's book list on young women saving their own lives

Why did Valerie love this book?

I was on a panel with John and really enjoyed reading his novel, set in the 1940s. Two teenage girls, Philippa and Judy, are brought together through school and their shared admiration for teacher Christina Martins. A rape—or was it?—and a murder turn this story into a noir tale wrapped in the secrets they keep from others, and themselves. The narrative is uniquely structured with a voice that may be one or the other, not revealed until the end.

By John Copenhaver,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

2022 Lambda Literary Award Finalist in LGBTQ Mystery

Two lonely teenage girls in 1940s Washington, DC, discover they have a penchant for solving crimes-and an even greater desire to commit them-in the new mystery novel by Macavity Award-winning novelist John Copenhaver.

Philippa Watson, a good-natured yet troubled seventeen-year-old, has just moved to Washington, DC. She's lonely until she meets Judy Peabody, a brilliant and tempestuous classmate. The girls become unlikely friends and fashion themselves as intellectuals, drawing the notice of Christine Martins, their dazzling English teacher, who enthralls them with her passion for literature and her love of noirish detective…

The Dharma Bums

By Jack Kerouac,

Book cover of The Dharma Bums

Seth Wynes Author Of SOS: What You Can Do to Reduce Climate Change - Simple Actons That Make a Difference

From the list on fiction about our place in nature.

Who am I?

Seth Wynes is a climate researcher studying how everyday people can fight climate change more effectively. His work has been featured in media outlets from around the world including The New York Times, NPR, and The Guardian. Before pursuing an academic career, Seth was a high school science teacher in England and Northern Quebec, and still draws inspiration for his research from the questions and concerns raised by his students. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

Seth's book list on fiction about our place in nature

Why did Seth love this book?

“The little flowers grew everywhere around the rocks, and no one had asked them to grow, or me to grow.” The joy in Kerouac is stumbling along with his absent-minded musings and finding the stretches of poetry that really speak to you. Dharma Bums is spiritual and inward-focused, but the characters spend time in nature, trying to figure out their place in it. It’s the kind of companion that you want to have with you on a canoe trip or sharing space with you on a hammock on a warm fall day. 

By Jack Kerouac,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Published just one year after "On The Road", this is the story of two men enganged in a passionate search for Dharma or truth. Their major adventure is the pursuit of the Zen Way, which takes them climbing into the High Sierras to seek the lesson of solitude.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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