100 books like The Gift

By Marcel Mauss, W.D. Halls (translator),

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

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Book cover of The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time

Vinícius Guilherme Rodrigues Vieira Author Of Shaping Nations and Markets: Identity Capital, Trade, and the Populist Rage

From my list on understanding the transformation of capitalism and globalisation.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since 2008, I have conducted research on themes related to International Political Economy. I am currently the co-chair of the research committee on this topic at the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and am passionate about making sense of the interplay between material and symbolic factors that shape capitalism and globalisation. Being based in Brazil, I was stuck when the country—which did not have salient identity cleavages in politics—came to be, after 2008, a hotspot of religious-based right-wing populism associated with the defence of trade liberalisation as globalisation started to face meaningful backlash from White-majority constituencies who are relatively losers of the post-Cold War order in the advanced industrialised democracies.

Vinícius' book list on understanding the transformation of capitalism and globalisation

Vinícius Guilherme Rodrigues Vieira Why did Vinícius love this book?

As post-Cold War globalisation seems to face its fate, I always go back to this book as it offers lessons on the perils of taking for granted economic rationality. The 19th-century liberal order crumbled, and fascism emerged as a solution. In the same vein, is far-right populism a reaction against the consequences of neoliberalism?

Although he does not bring to the centre stage the impact of ethnic-religious cleavages, such a shortcoming only made me wonder whether his riveting account of modernity applies nowadays.

By Karl Polanyi,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Great Transformation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic work of economic history and social theory, Karl Polanyi analyzes the economic and social changes brought about by the "great transformation" of the Industrial Revolution. His analysis explains not only the deficiencies of the self-regulating market, but the potentially dire social consequences of untempered market capitalism. New introductory material reveals the renewed importance of Polanyi's seminal analysis in an era of globalization and free trade.

Book cover of Finn Family Moomintroll

A. Remlov Author Of Bones of Skull Island

From my list on fill your world with wonder and transformation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I enjoy thrillers of all kinds. Creating a good thriller for a middle-grade or young-adult audience is challenging and fun. These stories offer opportunities for unexpected situations, making for an action-packed page-turner full of twists and turns. Creating characters that are full of surprises and promise, with obstacles that unleash mayhem–whether in dreams or reality–the task is to create wonder for the reader. There is plenty to amaze and ways to fill a mind with wonder. Plus, every good narrative includes some educational aspects–about extraordinary things–all of which serve to change the lives or expand the horizons of everyone involved. Here are several stories that did that for me. 

A.'s book list on fill your world with wonder and transformation

A. Remlov Why did A. love this book?

The instant I saw the marvelous illustrations of plump little hippo-trolls floating on clouds, I was captivated by their fun-loving world of wonder-full adventures.

This book is about moments of discovery that add richness to our lives–like when Moomintroll ventures to the top of a mountain with his friend, Snufkin, and they discover a hat–the “Hobgoblin’s hat”–which supposedly has magical powers. Or when the Hattifatteners, ghost entities, steal Hemulen’s barometer. Or when everything the moomintrolls need can be found in moominmamma’s purse.

Well, you can imagine the sort of fun and childish interplay of these curious characters as they make enchanting discoveries full of awe and whimsey while spreading kindness and fun-folly in and around Moomintroll Valley. 

By Tove Jansson, Elizabeth Portch (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Finn Family Moomintroll as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Special Collectors' Hardback Editions Lovingly Restored to Original Designs

'I love these editions-so beautifully produced, so solid and permanent, just as Tove Jansson deserved.' Philip Pullman

A beautiful collectors' edition of this classic Moomin story, using original 50s and 60s cover artwork, a fold out map and gorgeous endpapers

In case you didn't know, the Moomins are kind, loyal and welcoming creatures with smooth round snouts, who live in a tall blue house shaped like an old stove in a valley in the forests of Finland. They love sunshine and sleep right through the winter, when the snow turns their…

Book cover of The Odyssey

Philippa M. Steele Author Of Exploring Writing Systems and Practices in the Bronze Age Aegean

From my list on highlighting the fragility of human culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor at Cambridge University, and following years of training in ancient languages and linguistics, I am currently running a research project on the visual aspects of writing systems. Recently, I’ve become passionate about using research on ancient languages and writing to try to help communities today who are in danger of losing their linguistic traditions (I've started an Endangered Writing Network)–which is why the fragility of human culture is high on my agenda. Ultimately, I’d like the world to be a better place for my baby son to grow up in, and I hope to use my academic work to help people in some small way.

Philippa's book list on highlighting the fragility of human culture

Philippa M. Steele Why did Philippa love this book?

This story has always struck me as a quest to identify and regain humanity, as its hero repeatedly faces strange and powerful obstacles to his voyage home. I first read it as a child and then again, but in Greek, as a student—a time in life when anyone is trying to find their feet as a human being!

Perhaps the most comforting thing is that amongst all the gods and monsters and cursing and fighting, eating habits often characterize the work’s characters. Odysseus is always looking for sitophagoi, bread eaters, i.e. civilized people who make their own food, rather than man-eating monsters. I can identify with a hero looking for nice people to share a nice meal with.

By Homer, Emily Wilson (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first great adventure story in the Western canon, The Odyssey is a poem about violence and the aftermath of war; about wealth, poverty and power; about marriage, family and identity; and about travellers, hospitality and the changing meanings of home in a strange world.

This vivid new translation-the first by a woman-matches the number of lines in the Greek original, striding at Homer's sprightly pace. Emily Wilson employs elemental, resonant language and an iambic pentameter to produce a translation with an enchanting "rhythm and rumble" that avoids proclaiming its own grandeur. An engrossing tale told in a compelling new…

Book cover of The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You

Danny Ramadan Author Of Crooked Teeth: A Queer Syrian Refugee Memoir

From my list on memoirs written refugees and immigrants.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have gone through the refugee experience, and it has shaped me. I grew up queer in Syria, became a man in Egypt, a refugee in Lebanon, then an author in Canada. At the expense of romanticizing something so deeply painful, I do believe that the experience has made me a better man. It matured me, offered me a deep connection with others within my community, and built an unmatched appreciation of my culture of home back in Syria and my culture of diaspora here in Canada. As a fiction writer, I am obsessed with writing queer stories about immigration. 

Danny's book list on memoirs written refugees and immigrants

Danny Ramadan Why did Danny love this book?

I only knew of this book because my British publisher introduced me to it. For that, I’m truly thankful. The book feels honest and unflinching and makes for a great read for both myself as an immigrant as well as for those navigating a world where immigration is a constant daily reality.

I read it over a weekend in 2020 and have read it once more in 2022. I had to return to it, especially when I was faced with microaggressions or felt unheard in my new home in Canada. 

By Dina Nayeri,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What is it like to be a refugee? It is a question many of us do not give much thought, and yet there are more than 25 million refugees in the world. To be a refugee is to grapple with your place in society, attempting to reconcile the life you have known with a new, unfamiliar home. All this while bearing the burden of gratitude in your host nation: the expectation that you should be forever thankful for the space you have been allowed.

Aged eight, Dina Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother, and lived in the…

Book cover of Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers

Will Buckingham Author Of Hello, Stranger: How We Find Connection in a Disconnected World

From my list on hospitality, and the art of dealing with strangers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer originally from the UK, but now usually found elsewhere in the world. Currently, I’m based in Sofia, Bulgaria. I have always been fascinated by the subtle art of connecting with strangers, and by the complex ways that human beings forge bonds with those they don’t know. I have an MA in anthropology and a PhD in philosophy. Hello, Stranger is my thirteenth book, and in August 2021 was selected by BBC Radio 4 to be the book of the week.

Will's book list on hospitality, and the art of dealing with strangers

Will Buckingham Why did Will love this book?

The idea of cosmopolitanism goes back to ancient Greece when the ancient philosopher Diogenes the Cynic claimed that his home—his city or his polis—was the cosmos as a whole.

In this humane, wise book, Appiah brings together philosophy, literature, and stories from his own life to update the ancient idea of cosmopolitanism, and to ask why it matters today. Along the way, he sets out a vision for how we can live better—more openly and more hospitably—in a world where almost everybody we meet is a stranger.

By Kwame Anthony Appiah,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drawing on a broad range of disciplines, including history, literature, and philosophy-as well as the author's own experience of life on three continents-Cosmopolitanism is a moral manifesto for a planet we share with more than six billion strangers.

Book cover of Debt: The First 5,000 Years

David Birch Author Of Money in the Metaverse: Digital Assets, Online Identities, Spatial Computing and Why Virtual Worlds Mean Real Business

From my list on the future of money.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a physicist by education and therefore fundamentally interested in how things work, my early career was spent in secure communications before moving into finance, specifically payments. I helped to found one of the leading consultancies in the field and worked globally for organizations ranging from Visa and AMEX to various governments and multiple Central Banks. I wrote, it turned out, one of the key books in the field, Identity Is The New Money (2014), and subsequently, Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin (2017), about the history and future of money. The Currency Cold War (2020) was a prescient implication of digital currencies, particularly CBDC.

David's book list on the future of money

David Birch Why did David love this book?

I see David Greaeber’s book as a landmark in the field. He completely changed my understanding of and views on money’s role in society and its evolution. I had the good fortune to meet David a few times (in fact, I made a podcast with him) and feel like I learned from every conversation.

Until I read David’s book, I had assumed that the Barter theory of money and the double coincidence of wants was the natural and unchallenged explanation for how money came to be and what roles it performed. David’s and subsequent authors' work has shown that this view is simplistic and outdated. 

By David Graeber,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The groundbreaking international best-seller that turns everything you think about money, debt, and society on its head—from the “brilliant, deeply original political thinker” David Graeber (Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me)
Before there was money, there was debt. For more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors—which lives on in full force to this day.


Book cover of Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist

Marco te Brömmelstroet Author Of Movement: how to take back our streets and transform our lives

From my list on how your language shapes the way you think (and act).

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor in Urban Mobility Futures and, as such, am fascinated by how we think about our mobility present and past and how this limits us in imagining different futures. The problems in our mobility system are so urgent and overwhelming that I like to actively search for alternative ways of seeing and acting and teach others to do the same. Personally, I love to experience the incredible freedom of mind that I find in doing this. Also, see the Shepherd list of recommendations by my co-author, Thalia Verkade.

Marco's book list on how your language shapes the way you think (and act)

Marco te Brömmelstroet Why did Marco love this book?

For me, this book offered a perfect link between understanding the fundamental thinking in the field of economics and the necessity of changing that. Western society and lifestyles are all based on the notions of economic growth, extraction of resources, and externalizing the costs to other places and generations. And we are so used to this underlying worldview that we tend to take all of this for granted.

I think that the big crises we are facing are rooted here. By revealing this, we can see the fence that is limiting our thinking. With the alternative logic of the Doughnut Economy, we suddenly have the potential to break through it. I love that it shows that we can all work towards a world in which everybody can thrive!

By Kate Raworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Financial Times "Best Book of 2017: Economics"

800-CEO-Read "Best Business Book of 2017: Current Events & Public Affairs"

Economics is the mother tongue of public policy. It dominates our decision-making for the future, guides multi-billion-dollar investments, and shapes our responses to climate change, inequality, and other environmental and social challenges that define our times.

Pity then, or more like disaster, that its fundamental ideas are centuries out of date yet are still taught in college courses worldwide and still used to address critical issues in government and business alike.

That's why it is time, says renegade economist Kate Raworth,…

Book cover of Stone Age Economics

Thomas Hylland Eriksen Author Of Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology

From my list on economic anthropology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an anthropologist and writer who has published more than fifty books, ranging from novels and essays to academic monographs and textbooks. I am passionate about trying to make the world a slightly better place, and I am convinced that we need to think differently about the good life and the economy in order to get out of the corner we’ve painted ourselves into. Economic anthropology offers alternative perspectives on the world and the human condition. It's far less obscure than it sounds.

Thomas' book list on economic anthropology

Thomas Hylland Eriksen Why did Thomas love this book?

Building on Mauss, Polanyi, and others, Sahlins described, in 1972, societies without money, without states or formal power, but which nevertheless did well. The most famous essay in the book is titled, appropriately, "The Original Affluent Society" and describes the lives of hunter and gatherers before they were overrun by farmers and armies. Very thought-provoking. Sometimes, less is more.

By Marshall Sahlins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since its first publication over forty years ago Marshall Sahlins's Stone Age Economics has established itself as a classic of modern anthropology and arguably one of the founding works of anthropological economics. Ambitiously tackling the nature of economic life and how to study it comparatively, Sahlins radically revises traditional views of the hunter-gatherer and so-called primitive societies, revealing them to be the original "affluent society."

Sahlins examines notions of production, distribution and exchange in early communities and examines the link between economics and cultural and social factors. A radical study of tribal economies, domestic production for livelihood, and of the…

Book cover of The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

Davis Baird Author Of Thing Knowledge: A Philosophy of Scientific Instruments

From my list on how the things in our world get made and work.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am not very good at making things. I am good enough to appreciate the craftsmanship of those much better than me. I am more of an ideas person, perhaps why I ended up with a PhD in Philosophy of Science. But I have always held a secret admiration—with a tinge of envy—for people who are makers. As I went deeper into my career as a philosopher of science, I became aware that the material/making aspect of science—and technology—was largely ignored by ideas-obsessed philosophers. So, this is where I focused my attention, and I’ve loved vicariously being able to be part of making the world.

Davis' book list on how the things in our world get made and work

Davis Baird Why did Davis love this book?

Initially, The Gift might seem an odd choice for this category. Hyde argues that art must be part of a gift economy, not simply commercially bought and sold, but also given and received. I had a chance encounter with Hyde’s father, who was appropriately proud of his son’s book, but he said that he thought the same analysis could be made about how science operates.

This idea changed my perspective on science and technology. When I began to look at science and technology this way, it made sense to me. Scientists will frequently trade what they have learned with each other, for example at conferences—they give their information away in exchange for prestige and for return gifts of information from other scientists. It is part of being a member of the science club.

By Lewis Hyde,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A manifesto of sorts for anyone who makes art [and] cares for it.” —Zadie Smith

“The best book I know of for talented but unacknowledged creators. . . . A masterpiece.” —Margaret Atwood

“No one who is invested in any kind of art . . . can read The Gift and remain unchanged.” —David Foster Wallace

By now a modern classic, The Gift is a brilliantly orchestrated defense of the value of creativity and of its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities. This book is even more necessary today than when it first appeared.…

Book cover of The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property

J. Baird Callicott Author Of American Indian Environmental Ethics: An Ojibwa Case Study

From my list on American Indian worldviews and ecological wisdom.

Why am I passionate about this?

After “the environmental crisis” came to popular attention in the 1960s, American Indians were portrayed as having a legacy of traditional environmental ethics. We wanted to know if this were true. But how to gain access to ideas of which there is no written record? Answer: analyze stories, which have a life of their own, handed down from one generation to the next going all the way back to a time before European contact, colonization, and cultural, as well as murderous, genocide. And the stories do reveal indigenous North American environmental ethics (plural). That’s what American Indian Environmental Ethics: An Ojibwa Case Study demonstrates.

J.'s book list on American Indian worldviews and ecological wisdom

J. Baird Callicott Why did J. love this book?

Before there was money, people bartered one kind of stuff they had in abundance for another kind that they needed (or wanted). That may be true, but little appreciated in our market-oriented Western worldview, there was once an even older gift economy.

The Gift, among other related topics, explores the gift economy, which characterized the lifeways of many American Indian peoples. Hyde provides the key to understanding many of the stories in our book.

Hunters are portrayed as “visiting” the lodges of beavers, moose, and bear. They come bearing gifts that only humans can create through artifice or cultivation: knives and tobacco, for example—things much prized by the animal recipients.

In turn—but not necessarily in return—the animals give the humans their flesh and fur. The bones are their somatic souls, which should not be broken, but returned to the element from which they came—earth or water—to be reclothed in flesh…

By Lewis Hyde,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discusses the argument that a work of art is essentially a gift and not a commodity.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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