100 books like Schoolgirl

By Osamu Dazai, Allison Markin Powell (translator),

Here are 100 books that Schoolgirl fans have personally recommended if you like Schoolgirl. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a philosopher with a voracious appetite for literature. I inhabit a world of abstract ideas but always return to fiction because it vividly portrays the real-world consequences of our beliefs and reminds us that ideas also move us irrationally: they’re comforting or disturbing, audacious or dull, seductive or repellant. I prefer world literature because it plants us in new times and places, helping us, like philosophy, see beyond our blinders. Deprived of the assumptions that prop up our everyday arrogance, we can clear a mental and emotional path to what we’ve ignored or covered up, as well as rediscover and reaffirm shared values, arrived at from new directions. 

Donovan's book list on Japanese novels that illuminate Nietzsche’s philosophy (or distort it in illuminating ways!)

Donovan Miyasaki Why did Donovan love this book?

Nietzsche’s greatest admirers often distort his views. Mishima is no exception. Considering his nationalism, militarism, and ritualistic suicide, it’s little surprise he endorses the popular misconception of Nietzsche as a champion of egoism and power. 

In this fascinating, disturbing story, adolescent boys create a club devoted to an amoral, pseudo-Nietzschean ideal. When they encounter a mysterious sailor, they worship him as a living embodiment of their values until he defies the image they’ve created. 

Mishima misinterprets Nietzsche but in a critically illuminating way. The boys’ ultimate reaction to their disappointing demi-god proves their hypocrisy, revealing that they idolize precisely the qualities they lack. So Mishima inadvertently debunks the stereotypical image of the “overman,” a cartoonishly impossible superhero, a fantasy who attracts only his polar opposites: the insecure, resentful, conformist, and childish.

By Yukio Mishima, John Nathan (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A band of savage 13-year-old boys reject the adult world as illusory, hypocritical, and sentimental, and train themselves in a brutal callousness they call 'objectivity'. When the mother of one of them begins an affair with a ship's officer, he and his friends idealise the man at first; but it is not long before they conclude that he is in fact soft and romantic. They regard this disallusionment as an act of betrayal on his part - and the retribution is deliberate and horrifying.


Book cover of Heaven

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a philosopher with a voracious appetite for literature. I inhabit a world of abstract ideas but always return to fiction because it vividly portrays the real-world consequences of our beliefs and reminds us that ideas also move us irrationally: they’re comforting or disturbing, audacious or dull, seductive or repellant. I prefer world literature because it plants us in new times and places, helping us, like philosophy, see beyond our blinders. Deprived of the assumptions that prop up our everyday arrogance, we can clear a mental and emotional path to what we’ve ignored or covered up, as well as rediscover and reaffirm shared values, arrived at from new directions. 

Donovan's book list on Japanese novels that illuminate Nietzsche’s philosophy (or distort it in illuminating ways!)

Donovan Miyasaki Why did Donovan love this book?

Thanks to its love/hate relationship with Western individualism, Japanese literature boasts the most sophisticated examples of the Nietzschean novel. This book's simple story about school bullying is really a philosophical meditation on friendship, courage, and meaning. 

The bully shares the contradictions of the stereotypical “overman,” declaring his right to immorality and feigning indifference while seeking others’ approval. His victim, in turn, mirrors “slave morality,” nursing bitterness rather than finding his own path. 

However, this predictable setup is upended by Kojima, a schoolgirl who takes defiant pride in her outcast status. Exploding the simplistic dichotomies of pop-Nietzsche, Kojima combines the inner strength of the “ascetic,” the compassion of the “slave,” and the courageous self-affirmation of the “noble” in a nuanced, critical Nietzscheanism that’s truer to Nietzsche in spirit than perhaps any other novel.

By Mieko Kawakami, Sam Bett (translator), David Boyd (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE

“A raw, painful, and tender portrait of adolescent misery… This book is very likely to make you cry.”—Lily Meyer, NPR

With profound tenderness and sensitivity, Japanese literary superstar Mieko Kawakami turns her unique gaze onto the causes and effects of violence. Raw but revelatory, this novel stands as a dazzling confirmation of Kawakami’s standing as one of her country’s most insightful and compelling novelists.

In Heaven, a shy high-school student is subjected to bullying from his classmates and the only person capable of understanding his ordeal is a young classmate who suffers similar…


Book cover of The Gate

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a philosopher with a voracious appetite for literature. I inhabit a world of abstract ideas but always return to fiction because it vividly portrays the real-world consequences of our beliefs and reminds us that ideas also move us irrationally: they’re comforting or disturbing, audacious or dull, seductive or repellant. I prefer world literature because it plants us in new times and places, helping us, like philosophy, see beyond our blinders. Deprived of the assumptions that prop up our everyday arrogance, we can clear a mental and emotional path to what we’ve ignored or covered up, as well as rediscover and reaffirm shared values, arrived at from new directions. 

Donovan's book list on Japanese novels that illuminate Nietzsche’s philosophy (or distort it in illuminating ways!)

Donovan Miyasaki Why did Donovan love this book?

This book is a quiet, understated masterpiece about quiet, understated lives and a critical counterpoint to Soseki’s earlier I Am a Cat. That novel was a cruelly comic parody of Nietzscheanism, its arrogant feline narrator portraying his owner, a small-town schoolteacher, as embodying everything wrong with miserable, mediocre, insignificant humanity. 

This book is more ambiguous and sympathetic, portraying a similarly humble, childless couple. Initially, we feel contempt for their uneventful, indecisive, dispassionate lives. But their troubled past reveals, beneath their failings, a deep undercurrent of authentic courage and love.

They may even achieve something like Nietzsche’s “love of fate,” hinted in the title’s reference to the gate between past and future, where Zarathustra wills the “eternal recurrence” of every detail of his existence, whether joyful or painful, exciting or dreary, beautiful or ugly.  

By Natsume Soseki, William F. Sibley (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An NYRB Classics Original

A humble clerk and his loving wife scrape out a quiet existence on the margins of Tokyo. Resigned, following years of exile and misfortune, to the bitter consequences of having married without their families’ consent, and unable to have children of their own, Sōsuke and Oyone find the delicate equilibrium of their household upset by a new obligation to meet the educational expenses of Sōsuke’s brash younger brother. While an unlikely new friendship appears to offer a way out of this bind, it also soon threatens to dredge up a past that could once again force…


Book cover of The Man Without Talent

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a philosopher with a voracious appetite for literature. I inhabit a world of abstract ideas but always return to fiction because it vividly portrays the real-world consequences of our beliefs and reminds us that ideas also move us irrationally: they’re comforting or disturbing, audacious or dull, seductive or repellant. I prefer world literature because it plants us in new times and places, helping us, like philosophy, see beyond our blinders. Deprived of the assumptions that prop up our everyday arrogance, we can clear a mental and emotional path to what we’ve ignored or covered up, as well as rediscover and reaffirm shared values, arrived at from new directions. 

Donovan's book list on Japanese novels that illuminate Nietzsche’s philosophy (or distort it in illuminating ways!)

Donovan Miyasaki Why did Donovan love this book?

Like Kōbō Abe’s The Woman in the Dunes, this graphic novel fuses Camus’s Sisyphus with Nietzsche’s “eternal recurrence” as a test of character: would you live your life over again for eternity?

Sukezo fails the test miserably. He’s a talented cartoonist, but it doesn’t pay the bills, so he shuffles through half-hearted money-making schemes (including an aptly Sisyphean rock-selling venture), succeeding only at making himself, his wife, and his young child miserable and increasingly hateful towards themselves and each other. 

Sukezo becomes the bad Nietzsche of popular misconception. If only success and esteem count, better to be nothing at all: a pseudo-Buddhism of disappointed, not transcended, ego. He could be beautifully and happily useless, like Zhuangzi’s tree that’s never cut down. But mistaking power for talent, he cuts himself down instead.

By Yoshiharu Tsuge, Ryan Holmberg (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Without Talent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Japanese manga legend's autobiographical graphic novel about a struggling artist and the first full-length work by the great Yoshiharu Tsuge available in the English language.

Yoshiharu Tsuge is one of comics' most celebrated and influential artists, but his work has been almost entirely unavailable to English-speaking audiences. The Man Without Talent, his first book ever to be translated into English, is an unforgiving self-portrait of frustration. Swearing off cartooning as a profession, Tsuge takes on a series of unconventional jobs -- used camera salesman, ferryman, and stone collector -- hoping to find success among the hucksters, speculators, and deadbeats…


Book cover of A Wild Sheep Chase

Chris Guillebeau Author Of Gonzo Capitalism: How to Make Money in an Economy That Hates You

From my list on thinking differently and live unconventionally.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a curious writer and compulsive traveler. My lifelong goal is to communicate the message “You don’t have to live your life the way others expect.” From 2002-2015 I went to every country in the world, chronicling the journey on my blog The Art of Non-Conformity. At first I thought the blog would be just about travel, but along the way I began meeting lots of people interested in living unconventionally. Ever since, I've been writing books, hosting events, and avoiding traditional employment by any means necessary. 

Chris' book list on thinking differently and live unconventionally

Chris Guillebeau Why did Chris love this book?

This was the book that set me off on a decade-long journey of reading (and re-reading) Murakami. Along with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, another favorite, I've re-read it at least twice.

So why is it about thinking differently? Because the book is written so differently! If you've read any recent speculative fiction, the author likely owes a debt to Murakami and his wondrous approach to narrative storytelling. You'll get lost in a bizarre, beautiful quest that takes on all sorts of twists and turns.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Wild Sheep Chase as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Features a cast of bizarre characters, including a sheep with a mysterious star on its back, caught up in a Nietzschean quest for power.


Book cover of Maro Up: The Secret to Success Begins with Arigato: Wisdom from the “Warren Buffet of Japan”

Ngan H. Nguyen Author Of One Million Steps: Lessons From A Legendary Hike

From my list on that get you thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm fascinated by how our world operates, from the macro-level to the microlevel and metaphysics. It creates more depth and makes life infinitely colorful and exciting, even in the most mundane things. I've been studying personal development and spirituality for almost 20 years now, and I find the journey of growth and becoming to be rewarding. Books that help me expand my horizon and think differently enable this process, and I find that to be exciting.

Ngan's book list on that get you thinking

Ngan H. Nguyen Why did Ngan love this book?

Known as the Warren Buffer of Japan, Wahei Takeda was a billionaire and investor living in Japan that passed away in 2016. He had a philosophy of life that built upon the concept of gratitude. A mentor of mine met and studied with this man, and he shared that every day, every day, he has a practice of giving 1,000 gratitude. Not figuratively, but honestly, living in a state of gratitude. I have tried this and go back to the practice of giving 1,000 when I need to shake myself out of a rut. It’s transformational, and it’s hard. It usually takes me three days before I can get to 1,000 and the last 600 pushes me to see beyond the surface. Give it a try!

By Janet Bray Attwood, Ken Honda,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the story of Japan’s largest private investor, Wahei Takeda: how he made his fortune and how he thinks about money—making it, investing it and using it for good in the world—based on his profound teaching of maro, the core principle of his way of life and the foundation of his success. By learning about maro through the example of Wahei’s life, you can also become financially successful—and profoundly happy to boot.

Often called “the Warren Buffet of Japan,” Wahei Takeda is the most successful investor in the country, and no doubt he’s the happiest one, too! My success…


Book cover of The Mind Of The Strategist: The Art of Japanese Business

George S. Yip Author Of China's Next Strategic Advantage: From Imitation to Innovation

From my list on business and military strategy and execution.

Why am I passionate about this?

My career in business strategy as a manager, consultant, and academic developed via my lifelong passion for military strategy and tactics, reading countless books on the Battle of Marathon through to the Third (!) World War. When I was introduced to business strategy in an MBA program, it was love at first lecture. I progressed to a doctorate in “Business Policy” at Harvard Business School as the second doctoral student of the then unknown Michael Porter. My main contribution has been the concept of global strategy for multinational companies. My focus is now on how Chinese companies are moving from imitation to innovation and reinventing management control.

George's book list on business and military strategy and execution

George S. Yip Why did George love this book?

Written in 1982 as one of the earliest books on strategy and still very relevant today. Ohmae was head of McKinsey Japan at the time of Japan's dominance in global business and contributed to the success of many Japanese companies. I had the great honor of meeting Ken Ohmae once and persuading him a few years later to provide an endorsement for my own book. Ohmae’s book explores the ways in which the strategist must think, the key principles and thought patterns that real-world strategists have used to move their companies forward in Japan and throughout the world. A timeless classic that is not just about Japan.

By Kenichi Ohmae,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Masterful Analysis of Company, Customer, and Competition Kenichi Ohmae - voted by The Economist as "one of the world's top five management gurus" - changed the landscape of management strategy in "The Mind of the Strategist". In this compelling account of global business domination, Ohmae reveals the vital thinking processes and planning techniques of prominent companies, showing why they work, and how any company can benefit from them. Filled with case studies of strategic thinking in action, Ohmae's classic work inspires today's managers to excel to new heights of bold, imaginative thinking and solutions. "In many ways, Ohmae can…


Book cover of Kokoro: Japanese Wisdom for a Life Well Lived

Ali Foxon Author Of The Green Sketching Handbook: Relax, Unwind and Reconnect with Nature

From my list on finding more beauty and joy in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Green sketching opened my eyes to the beauty and joy in my life that I’d never noticed before, beauty and joy that cost nothing to me or the planet. It quietened my busy brain, reduced my anxiety, and made me much more resilient. I’m now trying to help others put down their phones and pick up a pencil. Because when we change what we look at, we can change how we feel. And I’m convinced that once we see and appreciate nature’s beauty with fresh eyes, we’ll start to love and take care of it again.

Ali's book list on finding more beauty and joy in your life

Ali Foxon Why did Ali love this book?

I hesitate to recommend a book about grief in a list about joy. Yet, although Beth Kempton’s heartbreaking account of losing her mother and friend certainly made me cry, her explanation of the Japanese concept of kokoro left me feeling lighter and wiser.

While incredibly hard to define, kokoro incorporates a sense of tuning into nature’s fleeting beauty, the bittersweetness of love, and the innate wisdom in our hearts. Before listening to this book, I felt self-conscious about my lack of direction and planning. Afterward, I understood that ever since losing my father 12 years ago, I’ve simply been following the whispers of my own kokoro, noticing beauty and joy wherever I can find them and for however long they last. 

By Beth Kempton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Kokoro is an invitation to cultivate stillness and contentment in an ever-changing, uncertain world, inspired by ancient and contemporary Japanese wisdom. Drawing on a thousand years of Japanese literature, culture, and philosophical ideas to explore the true nature of time and what it means to be human, Kokoro--which mysteriously translates as "heart-mind"--is a meditation on living well.

Join Japanologist Beth Kempton on this life-changing pilgrimage far beyond the tourist trail, to uncover the soul of the country, its people, and its deeply buried wisdom. Along the way you'll discover a revolutionary way of looking at life and the world that…


Book cover of What Is Zen?

Cheri Huber Author Of There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate

From my list on Zen awareness practice.

Why am I passionate about this?

These books attempt to describe the indescribable, pointing to the unknowable, only the living of which makes living living. What they have in common is that they invite us to practice along with the author, not giving any answers, but inviting us to look. I fell in love with Awareness Practice in my youth and through the decades that love has only deepened. I continue to love this journey of exploration and I hope the books that I have written contribute to that same experience for others. There is nothing more magical than having a direct experience of encountering who we really are, beyond ego’s dualistic world of opposites.

Cheri's book list on Zen awareness practice

Cheri Huber Why did Cheri love this book?

As I began my search to make some kind of sense of my life, I started with philosophy and moved to religion. When I came across this book, I intuitively sensed that the author knew what I wanted to know. I had no idea what he was talking about but my heart sang with every page. This was my first experience of being taken to the “place” from which the author wrote. Reading it was like sitting at the feet of the Master, aware of a lack of comprehension while witnessing a living example of what the heart intuitively knows.

By D.T. Suzuki,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Is Zen? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of the most influential books ever written on Zen Buddhism: A fascinating study of this ancient discipline.

One of the leading twentieth-century works on Zen,D.T. Suzuki's Zen and Japanese Culture is an invaluable source for those wishing to understand Zen concepts in the context of Japanese life and art.

What is Zen offers a general introduction to the concepts and philosophy of Zen, including Mr. Suzuki's observations of its effects on Japanese art culture, and his explorations of Zen and the study of Confucianism.

In simple, often poetic language, enhanced by anecdotes and poetry, D.T. Suzuki describes what…


Book cover of Axel Vervoordt: Wabi Inspirations

Joanna Maclennan Author Of The Foraged Home

From my list on inspiring creating your own unique home or space.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am mainly known as an Interiors Photographer and although accidentally falling into photographing Interiors, it has become a passion, always interested in the story these places tell and alongside my husband we have built our own home creating a unique space using recuperated materials. As part of my work, I am always looking for interesting and inspirational books and places. It is how I train my eye, drawn to the unusual. I am as happy photographing a chateau in Provence as I am in a small and remote cabin in Norway. 

Joanna's book list on inspiring creating your own unique home or space

Joanna Maclennan Why did Joanna love this book?

As quoted by Axel Vervoordt his philosophy “is a belief that a home should be a personal expression of your soul. It should represent the way you want to live, the ideas that define your tastes, perspectives, and connections to the world. The spaces where people share private experiences with family and friends should restore and give energy.
Vervoordt is a master of Interiors and this quote sums up my belief towards my own Interiors. This book is outstanding. It has been a big influence in my life and as a photographer. He incorporates the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi - acceptance of transience and imperfection - and I see this in many aspects of what we have tried to create in our own home. 

By Axel Vervoordt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Interior design guru Axel Vervoordt shares his latest inspirations for the home. Axel Vervoordt€™s intense curiosity has fueled his work as an interior designer, spurring him to explore and draw inspiration from cultures around the globe. He was first exposed to Eastern art and philosophy years ago, but today it has become the guiding principle in his work, particularly the concept of Wabi. Developed in the twelfth century, Wabi advocates simplicity and humility, the rejection of all that is superfluous or artificial. Through extraordinary photographs from Japan and Korea to Belgium and Switzerland, Vervoordt invites us to explore the elements…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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