100 books like The Perfect Storm

By Sebastian Junger,

Here are 100 books that The Perfect Storm fans have personally recommended if you like The Perfect Storm. 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 Endurance

Edward Benzel Author Of Today Was A Good Day: A Collection of Essays From The Heart Of A Neurosurgeon

From my list on awakening of the strengths that are hidden deep inside each of us.

Why am I passionate about this?

Coming from the perspective of a neurosurgeon, I have witnessed many successes and failures over more than four decades. I recognized decades ago that communication with patients at a level that involves emotions is a necessary part of being a complete physician. This involves being empathetic and, henceforth, digging deep to find the strength to be transparent, vulnerable, compassionate, understanding, and, when needed, forceful (some would call this paternalism). Although the five books I have chosen to highlight vary widely in content, they have one common theme – finding within us the will and wherewithal to succeed.

Edward's book list on awakening of the strengths that are hidden deep inside each of us

Edward Benzel Why did Edward love this book?

I loved this book because it told a gripping story of courage, mistakes, and survival against huge odds. It tells the story of a failed mission that most often would have led to disaster—but instead, it led to the awakening of strengths that Shackleton and his team harbored deep inside each of them.

Through this book, I saw and felt the need to reach deep inside to find the will to survive. It helped me understand just what it takes to be successful and how to overcome failure (failed mission).

Plain and simple, this book provided me with incredible insight into what it takes to ultimately be successful.

By Alfred Lansing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men. For ten months the ice-moored Endurance drifted northwest before it was finally crushed between two ice floes. With no options left, Shackleton and a skeleton crew attempted a near-impossible…


Book cover of In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

Tyler LeBlanc Author Of Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion

From my list on making you never want to step foot on a boat again.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the raging Atlantic ocean. Both of my grandfathers spent their lives at sea. The power, and fear, that the ocean inspires has been a constant in my life, and most recently while working on Acadian Driftwood. Spending years working on a story so closely tied to tragedy, and the sea, I’ve consumed a lot of nautical disaster stories. While not everything on the list is a disaster (Nansen got his ship stuck in the ice on purpose) each story will make you rethink whether you ever want to head out to sea.  

Tyler's book list on making you never want to step foot on a boat again

Tyler LeBlanc Why did Tyler love this book?

A small lifeboat is spotted off the coast of Chile in 1821, below the gunnels skeletal men cling to a pile of human bones. Nathaniel Philbrick opens his National Book Award-winning story with an almost incomprehensibly brutal scene and rarely takes a breath for the remaining 300-odd pages. Considered to be the inspiration for Herman Melville's Moby Dick, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex is the true story of a ship stove in by a whale in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and the harrowing survival of some of its crew. 

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked In the Heart of the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

The epic true-life story of one of the most notorious maritime disasters of the nineteenth century - and inspiration for `Moby-Dick' - reissued to accompany a major motion picture due for release in December 2015, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker and Cillian Murphy.

When the whaleship Essex set sail from Nantucket in 1819, the unthinkable happened. A mere speck in the vast Pacific ocean - and powerless against the forces of nature - Essex was rammed and sunk by an enraged sperm whale, and her twenty crewmen were forced to take to the open sea…


Book cover of The Drowned World

Nick Kolakowski Author Of Hell of a Mess

From my list on read during a fierce, possibly city-destroying storm.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a crime and horror author based in New York City. I’ve lived through a couple of direct hits from mega-storms and other natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, which plowed through my neighborhood in 2012. Those kinds of experiences leave a psychological mark I’ve tried to process through both fiction and non-fiction. This writing has also allowed me to explore how people and cities could potentially survive the calamities that await us, especially in coastal regions vulnerable to climate change.  

Nick's book list on read during a fierce, possibly city-destroying storm

Nick Kolakowski Why did Nick love this book?

There’s no storm in J.G. Ballard’s masterpiece of post-apocalyptic fiction, just the aftermath. This was another book that I read at a highly impressionable age and return to every so often, especially when I’m writing something disaster-related. It takes place in a London flooded by climate change: a science team is dispatched to the feverish swamp that was once a great city, where they’re confronted by pirates and other dangers.

It always blows my mind that Ballard wrote the book in 1962, well before the current debate over the climate. The thrilling set-pieces aside, it’s also a chilling reminder of how nature can still topple even the mightiest cities.

By J.G. Ballard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A debut novel, set in London in the near future. The capital city has been flooded and transformed into a tropical location where social aberrations only serve as an indicator of the level of corruption of the modern mentality.


Book cover of Shutter Island

Carole Johnstone Author Of The Blackhouse

From my list on eerie islands.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been drawn to islands ever since I was a child spending summer holidays ferry-hopping around the Inner Hebrides in Scotland. In 2017 I was lucky enough to be able to live for several months in a remote settlement called Cliff on the Atlantic coast of the Outer Hebrides. It was such a life-changing experience: the isolation, storms, abandoned villages, standing stones, and shipwreck memorials; the beauty and wonder and peace, but also the fear, how vulnerable living somewhere like that can make you feel. How vulnerable you are. My latest novel, The Blackhouse, is a gothic thriller inspired by all the wonderful and eerie islands that I have ever known or read about! 

Carole's book list on eerie islands

Carole Johnstone Why did Carole love this book?

Islands in fiction are often remote and isolated, their inhabitants cut off from any outside help and having to rely upon only themselves for survival or escape. A U.S. Marshal goes to an island to investigate the disappearance of a murderous patient from a hospital for the criminally insane, in another terrifyingly clever book chock full of twists and turns. I’m drawn to stories that are gothic and hugely atmospheric and mysterious, and this book has all of that and more. Lehane described it as “a hybrid of the works of the Brontë sisters and Invasion of the Body Snatchers,and I can’t think of a better way to describe it! I’m always trying to wrongfoot and surprise a reader with shock reveals that they hopefully don’t see coming – I definitely did not see the end of Shutter Island coming at all! 

By Dennis Lehane,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The basis for the blockbuster motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Shutter Island by New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane is a gripping and atmospheric psychological thriller where nothing is quite what it seems. The New York Times calls Shutter Island, “Startlingly original.” The Washington Post raves, “Brilliantly conceived and executed.” A masterwork of suspense and surprise from the author of Mystic River and Gone, Baby, Gone, Shutter Island carries the reader into a nightmare world of madness, mind control, and CIA Cold War paranoia andis unlike anything you’ve ever read before.


Book cover of Farthest North: The Epic Adventure of a Visionary Explorer

Tyler LeBlanc Author Of Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion

From my list on making you never want to step foot on a boat again.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the raging Atlantic ocean. Both of my grandfathers spent their lives at sea. The power, and fear, that the ocean inspires has been a constant in my life, and most recently while working on Acadian Driftwood. Spending years working on a story so closely tied to tragedy, and the sea, I’ve consumed a lot of nautical disaster stories. While not everything on the list is a disaster (Nansen got his ship stuck in the ice on purpose) each story will make you rethink whether you ever want to head out to sea.  

Tyler's book list on making you never want to step foot on a boat again

Tyler LeBlanc Why did Tyler love this book?

Years before Shackleton and his crew became locked in the ice in Antarctica, Fridtjof Nansen his crew, and more than one hundred dogs got their ship stuck at the opposite end of the earth. But they did it on purpose. Before the modern understanding of oceanic currents, Nansen proposed that if he let his ship become locked in the polar ice, he and his crew would drift, very slowly, all the way to the North Pole. Three years later he and one other emerged shipless, frozen, and covered in walrus skin on a rocky island above the arctic circle. His ship? Safely on its way back to Norway. What happened in-between is almost unbelievable. 

By Fridtjof Nansen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"If Outside magazine had been around during the first turn of the century, Fridtjof Nansen would have been its No. 1 cover boy." The Chicago Sun-Times In September of 1893, Norwegian zoologist Fridtjof Nansen and crew manned the schooner Fram, intending to drift, frozen in the Arctic pack-ice, to the North Pole. When it became clear that they would miss the pole, Nansen and companion Hjalmar Johansen struck off by themselves. Racing the shrinking pack-ice, they attempted, by dog-sled, to go "farthest north." They survived a winter in a moss hut eating walruses and polar bears, and the public assumed…


Book cover of Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea

Tyler LeBlanc Author Of Acadian Driftwood: One Family and the Great Expulsion

From my list on making you never want to step foot on a boat again.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on the tip of a peninsula jutting out into the raging Atlantic ocean. Both of my grandfathers spent their lives at sea. The power, and fear, that the ocean inspires has been a constant in my life, and most recently while working on Acadian Driftwood. Spending years working on a story so closely tied to tragedy, and the sea, I’ve consumed a lot of nautical disaster stories. While not everything on the list is a disaster (Nansen got his ship stuck in the ice on purpose) each story will make you rethink whether you ever want to head out to sea.  

Tyler's book list on making you never want to step foot on a boat again

Tyler LeBlanc Why did Tyler love this book?

The waves were high, and the wind gusting, but it was nothing Steven Callahan’s little 21-foot sailboat hadn’t seen before. He had sailed her across the Atlantic once before and was aiming for the Caribbean when he bedded down for the night. He awoke to a cabin full of raging seawater and had only minutes to escape before the boat he had designed and built went to the bottom. He had an inflatable raft, a small amount of food and water, and a soaking-wet sleeping bag. Not much else. This raw first-person account of surviving alone in the middle of the ocean on a life raft reads like the transcript of the nightmare every sailor who heads out to sea has the night before leaving port. 

By Steven Callahan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before The Perfect Storm, before In the Heart of the Sea, Steven Callahan’s dramatic tale of survival at sea was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than thirty-six weeks. In some ways the model for the new wave of adventure books, Adrift is an undeniable seafaring classic, a riveting firsthand account by the only man known to have survived more than a month alone at sea, fighting for his life in an inflatable raft after his small sloop capsized only six days out. “Utterly absorbing” (Newsweek), Adrift is a must-have for any adventure library.


Book cover of Dead Astronauts

Nick Kolakowski Author Of Hell of a Mess

From my list on read during a fierce, possibly city-destroying storm.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a crime and horror author based in New York City. I’ve lived through a couple of direct hits from mega-storms and other natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, which plowed through my neighborhood in 2012. Those kinds of experiences leave a psychological mark I’ve tried to process through both fiction and non-fiction. This writing has also allowed me to explore how people and cities could potentially survive the calamities that await us, especially in coastal regions vulnerable to climate change.  

Nick's book list on read during a fierce, possibly city-destroying storm

Nick Kolakowski Why did Nick love this book?

And now for something completely different: this novel takes place in a world already ravaged by disaster. Not all of this book’s protagonists are human—there’s a blue fox lurking around with a mysterious purpose, and even the people have been… enhanced, let’s say. The narration is surreal and mythic and almost abstract at moments.

Dead Astronauts won’t be everyone’s proverbial cup of tea. But if you’re riding out a storm (either internal or external), this one can perhaps serve as an excellent tone poem to see you through, one filled with some truly mind-bending ideas and characters. This is one of the books that helped center me during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when we were all locked inside.

By Jeff VanderMeer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Under the watchful eye of The Company, three characters - Grayson, Morse and Chen - shapeshifters, amorphous, part human, part extensions of the landscape, make their way through forces that would consume them. A blue fox, a giant fish and language stretched to the limit.

A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own.…


Book cover of The Two-Bear Mambo

Nick Kolakowski Author Of Hell of a Mess

From my list on read during a fierce, possibly city-destroying storm.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a crime and horror author based in New York City. I’ve lived through a couple of direct hits from mega-storms and other natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, which plowed through my neighborhood in 2012. Those kinds of experiences leave a psychological mark I’ve tried to process through both fiction and non-fiction. This writing has also allowed me to explore how people and cities could potentially survive the calamities that await us, especially in coastal regions vulnerable to climate change.  

Nick's book list on read during a fierce, possibly city-destroying storm

Nick Kolakowski Why did Nick love this book?

Whenever someone asks me to recommend a funny mystery/thriller series, I always do my best to steer them toward Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series. Hap Collins is a wisecracking good ol’ boy with liberal leanings, while his best friend Leonard is a Black, gay, conservative war veteran. They bumble and punch their way through mysteries that usually involve long-buried, lethal secrets.

The Two-Bear Mambo is arguably the most cinematic of the Hap and Leonard books, and that’s because the two are searching a small Texas town for Hap’s ex-girlfriend—a town at risk of serious flooding. The climactic fight in a graveyard is an over-the-top melee of rushing water, bones, and death. Solving mysteries is even harder when you have to prevent yourself from drowning in the biggest natural disaster to hit Texas in years. 

By Joe R. Lansdale,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Florida Grange, Leonard's gorgeous lawyer and Hap's former lover, has vanished while in pursuit of the real story behind the jailhouse death of a bluesman's son. Hap and Leonard investigate and end up in a part of East Texas that has Klan wannabes, an exhumation in a voodoo graveyard, and murder.


Book cover of Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England

Ivy Schweitzer and Gordon Henry Author Of Afterlives of Indigenous Archives

From my list on Native American cultural archives.

Why are we passionate about this?

Though from different backgrounds, we share a profound passion for Native culture. As an enrolled member of the White Earth Chippewa Tribe of Minnesota, Gordon’s poetry and fiction draw deeply from his Anishinabe heritage and contribute to the current flowering of Indian writing. Ivy is the grandchild of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. As a scholar and teacher, she was appalled that Native writers are largely excluded from the American canon and worked to right that wrong. They met through their shared interest in Samson Occom, an 18th-century Mohegan writer, and decided to collaborate on increasing awareness of the necessity of Native writing to sustaining our future.

Ivy's book list on Native American cultural archives

Ivy Schweitzer and Gordon Henry Why did Ivy love this book?

We highly recommend this capacious “counter-archive” of Native writing because it definitively lays to rest the myth of the “vanishing Indian.” Covering more than four centuries, it includes work from ten tribal nations from Maine to Connecticut in the form of early political petitions and land deeds to contemporary poetry and blogs. We love that its editor, a non-Native scholar, drew on the expertise of eleven Native editors from tribal communities for its diverse content, sourced from oral narratives, manuscripts stored in garages, and passed-around bootlegged copies. We also love that the book inspired a website for the extra material and for new work being produced now. In this sense, the website is a living document that illuminates the long history and vibrant presence of Indigenous writing.

By Siobhan Senier (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dawnland Voices calls attention to the little-known but extraordinarily rich literary traditions of New England's Native Americans. This pathbreaking anthology includes both classic and contemporary literary works from ten New England indigenous nations: the Abenaki, Maliseet, Mi'kmaq, Mohegan, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Schaghticoke, and Wampanoag.
Through literary collaboration and recovery, Siobhan Senier and Native tribal historians and scholars have crafted a unique volume covering a variety of genres and historical periods. From the earliest petroglyphs and petitions to contemporary stories and hip-hop poetry, this volume highlights the diversity and strength of New England Native literary traditions. Dawnland Voices introduces readers…


Book cover of The Patient

William Dean Author Of Militia Men

From my list on suspense thrillers to steal your sleep.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a fan of thrillers since I first read Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot back in, well, you know. A long time ago. I was an investigative journalist for many years before I tried my hand at writing books, but I always knew what my genre would be. Books that make your heart thump with characters you can’t easily forget. Militia Men is my third suspense novel set in the Pacific Northwest. I hope you like it – and the books on this list!

William's book list on suspense thrillers to steal your sleep

William Dean Why did William love this book?

This slender novel marks the debut of California author Jason DeWitt and it’s a stunner.

The Patient is a creepy, clever horror story that I lost sleep over because I couldn’t put it down. It’s the tale of a young psychiatrist at a dreary asylum in New England, who, against everyone’s urgent advice, decides to take a crack at curing an “incurable” patient. 

What he learns about that patient – and the shocking climax that results – may give you nightmares, but it’s well worth the ride.

By Jasper DeWitt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a series of online posts, Parker H., a young psychiatrist, chronicles the harrowing account of his time working at a dreary mental hospital in New England. Through this internet message board, Parker hopes to communicate with the world his effort to cure one bewildering patient.

We learn, as Parker did on his first day at the hospital, of the facility's most difficult, profoundly dangerous case - a forty-year-old man who was originally admitted to the hospital at age six. This patient has no known diagnosis. His symptoms seem to evolve over time. Every person who has attempted to treat…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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