83 books like The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

By Joshua Hammer,

Here are 83 books that The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu fans have personally recommended if you like The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu. 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 Song of Achilles

Terry Bartley Author Of Tyranny of the Fey

From my list on casually queer sci-fi fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy, especially anything involving superheroes or D&D-style adventure. For the longest time, I had to find queer representation through subtle glances and creative readings of characters. I loved these stories for the sci-fi and fantasy elements, but it was frustrating that every love story that came up was straight. It didn’t feel possible for queer love to be a part of a plot, and even when there was a queer character it had a “very special episode” vibe to it. Finally, queer characters are becoming part of the story, and it doesn’t have to be a “big deal.”

Terry's book list on casually queer sci-fi fantasy

Terry Bartley Why did Terry love this book?

The Song of Achilles is such as beautifully written book that perfectly weaves together a queer love story with a proper Greek epic.

It was so fulfilling to follow Patroclus and Achilles as they grew up. The attraction grows subtly and feels very natural. The fantasy elements feel very matter-of-fact and never take away from the incredibly relatable character moments.

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

27 authors picked The Song of Achilles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



'Captivating' DONNA TARTT
'I loved it' J K ROWLING
'Ravishingly vivid' EMMA DONOGHUE

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms…

Book cover of Crocodile on the Sandbank

Harini Nagendra Author Of The Bangalore Detectives Club

From my list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an ecologist who loves history. I love incorporating elements from the past in my non-fiction and fiction writing. I’ve learnt so much about parts of the world I have never visited from historical mysteries, especially those with strong female characters. My grandmother, born in 1907 during the British Raj, fought just to go to school. I love books that offer an insight into the lives and thoughts of fierce, feisty women like her, everyday women who did extraordinary things. Each of the books I’ve selected is the first in a series, and I hope they give you endless hours of reading pleasure, just as they did for me.

Harini's book list on historical crime books with spunky women protagonists

Harini Nagendra Why did Harini love this book?

Amelia Peabody, the heroine of this series, is that rarity, a female archeologist elbowing her way into digs and expeditions, the domain of men in 1890s Egypt. Amelia fearlessly deals with master criminals and tomb robbers, using a stout belt and large umbrella, solving crimes with panache.

In this book, the first of the series, she rescues a damsel in distress, falls in love, and uncovers the secret of a walking mummy.

It’s a rollicking romp of a read but doesn’t shy away from showing the divisions of the times between Europeans and ‘natives,’ men and women, rich and poor. The author is an Egyptologist herself, and her expertise shows through; as an academic myself, I’m very inspired by her work! This is one of my absolute favourites.

By Elizabeth Peters,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Crocodile on the Sandbank as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amelia Peabody is Elizabeth Peters' most brilliant and best-loved creation, a thoroughly Victorian feminist who takes the stuffy world of archaeology by storm with her shocking men's pants and no-nonsense attitude!

In this first adventure, our headstrong heroine decides to use her substantial inheritance to see the world. On her travels, she rescues a gentlewoman in distress - Evelyn Barton-Forbes - and the two become friends. The two companions continue to Egypt where they face mysteries, mummies and the redoubtable Radcliffe Emerson, an outspoken archaeologist, who doesn't need women to help him solve mysteries -- at least that's what he…

Book cover of Pompeii

Flora Johnston Author Of The Paris Peacemakers

From my list on historical fiction books with a new take on a famous event.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by stories from the past. I worked for many years in museums and heritage, telling Scotland’s stories through exhibitions and nonfiction publications, but I was always drawn to the question best answered through historical fiction – what did that feel like? Well-researched historical fiction can take us right into the lives of people who lived through the dramatic events we read about in academic books. I found that each of the novels on my list transported me to a different time and place, and I hope you enjoy them, too.

Flora's book list on historical fiction books with a new take on a famous event

Flora Johnston Why did Flora love this book?

I picked up this book from the shelf of a holiday cottage and was hooked immediately. I love books which interweave personal human stories with big events.

The ordinary loves and lives of the people of Pompeii are unfolding as the mountain above them begins to behave strangely. Of course, we, the readers, know the disaster that is about to occur, which only adds to the suspense. Unputdownable.

By Robert Harris,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A pulse-rate-speeding masterpiece' Sunday Times

'A stunning novel . . . the subtlety and power of its construction holds our attention to the end' The Times

During a sweltering week in late August, as Rome's richest citizens relax in their villas around Pompeii and Herculaneum, there are ominous warnings that something is going wrong. Wells and springs are failing, a man has disappeared, and now the greatest aqueduct in the world - the mighty Aqua Augusta - has suddenly ceased to flow . . .

Through the eyes of four characters - a young engineer, an adolescent girl, a corrupt…

Book cover of The Sky Worshipers: A Novel of Mongol Conquests

Cheryl Carpinello Author Of Feathers of the Phoenix

From my list on experiencing the ancient worlds and civilizations.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since discovering the myths and legends of the world at college, I’ve fallen in love with these and the countries and cities where they originated. Teaching the literature that evolved from this for so many years deepened my fascination with the ancient/medieval worlds. I literally pounce on any books I come across, fiction and non-fiction. All of my novels draw from these worlds and are a thrill to write and read. However, life was extremely hard back then, and I wouldn’t want to have lived back then! I hope you join me in exploring these fascinating reads.

Cheryl's book list on experiencing the ancient worlds and civilizations

Cheryl Carpinello Why did Cheryl love this book?

Why did I choose this book? It was the cover with the camels being led across the desert at sunrise. I’m a sucker for deserts and camels! Then it was the title The Sky Worshipers. How fascinating. Add to that the fact that I knew nothing of the Mongols and you have it all. And to learn that the story was fictionalized from actual diaries of Mongol princesses?! Get ready for a fascinating read albeit at times horrifying and moving.

By F.M. Deemyad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Sky Worshippers: Women Who Change The Trajectory And Strength Of Genghis Khan And His Mongol Empire.

"An epic novel that pulls back the veil on the tumultuous life and times of Genghis Khan, the Mongol leader who was intent upon becoming the ruler of the world. Breathtaking in scope, honest and raw, The Sky Worshipers reveals life in the orbit of the conquerors." –Kristine Morris, Foreword Reviews

★★★★★ The story, told in three parts, is expertly written. It’s the stuff of my childhood dreams; princesses, warriors, Marco Polo, the Silk Road.

★★★★★ There is so much detail in the…

Book cover of Information Hunters: When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe

Brooke L. Blower Author Of Americans in a World at War: Intimate Histories from the Crash of Pan Am's Yankee Clipper

From my list on surprising histories about Americans abroad during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a history professor at Boston University, where I teach and write about modern American popular thought, political culture, trade, travel, and war especially in urban and transnational contexts. I enjoy histories that are based on deep and creative bodies of research and that push past timeworn myths and clichés about the American past.

Brooke's book list on surprising histories about Americans abroad during WWII

Brooke L. Blower Why did Brooke love this book?

I just love it when a topic that sounds dull—in this case librarians and archivists during World War II—turns out to be unexpectedly rich and interesting. 

Peiss recounts in riveting detail the highly successful wartime mission that sent teams of scholars and other bookish types to scour Europe’s bookstores and basements for rare and otherwise valuable publications. Amassing truckloads of printed material not only aided the Allies’ intelligence operations but also restored looted property, demobilized Nazi propaganda, and, ultimately, transformed the holdings of American research libraries.

By Kathy Peiss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

While armies have seized enemy records and rare texts as booty throughout history, it was only during World War II that an unlikely band of librarians, archivists, and scholars traveled abroad to collect books and documents to aid the military cause. Galvanized by the events of war into acquiring and preserving the written word, as well as providing critical information for intelligence purposes, these American civilians set off on missions to gather foreign
publications and information across Europe. They journeyed to neutral cities in search of enemy texts, followed a step behind advancing armies to capture records, and seized Nazi…

Book cover of Dear Librarian

Angela Burke Kunkel Author Of Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built

From my list on children’s books celebrating libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

Angela Burke Kunkel is an author, school librarian, and former English Language Arts teacher. She has experience working with all types of young readers, from the reluctant to the voracious, and has taught in both alternative and public schools, including a New Mexico middle school with a nationally-recognized dual education program. She is passionate about ensuring equitable book access for all children, and has published articles and participated as a panelist on these issues.

Angela's book list on children’s books celebrating libraries

Angela Burke Kunkel Why did Angela love this book?

I very clearly remember Lydia Sigwarth sharing her library story on the This American Life episode “The Room of Requirement” back in 2018. Sigwarth, who was homeless as a child, found peace, stability, and a sense of routine at her local library—and grew up to become a children’s librarian herself. That wonderful segment was turned into an autobiographical picture book, written by Sigwarth and illustrated in warm and cozy tones by Romina Galotta.

By Lydia M. Sigwarth, Romina Galotta (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dear Librarian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

When Lydia was five years old, she and her family had to leave their home. They hopped from Grandma's house to Aunt Linda's house to Cousin Alice's house, but no place was permanent. Then one day, everything changed. Lydia's mom took her to a new place -- not a house, but a big building with stone columns, and tall, tall steps. The library.

In the library, Lydia found her special spot across from the sunny window, at a round desk. For behind that desk was her new friend, the librarian. Together, Lydia and the librarian discovered a world beyond their…

Book cover of The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey

Annette Bay Pimentel Author Of Pura's Cuentos: How Pura Belpré Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories

From my list on children’s books for library lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was ten, my mom gave me an entire day to do anything I wanted. I chose to spend the day at the library. To me, the library was a place of refuge, of adventure, of possibility. As an adult, I lived abroad, often in countries without free public libraries. I missed libraries! Today I’m a library trustee for my county library system, working to make our public library accessible to everyone. It was a joy to write about Pura Belpré, a librarian who was working 100 years ago to make sure libraries belonged to the entire community.  

Annette's book list on children’s books for library lovers

Annette Bay Pimentel Why did Annette love this book?

All those numbers on the spines of library books? This book tells the story of the man who invented the first widely-used library cataloguing system: Melvil Dewey. Sometimes biographies gloss over difficult personalities, but this one doesn’t pretend Dewey was always admirable. Instead, it suggests that his bull-headedness might have been part of the reason his decimal cataloguing system was ultimately adopted. And Fotheringham manages to make a book about books lively and fun in the illustrations.

By Alexis O'Neill, Edwin Fotheringham (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Efficient, Inventive (Often Annoying) Melvil Dewey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year

Who was Melvil Dewey? Learn how Dewey's love of organization and words drove him to develop and implement his Dewey Decimal system, leaving a significant and lasting impact in libraries across the country.

When Melvil Dewey realized every library organized their books differently, he wondered if he could invent a system all libraries could use to organize them efficiently. A rat-a-tat speaker, Melvil was a persistent (and noisy) advocate for free public libraries. And while he made enemies along the way as he pushed for changes-like his battle to establish…

Book cover of The Strange Library

Dwight Okita Author Of The Hope Store

From my list on weird wonderful books to read in one weekend.

Why am I passionate about this?

A Chicago writer, I've always been drawn to quirky books. My first novel, The Prospect of My Arrival, was a finalist in Amazon's novel contest and centers on a human embryo that is allowed to preview the world. My current work-in-progress is nonfiction. The Invention of Fireflies is a memoir of the magical and monstrous moments of my life. Varied day jobs have included being a professional cuddler, web designer, and caregiver. Affirmative Entertainment represents me for possible movie/TV projects. My work was selected for inclusion in the HBO New Writers Project, The Norton Introduction to Literature, many textbooks, and anthologies.

Dwight's book list on weird wonderful books to read in one weekend

Dwight Okita Why did Dwight love this book?

Murakami's world is magic realist by default. It's often infused with American pop culture, jazz, secret passageways, and curious cats. The Strange Library is a perfect introduction to the author's world and it makes a nice gift. The book is adorned with pop illustrations and highly saturated colors. In this short novel a lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep/man plot their escape from a nightmarish library. I have read the author's 1Q84 opus of 1,000 pages but it is his short works -- his short stories and novellas -- that have stayed with me the most.

By Haruki Murakami, Ted Goossen (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fully illustrated and beautifully designed, this is a unique and wonderfully creepy tale that is sure to delight Murakami fans.

'All I did was go to the library to borrow some books'.

On his way home from school, the young narrator of The Strange Library finds himself wondering how taxes were collected in the Ottoman Empire. He pops into the local library to see if it has a book on the subject. This is his first mistake.

Led to a special 'reading room' in a maze under the library by a strange old man, he finds himself imprisoned with only…

Book cover of Death Overdue

Debbie De Louise Author Of A Stone's Throw

From my list on mystery series featuring libraries and librarians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I enjoy reading and writing cozy mysteries, especially ones that feature libraries and cats because I’m a librarian and have three cats of my own. I like cozies because they focus on characters who can become your fictional friends as you learn more about them with each book. I like the fact that there’s a minimum of violence and even though there may be romance, there are no explicit sex scenes. I’ve always enjoyed reading stories with twists and secrets that are revealed slowly to the reader. These are the type of books that you can savor along with a cup of tea seated next to a purring cat. 

Debbie's book list on mystery series featuring libraries and librarians

Debbie De Louise Why did Debbie love this book?

I liked the unique addition of a library ghost in this book. The main character, Carrie Singleton, is hired as a program director in the small town of Clover Ridge, Connecticut. During her first event at the library, she witnesses a murder and is later aided by the library ghost in discovering the killer. I enjoyed the mystery, the characters, and, as a cat lover, I also loved Smoky Joe, the library cat who “adopts” Carrie and also helps her. Great start to a fun, paranormal cozy series.

By Allison Brook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For fans of Miranda James and Jenn McKinlay comes an enthralling series debut featuring a librarian who solves mysteries with the help of a ghost in the stacks

Carrie Singleton is just about done with Clover Ridge, Connecticut until she's offered a job as the head of programs and events at the spooky local library, complete with its own librarian ghost. Her first major event is a program presented by a retired homicide detective, Al Buckley, who claims he knows who murdered Laura Foster, a much-loved part-time library aide who was bludgeoned to death fifteen years earlier. As he invites…

Book cover of Ronan the Librarian

Viviane Elbee Author Of I Want My Book Back

From my list on the magic of libraries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've loved books and reading from an early age. My family and I go to the library nearly every week to check out books, do research, or attend library programs like storytime. My interest in libraries led me to read books about libraries and write one of my own. I’m a children’s book author living in North Carolina with my husband and two book-devouring kids. I Want My Book Back is my second book, following my debut, Teach Your Giraffe to Ski. When I’m not reading or writing, I like hanging out with my family, being outdoors, and going on everyday adventures.

Viviane's book list on the magic of libraries

Viviane Elbee Why did Viviane love this book?

The first thing that attracted me to this book is the terrific title – and the cover illustration. My kids and I enjoyed the humor, adventure, and unexpected twists in this entertaining tale about a barbarian clan that finds a treasure box of books. I’m not sure what made the kids giggle more – the fact that barbarians make terribly odd library patrons, or the little flyers and other details in the illustrations. (Definitely don’t miss reading the little flyers in the illustrations!)

By Tara Luebbe, Becky Cattie, Victoria Maderna (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ronan the Librarian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

This humorous picture book from sister duo Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie and illustrator Victoria Maderna follows Ronan the Barbarian as he he grows from being just a rough-and-tumble warrior to Ronan the Librarian--a rough-and-tumble warrior who loves books.

Ronan was a mighty barbarian.
He invaded. He raided. And back home, he traded.
He always found the greatest treasures.
Until one day, Ronan found something no barbarian wants:

At first, his fellow barbarians are skeptical of his newfound passion for reading, but in the end, even they aren't immune to the charms of a good book.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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