100 books like Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties

By Rainer Maria Rilke, John J.L. Mood (translator),

Here are 100 books that Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties fans have personally recommended if you like Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties. 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 Rumi: The Book of Love: Poems of Ecstasy and Longing

Christina Strigas Author Of Love & Vodka

From my list on poetry that speak to the soul.

Who am I?

I’ve written five poetry books and I am presently working on my sixth. My poems are also confessional and narrative styles. I have also written two novels and enjoy writing fiction and poetry. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have. They have saved my life on many occasions. 

Christina's book list on poetry that speak to the soul

Christina Strigas Why did Christina love this book?

Rumi is one of those writers that transcends time and space. He is more of a spiritual writer and when he writes about love and longing, you can feel the words plant a seed inside your soul. If someone asked me which poetry book they should begin reading without any knowledge of poetry, Rumi would be a start. The simplicity of his words taught me that you don’t need to use a thesaurus to express yourself. His simple words and poems about soul mates carry his work over centuries. This poetry book tells you how lovers don’t finally meet somewhere, they’re in each other all along. These famous quotes of Rumi’s will be instilled in you again and again. Easy book to read and carry with you anywhere. It taught me to find my spirituality and soul and let it flow like a river with words as waves. It taught…

By Coleman Barks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Now in paperback, this is the definitive collection of America's bestselling poet Rumi's finest poems of love and lovers. In Coleman Barks' delightful and wise renderings, these poems will open your heart and soul to the lover inside and out. 'There are lovers content with longing. I'm not one of them.' Rumi is best known for his poems expressing the ecstasies and mysteries of love of all kinds - erotic, divine, friendship -and Coleman Barks collects here the best of those poems, ranging from the 'wholeness' one experiences with a true lover, to the grief of a lover's loss, and…


Book cover of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English

Barbara L.B. Storey Author Of Finding Our Way

From my list on love poetry that aren't all hearts, flowers, and mush.

Who am I?

When writing my book, it seemed only natural for me to bring poetry into the love story I’d created. I fell in love with poetry in high school, and it has always felt like a more powerful, compact, and intense way of expressing deep emotions. And it’s so much more complex than hearts and flowers, hence my title for this list! I wanted to use a poem that summed up the intensity of a physical encounter between new lovers. And Rilke was perfect for that. The other books are favourites, books I’ve had for years, and they’ve been good background for my writing in general.

Barbara's book list on love poetry that aren't all hearts, flowers, and mush

Barbara L.B. Storey Why did Barbara love this book?

I have always had old-fashioned tastes when it comes to poetry, and sonnets in particular are a form I have been attracted to. This anthology has the best sonnets from Chaucer to contemporary poets, a real education in the form, and one of my favourites here is by e.e. cummings, titled “I like my body when it is with your body.”

By Phillis Levin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Penguin Book of the Sonnet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the oldest literary forms of the post-classical world, the sonnet has engaged nearly every well-known poet writing in a Western language. This collection reveals how each writer - from William Wordsworth to Wilfred Owen - met the challenge of transforming an inherited pattern and convention. The result is like a living conversation between past and present. In a fascinating and extensive introduction, Levin traces the origins of the sonnet back to Italy, and follows its development from the Elizabethan era to the Romantic and Victorian, later discussing its popularity among the poets of the Harlem Renaissance and the…


Book cover of Revel: A Triple Shot of Café Poems

Barbara L.B. Storey Author Of Finding Our Way

From my list on love poetry that aren't all hearts, flowers, and mush.

Who am I?

When writing my book, it seemed only natural for me to bring poetry into the love story I’d created. I fell in love with poetry in high school, and it has always felt like a more powerful, compact, and intense way of expressing deep emotions. And it’s so much more complex than hearts and flowers, hence my title for this list! I wanted to use a poem that summed up the intensity of a physical encounter between new lovers. And Rilke was perfect for that. The other books are favourites, books I’ve had for years, and they’ve been good background for my writing in general.

Barbara's book list on love poetry that aren't all hearts, flowers, and mush

Barbara L.B. Storey Why did Barbara love this book?

This book is by a friend of mine, so holds a special place in my heart, because she’s so good. I also helped edit and format her book. She’s an artist and an author and her poems are mostly written in a coffee shop called Revel. They’re short, with deep and true images of everyday lifelove, coffee, and everything in betweenas seen by an artist.

By Carla Coles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In my favorite cafe
Losing myself
To poetry that somehow knows me

Savouring my coffee
and the moment
warm in my blanket

Outside rushes by
Against winter's white
blustery business and large flakes

Step inside
come over
Please join me


Book cover of Collected Poems, 1930-1993

Barbara L.B. Storey Author Of Finding Our Way

From my list on love poetry that aren't all hearts, flowers, and mush.

Who am I?

When writing my book, it seemed only natural for me to bring poetry into the love story I’d created. I fell in love with poetry in high school, and it has always felt like a more powerful, compact, and intense way of expressing deep emotions. And it’s so much more complex than hearts and flowers, hence my title for this list! I wanted to use a poem that summed up the intensity of a physical encounter between new lovers. And Rilke was perfect for that. The other books are favourites, books I’ve had for years, and they’ve been good background for my writing in general.

Barbara's book list on love poetry that aren't all hearts, flowers, and mush

Barbara L.B. Storey Why did Barbara love this book?

After Rilke, May Sarton is my favourite poet. I love her because her work is about the meanings of everyday things. She sees life through the eyes of an introvert, which I identify with completely, and she is able to bring out aspects of simple things that others miss. Her thoughts on love range from people in love“Lovers at the Zoo”to the intense grief at the loss of a pet “Death and the Turtle.”

By May Sarton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Collected Poems, 1930-1993 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lucid, ardent, and contemplative, May Sarton is one of America's best-loved writers. This comprehensive collection - the first in twenty years - celebrates six decades of bold imagination and fifteen books of poetry, the creative output of a lifetime. Arranged chronologically, these poems reveal the full breadth of Sarton's creative vision. Themes include the search for an inward order, her passions, the natural world, self-knowledge, and, in her latest poems, the trials of old age. Moving through Sarton's work, we see her at ease in both traditional forms and free verse, finding inspiration in snow over a dark sea, a…


Book cover of Duino Elegies

Michael Golding Author Of A Poet of the Invisible World

From my list on accompanying you on your spiritual journey.

Who am I?

It took me awhile to understand that I was on a spiritual path. I started out as an actor, and working in the theater brought me joy. But as time passed, and I turned to writing novels, the same questions kept emerging: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” I began to see that I was on a spiritual journey. With A Poet of the Invisible World, I finally felt ready to write about that journey. Nouri’s adventures chart the twists and turns—as well as the deep rewards—of the spiritual path. It’s a book that’s very close to my heart.

Michael's book list on accompanying you on your spiritual journey

Michael Golding Why did Michael love this book?

There are no other poems like Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies. Lyrical and intense, they express the poet’s struggle with existence, and his deep belief in the transformative power of suffering. Rilke asks the question that all spiritual seekers ask: “Look, I live. And for what?” He offers the answer that we live to strengthen the soul. In the Duino Elegies, Rilke encourages the reader to use his or her suffering to become closer to God. Reading his work helps the seeker to understand that the spiritual journey is on a larger scale than that of one’s fleeting life.

By Rainer Maria Rilke, Edward Snow (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angelic
orders? and even if one of them pressed me
suddenly to his heart: I'd be consumed
in that overwhelming existence. For beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror, which we can just barely endure,
and we stand in awe of it as it coolly disdains
to destroy us. Every angel is terrifying.
-from "The First Elegy"

Over the last fifteen years, in his two volumes of New Poems as well as in The Book of Images and Uncollected Poems, Edward Snow has emerged as one of Rainer Maria…


Book cover of Letters to a Young Poet

Mark David Gerson Author Of Writer's Block Unblocked: Seven Surefire Ways to Free Up Your Writing and Creative Flow

From my list on unlikely books to help you through creative blocks.

Who am I?

Ask successful authors how they started writing, and many will tell you that they always wanted to write. Not me! In fact, through most of my first 35 years, I resisted engaging with anything even remotely creative. I wouldn’t have called it “writer’s block” back then because, having no conscious desire to be a writer, how I could I be blocked? Yet writer’s block is what it was. That I was ultimately able to recognize it as such and get past it has given me a unique perspective on others’ writing challenges, as well as the skill and compassion to help them free up their innate creative potential.

Mark's book list on unlikely books to help you through creative blocks

Mark David Gerson Why did Mark love this book?

There’s nothing in Letters to a Young Poet about craft, writer’s block, or any of the recognizable challenges faced by twenty-first-century writers. Yet this slender volume published more than a century ago speaks to writers everywhere and in every era, who so often work in isolation and, if they are to be true to their art and authentic within themselves, must rip open their souls and spill the contents onto the page without regard for others’ judgment and criticism. In fact, it speaks to anyone, non-writer as well as writer, whose sensitivity and feelings of not belonging make it sometimes feel impossible to express themselves out in the world. In the end, isn’t that what writer’s block is all about. It certainly was for me!

By Rainer Maria Rilke, MD Herter Norton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Letters to a Young Poet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in 1875, the great German lyric poet Rainer Maria Rilke published his first collection of poems in 1898 and went on to become renowned for his delicate depiction of the workings of the human heart. Drawn by some sympathetic note in his poems, young people often wrote to Rilke with their problems and hopes. From 1903 to 1908 Rilke wrote a series of remarkable responses to a young, would-be poet on poetry and on surviving as a sensitive observer in a harsh world. Those letters, still a fresh source of inspiration and insight, are accompanied here by a chronicle…


Book cover of Letters on Cezanne

Richard Weston Author Of 100 Ideas that Changed Architecture

From my list on that formed my understanding of architecture.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by architecture and landscape architecture since discovering the work of Le Corbusier at the age of sixteen. Most of my life has been spent teaching and writing about it - fifteen books and numerous articles - with occasional forays into designing and building. I took early retirement as a Professor of  Architecture in 2013, the year after enjoying ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ on a BBC TV series featuring the development of my ‘mineral scarves’ for Liberty of London. This led to a creative app and website for children called Molly’s World (to be launched in 2024) and on my seventieth birthday in 2023 I launched an architectural and garden design studio.

Richard's book list on that formed my understanding of architecture

Richard Weston Why did Richard love this book?

This short book is not about architecture, but about the supremely ‘architectural’ painter, Paul Cézanne, who almost literally ‘built’ his paintings brushstroke by brushstroke.

The author, Rilke, was a great poet and the book consists of a series of letters he wrote home to his wife after almost daily visits to the great memorial exhibition of Cézanne’s work held in Paris 1907, the year after his death. At first he struggled to understand Cézanne’s work, but by the end he offers one of the most profound meditations on aesthetic values I know.

His discovery of Cézanne was, Rilke declared, the most important influence on his poetry and changed his life. These letters changed mine, and I cannot recommend them too highly. 

By Rainer Maria Rilke, Joel Agee (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rilke's prayerful responses to the french master's beseeching art

For a long time nothing, and then suddenly one has the right eyes.

Virtually every day in the fall of 1907, Rainer Maria Rilke returned to a Paris gallery to view a Cezanne exhibition. Nearly as frequently, he wrote dense and joyful letters to his wife, Clara Westhoff, expressing his dismay before the paintings and his ensuing revelations about art and life.

Rilke was knowledgeable about art and had even published monographs, including a famous study of Rodin that inspired his New Poems. But Cezanne's impact on him could not be…


Book cover of You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin

Michael Findlay Author Of Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art

From my list on making modern art exciting.

Who am I?

I have spent an exciting half-century in the New York art world as a dealer and an author and while my passion is to encourage people to enjoy art for art’s sake (rather than money or prestige) my many close friendships with artists demonstrate how much their life informs their art. The authors of these five books bring the art as well as the artists to life.

Michael's book list on making modern art exciting

Michael Findlay Why did Michael love this book?

Rilke, a shy young Austrian poet goes to Paris in 1902 to write a book about Rodin, a famous and famously difficult sculptor twice his age. Not only do they become friends but the ideas they shared about art and creativity are influential to this day. Guest appearances by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, George Bernard Shaw, and many other notable artists and writers.

I am an art dealer who is also a writer so I was fascinated to learn about the relationship between Rodin, a great sculptor whose work I know very well, and the young poet Rilke, whose work I knew little about. Art and poetry come from the same wellspring of imagination and both artist and poet were inspired by each other despite the difference in their age and practice.

By Rachel Corbett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Must Change Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Paris in 1902, Auguste Rodin had just completed The Thinker; visiting from Prague was Rainer Maria Rilke, broke and with writer's block. When Rilke was commissioned to write a book about Rodin, everything changed. You Must Change Your Life tells one of the great stories of modern art and literature: Rodin and Rilke's years together as master and disciple, their heartbreaking rift and finally, their moving reconciliation. Rachel Corbett reveals how Rodin's friendship led Rilke to write his most celebrated poems and inspired his Letters to a Young Poet. She captures the dawn of Modernism amid the characters that…


Book cover of The Language of Flowers: A Fully Illustrated Compendium of Meaning, Literature, and Lore for the Modern Romantic

Erica Hannickel Author Of Orchid Muse: A History of Obsession in Fifteen Flowers

From my list on orchid history and culture.

Who am I?

I wrote Orchid Muse: A History of Obsession in Fifteen Flowers. I’m a historian, a master gardener, and I’ve grown a few hundred orchids for over half my life. I love collecting stories of orchids because, well, they’re fascinating, and they offer a deeper connection to the pastime I love best.

Erica's book list on orchid history and culture

Erica Hannickel Why did Erica love this book?

This book stands out from the pack of flower symbolism and history. Instead of a slew of garbage collected from hither and yon on the internet, Begay deeply researched every flower and came to decisive yet elegant histories and meanings for every plant—the chapter on orchids is great. The book is useful for any reader, historian, or gardener who wants to infuse their garden and home with meaning, and the illustrations are whimsical and beautiful.

By Odessa Begay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With gorgeous full-color illustrations, ornate decorative elements, lettering in metallic ink, and engaging text, The Language of Flowers: A Fully Illustrated Compendium of Meaning, Literature, and Lore for the Modern Romantic is a treasure for flower lovers. A sumptuous, contemporary anthology of 50 of the world's most storied and popular flowers, each of its entries offers insight to the meaning associated with the flower, and is a fascinating mix of foklore, classic mythology, literature, botanical information and popular culture.

Following an introduction that provides a short history of the language of flowers, a fad which reached its peak during the…


Book cover of Moving Words About a Flower

Carol Fisher Saller Author Of The Bridge Dancers

From my list on nature providing strength and healing.

Who am I?

I’m not an expert in gardening, forestry, or herbal medicine. But like everyone else, I have a growing awareness that our planet Earth is entirely dependent on thriving forests and insects and even weeds. We owe it to our children and future generations to learn about and protect our precious resources. Although I live in the big city of Chicago and have a tiny backyard, last year I turned my little grass lawn into prairie! I have creeping charlie, dandelions, creeping phlox, sedge grass, wild violets, white clover, and who knows what else. (Luckily, my neighbors are on board.) I’ve already seen honeybees and hummingbirds. It’s not much, but it’s something I can do.

Carol's book list on nature providing strength and healing

Carol Fisher Saller Why did Carol love this book?

This joyful book about the life cycle of a dandelion will have you on the edge of your seat!

I’m not kidding – suspense and humor pervade the tale, which takes our dandelion from an unlikely sprouting in a city sidewalk to adventures and tragedy in the countryside (being trampled by a moose!), to the ecstasy and triumph of a final scattering of its millions of little seeds.

What child hasn’t blown on the fluffy ball of dandelion seeds? Understanding where the seeds come from and where they’re going is a life lesson worth learning about this special indigenous plant too often dismissed as a “weed.”

Barbara Chotiner’s chaotic and evocative illustrations will bear up under many repeated readings.

By K.C. Hayes, Barbara Chotiner (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moving Words About a Flower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Words tumble, leap, and fly in this clever shape poem about a resilient dandelion.

The inspiring story of a dandelion that survives against all odds, ingeniously told through shape poems (also called "concrete poems") full of visual surprises. When it rains, letters fall from the sky; and when seeds scatter, words FLY!

Each playful page will have readers looking twice. The back of the book includes more information about the life cycle of the humble, incredible dandelion.

NSTA-CBC's 2023 Outstanding Science Trade Books List 2023 Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts List by the CLA (Children’s Literature Assembly)


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