10 books like Problems of the Future and Essays

By Samuel Laing,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Problems of the Future and Essays. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Robert B. Marks Author Of Re: Apotheosis

From the list on writing for new (and even established) fiction writers.

Who am I?

Writing is in my blood – my grandmother wrote poetry, my mother writes novels, and over the last twenty-plus years I’ve written just about everything (and now I teach writing at my local university). I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. While my fiction career may be newly revived, I spent over 20 years as a pop culture commentator, poking at the minutia of the stories I love. I think stories may be one of the most important things in our culture – they inspire us, they brighten our day, they bring us to tears, and sometimes when we are lost they show us the way.

Robert's book list on writing for new (and even established) fiction writers

Discover why each book is one of Robert's favorite books.

Why did Robert love this book?

This will be one of my more controversial picks – there are plenty of people who disagree with Campbell as a folklorist, a mythographer, and with his depiction of the Hero’s Journey. But, what is important about Campbell is his exploration of why the elements that appear in stories have the impact they do on our psyche, and how they fit together. One may not agree with all of Campbell’s conclusions, but I don’t think there’s a writer out there who won’t benefit from his exploration of the subject. I know I did.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

By Joseph Campbell,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Hero with a Thousand Faces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joseph Campbell's classic cross-cultural study of the hero's journey has inspired millions and opened up new areas of research and exploration. Originally published in 1949, the book hit the New York Times best-seller list in 1988 when it became the subject of The Power of Myth, a PBS television special. The first popular work to combine the spiritual and psychological insights of modern psychoanalysis with the archetypes of world mythology, the book creates a roadmap for navigating the frustrating path of contemporary life. Examining heroic myths in the light of modern psychology, it considers not only the patterns and stages…

Book cover of The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

Chad LeJeune Author Of "Pure O" OCD: Letting Go of Obsessive Thoughts with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

From the list on thoughts, and our relationship with them.

Who am I?

As a clinical psychologist, I listen to thoughts all the time. I’m also having my own, constantly. We rely on our thoughts to help us navigate the world. However, our thoughts can also be a source of suffering. At times, they're not such reliable guides or helpers. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a way of thinking about thinking. ACT captured my imagination early in my clinical career. I trained with ACT’s originator, Steven Hayes, in the early 1990’s. I’ve come to believe that being more aware of our own thoughts, and our relationship to them is key to creating positive change and living a life grounded in our values.

Chad's book list on thoughts, and our relationship with them

Discover why each book is one of Chad's favorite books.

Why did Chad love this book?

Julian Jaynes was a researcher and teacher whose whole career focused on describing and understanding human consciousness. 

This strange, enchanting book looks at consciousness as an “operation” (like mathematics) rather than a thing. It examines how consciousness constructs an internal “space” in our heads that is an analog for the external world. In this space, we manipulate thoughts and ideas in much the same way we manipulate objects in the material world. 

This is a foundational text that calls into question our most basic assumptions about how we experience the realm of thought.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

By Julian Jaynes,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the heart of this classic, seminal book is Julian Jaynes's still-controversial thesis that human consciousness did not begin far back in animal evolution but instead is a learned process that came about only three thousand years ago and is still developing. The implications of this revolutionary scientific paradigm extend into virtually every aspect of our psychology, our history and culture, our religion -- and indeed our future.

Book cover of Oxford Companion to World Mythology

Jordanna Max Brodsky Author Of The Wolf in the Whale

From the list on mythology books beyond the Greeks.

Who am I?

Jordanna Max Brodsky is the author of the Olympus Bound trilogy, which follows the Greek goddess Artemis as she stalks the streets of modern Manhattan, and The Wolf in the Whale, a sweeping epic of the Norse and Inuit. Jordanna holds a degree in History and Literature from Harvard University, but she maintains that scholarship is no substitute for lived experience. Her research has taken her from the summit of Mount Olympus to the frozen tundra of Nunavut, and from the Viking ruins of Norway to Artemis’s temples in Turkey.

Jordanna's book list on mythology books beyond the Greeks

Discover why each book is one of Jordanna's favorite books.

Why did Jordanna love this book?

The Oxford Companion is an encyclopedia, not a narrative, but I love that it includes stories from the Bible, the Quran, and other sacred texts alongside fantastical legends that span the globe. The line between myth and religion is, after all, largely subjective. King David, the nymph Daphne, and the Dayak myths of Borneo all share the same page. For those of us seeking inspiration in myth, the Oxford Companion offers ideas from Abraham to Ziusudra.

Oxford Companion to World Mythology

By David Leeming,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Oxford Companion to World Mythology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cave paintings at Lascaux, France and Altamira, Spain, fraught with expression thousands of years later; point to an early human desire to form a cultural identity. In The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, David Leeming explores the role of mythology, or myth-logic, in history and determines that the dreams of specific cultures add up to a larger collective story of humanity. Stopping short of attempting to be all-inclusive, this fascinating volume will
nonetheless be comprehensive, opening with an introduction exploring the nature and dimensions of myth and proposing a definition as a universal language. Briefly dipping into the ways our…

Book cover of The Soul of the Ape & My Friends the Baboons

Simon Clark Author Of Vampyrrhic

From the list on the development of the human mind.

Who am I?

My father, a history teacher, often pointed out battlefields and scenes of historical importance when I was a child: so an ordinary-looking countryside became the place where knights in armor clashed, or where Viking longboats glided along a river. I grew up habitually overlying vivid scenes from the past on modern landscapes, all of which inspired me to write novels, including The Night of the Triffids, Blood Crazy, and Darkness Demands. Much of my fiction reflects my interest in the evolution of the human mind and how our minds are molded by the world we live in, hence my choice of the five books that I do wholeheartedly recommend for the eager adventurer in thought.

Simon's book list on the development of the human mind

Discover why each book is one of Simon's favorite books.

Why did Simon love this book?

Early in the twentieth century, Marais studied a troop of baboons, studying their behavior, gaining insights into how this primate thinks, and, moreover, drawing conclusions about the development of the human psyche. Marais believed that the human unconscious mind, which he called “the subliminal soul” and which still “shapes our thoughts and actions”, is the ancient animal mentality, submerged beneath the evolution of the conscious mind. Therefore, he postulates, the hereditary mind that belonged to our pre-human ancestors is very much alive and well within us.

The Soul of the Ape & My Friends the Baboons

By Eugene Marais,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Soul of the Ape & My Friends the Baboons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eugene Marais spent three years living in the South African wilderness in close daily contact with a troop of baboons. He later described this as the happiest, most content time of his troubled life. This period produced two works which are testament to his research and conclusions; they have very different histories.

Firstly, there was a series of articles written in Afrikaans for the newspaper Die Vaderland. They were then published in book form under the title Burgers van die Berge, and were first published in an English translation in 1939 under the title My Friends the Baboons. These pieces…

Book cover of The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople

Jonathan Harris Author Of Byzantium and the Crusades

From the list on Byzantium from superpower to downfall.

Who am I?

I first came across Byzantium when I read Robert Graves' Count Belisarius and studied as much of its history as I could while at King's College London. Later I taught English in Turkey and was able to visit the Byzantine sites of Istanbul, Iznik, and Cappadocia. I now teach medieval and Byzantine history at Royal Holloway, University of London. For those living outside eastern Europe and Russia, Byzantium may appear to be rather remote and exotic: that is part of its appeal! But just because it is strange and different does not mean that we should not try to understand it on its own terms. That is what I have tried to do in my books and teaching.

Jonathan's book list on Byzantium from superpower to downfall

Discover why each book is one of Jonathan's favorite books.

Why did Jonathan love this book?

This book vividly describes what happened when the fears of Anna Komnene and other Byzantines were finally realised and a crusading expedition ended up attacking and capturing Constantinople. Phillips’ interest is in crusading rather than in Byzantium so the focus of the book is on the actions and motivations of the crusaders. He points out that they had no plan originally to go to Constantinople: their aim was to sail to Egypt from where they would recover Jerusalem for Christendom. Only when they ran short of supplies and money did they accept the invitation of a Byzantine prince to divert to Constantinople and help him to restore his father to the throne. And they only attacked the city when the prince failed to pay them what he had promised! Nevertheless, by their actions they brought about the ruin not just of a state but of an entire culture.

The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople

By Jonathan Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1202, zealous Western Christians gathered in Venice determined to liberate Jerusalem from the grip of Islam. But the crusaders never made it to the Holy Land. Steered forward by the shrewd Venetian doge, they descended instead on Constantinople, wreaking terrible devastation. The crusaders spared no one: They raped and massacred thousands, plundered churches, and torched the lavish city. By 1204, one of the great civilizations of history had been shattered. Here, on the eight hundredth anniversary of the sack, is the extraordinary story of this epic catastrophe, told for the first time outside of academia by Jonathan Phillips, a…

The Fourth Crusade

By Donald E. Queller, Thomas F. Madden,

Book cover of The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople

Alfred Andrea Author Of Seven Myths of the Crusades

From the list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians.

Who am I?

I was fated to become a crusade historian. Research for my doctoral dissertation on medieval relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople inevitably led me to the Fourth Crusade. I was hooked, and for the past fifty-plus years the crusades have been a passion—I hope a healthy one.  Although I have published two books on the Fourth Crusade, my crusading interests have now gone global, and I am currently studying sixteenth-century crusading in the eastern Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, Ethiopia, and the Americas. Perhaps someday I shall turn to more modern crusades. Sad to say, the crusades are still with us.

Alfred's book list on the medieval crusades by world-class historians

Discover why each book is one of Alfred's favorite books.

Why did Alfred love this book?

Study of the ins and outs, the steps and missteps of a particular crusade allow us to move from the general to the particular and to view closeup the choices and actions of participants who lacked our 20-20 hindsight. No crusade was more beset by unforeseen circumstances and miscalculations than the Fourth Crusade (1202-04), which left Venice headed for an amphibious assault on Muslim-held Egypt but wound up capturing Christian Constantinople not once but twice and establishing the Latin Empire of Constantinople (1204-61). This classic in-depth but never dull book puts a human face on that crusade and brings alive its numerous twists and turns. History is intrinsically exciting, and Queller and Madden’s enthusiasm does full justice to that fact. 

The Fourth Crusade

By Donald E. Queller, Thomas F. Madden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On August 15, 1199, Pope Innocent III called for a renewed effort to deliver Jerusalem from the Infidel, but the Fourth Crusade had a very different outcome from the one he preached. Proceeding no further than Constantinople, the Crusaders sacked the capital of eastern Christendom and installed a Latin ruler on the throne of Byzantium. This revised and expanded edition of The Fourth Crusade gives fresh emphasis to events in Byzantium and the Byzantine response to the actions of the Crusaders. Included in this edition is a chapter on the sack of Constantinople and the election of its Latin emperor.…


By Richard Atwater,

Book cover of Procopius: Secret History

Brooks Hansen Author Of The Unknown Woman of the Seine

From the list on history, myth, and fantasy, as imagination sees fit.

Who am I?

I like history. I also like myth. And I revere the imagination, the liberal use of which can lead to what many call “fantasy.” Though the portions change, almost all the fiction I’ve written—from The Chess Garden to John the Baptizer to my latest, The Unknown Woman of the Seine—is the product of this recipe. Some moment from the past captures my attention, digs its hooks in, invites research, which begets questions, which beget answers that only the imagination can provide, informed both by experience and by the oldest illustrations of why we are the way we are. Dice these up, let simmer until you’re not sure which is which, and serve.

Brooks' book list on history, myth, and fantasy, as imagination sees fit

Discover why each book is one of Brooks' favorite books.

Why did Brooks love this book?

No, not the Donna Tartt novel, which I also like a lot, but the 6th-century text from which she copped her title, the one by Procopius about the reign of Justinian and Theodora (admirably and unflinchingly translated by Richard Atwater). I have a weak spot for the work of “contemporaneous” historians, especially when their self-interest is so patent. The great virtue of such texts is that they remind us: as wild and wonderful as the human imagination may be, there’s some stuff you just can’t make up. In the case of Procopius, however, it’s not clear that he isn’t making this stuff up, the Secret History being an alternate account of his experience in the Imperial court, the one he kept in a locked drawer just in case the Barbarians ever took over and needed proof he wasn’t just a toady to the former regime.

To that end, he offers…


By Richard Atwater,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thank you for checking out this book by Theophania Publishing. We appreciate your business and look forward to serving you soon. We have thousands of titles available, and we invite you to search for us by name, contact us via our website, or download our most recent catalogues. Procopius of Caesarea (in Palestine) is the most important source for information about the reign of the emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. From 527 to 531 Procopius was a counsel the great general of the time, Belisarius. He was on Belisarius's first Persian campaign, and later took part in an expedition…


By Stella Duffy,

Book cover of Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore

Ian Ross Author Of War at the Edge of the World

From the list on novels set in the later Roman Empire.

Who am I?

Ian Ross was born in England and studied painting before turning to writing fiction. He has been researching the later Roman empire and its army for over a decade, and his interests combine an obsessive regard for accuracy and detail with a devotion to the craft of storytelling. His six-novel Twilight of Empire series follows the career of Aurelius Castus as he rises from the ranks of the legions to the dangerous summit of military power, against the background of a Roman world in crisis.

Ian's book list on novels set in the later Roman Empire

Discover why each book is one of Ian's favorite books.

Why did Ian love this book?

The Empress Theodora is one of the most colourful and notorious figures in eastern Roman (or ‘Byzantine’) history, and in this book, and the sequel The Purple Shroud, Stella Duffy brings her brilliantly to life. After spending her early years in the coarse and brutally competitive demimonde of performers, dancers and prostitutes surrounding the Hippodrome of Constantinople, Theodora scales to the heights of imperial power with tenacity and determination. But she always appears as a figure of her age, immersed in the complex and often bewildering culture and society of the 6th century AD. Duffy uses the travails of Theodora’s life to take us on a tour of the eastern Mediterranean, from the slums and palaces of Constantinople to the desert monasteries of Egypt. It’s an engaging tale of rags to riches, to rags again to riches again, and remains scrupulously close to the few historical sources that survive, while…


By Stella Duffy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two of the most famous mosaics from the ancient world, in the church of San Vitale in Ravenna, depict the sixth-century emperor Justinian and, on the wall facing him, his wife, Theodora (497-548). This majestic portrait gives no inkling of Theodora's very humble beginnings or her improbable rise to fame and power. Raised in a family of circus performers near Constantinople's Hippodrome, she abandoned a successful acting career in her late teens to follow a lover whom
she was legally forbidden to marry. When he left her, she was a single mother who built a new life for herself as…

Children of Earth and Sky

By Guy Gavriel Kay,

Book cover of Children of Earth and Sky

J.G. Harlond Author Of The Chosen Man

From the list on historical fiction to travel across Europe and beyond.

Who am I?

My idea of ‘good fiction’ – and what I try to write myself – involves secret agents and skulduggery, crime, and romance. My own life has involved a good deal of travel. I studied Education and Drama, then Literature, History, and Politics at post-graduate level. All of which help with my research and writing. As a British ex-pat, I have lived in the USA and different parts of Europe. Now, we are finally settled near Málaga, Spain. ‘Deep-reading’ fiction set in fascinating places, quality content to indulge in on dark winter nights. I hope you enjoy your time travel as much as I do.

J.G.'s book list on historical fiction to travel across Europe and beyond

Discover why each book is one of J.G.'s favorite books.

Why did J.G. love this book?

Technically this is not historical fiction, but if you know anything about Venice and Constantinople, you will recognise our world in the past. Guy Gavriel Kay’s magical writing weaves history into fantasy, where incredible occurrences become perfectly credible. This story is about various individuals caught up in a conflict between those who worship the stars and those who pray to the sun. Each character is very real in their flaws and ambitions and desires. Battles are fought across the fantasy Balkan states and the Adriatic Sea, involving Seressa (Venice) and the Asharites (the ‘infidel’). Kay’s books are quite simply splendid; I love the way they take me on exciting journeys with fascinating characters. Un-put-downable.

Children of Earth and Sky

By Guy Gavriel Kay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Guy Gavriel Kay, bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, once again visits a world that evokes one that existed in our own past, this time the tumultuous period of Renaissance Europe - a world on the verge of war, where ordinary lives play out in the grand scheme of kingdoms colliding.

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates , a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different…


By Paul Stephenson,

Book cover of Constantine: Roman Emperor, Christian Victor

Charles Matson Odahl Author Of Constantine and the Christian Empire

From the list on the 4th century Roman world.

Who am I?

Charles M. Odahl earned a doctorate in Ancient and Medieval History and Classical Languages at the University of California, San Diego, with an emphasis on Roman imperial and early Christian studies. He has spent his life and career traveling, living, and researching at sites relevant to his interests, especially in Britain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey Israel, Egypt, and Tunisia. He has taught at universities in Britain, France, Idaho, and Oregon, and published 5 books and 50 articles and reviews on Roman and early Christian topics.

Charles' book list on the 4th century Roman world

Discover why each book is one of Charles' favorite books.

Why did Charles love this book?

Dr. Stephenson, an excellent Byzantine historian, provides a thorough and well-written narrative of Constantine's life and career set accurately within the late 3rd and early 4th century Roman Empire (A.D. 273-337). He focuses on the military abilities and the religious beliefs of his subject and reveals how he changed the Roman Empire and Christian Church with his policies. A good read.


By Paul Stephenson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This “knowledgeable account” of the emperor who brought Christianity to Rome “provides valuable insight into Constantine’s era” (Kirkus Reviews).

“By this sign conquer.” So began the reign of Constantine. In 312 A.D. a cross appeared in the sky above his army as he marched on Rome. In answer, Constantine bade his soldiers to inscribe the cross on their shield, and so fortified, they drove their rivals into the Tiber and claimed Rome for themselves.

Constantine led Christianity and its adherents out of the shadow of persecution. He united the western and eastern halves of the Roman Empire, raising a new…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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