100 books like The Odyssey

By Homer, Emily Wilson (translator),

Here are 100 books that The Odyssey fans have personally recommended if you like The Odyssey. 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 Moby-Dick

Jonathan Howland Author Of Native Air

From my list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers).

Why am I passionate about this?

During a lonely stretch of primary school, I recall discussing my predicament with my mother. “You only need one friend,” she said by way of encouragement. Some part of me agreed. I’ve been fortunate to have had (and to have) several friends in my life, never more than a few at a time, more men than women, and each has prompted me to be and become more vital and spacious than I was prior to knowing them. The books I’m recommending—and the one I wrote—feature these types of catalyzing, life-changing relationships. Each involves some kind of adventure. Each evokes male friendship that is gravitational, not merely influential, but life-defining.

Jonathan's book list on books about men in love (who aren’t lovers)

Jonathan Howland Why did Jonathan love this book?

It centers on and celebrates becoming—molting from one skin to another. For Ishmael this is a transition from a tired and limiting worldview to something fresh and alive.

The “bosom buddies” at the heart of the novel, Ishmael and Queequeg, seem comprised of opposites, but Ishmael’s etherealizing is grounded by Queequeg’s pragmatic ingenuity in ways that quiet and expand the young pagan-Presbyterian’s buzzing, anxious mind. Theirs is a friendship of succor, probably sex, and survival—all of it shadowed by the delusional obsessions of their mad captain.

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked Moby-Dick as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Melville's tale of the whaling industry, and one captain's obsession with revenge against the Great White Whale that took his leg. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes a biography of Herman Melville and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom or at home to further engage the reader in the work at hand.

Book cover of Beowulf

Why am I passionate about this?

To experience another's thoughts and emotions, one first has to feel them. Eyes, lips, tongue, and teeth are involved before the brain/heart can engage. Translation of poetry is the same. My mother has sung Chinese poetry to me since forever, and English poetry came alive for me through verse speaking. I studied and taught as I wrote for many years. I cannot say I find my way into every poem I come across, but the poems I translate are ones I know and love. That is why I am passionate about translation. For me, it is not a secondary experience but a primary, primal performance art!

Susan's book list on translated books that capture the magic of the original, making what’s unfamiliar, foreign or ancient, accessible

Susan Wan Dolling Why did Susan love this book?

That I would love a poem written/translated by Seamus Heaney did not come as a surprise to me, but that it is Beowulf, a poem/story steeped in the Germanic warrior culture and soaked in blood that enthralled me, did surprise me.

I do not remember the occasion that prompted my reading, but even as I opened the book to its Introduction, and read “...And now this is ‘an inheritance’ --/Upright, rudimentary, unshiftably planked/ In the long ago, yet willable forward...Again and again and again,” I could not put it down.

In fact, you might say, it is not the story but the voice of the poet and how he brought this ancient language and people back to life that compelled me to read on. Of course, the voice is that of the poet of “Digging,” as he traces his roots back to these unlikely ancestors.

By Seamus Heaney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Composed towards the end of the first millennium, the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf is one of the great Northern epics and a classic of European literature. In his new translation, Seamus Heaney has produced a work which is both true, line by line, to the original poem, and an expression, in its language and music, of something fundamental to his own creative gift.

The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed, in that exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels between this story and the history of the…

Book cover of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Patrick G. Cox Author Of Captain James Heron First Into the Fray: Prequel to Harry Heron Into the Unknown of the Harry Heron Series

From my list on combining fantasy and social commentary.

Why am I passionate about this?

My great interests have been ships and space travel, and if one takes time to consider the similarities the parallels stand out. Ships, especially submarines, travel in a medium and through an environment that is hostile to human life. In space travel, the ‘ship’ becomes the only habitat in which we can survive for any extended period, leaving it without a space suit is a fatal move. I cannot claim to be an expert in closed environments, but it's a subject that has fascinated me throughout my life. Every ‘biosphere’ is unique and incredibly complex and depends on the symbiosis of an enormous number of living creatures right down to bacteria and even viruses. 

Patrick's book list on combining fantasy and social commentary

Patrick G. Cox Why did Patrick love this book?

This is the story that first got me interested in science fiction. Of course, we now recognise some of the flaws in the science, but consider that at the time of its writing steam propulsion was still in its infancy, most ships were still built of timber, and Verne envisaged a ship capable of indefinite travel beneath the ocean surface – something not even possible until the advent of nuclear power almost a century later. Even today Verne’s vision and the story he wove around it can inspire.

By Jules Verne,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 11, 12, 13, and 14.

What is this book about?

First serialized in a French magazine from 1869-1870, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is an incredible adventure story that popularized science fiction throughout the world.

Professor Aronnax, a marine biologist, joins harpoonist Ned Land in search of a mysterious sea creature in the open ocean, only to discover that the beast is actually a submarine piloted by the enigmatic Captain Nemo. They are taken captive, thus beginning a strange undersea voyage from Antarctic ice shelves to the subterranean city of Atlantis, hunting sharks along the way.

With its sprawling, exotic plot and vivid descriptions, Jules Verne's epic underwater adventure…

Book cover of Circe

Rachel Kousser Author Of Alexander at the End of the World: The Forgotten Final Years of Alexander the Great

From my list on ancient goddesses heroines from a woman’s viewpoint.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I was fascinated by Greek mythology. Through myth, I encountered many powerful female characters—Athena was my favorite—but I felt frustrated by how women’s lives were told in my books. My interest in Greek myth and curiosity about untold stories led me to become a Classics professor. I love teaching and writing about women in the ancient world, helping people to understand how they navigated their lives. Luckily for me, many recent books across various genres, from novels to translations to histories, have illuminated the lives of ancient women. There’s so much more to read than when I was growing up! 

Rachel's book list on ancient goddesses heroines from a woman’s viewpoint

Rachel Kousser Why did Rachel love this book?

This is my favorite retelling of Greek mythology from a woman’s (well, goddess’s) point of view. Margaret Miller uses her deep knowledge of the ancient texts—she trained as a classicist—to transform them, giving a big player from the Odyssey her own story and a compelling narrative voice.

The book excels at world-building, with striking descriptions that make its mythological universe a place you can see and touch. And Circe herself is both strange enough to be fascinating and yet powerfully empathetic. This is the book I was looking for as a teenager, but I only appreciated it fully in middle age.

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

38 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 The Lord of the Rings

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Author Of The Transformational Path: How Healing, Unlearning, and Tuning into Source Helped Me Manifest My Most Abundant Life

From my list on completely transforming your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve known I was “special” since I was a child. I saw, felt, and heard things that others did not. Eventually I embraced my clairaudient mediumship gifts and turned it into a thriving business, allowing me to live a life of purpose: helping others find their passions and live their most joyful lives. But the journey never ends; I am always on a mission to transform. Consistently, literature has been where I turn when I am seeking wisdom on becoming the best version of myself. I also pursued certification as a Book Therapist - the first thing I’ll recommend to friends, family, or clients is the best book for their dilemma!

Claudia's book list on completely transforming your life

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Why did Claudia love this book?

J.R.R. Tolkien's masterful storytelling is unmatched, and The Lord of the Rings weaves together moral dilemmas and profound philosophical ideas seamlessly, encouraging me to contemplate the nature of power, the importance of preserving the natural world, and the significance of individual choices.

The book's themes of heroism, friendship, sacrifice, and the struggle between good and evil resonate deeply. In addition, each of his characters feels like an aspect of oneself; the introspection it inspires is brilliant!

The Lord of the Rings instills a sense of wonder, ignites the imagination, and imparts timeless wisdom, which heavily transformed my perspective on life, my values, and my understanding of the human condition.

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

52 authors picked The Lord of the Rings 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?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…

Book cover of Beloved

Anna Noyes Author Of The Blue Maiden

From my list on gothic fiction imbued with atmosphere and dread.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a tiny peninsula in Downeast Maine, an evocative and rugged place, both lovely and haunting. As a girl, walking home late down gravel roads through an encompassing darkness I’ve found nowhere else, I sensed the world’s dangers long before I knew how to articulate them. Surrounded by woods, water, and unnerving quiet broken by the fox’s scream and rustling branches, I began to write. I sought out strange and unsettling books by Shirley Jackson and Stephen King (his home just a few towns away from mine) that left their mark. Storytelling became a way to process and explore what keeps me up at night. 

Anna's book list on gothic fiction imbued with atmosphere and dread

Anna Noyes Why did Anna love this book?

The language of Beloved is so lush, singular, and encompassing that it defies description. It must be experienced.

This book pulsates with troubled energy, possession, obsession, grief, rage, and life force. It is one of the most haunted – and haunting – novels I’ve ever read, an unflinching, deeply embodied account of slavery and its wake. The book feels like a living thing, alert and hungry. It contains the depths of our violence and sorrow, but also exaltation, healing, profound love and tenderness.

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…

Book cover of As I Lay Dying

Susan Scarf Merrell Author Of Shirley

From my list on that only get better with time.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer, a teacher of writers in the MFA program at Stony Brook Southampton, and one of the founding directors of the novel incubation program, BookEnds. In the course of a year, I read as many as 125 novels. It can be tiring on the eyes, but I really love what I do. And each year, I make sure to return to some of my old favorites, the books that keep giving back to me more and more with each reading. Some of these books were tough to love at first, but over time, they’ve become the most important, loved novels in my library. Not everything or everyone needs to be easy to love!

Susan's book list on that only get better with time

Susan Scarf Merrell Why did Susan love this book?

I always try to find reasons to read William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, the painfully sad story of a family hauling their mother’s body to her hometown in order to bury her. Addie Bundren’s life has been sad and dreary, but the path to her resting place is even more so, replete with flood and fire, as well as a post-death monologue that contains one of the most psychologically complete rationalizations in literary history. Every time I read this book, I understand each of the Bundren family members more deeply, and have greater sympathy for the yoke their circumstance has harnessed them to.

By William Faulkner,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked As I Lay Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The death and burial of Addie Bundren is told by members of her family, as they cart the coffin to Jefferson, Mississippi, to bury her among her people. And as the intense desires, fears and rivalries of the family are revealed in the vernacular of the Deep South, Faulkner presents a portrait of extraordinary power - as epic as the Old Testament, as American as Huckleberry Finn.

Book cover of Parting the Waters

Jim Carrier Author Of A Traveler’s Guide to the Civil Rights Movement

From my list on understanding the South’s Civil Rights Movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a journalist who learned his craft on the job in the tumultuous 1960s, I happened to find myself living in states where racial history was being written. Reporting that story required me to understand why discrimination, poverty, and violence remained so deeply rooted in modern America. I wrote Ten Ways to Fight Hate, I made a movie about civil rights martyrs, and, after seeing people from around the world making a pilgrimage to the sites of the civil rights struggle, published my guidebook. Over the course of a 50-year career, I have written a million words. I am proudest of those that tried to right wrongs, and sometimes did.

Jim's book list on understanding the South’s Civil Rights Movement

Jim Carrier Why did Jim love this book?

As I drove through the South researching my guidebook to civil rights sites, my back seat was filled with books. Atop the pile was Taylor Branch’s magisterial three-volume history – America in the King Years 1954-1968: Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, and At Canaan’s Edge.

Though encyclopedic, Branch’s story-telling is riveting—weaving together personalities, legalities, strategies, and geography in a way that made me feel as if I were there witnessing history as it was made. Taylor’s detail, reflecting a journalist’s quest for who, what, where, when, how, and why, showed me that these stories could best be told, understood, and felt where they happened.

By Taylor Branch,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Parting the Waters, the first volume of his essential America in the King Years series, Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor Branch gives a “compelling…masterfully told” (The Wall Street Journal) account of Martin Luther King’s early years and rise to greatness.

Hailed as the most masterful story ever told of the American Civil Rights Movement, Parting the Waters is destined to endure for generations.

Moving from the fiery political baptism of Martin Luther King, Jr., to the corridors of Camelot where the Kennedy brothers weighed demands for justice against the deceptions of J. Edgar Hoover, here is a vivid tapestry of…

Book cover of The Time Machine

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?

For me, this is the ultimate science fiction story: the Victorian inventor whose contraption works so well that he can travel to witness the end of human society. I first saw the film, with the wonderful Rod Taylor, then loved the book—what a story!

The Morlocks terrified me as a child, but as I grew older, I realized there is much more complexity to these apparent antagonists. Who should we sympathize with more, the Eloi who have forgotten all human knowledge and leave their books crumbling as they frolic mindlessly, with no sense of social responsibility, or the resourceful Morlocks who have no choice but to live their lives in the shadows?

The hero’s devastation is palpable when he learns where mankind’s journey ultimately leads.

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Time Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

A brilliant scientist constructs a machine, which, with the pull of a lever, propels him to the year AD 802,701.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition of The Time Machine features an introduction by Dr Mark Bould.

The Time Traveller finds himself in a verdant, seemingly idyllic landscape where he is greeted by the diminutive Eloi people. The Eloi are beautiful but weak and indolent, and the explorer is perplexed by…

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…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Odysseus, the Odyssey, and Homer?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Odysseus, the Odyssey, and Homer.

Odysseus Explore 26 books about Odysseus
The Odyssey Explore 36 books about the Odyssey
Homer Explore 28 books about Homer