100 books like The Fifth Season

By N. K. Jemisin,

Here are 100 books that The Fifth Season fans have personally recommended if you like The Fifth Season. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ 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.

The Plague

By Albert Camus,

Book cover of The Plague

Alexander Fisher Author Of Delirium

From the list on where a catastrophe makes society fall apart.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by the strangeness of human character when tested to the limit by overwhelming catastrophe. I’ve always wanted to write a story that brings into stark relief the courage, fear, ambition, tragedy, absurdity, and the ecstatic. In other words, a disaster. And if character is destiny, then an apocalypse maybe the best way to show us who we really are and where we’re going. My debut novel, Delirium focuses on these extremes of character. And after writing it I reached one indelible conclusion: that the human being is the most disturbed creature, but also the most hopeful.

Alexander's book list on where a catastrophe makes society fall apart

Why did Alexander love this book?

Camus’ Stranger brought me to this book and I was once more pulled in by the same direct prose, the same detachment and the same philosophical inquisitiveness.

There’s a feeling that plagues are inevitable, that they will come no matter what we do, and that our efforts to stop them always degenerate into the absurd. But what struck me most was that this is not fatalism, because although the collective effort is largely useless, hope lies in the small acts of kindness between individuals.

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Plague as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Its relevance lashes you across the face.” —Stephen Metcalf, The Los Angeles Times • “A redemptive book, one that wills the reader to believe, even in a time of despair.” —Roger Lowenstein, The Washington Post 

A haunting tale of human resilience and hope in the face of unrelieved horror, Albert Camus' iconic novel about an epidemic ravaging the people of a North African coastal town is a classic of twentieth-century literature. 

The townspeople of Oran are in the grip of a deadly plague, which condemns its victims to a swift and horrifying death. Fear, isolation and claustrophobia follow as they…


By Marcia Bjornerud,

Book cover of Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World

Richard Fisher Author Of The Long View: Why We Need to Transform How the World Sees Time

From the list on to take a longer view of time.

Who am I?

Throughout my life, I have been fascinated by humanity’s place within deeper time. As a boy, I collected rocks and fossils, and at university studied geology. The long term has also been a theme running throughout my journalism career at New Scientist and the BBC, and it inspired my research during a recent fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. I believe we need to embrace a deeper view of time if we are to navigate through this century’s grand challenges – and if we can, there’s hope, agency, and possibility to be discovered along the way. 

Richard's book list on to take a longer view of time

Why did Richard love this book?

I’ve been fascinated by geology since I was a teenager: I had a collection of rocks and fossils in my bedroom, including trilobites, ammonites, and crystals of “blue john” from Derbyshire.

So Marcia Bjornerud’s book about her geological perspective on time really resonated with me. She blends scientific insight with personal stories wonderfully. On one page, she is writing about the mind-expanding timescales of deep time while on the next rooting those timescales in personal, human experience.

One particular story she tells about accidentally smashing an ancient crystal in a moment of rare avarice as a young woman stuck with me for months, and aptly captures the fragility of the Anthropocene period we live within.

And gosh, isn’t the title – “timefulness” – great? I wish I had invented myself!

By Marcia Bjornerud,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why an awareness of Earth's temporal rhythms is critical to our planetary survival

Few of us have any conception of the enormous timescales of our planet's long history, and this narrow perspective underlies many of the environmental problems we are creating. The lifespan of Earth can seem unfathomable compared to the brevity of human existence, but this view of time denies our deep roots in Earth's history-and the magnitude of our effects on the planet. Timefulness reveals how knowing the rhythms of Earth's deep past and conceiving of time as a geologist does can give us the perspective we need…


By Min Jin Lee,

Book cover of Pachinko

Betsy Woodman Author Of Jana Bibi's Excellent Fortunes

From the list on taking you all over the world in good company.

Who am I?

I’ve lived in small towns and capital cities and gone to school on four continents, so I love books in which the location is practically a character in the story. When moving, I struggle to put down roots and feel legitimate in my new home. Writing about old homes helps. While living in New England, I wrote my Jana Bibi trilogy, set in India. Now in New York state, I’m setting a new novel in my native New Hampshire. I’ve been a Jill of all Trades: teaching, software, editing, fact-checking, social science research, and, most happily, fiction-writing. I’m also an amateur musician and an avid foreign language buff.

Betsy's book list on taking you all over the world in good company

Why did Betsy love this book?

Wow! I felt intimately connected to the family depicted in this turbulent but big-hearted saga. I rooted for them at every turn, from their humble beginnings in Korea through their struggles as immigrants in Japan. The world changes dramatically from 1910 to 1989, but despite tragedy, they hold tight to their values of loyalty, hard work, independence, and honesty. Inspiring.

By Min Jin Lee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

* The million-copy bestseller*
* National Book Award finalist *
* One of the New York Times's 10 Best Books of 2017 *
* Selected for Emma Watson's Our Shared Shelf book club *

'This is a captivating book... Min Jin Lee's novel takes us through four generations and each character's search for identity and success. It's a powerful story about resilience and compassion' BARACK OBAMA.

Yeongdo, Korea 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja…


By Robert Macfarlane,

Book cover of Underland: A Deep Time Journey

Arefa Tehsin Author Of Iora and the Quest of Five

From the list on nature and forests that leave you bewitched.

Who am I?

I come from a family of some of the earliest big-game hunters turned conservationists of India and grew up treading jungles with my naturalist father. As a child, I was often found trying to catch a snake or spin a yarn or reading from the collection of wildlife and natural history books at home. Jungles were as much a part of growing up as was going to school, and I learnt precious life lessons from them. To pursue the cause of conservation, I’ve written several fiction and non-fiction books, as well as articles in national dailies/magazines on wildlife and nature, and I was appointed the Honorary Wildlife Warden of Udaipur, India.

Arefa's book list on nature and forests that leave you bewitched

Why did Arefa love this book?

When we talk about nature, we think of trees, lakes, rivers, oceans, mountains. But there is a parallel world that exists right beneath our feet! 

MacFarlane’s narration flows in a dreamlike prose and moves in gentle and deep shifts. The book that describes itself as “A book about burial and unburial and deep time” is one of the most mesmerising books on natural history that I have read. The prose is as transcendental as the subject matter. Formidably and masterfully told.

By Robert Macfarlane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Underland, Robert Macfarlane delivers an epic exploration of the Earth's underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself. Traveling through the dizzying expanse of geologic time-from prehistoric art in Norwegian sea caves, to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, to a deep-sunk "hiding place" where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come-Underland takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind.

Global in its geography and written with great lyricism, Underland speaks powerfully to our present…

Their Eyes Were Watching God

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Book cover of Their Eyes Were Watching God

Ginger Pinholster Author Of Snakes of St. Augustine

From the list on featuring Florida in a big way.

Who am I?

My second novel, Snakes of St. Augustine, describes an unconventional love story served up with a large side of Florida weirdness. My first novel, City in a Forest, received a Gold Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association in 2020. My short fiction and essays have appeared in Pangyrus, Eckerd Review, Northern Virginia Review, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. I earned my bachelor’s degree in English from Eckerd College and the M.F.A. in Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte. Currently, I’m a writer for a university in Daytona Beach, Florida. A resident of Ponce Inlet, I began volunteering with the Volusia-Flagler Sea Turtle Patrol in 2018.

Ginger's book list on featuring Florida in a big way

Why did Ginger love this book?

Anyone interested in literature featuring Florida must read Hurston’s enduring master work.

The novel describes Janie Crawford’s coming-of-age journey, especially in Eatonville, Florida, which became one of the nation’s first all-black cities, incorporated in 1887. Janie, a child of slavery and rape, flees an oppressive arranged marriage, and later, she survives abusive lovers. Originally published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God challenged gender stereotypes and presented a strong black female protagonist.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the novel is Hurston’s use of the Florida setting to both set the mood and drive plot choices. When protagonist Janie escapes violence, she flees the Panhandle for the more secluded, dense wilderness of Central Florida. There, complex waterways follow the characters’ various movements.

By Zora Neale Hurston,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked Their Eyes Were Watching God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cover design by Harlem renaissance artist Lois Mailou Jones

When Janie, at sixteen, is caught kissing shiftless Johnny Taylor, her grandmother swiftly marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. Janie endures two stifling marriages before meeting the man of her dreams, who offers not diamonds, but a packet of flowering seeds ...

'For me, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD is one of the very greatest American novels of the 20th century. It is so lyrical it should be sentimental; it is so passionate it should be overwrought, but it is instead a rigorous, convincing and dazzling piece…

The Road

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of The Road

Peter Kalu Author Of One Drop

From the list on bleak urban futures that give you a sense of hope.

Who am I?

I spent most of my childhood hiding under the table reading science fiction and fantasy books to avoid having to communicate with the weird people claiming to be my family up in the world above. After a while, the local library turned me away saying they had no more books left on those shelves, so I started writing my own. I like a mix of urban themes like in Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and dystopias like George Orwell’s 1984. That said, I love most futurist novels that have a love story at their centre, because despite everything I’m a romantic.

Peter's book list on bleak urban futures that give you a sense of hope

Why did Peter love this book?

This is a straight whisky of a dystopian novel. The prose is stark, all bones, no flesh, and the story fizzes along with a simple ‘journey’ plot. What you get along the way is skeletal poetry, honed so finely, so sparsely, so skillfully.

The prose is stripped of ornamentation, floridity, anything that detracts from the deep magnetism of this father and son’s quest through a dystopian wilderness. You end the novel breathless, praying this scenario never comes to pass, and in awe of McCarthy’s storytelling skills.

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

26 authors picked The Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • A searing, post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son's fight to survive, this "tale of survival and the miracle of goodness only adds to McCarthy's stature as a living master. It's gripping, frightening and, ultimately, beautiful" (San Francisco Chronicle).

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if…

The Uninhabitable Earth

By David Wallace-Wells,

Book cover of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

Lewis H. Ziska Author Of Greenhouse Planet: How Rising CO2 Changes Plants and Life as We Know It

From the list on climate and plants, from forests to farms.

Who am I?

I have always been fascinated with plants. Their shapes, their colors, their beauty, even the plants that are known to be harmful to humans (poison ivy, puncture vine) had appeal to me. Plants are, by far, the most prolific, the biggest, the oldest, the most complex of organisms. And yet, as a pre-med student, classes on botany were never recommended. Sad. These books delve into the complexity, the wonder of plants, and how they interact with humans. From the sheer poetic pronouncements of Michael Pollan to the straightforward prose of Richard Manning, here is a chance to see the breadth and depth; our rewards and struggles with the plant kingdom.  

Lewis' book list on climate and plants, from forests to farms

Why did Lewis love this book?

A well-written erudite work that explores all aspects of civilization relative to the degree and rate of global warming. It illustrates a broad and compelling narrative of all the plant aspects, from Hunger to Policy. It uses language that is incredibly descriptive, and very relatable to bring the impact of climate change home to readers who may be unfamiliar with all of the complexities of climate change.

By David Wallace-Wells,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Uninhabitable Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'An epoch-defining book' Matt Haig
'If you read just one work of non-fiction this year, it should probably be this' David Sexton, Evening Standard

Selected as a Book of the Year 2019 by the Sunday Times, Spectator and New Statesman
A Waterstones Paperback of the Year and shortlisted for the Foyles Book of the Year 2019
Longlisted for the PEN / E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

It is worse, much worse, than you think.

The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says…


By Frank Herbert,

Book cover of Dune

Kim Alexander Author Of The Sand Prince

From the list on fantasy that make you feel like you’ve been there.

Who am I?

I’m a writer of epic fantasy and paranormal romance, and my obsession is writing about the fashion, food, language, and social politics of the worlds I create. World building is vital if you intend to create a lived-in backdrop for your story, but intricate, elaborate world building will only take you so far. You (the author) must have a cast of characters equally well developed. I’ve tried to take lessons away from every book I’ve read and every author I’ve interviewed and worked to balance characters to fall in love with against places that feel absolutely alive. Their joy/terror/love/hate/experience becomes the readers. It’s that combination that makes a book unforgettable.

Kim's book list on fantasy that make you feel like you’ve been there

Why did Kim love this book?

Well, I suppose a few words have been devoted to Dune already, but I’m going to chime in!

I read Dune the first time as a teenager, and found some of it (Paul’s adventures, everything to do with Jessica) exciting and engrossing. On the other hand, some of it I couldn’t puzzle out—mostly politics. Now, that’s my favorite part! Honestly, I got my first and most vital lesson in world building from Dune, and it remains a huge influence on my writing.

What does it smell like, this new world? What happens if you get caught outside in a storm? What do your clothes look like and do they mark you as an outsider? What do you eat and when? And so on, ad infinitum. And I loved the quotes that open the chapters, so much that I created my own book-within-a-book just so I could similarly quote it.

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…

Wolf Hall

By Hilary Mantel,

Book cover of Wolf Hall

James B. Conroy Author Of The Devils Will Get No Rest: FDR, Churchill, and the Plan That Won the War

From the list on making history live and breathe.

Who am I?

History has enthralled me from a very young age, drawn as a child as I was to Vikings, cowboys and Indians, medieval knights, ancient conquerors, and mythological gods. After practicing law in Boston for 38 years, I retired to write history full time, not to string dates and facts together in a powder-dry mix but to try to breathe life into the vibrant men and women who enlivened their times and can shed a timeless light on the challenges of ours. Hard work though it is, I have never been so satisfied with life.

James' book list on making history live and breathe

Why did James love this book?

A longtime diet of tasty historical novels having left me entertained and lazy, my first look at volume one of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy on Thomas Cromwell, a blacksmith’s son who rose to precarious power as King Henry VIII’s ruthless fixer and lost his head for his trouble, was not a case of love at first sight.

It is not a passive read. For me, it took a second trip to Chapter One to discover that Wolf Hall is a work of art. Given the focus it deserves, it brings to vivid life a terrifying world of 16th-century intrigue and proto-totalitarianism, densely populated with scheming complex characters and treacherous maneuvers.

I found it artfully wrought, beautifully written, worthy of its Booker Prize, and brewed to be sipped, not gulped.

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Wolf Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Man Booker Prize Shortlisted for the the Orange Prize Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award

`Dizzyingly, dazzlingly good' Daily Mail

'Our most brilliant English writer' Guardian

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor.

Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with…

Book cover of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm Author Of The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences

From the list on to shatter the myth of modernity.

Who am I?

I am an award-winning historian and philosopher of the human sciences. But I got here by means of an unusually varied path: working for a private investigator, practicing in a Buddhist monastery, being shot at, hiking a volcano off the coast of Africa, being jumped by a gang in Amsterdam, snowboarding in the Pyrenees, piloting a boat down the canals of Bourgogne, playing bass guitar in a punk band, and once I almost died from scarlet fever. Throughout my journey, I have lived and studied in five countries, acquired ten languages, and attended renowned universities (Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford), all while seeking ways to make the world a better place.

Jason's book list on to shatter the myth of modernity

Why did Jason love this book?

I couldn't resist recommending one of my favorite novels.

The period following the French Revolution has often been described in terms of the birth of the modern nation-state and the globalization of the domination of nature, but Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, despite being a work of fiction, does a better job than many works of history in undermining these myths and portraying popular attitudes toward fairies and magic in the early 19th century.

When many people think of fairies, they imagine Tinker Bell and little winged creatures, but cutesy fairies were a Victorian invention, and Clarke preserves the ambiguities of early fairy lore. Magic, too, was understood by many of its practitioners as a practical craft, similar to how Clarke depicts it.

All that is to say, this novel explores fascinating themes and is also a cracking good read.

By Susanna Clarke,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two magicians shall appear in England. The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation's past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in psychokinesis, the apocalypse, and nonviolence?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about psychokinesis, the apocalypse, and nonviolence.

Psychokinesis Explore 13 books about psychokinesis
The Apocalypse Explore 71 books about the apocalypse
Nonviolence Explore 19 books about nonviolence