100 books like The Book of Delights

By Ross Gay,

Here are 100 books that The Book of Delights fans have personally recommended if you like The Book of Delights. 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 Men We Reaped: A Memoir

Sarah L. Sanderson Author Of The Place We Make: Breaking the Legacy of Legalized Hate

From my list on memoirs to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose to study creative nonfiction during my MFA program so I could learn what makes great memoirs work, but I first fell in love with the genre as a teenager, when I picked up Angela’s Ashes off my mom’s bedside table. I’m grateful for the way memoir gives me a window into the lives of people of other races, religions, abilities, experiences, and even other centuries. While my book The Place We Make isn’t only a memoir—it’s a blend of memoir and historical biography—it was my desire to both understand the view through my research subject’s eyes, and analyze how I was seeing the world myself, that drove me to write it.

Sarah's book list on memoirs to see the world through someone else’s eyes

Sarah L. Sanderson Why did Sarah love this book?

Men We Reaped blew me away.

Not only does Ward provide an incredibly personal and achingly beautiful glimpse of a culture I was unfamiliar with—a rural, impoverished Black community in the Deep South—but she does so with an innovative structure that simply dazzled me.

One strand of the book opens at the beginning of Ward’s life, while the other strand picks up at the end of her tale, with the most recent of five harrowing deaths due to gun violence that she and her community have endured. Each part of the story then alternately proceeds toward the same point, forwards along her childhood and backwards through each death, until both strands wind up in the middle of the story. It’s brilliantly executed. 

By Jesmyn Ward,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Men We Reaped as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_______________ 'A brutal, moving memoir ... Anyone who emerges from America's black working-class youth with words as fine as Ward's deserves a hearing' - Guardian 'Raw, beautiful and dangerous' - New York Times Book Review 'Lavishly endowed with literary craft and hard-earned wisdom' - Time _______________ The beautiful, haunting memoir from Jesmyn Ward, the first woman to win the National Book Award twice 'And then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped' - Harriet Tubman Jesmyn Ward's acclaimed memoir shines…


Book cover of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

Matthew Gavin Frank Author Of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers: A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed Along Coastal South Africa

From my list on nonfiction featuring amazing flying things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many who carry over childish curiosity into adulthood, I'm attracted to forbidden places. I trespass. When I heard that a portion of South Africa’s coast was owned by the De Beers conglomerate and closed to the public for nearly 80 years, plunging the local communities into mysterious isolation, I became obsessed with visiting the place. Afterward, I began studying carrier pigeons—the amazing flying things that folks use to smuggle diamonds out of the mines. I wrote a book about this, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers. I'm also the author of nonfiction books about the first-ever photograph of the giant squid, working on a medical marijuana farm, and American food culture.

Matthew's book list on nonfiction featuring amazing flying things

Matthew Gavin Frank Why did Matthew love this book?

There’s this rumor that poets look longer and harder at the ornaments of the world than do anyone else.  They keep looking, and looking, and looking, after most everyone else has long ago looked away, moved on. Here, in the wonderful world of poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s first book of nonfiction, whimsy and reverence twine like the DNA helices of the flora and fauna she examines. In her essay on the firefly, I adore the part when the insects “…lose their light rhythm for a few minutes after a single car’s headlights pass. Sometimes it takes hours for them to recalibrate their blinking patterns.”

By Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fumi Nakamura (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Hands-down one of the most beautiful books of the year." -NPR

From beloved, award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil comes a debut work of nonfiction-a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us.

As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted-no matter how awkward the fit…


Book cover of Animals Strike Curious Poses

Matthew Gavin Frank Author Of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers: A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed Along Coastal South Africa

From my list on nonfiction featuring amazing flying things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many who carry over childish curiosity into adulthood, I'm attracted to forbidden places. I trespass. When I heard that a portion of South Africa’s coast was owned by the De Beers conglomerate and closed to the public for nearly 80 years, plunging the local communities into mysterious isolation, I became obsessed with visiting the place. Afterward, I began studying carrier pigeons—the amazing flying things that folks use to smuggle diamonds out of the mines. I wrote a book about this, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers. I'm also the author of nonfiction books about the first-ever photograph of the giant squid, working on a medical marijuana farm, and American food culture.

Matthew's book list on nonfiction featuring amazing flying things

Matthew Gavin Frank Why did Matthew love this book?

In Animals Strike Curious Poses, Elena Passarello’s brilliant essay collection, we learn the secret histories and trajectories of various “famous” animals and our odd human relationships with them. These essays know weird and delicious things about the recesses of our hearts (the corporeal and metaphorical ones). They know what goes on in the ganglia of the spider’s silk-spigot, and in the shadows cast by the giant carapace. In “Vogel Staar,” one of the most delightful essays collection, we learn of the pet starling that served as Mozart’s musical muse, presumably inspiring the composer’s more daring compositions.  

By Elena Passarello,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Animals Strike Curious Poses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beginning with Yuka, a 39,000 year old mummified woolly mammoth recently found in the Siberian permafrost, each of the 16 essays in Animals Strike Curious Poses investigates a different famous animal named and immortalized by humans. Modeled loosely after a medieval bestiary, these witty, playful, whipsmart essays traverse history, myth, science, and more, bringing each beast vibrantly to life.

Elena Passarello is an actor, a writer, and recipient of a 2015 Whiting Fellowship in nonfiction. Her first collection with Sarabande Books, Let Me Clear My Throat, won the gold medal for nonfiction at the 2013 Independent Publisher Awards. She lives…


Book cover of Sidewalks

Matthew Gavin Frank Author Of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers: A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed Along Coastal South Africa

From my list on nonfiction featuring amazing flying things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many who carry over childish curiosity into adulthood, I'm attracted to forbidden places. I trespass. When I heard that a portion of South Africa’s coast was owned by the De Beers conglomerate and closed to the public for nearly 80 years, plunging the local communities into mysterious isolation, I became obsessed with visiting the place. Afterward, I began studying carrier pigeons—the amazing flying things that folks use to smuggle diamonds out of the mines. I wrote a book about this, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers. I'm also the author of nonfiction books about the first-ever photograph of the giant squid, working on a medical marijuana farm, and American food culture.

Matthew's book list on nonfiction featuring amazing flying things

Matthew Gavin Frank Why did Matthew love this book?

Valeria Luiselli dissects the odd systems and networks of our world’s cities and reveals in their hidden corners and corridors strange and magical identities. Luiselli’s essays further interrogate a city’s relationship to the bodies, cultures, artifacts, and languages that inhabit its spaces. In the essay, “Flying Home,” Luiselli journeys to Mexico City, the place of her birth, and, staring out of her airplane window, considers the city’s layout from this great height. This act of “mapping” according to her extraordinary vantage (suspended in flight), allows for a greater, incantatory meditation on our various perceptions of “home,” and how said perceptions depend as much on the imagination and on ephemeral memories as they do on reality.   

By Valeria Luiselli, Christina Macsweeney (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Luiselli's essays (originally published in Mexico) have been released to great acclaim abroad and has been translated for and published in the UK, Italy, Germany, and The Netherlands
Alma Guillermoprieto called Luiselli "one of the most important new voices in Mexican writing" at BEA and Luiselli is similarly known to and beloved by Latin American writers and venues including PEN America, the Americas Society, and the Mexican Cultural Institute
Luiselli's work is well known to bilingual Spanish language readers (including invitations to appear at Instituto Cervantes in Chicago and the Spanish language bookclub at McNally Jackson)
Luiselli is an engaging…


Book cover of Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe

Rea Nolan Martin Author Of The Sublime Transformation of Vera Wright

From my list on contemporary visionary fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been told I’m a visionary, but labels are of little significance to me. What I know for sure is that I’m a storyteller of the visionary variety, who has won numerous awards in that genre. Dating back to cave dwellers, myth-tellers, and folk minstrels, visionary authors have been consciously or unconsciously laying paths and building bridges between paradigms for eons. Such bridges are constructed of new language, perilous journeys, and transformative visions. My particular stories connect the path of perceived human limitations to true, unlimited potential. My characters are quirky, endearing, and often funny. They are each of us stumbling through an infinite, low-lying thicket for higher purpose. Until one day, we look up.

Rea's book list on contemporary visionary fiction

Rea Nolan Martin Why did Rea love this book?

Okay, you got me. This is not a book of fiction, although cynics may disagree. It’s a book of quantum possibility based on hard science and evolved visionary theory.

Like all of my stories, Biocentrism places consciousness at the center of its premise, presenting an important new human/world/cosmic view of well, everything. Like its author, Robert Lanza, I believe that consciousness is the essential fabric of mind, soul, and matter. Everything arises from it. Nothing is conceived without it.

The characters in my stories are always guided toward the higher aspects of their awareness in order to create new realities. Waking up to the understanding of a consciousness-centric existence changes not only us, but everything we know. Everything we thought we knew. And most importantly, forms the basis of everything we do from this point forward.

Biocentrism, as well as Lanza’s other books, provide a scientific foundation for what…

By Robert Lanza, Bob Berman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Robert Lanza is one of the most respected scientists in the world--a US News & World Report cover story called him a "genius" and a "renegade thinker," even likening him to Einstein. Lanza has teamed with Bob Berman, the most widely read astronomer in the world, to produce Biocentrism, a revolutionary new view of the universe. Every now and then a simple yet radical idea shakes the very foundations of knowledge. The startling discovery that the world was not flat challenged and ultimately changed the way people perceived themselves and their relationship with the world. For most humans of the…


Book cover of Steppenwolf

Yuki Carlsson Author Of Prison of Loneliness

From my list on when death appears better than life.

Why am I passionate about this?

The inner world of people has always fascinated me, which is why I created the initiative “student for students” where people could just come and talk about what they are going through. In countless sensitive conversations, I got to know many people struggling with the question “to be or not to be”. Then, my sister took her life. I accepted her decision. However, many struggled to do the same. “How can she do this to us?”, “It was selfish of her”, “But she was intelligent.” etc. Countless statements showed that people could understand, but not comprehend what happened. Therefore, I want to create awareness for mental health topics.

Yuki's book list on when death appears better than life

Yuki Carlsson Why did Yuki love this book?

A steppenwolf is a loner among the animals and Hesse projects his personal isolation and mental turmoil into this masterpiece of autofiction.

It’s timeless because anybody can relate to loneliness. And the book asks the question of how to live a fulfilling life. I personally relate to it so much, because I am familiar with both the involved emotions, as well as the aspect of drawing inspiration for my stories from my actual life experience.

It also gives me hope as a writer, because it tells me that an author does not need to please the broad masses, but can freely write what they carry inside. In the end, this make the more original pieces of art, in my opinion.

By Hermann Hesse, Basil Creighton (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Harry Haller is a sad and lonely figure, a reclusive intellectual for whom life holds no joy. He struggles to reconcile the wild primeval wolf and the rational man within himself without surrendering to the bourgeois values he despises. His life changes dramatically when he meets a woman who is his opposite, the carefree and elusive Hermine. The tale of the Steppenwolf culminates in the surreal Magic Theater—for mad men only.

Steppenwolf is Hesse's best-known and most autobiographical work. With its blend of Eastern mysticism and Western culture, it is one of literature's most poetic evocations of the soul's journey…


Book cover of The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life's Direction and Purpose

Dave Kerpen Author Of The Art of People: 11 Simple People Skills That Will Get You Everything You Want

From my list on entrepreneurs who want to go further faster.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love building businesses. I’ve built several businesses, ranging from a one person consultancy to a venture-backed tech company to an 8-figure marketing agency to a managed HR marketplace to a virtual memorial services company. The only thing I love more than building businesses is building and helping create new entrepreneurs. These books have helped me tremendously in my journey and I hope they help you as well!

Dave's book list on entrepreneurs who want to go further faster

Dave Kerpen Why did Dave love this book?

Oprah is my hero. I can think of no more impressive entrepreneur, from what she started with to what she built and the impact she has had on the world. For many people, understanding one’s purpose and direction is the first step towards becoming a successful entrepreneur and a happy and fulfilled human being. This book will help you begin to do the hard work to get there.

By Oprah Winfrey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Everyone has a purpose. And, according to Oprah Winfrey, 'Your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you are meant to be, and begin to honour your calling in the best way possible.'

That journey starts right here.

In her book, The Path Made Clear, Oprah shares what she sees as a guide for activating your deepest vision of yourself, offering the framework for creating not just a life of success, but one of significance. The book's ten chapters are organized to help you recognize the important milestones along the road…


Book cover of The Birth and Death of Meaning

Jeff Greenberg Author Of The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life

From my list on the core desires that guide human behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Regents Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona. Ever since I was a child growing up in the South Bronx, I have been interested in why people are so driven to believe they are right and good, and why there is so much prejudice in the world. This has led to me to a lifelong exploration of the basic motivations that guide people’s actions, and how these motivations influence how people view themselves and others, and the goals they pursue.

Jeff's book list on the core desires that guide human behavior

Jeff Greenberg Why did Jeff love this book?

This is to me is the best book ever written for understanding what human beings are, how we are similar to and different from other animal species, how we develop from helpless newborns to fully functioning adults, and what we are striving for in our lives. Most nonfiction books make a point and then repeat it over and over with examples and anecdotes. In contrast, The Birth and Death of Meaning begins with evolution and progresses logically from its first page to its last. When you finish this book, you will have a much better understanding of yourself, the people in your life, historical and current events, and problems ranging from anxiety and depression to interpersonal conflict to prejudice.  

By Ernest Becker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Uses the disciplines of psychology, anthropology, sociology and psychiatry to explain what makes people act the way they do.


Book cover of The Secret History of the World

Mike Southon Author Of The Beermat Entrepreneur: Turn Your good idea into a great business

From my list on the hidden mysteries of business, science, and nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 40 years and now pass on that knowledge to mentees and university students. The key to success in business is being able to attract and then learn from mentors, who, in my opinion, always should provide their knowledge, wisdom, and connections free of charge. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to go down ‘The Dark Side’, especially if the pursuit of money and power becomes overwhelming. Many famous billionaires are not especially nice people. But there are many nice businesspeople out there and I aspire to be one of those, hence my pursuit of a daily advancement in esoteric, hermetic, and other knowledge.

Mike's book list on the hidden mysteries of business, science, and nature

Mike Southon Why did Mike love this book?

For those interested in the hidden mysteries of science and nature and trying to work out the meaning of life, this is essential reading. It goes from the creation to the end of the world, explaining the various mysteries along the way, all of which are not actually secret, but in plain sight, if you know where and how to look.

By Jonathan Black,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

The complete history of the world, from the beginning of time to the present day, based on the beliefs and writings of the secret societies.

Jonathan Black examines the end of the world and the coming of the Antichrist - or is he already here? How will he make himself known and what will become of the world when he does? - and the end of Time.

Having studied theology and learnt from initiates of all the great secret societies of the world, Jonathan Black has learned that it is possible to reach an altered state of…


Book cover of Faith of the Fallen

Benjamin Patterson Author Of The Shadow of His Hand

From my list on old school fantasy books that pit good against evil.

Why am I passionate about this?

After devouring fantasy novels in my late teens and early twenties, I eventually hit a dead end. Where had all the good old-school fantasy gone? I wanted dashing heroes, compelling love stories, and epic battles between good and evil, but I could not seem to find it anymore–at least not as regularly as I wanted to. Eventually I set about writing my own stories, the kind of stories I always wanted to read. When I’m writing, I always go back to books on this list to rekindle my fire and remind me what good fantasy should be.

Benjamin's book list on old school fantasy books that pit good against evil

Benjamin Patterson Why did Benjamin love this book?

This novel features a strong protagonist, separated from his love by an evil emperor.

I love characters that aren’t just fighting for a good cause, but are fighting for love, and this series features a gripping love story. The characters find a way to beat impossible odds using wits, magic, and courage. It’s one of the few books I was excited to read more than once.

By Terry Goodkind,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Faith of the Fallen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SOUL OF THE FIRE saw the political machinations that have dogged the midlands reach new heights as the Chimes ran free and threatened magic everywhere. As the novel ended Kahlan has narrowly avoided death and now she and Richard Rahl, the Seeker, must strive again to save the world from the resurgent armies of the Emperor Jagang. From the very first page FAITH OF THE FALLEN PITCHES Richard and Kahlan into their most desperate fight yet, a fight where worlds once again hang in the balance. Richard must embark on a course of action that will leave his people feeling…


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