100 books like River of the Gods

By Candice Millard,

Here are 100 books that River of the Gods fans have personally recommended if you like River of the Gods. 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 The White Nile

Ben Coates Author Of The Rhine

From my list on rivers and the people who leave alongside them.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Anglo-Dutch writer living in the Netherlands, and the author of two books. Growing up in England I never thought much about rivers, but in the Netherlands they’re hard to avoid, and I’ve become fascinated by them. These days, when we all work remotely and (when rules allow) usually travel by car, train, or plane rather than boat, it’s easy to think of rivers as just scenic backdrops, rather than anything more important. But the truth is many of our cities wouldn’t exist without the waters which flow through them, and waterways like the Rhine, Thames, and Seine have had a huge influence on the history and culture of the people living alongside them. If you want to understand why somewhere like Rotterdam, London or Paris is the way it is, you could spend the day in a library or museum – but you’d be better off going for a boat ride or swim, poking around under some bridges and talking to the fishermen, boatmen, and kayakers down at the waterline.

Ben's book list on rivers and the people who leave alongside them

Ben Coates Why did Ben love this book?

The White Nile is another classic, telling the story of how European explorers “discovered” Africa’s greatest river in the second half of the nineteenth century. It’s a rollicking tale, featuring cameos from everyone from Herodotus to Churchill, packed with wild tales of bull-headed men marching into areas which were, for them, literally blank spaces on the map. Some of the prose inevitably feels a little dated these days, but it overflows with drama and detail, and provides a fascinating insight into the history of a region which many people still know too little about. I lived near the source of the Nile in Uganda for quite a while, and have many happy memories of reading this before heading out for a swim.

By Alan Moorehead,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Relive all the thrills and adventure of Alan Moorehead's classic bestseller The White Nile -- the daring exploration of the Nile River in the second half of the nineteenth century, which was at that time the most mysterious and impenetrable region on earth. Capturing in breathtaking prose the larger-than-life personalities of such notable figures as Stanley, Livingstone, Burton and many others, The White Nile remains a seminal work in tales of discovery and escapade, filled with incredible historical detail and compelling stories of heroism and drama.


Book cover of Cities of Gold: A Journey Across the American Southwest

Merri Melde Author Of Soul Deep in Horses: Memoir of an Equestrian Vagabond

From my list on adventures from a traveling Endurance horse rider.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been addicted to horses for as long as I can remember – not that I'm complaining. Reading The Black Stallion books as a youngster started me down the path of a life with equines. Everything fell into place, one step after another, as I became a racetrack groom, horse photographer, writer, traveler, Endurance rider, and author. I write and photograph for numerous magazines, and I’ve authored five books and several short e-stories on horses. My long-time love was my off-the-track Thoroughbred Stormy, who lived to be 30, and I currently own Hillbillie Willie, an off-the-track Standardbred who loves Endurance riding.

Merri's book list on adventures from a traveling Endurance horse rider

Merri Melde Why did Merri love this book?

This is the kind of ride I'd love to do if I had the horse and the time: a thousand-mile exploration across the desert Southwest over some of the most rugged and remote country I'd never get to see otherwise.

Preston and a partner retrace as best they can the journey of the 1540s Spanish explorer Coronado in his search for the mythical Seven Cities of Gold, experiencing some of the same misadventures and encountering some of the same Pueblo tribes.

I learned much about the history that is seldom told – how tribes were invaded and subjugated by Coronado in his bloody quest for gold, but also about the stoicism and ultimate triumph of some of the tribes who still live there today.

By Douglas Preston,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Excellent Book


Book cover of Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504

Kim MacQuarrie Author Of Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries

From my list on South American history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived in Peru for five years, working as a writer, filmmaker, and anthropologist and have travelled extensively in South America, voyaging 4,500 miles from the northern tip of the Andes down to the southern tip of Patagonia, lived with a recently-contacted tribe in the Upper Amazon, visited Maoist Shining Path “liberated zones” in Peru and later made a number of documentaries on the Amazon as well as have written a number of books. Historically, culturally and biologically, South America remains one of the most interesting places on Earth.

Kim's book list on South American history

Kim MacQuarrie Why did Kim love this book?

If you want to understand how both South America and the New World were “discovered” by Europeans, which had nearly the same effect on Native Americans that a meteor did on the dinosaurs, there’s no better way to understand it than to journey along on Columbus’ four voyages and be there when he and his crew set ashore. Columbus set foot on the northern part of South America on his third voyage, visiting the coast of what is now Venezuela. Bergreen’s book does an admirable job of introducing you to the man whose voyages would ultimately affect millions of people. This is the closest anyone will ever get to being on board as an entirely New World first hove into sight.

By Laurence Bergreen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

He knew nothing of celestial navigation or of the existence of the Pacific Ocean. He was a self-promoting and ambitious entrepreneur. His maps were a hybrid of fantasy and delusion. When he did make land, he enslaved the populace he found, encouraged genocide, and polluted relations between peoples. He ended his career in near lunacy.

But Columbus had one asset that made all the difference, an inborn sense of the sea, of wind and weather, and of selecting the optimal course to get from A to B. Laurence Bergreen's energetic and bracing book gives the whole Columbus and most importantly,…


Book cover of Endurance

Edward Benzel Author Of Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

From my list on awakening of the strengths that are hidden deep inside each of us.

Why am I passionate about this?

Coming from the perspective of a neurosurgeon, I have witnessed many successes and failures over more than four decades. I recognized decades ago that communication with patients at a level that involves emotions is a necessary part of being a complete physician. This involves being empathetic and, henceforth, digging deep to find the strength to be transparent, vulnerable, compassionate, understanding, and, when needed, forceful (some would call this paternalism). Although the five books I have chosen to highlight vary widely in content, they have one common theme – finding within us the will and wherewithal to succeed.

Edward's book list on awakening of the strengths that are hidden deep inside each of us

Edward Benzel Why did Edward love this book?

I loved this book because it told a gripping story of courage, mistakes, and survival against huge odds. It tells the story of a failed mission that most often would have led to disaster—but instead, it led to the awakening of strengths that Shackleton and his team harbored deep inside each of them.

Through this book, I saw and felt the need to reach deep inside to find the will to survive. It helped me understand just what it takes to be successful and how to overcome failure (failed mission).

Plain and simple, this book provided me with incredible insight into what it takes to ultimately be successful.

By Alfred Lansing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men. For ten months the ice-moored Endurance drifted northwest before it was finally crushed between two ice floes. With no options left, Shackleton and a skeleton crew attempted a near-impossible…


Book cover of The Worst Journey in the World

Ben Hunt-Davis Author Of Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?

From my list on helping you achieve your goals.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Olympic Gold Medallist rower, performance coach, facilitator, and keynote speaker passionate about high performance, teamwork, and the parallels between sport and business. In 1998 I was part of a consistently underachieving Team GB rowing eight, often placing 7th or 8th. We weren’t the strongest or most talented crew. By changing the way we worked as a team, we managed to turn it around to win Olympic Gold on the waters of Sydney in 2000. Since then, I've specialized in translating Olympic-winning strategies into business success. Specifically focusing on leadership and team development, I work with individuals, teams, and organizations to help them define their gold medal goals and supporting them in achieving them.

Ben's book list on helping you achieve your goals

Ben Hunt-Davis Why did Ben love this book?

This is a gripping account of expeditioner Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. Apsley Cherry-Garrard, one of the youngest members of Scott's team, recorded the experience of this adventure gone disastrously wrong. Despite the horrors that Scott and his men faced along the way, Cherry's account is filled with stories of resilience, belief in the human spirit, and to persevere in the face of adversity, no matter the cost. Through frostbitten flesh, teeth chattering so hard they spontaneously shatter in the cold of the air, to sweat freezing the instant it emerges from the pores – this is not for the faint-hearted. Nonetheless it is certainly one of the most inspiring accounts of developing self-belief and pushing on in the face of brutal setbacks. 

By Apsley Cherry-Garrard,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Worst Journey in the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A firsthand account of Scott's disastrous Antarctic expedition

The Worst Journey in the World recounts Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. Apsley Cherry-Garrard—the youngest member of Scott’s team and one of three men to make and survive the notorious Winter Journey—draws on his firsthand experiences as well as the diaries of his compatriots to create a stirring and detailed account of Scott’s legendary expedition. Cherry himself would be among the search party that discovered the corpses of Scott and his men, who had long since perished from starvation and brutal cold. It is through Cherry’s insightful narrative…


Book cover of The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition

James G. Stavridis Author Of To Risk It All: Nine Conflicts and the Crucible of Decision

From my list on to help you make decisions under extreme pressure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a retired 4-star Admiral who spent over forty years at sea, rising from Midshipman at the Naval Academy to Supreme Allied Commander at NATO. Along the way, I served in and commanded destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers in combat, and I have faced many very difficult decisions under extreme pressure. In addition, I’ve been in the Pentagon for many assignments, including as Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense – which also created countless high-pressure decisions. What I learned in the Navy has helped me again and again in calculating risk and making the right decisions. 

James' book list on to help you make decisions under extreme pressure

James G. Stavridis Why did James love this book?

In an amazing feat of leadership and critical decision-making under the most stressful circumstances imaginable, Ernest Shackleton managed to save his entire crew – despite their ship being crushed in the ice pack of Antarctica. His decisions from start to finish risked everything – hiking to the edge of the sea, sailing one of the ship’s small boats on a voyage to a distant outpost, bringing help back, and saving the crew. His decisions inspired me in the many expeditions I led as a naval officer, none of which were as challenging as what he faced.

By Caroline Alexander,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In August 1914, renowned explorer Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 set sail for the South Atlantic in pursuit of the last unclaimed prize in the history of exploration: the first crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent. They came with in 85 miles of their destination when their ship, Endurance, was trapped fast in the ice pack, and the crew was stranded on the floes. Their ordeal lasted for 20 grueling months, and the group made two near-fatal attempts to escape by open boat before they were finally rescued.

Drawing upon previously unavailable sources, Caroline Alexander gives us…


Book cover of This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland

Laura Galloway Author Of Dalvi: Six Years in the Arctic Tundra

From my list on life changing books on life in the Arctic (and other cold climates!).

Why am I passionate about this?

Why I chose to write about cold climates: I spent nearly seven years living in the North of Norway in the Sámi reindeer herding village called Guovdageaidnu, or Kautokeino in Norwegian. I cherish my time in that part of the world. 

Laura's book list on life changing books on life in the Arctic (and other cold climates!)

Laura Galloway Why did Laura love this book?

I had never been to Greenland when I first read Gretal Erlich’s book, and I knew very little about this mysterious continent. What I loved most about Erlich’s writing is that she really takes readers on a journey, introducing us to the people she meets in her travels, which are as fascinating as her singular way of describing the landscape, which is like no other place on earth.

Many years later, I travelled to Greenland and appreciated the accuracy of her descriptions firsthand. 

By Gretel Ehrlich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For the last decade, Gretel Ehrlich has been obsessed by an island, a terrain, a culture, and the treacherous beauty of a world that is defined by ice. In This Cold Heaven she combines the story of her travels with history and cultural anthropology to reveal a Greenland that few of us could otherwise imagine.

Ehrlich unlocks the secrets of this severe land and those who live there; a hardy people who still travel by dogsled and kayak and prefer the mystical four months a year of endless darkness to the gentler summers without night. She discovers the twenty-three words…


Book cover of Scott's Last Journey

Brenda Clough Author Of Revise the World

From my list on British explorers freezing to death in Antarctica.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a science fiction writer. If you write about time travel, one of the things you have to worry about is changing the past, the ‘gun for a dinosaur’ effect. If you go to the past and kill that dinosaur, will it affect the present? Maybe that dinosaur was the ancestor of all mammals. So, if you want to steal something from the past and bring it to now, you have to choose carefully. Something that has left no biological footprint. When I got that far, I remembered that Titus Oates walked off into the storm in Antarctica, never to be seen again, to save his companions. His body is still out there, frozen in a glacier … or is it?

Brenda's book list on British explorers freezing to death in Antarctica

Brenda Clough Why did Brenda love this book?

One of the things that made Scott’s expedition legendary was the photographs. His was the first scientific expedition to include a professional photographer on staff. Herbert Ponting used the cameras and glass plates of his time, and the images are stupendous. This book reproduces all the great ones, images that renovated the human imagination and which you can see to this day imitated in movies and special effects. 

By Robert Falcon Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Scott's Last Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The journal of British explorer Robert F. Scott's final, ill-fated expedition to Antarctica sheds light on his fatal attempt to reach the South Pole


Book cover of Meet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to Find the Sunken City

Jennifer McKeithen Author Of Atlantis On the Shores of Forever

From my list on Atlantis if you love adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a novelis who's had a lifelong fascination with travel, lost civilizations, aquariums, swashbuckling stories (both true and fictional), dancing, dusty old bookstores and libraries, sangria, and sunny beaches. I grew up in beautiful south Louisiana and my earliest memories were in New Orleans. Living in “America's first melting pot” taught me to appreciate cultures, languages, cuisine, and music from a young age. Ancient and Medieval history and folklore remain major influences on my writing.

Jennifer's book list on Atlantis if you love adventure

Jennifer McKeithen Why did Jennifer love this book?

Mark Adams is simply a delightful writer. In this book, he dares to ask the age-old question: did Atlantis actually exist? He sifts through the facts and the fiction, taking the reader with him in his traipse across the globe to find answers. Like his other books, Meet Me in Atlantis is a fun read, where you’ll learn a lot and have some laughs along way.

By Mark Adams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Meet Me in Atlantis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times Bestselling Travel Memoir! 

The author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu travels the globe in search of the world’s most famous lost city. 

“Adventurous, inquisitive and mirthful, Mark Adams gamely sifts through the eons of rumor, science, and lore to find a place that, in the end, seems startlingly real indeed.”—Hampton Sides

A few years ago, Mark Adams made a strange discovery: Far from alien conspiracy theories and other pop culture myths, everything we know about the legendary lost city of Atlantis comes from the work of one man, the Greek philosopher Plato. Stranger still: Adams…


Book cover of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

Benjamin Hoffmann Author Of Sentinel Island

From my list on forbidden territories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of French Literature and Creative Writing at The Ohio State University. A Franco-American writer, I am the author of books and essays published in both France and the United States, including Posthumous America, The Paradoxes of Posterity, American Pandemonium, and Sentinel Island. My work encompasses various genres (novel, short story, essay, and critical study) to explore recurring themes: exile and the representation of otherness; disinformation and the social impact of new technologies; nostalgia and the experience of mourning; the legacy of the Enlightenment and the Age of Great Discoveries; and America’s history and its troubled present.

Benjamin's book list on forbidden territories

Benjamin Hoffmann Why did Benjamin love this book?

This book might be one of my favorite books. Grann’s riveting narrative immerses readers in the Amazon rainforest, where British explorer Percy Fawcett embarked on his ill-fated quest to uncover a mythical city.

The gripping tale delves into the depths of the unknown and the perils of uncharted wilderness, illuminating the human desire for discovery and the mysteries that lie beyond.

Reading it many years ago amidst the grandeur of Colca Canyon in Peru left an indelible mark in my memory, underscoring the book’s resonance with grandiose landscapes and the enduring spirit of exploration.

By David Grann,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Lost City of Z as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**NOW A MAJOR FILM STARRING ROBERT PATTINSON, CHARLIE HUNNAM AND SIENNA MILLER**

'A riveting, exciting and thoroughly compelling tale of adventure'JOHN GRISHAM

The story of Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, the inspiration behind Conan Doyle's The Lost World

Fawcett was among the last of a legendary breed of British explorers. For years he explored the Amazon and came to believe that its jungle concealed a large, complex civilization, like El Dorado. Obsessed with its discovery, he christened it the City of Z. In 1925, Fawcett headed into the wilderness with his son Jack, vowing to make history. They vanished without a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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