10 books like The Kite Runner

By Khaled Hosseini,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Kite Runner. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Les Miserables

By Victor Hugo, Lee Fahnestock (translator), Norman Macafee (translator)

Book cover of Les Miserables

I could relate to the convict who found the path toward redemption by helping other people. I believe that directing our thoughts and actions toward other people could be the only way to redeem ourselves from crimes we have committed and to attain forgiveness. The convict persists on this path despite being persecuted for crimes of his past. The minor characters are on this same path, which exemplifies the saying that love is not a feeling, it’s action.

Les Miserables

By Victor Hugo, Lee Fahnestock (translator), Norman Macafee (translator)

Why should I read it?

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


Crime and Punishment

By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (translator)

Book cover of Crime and Punishment

This nineteenth-century novel paved the way for the modern crime novel. While the plot revolves around a murder, the book also explores the psychological workings of a loner who’s a frustrated and opinionated young man with a Napoleon-like complex, and is undone by a clever police detective. The narrative can be overwritten at times and a slog to read through, but the story remains compelling and insightful after all these years.

Crime and Punishment

By Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Pevear (translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (translator)

Why should I read it?

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


The Mountains Sing

By Mai Phan Que Nguyen,

Book cover of The Mountains Sing

Although this book is non-fiction, it took me on an adventure through Vietnam, as I fell in love with their culture. This was the first book I’d read with a Vietnamese protagonist and one thing that made me fall in love with the story was the main character, Trần Diệu Lan’s, powerful narration. It inspired me to learn more about Vietnamese mythology and folklore. This is yet another book that has helped me during troubling times of COVID because of how the characters conquered adversity and tackled the struggles of being separated from family. I was able to relate it to my own situation as I was separated from my own family in Thailand. This book helped me regain hope that things would get better.

The Mountains Sing

By Mai Phan Que Nguyen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Years later in Ha Noi, her young granddaughter, Huong, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Viet Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyen Phan Que Mai's first novel in English.

Born a Crime

By Trevor Noah,

Book cover of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

I am a sucker for learning about other cultures and Trevor Noah did a brilliant job of infusing stark reality with humor. I believe he and I have that in common. I wish you could have seen my face when I was reading this book: my wide smile would change into echoing laughter, and just when I was on the verge of tears, Noah would make me smile again. When I was a young girl living in an orphanage in Somalia, we used to sing songs to wish for freedom for South Africa. I didn’t know the word apartheid then, but we knew that something was amiss in their country. Born a Crime is a brilliant book about a hard subject. I also love the audiobook—Trevor Noah and brings the story to life.

Born a Crime

By Trevor Noah,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE THURBER PRIZE

The compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his…


A Long Way Gone

By Ishmael Beah,

Book cover of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

This memoir captures the journey of child soldiers during the civil war in Sierra Leone, and shows how once-innocent children with ordinary lives became killing machines in the hands of a ruthless rebel leader. Beah doesn't shy away from the gruesomeness of civil war, but there is beauty in how he weaves this memoir that reads like a novel. Though I am not usually a fan of books with a lot of violence, I was drawn to this one and could not put it down. I believe history is best learned from those who have first-hand experience. This is a one-of-a-kind book and to Beah’s credit, well-written as well. 

A Long Way Gone

By Ishmael Beah,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked A Long Way Gone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this…

Atonement

By Ian McEwan,

Book cover of Atonement

Set in WW1 this novel stirred up many emotions and I even shed some tears. There is so much in this storyline that appeals to me, the futility of war, one’s ability to forgive, and how just one lie can change a person’s life forever. The first few chapters might seem a bit slow but life was at a slower pace before 1914 and this is where you become well-acquainted with the characters. The vivid portrayal of the chaos and trauma of war shows that the author really did his research. Long after I finished reading this book my mind went back to it, wondering how I would have reacted in the shoes of each person. 

Atonement

By Ian McEwan,

Why should I read it?

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


We Need New Names

By NoViolet Bulawayo,

Book cover of We Need New Names

Having lived in poverty and forced to grow up fast due to the hardship of life, what makes this book tragic is that when Darling the child protagonist arrives in the US, the land she dreamed of, she misses ‘home’ and her dreams don’t come true. Recommended for the author's narrative verve and its general overview of Zimbabwe through the lens of the less privileged. The lesson for me was that material comfort does not guarantee happiness. 

We Need New Names

By NoViolet Bulawayo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked We Need New Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Sewing Circles of Herat

By Christina Lamb,

Book cover of The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan

The three Pashtun virtues are hospitality, honor, and revenge. Pashtun hospitality epitomizes human warmth and generosity but Pashtun honor and revenge make a chilling and toxic cocktail. Christina Lamb gives a human face to the destruction wrought by the then unknown ultraconservative political and religious faction led by the one-eyed cleric, Mohammad Omar. Lamb was there before and after the tragedy. A great read. Will history repeat itself?

The Sewing Circles of Herat

By Christina Lamb,

Why should I read it?

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


The Bookseller of Kabul

By Åsne Seierstad,

Book cover of The Bookseller of Kabul

The widows of Kabul called my wife “Frishta” (Angel). Janna loved working with them and she loves this book. Åsne Seierstad writes about the experiences of Afghan women and their prospects, marriages, hopes, and fears. Seierstad lived with a family dominated by a patriarch who loved books; for which the Taliban, also had a—literally—burning passion.

The Bookseller of Kabul

By Åsne Seierstad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller. The Bookseller of Kabul is startling in its intimacy and its details - a revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.

Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Book cover of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

Taking the story from the endgame of the Cold War to the dawn of the War on Terror is this extraordinary book on the rise of Islamist terrorism and the CIA’s efforts to defeat it prior to 9/11. Coll’s research, based on interviews with a vast range of senior officials, is dazzling, yet it never overwhelms a narrative that combines human interest and geopolitical sweep seamlessly. No less impressive is his accomplishment in documenting not just the U.S. and Afghan perspectives but the Saudi and Pakistani as well, all in the same painstaking detail. If this whets the appetite for more of the same, Coll’s Directorate S resumes his account of the intelligence wars in Afghanistan, providing necessary background to understanding the failure of the U.S. occupation there.

Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize

The explosive, New York Times bestselling first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan

Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll has spent years reporting from the Middle East, accessed previously classified government files and interviewed senior US officials and foreign spymasters. Here he gives the full inside story of the CIA's covert funding of an Islamic jihad against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, explores how this sowed the seeds of bn Laden's rise, traces how he built his global network and brings to life the dramatic battles within the US government over national security. Above all, he…


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