100 books like The Man Who Lived Underground

By Richard Wright,

Here are 100 books that The Man Who Lived Underground fans have personally recommended if you like The Man Who Lived Underground. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Cooper's Creek: Tragedy and Adventure in the Australian Outback

Joshua Piven Author Of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Apocalypse

From my list on non-traditional stories about survival.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m often asked if my Worst-Case Scenario books are serious or humorous. And my answer is always the same: “Yes!” While inspired by pop culture and the survival situations we see again and again in movies and on TV, the information in my books is real. I spend a lot of time seeking out experts to interview—the people who actually have done this stuff—and then distilling their survival wisdom into the form you see in the books. As humans, we want to be prepared for life’s twists and turns. Even if it’s, you know, when the aliens arrive. I’ve been a survival writer and humorist for 25 years and I ain’t stopping now! 

Joshua's book list on non-traditional stories about survival

Joshua Piven Why did Joshua love this book?

Two decades ago, I was preparing for my first book promotion trip to Australia and New Zealand. I asked my (Aussie) publisher to recommend two books to learn more about Australia and its history.

The first was In A Sunburned Country, by Bill Bryson, which I had heard of. The second was Cooper’s Creek, which I hadn’t. It’s a stunning, scary, edge-of-your-seat short history about an expedition in 1860 that set out from Melbourne into the vast, empty, broiling interior of the country, with the mission to find a route to the lush northern coast. Needless to say, things didn’t go as planned.

The book is taken from first-hand accounts by the explorers, and is novel-like in its dramatic twists and turns. 

By Alan Moorehead,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cooper's Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1860, an expedition set out from Melbourne, Australia, into the interior of the country, with the mission to find a route to the northern coast. Headed by Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills, the party of adventurers, scientists, and camels set out into the outback hoping to find enough water and to keep adequate food stores for their trek into the bush. Almost one year later, Burke, Wills, and two others from their party, Gray and King, reached the northern shore but on their journey back, they were stranded at Cooper’s Creek where all but King perished. Cooper’s…


Book cover of Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Jim Landwehr Author Of Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir

From my list on the trials and joys of outdoor adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a lover of all things outdoors since I was a boy. After my father was killed at a young age, my brothers and I took his love for outdoor adventure and made it our own. Fully aware of all that can go wrong, my brothers and I went into our ventures with a keen sense of humor. Camping, fishing, and kayaking all come with their own challenges and requisite hilarious moments. It is these moments of adversity, and personal risk, that are sometimes lightened by a good dose of laughter and levity.

Jim's book list on the trials and joys of outdoor adventure

Jim Landwehr Why did Jim love this book?

This book takes the author on the ultimate high-altitude adventure, an attempt to summit the highest mountain on Earth.

It is a sobering account of the commercialization and false promises behind various mountaineering groups that pitch the summiting of the mountain to people rich enough to think they have the stamina to conquer it, but who really have no right being there in the first place.

Everest and the people who attempt to climb it have always intrigued me and this book was a stark reminder that it is a place to be revered and respected, or risk its wrath. 

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Into Thin Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The epic account of the storm on the summit of Mt. Everest that claimed five lives and left countless more—including Krakauer's—in guilt-ridden disarray. 

"A harrowing tale of the perils of high-altitude climbing, a story of bad luck and worse judgment and of heartbreaking heroism." —PEOPLE

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. 

By writing Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons…


Book cover of Berlin Noir: March Violets; The Pale Criminal; A German Requiem

Joshua Piven Author Of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Apocalypse

From my list on non-traditional stories about survival.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m often asked if my Worst-Case Scenario books are serious or humorous. And my answer is always the same: “Yes!” While inspired by pop culture and the survival situations we see again and again in movies and on TV, the information in my books is real. I spend a lot of time seeking out experts to interview—the people who actually have done this stuff—and then distilling their survival wisdom into the form you see in the books. As humans, we want to be prepared for life’s twists and turns. Even if it’s, you know, when the aliens arrive. I’ve been a survival writer and humorist for 25 years and I ain’t stopping now! 

Joshua's book list on non-traditional stories about survival

Joshua Piven Why did Joshua love this book?

This pick is probably the outlier of my list, and I’ll explain why. Berlin Noir is actually three books published as a compendium: March Violets, The Pale Criminal, and A German Requiem.

You can buy them individually, but I highly recommend you pick up the trilogy: spoiler alert, it’s 800 pages (with small print!) I’ve always been a fan of Kerr’s mind-bogglingly well-researched historical novels, and these three are, in my opinion, his best.

They are about a German detective, who is not a Nazi, attempting to survive and make a living just before, during, and just after WWII. Far, far more than a simple mystery (though the plot is fascinatingly complex, and elements and characters run through all three books, which is why I recommend the trilogy), the books are a treatise on good, evil, moral relativity, and survival under unimaginable circumstances in a country wracked by tyranny.…

By Philip Kerr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A combined edition of: March Violets, The Pale Criminal, A German Requiem, and Philip Kerr.


Book cover of The Tracker: The True Story of Tom Brown Jr.

Joshua Piven Author Of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Apocalypse

From my list on non-traditional stories about survival.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m often asked if my Worst-Case Scenario books are serious or humorous. And my answer is always the same: “Yes!” While inspired by pop culture and the survival situations we see again and again in movies and on TV, the information in my books is real. I spend a lot of time seeking out experts to interview—the people who actually have done this stuff—and then distilling their survival wisdom into the form you see in the books. As humans, we want to be prepared for life’s twists and turns. Even if it’s, you know, when the aliens arrive. I’ve been a survival writer and humorist for 25 years and I ain’t stopping now! 

Joshua's book list on non-traditional stories about survival

Joshua Piven Why did Joshua love this book?

Though long out of print, this book is still available in a 1980s paperback edition online.

Raised in the remote Pine Barrens of New Jersey, Brown became one of the world’s foremost wilderness experts, and rescued dozens of hikers lost or stranded in this vast East Coast wilderness. So far, so good. But Brown’s story is also about Native Americans and their lost way of life: he was trained as a youngster by Stalking Wolf, an Apache Indian who taught him how to live off the land and follow animal (and human) tracks invisible to others.

The book is about survival techniques, yes. But it’s also a meditation on a lost way of life, our relationship with the natural world, and the lessons that nature can teach us. 

By Tom Brown Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A true story of survival from one of America's most respected outdoorsman.

"The first track is the end of a string. At the far end, a being is moving; a mystery, dropping a hint about itself every so many feet, telling you more about itself until you can almost see it, even before you come to it. The mystery reveals itself slowly, track by track, giving its genealogy early to coax you in. Further on, it will tell you the intimate details of its life and work, until you know the maker of the track like a lifelong friend."

In…


Book cover of Chokehold: Policing Black Men

Clarence Taylor Author Of Fight the Power: African Americans and the Long History of Police Brutality in New York City

From my list on race and policing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Professor Emeritus of History at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  I grew up in Brooklyn, New York during the turbulent decades of the 1950s and 1960s where there were numerous social protest movements against the War in Vietnam, school segregation, and police brutality.  My books explore the men and women who battled institutional racism.

Clarence's book list on race and policing

Clarence Taylor Why did Clarence love this book?

Butler argues that the large increase of police assaults and killings of black men is not a breakdown in law enforcement or the activities of a few rogue cops. The system is doing what it has been designed to do. Police hurt black men, according to the author because “that is what they are paid to do.” Butler maintains that the Chokehold “is a way of understanding how American inequality is imposed.” It is a tool of oppression. One outcome of the Chokehold is mass incarceration. The construction of the thug is a means of justifying the Chokehold. Butler traces the “Ape” or “dehumanization” thesis.

The book contains loads of data showing how in city after city black people are disproportionately targeted by police officers. Programs such as Obama’s My Brothers’ Keeper ignores women and plays into perpetuating stereotypes of black men as the primary victims of racism.

By Paul Butler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finalist for the 2018 National Council on Crime & Delinquency's Media for a Just Society Awards

Nominated for the 49th NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Nonfiction)

A 2017 Washington Post Notable Book

A Kirkus Best Book of 2017

"Butler has hit his stride. This is a meditation, a sonnet, a legal brief, a poetry slam and a dissertation that represents the full bloom of his early thesis: The justice system does not work for blacks, particularly black men."
-The Washington Post

"The most readable and provocative account of the consequences of the war on drugs since Michelle Alexander's…


Book cover of I Am Not Sidney Poitier

Betsy Robinson Author Of The Last Will & Testament of Zelda McFigg

From my list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write to learn what I don’t know about myself and our purpose as flawed beings in this Alice-in-Wonderland world. In the documentary about singer/poet Leonard Cohen, creator of the much-covered “Hallelujah” (title of the documentary), to explain the song, he says that life is so impenetrable that the only options are to shake your fist or exclaim “Hallelujah.” I think there is a third option: to laugh. And I prefer to do all three because that is what comes through me: confusion, pain, and hilarity. And hopefully a better understanding of the whole mess once I’ve written about it. And that is what I hope to share with readers.

Betsy's book list on laughing while squirming with new self-awareness

Betsy Robinson Why did Betsy love this book?

I’ve read this book twice and probably will read it a few more times before I die. It’s that good.

The story of a young Black man (named Not Sidney Poitier) traversing the U.S.A. is a picaresque, hilarious, heart-breaking tale about trying to find yourself.

Eighteen-year-old Not Sidney is surrounded by people who only see his race or his wealth, or conversely by geniuses who have succeeded despite themselves and, although they see Not Sidney without the cultural labels, are of little help in his quest to find his mission in life. 

The first time I read this book, I was spitting coffee laughing. The second time, my heart broke. I am curious what my next read will evoke.

By Percival L. Everett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Am Not Sidney Poitier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Not Sidney Poitier is an amiable young man in an absurd country. The sudden death of his mother orphans him at age eleven, leaving him with an unfortunate name, an uncanny resemblance to the famous actor and, perhaps more fortunate, a staggering number of shares in the Turner Broadcasting Corporation. Percival Everett's hilarious new novel follows Not Sidney's tumultuous life, as the social hierarchy scrambles to balance his skin color with his fabulous wealth.


Book cover of A Lesson Before Dying

Karen Conti Author Of Killing Time with John Wayne Gacy: Defending America's Most Evil Serial Killer on Death Row

From my list on books for law lovers, fairness fighters, and true crime connoisseurs.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I read and watched everything about the Jack the Rippers, Black Dahlias, and Ted Bundys of the world. I think humans are fascinated by these killers, the worst of the worst, in the same way we are drawn to the best of the best. We want to know what makes them tick. One of the reasons I became a lawyer is at a young age I wanted to be a part of making sure justice is done—for everyone, regardless of their societal status. An empathetic person, I wanted to help others, even those who made horrific life choices. The law, true crime, and fighting for fairness are my passions!

Karen's book list on books for law lovers, fairness fighters, and true crime connoisseurs

Karen Conti Why did Karen love this book?

I love the heart-breaking power of this story about a falsely accused Black man on death row in the racist 1940s South. A college-educated teacher visits him in prison and gives him some dignity before his execution happens, and in so doing, gives meaning to himself and his community.

The unfairness of what went on in this country on a daily basis with our criminal justice system is shameful. But this book compels us to rise above it and create meaning and hope.

The conversations are real and raw, and I cried real tears at the end. This book made me think, feel, and care about justice being done.  

By Ernest J. Gaines,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • A deep and compassionate novel about a young man who returns to 1940s Cajun country to visit a Black youth on death row for a crime he didn't commit. Together they come to understand the heroism of resisting.

"An instant classic." —Chicago Tribune

A “majestic, moving novel...an instant classic, a book that will be read, discussed and taught beyond the rest of our lives" (Chicago Tribune), from the critically acclaimed author of A Gathering of Old Men and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

"A Lesson Before Dying reconfirms Ernest J. Gaines's position…


Book cover of Native Son

Kia Corthron Author Of The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter

From my list on the intersection of race, class, and justice in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up as an African American in the Maryland Appalachian valley, a town that was ninety-five percent white. My father worked for the paper mill and would bring home reams of paper, pens, pencils. I began playing with the stuff—making up stories and stapling them into books, the raw beginnings of a future novelist. Separately, I created dialogue, using clothespins as people: a burgeoning playwright. (We were not destitute—my sister and I had toys! But those makeshift playthings worked best for my purposes.) So, given my working-class racial minority origins, it was rather inevitable that I would be drawn to stories addressing class and race. 

Kia's book list on the intersection of race, class, and justice in America

Kia Corthron Why did Kia love this book?

Unless your first reading has been spoiled by a movie or CliffsNotes, I don’t believe you can fail to be stunned by Wright’s 1940 eons-ahead-of-its-time pièce de résistance. While much has been written addressing racial bias in the courtroom (that is, if the defendant survives the initial encounter with police), the author took the outlandish step of providing head-spinning complexity: presenting a culpable protagonist, albeit one whose crime against an affluent young white woman came about unwittingly, having everything to do with his knowledge that he, a Black man, would invariably be perceived as guilty. Wright never lets us off the hook, forcing readers of all hues to consider the entanglements of race, class, and jurisprudence, beginning the day those of us who are not white and/or privileged are born.

By Richard Wright,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Reissued to mark the 80th anniversary of Native Son's publication - discover Richard Wright's brutal and gripping masterpiece this black history month.

'[Native Son] possesses an artistry, penetration of thought, and sheer emotional power that places it into the front rank of American fiction' Ralph Ellison

Reckless, angry and adrift, Bigger Thomas has grown up trapped in a life of poverty in the slums of Chicago. But a job with the affluent Dalton family provides the setting for a catastrophic collision between his world and theirs. Hunted by citizen and police alike, and baited by prejudiced officials, Bigger finds himself…


Book cover of The Third Life of Grange Copeland

Lillah Lawson Author Of Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree

From my list on Southern Gothic with a heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of three novels (with two more set to release next year); Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree; The Dead Rockstar Trilogy; and I'm happiest when straddling literary genres. I have published works of historical fiction, as well as southern gothic, horror, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, and literary fiction. My debut, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree was nominated for Georgia Author of the Year in 2020. In addition to writing, I am a genealogist and recently went back to school to obtain my history degree. My love of writing, history, and family all intersect to inform my writing and I always set my characters in good old Georgia.

Lillah's book list on Southern Gothic with a heart

Lillah Lawson Why did Lillah love this book?

Alice Walker is one of my all-time favorite authors and inspirations, and not just because she’s from Georgia, like me. The Third Life of Grange Copeland is my favorite novel of hers; in it, she captures beautifully the fraught relationship between a hardened old man and his granddaughter, who he is determined to do right by after a lifetime of doing wrong. It is a heartbreaking, stark, beautiful novel. 

By Alice Walker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Alice Walker's powerful first novel.

Alice Walker's first book recounts the lives of three generations growing up in Georgia, where the author herself grew up. Grange Copeland is a black tenant farmer who is forced to leave his land and family in search of a better future. He heads North but discovers that the racism and poverty he experienced in the South are, in fact, everywhere. When he returns to Georgia years later he finds that his son Brownfield has been imprisoned for the murder of his wife. But hope comes in the form of the third generation as the…


Book cover of Homie: Poems

Sidik Fofana Author Of Stories from the Tenants Downstairs

From my list on poetry collections with the best sense of voice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love hip hop. It’s basically poetry with a beat. I'm always thinking of literature in terms of rhythm and delivery. Creatively, my inspirations come from lyricists. I look at poets the same way. They accomplish wonderful feats with words. From years of listening to classic albums, I can feel the aliveness of a good verse. It’s also an element I try to tap into as a fiction writer. I'm a recipient of the 2023 Whiting Award and was also named an Emerging Writer Fellow at the Center for Fiction in 2018. My work has appeared in the Sewanee Review and Granta. He is the author of Stories from the Tenants Downstairs. 

Sidik's book list on poetry collections with the best sense of voice

Sidik Fofana Why did Sidik love this book?

It’s funny because he wanted to call it My Nigs, but didn't like the idea of white people saying, I loved your collection My Nigs!

That first poem “My President” just floored me with how he heralded all his friends by nominating them for office, like “the boys outside Walgreens selling candy/ for a possibly fictional basketball team” or the guy who hooks him up with a free slice of pizza as long as Danez gives him time to say salat.

There’s a poem about getting beat up, at once an act of violence and an act of care for while they're beating you up, they’re weirdly making sure they don’t kill you. 

By Danez Smith,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

FINALIST FOR THE 2020 NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR POETRY
FINALIST FOR THE 2021 NAACP IMAGE AWARD FOR POETRY

Danez Smith is our president

Homie is Danez Smith’s magnificent anthem about the saving grace of friendship. Rooted in the loss of one of Smith’s close friends, this book comes out of the search for joy and intimacy within a nation where both can seem scarce and getting scarcer. In poems of rare power and generosity, Smith acknowledges that in a country overrun by violence, xenophobia, and disparity, and in a body defined by race, queerness, and diagnosis, it can…


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