100 books like The Pillars of the Earth

By Ken Follett,

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

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The Mists of Avalon

By Marion Zimmer Bradley,

Book cover of The Mists of Avalon

Helen Fulton Author Of A Companion to Arthurian Literature

From the list on sensible stories about King Arthur.

Who am I?

I came to the Arthurian legends through the medium of medieval Welsh literature, a subject that had intrigued and challenged me since I was an undergraduate. I found the language impenetrable and yet beautiful, while the literature it encoded was fascinatingly unlike the literary traditions of England and France. I wanted to connect with a version of Arthur that preceded the romance traditions of France and England and bears witness to a much older culture and social organisation. Though I've learned to love other versions of Arthur, and indeed I teach the Arthurian legends as part of my academic work, the stark drama of the Welsh poems and tales continues to intrigue me.

Helen's book list on sensible stories about King Arthur

Why did Helen love this book?

Before the appearance of ‘franchise’ novels set in an Arthurian world, and even before the genre of ‘fantasy writing’ had established itself, the American writer Marion Zimmer Bradley published one of the most remarkable novels about Arthurian Britain and its cast of characters.

Well researched and deeply imbued with the colours of a powerfully-imagined world, the novel refocuses the events of Arthur’s life from the point of view of the women who surround him, especially Morgaine (Morgan le Fay) and Igraine, Arthur’s mother.

This was the first feminist retelling of the Arthurian story, one in which Arthur was no longer the focus of the action, and when I first read the novel I found the audacity of this inversion captivating. 

By Marion Zimmer Bradley,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Mists of Avalon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is the tragic tale of the rise and fall of Camelot - but seen through the eyes of Camelot's women: The devout Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's Queen; Vivane, High priestess of Avalon and the Lady of the Lake; above all, Morgaine, possessor of the sight, the wise, the wise-woman fated to bring ruin on them all...


By Madeline Miller,

Book cover of Circe

Kaighla Rises Author Of Evryn, The Light

From the list on remembering you’re 100% that bitch.

Who am I?

I am a writer, poet, and seeker, creating art that empowers women to choose their own destiny and live their truth, authentically. I’ve spent the better part of my life feeling powerless, victimized, and alone. For years, I lived in situations that demanded that I give up my power and subjugate myself to men in order to be respected and welcomed into my community. And then, after a period of extreme trauma, I learned how I had been brainwashed. So I have made it my life’s mission to spread this one message: you have all the power you will ever need, right now, within you. Claim it.

Kaighla's book list on remembering you’re 100% that bitch

Why did Kaighla love this book?

If you, like me, were forced to read Homer’s Odyssey in high school, you may recall the famous story about the witch Circe, who turned Homer’s sailors into pigs. And you may have felt as I did: slay, queen. If so, then Circe, Madeline Miller’s sophomore novel, is the book for you. 

In Circe, Miller expounds on the scant details we have on the life of Circe—who, like so many women in mythology and literature only existed as side character in the main male character’s storyline—producing a sweeping, moving narrative of female empowerment.

I loved this book because I could see so much of myself in this story—from Circe as the unwanted child to Circe the rebellious young woman to Circe the sensualized siren to Circe the broken-hearted muse. In all the phases of her life, Circe learns to find her own way in a world that does…

By Madeline Miller,

Why should I read it?

30 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 Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America

Thijs ten Raa Author Of Microeconomics: Equilibrium and Efficiency

From the list on microeconomics on how markets are interconnected.

Who am I?

Microeconomics is a turnoff to most readers. Not without reason. Many books in this field are dull rewrites of other books and opaque.  In particular, it is not clear how the behavior of individual consumers and producers adds to the performance—good or bad—of an economy. The books listed here helped me to sharpen my own mind and to make my writing lucid.

Thijs' book list on microeconomics on how markets are interconnected

Why did Thijs love this book?

This fascinating and very detailed history of early Manhattan shows how the Dutch with their policy based on individual liberty and free trade impacted not only New York City but even the shaping of America. 

I sensed this when I was an inhabitant of New York, but now I understand why.

By Russell Shorto,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Island at the Center of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a riveting, groundbreaking narrative, Russell Shorto tells the story of New Netherland, the Dutch colony which pre-dated the Pilgrims and established ideals of tolerance and individual rights that shaped American history. 

"Astonishing . . . A book that will permanently alter the way we regard our collective past." --The New York Times

When the British wrested New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, the truth about its thriving, polyglot society began to disappear into myths about an island purchased for 24 dollars and a cartoonish peg-legged governor. But the story of the Dutch colony of New Netherland was merely…


By Maggie O'Farrell,

Book cover of Hamnet

Erica Bauermeister Author Of No Two Persons

From the list on (re)immersing you in the magic of books.

Who am I?

I've been book-besotted my entire life. I've read, studied, taught, reviewed, and written books. I went to “gradual” school, as John Irving calls it, earning a PhD in literature before gradually realizing that what I really loved was writing. For me, books contain the intellectual challenge of puzzles, the fun of entertainment, the ability to fill souls. They have changed my life, and the best compliments I have received are from readers who say my books have changed theirs. I read widely and indiscriminately (as this list shows) because I believe that good books are found in all genres. But a book about books? What a glorious meta-adventure. 

Erica's book list on (re)immersing you in the magic of books

Why did Erica love this book?

Reading Hamnet is like walking into an oil painting.

Maggie O’Farrell’s lyricism and attention to detail create a lush, fully imagined world as she tells the story of William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne, and the loss of their eleven-year-old son to the plague in 1596. It is a deep dive into grief, made beautiful by O’Farrell’s attention.

While technically not a book about books, it makes us consider the emotional undercurrent of writing, and it is one of the most radiant books I have ever read, so here it is.

By Maggie O'Farrell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Richly sensuous... something special' The Sunday Times
'A thing of shimmering wonder' David Mitchell


On a summer's day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a sudden fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London.


The Time Machine

By H.G. Wells,

Book cover of The Time Machine

James Papandrea Author Of From Star Wars to Superman: Christ Figures in Science Fiction and Superhero Films

From the list on thought-provoking time travel.

Who am I?

I am a lifelong fan of science fiction, and especially all things time travel. However, I do get annoyed by time travel stories where the time travel is never really explained or it’s just reduced to a magical vehicle for the story setting. I want my science fiction to ask the big questions of humanity. I have a PhD in history and theology, and in my research for my book From Star Wars to Superman, I combined a lifetime of enjoying science fiction and time travel with a career studying those big philosophical questions, and I’ve come to the conclusion that true sci-fi has to be thought-provoking.

James' book list on thought-provoking time travel

Why did James love this book?

I had to include this book because this is the book that opened up the whole world of time travel for me.

I read it as a young teenager and have loved everything about the concept of time travel ever since. I think the reason is that there is this implied desire to fix the mistakes of our past or something, and that whole idea bubbles under the surface of Wells’ classic.

Of course on the other side of that coin is that I would later come to learn that Wells was an atheist, and so that brings up the whole question of whether time travel is a human attempt to play God, and whether time travel is only possible in a universe where there is no God. 

By H.G. Wells,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Time Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

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…

Gates of Fire

By Steven Pressfield,

Book cover of Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae

Andrew Lubin Author Of Charlie Battery: A Marine Artillery Unit in Iraq

From the list on famous battles that make you want to be there.

Who am I?

When reading about famous battles such as Thermopylae, Tarawa, the Chosin Reservoir, or Taffy-3’s gallantry off Samar: have you ever wondered “what makes young men fight against such overwhelming odds?” Or a more important question: “would I do the same?” I know I wondered. Both my mom and dad were WW2 Marines, and I was raised with the stories of the Marines at Tarawa wading a half-mile ashore against horrific Japanese fire, along with their epic Korean War 79-mile fighting retreat in -50’F bitter cold and snow while grossly outnumbered by the Chinese army; these were often our dinnertime discussions and impromptu leadership lessons.

Andrew's book list on famous battles that make you want to be there

Why did Andrew love this book?

We all know the story of Thermopylae: 300 Spartans fight heroically for three days against an overwhelming Persian force, with the Spartans all killed during the three-day fight as Greece used their lives to buy time to successfully defend itself. But historical fiction Gates of Fire adds a new twist: as the Persians are pulling the bodies off the battlefield, they find a sole wounded Spartan, and after nursing him back to health, have him recount the battle from the Spartan viewpoint.

Author Steven Pressfield, a former Marine, is a superb storyteller as he describes the battle – and Spartan training - in a gripping blend of courage, humor, ethics, and brilliant historical research. Xeones, the survivor, was a squire to the Spartans, and had trained with them. “War is work,” he explains, “with conditions contrived to make the exercise as close as possible to the actual campaign.” “Shared misery…

By Steven Pressfield,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Gates of Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Sunday Times bestseller Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield tells the breathtaking story of the legendary Spartans: the men and women who helped shaped our history and have themselves become as immortal as their gods.

'Breathtakingly brilliant . . . this is a work of rare genius. Savour it!' DAVID GEMMELL

'A tale worthy of Homer, a timeless epic of man and war, exquisitely researched and boldy written. Pressfield has created a new classic' STEPHEN COONTS

'A really impressive book - imaginatively framed, historically detailed and a really gripping narrative' ***** Reader review

'Beautifully written and a great joy…

The Last Kingdom

By Bernard Cornwell,

Book cover of The Last Kingdom

Gina Detwiler Author Of The Hammer of God

From the list on the Middle Ages with medieval warrior heroes.

Who am I?

My passion for the Middle Ages began with castles. I lived in Germany for a time, where there are a lot of castles, and I got sucked into the whole romantic notion of living a castle life, though I’d probably have been more of a scullery maid than a princess. When I decided to try writing a novel, I figured castles had to be involved somehow. I started doing research on medieval subjects that would make a good book. Unfortunately, the time period I ended up choosing for my novel was the early 8th century—no castles. I spent over twenty years researching and writing my novel, so I hope I learned something. 

Gina's book list on the Middle Ages with medieval warrior heroes

Why did Gina love this book?

I’ve read pretty much everything by Bernard Cornwell, but The Last Kingdom (the first in a series of 13 novels) is most definitely my favorite, not only because it takes place during a time of English history I am most familiar with (very early Middle Ages), but because Uthred!! If you’ve seen the Netflix series, you know what I mean. I have a thing for warrior heroes, in case you haven’t noticed, and Uthred is the ultimate. The story is loosely based on a 9th-century warlord named Uthred the Bold—I recently learned that Cornwell is his descendent. Pretty cool. No one writes better historical content than Cornwell, blending fact and fiction so seamlessly, you’d think you were reading a very exciting history book.

By Bernard Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first book in the epic and bestselling series that has gripped millions.

A hero will be forged from this broken land.

As seen on Netflix and BBC around the world.

In a land torn apart by conflict, an orphan boy has come of age. Raised by the Vikings, deadly enemies of his own Saxon people, Uhtred is a fierce and skilled warrior who kneels to no-one.

Alfred - Saxon, king, man of god - fights to hold the throne of the only land still resisting the pagan northerners.

Uhtred and Alfred's fates are tangled, soaked in blood and blackened…


By James Clavell,

Book cover of Shōgun

Robert Whiting Author Of Tokyo Junkie: 60 Years of Bright Lights and Back Alleys . . . and Baseball

From the list on learning about life.

Who am I?

They are in some sense books of self-discovery and/or discovery of new worlds. They made me want to travel and explore other cultures. And they also inspired me to write. They helped shape me as a person. I'm now a journalist and author of several books on Japan. I've lived in many different places around the world and find Tokyo Japan to be the best capital to live in. My work describes life in Tokyo and the Japanese culture in general, focusing on sports, crime, and politics. I've written best-sellers in both the US and Japan and been nominated for several prizes. Most recently I was selected winner of a 2023 Henry Chadwick Award.

Robert's book list on learning about life

Why did Robert love this book?

Shōgun is a historical novel set in 17th-century feudal Japan that is based on the life of an English sailor named Will  Adams who is shipwrecked there.

He became a samurai and a confidant of a warlord based on Ieyasu Tokugawa. It is a meticulously researched and richly detailed novel that combines historical events with fictional characters and storylines, dealing with themes of honor and loyalty in a world of samurai and daimyos.

It also explores relationships between Japanese and European traders, highlighting the clash of Western and Eastern values. At over 560,000 words long, it is a spellbinding narrative that offers an encyclopedic exploration of Japanese history, culture, customs, and traditions of Japan. It started a Japan craze in the United States when it was first published.

By James Clavell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Clavell never puts a foot wrong . . . Get it, read it, you'll enjoy it mightily' Daily Mirror

This is James Clavell's tour-de-force; an epic saga of one Pilot-Major John Blackthorne, and his integration into the struggles and strife of feudal Japan. Both entertaining and incisive, SHOGUN is a stunningly dramatic re-creation of a very different world.

Starting with his shipwreck on this most alien of shores, the novel charts Blackthorne's rise from the status of reviled foreigner up to the hights of trusted advisor and eventually, Samurai. All as civil war looms over the fragile country.

'I can't…


By Naomi Novik,

Book cover of Uprooted

Sara Raztresen Author Of The Glass Witch

From the list on bringing folk, magic, and fantasy off the page.

Who am I?

I’m a fantasy writer and Christian witch with over 10 years of research, practice, and passion under my hat. Discovering the fantastical concept of “real world” magic as a youth—and the ways in which the institutions in power have tried so hard to stamp it out, despite it being an undeniable part of our cultural and spiritual psyche—has inspired me to explain all I know in my fantasy and seek out all the magic and wonder in my reality. After all, our fantasy stories must get their inspiration from the real world—from all the magic, mysticism, and struggle hidden under the pretty face of mainstream religion.

Sara's book list on bringing folk, magic, and fantasy off the page

Why did Sara love this book?

Uprooted has it all: the cultural Easter eggs, the adventure and fantasy, and of course, the touch of enemies-to-lovers romance that, to me, completes any story set in its own world. The main character was a gem, as was her counterpart, the Dragon. Both of them were spunky in their own way, grating against each other as they held their ground in a relationship neither of them expected to develop the way it did. 

I also tend to learn quite a bit from my fantasy books as much as my academic books when it comes to my own magic, and this here was a fantastic example of ceremonial magicians vs. witches. Whereas the Dragon spend a lot of time holed up over grimoires and texts by their predecessors, those who take a more personal and fluid approach to magic, like Agnieszka, are making magic with whatever’s available, to serve their…

By Naomi Novik,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A dark enchantment blights the land in the award-winning Uprooted - a enthralling fantasy inspired by fairy tales, by Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire series.

Winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel
Winner of the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel
Winner of the British Fantasy Society Award for Best Novel

Agnieszka loves her village, set deep in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest's…

Odd Thomas

By Dean Koontz,

Book cover of Odd Thomas

Jeffrey Jay Levin Author Of Watching: Volume 1, The Garden Museum Heist

From the list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Who am I?

I’ve narrowed down my fascination with time travel to an event that occurred in my late teens. Hitchhiking in California with a friend, we accepted a ride in a Volkswagen Beetle. My friend and I silently acknowledged a strange energy from the driver. Serial killer energy. After a few miles, we told the driver to let us out, which, thankfully, he did. Over the years I’ve wished I could travel back in time to discover if he was in fact a serial killer.  If you read my novel, Watching, A Different Type of Time Travel, Volume 1: The Garden Museum Heist, you'll find aspects of my reading (sci-fi), movie (Hitchcock), and life experiences reflected in the story.

Jeffrey's book list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations

Why did Jeffrey love this book?

In this debut novel Odd Thomas, the title character is an engaging 20-year-old fry cook living in the small town of Pico Mundo, CA. 
Odd Thomas is an ordinary guy, except that he sees dead people. They seek him out. They do not speak, but they communicate with Odd telepathically, frequently leading him to their killers. He is a reluctant hero determined to do the right thing in a world full of wrongs. He’s a character that you wish good things for. Guided by love for his soul-mate girlfriend and dead souls, he fights evil, against all odds.

This book imbues the reader with hope that, no matter the evil or how seemingly insurmountable the odds (pun intended), a good heart can triumph. It’s a great series.

By Dean Koontz,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Odd Thomas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Odd Thomas, the unassuming young hero of Dean Koontz’s dazzling New York Times bestseller, a gallant sentinel at the crossroads of life and death who offers up his heart in these pages and will forever capture yours.

“The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Sometimes the silent souls who seek out Odd want justice. Occasionally their otherworldly tips help him prevent a crime. But this time it’s different.

A stranger comes to Pico Mundo, accompanied by a horde…

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