100 books like The Prophets

By Robert Jones, Jr.,

Here are 100 books that The Prophets fans have personally recommended if you like The Prophets. 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 Grief

Jeffrey Richards Author Of We Are Only Ghosts

From my list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

I came of age in Oklahoma as a gay youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, keeping myself hidden out of safety and shame. Once I was old enough to leave my small-minded town and be myself, I crashed headlong into the oncoming AIDS epidemic. It set me on a path to understanding the world and my place in it as a homosexual. I turned to reading about the lives and histories of those who came before me, to learn about their deaths and survivals in what could be an ugly, brutal world. These works continue to draw me, haunt me, and inspire me to share my story through my writing. 

Jeffrey's book list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way)

Jeffrey Richards Why did Jeffrey love this book?

The quiet endurance of grief. I love this small, meditative novella that captures the essence of grief as it continues to linger in the body, the mind, and the heart long past the comfortability of those around you.

While the story focuses on the main character, an aging, gay professor who has come to Washington, DC, for a visiting professorship after losing his mother to a long illness, each person encountered is grieving something in their own way (I truly love that Holleran mirrors the main character’s grief with that of Mary Todd Lincoln’s after losing her husband to an assassin but also still grieving the death of her son via a biography he’s reading).

What I find so beautiful about this book is that Holleran doesn’t go for the theatrics of grief. He keeps the story and the emotions calm, methodic, and persistent with such great care to craft…

By Andrew Holleran,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Michael Cunningham's The Hours, a beautiful novel destined to become a classic

Reeling from the recent death of his invalid mother, a worn, jaded professor comes to our nation's capital to recuperate from his loss. What he finds there--in his repressed, lonely landlord, in the city's mood and architecture, and in the letters and journals of Mary Todd Lincoln--shows him new, poignant truths about America, yearning, loneliness, and mourning itself.

Since Andrew Holleran first burst onto the scene with 1978's groundbreaking Dancer from the Dance, which has been continuously in print, he has been dazzling readers…


Book cover of The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part I: The Witnesses

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Until I read The Resurrection of Nat Turner, I considered myself a pacifist. I ended this novel and its sequel rooting for violent resistance and for Nat Turner, the man who led the most famous slave rebellion in American history, a man who was responsible for the deaths of women and children. In a culture of violence and unequivocal evil, turning the other cheek cannot be the only recourse. Foster left me forever changed.

By Sharon Ewell Foster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A riveting novel about tragic hero Nat Turner's uprising, capture, and trial-and how he impacted life in the United States forever.

The truth has been buried more than one hundred years . . .

Leading a small army of slaves, Nat Turner was a man born with a mission: to set the captives free. When words failed, he ignited an uprising that left over fifty whites dead. In the predawn hours of August 22, 1831, Nat Turner stormed into history with a Bible in one hand, brandishing a sword in the other. His rebellion shined a national spotlight on slavery…


Book cover of Douglass' Women

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Escaping slavery doesn’t make you a saint. Even Frederick Douglass, one of the world’s most famous former slaves, one of history’s greatest writers, orators, and human rights activists, had feet of clay. His wife Anna was a free Black woman who helped him escape bondage and bore him five children. Yet Frederick cheated on her in a decades-long affair with a White German woman—who is somehow equally sympathetic here. I finished this novel loving all three of these flawed, complex characters, all of whom were real people. Rhodes’s psychological insight leaves me in awe.

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE 2003 PEN OAKLAND JOSEPHINE MILES AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING WRITING AND THE BLACK CAUCUS OF THE ALA LITERARY AWARD
Frederick Douglass, the great African-American abolitionist, was a man who cherished freedom in life and in love. In this ambitious work of historical fiction, Douglass' passions come vividly to life in the form of two women: Anna Murray Douglass and Ottilie Assing.
Douglass' Women is an imaginative rendering of these two women -- one black, the other white -- in Douglass' life. Anna, his wife, was a free woman of color who helped Douglass escape as a slave. She…


Book cover of Sister of Mine

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

The Jewish people have been persecuted—even enslaved—for millennia. One would hope this would make them more compassionate toward another persecuted and enslaved group, American Blacks. Unfortunately, this usually isn’t the way human nature works. To quote Frederick Douglass: “Everybody, in the south, wants the privilege of whipping somebody else.” If humans can get ahead by oppressing someone else, we too often do. With her fictional Jewish family and the Blacks they enslave—one of whom is also their blood kin—Waldfogel explores this terrible truth. A hundred and fifty years after its setting, this novel challenged me to be a better human.

By Sabra Waldfogel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When two Union soldiers stumble onto a plantation in northern Georgia on a warm May day in 1864, the last thing they expect is to see the Union flag flying high-or to be greeted by a group of freed slaves and their Jewish mistress. Little do they know that this place has an unusual history.

Twelve years prior, Adelaide Mannheim-daughter of Mordecai, the only Jewish planter in the county-was given her own maid, a young slave named Rachel. The two became friends, and soon they discovered a secret: Mordecai was Rachel's father, too.

As the country moved toward war, Adelaide…


Book cover of Freeman

Elizabeth Bell Author Of Necessary Sins

From my list on the human toll of American slavery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an American novelist and a lifelong, enthusiastic student of American history. To me, history is people. In addition to first-hand accounts and biographies, one of the best ways to understand those people is historical fiction. For the last two decades, I’ve lived in the Southern United States, surrounded by the legacy of slavery, America’s “peculiar institution” that claimed an unequivocal evil was a positive good. Because both the enslaved and their enslavers were human beings, the ways that evil manifested were as complex as each individual—as were the ways people maintained their humanity. These are a few of the novels on the subject that blew me away.

Elizabeth's book list on the human toll of American slavery

Elizabeth Bell Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This novel begins just after the American Civil War and Emancipation, but it foreshadows the horrific legacy of slavery. The titular character, a Black man named Sam who is now free, goes in search of Tilda, the wife whom slavery ripped away from him. Meanwhile, her Confederate enslaver drags Tilda westward, refusing to give up the woman he thinks he owns. How do you rebuild a society and a family in the wake of slavery’s devastation? Pitts explores this question unforgettably, acknowledging the inevitable violence but with a glimmer of hope. Freeman put me through a whole gamut of emotions. It rung me out and gave me a soothing cup of tea at the end.

By Leonard Pitts, Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Freeman, the new novel by Leonard Pitts, Jr., takes place in the first few months following the Confederate surrender and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Upon learning of Lee's surrender, Sam--a runaway slave who once worked for the Union Army--decides to leave his safe haven in Philadelphia and set out on foot to return to the war-torn South. What compels him on this almost-suicidal course is the desire to find his wife, the mother of his only child, whom he and their son left behind 15 years earlier on the Mississippi farm to which they all "belonged." At the same…


Book cover of Was

Jeffrey Richards Author Of We Are Only Ghosts

From my list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

I came of age in Oklahoma as a gay youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, keeping myself hidden out of safety and shame. Once I was old enough to leave my small-minded town and be myself, I crashed headlong into the oncoming AIDS epidemic. It set me on a path to understanding the world and my place in it as a homosexual. I turned to reading about the lives and histories of those who came before me, to learn about their deaths and survivals in what could be an ugly, brutal world. These works continue to draw me, haunt me, and inspire me to share my story through my writing. 

Jeffrey's book list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way)

Jeffrey Richards Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Oh, Was, how I love your relentlessly bleak, depressing sadness.

This is a strangely inventive novel that twines reality and fantasy into a brutal, desolate, yet gorgeous story of pain and survival. Told from the points of view of numerous characters, each story is tethered in some way to The Wizard of Oz, that venerable fable about good versus evil in the search for home.

Ryman introduces us to a main trio of characters whose lives are all equally harrowing–Dorothy Gael (the imagined inspiration for The Wizard of Oz heroine and the victim of familial sexual abuse), Frances Gumm (who becomes the tragic Judy Garland), and Jonathan (an actor experiencing AIDS-related dementia)–whose stories he intricately weaves together like a master craftsman. And while the novel is not a “happy” read by any stretch of the imagination, what has stayed with me throughout the past thirty years is its…

By Geoff Ryman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dorothy, orphaned in the 1870s, goes to live with her Aunty Em and Uncle Henry. Baby Frances sings with her family on stage in the 1920s. From the settling of the West and the heyday of the studios, to the metropolis of modern Los Angeles, this book follows the development of the USA.


Book cover of At Swim, Two Boys

Jeffrey Richards Author Of We Are Only Ghosts

From my list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

I came of age in Oklahoma as a gay youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, keeping myself hidden out of safety and shame. Once I was old enough to leave my small-minded town and be myself, I crashed headlong into the oncoming AIDS epidemic. It set me on a path to understanding the world and my place in it as a homosexual. I turned to reading about the lives and histories of those who came before me, to learn about their deaths and survivals in what could be an ugly, brutal world. These works continue to draw me, haunt me, and inspire me to share my story through my writing. 

Jeffrey's book list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way)

Jeffrey Richards Why did Jeffrey love this book?

This is my favorite novel of all time, bar none.

The sweeping saga of two seemingly socially disparate boys caught up in the volatile world of early 1900s Ireland from which springs forth the Easter Uprising. As a writer and a reader, I am amazed at the historical details and language that are completely immersive, as well as by the structure and control O’Neill wields over the book. Yet he never overwhelms with the “history,” nor does he ever lose sight of the true story, the true heart of his stunning novel.

The love story between the boys is timeless and beautiful and, of course, tragic, as is so often the case with gay love stories from our history. It has haunted me since I first read the novel some twenty-two years ago. It is yet another book I often come back to reread, and I am astounded all over…

By Jamie O'Neill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked At Swim, Two Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Praised as “a work of wild, vaulting ambition and achievement” by Entertainment Weekly, Jamie O’Neill’s first novel invites comparison to such literary greats as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Charles Dickens.

Jim Mack is a naïve young scholar and the son of a foolish, aspiring shopkeeper. Doyler Doyle is the rough-diamond son—revolutionary and blasphemous—of Mr. Mack’s old army pal. Out at the Forty Foot, that great jut of rock where gentlemen bathe in the nude, the two boys make a pact: Doyler will teach Jim to swim, and in a year, on Easter of 1916, they will swim to the…


Book cover of As Meat Loves Salt

Jeffrey Richards Author Of We Are Only Ghosts

From my list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way).

Why am I passionate about this?

I came of age in Oklahoma as a gay youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s, keeping myself hidden out of safety and shame. Once I was old enough to leave my small-minded town and be myself, I crashed headlong into the oncoming AIDS epidemic. It set me on a path to understanding the world and my place in it as a homosexual. I turned to reading about the lives and histories of those who came before me, to learn about their deaths and survivals in what could be an ugly, brutal world. These works continue to draw me, haunt me, and inspire me to share my story through my writing. 

Jeffrey's book list on LGBT+ novels that haunt me (in a good way)

Jeffrey Richards Why did Jeffrey love this book?

I’ve always thought of this book as a gay “bodice-ripper,” though a bit on the darker side. And it’s the darkness that haunts me still some two decades after first reading it.

The love story, if one can call it that, verges on and then outright plunges into brutal obsession between the two main male characters, and even though I knew I shouldn’t, I rooted for them.

Beyond the intensity of the relationship between the main characters, the writing, steeped in the history of the English Revolution, is wonderful–strong and brutal and raw and visceral. I’ve returned to this novel repeatedly over the years, and its impact never lessens. Truly a marvel of a novel. 

By Maria McCann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked As Meat Loves Salt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Transplant Othello to the tumult of a country in social and political flux and en route to regicide -- England in the 1640s -- and render him uncertain about his sexuality, and you have the makings of Jacob Cullen, one of the most commanding characters in contemporary writing. As the book opens, Jacob is an educated, vigorous and dauntingly strong manservant in a Royalist household, who has begun to imbibe god-fearing revolutionary pamphlets. He is on the brink of marriage to his virginal sweetheart, but is unsure of his emotional needs, and in possession of a boiling point he reaches…


Book cover of The Known World

Xolani Kacela Author Of Stop Anxiety In Its Tracks

From my list on a deep understanding of human nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for helping people realize they are only limited by their imagination. By dreaming wildly and acting on one’s dreams, a person can achieve highly unlikely outcomes. People are born to be free and pursue the things in life that make them happy and fulfilled. However, people need education, training, and mentoring. I am driven to do each of these to help others live fulfilling and purposeful lives. My expertise arises from my formal training and applied life lessons acquired from modeling highly-gifted teachers and friends.

Xolani's book list on a deep understanding of human nature

Xolani Kacela Why did Xolani love this book?

This book is so special in its depiction of human beings striving for survival.

It is the only book that shows African American as slaveholders. The charm is the clarity with which Jones writes. His gift is the ability to say complex things simply. He made me strive to be a better writer. His story helped me feel deeply in ways I had not previously known I could feel.

By Edward P. Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Masterful, Pulitzer-prize winning literary epic about the painful and complex realities of slave life on a Southern plantation. An utterly original exploration of race, trust and the cruel truths of human nature, this is a landmark in modern American literature.

Henry Townsend, a black farmer, boot maker, and former slave, becomes proprietor of his own plantation - as well as his own slaves. When he dies, his widow, Caldonia, succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart: slaves take to escaping under the cover of night, and families who had once found love beneath the weight of slavery…


Book cover of Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made

Michael Zakim Author Of Accounting for Capitalism: The World the Clerk Made

From my list on modern capitalist economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

As both a scholar and a citizen I have spent my adult life seeking to better understand the dynamics of power, especially power wielded in flagrantly unjust fashion in societies otherwise founded on notions of life, liberty, and happiness for all. This has led me to study the history of the economy, not just as a material but as a cultural system that encodes the categories of modern life:  self and society, private and public, body and soul, and needs and desires.

Michael's book list on modern capitalist economy

Michael Zakim Why did Michael love this book?

Eugene Genovese was the most brilliant of a talented generation of scholars whose studies of New World slavery have since been largely deposed by a far more simplistic, black-and-white (pun intended) version of the same. 

Genovese’s magnum opus, Roll, Jordan, Roll, offers an unsparing view of a reality in which neither master nor slave “could express the simplest human feelings without reference to the other,” an especially intimate form of class rule which struck a compelling contrast to the anonymity of the wage nexus increasingly prevalent in the Northern states. 

These dialectics played out in a continual, if asymmetric, power struggle at the heart of plantation life, where the economy could not be separated out from racial, sexual, religious, and ideological experience, again, in stark contrast to the liberal division of social life into autonomous spheres of existence.

By Eugene D. Genovese,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A testament to the power of the human spirit under conditions of extreme oppression, this landmark history of slavery in the South challenged conventional views by illuminating the many forms of resistance to dehumanization that developed in slave society. 

Displaying keen insight into the minds of both enslaved persons and slaveholders, historian Eugene Genovese investigates the ways that enslaved persons forced their owners to acknowledge their humanity through culture, music, and religion. He covers a vast range of subjects, from slave weddings and funerals, to language, food, clothing, and labor, and places particular emphasis on religion as both a major…


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Interested in slaves, LGBTQ+ topics and characters, and slavery in the United States?

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