100 books like Sea of Poppies

By Amitav Ghosh,

Here are 100 books that Sea of Poppies fans have personally recommended if you like Sea of Poppies. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Overstory

Scott Chaskey Author Of Soil and Spirit: Cultivation and Kinship in the Web of Life

From my list on our human relationship with the natural world.

Why am I passionate about this?

For decades, I have been identified as a poet-farmer—I have a friendship with the earth forged through many seasons of cultivation, husbandry, and harvest. Enrolled in an MFA program abroad in creative writing, I found my way to Ireland, Oxford, and eventually to Cornwall, England, where I learned the art of cliff meadow farming. Returning to America, I became part of an agricultural revival called Community Supported Agriculture. I continued to write and teach poetry, enlivened by literature and the silt-loam soil of the Long Island peninsula. The language of the garden and the language of poetry and prose in sympathy with the earth, for me, are inseparable.

Scott's book list on our human relationship with the natural world

Scott Chaskey Why did Scott love this book?

So much to learn about trees!

After reading this novel, I discovered Powers’ list of 25 (out of many more) books that influenced him while he was writing the book. Now I have read a significant share of these books too, and I have incorporated fascination and facts in my own writing. This novel, perhaps more than any other I have read, has led me to examine the vast and disturbing question that seems to haunt Powers—our alienation from nature, why? To question this, I feel, suggests a search that may lead to the “new story” our culture needs.

Powers is a brilliant writer, and I admire his ability and finesse to weave together an extraordinary cast of characters, factual and historical material, and a reverent feeling for another form of life: trees.

By Richard Powers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of-and paean to-the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours-vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see…


Book cover of The Ministry for the Future

Michael J. Albert Author Of Navigating the Polycrisis: Mapping the Futures of Capitalism and the Earth

From my list on books that help us make sense of the future.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a lecturer in Global Environmental Politics at the University of Edinburgh. My work is driven by the conviction that we need more thorough and realistic maps of possible futures in an increasingly turbulent and uncertain world. Ever since learning about the intersections between climate, energy, and economic crises, I have been fascinated by the question of how our future will unfold and how we might create more just and liveable futures from the wreckage of the present world. And I have been driven to bring down artificial disciplinary divides in order to integrate knowledge across the sciences and humanities in ways that can illuminate the possible pathways ahead. 

Michael's book list on books that help us make sense of the future

Michael J. Albert Why did Michael love this book?

For those looking for a more hopeful account of how climate activism and progressive policy can co-create a more just and sustainable future beyond capitalism, look no further than this book. It is rightfully celebrated as an essential utopian novel of our time.

Most utopian visionaries merely describe the future they want without describing how we might actually get there. In contrast, Robinson shows us how we might cross what he calls the “Great Trench” that separates the current world from the hoped-for future.

This is not a starry-eyed utopian book: it clearly recognizes the intense political struggles, the worsening climate shocks, the suffering, the setbacks, and the violence that would inevitably accompany any transformation of capitalism.

By Kim Stanley Robinson,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked The Ministry for the Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA’S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR

“The best science-fiction nonfiction novel I’ve ever read.” —Jonathan Lethem
 
"If I could get policymakers, and citizens, everywhere to read just one book this year, it would be Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future." —Ezra Klein (Vox)

The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, postapocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us. Chosen by Barack Obama as one of his favorite…


Book cover of Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Sculpting the Elephant

From my list on India recovering its past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thanks to access to a good community library, I developed an interest in history from the age of seven. My interest in India grew when I married Indian-born Atam Vetta. After teaching, I set up a business and was director of Oxford Antiques Centre. In 1998, while chair of the Thames Valley Art and Antique Dealers Association, I was invited to become the art and antiques writer for The Oxford Times. That was how my freelance writing career began but since 2016 I have concentrated on writing fiction and poetry but make occasional contributions to The Madras Courier.

Sylvia's book list on India recovering its past

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

This is a polemic and pretends to be none other but it serves as an antidote to the apologists of Empire. Why is it needed? You can’t read the Ibis trilogy and not understand the exploitation of the East India Company. The first war of independence (1857) failed and was brutally put down. There were attempts at reform and not all legacies of the Raj are regrettable, my Victorian maverick works on the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India. But the tendency in the UK is to highlight the positives and ignore the racism, the famines, the massacres, and the horrors of the manner in which we left India. Once readers know the consequences of the Raj, they will understand the origins of South Asian immigration to the UK and will get a glimpse of how others see us, warts and all. 

By Shashi Tharoor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller on India's experience of British colonialism, by the internationally-acclaimed author and diplomat Shashi Tharoor

'Tharoor's impassioned polemic slices straight to the heart of the darkness that drives all empires ... laying bare the grim, and high, cost of the British Empire for its former subjects. An essential read' Financial Times

In the eighteenth century, India's share of the world economy was as large as Europe's. By 1947, after two centuries of British rule, it had decreased six-fold. The Empire blew rebels from cannon, massacred unarmed protesters, entrenched institutionalised racism, and caused millions to die…


Book cover of Ashoka, The Visionary

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Sculpting the Elephant

From my list on India recovering its past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thanks to access to a good community library, I developed an interest in history from the age of seven. My interest in India grew when I married Indian-born Atam Vetta. After teaching, I set up a business and was director of Oxford Antiques Centre. In 1998, while chair of the Thames Valley Art and Antique Dealers Association, I was invited to become the art and antiques writer for The Oxford Times. That was how my freelance writing career began but since 2016 I have concentrated on writing fiction and poetry but make occasional contributions to The Madras Courier.

Sylvia's book list on India recovering its past

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

To understand India it is important to know that it was the birthplace of four great religions, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. The Buddha was a Vedic teacher with a following in North East India. The emperor Ashoka was responsible for spreading the religion we know as Buddhism. Ashok Khanna’s account of Ashoka, the ruler of the Indian subcontinent for 37 years from 269 BCE traces the important influences Greek and Persian philosophy had on Indian society and the origins of Buddhism. Khanna describes Ashoka’s carved edicts on pillars and rocks extolling justice based on equal treatment for all. Ashoka is a much-needed example of good governance and Khanna’s account is assessable. You don’t need to know anything about Ashoka to read this book.  

Book cover of Where the Gods Dwell: Thirteen Temples and Their (Hi)stories

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Sculpting the Elephant

From my list on India recovering its past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thanks to access to a good community library, I developed an interest in history from the age of seven. My interest in India grew when I married Indian-born Atam Vetta. After teaching, I set up a business and was director of Oxford Antiques Centre. In 1998, while chair of the Thames Valley Art and Antique Dealers Association, I was invited to become the art and antiques writer for The Oxford Times. That was how my freelance writing career began but since 2016 I have concentrated on writing fiction and poetry but make occasional contributions to The Madras Courier.

Sylvia's book list on India recovering its past

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

If you already know a lot about India and are interested in an unusual insight into the role of temples in the history, culture, architecture, and myths of the subcontinent, then this is for you. It will also introduce you to thirteen writers who include journalists, academics, and authors. Each one was asked to write about one temple, recounting its origins and the mythology and history surrounding it. It’s beautifully illustrated by Mistunee Choudhury. You can enhance the experience by googling the locations. It has introduced me to some must-see places to go on my want to visit list. I visited the unforgettable temples of Khajuraho and they appear in my own book.

By Manu S. Pillai,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where the Gods Dwell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The great temples of the Indian subcontinent are uniquely fascinating spaces. Steeped in mythology and history, they are windows into a complex, often contrary culture. Where the Gods Dwell delves into the ‘(hi)stories’—history and mythology—of thirteen architectural marvels that have inspired awe, and not only in the hearts of the faithful.

Every essay in this book is an intriguing mix of historical detail, mythological narrative and architectural commentary, supplementing and complementing each other to tell a story that is more than the sum of its parts. From Pashupatinath in Nepal to the Nallur Kandaswamy in Sri Lanka, the Kamakhya in…


Book cover of The Panchatantra

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Sculpting the Elephant

From my list on India recovering its past.

Why am I passionate about this?

Thanks to access to a good community library, I developed an interest in history from the age of seven. My interest in India grew when I married Indian-born Atam Vetta. After teaching, I set up a business and was director of Oxford Antiques Centre. In 1998, while chair of the Thames Valley Art and Antique Dealers Association, I was invited to become the art and antiques writer for The Oxford Times. That was how my freelance writing career began but since 2016 I have concentrated on writing fiction and poetry but make occasional contributions to The Madras Courier.

Sylvia's book list on India recovering its past

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

It is possibly the oldest surviving collection of 84 Indian fables, written around 200BC by Vishnu Sharma. He became a tutor to a king’s children. He engaged their interest by telling stories of animals with a moral message at end of each story rather like Aesop’s Fables. The animals are somewhat different. e.g The Monkey and the Crocodile, the Hare and Lion. Many elements of Rudyard Kipling’s children’s books such as the Just So Stories were inspired by The Panchatantra. There are of course Hindi editions available too.

By Pandit Vishnu Sharma, G.L. Chandiramani (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Panchatantra is a collection of folktales and fables that were believed to have been originally written in Sanskrit by Vishnu Sharma more than 2500 years ago. This collection of stories features animal characters which are stereotyped to associate certain qualities with them. The origins of the Panchatantra lie in a tale of its own, when a King approached a learned pandit to ask him to teach the important lessons of life to his ignorant and unwise sons. This learned scholar knew that the royal princes could not understand complex principles in an ordinary way. So, he devised a method…


Book cover of A Passage to India

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Author Of Independence

From my list on the many mysteries of India.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and a professor, I love sharing knowledge of my birth country (India) and the experiences of Indian immigrants in America. My first book, Arranged Marriage, is about the transformed lives of immigrant women and won an American Book Award. Mistress of Spices is about a spice-shop owner who knows magic, was a national bestseller, and became a film. One Amazing Thing is a multicultural novel about nine people trapped by an earthquake, was a Citywide Read in over 25 US cities. Recently, fascinated by the richness of Indian history, I have delved into it in novels like The Last Queen, set in the 1800s, and Independence, set in the 1940s. 

Chitra's book list on the many mysteries of India

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Why did Chitra love this book?

Forster’s novel showed me the majesty and mystery of India at the height of British occupation. In delineating a complex friendship between an Englishman (Fielding) and an Indian (Aziz), it illustrated for me the difficulties of interracial relations at that time, even with the best of intentions. I love that the novel centers around a dramatic event in the Malabar Hills, a mystery that kept me guessing as to what really happened.

By E.M. Forster,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Passage to India as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in British India in the 1920s, this book looks at racial conflict. The characters struggle to overcome their own differences and prejudices, but when the Indian Dr Aziz is tried for the alleged assault of Adela Quested even the strongest inter-racial friendships come under pressure.


Book cover of The Trees

Alan Weisman Author Of The World Without Us

From my list on fiction on the real challenges our world now faces.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a nonfiction author whose success owes enormously to fiction. It challenges me to portray real people as vividly as characters in novels, and to use narrative and dialogue to keep readers turning the pages. Reading great novelists has taught me to obsessively seek exactly the right words, to fine-tune the cadence of each sentence, and to heed overall structural rhythm; continually, I return to the fount of fiction for language and inspiration. The astonishing novels I’ve shared here are among the most important books I’ve recently read to help grasp the critical times we’re living in. I’m confident you’ll feel the same.

Alan's book list on fiction on the real challenges our world now faces

Alan Weisman Why did Alan love this book?

I hesitate to describe The Trees — in fact, I recommend you avoid reading any reviews, or even the back cover, because the book is so full of surprises that it would be a sin to spoil any of them. I’ll only say that of all the recent books dealing with the intractable shame of racial struggles, this is my favorite, hands-down. Prepare yourself to be alternately sick with laughter or sick with horror — which is exactly the experience of the protagonists, and of their real-life compatriots. Afterward, like me, you’ll want to read everything else Percival Everett has written.

By Percival L. Everett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An uncanny literary thriller addressing the painful legacy of lynching in the US, by the author of Telephone

Percival Everett's The Trees is a page-turner that opens with a series of brutal murders in the rural town of Money, Mississippi. When a pair of detectives from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation arrive, they meet expected resistance from the local sheriff, his deputy, the coroner, and a string of racist White townsfolk. The murders present a puzzle, for at each crime scene there is a second dead body: that of a man who resembles Emmett Till.

The detectives suspect that these…


Book cover of The President's Gardens

Alan Weisman Author Of The World Without Us

From my list on fiction on the real challenges our world now faces.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a nonfiction author whose success owes enormously to fiction. It challenges me to portray real people as vividly as characters in novels, and to use narrative and dialogue to keep readers turning the pages. Reading great novelists has taught me to obsessively seek exactly the right words, to fine-tune the cadence of each sentence, and to heed overall structural rhythm; continually, I return to the fount of fiction for language and inspiration. The astonishing novels I’ve shared here are among the most important books I’ve recently read to help grasp the critical times we’re living in. I’m confident you’ll feel the same.

Alan's book list on fiction on the real challenges our world now faces

Alan Weisman Why did Alan love this book?

I’ve just returned from a research trip to Iraq (one of many settings for my next book: stay tuned). I took along two Iraqi novels, The President's Gardens and Daughter of the Tigris (they’re really just one; the first literally ends with the words to be continued) and I was as stirred by reading them as by what I saw there. While we protest Russia’s outrageous rape of Ukraine, we forget the hideous mess that America’s unjustifiable invasion left in Iraq. Even under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was considered the flower of Arab culture, a land overflowing with poetry, music, and art. Today much of it is rubble. Masterfully, Al-Ramli describes the latter with all the breathtaking beauty of the former. This ranks among my most moving reading experiences ever.

By Muhsin Al-Ramli, Luke Leafgren (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One Hundred Years of Solitude meets The Kite Runner in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

"A contemporary tragedy of epic proportions. No author is better placed than Muhsin Al-Ramli, already a star in the Arabic literary scene, to tell this story. I read it in one sitting".
Hassan Blasim, winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for The Iraqi Christ.

On the third day of Ramadan, the village wakes to find the severed heads of nine of its sons stacked in banana crates by the bus stop.

One of them belonged to one of the most wanted men in Iraq, known to…


Book cover of The Henna Artist

Lisa Niver Author Of Brave-ish: One Breakup, Six Continents, and Feeling Fearless After Fifty

From my list on making flight time disappear because you feel in the story.

Why am I passionate about this?

As both a lifelong traveler and reader, I cannot start an adventure without a great book. Having owned a Kindle since 2008, I consistently carry a virtual library, curating an assortment of captivating reads for every journey. As a travel journalist, I fly multiple times a month, which amplifies my need and understanding of the perfect in-flight companions; stories that transport and captivate. As an author with a memoir to my name, I appreciate the transformative power of storytelling. This blend of literary passion, frequent travel, and personal authorship has led me on my search for engaging, unforgettable books that mesmerize the reader.  

Lisa's book list on making flight time disappear because you feel in the story

Lisa Niver Why did Lisa love this book?

When I read this book, I felt like I was back walking on the streets of India. Alka Joshi's vivid storytelling will transport you to a world of vibrant colors, rich traditions, and compelling characters.

In this first book of the Jaipur Trilogy, Lakshmi, a skilled henna artist, navigates a complex society, unraveling secrets and defying societal norms. Joshi's exquisite prose and the book's engrossing plot offer the perfect blend of escapism and depth, making it an ideal companion for a journey.

As you soar through the skies, it promises to transport you to another time and place, making the flight feel like a brief detour into an enchanting literary world. 

By Alka Joshi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For fans of Balli Kaur Jaswal's Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows and Thrity Umrigar's The Space Between Us, Alka Josh's The Henna Artist by is lushly-rendered, emotional book club fiction set in post-Raj 1950s Jaipur about a young woman struggling to shape her own destiny in a world pivoting between the traditional and the modern.

After fleeing an arranged marriage as a fifteen year old to an abusive older man, Lakshmi Shastri steals away alone from her rural village to Jaipur. Here, against odds, she carves out a living for herself as a henna artist, and friend and confidante to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in social class, sailors, and India?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about social class, sailors, and India.

Social Class Explore 90 books about social class
Sailors Explore 20 books about sailors
India Explore 445 books about India