100 books like The Call of Character

By Mari Ruti,

Here are 100 books that The Call of Character fans have personally recommended if you like The Call of Character. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Existentialism Is a Humanism

Mike James Ross Author Of Intention: The Surprising Psychology of High Performers

From my list on books to help you find meaning in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested in purpose and meaning since I snuck into a high school philosophy class when I was 10 years old. Since then, I have not only worked on my own quest for meaning in my life but also helped dozens of others through these types of questions as an executive coach and business leader. I believe that having an answer to the question “why am I here?” is the crucial ingredient to living a happy and fulfilled life, and I’ve been working for years to distill all that I have learned on the subject into a useable and accessible collection of insights.

Mike's book list on books to help you find meaning in your life

Mike James Ross Why did Mike love this book?

This is an amazing and brief explanation of what existentialism is and why it should matter to anyone looking for meaning in their life.

I love that Satre demystifies his philosophy, making it accessible and understandable to anyone. The book is actually the transcription of a lecture he gave, so it is wonderfully readable and full of examples and situations that I learned a lot from.

He also defends existentialism from some of its common critiques, which makes the book even more useful as an introduction. Many of my questions were answered here!

By Jean-Paul Sartre, Carol Macomber (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Existentialism Is a Humanism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was to correct common misconceptions about his thought that Jean-Paul Sartre, the most dominent European intellectual of the post-World War II decades, accepted an invitation to speak on October 29, 1945, at the Club Maintenant in Paris. The unstated objective of his lecture ("Existentialism Is a Humanism") was to expound his philosophy as a form of "existentialism," a term much bandied about at the time. Sartre asserted that existentialism was essentially a doctrine for philosophers, though, ironically, he was about to make it accessible to a general audience. The published text of his lecture quickly became one of the…


Book cover of A Confession

Mike James Ross Author Of Intention: The Surprising Psychology of High Performers

From my list on books to help you find meaning in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested in purpose and meaning since I snuck into a high school philosophy class when I was 10 years old. Since then, I have not only worked on my own quest for meaning in my life but also helped dozens of others through these types of questions as an executive coach and business leader. I believe that having an answer to the question “why am I here?” is the crucial ingredient to living a happy and fulfilled life, and I’ve been working for years to distill all that I have learned on the subject into a useable and accessible collection of insights.

Mike's book list on books to help you find meaning in your life

Mike James Ross Why did Mike love this book?

What amazes me about A Confession is that here is Tolstoy, one of the giants of world literature, at the top of his game, lamenting that there is no meaning to his life. This made me realize that there is no one immune from this feeling of purposelessness and that there are no prizes, accolades, awards, or other external things that will prevent you from feeling existential angst.

The book also shows how Tolstoy worked through his crisis, and although I do not agree with his conclusions, the path that he takes in the book was very useful for me in my own journey to meaning. 

By Leo Tolstoy, Aylmer Maude (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Despite having written War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, at the age of 51, looked back on his life and considered it a meaningless, regrettable failure. A Confession provides insight into the great Russian writer's movement from the pursuit of aesthetic ideals toward matters of religious and philosophical consequence.
Authentic and genuinely moving, this memoir of midlife spiritual crisis was first distributed in 1872 and marked a turning point in the author's career as a writer: in subsequent years, Tolstoy would write almost exclusively about religious life, especially devotion among the peasantry.
Generations of readers have been inspired…


Book cover of Man's Search for Himself

Mike James Ross Author Of Intention: The Surprising Psychology of High Performers

From my list on books to help you find meaning in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested in purpose and meaning since I snuck into a high school philosophy class when I was 10 years old. Since then, I have not only worked on my own quest for meaning in my life but also helped dozens of others through these types of questions as an executive coach and business leader. I believe that having an answer to the question “why am I here?” is the crucial ingredient to living a happy and fulfilled life, and I’ve been working for years to distill all that I have learned on the subject into a useable and accessible collection of insights.

Mike's book list on books to help you find meaning in your life

Mike James Ross Why did Mike love this book?

May’s book was a game-changer for me. His focus on the challenge and importance of finding meaning in your life helped me to see how this is a worthwhile endeavor and provided me with a wonderful guide to my own exploration of the topic for myself.

Despite having been written in the 1950s, it is as relevant today as it was then. Anxiety and a sense of “what is the point of it all” have only increased in the last 70(!) years, and May’s clear writing and stories really spoke to me. 

By Rollo May,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Man's Search for Himself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Mandarins

Mike James Ross Author Of Intention: The Surprising Psychology of High Performers

From my list on books to help you find meaning in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested in purpose and meaning since I snuck into a high school philosophy class when I was 10 years old. Since then, I have not only worked on my own quest for meaning in my life but also helped dozens of others through these types of questions as an executive coach and business leader. I believe that having an answer to the question “why am I here?” is the crucial ingredient to living a happy and fulfilled life, and I’ve been working for years to distill all that I have learned on the subject into a useable and accessible collection of insights.

Mike's book list on books to help you find meaning in your life

Mike James Ross Why did Mike love this book?

What I love about The Mandarins is that in describing the life of de Beauvoir, Sartre, Camus and their contemporaries in Paris at the end of the Second World War, it provided me with greater insight into how an existentialist approach to meaning in life can be put into practice.

I also really enjoyed the book for the quality of its writing and its interesting plot. It is fiction, but so close to what actually happened as to almost be history.  

By Simone de Beauvoir,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her most famous novel, The Mandarins, Simone de Beauvoir takes an unflinching look at Parisian intellectual society at the end of World War II. In fictionally relating the stories of those around her - Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Arthur Koestler, Nelson Algren - de Beauvoir dissects the emotional and philosophical currents of her time. At once an engrossing drama and an intriguing political tale, The Mandarins is the emotional odyssey of a woman torn between her inner desires and her public life. "Much more than a roman a clef . . . a moving and engrossing novel." - New…


Book cover of An Ordinary Age: Finding Your Way in a World That Expects Exceptional

Meg Jay Author Of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

From my list on figuring out your 20s.

Why am I passionate about this?

Meg Jay, PhD, is a Clinical Psychologist, and an Associate Professor of Human Development at the University of Virginia, who specializes in adult development and in twentysomethings in particular. She earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in gender studies, from the University of California, Berkeley. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review and on NPR and BBC. Her TED talk “Why 30 Is Not the New 20” is among the most watched of all time.

Meg's book list on figuring out your 20s

Meg Jay Why did Meg love this book?

An Ordinary Age is an antidote. It is for twentysomethings everywhere who are sick and tired of being sick and tired that the lives they wake up to everyday don't match the ones they see on Instagram. It is a book for real twentysomethings, that is, ones who deserve to know that their lives and their efforts aren't just good enough: They are well and truly good.

By Rainesford Stauffer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Best Book of 2021 —Esquire?

Featured on Good Morning America

"A meticulous cartography of how outer forces shape young people’s inner lives." —Esquire, Best Books of 2021 

In conversation with young adults and experts alike, journalist Rainesford Stauffer explores how the incessant pursuit of a “best life” has put extraordinary pressure on young adults today, across our personal and professional lives—and how ordinary, meaningful experiences may instead be the foundation of a fulfilled and contented life.

Young adulthood: the time of our lives when, theoretically, anything can happen, and the pressure is on to make sure everything does. Social media…


Book cover of Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas

Dean Karnazes Author Of A Runner's High: My Life in Motion

From my list on running from an ultrarunner.

Why am I passionate about this?

An internationally recognized endurance athlete and New York Times bestselling author, Dean Karnazes has pushed his body and mind to inconceivable limits. Among his many accomplishments, he has run 350 continuous miles, foregoing sleep for three nights. He's run across Death Valley in 120-degree temperatures, and run a marathon to the South Pole in negative 40 degrees. On ten different occasions, he's run a 200-mile relay race solo, racing alongside teams of twelve. His long list of competitive achievements include winning the world's toughest footrace, the Badwater Ultramarathon, running 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley during the middle of summer. His most recent endeavor was running 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days, finishing with the NYC Marathon, which he ran in three hours flat.

Dean's book list on running from an ultrarunner

Dean Karnazes Why did Dean love this book?

Olympic runner, actress, filmmaker and writer, Alexi Pappas’ wisdom and wit are beyond her age. This book will have you laughing, crying and cheering, sometimes all at once!

By Alexi Pappas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Olympic runner, actress, filmmaker and writer Alexi Pappas shares what she’s learned about confidence, self-reliance, mental health, embracing pain, and achieving your dreams.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY REAL SIMPLE •“Heartbreaking and hilarious.”—Mindy Kaling • “A beautiful read.”—Ruth Reichl • “Essential guidance to anyone dreaming big dreams.”—Shalane Flanagan • “I couldn’t put it down.”—Adam Grant

run like a bravey
sleep like a baby
dream like a crazy
replace can’t with maybe

When “Renaissance runner” (New York Times) Alexi Pappas—Olympic athlete, actress, filmmaker, and writer—was four years old, her mother died by suicide, drastically altering…


Book cover of On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life

Joey Havens Author Of Leading with Significance: How to Create a Magnetic, People-First Culture

From my list on creating a people-first workplace culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about giving people the benefit of good intentions and my faith calls me to care and serve others. Today, I believe my purpose is to help inspire leaders to trust in the inherent good in people while caring and serving them in intentional ways that leads to high performance. I have been blessed immensely and want to give back to others so their journey can be one of significance. As former CEO of my company, I had no roadmap which made our journey even more difficult. Now, I have experienced the joy, the fulfillment, and the abundance of building a people-first culture.  Together we can make a difference for so many people.

Joey's book list on creating a people-first workplace culture

Joey Havens Why did Joey love this book?

We are in an exponential world today and we grew up in an incremental world for businesses.

Daniel not only helps us understand how to anticipate more of the future, he teaches us how to anticipate which is one of the most important skills for business leaders today. After reading his book, I also worked through his anticipatory leader course.

By understanding the power of being anticipatory, I have used his techniques to lead our firm to bigger opportunities. In the future of work, anticipating what people will want and need, provides a distinctive advantage.

By John O'Leary,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A rousing 7-step plan for living a life filled with hope and possibility from an inspirational speaker who survived a near-fatal fire at the age of nine and now runs a successful business inspiring people all around the world.
When John O'Leary was nine years old, he was almost killed in a devastating house fire. With burns on one hundred percent of his body, O'Leary mustered an almost unimaginable amount of inner strength just to survive the ordeal. The insights he gained through this experience and the heroes who stepped into his life to help him through the journey, his…


Book cover of On Not Being Someone Else: Tales of Our Unled Lives

Chad LeJeune Author Of "Pure O" OCD: Letting Go of Obsessive Thoughts with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

From my list on thoughts, and our relationship with them.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a clinical psychologist, I listen to thoughts all the time. I’m also having my own, constantly. We rely on our thoughts to help us navigate the world. However, our thoughts can also be a source of suffering. At times, they're not such reliable guides or helpers. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a way of thinking about thinking. ACT captured my imagination early in my clinical career. I trained with ACT’s originator, Steven Hayes, in the early 1990’s. I’ve come to believe that being more aware of our own thoughts, and our relationship to them is key to creating positive change and living a life grounded in our values.

Chad's book list on thoughts, and our relationship with them

Chad LeJeune Why did Chad love this book?

This poetic book by a literary scholar looks at the way we think about and experience not only the lives we lead, but those alternative lives that we do not lead. 

Our thoughts can lead us to obsessively regret our choices or focus on “the road not taken.” Miller looks at the sense of loss that can accrue as the potential transitions to the actual. 

He describes our unled lives as “part of this world as shadows are part of things…”    

By Andrew H. Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Not Being Someone Else as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A captivating book about the emotional and literary power of the lives we might have lived had our chances or choices been different.

We each live one life, formed by paths taken and untaken. Choosing a job, getting married, deciding on a place to live or whether to have children-every decision precludes another. But what if you'd gone the other way? It can be a seductive thought, even a haunting one.

Andrew H. Miller illuminates this theme of modern culture: the allure of the alternate self. From Robert Frost to Sharon Olds, Virginia Woolf to Ian McEwan, Jane Hirshfield to…


Book cover of Do One Thing Different: Ten Simple Ways to Change Your Life

Shelly Marshall Author Of Escaping Myself: Lee B's Biography, a true story of sobriety and his best tall tales

From my list on turning sobriety into a super power.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most drunks struggle to accept that they have a disease called “alcoholism” and feel shame, intertwined with fear, having to admit it. I, on the other hand, embraced it. Being alcoholic meant I wasn’t “crazy” after all like Grandma. At 21, I embraced the disease along with 12 Step recovery, thanking my lucky stars that there was something I could do about my chaotic hippied lifestyle. “Don’t pick up the first fix, pill, or drink and you can’t get drunk.” Could the solution be so simple? It is. From the moment I set down the drink and drugs, I knew I had to share this amazing revelation with others and my writing career began.

Shelly's book list on turning sobriety into a super power

Shelly Marshall Why did Shelly love this book?

Full disclosure, I know Bill Hanlon and we exchanged books at one of several speaking engagements together.

I cherish this book and have a signed copy featured in my collection. It is a simple straightforward ingenious way to disrupt destructive patterns in all relationships. And it works! Being in the mental health field, I would make this wonderful book mandatory for all counselors to read, if I had that power.

Full of examples on how to modify micro-behaviors, results could not be more life-changing. I found that I had the power to alter destructive patterns in my life by reacting differently in any given situation! Bill’s book explains how to do it.

By Bill O'hanlon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do One Thing Different as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"If you do one thing different, read this book! It is filled with practical, creative, effective, down-to-earth solutions to life's challenging problems."-Michele Weiner-Davis, author of Divorce Busting

The 20th anniversary edition of a self-help classic, updated with a new preface: Tapping into widespread popular interest in highly effective, short-term therapeutic approaches to personal problems, author Bill O'Hanlon offers 10 Solution Keys to help you free yourself from "analysis paralysis" and quickly get unstuck from aggravating problems.

Tired of feeling stuck all the time when you're trying to solve a problem or are facing conflict? Do you get easily flustered or…


Book cover of Hazel Hill Is Gonna Win This One

Erik Christopher Martin Author Of The Case of the French Fry Phantom: Dotty Morgan Supernatural Sleuth Book One

From my list on middle-grade featuring an LGBTQIA+ protagonist.

Why am I passionate about this?

The world is an amazing, diverse place that needs stories that represent everyone. I identify as gender fluid and am part of my city’s LGBTQIA+ community. For kids, there aren’t enough stories that feature non-straight cis protagonists where that identity isn’t the focus. LGBTQIA+ kids exist. They are normal. Let a gay kid go into space. Let a teenage lesbian solve a mystery. Let a trans girl defeat a dragon. Let an ace teen be a witch. Everybody deserves their adventure. 

Erik's book list on middle-grade featuring an LGBTQIA+ protagonist

Erik Christopher Martin Why did Erik love this book?

Hazel Hill thinks she’s the only girl in the 7th grade who likes girls that way, until Tyler tells her that Ella Quinn told him she likes Hazel.

But Ella Quinn is pretty and popular, and she’s Hazel’s biggest rival in the upcoming speech contest. They talk. Ella confesses she only told Tyler that to stop his sexual harassment. It turns out, Tyler has been harassing a lot of girls.

They tell the school, but the teachers won’t do anything about it, even blaming the girls and punishing them. It is not a coincidence that Tyler’s mom is the superintendent of schools. Determined not to let Tyler get away with it, Hazel comes up with a plan. 

By Maggie Horne,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hazel Hill Is Gonna Win This One as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Girls in Hazel's school are being harassed by an anonymous person online, someone who seems to know all about their insecurities and dreams. With no one willing to stand up and face the bully, how will Hazel be able to prove her suspicions?
Hazel Hill is Going to Win This One confronts bullying, both online and in person, to give children the power to stand up for themselves and speak out against harassment.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in life satisfaction, critical theory, and self-actualization?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about life satisfaction, critical theory, and self-actualization.

Life Satisfaction Explore 214 books about life satisfaction
Critical Theory Explore 20 books about critical theory
Self-Actualization Explore 211 books about self-actualization