10 books like The Boy with a Bird in His Chest

By Emme Lund,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Boy with a Bird in His Chest. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Entangled Life

By Merlin Sheldrake,

Book cover of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures

While studying wildlife, I often slept on a polythene sheet on the floor of a tropical rainforest. In the velvet blackness, I would look down on the tracery of glowing fungal threads everywhere in the leaf litter of the forest floor. In my memory they blend with night flights over human cities: bright trunk roads and byways among the packed ranks of houses, all in a wide and sparkling network. And so it is with the fungal kingdom described here. A vast aspect of life on Earth is revealed that is almost entirely invisible to the naked eye, yet makes life work in all its parts, including us. It's the rich but easy-read kind of book that makes you say, 'well I never!' on every page, from sheer wonder at seeing how fungi join things up in a living world of near-infinite complexity.

Entangled Life

By Merlin Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Entangled Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A “brilliant [and] entrancing” (The Guardian) journey into the hidden lives of fungi—the great connectors of the living world—and their astonishing and intimate roles in human life, with the power to heal our bodies, expand our minds, and help us address our most urgent environmental problems.

“Grand and dizzying in how thoroughly it recalibrates our understanding of the natural world.”—Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—Time, BBC Science Focus, The Daily Mail, Geographical, The Times, The Telegraph, New Statesman, London Evening Standard, Science Friday

When we think…


The City in the Middle of the Night

By Charlie Jane Anders,

Book cover of The City in the Middle of the Night

This was the second book I read by Charlie Jane Anders, who is one of my living literary idols. This book is a feat of world-building, but what I find most compelling about it is its examination of what it means to be alien, what it means to belong. The story is unexpected in many ways, but it was deeply comforting for me. Even if it’s frightening, letting yourself be vulnerable can lead to magical and enlightening experiences.

The City in the Middle of the Night

By Charlie Jane Anders,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The City in the Middle of the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"If you control our sleep, then you can own our dreams... And from there, it's easy to control our entire lives."

From the brilliant mind of Charlie Jane Anders ("A master absurdist"-New York Times; "Virtuoso"-NPR) comes a new novel of Kafkaesque futurism. Set on a planet that has fully definitive, never-changing zones of day and night, with ensuing extreme climates of endless, frigid darkness and blinding, relentless light, humankind has somehow continued apace-though the perils outside the built cities are rife with danger as much as the streets below.

But in a world where time means only what the ruling…


Humankind

By Rutger Bregman, Erica Moore (translator), Elizabeth Manton (translator)

Book cover of Humankind: A Hopeful History

I read Humankind in the summer of 2021, a year into the pandemic and at a point when I wasn’t sure what the future looked like—all I knew was that the present seemed pretty bleak. Rutger Bregman’s book provided a counterweight to my fears and weariness, revitalizing my commitment to my fellow humans. It reminded me of my personal motto, a quote from the Roman writer Terence: “I am human; no human thing is alien to me.” If we try, there’s almost no human experience we can’t find a way to relate to.

Humankind

By Rutger Bregman, Erica Moore (translator), Elizabeth Manton (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
A Guardian, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman and Daily Express Book of the Year

'Hugely, highly and happily recommended' Stephen Fry
'You should read Humankind. You'll learn a lot (I did) and you'll have good reason to feel better about the human race' Tim Harford
'Made me see humanity from a fresh perspective' Yuval Noah Harari

It's a belief that unites the left and right, psychologists and philosophers, writers and historians. It drives the headlines that surround us and the laws that touch our lives. From Machiavelli to Hobbes, Freud to Dawkins, the roots of this belief have…


Four Lost Cities

By Annalee Newitz,

Book cover of Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age

This book became an instant favorite for the way it zeroes in on each of the four titular cities—only one of which I’d ever heard of—and sifts its layers in a way that makes it feel alive from top to bottom. Reading through it was a beautiful reminder of how little we know about the past, and yet, how similar our ancestors are to us in the things that are important to them. The gift of this book is its curiosity and tenderness towards its subjects, and it inspires the same open-mindedness. 

Four Lost Cities

By Annalee Newitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Four Lost Cities, acclaimed science journalist Annalee Newitz takes readers on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the centre of a sophisticated civilisation: the Neolithic site of Catalhoeyuk in Central Turkey, the Roman town of Pompeii on Italy's southern coast, the medieval megacity of Angkor in Cambodia and the indigenous American metropolis Cahokia, which stood beside the Mississippi River where East St. Louis is today.

Newitz travels to all four sites and investigates the…


I Am Charlotte Simmons

By Tom Wolfe,

Book cover of I Am Charlotte Simmons

Back to fiction. I loved how everyone, including the adorable young woman from a hardscrabble background, Charlotte, took their own big bite of hypocrisy pie. Everyone, except for one character, did it and I’m not going to spoil it for you (it was the star basketball player.) I think I’ve read everything Tom Wolfe had ever written and this is his finest work. This novel took me on a ride, I was there, the emotions I felt reading it were visceral and real. At the end, the feeling I had was—what the hell is college all about? And then I answered myself: it’s four years of summer camp and I can’t wait until my youngest graduates.

I Am Charlotte Simmons

By Tom Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Charlotte Simmons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A scandalous exploration of elite undergraduate life from the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities

Dupont University: the Olympian halls of learning housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition... or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from Sparta, North Carolina, who has come here on a full scholarship. But Charlotte soon learns that for the upper-crust coeds of Dupont, sex, status, and kegs trump academic achievement every time.

As Charlotte encounters Dupont's elite, she gains a new, revelatory sense of her own power, that of…


A Separate Peace

By John Knowles,

Book cover of A Separate Peace

Novels I love make me feel—and think. A Separate Peace does that for me as I lived each moment with Gene as he shared a poignant moment of his life. He experienced a friendship—a love—that was difficult for him to get his head around. I know he would have done anything to have a “do over,” and I felt for him and for Finny.

A good book is worth reading many times and that I have done. Each time I learned something new about this once-in-a-lifetime friendship. Like all relationships, they are full of joy and pain. Knowles was a master of lulling us into what seems to be a simple and innocent adventure but is truly a deep and dark journey within. It reminded me that we must always search for the truth. Finding it, however, can be elusive as we may hear the voice within but listening to…

A Separate Peace

By John Knowles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4 'A GOOD READ'

'A novel that made such a deep impression on me at sixteen that I can still conjure the atmosphere in my fifties: of yearning, infatuation mingled indistinguishably with envy, and remorse' Lionel Shriver

An American coming-of-age tale during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to the second world war.

Set at a boys' boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual.…


Last Bus to Wisdom

By Ivan Doig,

Book cover of Last Bus to Wisdom

Infused with a Western voice, Last Bus to Wisdom plopped me down into my native neck of the woods. Redheaded Donal has never been out of Montana, but that changes in June of 1951 when Gram needs an operation due to “female trouble.” With a wicker suitcase, thirty bucks safety-pinned inside his shirt, and an imagination that gets him into trouble, young Donal takes the Greyhound bound for Wisconsin to spend the summer with Gram’s sister, his only other living relative. Aunt Kate is a bossy broad, to say the least, who’s not at all nice to her sweet-natured husband, Herman the German, let alone Donal. It’s more than any self-respecting kid can stand. So Donal skidaddles, taking the dog bus back to Montana, and Herman the German tags along for the journey. More tale spinning and trouble getting-into ensues. Their misadventures are worth the ride, and a hoot…

Last Bus to Wisdom

By Ivan Doig,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Last Bus to Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of the Year by the Seattle Times and Kirkus Review

The final novel from a great American storyteller.

Donal Cameron is being raised by his grandmother, the cook at the legendary Double W ranch in Ivan Doig’s beloved Two Medicine Country of the Montana Rockies, a landscape that gives full rein to an eleven-year-old’s imagination. But when Gram has to have surgery for “female trouble” in the summer of 1951, all she can think to do is to ship Donal off to her sister in faraway Manitowoc, Wisconsin. There Donal is in for a rude surprise:…


Edisto

By Padgett Powell,

Book cover of Edisto

Edisto was the first coming-of-age novel I fell in love with as an adult reader and the book that showed me the tremendous literary potential of the genre. Padgett Powell endows his protagonist, twelve-year-old Simons, with what comes across as precociousness, but in fact reflects the depth of thinking that many young tweens and teens have. Simons wrestles with his narcissistic parents’ competing visions of his future—although neither bothers to ask him what he wants—while hanging out on the sultry island of Edisto off the coast of South Carolina with an enigmatic older acquaintance, Taurus, who offers him tastes of adult life and the kind of attention his parents are incapable of providing. Powell’s deft prose and realistic dialogue make it all fully believable, and at times riotously funny. Edisto is nothing short of brilliant.

Edisto

By Padgett Powell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finalist for the National Book Award: Through the eyes of a precocious twelve-year-old in a seaside South Carolina town, the world of love, sex, friendship, and betrayal blossoms
Simons Everson Manigault is not a typical twelve-year-old boy in tiny Edisto, South Carolina, in the late 1960s. At the insistence of his challenging mother (known to local blacks as “the Duchess”), who believes her son to possess a capacity for genius, Simons immerses himself in great literature and becomes as literate and literary as any English professor.
When Taurus, a soft-spoken African American stranger, moves into the cabin recently vacated by…


Montana 1948

By Larry Watson,

Book cover of Montana 1948

I grew up in a small Montana town, so Watson’s novel has a special meaning for me. It is a vivid portrayal of small-town life on the Great Plains and takes place during the same time period as my own book. It tells of the corruption of a trusted official and its effect on his family, his victims, and the town itself. Watson’s novel allowed me to feel and understand the deep emotions, the pain, the anxiety, the love, and the disappointment that his characters were feeling.

Montana 1948

By Larry Watson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Montana 1948 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"From the summer of my twelfth year I carry a series of images more vivid and lasting than any others of my boyhood and indelible beyond all attempts the years make to erase or fade them " So begins David Hayden's story of what happened in Montana in 1948. The events of that cataclysmic summer permanently alter twelve-year-old David's understanding of his family: his father, a small-town sheriff; his remarkably strong mother; David's uncle Frank, a war hero and respected doctor; and the Haydens' Sioux housekeeper, Marie Little Soldier, whose revelations turn the family's life upside down as she relates…


Dandelion Wine

By Ray Bradbury,

Book cover of Dandelion Wine

A mix of coming of age in the first half of the twentieth century, and Bradbury’s peculiar brand of very earthly oddness and sci-fi strangeness, Dandelion Wine is full of all sorts of magic. It reminds you of what it is to be a small human again, when everything seems possible, and aliens and monsters are as likely (and as important) as long summer days spent outside, barefoot and sunburnt and a little feral. Even when we don’t recognise the details of the childhood described, we remember the feeling, and it reawakens a sense of wonder that’s incredibly precious.

Dandelion Wine

By Ray Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dandelion Wine is a 1957 semi-autobiographical novel by Ray Bradbury, taking place in the summer of 1928 in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois — a pseudonym for Bradbury's childhood home of Waukegan, Illinois. The novel developed from the short story "Dandelion Wine" which appeared in the June 1953 issue of Gourmet magazine.


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