100 books like Polar Star

By Martin Cruz Smith,

Here are 100 books that Polar Star fans have personally recommended if you like Polar Star. 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 American Psycho

David E. Gates Author Of The Wretched

From my list on horror books that changed my life and could change yours.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved horror since my early teens, when I first discovered The Rats and Lair and other horror stories by James Herbert. The thing I like about horror, in particular, is that there are no holds barred, no censorship, as to what can be written. I grew up on movies like The Exorcist, Friday the 13th, Jaws, Alien, The Thing, etc., but horror writing takes you deeper and gives a more visceral experience than anything any film can do.

David's book list on horror books that changed my life and could change yours

David E. Gates Why did David love this book?

This was one of the hardest books to "get into," but a friend of mine told me to stick with it because the rewards of getting through the first quarter would be so great. I'm glad I did. It is an astounding piece of work, quite different from anything I've ever read before or since, and remains one of my top five books.

The tangents the book takes, and the blasé attributes of the leading character are superbly crafted. It was suggested it was "unfilmable," and there's one scene in particular I thought they'd never get away with, but if you look at the movie version carefully, it's in there. 

By Bret Easton Ellis,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked American Psycho as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Patrick Bateman is 26 and works on Wall Street. Handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent, he is also a psychopath.

Book cover of Trainspotting

Colm O'Shea Author Of Claiming de Wayke

From my list on books with a gritty psychedelic worldview.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, and writing professor at New York University. I also have a fascination with altered states of consciousness, especially with mysticism, psychosis, and psychedelic art. (My book James Joyce’s Mandala examines all three.) My first novel, Claiming De Wayke, delves into those elements too, but with a particular focus on vivid first-person narration, so most of my recommendations involve books that are not only trippy in terms of plot and characterization but are also psychedelically inflected in their use of language itself. I hope you check some of them out.  

Colm's book list on books with a gritty psychedelic worldview

Colm O'Shea Why did Colm love this book?

I grew up in rural Ireland, so not exactly the gritty urban Scotland of Welsh’s novel, but the first thing that struck me about the book was its savage, semi-feral, intensely real Scottish dialect. I’d never seen anything quite like it in print.

The prose feels almost illegal, a ne’er-do-well that has simply decided to break into the publishing house and force its way onto the page without anyone’s permission. I didn’t consciously plan to steal this technique for my own novel, but how could I not endorse it?

Welsh has written more explicitly psychedelic works, but this book remains for me his masterwork, underscoring how, in many ways, his protagonist Renton’s life is at its weirdest when he tries to get sober.  

By Irvine Welsh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'An unremitting powerhouse of a novel that marks the arrival of a major new talent. Trainspotting is a loosely knotted string of jagged, dislocated tales that lay bare the hearts of darkness of the junkies, wide-boys and psychos who ride in the down escalator of opportunity in the nation's capital. Loud with laughter in the dark, this novel is the real McCoy. If you haven't heard of Irvine Welsh before-don't worry, you will' The Herald

Book cover of A Time to Kill

Terry Lewis Author Of Conflict of Interest

From my list on legal thrillers with law and justice tension.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up watching Perry Mason on TV and have always enjoyed mysteries with a legal theme, what has become known as the legal thriller. My affection for this genre only increased when I became a lawyer and, later, a trial judge. I especially appreciate a novel that accurately depicts what lawyers and judges say and do and that highlights the tension between law and justice. Not surprisingly, that has been my goal for the four legal thrillers I have written.

Terry's book list on legal thrillers with law and justice tension

Terry Lewis Why did Terry love this book?

Grisham is the undisputed king of the legal thriller. Of all his novels, my favorite is his first. The story is set in a small southern town and centers on a white lawyer defending a black man (a la To Kill a Mockingbird). However, the lawyer, Jake, is not as noble as Atticus, as he is more motivated by personal ambition. And unlike Atticus’ client, his client is clearly guilty of murder, though the circumstances (the accused killed the men who brutally raped his young daughter) make him sympathetic.

There is an abundance of stereotypes here, including the Jewish lawyer sent by the NAACP, the angry Ku Klux Klan members, and the Ivy League law student who comes to help, but Grisham somehow makes it work. In the end, the reader, just like the jury, must choose between the law and their sense of justice.

By John Grisham,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked A Time to Kill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


John Grisham's first and most shocking novel, adapted as a film starring Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey

When Carl Lee Hailey guns down the violent racists who raped his ten-year-old daughter, the people of the small town of Clanton, Mississippi see it as justice done, and call for his acquittal.

But when extremists outside Clanton - including the KKK - hear that a black man has killed two white men, they invade the town, determined to destroy anything and anyone that opposes their sense of justice. A national media circus descends on Clanton.


Book cover of White Noise

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been captivated by interesting people since I was a kid. Family members always thought I asked too many questions of people, trying to learn more about who they are. For that reason, when I started reading fiction, I looked for characters with originality who opened new horizons and who I wanted to hang out with. (That’s also why I host the Novelist Spotlight podcast.) I agree 100 percent with novelist Larry McMurtry, who said: “For me, the novel is character creation. Unless the characters convince and live, the book’s got no chance.” The books I placed on my list reflect this belief. I hope you dig them.

Mike's book list on character-driven books with colorful, eccentric and dysfunctional protagonists and antagonists

Mike Consol Why did Mike love this book?

I found this book hysterically funny, and the dialogue more imaginative than any book I’ve ever read. The characters are without equal in terms of their originality, including the children of Jack and Babette Gladney.

The sheer number of meaningful topics this story covers is also without equal. The author’s observations are extremely keen. At its core, it is about the fear of death, though it is not a depressing story in any sense. It’s no wonder why it won the 1985 National Book Award.

By Don DeLillo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The National Book Award-winning classic from the author of Underworld and Libra-an "eerie, brilliant, and touching" (New York Times) family drama about mass culture and the numbing effects of technology-soon to be a major motion picture starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig

White Noise tells the story of Jack Gladney, his fourth wife, Babette, and four ultra modern offspring as they navigate the rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. When an industrial accident unleashes an "airborne toxic event," a lethal black chemical cloud floats over their lives. The menacing cloud is a more urgent…

Book cover of Gorky Park

James Tarr Author Of Bestiarii

From my list on technically accurate thrillers.

Why am I passionate about this?

For people who know something about a technical field, there is nothing that can ruin a book or movie faster than inaccuracies about that field. I’ve worked as an armored car driver, police officer, and private investigator in and around Detroit, and have been writing for outdoor magazines for close to twenty years, so not only do I know a lot about the featured subjects/characters of most thrillers, I care about how accurately they’re portrayed, and have brought that passion to my writing. I’ve written five thrillers set in Detroit, many of them featuring a private investigator, and when writing Bestiarii and its sequels did extensive research on dinosaurs.

James' book list on technically accurate thrillers

James Tarr Why did James love this book?

As a child of the eighties I grew up in the Cold War, where the Soviet Union was the enemy…but most Americans didn’t know anything about it. 

Gorky Park peeled back the curtain on the day-to-day lives of a few not-so-average Russians. The hugely successful novel features Moscow policeman Arkady Renko investigating a murder that has international repercussions. This novel opened a window into a foreign world that few people in the West had ever seen—in addition to being very smartly written. 

Even today this novel is fascinating, and it spawned half a dozen more sequels starring Renko.

By Martin Cruz Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Don't miss the latest book in the Arkady Renko series, THE SIBERIAN DILEMMA by Martin Cruz Smith, 'the master of the international thriller' (New York Times) - available to order now!


'One of those writers that anyone who is serious about their craft views with respect bordering on awe' Val McDermid

'Makes tension rise through the page like a shark's fin' Independent

Three bodies found frozen in the snow. And the hunt for the killer begins...

It begins with a triple murder in a Moscow amusement center: three…

Book cover of The Siberian Dilemma

Martin Campbell Author Of Sailor's Heart

From my list on true courage in facing danger when afraid.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Scottish writer who has published two books, one about poker and plumbing (Bad Beat Hotel) and the other about the treatment of men who sailed in the WW2 Arctic convoys and were unable to continue fighting (Sailor’s Heart). I’m interested in how people work and how they can be “repaired” when they wear out, malfunction, or break. My professional background is in clinical psychology and the study of human behaviour. I chose “cowards who become heroes” as my book theme because I’m constantly amazed by people’s resilience when faced with the most terrible circumstances.

Martin's book list on true courage in facing danger when afraid

Martin Campbell Why did Martin love this book?

Arkady Renko, a Moscow detective is a true hero, someone regarded as weak and hopeless to all around him, but ultimately redeemed by his principles and by his actions. Martin Cruz Smith is my favourite “cold places” writer, so when I heard that Renko was going to Siberia, I was hooked. (Before he goes, he shoots a bear in Moscow with a tranquilliser dart, but no more plot spoilers…)

He goes to the far, frozen east to record a police confession and to find his lost girlfriend, encountering bullets, corruption, frostbite, and more bears. His boss back in Moscow expects him to fail, as does nearly everyone he meets. But they all underestimate Arkady Renko, a hero underdog.

By Martin Cruz Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the award-winning, bestselling author of Gorky Park and Tatiana comes a breathtaking new novel about investigator Arkady Renko—“one of the most compelling figures in modern fiction” (USA TODAY)—who travels deep into Siberia to find missing journalist Tatiana Petrovna.

Journalist Tatiana Petrovna is on the move. Arkady Renko, iconic Moscow investigator and Tatiana’s part-time lover, hasn’t seen her since she left on assignment over a month ago. When she doesn’t arrive on her scheduled train, he’s positive something is wrong. No one else thinks Renko should be worried—Tatiana is known to disappear during deep assignments—but he knows her enemies all…

Book cover of The Baron's Cloak: A History of the Russian Empire in War and Revolution

Paul W. Werth Author Of 1837: Russia's Quiet Revolution

From my list on Russian history—with an imperial twist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying Russia and its history for over 30 years and find that it continues to intrigue me. Having previously focused my attention on religion and its imperial dimensions (including The Tsar’s Foreign Faiths, with Oxford University Press in 2014), I have more recently sought to understand the importance of Russia’s nineteenth century and I am now exploring the history of Russia’s territory with a view to writing a history of the longest border in the world. I teach at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

Paul's book list on Russian history—with an imperial twist

Paul W. Werth Why did Paul love this book?

This is a book of uncommon imagination and historical reconstruction. It focuses on the life of the eccentric Baron von Ungern-Shternberg and uses the Baltic German aristocrat’s adventures to reveal key characteristics of the late Russian Empire and the early Soviet years. Especially striking is the book’s geographical scope, which ranges from Austria to Mongolia and stops at many places in between. Written in engaging and fluid prose, the book is a truly original work of historical imagination that allows one to understand Russia and its place in the wider world—and in Asia, in particular.

By Willard Sunderland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Baron Roman Fedorovich von Ungern-Sternberg (1885-1921) was a Baltic German aristocrat and tsarist military officer who fought against the Bolsheviks in Eastern Siberia during the Russian Civil War. From there he established himself as the de facto warlord of Outer Mongolia, the base for a fantastical plan to restore the Russian and Chinese empires, which then ended with his capture and execution by the Red Army as the war drew to a close.

In The Baron's Cloak, Willard Sunderland tells the epic story of the Russian Empire's final decades through the arc of the Baron's life, which spanned the vast…

Book cover of East of the Sun: The Epic Conquest and Tragic History of Siberia

Sharon Hudgins Author Of T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

From my list on Siberia for those with insatiable wanderlust.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sharon Hudgins is the award-winning author of five books on history, travel, and food; a journalist with more than 1,000 articles published worldwide; and a former professor with the University of Maryland's Global Campus. She has spent two years in Russia, teaching at universities in Siberia and the Russian Far East, and lecturing on tours for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Viking, and other expedition companies. Endowed with an insatiable wanderlust, she has lived in 10 countries on 3 continents, traveled through 55 countries across the globe, and logged more than 45,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

Sharon's book list on Siberia for those with insatiable wanderlust

Sharon Hudgins Why did Sharon love this book?

For readers venturing into the history of Siberia for the first time, East of the Sun is an excellent introduction to this Asian side of Russia, stretching 5,000 miles between the Ural Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The book's narrative covers four centuries, from the conquest of Siberia by Russians in the late 16th century through the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 20th century—including early expeditions into the uncharted lands east of the Urals and the Russians' push toward the Pacific Ocean; native people in Siberia; Russian expansion into North America, from Alaska to California; Siberia as a place of prison and exile, but also a land of opportunity for millions of voluntary settlers; the impact of the Trans-Siberian Railroad; and the effects of modernization under the Soviets in the 20th century. If you're an armchair traveler interested in history, or planning a trip to Siberia yourself,…

By Benson Bobrick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The very word Siberia evokes a history and reputation as awesome as it is enthralling. In this acclaimed book on Russia’s conquest of its eastern realms, Benson Bobrick offers a story that is both rich and subtle, broad and deep.From its conquest by Cossacks and its exploration and settlement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, through its terrifying Gulag history, to its modern place in a world hungry for natural resources, Siberia –covering a sixth of the world’s surface – has a history unlike any other land. East of the Sun captures all of Siberia’s history with a depth and…

Book cover of Among the Russians

Steven Faulkner Author Of Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty & Loss

From my list on travel that enrich landscape with history.

Why am I passionate about this?

After reading travel books that voyaged beyond mere tourism into the life of the land, its people, and its histories, I found myself longing to launch my own journeys. I took a thousand-mile canoe trip with my son following the 1673 route of the French explorers Marquette and Joliet; I crossed the Rockies with two sons by foot, mountain bike, and canoe following Lewis and Clark and their Nez Perce guides; I took to sea kayak and pontoon boat with a son and daughter, 400 miles along the Gulf Coast in pursuit of the 1528 Spanish Narvaez Expedition. Writing of these journeys gave me the chance to live twice.

Steven's book list on travel that enrich landscape with history

Steven Faulkner Why did Steven love this book?

Colin Thubron showed me real travel writing: a journey in words that leads the reader through detailed landscapes, personal encounters with local people, and a depth of understanding that can only come through the human history of these landscapes.

I took this trip with Thubron when Russia was still the Soviet Union. Thubron met dissidents living in Moscow, drank vodka with them late into the night, traveled north to the remnants of Soviet concentration camps, took the rails through that vast continent across the steppes, over the mountains, around huge lakes, all the way to the Pacific coast. The book is beautifully written and introduced me to a travel writer I have read many times since.

By Colin Thubron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thubron learnt Russian and entered the then Soviet Union in an old Morris Marina in which he camped and drove for almost 10,000 miles between the Baltic and Caucasus. This book provides a revealing picture of the many races who inhabit the country and the human side behind state socialism.

Book cover of How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution

Peter Gloor Author Of Happimetrics: Leveraging AI to Untangle the Surprising Link Between Ethics, Happiness and Business Success

From my list on interspecies communication.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a boy I was fascinated by the bees my father was keeping. Their swarming behavior has become the blueprint for my own life. As a software manager at UBS, a partner at PwC, and Deloitte developing e-business strategies for Fortune 500 firms, I tried—sometimes not very successfullyto be a bee. Twenty years ago, I switched sides, since then, as a researcher at MIT, I am developing the concept of COINsCollaborative Innovation Networks. Our team has leveraged AI to build tools and methods for creative swarms, first among humans, and now also including other living beings, such as dogs, horses, cats, cows, and mimosa and basil plants.

Peter's book list on interspecies communication

Peter Gloor Why did Peter love this book?

It took millennia for the wolf to become “man’s best friend.” At least that was accepted scientific wisdom until a brave Russian scientist and World War II hero decided to replicate the domestication process with foxes. Under the disguise of making fox breeding in fur farms easier, he recruited a team of biologists at a location in Siberia, where foxes were selected for breeding based on their tameness in interaction with humans. To the experimenters’ great surprise, it only took a few decades until the foxes became as tame and human-centered as dogs. A great story of scientific curiosity and courage, and a must-read for anybody interested in evolutionary zoology.

By Lee Alan Dugatkin, Lyudmila Trut,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tucked away in Siberia, there are furry, four-legged creatures with wagging tails and floppy ears that are as docile and friendly as any lapdog. But, despite appearances, these are not dogs-they are foxes. They are the result of the most astonishing experiment in breeding ever undertaken-imagine speeding up thousands of years of evolution into a few decades. In 1959, biologists Dmitri Belyaev and Lyudmila Trut set out to do just that, by starting with a few dozen silver foxes from fox farms in the USSR and attempting to recreate the evolution of wolves into dogs in real time in order…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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