100 books like Sophie's World

By Jostein Gaarder, Paulette Møller (translator),

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

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Book cover of The Moviegoer

Rich Marcello Author Of The Latecomers

From my list on contemporary fiction that will make you think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been drawn to thought-provoking novels from my early days as a reader, and especially later when my own work took shape. My books tend to deal with life’s big topics––love, loss, creativity, self-discovery, aging, forgiveness, what it means to be a good man, and the climate crisis––so I tend to gravitate to ambitious novels focused on how we humans might evolve in a healthy way. My characters do have flaws, many of them, but in the end, they are resilient and figure out a way to take a step forward. All of the books I mentioned are similar in scope and approach.

Rich's book list on contemporary fiction that will make you think

Rich Marcello Why did Rich love this book?

The Moviegoer was the first novel I read which had little plot and a great deal of meaning. Basically, it’s about one man’s search for meaning in a world which values shallowness and consumerism above all else. It’s as relevant today as it was when written and the prose is amazing!

By Walker Percy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 1962 National Book Award and one of Time magazine’s 100 Best English-Language Novels, Walker Percy’s debut The Moviegoer is an American masterpiece and a classic of Southern literature. Insightful, romantic, and humorous, it is the story of a young man’s search for meaning amid a shallow consumerist landscape.

Binx Bolling, a young New Orleans stockbroker, fills his days with movies and casual sex. His life offers him nothing worth retaining; what he treasures are scenes from The Third Man or Stagecoach, not the personal experiences he knows other people hold dear. On the cusp of turning thirty,…


Book cover of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Dave Hersh Author Of Reignition: Transforming Stuck Startups Into Breakout Winners

From my list on leaders feeling lonely at the top.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a founder, CEO, venture capitalist, buyout specialist, Chairman, author, consultant, and coach. I’ve seen the startup world from every angle and also seen how destructive it can be if we don’t take care of our inner lives. My work now is to help people understand how we can transform ourselves to transform our businesses. These books were helpful to me when I needed them most and shaped not only my leadership approach but also my life. 

Dave's book list on leaders feeling lonely at the top

Dave Hersh Why did Dave love this book?

Being “lonely at the top” is often a problem of being stuck inside an infinite loop of cycling voices in your head. I can get insanely maniacal about the little things and have difficulty breaking out of the cycle.

This book came at a time when I was deep in one of those cycles. It was a mind-blowing look into why we are who we are and how homo sapiens systematically took over the planet. It was such an “aha” moment for me that it made all the voices go away, and I could see why and how my life was playing out in this way.

By Yuval Noah Harari,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the…


Book cover of The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Ling Ling Huang Author Of Natural Beauty

From my list on the power of music.

Why am I passionate about this?

For most of my life, I've been a professional classical violinist. I had my first performance on stage at the age of 4, went to a music conservatory at the age of 15, and have gone on to play on some of the best concert stages in the world, from the Elbphilharmonie to Carnegie Hall. My violin playing and writing inform each other, and I think of myself as a translator between the two. I love to do both, and I’m certain I couldn’t do one without the other. It's always a pleasure to see music in the books I read. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as much as I have!

Ling's book list on the power of music

Ling Ling Huang Why did Ling love this book?

This was one of the first books I ever loved as a teenager and it has always stayed with me.

A professor recommended it to me, and I didn’t know that it would heavily reference Beethoven’s last string quartet, which I was working on at the time.

I love the way Kundera can weave so many disparate things together, including Beethoven’s fate motif and the fate of the character’s relationships. It’s something I find very inspiring and try to do in my own works.

By Milan Kundera,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Unbearable Lightness of Being as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A cult figure.' Guardian
'A dark and brilliant achievement.' Ian McEwan
'Shamelessly clever ... Exhilaratingly subversive and funny.' Independent
'A modern classic ... As relevant now as when it was first published. ' John Banville

A young woman is in love with a successful surgeon; a man torn between his love for her and his womanising. His mistress, a free-spirited artist, lives her life as a series of betrayals; while her other lover stands to lose everything because of his noble qualities. In a world where lives are shaped by choices and events, and everything occurs but once, existence seems…


Book cover of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Miles Borrero Author Of Beautiful Monster: A Becoming

From my list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a trans, Latinx yoga teacher, writer, and musician who transitioned at the age of 40. Before that, I’d spent most of my life trying to live by someone else’s rules…only to realize, when my dad was dying, that I was not truly living. The funny thing is, as an artist and teacher, I’d dedicated myself to helping others live their lives to the fullest but had not granted myself the same courtesy. Sometimes, our lessons are hard-won. The books on this list have been beacons of hope and treasure trove chests of inspiration for me, as I hope they will be for you, too. 

Miles' book list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest

Miles Borrero Why did Miles love this book?

Ocean’s book is vulnerable, intimate, and heartbreaking in the most life-affirming way.

The way he writes about love between a mother and son, and a son and another boy, feels so universal and delicate, like the scent of a rose that is here one moment but just as suddenly drifts away. As an immigrant myself, I felt the starkness in the way Ocean describes the hardship of living in a land not one’s own.

I finished the book feeling like I needed to go hug my mom and tell her I love her. Those bonds of family are so shattering yet important. Ocean’s book reminds me to allow myself all the depth of feeling because life is hard, but whoa, it is also gorgeous. 

By Ocean Vuong,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times Bestseller!

Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction, the Carnegie Medal in Fiction, the 2019 Aspen Words Literacy Prize, and the PEN/Hemingway Debut Novel Award

Shortlisted for the 2019 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Winner of the 2019 New England Book Award for Fiction!

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Oprah.com, Huffington Post, The A.V. Club, Nylon, The Week, The Rumpus, The Millions, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and more.

"A lyrical work of self-discovery that's shockingly intimate and insistently…


Book cover of Ishmael

Arielle Ford Author Of The Love Thief

From my list on growing your soul and opening your heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved fairytales, whimsical stories, and mysteries. Plus, I’m passionate about mind-expanding, heart-opening books that offer me new ways to understand myself and the Universe we live in. And I particularly like books that show me ways to have more of what brings me joy and pleasure. When I can get all of this in a novel I’m in heaven.

Arielle's book list on growing your soul and opening your heart

Arielle Ford Why did Arielle love this book?

This is a very original book with deep wisdom delivered through a most unique relationship about a man and the Gorilla who becomes his Guru!

One of the most life-changing concepts I took from the book is that there are two kinds of people in the world: leavers and takers. I recognized that I am essentially a taker, but the book made me realize that to be a better person it was time for me to become a leaver.

By Daniel Quinn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the most beloved and bestselling novels of spiritual adventure ever published, Ishmael has earned a passionate following. This special twenty-fifth anniversary edition features a new foreword and afterword by the author.

“A thoughtful, fearlessly low-key novel about the role of our species on the planet . . . laid out for us with an originality and a clarity that few would deny.”—The New York Times Book Review

Teacher Seeks Pupil.
Must have an earnest desire to save the world.
Apply in person.

It was just a three-line ad in the personals section, but it launched the adventure of…


Book cover of The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory

James G.S. Clawson Author Of A Song of Humanity: A Science-Based Alternative to the World's Scriptures

From my list on science vs. religion.

Why am I passionate about this?

My core curiosity has been trying to understand the way the world is. Like all defenseless children, early on I trusted parents and elder others for that – for nearly half a century before I had the courage to question their comprehensive dogmas. I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful education and to have traveled most of the globe, both of which assailed my assumptions. After a mid-life crisis/near-death experience, I decided to start over in understanding the world we live in. Before I died, I wanted to leave a science-based alternative to the world’s scriptures that open-minded parents could read to their children. My motto now is “In Truth We Trust.”  

James' book list on science vs. religion

James G.S. Clawson Why did James love this book?

After Bryson and Harari, Greene gives us a wonderful, focused, science-oriented summary of cosmology and particle physics written for the layperson. While relatively easy to understand, he deals with the huge issues of where our universe came from and what it’s made of. I love the way these three authors strive from different vantage points to educate us and introduce us to the most fundamental questions of human life.

By Brian Greene,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Elegant Universe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Brian Greene, one of the world's leading string theorists, peels away layers of mystery to reveal a universe that consists of eleven dimensions, where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter-from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas-is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy. The Elegant Universe makes some of the most sophisticated concepts ever contemplated accessible and thoroughly entertaining, bringing us closer than ever to understanding how the universe works.


Book cover of Why the World Doesn't Seem to Make Sense: An Inquiry Into Science, Philosophy and Perception

Mahmoud Elsayed Author Of The Bitter Truth of Reality: The route to skepticism and the case against objective reality

From my list on to understand humanity and the universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mahmoud Elsayed has always been interested in finding rational answers to the big existential questions. This could clearly be noticed in his writings and philosophy. He has also worked in various and somehow diverse fields of engineering and science which allowed him to smoothly, flexibly, and knowledgeably jump from a field of expertise to another in order to make his philosophical arguments comprehensive. 

Mahmoud's book list on to understand humanity and the universe

Mahmoud Elsayed Why did Mahmoud love this book?

Our daily routine and the full of distractions life of the 21st-century human often draft us away and divert us from the fact that we live in a completely weird and bizarre reality. Steve Hagan digs deeper into this concept and presents amusing and mind-blowing notions about our perception and the things that we made out of it (philosophy and science). 

By Steve Hagen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why the World Doesn't Seem to Make Sense as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling author of Buddhism Plain and Simple ponders what we truly know about reality.
 
Why the World Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense is an eminently down-to-earth, practical, and non-technical response to the urgent questions posed by contemporary science and philosophy. This revised and updated edition of How the World Can Be the Way It Is includes new scientific understanding and clarification of some of its more complex ideas. Steve Hagen aims for an intelligent general audience not necessarily familiar with modern or classical physics, philosophy, or formal logic.
 
Hagen takes us on a journey that examines our most basic…


Book cover of God: A Human History

Mahmoud Elsayed Author Of The Bitter Truth of Reality: The route to skepticism and the case against objective reality

From my list on to understand humanity and the universe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mahmoud Elsayed has always been interested in finding rational answers to the big existential questions. This could clearly be noticed in his writings and philosophy. He has also worked in various and somehow diverse fields of engineering and science which allowed him to smoothly, flexibly, and knowledgeably jump from a field of expertise to another in order to make his philosophical arguments comprehensive. 

Mahmoud's book list on to understand humanity and the universe

Mahmoud Elsayed Why did Mahmoud love this book?

Whether you are religious or not, whether you like it or not, religions and God/Gods have been a part of the human civilizations as far as we started documenting, writing, and recording history and perhaps even as far as we existed. To understand the part that religion played in our history and how it had and still could have a significant effect on how we perceive the world and reality in general, it may be crucial to understand the history of religions and how they originated. Raza Aslan gives a wonderful presentation on that in this book. 

By Reza Aslan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"Timely, riveting, enlightening and necessary." (Huffington Post)

In God, Reza Aslan sheds new light on mankind's relationship with the divine and challenges our perspective on faith and the birth of religion.

From the origins of spiritual thought to the concept of an active, engaged, divine presence that underlies all creation, Aslan examines how the idea of god arose in human evolution, was gradually personalized, endowed with human traits and emotions, and eventually transformed into a single Divine Personality: the God known today by such names as Yahweh, Father, and Allah.

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, God…


Book cover of A Little History of Philosophy

Sue Prideaux Author Of I Am Dynamite! A Life of Nietzsche

From my list on philosophy and humanity’s search for meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by humanity’s search for meaning. That is what I am exploring as I read philosophy and as I write my biographies of extraordinary individuals. Sue Prideaux has written award-winning books on Edvard Munch and his painting The Scream, the playwright August Strindberg, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. She acted as consultant to Sotheby’s when they sold The Scream for a record-breaking $120 million.

Sue's book list on philosophy and humanity’s search for meaning

Sue Prideaux Why did Sue love this book?

Nietzsche said; “Today’s philosophers enjoy the divine principle of incomprehensibility.” This clearly written book takes the opposite tack. If you’re terrified of philosophy, this is the book for you. A great book to get the kids interested in the subject.

By Nigel Warburton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For readers of E. H. Gombrich's A Little History of the World, an equally irresistible volume that brings history's greatest philosophers to life

"A primer in human existence: philosophy has rarely seemed so lucid, so important, so worth doing and so easy to enter into. . . . A wonderful introduction for anyone who's ever felt curious about almost anything."-Sarah Bakewell, author of How To Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

Philosophy begins with questions about the nature of reality and how we should live. These were the concerns of Socrates, who…


Book cover of The Apology of Socrates

Paul Allen Miller Author Of Horace

From my list on the art of living.

Why am I passionate about this?

While I am Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina and the author of ten books, I grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City. My parents were from rural Missouri. I never met a professor, a writer, or an artist growing up. I never seriously considered going to college. But I loved to read. When I went to college and discovered you could major in literature and ancient languages, my life changed. I am now at work on a book entitled Truth and Enjoyment in Cicero: Rhetoric and Philosophy Beyond the Pleasure Principle, which reflects on what Cicero can teach us about living in a post-truth age.

Paul's book list on the art of living

Paul Allen Miller Why did Paul love this book?

The Apology is where Western philosophy begins. Socrates is on trial for his life. The charge is impiety and corrupting the youth. His real crime, however, was teaching the young men of Athens to waylay their elders with difficult and impertinent questions. His message to these young men? Know yourself, know the limits of your knowledge, and do not care more for your possessions than you do for your soul and excellence. For Socrates’ unyielding commitment to live in accord with these principles, he gave his life. This is his defense speech.

By Plato, James Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Apology of Socrates, by Plato, is the dialogue that presents the speech of legal self-defence, which Socrates presented at his trial for impiety and corruption, in 399 BC.

★ Specifically: The Apology of Socrates is a defence against the charges of “corrupting the youth” and “not believing in the same gods as the city, but in other gods which are novel” to Athens.

★ The Apology of Socrates is the dialogue that depicts the trial, written by Plato who details the final days of the philosopher great Socrates. 

★ This book has been carefully adapted into modern English to…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in philosophy, Socrates, and the Universe?

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