100 books like The Matter of History

By Timothy J. Lecain,

Here are 100 books that The Matter of History fans have personally recommended if you like The Matter of History. 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 Circe

Judith Lindbergh Author Of Akmaral

From my list on historical fiction with eponymous titles.

Why am I passionate about this?

When we authors name our characters, we gift them with meaning—a single word that somehow encompasses everything they will experience on the page. The name of my heroine, Akmaral, hails from Kazakhstan and means “white deer.” It resounds with the sound of hooves on the ancient Central Asian steppes and the deep connection to the natural world of the nomadic people who once lived there. Names bear unconscious expectations—hopes for strength and wisdom, dreams of triumph, beauty, and love. I hope that someday, hearing “Akmaral” will bring to mind vast, windswept steppes and a strong woman on horseback, head held high, contemplating her journey from warrior to leader.

Judith's book list on historical fiction with eponymous titles

Judith Lindbergh Why did Judith love this book?

It doesn’t hurt to be a goddess—even a minor goddess—that is, unless you are condemned to live alone on an enchanted island for eternity. I love the magic and herbology woven into Circe's character. (I love anything that has to do with harnessing nature’s powerful, innate wisdom.)

Circe’s suffering at the hands of gods and men is as intense as if she were a human woman. Yet she is immortal. Is there no end to it? Thankfully, even a goddess can grow. 

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The international Number One bestseller from the author of The Song of Achilles, shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

Woman. Witch. Myth. Mortal. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Survivor. CIRCE.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child - not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens…


Book cover of James Baldwin: Collected Essays

Kara Cooney Author Of When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt

From my list on power and the powerless.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a specialist of ancient Egyptian social history, who against the better judgment of (practically all) her colleagues uses the ancient past to make the present understandable. If we don’t fetishize the ancient Egyptians as separate and magical, they have something to teach us, whispering to us from the past through papyri, temples, and archaeological sites. After all, Egyptian history is 3000 years plus in its time span, an astounding data set of a people using same approximate language, government system, religion, and culture. Some of us look hungrily to replicate that kind of lasting and divine power. I am obsessed with power—how it works, why we are helpless to it, and who gets exploited by it. The ancient Egyptian kings effectively packaged their power not only as necessary, but as moral and good, ancient marketing that continues to work on our minds.

Kara's book list on power and the powerless

Kara Cooney Why did Kara love this book?

I am recommending this book because one can’t understand power without being beholden to it systemically and repeatedly, all the while dissecting power’s discontents. Baldwin’s words may seem to strike only to America’s core, but every marginalized person will find truth in them. As an Egyptologist, I rely on Baldwin to tell me what oppressed people in an authoritarian regime thought but could not commit to paper.

By James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

James Baldwin was a uniquely prophetic voice in American letters. His brilliant and provocative essays made him the literary voice of the Civil Rights Era, and they continue to speak with powerful urgency to us today, whether in the swirling debate over the Black Lives Matter movement or in the words of Raoul Peck's documentary "I Am Not Your Negro." Edited by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the Library of America's Collected Essays is the most comprehensive gathering of Baldwin's nonfiction ever published.

With burning passion and jabbing, epigrammatic wit, Baldwin fearlessly articulated issues of race and democracy and American identity…


Book cover of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

Gregory Emilio Author Of Kitchen Apocrypha: Poems

From my list on books for gourmands with literary appetites.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twin passions in life have always been food and writing. While I chose poetry and creative writing as my primary fields of expertise, my ten-plus years of working in restaurants are just as important to who I am. I’m hungry for food writing that takes a more literary or creative approach. Cooking is a highly creative and meaningful act, and I love to see writing that aspires to do for the reader what the dedicated cook does for the eater: to nourish not only the body but the more metaphysical elements of our being, which is to say, our hearts, and maybe even our souls.  

Gregory's book list on books for gourmands with literary appetites

Gregory Emilio Why did Gregory love this book?

As a transplant to Atlanta from Los Angeles, I’ve been fascinated by the regional cuisines and culinary traditions of the south. But after being caught up in the romance of pimento cheese, mint juleps, and fried chicken, I knew there was so much more to the story that I was missing.

This book tells that untold story, showing us the immeasurable debt southern food owes to Africa and enslaved peoples brought to America. What I love about this book is not just the history being told but how Twitty tells it, combining a mix of genres, from narrative nonfiction to genealogical documentation, historical account to personal memoir.

Just as cooking is a highly creative act that fuses together diverse flavors and ingredients, writing about food needs to be equally creative and equally diverse.

By Michael W. Twitty,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Cooking Gene as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year | 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner inWriting | Nominee for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction | #75 on The Root100 2018

A renowned culinary historian offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry—both black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.

Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who "owns" it is one of the most provocative touch points in our…


Book cover of Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

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?

Why have so many schemes to improve the human condition not worked or even backfired? In this brilliant work, I learned how we need to simplify the world if we want to govern it.

In any domain for which we aim to develop policies, we are forced to define relevant indicators and create a carbon copy of reality full of arbitrary choices. I loved how Scott makes this visible with examples from forests to cities. And how these choices lead to a variety of unexpected consequences that often render interventions ineffective.

The book makes you see that the problem is not that the chosen simplifications are wrong, but that ANY simplification is wrong. The only meaningful forward is a return to embracing the full complexity of the world around us.

By James C. Scott,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Seeing Like a State as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the most profound and illuminating studies of this century to have been published in recent decades."-John Gray, New York Times Book Review

"A powerful, and in many insightful, explanation as to why grandiose programs of social reform, not to mention revolution, so often end in tragedy. . . . An important critique of visionary state planning."-Robert Heilbroner, Lingua Franca

Hailed as "a magisterial critique of top-down social planning" by the New York Times, this essential work analyzes disasters from Russia to Tanzania to uncover why states so often fail-sometimes catastrophically-in grand efforts to engineer their society or their…


Book cover of Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery

Paul J. Mills Author Of Science, Being, & Becoming: The Spiritual Lives of Scientists

From my list on bridging the science and spirituality gap.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started practicing meditation while I was in high school and within 2 months of starting I had a metaphysical experience. That experience led me to become a scientist, I wanted to learn ways to study the spiritual using the methodologies of science. I've had a successful career with over 400 scientific publications and have had my work featured in the media and presented at hundreds of conferences and workshops around the world, including at the United Nations. Many scientists today are working to bridge the so-called gap between science and spirit and the positive effects they are having on increasing our understanding of what it is to be human.

Paul's book list on bridging the science and spirituality gap

Paul J. Mills Why did Paul love this book?

For several decades Dr. Rupert Sheldrake has been prodding us to awaken beyond the limitations of western science as we know it.

Trained as a scientist at some of the world’s top institutions, he began to understand that science itself needed to be set free from its own dogma that has accumulated over the centuries. He shows the ways in which science is being constricted by its own assumptions that are not only limiting but dangerous for the future of humanity.

Should science be a belief system or simply a method of inquiry? In the skeptical spirit of true science, Dr. Sheldrake turns the 10 fundamental dogmas of materialism into exciting questions and shows how all of them open to startling new possibilities for discovery.

By Rupert Sheldrake,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Science Set Free as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home offers an intriguing new assessment of modern day science that will radically change the way we view what is possible.

In Science Set Free (originally published to acclaim in the UK as The Science Delusion), Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's most innovative scientists, shows the ways in which science is being constricted by assumptions that have, over the years, hardened into dogmas. Such dogmas are not only limiting, but dangerous for the future of humanity.
 
According to these principles, all of reality is material or…


Book cover of Hobbes and Bramhall on Liberty and Necessity

John T. Maier Author Of Options and Agency

From my list on defending the reality of free will.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a philosopher and psychotherapist, with a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Princeton. From the beginning of my work in philosophy, I have been interested in the nature of agency: what is it to be an agent, and how is agency even possible in the first place? These questions naturally drew me to the metaphysics of free will, as well as related topics in the logic and semantics of agentive modality (that is, the kind of possibility and necessity that is characteristic of agents). Much of my recent work has been on more clinical issues, especially on understanding addiction. I continue to be fascinated by fundamental topics in metaphysics, and especially the question of free will.

John's book list on defending the reality of free will

John T. Maier Why did John love this book?

This 17th-century debate remains both engaging and unresolved – testimony to the endurance of the free will problem.

Bramhall upholds a traditional view of free will, while Hobbes defends a more modern “materialist” view that is an ancestor to the views defended by List and Ismael above.

While many contemporary discussions of free will often focus on implications for moral responsibility, this debate is notable for the far broader range of considerations that the authors invoke, suggesting that the question of free will touches just about every aspect of our agency.

By Vere Chappell (editor), Thomas Hobbes, John Bramhall

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hobbes and Bramhall on Liberty and Necessity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do human beings ever act freely, and if so what does freedom mean? Is everything that happens antecedently caused, and if so how is freedom possible? Is it right, even for God, to punish people for things that they cannot help doing? This volume presents the famous seventeenth-century controversy in which Thomas Hobbes and John Bramhall debate these questions and others. The complete texts of their initial contributions to the debate are included, together with selections from their subsequent replies to one another and from other works of Hobbes, in a collection that offers an illuminating commentary on issues still…


Book cover of The Dream of the Earth

Brian Thomas Swimme Author Of Cosmogenesis: An Unveiling of the Expanding Universe

From my list on science books on the universe with a spiritual inclination.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I learned science's story of the universe–that it began as a primordial plasma that transformed itself into stars, galaxies and a living planet that then transmogrified into plants and animals and consciousness–when I learned the details of how the universe began as small as an acorn and then magically transformed that acorn of elementary particles into two trillion galaxies, I was beset with one, piercing, lifelong question: WHY ISN'T EVERYONE WAKING UP EACH MORNING STUNNED OUT OF THEIR MINDS? My entire professional life has been an effort to draw others into this amazement, into life as an ongoing celebration.

Brian's book list on science books on the universe with a spiritual inclination

Brian Thomas Swimme Why did Brian love this book?

Thomas Berry was a cultural historian who studied the cultures of Europe, China, America, India, and the Indigenous worlds with a single burning question in his mind: What is the role of humanity in the universe? Of course, this idea that humanity has a cosmic role is the opposite of the view promoted by modern science of an evolving universe that is going nowhere.

Given his professional background in the humanities, it is surprising that Berry names science as the primary revelation of the divine. He is committed to the idea that the sciences have discovered a common creation story, one that will play an important role for centuries to come. 

When I first met Thomas Berry and asked him about my personal role in the universe, he said simply, "Tell science's story of a developing universe; but tell it with a feeling for its music. That's what the spiritual…

By Thomas Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This landmark work, first published by Sierra Club Books in 1988, has established itself as a foundational volume in the ecological canon. In it, noted cultural historian Thomas Berry provides nothing less than a new intellectual-ethical framework for the human community by positing planetary well-being as the measure of all human activity.

Drawing on the wisdom of Western philosophy, Asian thought, and Native American traditions, as well as contemporary physics and evolutionary biology, Berry offers a new perspective that recasts our understanding of science, technology, politics, religion, ecology, and education. He shows us why it is important for us to…


Book cover of The Three Ecologies

Charlie Hertzog Young Author Of Spinning Out: Climate Change, Mental Health and Fighting for a Better Future

From my list on helping us make utopian dreams come true.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent my life obsessed with utopias, knowing from a young age that the human world is unnecessarily cruel. Utopias aren’t a delusion, nor a destination; they’re navigation tools. As an activist-researcher on climate, new economics, and mental health, I experiment with practical routes to radically better worlds. It’s a prefigurative stroke of luck that the pleasure and connection we long for are vital for creating radical change. I nearly died in 2019, after a suicide attempt tied to the dire state of the world. Rebuilding myself, including learning to walk after losing both of my legs, forced an epistemological and ontological reckoning. Now, I’m more realistically hopeful than ever.

Charlie's book list on helping us make utopian dreams come true

Charlie Hertzog Young Why did Charlie love this book?

I’ve been a climate activist for 15+ years and suffered major mental breakdowns as a result. This book has been liberatory.

The Three Ecologies practically explains the overlapping relationships between ecology, society, and the human mind and, written as it was in the ‘80s, Guattari’s proposed ‘ecosophy’ was alarmingly prescient, and practical. He simplifies the complexities of technological, social, and ecological devastation into action.

We’re not the isolated beings our culture says we are. Our minds are made up of and drastically impacted by our ecology and our society, and vice versa. Ecosophy is a practice, a different way of being in the world.

Coming to understand myself as physically and mentally embedded in the world gave me a sense of safety and strength. It gave me confidence in my own mind, a mind that had been pathologised for over a decade.

Guattari was a visionary ecologist, an incandescent critic…

By Felix Guattari, Ian Pindar (translator), Paul Sutton (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Extending the definition of ecology to encompass social relations and human subjectivity as well as environmental concerns, The Three Ecologies argues that the ecological crises that threaten our planet are the direct result of the expansion of a new form of capitalism and that a new ecosophical approach must be found which respects the differences between all living systems. A powerful critique of capitalism and a manifesto for a new way of thinking, the book is also an ideal introduction to the work of one of Europe's most radical thinkers. This edition includes a chronology of Guattari's life and work,…


Book cover of The Great Work: Our Way into the Future

Ursula Goodenough Author Of The Sacred Depths of Nature: How Life Has Emerged and Evolved

From my list on an ecospiritual orientation.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m working with others to develop what we call a religious naturalist orientation or an ecospiritual orientation, and these books have deeply guided my path and inspired the writing of my own book. 

Ursula's book list on an ecospiritual orientation

Ursula Goodenough Why did Ursula love this book?

Thomas Berry called himself a geologian, and wrote this book at the same time as Everybody’s Story, neither author aware of the other. An ordained Catholic priest, he later said that “the bible should be put on the shelf for 100 years” while we attend to planetary exigencies. Seminal quotes: “The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.” “The environmental crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis.”

By Thomas Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Thomas Berry is one of the most eminent cultural historians of our time. Here he presents the culmination of his ideas and urges us to move from being a disrupting force on the Earth to a benign presence. This transition is the Great Work -- the most necessary and most ennobling work we will ever undertake. Berry's message is not one of doom but of hope. He reminds society of its function, particularly the universities and other educational institutions whose role is to guide students into an appreciation rather than an exploitation of the world around them. Berry is the…


Book cover of Earth Emotions: New Words for a New World

Faye Miller Author Of Producing Shared Understanding for Digital and Social Innovation: Bridging Divides with Transdisciplinary Information Experience Concepts and Methods

From my list on social sustainability.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long been interested in understanding the role of knowledge in social-ecological systems. After experiencing and surviving a series of geological disasters in childhood, I began writing nonfiction and fiction about the importance of human relations and socio-cultural dimensions of sustainability. Since completing a PhD developing a knowledge ecosystems model for research innovation, I've published widely across areas such as knowledge management, information and computer sciences, higher education, and social policy. I'm a researcher in social technology, a qualified career development practitioner, and educator. I'm currently Director and Principal Consultant at Human Constellation. I've led and partnered on projects with many organizations including Reddit, Twitter, CSIRO, the Australian National University, and Harvard University. 

Faye's book list on social sustainability

Faye Miller Why did Faye love this book?

Earth Emotions is a landmark guide to new concepts and vocabulary to represent the complex new ‘eco-emotions’, a spectrum of positive and negative emotional responses caused by recent environmental and life changes. From a mental health perspective to social sustainability, this book is valuable for many people currently processing their eco-emotions. One lesson from my research journey is that emotion and shared empathy as forms of sustainability knowledge are underestimated in favor of more rational approaches, when affect and cognition are intrinsically linked. This book advances our understanding of holistic emotions as sustainable information. Having conducted research into knowledge ecosystems, I can relate to the proposed shift from the Human Age (anthropocene) of isolation and despair to a Symbiotic Age (symbiocene) defined by positive mutually beneficial relationships between different groups.

By Glenn A. Albrecht,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As climate change and development pressures overwhelm the environment, our emotional relationships with Earth are also in crisis. Pessimism and distress are overwhelming people the world over. In this maelstrom of emotion, solastalgia, the homesickness you have when you are still at home, has become, writes Glenn A. Albrecht, one of the defining emotions of the twenty-first century.

Earth Emotions examines our positive and negative Earth emotions. It explains the author's concept of solastalgia and other well-known eco-emotions such as biophilia and topophilia. Albrecht introduces us to the many new words needed to describe the full range of our emotional…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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