100 books like The Poisonwood Bible

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Here are 100 books that The Poisonwood Bible fans have personally recommended if you like The Poisonwood Bible. 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 King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

Leif Wenar Author Of Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World

From my list on why oil is a curse.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Stanford professor who became fascinated with oil and everything it does to for us and to us. For years I traveled the world talking to the people who know petroleum: executives in the big oil companies, politicians and activists, militants and victims, spies and tribal chiefs. Blood Oil explains what I learned and how we can make our oil-cursed world better for all of us. 

Leif's book list on why oil is a curse

Leif Wenar Why did Leif love this book?

Oil isn’t the only natural resource that can curse: the Belgian colonizers inflicted decades of extraordinary brutality on the peoples of the Congo while extracting their ivory and rubber.

Hochschild paints horrific vistas of extreme greed and violence, and also tells the stories of the heroic individuals who resisted it. I didn’t know much about real ‘The Heart of Darkness’ before reading this book—now I know that the true savages were the Europeans.

By Adam Hochschild,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked King Leopold's Ghost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize, King Leopold's Ghost is the true and haunting account of Leopold's brutal regime and its lasting effect on a ruined nation. With an introduction by award-winning novelist Barbara Kingsolver.

In the late nineteenth century, when the great powers in Europe were tearing Africa apart and seizing ownership of land for themselves, King Leopold of Belgium took hold of the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. In his devastatingly barbarous colonization of this area, Leopold stole its rubber and ivory, pummelled its people and set up a ruthless regime that would reduce…


Book cover of The Nightingale

Robert McParland Author Of The Last Alchemist

From my list on books where history meets mystery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I once had a history advisor in school whom I informed that I was studying history so I could write fiction better. I saw him cringe a bit at that. Even so, I think that history and fiction–and the mystery–go together well. I am always drawn by mystery dramas–and by the drama of real lives facing and unraveling their way through real events. Of course, that led to graduate studies in cultural and intellectual history, to many years of teaching literature, and to passionate reading of mystery novels. Sparkling fiction and strong narrative history, for me, continue to stimulate a sense of wonder at human experience and this incredible universe we live in.    

Robert's book list on books where history meets mystery

Robert McParland Why did Robert love this book?

I read this book quickly. Its historically informative and inspirational quality caught my interest immediately. From the first chapters, the author brings us into World War II France, which will become a tangled web of occupation by the Nazis.

I discovered in this powerful story a relationship between two sisters that weaves secrets of the heart and key decisions. The characters are caught in a difficult situation: a predicament that reflects the struggle experienced by many people in France during the war years. The story stimulates a sense of empathy and curiosity about what will come next.

The historical setting is drawn colorfully. This novel is valuable both for gaining a broader historical sense and for the sheer you-are-there experience. The narrative skill with which the author weaves this tale and its inherent drama should sustain the reader’s interest, as it did mine. This story touches the core of human…

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked The Nightingale as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major motion picture, The Nightingale is a multi-million copy bestseller across the world. It is a heart-breakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the endurance of women.

This story is about what it was like to be a woman during World War II when women's stories were all too often forgotten or overlooked . . . Vianne and Isabelle Mauriac are two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals and passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path towards survival, love and freedom in war-torn France.

Kristin Hannah's…


Book cover of The Mists of Avalon

Terry Madden Author Of Three Wells of the Sea

From my list on mythic fantasy novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying Celtic myth and history since I was in college and took a class on Arthurian literature. Drawing heavily from Irish and Welsh lore to build my “land beyond the veil” known as the Five Quarters, I have always been intrigued by the Celtic view of the land of the dead as a distinct world to which we go and then return, like two sides of the mirrored surface of a well. I hope you enjoy these mythic fantasy books as much as I did!

Terry's book list on mythic fantasy novels

Terry Madden Why did Terry love this book?

I read this book so many years ago, but it has stayed with me. It struck me then, as it does now, as revolutionary in that it was one of the first retellings of the Arthurian myth from the female perspective.

I took a class on Arthurian Literature in university, and the tales of the period are obviously male-dominated. But The Mists of Avalon showed me a way into the female characters in the tale, and they are fascinating.

By Marion Zimmer Bradley,

Why should I read it?

10 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...


Book cover of This Animal Body

Meredith Walters

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Neuroscience PhD student Frankie Conner has finally gotten her life together—she’s determined to discover the cause of her depression and find a cure for herself and everyone like her. But the first day of her program, she meets a group of talking animals who have an urgent message they refuse to share. And while the animals may not have Frankie’s exalted human brain, they know things she doesn’t, like what happened before she was adopted.

To prove she’s sane, Frankie investigates her forgotten past and conducts clandestine experiments. But just when she uncovers the truth, she has to make an impossible choice: betray the animals she’s fallen in love with—or give up her last chance at success and everything she thought she knew.

By Meredith Walters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Frankie Conner, first-year graduate student at UC Berkeley, is finally getting her life together. After multiple failures and several false starts, she's found her calling: become a neuroscientist, discover the cause of her depression and anxiety, and hopefully find a cure for herself and everyone like her.

But her first day of the program, Frankie meets a mysterious group of talking animals who claim to have an urgent message for her. The problem is, they're not willing to share it. Not yet. Not until she's ready.

While Frankie's new friends may not have her highly evolved, state-of-the-art, exalted human brain,…


Book cover of Things Fall Apart

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman Author Of The Far Side of the Desert

From my list on books combining international political intrigue, romance, and family drama.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my career as a journalist, including working as a reporter on an international newspaper. I left full-time journalism to write fiction where I can combine an interest in international affairs with stories of characters and issues of the heart which drive individuals and often shape events. Over the years I’ve worked and traveled with international organizations, serving as Vice President of PEN International, and on the boards and in other roles focusing on human rights, education, and refugees. I’ve been able to travel widely and witness events up close, walking along the edge of worlds and discovering the bonds that keep us from falling off.

Joanne's book list on books combining international political intrigue, romance, and family drama

Joanne Leedom-Ackerman Why did Joanne love this book?

This was one of the first novels I read in the late sixties as I began reading African writers and studying the novel form and possibilities. Chinua Achebe tells the story of Okonkwo, a warrior in the late 1800s as he tries to resist the British political and religious powers encroaching on his home. Okonkwo is in conflict with his community as they allow the intrusion and succumb to the British.

Through his proverbs, rhythmic prose, and poignant storytelling, Chinua Achebe brings to life this story without polemics and the drier narrative of history books but instead through the passion of a man and his world. As I studied how novels could affect this empathetic magic, I looked to books like Things Fall Apart.

By Chinua Achebe,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Things Fall Apart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of International Man Booker Prize 2007.


Book cover of Cutting for Stone

Carl F. Nathan Author Of An Arrow's ARC: Journey of a Physician-Scientist

From my list on a life in science or medicine.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up, I experienced “otherness.” My family was hard up amidst affluence. Typecast as Jewish, where that was a rarity, we were met with suspicion and unease. Being a woman held my mother back from her preferred profession. Racism was rampant; my growing appreciation of it and efforts to intervene added to “otherness.”  My childhood was shadowed by illness, including my mother’s cancer. These influences drew me to medicine and science. Both are a way to overcome “otherness” and to protect one’s family, even as my sense of family expanded. Medicine forges extraordinary bonds between doctor and patient. Science brings people together from diverse backgrounds to share goals. These connections make meaningful stories. 

Carl's book list on a life in science or medicine

Carl F. Nathan Why did Carl love this book?

This riveting novel by an infectious disease physician demonstrates how something as seemingly stereotypic as a medical career can be profoundly shaped by circumstance, accident, location, and political events, as well as by family and personality.

The practice of surgery—be it closing a wound or removing a lesion—can be both of those things for the emotions of the person performing it. There is an analogous message for other fields of medicine—practice and practitioner become interrelated at a deeply personal level.

By Abraham Verghese,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

My brother, Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of grace 1954. We took our first breaths in the thick air of Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia. Bound by birth, we were driven apart by bitter betrayal. No surgeon can heal the would that divides two brothers. Where silk and steel fail, story must succeed. To begin at the beginning...


Book cover of Wolf Hall

Charlotte Gray Author Of Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt

From my list on history books by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I recall my younger self looking at the reading lists on Oxford University history courses, and asking, “Where are all the women?” I have always wanted to know what it was like to be there, in any century up to the present. How did families form and pass on their values, what did people wear and eat, when (and if) children learned to read, and what were people’s daily routines? Political, military, and economic history is important, but I have flourished in the social history trenches. I discovered women writers and historians have more acute antennae for the details I wanted, even when writing about wars and dynasties.

Charlotte's book list on history books by women

Charlotte Gray Why did Charlotte love this book?

Yes, I know this is a novel, but Mantel’s historical research is impeccable and no one has done more to bring to light the shadowy, intrigue-filled court of Henry VIII. Mantel explores the intersection of political power and personal ambition as she traces the career of Thomas Cromwell, a rags-to-riches courtier.

I could almost taste the food, smell the decay, and touch the damp walls of the buildings. She took me deep into the consciousness of the unlikeable yet sympathetic and lonely main character, as he serves his monarch and defeats his enemies.

The drama is gripping.

By Hilary Mantel,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Wolf Hall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Man Booker Prize Shortlisted for the the Orange Prize Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award

`Dizzyingly, dazzlingly good' Daily Mail

'Our most brilliant English writer' Guardian

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor.

Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with…


Book cover of Sense and Sensibility

Kate Brody Author Of Rabbit Hole

From my list on books that capture the love/hate relationship of sisters.

Why am I passionate about this?

Rabbit Hole is about Teddy’s obsession with her sister Angie’s cold-case disappearance. When Angie was alive, she was angry and difficult, but Teddy still misses her. While writing the book, I thought a lot about my relationships with my own sisters and how unique that particular bond is. I love books that capture the at-times-uncomfortable closeness of sisterhood and grapple with its power.

Kate's book list on books that capture the love/hate relationship of sisters

Kate Brody Why did Kate love this book?

Austen writes sisters like no one else, and the dynamic between tempestuous Marianne and practical Elinor is the template for so many novels that have followed.

Austen keeps the two sisters from becoming caricatures by making them more alike than different, and the love that anchors their relationship is at the heart of the novel.

I first read this as a freshman in college, and I still think about it every time I’m writing sisters. A classic.

By Jane Austen,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Sense and Sensibility as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The wit of Jane Austen has for partner the perfection of her taste' Virginia Woolf

Jane Austen's subtle and witty novel of secrets and suppression, lies and seduction, brilliantly portrays a world where rigid social convention clashes with the impulses of the heart. It tells the story of two very different sisters who find themselves thrown into an unkind world when their father dies. Marianne, wild and impulsive, falls dangerously in love, while Elinor suffers her own private heartbreak but conceals her true feelings, even from those closest to her.

Edited with an Introduction by ROS BALLASTER


Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Lori Duffy Foster Author Of Never Let Go

From my list on thrillers with twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my years on the crime beat, I often met good people who did bad things and criminals with good intentions and good hearts. We tend to draw a line between good and evil, putting ourselves on the good side. From that perspective, we sit in judgment, believing we are incapable of evil because it’s “over there.” Inaccessible. Unfathomable. But that line is fictional. We redraw it constantly to feel good about ourselves and avoid empathizing with the worst of human nature. What I love about these five novels is that they expose that truth. The twists remind me that even my own line is blurred and ever-shifting.

Lori's book list on thrillers with twists

Lori Duffy Foster Why did Lori love this book?

I love historical fiction, especially when authors throw in a touch of crime. So, that’s what first drew me to this book.

What kept me reading and what made me rank this novel so highly is the gradual unlayering of the main character as the story progresses. Sure, Kya is a victim and a survivor, but she is so much more, and she is capable of more than I could have anticipated. As in some of my other favorite novels, it’s that loyalty to human nature, the understanding that circumstances can make good choices wrong and poor choices right, that pulled me in.

If I had known the ending when I started the book, I might not have believed it possible, but Delia Owens made it work.

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

44 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 12 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
A NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…


Book cover of The Red Tent

Nadya Okamoto Author Of Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement

From my list on challenging perspectives.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a social entrepreneur, I'm passionate about gender equality and always challenging myself and my perspectives. From exploring feminine power in The Red Tent to understanding complex societal structures in 100 Years of Solitude to appreciating the blend of science and womanhood in Lessons in Chemistry, to promoting sexual freedom in Ethical Slut, and finally, recognizing intersectional struggles in Hood Feminism, each book deepens my understanding and fuels my passion for change.

Nadya's book list on challenging perspectives

Nadya Okamoto Why did Nadya love this book?

This book by Anita Diamant deeply resonates with me. Its bold emphasis on women's experiences, including menstruation, stirs a profound connection. The way it upends patriarchal historical narratives made me rethink my understanding of history.

It's not just a book I read; it's a book that prompted introspection and left a lasting impact on me.

By Anita Diamant,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Red Tent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Red Tent Anita Diamant brings the fascinating biblical character of Dinah to vivid life.

'Intensely moving . . . feminist . . . a riveting tale of love' - Observer

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her fate is merely hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the verses of the Book of Genesis that recount the life of Jacob and his infamous dozen sons. Anita Diamant's The Red Tent is an extraordinary and engrossing tale of ancient womanhood and family honour. Told in Dinah's voice, it opens with the story of her mothers -…


Book cover of Once There Were Wolves

Angela Hoke Author Of A Whisper of Smoke

From my list on immersive fiction to feel something you didn’t expect.

Why am I passionate about this?

Why do we love immersive novels? Maybe it's because we relate to them, because they explore issues or circumstances that resonate with us. Or it could be a need for escape, to imagine a life different from our own. But I believe the underlying truth is this – we all share a deeply rooted need for human connection. And when we read fiction that truly makes us imagine another person's life, it touches us profoundly, leaving a forever mark. It is the reason I love immersive novels that make us feel and experience the unexpected. And also why I endeavor to write them, sometimes winning awards, often making people cry – in the best way!

Angela's book list on immersive fiction to feel something you didn’t expect

Angela Hoke Why did Angela love this book?

My final selection was surprising in all the best ways. It is the story of conservationist Inti Flynn and her quest to reintroduce wolves to the Scottish Highlands, hoping to save the crumbling ecosystem while she struggles with the collapse of her own life. What makes this story special is that it not only evokes empathy for the wolves, it also emphasizes the connections we have to the earth and to each other, and how our individual, often trauma-informed decisions have cascading and unintended effects. The whole story is an allegory for the environmental balance that is essential for survival, but it is also a love letter to human-animal-earth connectedness. It is a reminder that we are more than individuals in a way that inspires hope and passion for change.

By Charlotte McConaghy,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Once There Were Wolves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A wild and gripping novel about one woman's quest to reintroduce wolves to the Scottish Highlands at any cost.

Inti Flynn arrives in the Scottish Highlands with fourteen grey wolves, a traumatised sister and fierce tenacity.

As a biologist, she knows the animals are the best hope for rewilding the ruined landscape and she cares little for local opposition. As a sister, she hopes the remote project will offer her twin, Aggie, a chance to heal after the horrific events that drove them both out of Alaska.

But violence dogs their footsteps and one night Inti stumbles over the body…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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