100 books like The Assignment

By Liza Wiemer,

Here are 100 books that The Assignment fans have personally recommended if you like The Assignment. 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 Grapes of Wrath

Nick Brown Author Of The Siege: Agent of Rome 1

From my list on books that take you to another world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before I was a writer, I was a reader.  My mother was a primary school teacher, so I was encouraged to read from my earliest years. I wanted to be not only entertained but transported to another place, time, or world. When I finally decided to write my first novel, I settled on historical fiction, but I have since written both science fiction and fantasy. I always endeavour to emulate my literary heroes and create engaging characters, compelling plots, and an interesting, unusual, convincing world.

Nick's book list on books that take you to another world

Nick Brown Why did Nick love this book?

Though set less than a century ago, the world of Steinbeck’s novel is so very different from our own. This masterpiece follows the Joad family as they head west to California, escaping the hardship and poverty of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl.

Depression-era America is described with such detail and emotion that the reader feels almost like a companion of the Joads, each of whom are rendered with precision and depth. In other hands, this might have been a grim, gloomy tale, but Steinback evokes themes of loyalty, kindness, and pride with peerless power and skill.  

By John Steinbeck,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked The Grapes of Wrath as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I've done my damndest to rip a reader's nerves to rags, I don't want him satisfied.'

Shocking and controversial when it was first published, The Grapes of Wrath is Steinbeck's Pultizer Prize-winning epic of the Joad family, forced to travel west from Dust Bowl era Oklahoma in search of the promised land of California. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and powerlessness, yet out of their struggle Steinbeck created a drama that is both intensely human and majestic in its scale and moral vision.


Book cover of Tyrell

Paul Volponi Author Of The Great G.O.A.T. Debate: The Best of the Best in Everything from Sports to Science

From my list on for fearless readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent 16 years teaching in NYC public schools, six of them on Rikers Island the world's biggest jail where I helped incarcerated teens improve their reading and writing skills. That experience helped to launch me on my own writing career. The job of the author? To hold up a mirror to society and reflect upon the page what the reader may not have experienced yet or missed seeing in the world outside the borders of a book.

Paul's book list on for fearless readers

Paul Volponi Why did Paul love this book?

Booth is an extraordinary writer and Tyrell is her signature story. Tyrell is a young man living under incredible pressure with a family that needs him to have both feet on the ground. But he's always on the verge of going the wrong way. Will the need for fast money put him in prison like his father? Booth is in complete command of her characters, story and pacing here. A marvelous book that will make you grateful for your own choices in life.

By Coe Booth,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tyrell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

An astonishing new voice in teen literature, writing what is sure to be one of the most talked-about debuts of the year.

Tyrell is a young African-American teen who can't get a break. He's living (for now) with his spaced-out mother and little brother in a homeless shelter. His father's in jail. His girlfriend supports him, but he doesn't feel good enough for her -- and seems to be always on the verge of doing the wrong thing around her. There's another girl at the homeless shelter who is also after him, although the desires there are complicated. Tyrell feels…


Book cover of Stay with Me

Paul Volponi Author Of The Great G.O.A.T. Debate: The Best of the Best in Everything from Sports to Science

From my list on for fearless readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent 16 years teaching in NYC public schools, six of them on Rikers Island the world's biggest jail where I helped incarcerated teens improve their reading and writing skills. That experience helped to launch me on my own writing career. The job of the author? To hold up a mirror to society and reflect upon the page what the reader may not have experienced yet or missed seeing in the world outside the borders of a book.

Paul's book list on for fearless readers

Paul Volponi Why did Paul love this book?

Griffin is an incredibly sensitive and revealing writer who touches raw emotions. This is my favorite title of his. It's an urban romance between two teens who seemingly don't belong together, bolstered by an incredible bond with a dog. Read it. Love it. Then find yourself wondering what other gems Griffin has penned.

By Paul Griffin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stay with Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

A heartbreaking urban romance from award-winning author Paul Griffin

Fifteen-year-olds Cece and Mack didn't expect to fall in love. She's a sensitive A student; he's a high school dropout. But soon they're spending every moment together, bonding over a rescued dog, telling their secrets, making plans for the future. Everything is perfect. Until Mack makes a horrible mistake, and suddenly the future they'd planned becomes impossible. In this stark new reality, both of them must find hope in the memories of what they had, to survive when the person they love can't stay.


Book cover of Whale Talk

Paul Volponi Author Of The Great G.O.A.T. Debate: The Best of the Best in Everything from Sports to Science

From my list on for fearless readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent 16 years teaching in NYC public schools, six of them on Rikers Island the world's biggest jail where I helped incarcerated teens improve their reading and writing skills. That experience helped to launch me on my own writing career. The job of the author? To hold up a mirror to society and reflect upon the page what the reader may not have experienced yet or missed seeing in the world outside the borders of a book.

Paul's book list on for fearless readers

Paul Volponi Why did Paul love this book?

I once traveled in a compact car across Michigan with Crutcher, my wife, and daughter. His conversation was as magnificent as his prose. Whale Talk brings together a group of high school misfits that comprise their school's swim team. Guess what? The school doesn't have a pool, which is fine because only one of them can swim anyway. Read and enjoy a master at work in Crutcher.

By Chris Crutcher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whale Talk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

"A truly exceptional book."-Washington Post

There's bad news and good news about the Cutter High School swim team. The bad news is that they don't have a pool. The good news is that only one of them can swim anyway. Bestselling author Chris Crutcher's controversial and acclaimed novel follows a group of outcasts as they take on inequality and injustice in their high school.

"Crutcher's superior gifts as a storyteller and his background as a working therapist combine to make magic in Whale Talk. The thread of truth in his fiction reminds us that heroes can come in any shape,…


Book cover of Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany

Moritz Föllmer Author Of Culture in the Third Reich

From my list on life in Nazi Germany.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian at the University of Amsterdam, one of my concerns is to understand why so many Germans supported and participated in Adolf Hitler’s atrocious political project. I am equally interested in the other side: the Nazis’ political opponents and victims. In two decades of researching, writing, and teaching, I have read large numbers of official documents, newspapers, diaries, novels, and memoirs. These contemporary texts have made me vividly aware of how different people lived through the Nazi years, how they envisioned their lives, and how they remembered them after World War II. The questions they faced and the solutions they found continue to challenge and disconcert me.  

Moritz's book list on life in Nazi Germany

Moritz Föllmer Why did Moritz love this book?

How did Nazi antisemitism affect German Jews? To answer this question Marion Kaplan delves into the social, domestic, and emotional lives of the persecuted one-percent minority. She reveals how Jews felt when hit with yet another restrictive or punitive measure, when neighbors and friends turned away, when deportation loomed. Crucially, the pioneering feminist historian distinguishes between male and female experiences. Having been less involved in professional and public life, women reacted more flexibly to an unprecedented situation than their menfolk. They were less tied to German culture and more capable of grasping the new realities. Even so, when couples and families finally decided to emigrate, it was often too late: potential host countries were reluctant to allow them in, and Nazi antisemitism soon turned into a policy of mass murder. 

By Marion A. Kaplan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Between Dignity and Despair draws on the extraordinary memoirs, diaries, interviews, and letters of Jewish women and men to give us the first intimate portrait of Jewish life in Nazi Germany.
Kaplan tells the story of Jews in Germany not from the hindsight of the Holocaust, nor from the vantage of the persecutors, but from the bewildered and ambiguous perspective of Jews trying to navigate their daily lives in a world that was becoming more and more insane. Answering the charge that Jews should have left earlier, Kaplan shows that far from seeming inevitable, the Holocaust was impossible to foresee…


Book cover of Why? Explaining the Holocaust

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Author Of Submerged on the Surface: The Not-So-Hidden Jews of Nazi Berlin, 1941–1945

From my list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a German History professor who focuses on the Holocaust, but I’ve been educating myself on the topic since 5th grade, when a friend suggested some children’s literature on the Holocaust. So, I guess this is a topic that has interested me for some thirty years now. I can’t stop asking why, I can’t stop reading, and I can’t stop educating, especially as Holocaust denial and antisemitism are on the rise. History, in general, can teach us so much about who we are and who we have the potential to become. The Holocaust is a prime example of what happens when humanity fails to achieve its potential.  

Richard's book list on the Holocaust and how humanity failed

Richard N. Lutjens Jr. Why did Richard love this book?

Even after years of studying the Holocaust, I remain overwhelmed by the enormity of the horrors, and there are still times when I find my faith in humanity wavering and all I can think to ask in anger and confusion is “Why?” I know I’m not alone. Peter Hayes’s masterful book is the result of an entire career centered on asking that very question.  The outcome is an incredibly readable, insightful, and thought-provoking account of the Holocaust that doesn’t shy away from answering the big questions. After reading it, one might still ask “why,” but it won’t be out of frustration, anger, and confusion, but rather out of a desire to keep learning more about one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of humanity.

By Peter Hayes,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Why? Explaining the Holocaust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Peter Hayes has been teaching Holocaust studies for decades and Why? grows out of the questions he's encountered from his students. Despite the outpouring of books, films, memorials, museums and courses devoted to the subject, a coherent explanation of why such carnage erupted still eludes people. Numerous myths have sprouted, many to console us that things could have gone differently if only some person or entity had acted more bravely or wisely; others cast new blame on favourite or surprising villains or even on historians.

Why? dispels many legends and debunks the most prevalent ones, including the claim that the…


Book cover of Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

Ellen T. Armour Author Of Seeing and Believing: Religion, Digital Visual Culture, and Social Justice

From my list on social media’s impact on us.

Why am I passionate about this?

My own experience on Facebook piqued my interest in digital photography and social media. My emotional response to what I saw there ran the gamut from super anxious or angry to happy and even optimistic. As a scholar of religion with some expertise in traditional media and photography, I wanted to know why and how so I could respond better. I turned to experts in these new technologies – particularly those who write good books aimed at curious people, not just their peers! – for help. I learned a lot from these books and I’m confident you will, too!

Ellen's book list on social media’s impact on us

Ellen T. Armour Why did Ellen love this book?

I rarely think about why I see what I see online. Yes, I know algorithms had something to do with it, but they’re just algebra on steroids, right? Well, not so fast!

This book opened my eyes to how and why bias – in this case, racial bias – shows up online and what we can do about it. I learned a lot about the intricate connections between our online lives and our real ones. 

By Safiya Umoja Noble,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A revealing look at how negative biases against women of color are embedded in search engine results and algorithms
Run a Google search for "black girls"-what will you find? "Big Booty" and other sexually explicit terms are likely to come up as top search terms. But, if you type in "white girls," the results are radically different. The suggested porn sites and un-moderated discussions about "why black women are so sassy" or "why black women are so angry" presents a disturbing portrait of black womanhood in modern society.
In Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Umoja Noble challenges the idea that search…


Book cover of Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America

Mary Shanklin Author Of American Castle: One Hundred Years of Mar-a-Lago

From my list on nonfiction with fantastic storytelling.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a lifelong journalist, I’m riveted by stories that dissect actual events. Nonfiction is my wheelhouse and I’m fortunate to have a related body of distinguished work. Over the decades, I’ve written for exceptional newspaper and magazine editors who taught me the craft of making reality not only engaging – but also meaningful. Instead of ignoring the not-so-convenient truths – details that might be swept away by a historical fiction writer – I hunt for them. My coverage of inequities, hurricanes, and real estate scams has taught me: show, don’t tell. Any author who can take a mountain of interviews, details, facts and color and transform it into a thought-provoking story, they have my attention. 

Mary's book list on nonfiction with fantastic storytelling

Mary Shanklin Why did Mary love this book?

When I read Gilbert King’s story of the ruination of four Black men based on charges they raped a white woman in the 1950s, I had to check King’s background. He won my admiration for going from small-town newspapers and photography work to tell this epic story of Thurgood Marshall-style justice.  

The story itself will rip you apart as the Southern sheriff “interrogates” these men in inhumane ways. I live just an hour’s drive from where this all went down and I am so grateful to King for helping me better understand the depths of our warped system of justice. The fact the book won a Pulitzer shouldn’t be a surprise. The fact that it led the town of Groveland to posthumously exonerate the men should be one. 

By Gilbert King,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Devil in the Grove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction
* Nominated for a 2013 Edgar Award 
* Book of the Year (Non-fiction, 2012) The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor

In 1949, Florida's orange industry was booming, and citrus barons got rich on the backs of cheap Jim Crow labor. To maintain order and profits, they turned to Willis V. McCall, a violent sheriff who ruled Lake County with murderous resolve. When a white seventeen-year-old Groveland girl cried rape, McCall was fast on the trail of four young blacks who dared to envision a future for themselves beyond the citrus…


Book cover of The Bias That Divides Us: The Science and Politics of Myside Thinking

Steven Pinker Author Of Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

From my list on rationality and why it matters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Harvard professor of psychology and a cognitive scientist who’s interested in all aspects of language, mind, and human nature. I grew up in Montreal, but have lived most of my adult life in the Boston area, bouncing back and forth between Harvard and MIT except for stints in California as a professor at Stanford and sabbatical visitor in Santa Barbara and now, Berkeley. I alternate between books on language (how it works, what it reveals about human nature, what makes for clear and stylish writing) and books on the human mind and human condition (how the mind works, why violence has declined, how progress can take place).

Steven's book list on rationality and why it matters

Steven Pinker Why did Steven love this book?

Stanovich is a cognitive psychologist who showed that rationality is related, but not identical, to intelligence.

In this timely book, he shows that smart people, and everyone else, are victims of a powerful bias to show that our own tribe is virtuous and wise and knowledgeable and the other tribe is evil and stupid and ignorant. Needless to say, it explains a lot about our current moment.

By Keith E. Stanovich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why we don't live in a post-truth society but rather a myside society: what science tells us about the bias that poisons our politics.

In The Bias That Divides Us, psychologist Keith Stanovich argues provocatively that we don't live in a post-truth society, as has been claimed, but rather a myside society. Our problem is not that we are unable to value and respect truth and facts, but that we are unable to agree on commonly accepted truth and facts. We believe that our side knows the truth. Post-truth? That describes the other side. The inevitable result is political polarization.…


Book cover of Abolition for the People: The Movement for a Future Without Policing & Prisons

James Kilgore Author Of Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People's Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time

From my list on mass incarceration.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a social justice activist all my life. In my younger years, I turned to violence to bring about liberation. That landed me a federal arrest warrant which I avoided for 27 years by living as a fugitive. I spent most of that time in southern Africa, joining freedom movements against apartheid and colonialism. Arrested and extradited to the U.S. in 2002 I spent 6 1/2 years in California prisons while observing the impact of mass incarceration. I vowed to direct my energy to end mass incarceration through grassroots organizing. Since then I've been a writer, researcher, and activist in my local community of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois as well as being partner and father to my two sons.

James' book list on mass incarceration

James Kilgore Why did James love this book?

If we are to reverse, dismantle, or eliminate mass incarceration we need an alternative model for addressing a reality where harm and injustice exist. We can never eliminate harm, but this book, through short writings by well-known authors constructs not only a clear case for eliminating prisons, jails, and policing but helps us to imagine how we might get to such a world through our own collective actions. Brought together by the most famous person to be banished by the National Football League, this volume stirs the soul and takes us on what may perhaps be an uncomfortable but very necessary journey. I have one essay in this book, entitled "Challenge E-Carceration" which contests the notion that electronic monitors and other punitive technologies are an alternative to incarceration. 

By Colin Kaepernick (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Abolition for the People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Edited by activist and former San Francisco 49ers super bowl quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Abolition for the People is a manifesto calling for a world beyond prisons and policing.

Abolition for the People brings together thirty essays representing a diversity of voices―political prisoners, grassroots organizers, scholars, and relatives of those killed by the anti-Black terrorism of policing and prisons. This collection presents readers with a moral choice: “Will you continue to be actively complicit in the perpetuation of these systems,” Kaepernick asks in his introduction, “or will you take action to dismantle them for the benefit of a just future?”

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5 book lists we think you will like!

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10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about discrimination, antisemitism, and the Holocaust.

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