100 books like Rumi

By Coleman Barks,

Here are 100 books that Rumi fans have personally recommended if you like Rumi. 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 Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties: Translations and Considerations

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?

Rilke has been my favourite poet since I was in my 20s—the depth of emotion and the lack of sentiment is what attracts me to his work. In his mind, love is a very serious thing, as the title suggests. No hearts and roses—just the truth about human emotions. I use one of the poems (“The Seven Phallic Poems, IV”) in this book in my book—Jon reads it to Becca at a very intimate moment. I believe Rilke’s work in this book was my introduction to erotic poetry.

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

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is a mini-anthology of poetry and prose for both aficionados and those readers discovering Rainer Maria Rilke for the first time. John J. L. Mood has assembled a collection of Rilke's strongest work, presenting commentary along with the selections. Mood links into an essay passages from letters that show Rilke's profound understanding of men and women and his ardent spirituality, rooted in the senses.

Combining passion and sensitivity, the poems on love presented here are often not only sensual but sexual as well. Others pursue perennial themes in his work-death and life, growth and transformation. The book concludes with…


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 Ariel: A Facsimile of Plath's Manuscript, Reinstating Her Original Selection and Arrangement

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?

One of the first books of poetry I ever read with awe. Actually, I still do. No other poet on the face of the earth, besides Sexton, has ever blown me away with words like Plath. I personally loved this book because it showed me how to write poetry. It is like a kind of bible for me. I have the facsimile of Plath’s manuscript and when I look at her handwriting and the fluidity of certain images I can see what a gifted poet Plath was. It taught me how to express words without telling. It taught me how to use imagery like a fancy dress on a night out on the town. For anyone who wants to begin reading poetry, start here. This book helped me see that reality is distorted, that the past and present and future can be held in one poem. It helped me overcome…

By Sylvia Plath,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ariel, first published in 1965, contains many of Sylvia Plath's best-known poems, written in an extraordinary burst of creativity just before her death in 1963. Including poems such as 'Lady Lazarus', 'Edge', 'Daddy' and 'Paralytic', it was the first of four collections to be published by Faber & Faber. Ariel is the volume on which Sylvia Plath's reputation as one of the most original, daring and gifted poets of the twentieth century rests.

'Since she died my mother has been dissected, analysed, reinterpreted, reinvented, fictionalized, and in some cases completely fabricated. It comes down to this: her own words describe…


Book cover of Tell Me

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?

I recently discovered Kim Addonizio and wanted to include her to share with you a modern poet I am recently obsessed with. I am also reading her book of memoirs at the moment and I am loving her raw style. I was going to put Bukowski in my five picks but I wanted to make it about women. Hench here is a modern poet who comes close to that raw and in-your-face poetry. Confessional poetry, like Plath and Sexton’s, has been my favorite genre, but Addonizio gives it a raw twist with a shot of vodka. I love how Addonizio’s poems slap you in the face with truth. Her poems teach me how to be comfortable sharing my own stories with strangers. Her poems teach me it’s okay to lie about it too. A place where reality and fantasy merge. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to…

By Kim Addonizio,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Poems of loneliness and late nights, liquor and loss.


Book cover of A Sand Book

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?

I love this book because it’s an epic poetry book. The first of its kind. Three-hundred and ninety-six-page poetry book. Ariana Reines is one of my favorite top three modern poets as well. Poetry lovers should have this book in their collection. If not, what are you waiting for? It’s a masterpiece. I can see her soul in this book, I can see her heart. I can see her mind. It’s as if sand is literally under your feet as you read these poems divided into sections. This book is meant to be read slowly, like a fine glass of wine. It took me months to read it. It taught me that a poet is an artist and is a traveler of time and space. It taught me to break rules and to do whatever you want as a poet. It taught me to not limit myself as a writer…

By Ariana Reines,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Deadpan, epic, and searingly charismatic, A Sand Book is at once relatable and out-of-this-world. In poems tracking climate change, bystanderism, state murder, sexual trauma, shopping, ghosting, love, and the transcendent shock of prophecy, A Sand Book chronicles new dimensions of consciousness for our strange and desperate times.

What does the destruction of our soil have to do with the weather in the human soul? From sand in the gizzards of birds to the iridescence on the surface of spilt oil, from sand storms on Mars to our internet-addicted present, from the desertifying mountains of Haiti to natural disasters and state…


Book cover of Selected Poems of Anne Sexton

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?

I’ve been fascinated by poetry ever since I picked up this book for seven dollars at the second-hand bookstore near my university at the age of nineteen. Anne Sexton’s Selected Poems taught me how to write confessional poetry. They taught me how to write narrative poetry. They taught me to not be afraid to speak my truth, no matter how ugly.

I love how Anne Sexton writes about marriage, affairs, love, loss, family, and relationships with depth into herself and her psyche. Her poems in this collection encompass all her most remarkable work from her array of poetry books. Here you have all the classic poems as well as some obscure ones. Her famous, "Black Art" and the classic lines, "A woman who writes feels too much." As well, "For My Lover, Returning to His Wife," and the last two lines, "As for me, I am a watercolor. I wash…

By Anne Sexton, Diane Wood Middlebrook (editor), Diana George (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Selected Poems of Anne Sexton as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anne Sexton's language was simple, domestic; her imagery arresting; her subject matter urgent, shocking and exciting. She wrote about mental breakdown, sex, addiction, abortion - the other side of ordinary life. 'Madness' and its cultural meanings were central to her art as to her life; yet it is a bright, lucid and sane voice that resonates. Sexton's poems are accessible, moving and intensely honest. Her poems are brought together here in a diverse and powerful anthology spanning fifteen years of uninhibited writing.


Book cover of Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam

Omid Safi Author Of Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition

From my list on Rumi’s path of radical love.

Who am I?

I fell in love with Rumi when I was 15. My parents introduced me to him, and lines of his poetry show up in daily conversation with them. Rumi had insights about life put much more eloquently than I could have expressed myself. I have devoted myself to studying this path of Radical Love for over 35 years now, and have the great joy to share these teachings with people in both academic and communal settings. I lead spiritually oriented tours to Turkey and Morocco through Illuminated Tours. I also teach online courses on Rumi and spirituality through Illuminated Courses and courses on Islam and Islamic spirituality at Duke University.

Omid's book list on Rumi’s path of radical love

Omid Safi Why did Omid love this book?

This is a contemporary work by a young 21st-century Muslim in America, and one that comes out of that same tradition. It is a widely popular gem, filled with beautiful insights.  If you had to hand a book to a young aspiring spiritual seeker, this may be it. 

By A. Helwa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Are you longing to experience a more intimate and loving relationship with Allah?

Do your imperfections leave you feeling unworthy of love from a perfect Creator? Has your holy journey left you with more questions than answers? Internationally acclaimed, award-winning author, A. Helwa, has inspired over half a million readers with her passionate and poetic approach to faith. Now she’s here to show you how to unlock your spiritual potential and unveil your true purpose.

Secrets of Divine Love draws upon spiritual secrets of the Qur’an, ancient mystical poetry, and stories from the world’s greatest prophets and spiritual masters to…


Book cover of Rumi: Poems

Sophy Burnham Author Of The Treasure of Montségur: A Novel of the Cathars

From my list on spiritual experiences.

Who am I?

What a question. I’ve been asking it all my life. Publicly, I am known for writing and workshops about the spiritual search, intuition, the still, small voice of God, angels, and miraculous time-warped synchronicities that seem directed to our benefit. I have written about my own mystical illuminations in A Book of Angels, The Ecstatic Journey, The Path of Prayer, in novels, plays, stories, and poetry. My work is translated into some 25 languages (most recently Chinese). But underneath I’m an ordinary flawed, failed human being, stumbling, searching for meaning, struggling toward God, and trying to be of some small service before I go back home.

Sophy's book list on spiritual experiences

Sophy Burnham Why did Sophy love this book?

I am not suggesting any particular book of the poems of this famous Persian poet and Sufi mystic. There are dozens of translations. Read any. His ecstatic poetry, as well as reflective musings all, lead to deepening love, the center and meaning of a spiritual experience.

By Jalal Al-Din Rumi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The poetry of the medieval Persian sage Rumi combines lyrical beauty with spiritual profundity, a sense of rapture, and acute awareness of human suffering in ways that speak directly to contemporary audiences.

Trained in Sufism—a mystic tradition within Islam—Rumi founded the Sufi order known to us as the Whirling Dervishes, who use dance and music as part of their spiritual devotion. Many of Rumi’s poems speak of a yearning for ecstatic union with the divine Beloved. But his images bring the sacred and the earthy together in startling ways, describing divine love in vividly human terms.

This volume draws on…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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