10 books like Sapiens

By Yuval Noah Harari,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Sapiens. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Wind, Sand and Stars

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery,

Book cover of Wind, Sand and Stars

Kelly Cordes Author Of The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre

From the list on belief and finding meaning from the meaningless.

Who am I?

Some thirty years ago, on a frozen waterfall near an old logging town in Montana, my life changed forever. A friend took me climbing. Almost instantly, upon leaving the ground, the mountains became my singular passion. I lived in run-down shacks and worked dead-end jobs, freeing myself to travel and to climb. Along the way I stumbled into an editorial job with the American Alpine Journal, where I worked for twelve years, deepening my knowledge of mountains, including the incomparable Cerro Torre. I know that climbing is overtly pointless. What we gain from it, however—what it demands and what we give in return—has immeasurable power.

Kelly's book list on belief and finding meaning from the meaningless

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

Why did Kelly love this book?

Saint-Exupery’s descriptions of what he sees and feels during enthralling activities amid stunning landscapes left me enchanted. The feelings he captures extend beyond the mere act of flying and into human relationships and our quest for meaning, written in beautiful, often philosophical prose. He approached flying as a metaphor for life and the human condition. Even if I will never fly, he made me care. 

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Wind, Sand and Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The National Book Award-winning autobiographical book about the wonder of flying from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the beloved children's classic The Little Prince.

A National Geographic Top Ten Adventure Book of All Time

Recipient of the Grand Prix of the Académie Française, Wind, Sand and Stars captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying.

Translated by Lewis Galantière.

"There are certain rare individuals...who by the mere fact of their existence put…


Into the Wild

By Jon Krakauer,

Book cover of Into the Wild

M. R. Reed Author Of Enthrall

From the list on doing what is right when others are against you.

Who am I?

I’m drawn to the idea of doing what you think is right when others are against you because I’ve always felt the desire to row against the current and just do my own thing. I tend to avoid following the crowd because oftentimes I simply don’t agree with them. Am I being purposely difficult? Maybe. But I fear a society that goes with the flow simply because it’s easier and it doesn’t require them to think for themselves. It’s okay to listen to other people, but before you make any major decisions, ask yourself a question: Is this right for me?

M. R.'s book list on doing what is right when others are against you

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

Why did M. R. love this book?

Here’s my confession: I hated Chris McCandless by the time I finished this book. I hated his cockiness and lack of respect for the power of the wilderness.

But you know what I give him credit for? His ability to leave his life of privilege and the courage to go out into the world and forge his own destiny. He did what he thought was best for him despite the pushback he received from his friends and family.

I think I hated him so much because I wanted him to succeed, and he doomed himself through his own hubris. 

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Into the Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Krakauer’s page-turning bestseller explores a famed missing person mystery while unraveling the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

"Terrifying... Eloquent... A heart-rending drama of human yearning." —New York Times

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all…


The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho,

Book cover of The Alchemist

Alex Edmans Author Of Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit

From the list on living with purpose.

Who am I?

I'm a Professor of Finance who specialises in purposeful business and purposeful living. My work on the former shows how companies driven by purpose are ultimately more successful than those driven by profit alone. My interest in the latter stems partly from the former, but also from 20 years of teaching MBA students at MIT, Wharton, and London Business School. While my day job is to teach finance equations, often even more important to my students’ career success and life happiness is living with purpose. There are many self-proclaimed gurus on this topic who shoot from the hip, so I am particularly interested in books based on scientific research.

Alex's book list on living with purpose

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

Why did Alex love this book?

The story of the journey of a shepherd from Andalusia to Egypt has sold more than 30 million copies since it first appeared in 1988.

It is about personal drive, taking risks, and following your dream – and how, if you do so, things fall into place to allow you to achieve it. While it might seem strange to base life decisions on a fiction book, the power of positive thinking has been backed up by scientific research.

By Paulo Coelho,

Why should I read it?

23 authors picked The Alchemist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A global phenomenon, The Alchemist has been read and loved by over 62 million readers, topping bestseller lists in 74 countries worldwide. Now this magical fable is beautifully repackaged in an edition that lovers of Paulo Coelho will want to treasure forever.

Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. This is such a book - a beautiful parable about learning to listen to your heart, read the omens strewn along life's path and, above all, follow your dreams.

Santiago, a young shepherd living in the hills of Andalucia, feels that there is…


Influence

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Book cover of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Melina Palmer Author Of What Your Employees Need and Can't Tell You

From the list on having more influence at work.

Who am I?

The more I learn about the brain, the more I want to dig in and discover more. Why do we procrastinate? Why do people buy things? Why do some people naturally seem to have more influence than others? As an applied behavioral economist, I love unlocking these topics weekly on The Brainy Business podcast (where each person on this list has been a guest) and sharing those insights with the world. Three of the most downloaded episodes (in over 300) featured increasing influence (and authors showcased here), a key factor of being more impactful in life and at work. Enjoy your newfound influence!

Melina's book list on having more influence at work

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

Why did Melina love this book?

We can’t have a list about influence without including the godfather of the space, Robert Cialdini.

The original version of this book featured six principles of persuasion when it came out in 1984 and has sold over 5 million copies around the world. In 2021, Dr. Cialdini released a new and expanded version with a 7th principle of influence. The full set now includes: reciprocity, commitment/consistency, consensus / social proof, authority, liking, scarcity, and (now) unity.

If you have not yet read this book and want to increase your influence at work (and anywhere in your life) Influence is an absolute must read. Yes, it is long at over 500 pages, but (much like Cialdini himself) they are all pure gold.

By Robert B. Cialdini,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The foundational and wildly popular go-to resource for influence and persuasion-a renowned international bestseller, with over 5 million copies sold-now revised adding: new research, new insights, new examples, and online applications.

In the new edition of this highly acclaimed bestseller, Robert Cialdini-New York Times bestselling author of Pre-Suasion and the seminal expert in the fields of influence and persuasion-explains the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these insights ethically in business and everyday settings. Using memorable stories and relatable examples, Cialdini makes this crucially important subject surprisingly easy. With Cialdini as a guide, you don't have…


Entangled Life

By Merlin Sheldrake,

Book cover of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

Julian Caldecott Author Of Water: Life in Every Drop

From the list on building peace with nature.

Who am I?

I started off studying tropical rainforest creatures and saw the catastrophic impacts of modern humanity on nature and indigenous peoples. My work then focused on how to resolve conflicts between people and nature, at first in and around national parks and then more widely. I became quite good at dissecting environmental aid portfolios, and writing up what I had found in a series of books. I was also drawn into the great climate protests of 2019 and 2020, and now I'm working on pulling it all together into a book on Restoring Peace with Nature.

Julian's book list on building peace with nature

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

Why did Julian love this book?

While studying wildlife, I often slept on a polythene sheet on the floor of a tropical rainforest. In the velvet blackness, I would look down on the tracery of glowing fungal threads everywhere in the leaf litter of the forest floor. In my memory they blend with night flights over human cities: bright trunk roads and byways among the packed ranks of houses, all in a wide and sparkling network. And so it is with the fungal kingdom described here. A vast aspect of life on Earth is revealed that is almost entirely invisible to the naked eye, yet makes life work in all its parts, including us. It's the rich but easy-read kind of book that makes you say, 'well I never!' on every page, from sheer wonder at seeing how fungi join things up in a living world of near-infinite complexity.

By Merlin Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Entangled Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A “brilliant [and] entrancing” (The Guardian) journey into the hidden lives of fungi—the great connectors of the living world—and their astonishing and intimate roles in human life, with the power to heal our bodies, expand our minds, and help us address our most urgent environmental problems.

“Grand and dizzying in how thoroughly it recalibrates our understanding of the natural world.”—Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—Time, BBC Science Focus, The Daily Mail, Geographical, The Times, The Telegraph, New Statesman, London Evening Standard, Science Friday

When we think…


Metropolis

By Ben Wilson,

Book cover of Metropolis: A History of the City, Humankind's Greatest Invention

Conrad Kickert Author Of Dream City: Creation, Destruction, and Reinvention in Downtown Detroit

From the list on the exciting life of cities.

Who am I?

Growing up in a Dutch city, I vividly remember witnessing the excitement of urban life through the windows of a streetcar, on foot, or by bike. Soon, I began to recreate this excitement by drawing maps of imaginary cities of my own. My small towns turned into entire regions, their streets coming to life as I closed my eyes. I essentially turned my childhood fascination into my job, as I now study, design, and teach students how to improve cities. Our best cities are places where citizens can interact with one another, overcoming social, economic, and environmental evolutions and revolutions. I never cease to be fascinated with the key to these everlasting cities.

Conrad's book list on the exciting life of cities

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

Why did Conrad love this book?

To understand cities today, you also have to understand why and how they were built to begin with. After all, our environment contains the materialization of previous decisions – we should know why those were made! Through the story of over a dozen global cities, historian Ben Wilson demonstrates how cities are concentrations of hopes, dreams, power, and conflict. While many great historians like Lewis Mumford and Stephen Hall have preceded him with excellently detailed urban history books of their own, this book stands out in its readability, attention to detail, and especially its coverage of global cities. After all, the urban future of most of the world lies beyond the Global North, and this broad survey shows the vast differences in urbanism between cultures.

By Ben Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Sunday Times bestselling author, a dazzling, globe-spanning history of humankind's greatest invention: the city.

'Brilliant...enchanting' Evening Standard 'Exhilarating' New York Times

The story of the city is the story of civilisation. From Uruk and Babylon to Baghdad and Venice, and on to London, New York, Shanghai and Lagos, Ben Wilson takes us through millennia on a thrilling global tour of the key urban centres of history.

Rich with individual characters, scenes and snapshots of daily life, Metropolis is at once the story of these extraordinary places and of the vital role they have played in making us who…


The Anarchy

By William Dalrymple,

Book cover of The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire

Sathnam Sanghera Author Of Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain

From the list on the British Empire's impact on the world.

Who am I?

I was in my 40s before I began exploring the topic of the British Empire. It came after I realised it explained so much about me (my Sikh identity, the emigration of my parents, my education) and so much about my country (its politics, psychology, wealth…) and yet I knew very little. It turned out that millions of people feel the same way… and I hope I provide an accessible introduction and summary of the massive topic. 

Sathnam's book list on the British Empire's impact on the world

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

Why did Sathnam love this book?

The East India Company was an unusual organization, to say the least, beginning as a conventional international trading corporation, dealing in silks and spices, and becoming an aggressive colonial power.

Its complicated nature is one of the reasons why the British empire is so poorly understood: people struggle to comprehend how a company could have been imperial. Dalrymple does a great job of explaining it in this incredibly accessible book.

One of my all-time favourite books on Indian history.

By William Dalrymple,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Anarchy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE TOP 5 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2019 THE TIMES HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR FINALIST FOR THE CUNDILL HISTORY PRIZE 2020 LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2019 A FINANCIAL TIMES, OBSERVER, DAILY TELEGRAPH, WALL STREET JOURNAL AND TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 'Dalrymple is a superb historian with a visceral understanding of India ... A book of beauty' - Gerard DeGroot, The Times In August 1765 the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to establish a new administration in his richest provinces. Run by English…


Book cover of The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

Thijs ten Raa Author Of Microeconomics: Equilibrium and Efficiency

From the list on microeconomics on how markets are interconnected.

Who am I?

Microeconomics is a turnoff to most readers. Not without reason. Many books in this field are dull rewrites of other books and opaque.  In particular, it is not clear how the behavior of individual consumers and producers adds to the performance—good or bad—of an economy. The books listed here helped me to sharpen my own mind and to make my writing lucid.

Thijs' book list on microeconomics on how markets are interconnected

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

Why did Thijs love this book?

This fascinating and very detailed history of early Manhattan shows how the Dutch with their policy based on individual liberty and free trade impacted not only New York City but even the shaping of America. 

I sensed this when I was an inhabitant of New York, but now I understand why.

By Russell Shorto,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Island at the Center of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a riveting, groundbreaking narrative, Russell Shorto tells the story of New Netherland, the Dutch colony which pre-dated the Pilgrims and established ideals of tolerance and individual rights that shaped American history. 

"Astonishing . . . A book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past." --The New York Times

When the British wrested New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, the truth about its thriving, polyglot society began to disappear into myths about an island purchased for 24 dollars and a cartoonish peg-legged governor. But the story of the Dutch colony of New Netherland was merely…


1491

By Charles C. Mann,

Book cover of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

William H. Steffen Author Of Anthropocene Theater and the Shakespearean Stage

From the list on invasive species and their impact on human history.

Who am I?

I’m an English professor in New England whose research and teaching interests focus on the Shakespearean Stage and the Environmental Humanities. As an educator, I’m always looking for ways to romanticize the impact that literature can have on the world—either politically, ideologically, or physically. The story that Kim Todd shares about the European Starling proliferating in North America because of a Shakespeare-loving member of a New York Acclimatization Society has changed the way that I look at birds, at Shakespeare, and the world. It has encouraged me to find other stories like this one to share with my students—and to tell a few of my own.

William's book list on invasive species and their impact on human history

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

Why did William love this book?

I’m grateful to see how the narrative about Columbus, the Pilgrims, and European colonialism has changed since I was in elementary school, but for someone who was taught that Columbus was a kind of hero-genius, this book was a revelation.

One of its most powerful lessons is how efficient pre-capitalist systems of commerce were; the Incan Empire, which was far bigger than the Holy Roman Empire or the Ottoman Empire, never experienced famine because they prioritized life and well-being over gold and profit. This book also shows how flora in the Americas exploded during the sixteenth century, leading to the Orbis Spike, or the beginning of anthropogenic environmental change.

The lessons from the pre-Columbian, pre-capitalist, and pre-Enlightenment world are invaluable for confronting contemporary problems of American democracy and environmentalism today.

By Charles C. Mann,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked 1491 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492—from “a remarkably engaging writer” (The New York Times Book Review).
 
Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized…


A Gentleman in Moscow

By Amor Towles,

Book cover of A Gentleman in Moscow

Hallie Lee Author Of Paint Me Fearless

From the list on laughter, tears, and characters you can’t forget.

Who am I?

Novels about humanity move me, as I love the messiness and complexities of imperfection. Because I’m passionate about reading these kinds of books, I’m also passionate about writing them. My first book, Paint Me Fearless, debuted at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Release List in Christian Contemporary Fiction in 2021. It seemed readers found relevance in subjects like challenging family dynamics, weight issues, crippling insecurity, and the repercussions of abuse. My subsequent books continue in this vein. I aspire to write stories that reflect universal emotions like heartache and grief, but also joy and laughter. One reviewer described my books as a “rollicking good time,” which was a good day because I strive to entertain. 

Hallie's book list on laughter, tears, and characters you can’t forget

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

Why did Hallie love this book?

This book was my introduction to the great Amor Towles, and since then I’ve read every book he’s written. A vast novel with an incredible premise (an upper-class man of note is sentenced to the rest of his life in a grand hotel) I couldn’t imagine how so much story could happen in a single hotel.

But it did, and A Gentleman in Moscow remains one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Towles does amazing things with Count Alexander Rostov’s character, making him both debonair and amusingly sarcastic. He has many delightful—and some not-so-delightful—characters to play off of, including the hotel staff and one precocious little girl who wants to discuss “the business of being a princess.”

I fell in love at that point, with her, with him, and this community inside the hotel. Because of the consequential period in history, there was a lot of suspense in the…

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked A Gentleman in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mega-bestseller with more than 2 million readers, soon to be a major television series

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility, a beautifully transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and…


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