100 books like The Oblivion Seekers

By Isabelle Eberhardt,

Here are 100 books that The Oblivion Seekers fans have personally recommended if you like The Oblivion Seekers. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Desert Solitaire

Maya Silver Author Of Moon Zion & Bryce: With Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante & Moab

From my list on featuring the American Southwest desert.

Who am I?

Even though I’m from humid DC, I’ve been drawn to the desert since I first set foot there as a kid on a family road trip. Now, I’m lucky enough to live in Utah, home to some of the world’s most legendary desert landscapes. One reason I love the desert is the otherworldly scenery: uncanny arches, bizarre hoodoos, and sand dunes you could disappear into. Before your eyes, layers of geologic time unfold in epochs. The desert is a great place for contemplating the past and future—and for great adventures, with endless sandstone walls to climb, slick rock to bike, and sagebrush-lined trails to hike.

Maya's book list on featuring the American Southwest desert

Maya Silver Why did Maya love this book?

The late Edward Abbey might be a controversial figure, but you can’t write about desert literature without mentioning this iconic book.

In this book, Abbey captures his experience as a winter caretaker of Arches National Park (before it was a national park and before the road in was paved). In 18 chapters that read like short stories, he chronicles long days on horseback, jaw-dropping tales of flash floods, journeys up remote canyons, and more adventures that do an uncanny job of conveying the spirit of the desert and what it was like to explore it mid-century.

Abbey’s writing is blunt, colorful, and engaging, and this book is a romp of a read. 

By Edward Abbey,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Desert Solitaire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'My favourite book about the wilderness' Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

In this shimmering masterpiece of American nature writing, Edward Abbey ventures alone into the canyonlands of Moab, Utah, to work as a seasonal ranger for the United States National Park Service.

Living out of a trailer, Abbey captures in rapt, poetic prose the landscape of the desert; a world of terracotta earth, empty skies, arching rock formations, cliffrose, juniper, pinyon pine and sand sage. His summers become spirit quests, taking him in search of wild horses and Ancient Puebloan petroglyphs, up mountains and across tribal lands, and down the…


Book cover of The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places

Nick Hunt Author Of Outlandish: Walking Europe’s Unlikely Landscapes

From my list on edeserts that capture their beauty and loneliness.

Who am I?

Nick Hunt is a walker and writer about the landscapes and cultures of Europe. He is the author of Walking the Woods and the Water, Where the Wild Winds Are (both finalists for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year), and a work of gonzo ornithology, The Parakeeting of London. His latest book, Outlandish, is an exploration of four of the continent’s strangest and most unlikely landscapes: arctic tundra in Scotland, primeval forest in Poland and Belarus, Europe’s only true desert in Spain, and the grassland steppes of Hungary.

Nick's book list on edeserts that capture their beauty and loneliness

Nick Hunt Why did Nick love this book?

Long fascinated by the accounts of travellers drawn to the world’s arid zones, as if by a strange magnetism, William Atkins immerses himself in deserts from Oman to Australia, Kazakhstan to the United States. The book is both a study of extreme environments and a deeply personal journey that often touches on the political: the Australian chapter becomes an excoriating attack on the British government’s use of the desert as a nuclear testing ground, which devastated Aboriginal communities. There are also some extremely funny parts, as when Atkins ends up in the debauchery of Nevada’s Burning Man festival, surely the most reluctant and awkward festival-goer who has ever graced its playa.

By William Atkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE STANFORD DOLMAN TRAVEL WRITING AWARD 2019

One third of the earth's land surface is desert, much of it desolate and inhospitable.

What is it about this harsh environment that has captivated humankind throughout history?

Travelling to five continents over three years, William Atkins discovers a realm that is as much internal as physical. From the contested borderlands of the USA to Australia's nuclear test zones, via Nevada's riotous Burning Man festival and the ancient monasteries of Egypt, he illuminates the people, history, nature and symbolism of these remarkable but often volatile places.


Book cover of Wind, Sand and Stars

Kelly Cordes Author Of The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre

From my list on belief and finding meaning from the meaningless.

Who am I?

Some thirty years ago, on a frozen waterfall near an old logging town in Montana, my life changed forever. A friend took me climbing. Almost instantly, upon leaving the ground, the mountains became my singular passion. I lived in run-down shacks and worked dead-end jobs, freeing myself to travel and to climb. Along the way I stumbled into an editorial job with the American Alpine Journal, where I worked for twelve years, deepening my knowledge of mountains, including the incomparable Cerro Torre. I know that climbing is overtly pointless. What we gain from it, however—what it demands and what we give in return—has immeasurable power.

Kelly's book list on belief and finding meaning from the meaningless

Kelly Cordes Why did Kelly love this book?

Saint-Exupery’s descriptions of what he sees and feels during enthralling activities amid stunning landscapes left me enchanted. The feelings he captures extend beyond the mere act of flying and into human relationships and our quest for meaning, written in beautiful, often philosophical prose. He approached flying as a metaphor for life and the human condition. Even if I will never fly, he made me care. 

By Antoine de Saint-Exupery,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Wind, Sand and Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The National Book Award-winning autobiographical book about the wonder of flying from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the beloved children's classic The Little Prince.

A National Geographic Top Ten Adventure Book of All Time

Recipient of the Grand Prix of the Académie Française, Wind, Sand and Stars captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying.

Translated by Lewis Galantière.

"There are certain rare individuals...who by the mere fact of their existence put…


Book cover of Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Ben Wiener Author Of Murder at First Principles

From my list on non-business reads that teach business strategy.

Who am I?

I am an experienced entrepreneur and venture capitalist and a voracious reader. My reading, particularly of non-business books, is motivated not just by a natural curiosity, but is also driven by a continuous search for metaphors and lessons from outside the traditional business genre that I can apply to situations and decisions in the business arena. My appreciation of the crossover benefit of non-business narratives to business contexts has motivated me to write my own Business Fiction works to “enlighten and entertain.” 

Ben's book list on non-business reads that teach business strategy

Ben Wiener Why did Ben love this book?

Yes, that T.E. Lawrence, of “Lawrence of Arabia” fame.

Turns out that not only was he an exquisite writer, but his account of his years as a British officer who self-embedded with Arab tribesmen during the First World War provides deep lessons for business success.

For starters, just because you’re highly intelligent and educated (Oxford, in his case), don’t assume you must agree with your superiors or yourself about the true motivations and interest of your customers, until you get to know them intimately.

Walk a mile in their shoes – or perhaps thousands of miles in their sandals – and then you might get insights about how to best work with them that might surprise you, and run counter to your prior presumptions.

By T. E. Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With an Introduction by Angus Calder.

As Angus Calder states in his introduction to this edition, 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom is one of the major statements about the fighting experience of the First World War'. Lawrence's younger brothers, Frank and Will, had been killed on the Western Front in 1915. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, written between 1919 and 1926, tells of the vastly different campaign against the Turks in the Middle East - one which encompasses gross acts of cruelty and revenge and ends in a welter of stink and corpses in the disgusting 'hospital' in Damascus.

Seven Pillars of…


Book cover of Sufi Institutions

Alexander Knysh Author Of Sufism: A New History of Islamic Mysticism

From my list on teaching you how to be a Sufi.

Who am I?

My exploration of Sufism began in the unlikely environment of the Soviet Union where Sufism was considered a relic of the past to be replaced by the atheist, world-asserting ideology. The fact that my Muslim academic advisor assigned this topic to me, an active customs officer, was nothing short of a miracle. It was the beginning of a chain of miracles that punctuated my teaching and research career in the USSR, UK, US, EU, and the post-Soviet republics of Eurasia, especially Tatarstan and Kazakhstan. Having observed Sufism in various shapes and forms for over thirty years, my knowledge of its precepts and rituals is of great help to me in everyday life.  

Alexander's book list on teaching you how to be a Sufi

Alexander Knysh Why did Alexander love this book?

Now that you know what Sufism is all about, it is time to find out what lies behind the romantic façade of Sufi love poetry, ecstatic outbursts, and exotic rituals. For this purpose, I cannot recommend a better guide than this collective monograph. Its authors explain the nuts and bolts of Sufi life past and present: how Sufis interact with the world that they are supposed to despise and reject, how they feed themselves and their families, how they create and sustain their fellowships and associations, how their shrines serve as centers of charity, education, and arbitration as well as objects of pilgrimages, both collective and individual. My greatest takeaway from this informative and richly illustrated volume is Sufism’s remarkable adaptability. It thrives in the countryside, urban spaces, and cyber environment, often against great odds. 

By Alexandre Papas (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume describes the social and practical aspects of Islamic mysticism (Sufism) across centuries and geographical regions. Its authors seek to transcend ethereal, essentialist and "spiritualizing" approaches to Sufism, on the one hand, and purely pragmatic and materialistic explanations of its origins and history, on the other. Covering five topics (Sufism's economy, social role of Sufis, Sufi spaces, politics, and organization), the volume shows that mystics have been active socio-religious agents who could skillfully adjust to the conditions of their time and place, while also managing to forge an alternative way of living, worshiping and thinking.

Basing themselves on the…


Book cover of Sufism: An Introduction to the Mystical Tradition of Islam

Juan R.I. Cole Author Of Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires

From my list on Islam and Islamic history.

Who am I?

My interest in Islam was kindled when I lived in Eritrea, East Africa as a teenager, and in my youth fell in love with the mystical Sufi tradition. I went on to live in the Muslim world for over a decade, making many dear friends whose kindness overwhelmed me. I studied the Qur’an in Cairo and exploring various corners of Muslim civilization, including in India. I have taught Islam and Middle East History for nearly 40 years at the University of Michigan and devoted myself to writing several books and many essays on Islam. For geopolitical reasons, the subject often gets a bad rap these days, but it is an impressive religion that produced a beautiful, intricate civilization. I hope you enjoy these books about it.

Juan's book list on Islam and Islamic history

Juan R.I. Cole Why did Juan love this book?

Ernst writes about the Muslim Sufi tradition for the general public with passion and verve, making sometimes complex ideas intimately accessible and conveying the excitement and passion of male and female Muslim seekers after union with their divine beloved. He covers Sufi forms of worship, the role of saints and intercession, and ecstatic poetry, dance, and song. It is a fascinating exploration of a widespread and essential Muslim spiritual tradition that contrasts with the sober, puritanical Salafi strain with which many readers may be more familiar.

By Carl W. Ernst,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The classic introduction to the philosophies, practices, and history of Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam

The Sufis are as diverse as the countries in which they've flourished—from Morocco to India to China—and as varied as their distinctive forms of art, music, poetry, and dance. They are said to represent the mystical heart of Islam, yet the term Sufism is notoriously difficult to define, as it means different things to different people both within and outside the tradition.
 
With that fact in mind, Carl Ernst explores the broadest range of Sufi philosophies and practices to provide one of the most…


Book cover of The Mysticism of Sound and Music: The Sufi Teaching of Hazrat Inayat Khan

Ib Vindbjerg Author Of The First Book I Wish I'd Had at Art College

From my list on creativity and consciousness.

Who am I?

Having graduated as a teacher before undertaking an art degree has made me think that art is not just the kind of stuff we encounter in galleries, but it is about creativity in a much broader sense. Two decades in art education and galleries across London have taught me that as creatives and teachers, we do not only teach others, but we all teach each other on our journeys through life. Creativity is intricately woven into the fabric of our lives and the list of books here are some of my favourite books on the subject.

Ib's book list on creativity and consciousness

Ib Vindbjerg Why did Ib love this book?

The first time I came across this book was in the late '90s in the National Gallery bookshop in London. I worked part-time at the gallery while studying for my art degree and had watched Bill Viola set up work for an exhibition there. The bookshop had dedicated a table with Viola's book recommendations, and Hazrat Inayat Khan's The Mysticism of Sound and Music was one of the titles put on display. My memory of the book is tied to the excitement of being an art student watching an inspiring artist at work. Yet, it is probably one of the most important books I have read that beautifully interweaves creativity, the web of life, music, and the spiritual, which are all themes close to my heart.  

By Hazrat Inayat Khan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first teacher to bring Islamic mysticism to the West presents music’s divine nature and its connection to our daily lives in this poetic classic of Sufi literature
 
Music, according to Sufi teaching, is really a small expression of the overwhelming and perfect harmony of the whole universe—and that is the secret of its amazing power to move us. The Indian Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882–1927), the first teacher to bring the Islamic mystical tradition to the West, was an accomplished musician himself. His lucid exposition of music's divine nature has become a modern classic, beloved not only by…


Book cover of The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism, Islam's Mystical Tradition

Mohammed Rustom Author Of The Essence of Reality: A Defense of Philosophical Sufism

From my list on Sufi philosophy.

Who am I?

I am a Professor of Islamic Thought and Global Philosophy at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Perpetually drawn to ideas and concepts that seek to explain the underlying nature of things, I predictably read and write books on such topics as consciousness, self-awareness, mysticism, God, philosophy of religion, metaphysical poetry, and virtue ethics. The titles listed here are in my own area of expertise (Sufi philosophy). Intellectually rigorous and spiritually informed, they each represent perfect points of entry into Sufism, which is an ocean without a shore.  

Mohammed's book list on Sufi philosophy

Mohammed Rustom Why did Mohammed love this book?

Written for contemporary audiences by a living Sufi philosopher and world-renowned authority of comparative philosophy and mysticism, The Garden of Truth is a must-read for anyone who wants to have an understanding of, awaken to, and joyously live in the present moment. Unlike any book I’ve seen in English, this work explains how the Sufi path of liberation is all about realizing that one can only return to the present moment by proceeding from where we are in the here-and-now. Once we get There, we realize that Here is Now, since Now was always Here.

By Seyyed Hossein Nasr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Sufism has made significant contributions to the spread of Islam and the development of various aspects of Islamic civilisation. Many conservative Muslims disagree with many popular Sufi practices, particularly saint worship, the visiting of tombs, and the incorporation of non-Islamic customs. Consequently, in recent centuries Sufism has been a target for Islamic reformist and modernist movements. Nasr is the preeminent Sufi scholar in the U.S., and in the tradition of Martin Buber's I and Thou, here provides the beliefs and vision of the mystical heart of Islam. A gentle anitdote to the extremist Muslim fundamentalists who capture the headlines and…


Book cover of Rumi: Poems

Sophy Burnham Author Of The Treasure of Montségur: A Novel of the Cathars

From my list on spiritual experiences.

Who am I?

What a question. I’ve been asking it all my life. Publicly, I am known for writing and workshops about the spiritual search, intuition, the still, small voice of God, angels, and miraculous time-warped synchronicities that seem directed to our benefit. I have written about my own mystical illuminations in A Book of Angels, The Ecstatic Journey, The Path of Prayer, in novels, plays, stories, and poetry. My work is translated into some 25 languages (most recently Chinese). But underneath I’m an ordinary flawed, failed human being, stumbling, searching for meaning, struggling toward God, and trying to be of some small service before I go back home.

Sophy's book list on spiritual experiences

Sophy Burnham Why did Sophy love this book?

I am not suggesting any particular book of the poems of this famous Persian poet and Sufi mystic. There are dozens of translations. Read any. His ecstatic poetry, as well as reflective musings all, lead to deepening love, the center and meaning of a spiritual experience.

By Jalal Al-Din Rumi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The poetry of the medieval Persian sage Rumi combines lyrical beauty with spiritual profundity, a sense of rapture, and acute awareness of human suffering in ways that speak directly to contemporary audiences.

Trained in Sufism—a mystic tradition within Islam—Rumi founded the Sufi order known to us as the Whirling Dervishes, who use dance and music as part of their spiritual devotion. Many of Rumi’s poems speak of a yearning for ecstatic union with the divine Beloved. But his images bring the sacred and the earthy together in startling ways, describing divine love in vividly human terms.

This volume draws on…


Book cover of William S. Burroughs vs. the Qur'an

Jon Crabb Author Of Graven Images: The Art of the Woodcut

From my list on for any uber-hip, hard to impress bookworms.

Who am I?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with cultural curiosities, extraordinary eccentrics, secret societies, decadent dandies, rebels, devils, and anything weird and wonderful. I parlayed a love of Word and Image into a career in the arts and worked for places including Tate, Thames & Hudson and the British Library. But to be honest with you, that was just a ruse so I could spend more time delving through interesting books and prints. Some people see the world a little differently; I think we all benefit by spending a bit of time in the company of their art. "It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through."

Jon's book list on for any uber-hip, hard to impress bookworms

Jon Crabb Why did Jon love this book?

How can you have a list of cult books without William Burroughs? I nearly put some Burroughs on this list, but as this is for hard-to-impress fans of cult books, you’ve probably already read him. I was also tempted to include Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zone, but again, you’ve probably already read him (or object to him on reputation alone). Michael Muhammad Knight takes on both these figures while attempting to write the Great American Queer Islamo-Futurist Novel. Contains hip-hop history, gay fiction, and sacrilege – what’s not to like? A blasphemous blend of autobiography and literary experimentation.

By Michael Muhammad Knight,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked William S. Burroughs vs. the Qur'an as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Michael Muhammad Knight sets out to write the definitive biography of his “Anarcho-Sufi” hero and mentor, writer Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey), he makes a startling discovery that changes everything. At the same time that he grows disillusioned with his idol, Knight finds that his own books have led to American Muslim youths making a countercultural idol of him, placing him on the same pedestal that he had given Wilson.

In an attempt to forge his own path, Knight pledges himself to an Iranian Sufi order that Wilson had almost joined, attempts to write the Great American Queer…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Sufism, Islam, and North Africa?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Sufism, Islam, and North Africa.

Sufism Explore 35 books about Sufism
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North Africa Explore 23 books about North Africa