100 books like The Saddest Pleasure

By Moritz Thomsen,

Here are 100 books that The Saddest Pleasure fans have personally recommended if you like The Saddest Pleasure. 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 The Vulnerable Observer

Paul Stoller Author Of Wisdom from the Edge: Writing Ethnography in Turbulent Times

From my list on writing about the wisdom of others.

Who am I?

I was passionate about anthropology in the 1970s when I was in my twenties and am still passionate about anthropology in the 2020s in my seventies. Throughout the years I have expressed my passion for anthropology in university classrooms, in public lectures, and in the 16 books I have published. As my mind has matured, I understand more and more fully just how important it is to write powerfully, cogently, and accessibly about the wisdom of others. In all my books I have attempted to convey to the public this fundamental wisdom, none more so than in my latest book, Wisdom from the Edge: Writing Ethnography in Turbulent Times.   

Paul's book list on writing about the wisdom of others

Paul Stoller Why did Paul love this book?

The Vulnerable Observer is a classic work in anthropology in which the author underscores the emotional impact of being a research anthropologist. 

Behar’s wonderfully crafted stories evoke the wisdom of others and demonstrate why it is important for anthropologists to describe the emotional impact of social being in the world. It is an important text for understanding the emotional contours of the human condition.

By Ruth Behar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Eloquently interweaving ethnography and memoir, award-winning anthropologist Ruth Behar offers a new theory and practice for humanistic anthropology. She proposes an anthropology that is lived and written in a personal voice. She does so in the hope that it will lead us toward greater depth of understanding and feeling, not only in contemporary anthropology, but in all acts of witnessing.


Book cover of Stuart: A Life Backwards

Tim Hannigan Author Of The Travel Writing Tribe: Journeys in Search of a Genre

From my list on writing about the real world.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by nonfiction since my teens, by the idea of books about things that really happened. Fiction gets all the kudos, all the big prizes, all the respect. But as far as I’m concerned, trying to wrestle the unruly matter of reality onto the page is much more challenging – imaginatively, technically, ethically – than simply making things up! My book The Travel Writing Tribe is all about those challenges – and about the people, the well-known travel writers, who have to confront them every time they put pen to paper.

Tim's book list on writing about the real world

Tim Hannigan Why did Tim love this book?

“Middle-class academic writes nonfiction about homeless substance abuser” – that sounds like a recipe for overweening earnestness at best, or at worst an exploitative catastrophe. But right from the first line of this astonishing book you know that the author isn’t entirely in control, that the subject, his troubled friend Stuart Shorter, has agency in these pages in a way he seldom did elsewhere in life. It’s a gut-crunchingly sad story, but also often very funny – which, you get the feeling, is exactly how Stuart would have wanted it.

By Alexander Masters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A unique biography of a homeless man and a complete portrait of the hidden underclass. 'So here it is, my attempt at the story of Stuart Shorter, thief, hostage taker, psycho and sociopath street raconteur, my spy on how the British chaotic underclass spend their troubled days at the beginning of this century: a man with an important life. I wish I could have presented it to Stuart before he stepped in front of the 11.15 train from London to Kings Lynn.' Stuart Shorter's brief life was one of turmoil and chaos. In this remarkable book, a masterful act of…


Book cover of Stealing with the Eyes

Tim Hannigan Author Of The Travel Writing Tribe: Journeys in Search of a Genre

From my list on writing about the real world.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by nonfiction since my teens, by the idea of books about things that really happened. Fiction gets all the kudos, all the big prizes, all the respect. But as far as I’m concerned, trying to wrestle the unruly matter of reality onto the page is much more challenging – imaginatively, technically, ethically – than simply making things up! My book The Travel Writing Tribe is all about those challenges – and about the people, the well-known travel writers, who have to confront them every time they put pen to paper.

Tim's book list on writing about the real world

Tim Hannigan Why did Tim love this book?

Since the 1980s, anthropologists have been confronting the fraught ethics of representing other people, other places, other cultures much more directly than their counterparts in journalism or travel writing. Will Buckingham didn’t stick with anthropology, and this book about his fieldwork with woodcarvers in eastern Indonesia – written two decades after the events it describes – goes some way to explaining why. It’s wry, funny and thought-provoking. The title refers to the theft committed by every travelling writer.

By Will Buckingham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stealing with the Eyes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Will Buckingham travelled to Tanimbar Islands (Indonesia) as a trainee anthropologist to meet three remarkable sculptors: the crippled Matias Fatruan, the buffalo hunter Abraham Amelwatin, and Damianus Masele, who was skilled in black magic, but who abstained out of Christian principle. Part memoir, part travel-writing, Stealing with the Eyes is the story of these men, and also of how stumbling into a world of witchcraft, sickness and fever lead him to question the validity of his anthropological studies, and eventually to abandon them for good. Through his encounters with these remarkable craftsmen and weaving together Tanimbarese history, myth and philosophy…


Book cover of For Love & Money

Tim Hannigan Author Of The Travel Writing Tribe: Journeys in Search of a Genre

From my list on writing about the real world.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by nonfiction since my teens, by the idea of books about things that really happened. Fiction gets all the kudos, all the big prizes, all the respect. But as far as I’m concerned, trying to wrestle the unruly matter of reality onto the page is much more challenging – imaginatively, technically, ethically – than simply making things up! My book The Travel Writing Tribe is all about those challenges – and about the people, the well-known travel writers, who have to confront them every time they put pen to paper.

Tim's book list on writing about the real world

Tim Hannigan Why did Tim love this book?

Jonathan Raban’s nonfiction books take travel writing to another level. He has a special mastery of the intersection of self, journey, place, and narrative. This collection – of essays, short memoirs, travel pieces, and more – isn’t necessarily his best book (that would probably be Passage to Juneau); but it’s full of brilliant reflections on the writing life, and on the challenges facing the writer as a craftsperson. There’s a particularly memorable section on the difficulties of transferring real-world dialogue onto the page. “You isolate the speaker’s tics and tricks of speech, his keywords,” Raban says, “and make him say them slightly more often than he did in fact; you give him small bits of stage business to mark his silences; you invent lines of dialogue for yourself to break up a paragraph of solid talk that looks too long to be believable. You are trespassing, perhaps, into writing…

By Jonathan Raban,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For Love & Money as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Jonathan Raban is the only person I listen to in matters of travel and books and writing in general. Reading him, talking to him as I have over fifty years, he has made my work better and me happier.' Paul Theroux

'For Love and Money ... is as good a book as there is about the writing life. Delighted that it will be safeguarded in print by Eland.' Tim Hannigan

This collection of writing undertaken for love and money is about books and travel, and makes for an engrossing and candid exploration of what it means to live from writing.…


Book cover of Journey to the River Sea

Glen Huser Author Of Firebird

From my list on historical fiction featuring journeys.

Who am I?

As a child, I was an avid reader and particularly fell in love with historical fiction. My favourite corner for reading was on top of the woodbox by my grandmother’s cookstove. Warm and cozy, I delved into such books as Geoffrey Trease’s Cue for Treason and Jack Schaeffer’s Shane. How wonderful to land for a few hours in the world of Shakespeare’s London or the grasslands of the frontier west. When I worked as a children’s librarian and then began writing books myself, this early love has remained with me—so it factored into the books I chose for schools—and some of the novels I wrote such as The Runaway and Firebird.

Glen's book list on historical fiction featuring journeys

Glen Huser Why did Glen love this book?

I’m always on the lookout for fiction in which the writing itself is dazzling. Eva Ibbotson’s prose is truly something to savour and this novel is the jewel in her crown. Maia, an orphan, is sent from England to stay with distant relatives, the Carters, in Manaus, Brazil. The family is weird and mean but Maia finds two young friends—Clovis, an actor, and Finn, who is partly a Brazilian native, but heir to his British grandfather’s fortune. Clovis longs to return to England and Finn happily changes places with him. Finn and Maia journey down the Amazon (the “River Sea”) to live with his Xanti people. Expect humour, high adventure, and a richly-detailed look at life in early 20th century Brazil.

By Eva Ibbotson, Kevin Hawkes (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Journey to the River Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

It is 1910 - Maia, orphaned at 13, travels from England to start a new life with distant relatives in Manaus, hundreds of miles up the Amazon. She is very unhappy with her exceptionally bizarre new family but befriends Finn, a mysterious English boy who lives with the local Indians and shares her passion for the jungle. Then Finn's past life catches up with him and they are forced to flee far upriver in a canoe, pursued by an assortment of brilliantly eccentric characters that only Eva Ibbotson could invent.


Book cover of These Strange Ashes: Is God Still in Charge?

Jamie Janosz Author Of When Others Shuddered: Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up

From my list on gutsy, godly women.

Who am I?

I grew up attending a little Baptist church where we would host traveling missionaries. I remember one young woman in particular, Jane Vandenberg, who would open her bag to show us mementos from her life in Africa. As I listened to her stories, I admired how brave she was. I wanted to be like that! I served for 16 years as an English professor at Moody Bible Institute where I would share well-written and inspirational books with my students. And, as a Christian woman and mom, I think we need more role models for ourselves and for our daughters. Sharing the powerful biographies of Christian women is one way to make that happen!

Jamie's book list on gutsy, godly women

Jamie Janosz Why did Jamie love this book?

This is the best missionary autobiography I have ever read.

In These Strange Ashes Elisabeth Elliot is so brutally honest about being a missionary. She complains about humidity and wrinkled clothes. She endures loneliness and times of deep discouragement in the jungles of Ecuador. And the ending! I won’t spoil it.

While I’ve read other books by Elliot, including her famous memoir about losing her husband Jim, this one stayed with me. It asks, why do we serve God? What happens when the result is not stellar? Does it mean we failed? I wasn’t eager to sign up for a trip to the jungle after reading her story, but it helped me see my life from a new perspective.

By Elisabeth Elliot,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her first year as a missionary to a small group of native women in the Ecuadorian jungle, Elisabeth Elliot faced physical and spiritual trials. In These Strange Ashes, Elliot captures the mysteries and stark realities surrounding the colorful and primitive world in which she ministered. More than just a recounting of her early days, this is a beautifully crafted and deeply personal reflection on the important questions of life and a remarkable testimony to an authentic Christian commitment.


Book cover of My Father's Island

David Horwell Author Of Galapagos Wildlife

From my list on the Galápagos Islands.

Who am I?

I grew up near Darwin’s house in Kent. Although only vaguely aware of his influence. My interest grew as I studied biology at school and geology at university. The evolutionary significance of Darwin’s finches stayed with me. I longed to sail in tropical waters like him and was fortunate enough to do so in the iconic Galápagos Islands. I was employed as a resident naturalist guide on yachts when tourism was just starting to take off. Instead of settling down to a regular job I became a tour leader. I wrote an educational book about the islands and then with a colleague Pete Oxford, the wildlife guide for Bradt.

David's book list on the Galápagos Islands

David Horwell Why did David love this book?

Many people don't realise that the Galápagos Islands are inhabited. Settlers began to arrive in the middle of the 20th century. Before that, there were pirates, convicts, and oddballs, then pioneers from Europe.

In the 1930s five brothers, the Angermeyers, arrived, fleeing Hitler's Germany. I met Johanna Angermeyer, whose father was one of those brothers. Little did I know the amazing story behind how she got there. Johanna grew up in California, her mother once married to an Ecuadorian pilot. He died in a plane crash, then she had a romance with one of the brothers in Quito, but he died too.

She decided to visit the Galápagos Islands with her mother. They stayed, living a Robinson Crusoe life. Her story tells how hard it was. Later, Johanna met a British sailor and decided to settle. He was crew on the first sailing boats that took tourists around the enchanted…

By Johanna Angermeyer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Father's Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of Johanna Angermeyer-Fox's search for her family, part adventure story, part detective story which culminates in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. It is a fascinating account of the pleasures and hardships of living in one of the world's most remote places.


Book cover of Amerzonia: A Savage Journey Through The Americas

Jaime Salazar Author Of Mutiny of Rage: The 1917 Camp Logan Riots and Buffalo Soldiers in Houston

From my list on travel for military and adventure enthusiasts.

Who am I?

In today’s tech-obsessed world, social media may well be the perfect platform to showcase the world’s beauty to armchair travelers across the globe, but travel is so much more than just getting that perfect Instagram shot. Travel should be meaningful. It should excite and inspire you, rejuvenate and ground you, educate and challenge you, and most importantly, humble you. Travel gives us our most wondrous stories, our most cherished memories, and countless irreplaceable learnings that we can choose to pay forward to others. It teaches us about ourselves and each other, it broadens our horizons, and, just like a reset button, it forces us to refocus on what matters.

Jaime's book list on travel for military and adventure enthusiasts

Jaime Salazar Why did Jaime love this book?

Tijuana, Batopilas, Tegucigalpa, Medellin, Iquitos: just some of the exotic, strange—and at times downright dangerous—destinations passed through on this riotous overland odyssey through Americas central and south. It’s a savage journey that takes Mark from Los Angeles to the Amazon—through Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica and Panama, Colombia and Ecuador and Peru. On his ride into the dark south of the Americas: a failed revolution, a spewing volcano, a drawer of cocaine; and a surreal succession of encounters with an assortment of characters normally avoided—Scientologists, shamans, narcos. He risks his freedom, his sanity, his life. By the end, he finally finds a point to it all: he goes far to find…

By Mark Walters,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tijuana, Batopilas, Tegucigalpa, Medellin, Iquitos: just some of the exotic, strange — and at times downright dangerous — destinations passed through on this riotous overland odyssey through Americas central and south. It’s a savage journey that takes Mark from Los Angeles to the Amazon — through Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras, through Nicaragua and Costa Rica and Panama, through Colombia and Ecuador and Peru. On his ride into the dark south of the Americas: a failed revolution, a spewing volcano, a drawer of cocaine; and a surreal succession of encounters with an assortment of oddballs and freaks.


Book cover of The Works: Anatomy of a City

Spike Carlsen Author Of A Walk Around the Block: Stoplight Secrets, Mischievous Squirrels, Manhole Mysteries & Other Stuff You See Every Day (and Know Nothing About)

From my list on understanding the world outside your front door.

Who am I?

In my 30 years as a writer I’ve learned it’s not enough to simply deliver information; it has to be done in an entertaining, engaging, and inspiring way. I’ve been fascinated in how the world “works” all my life. As a kid I dismantled the family lawn mower (failing to get it re-mantled.) After teaching for two years I turned to general contracting where it was imperative to know how things “worked.”  As an editor with Readers’ Digest and Family Handyman magazine, I wrote the “How A House Works” column and headed up the DIY books division, teaching others how the world works. For the last 15 years I’ve been focused on books that explore the world around us.

Spike's book list on understanding the world outside your front door

Spike Carlsen Why did Spike love this book?

Ascher takes us on a delightful tour of  New York City, teaching us about the inner workings of one of the world’s most complex cities. In doing so, she gives us clues as to how our own cities work. Using words, statistics, history, and illustrations, Ascher makes the complex seem simple, From sewage to stoplights to subways she leaves no stone unturned. Fact to ponder: For years NYC shipped its garbage to a landfill in Texas, nearly 2,000 miles away.

By Kate Ascher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fascinating guided tour of the ways things work in a modern city

“It's a rare person who won't find something of interest in The Works, whether it's an explanation of how a street-sweeper works or the view of what's down a manhole.”  —New York Post

Have you ever wondered how the water in your faucet gets there? Where your garbage goes? What the pipes under city streets do? How bananas from Ecuador get to your local market? Why radiators in apartment buildings clang? Using New York City as its point of reference, The Works takes readers down manholes and…


Book cover of Trials of Nation Making: Liberalism, Race, and Ethnicity in the Andes, 1810–1910

Miguel La Serna Author Of With Masses and Arms: Peru's Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement

From my list on reads before your trip to Peru.

Who am I?

I am a professor of Latin American history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My teaching and research focus on Andean history, and I have written several books on the period of political violence that pitted guerrillas of the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) against Peruvian security forces and peasant militias during the 1980s and 1990s. I have been researching in Peru for twenty years, from Lima’s shantytowns, to the Andes mountains, to the Amazon jungle. A Peruvian-American, I maintain strong family ties to the region and am a proud, yet frequently heartbroken, supporter of the national soccer team.

Miguel's book list on reads before your trip to Peru

Miguel La Serna Why did Miguel love this book?

Few scholars possess the ability to take complex historical situations and present them in a manner that is equal parts educational, palatable, and engaging. Brooke Larson is one of those rare talents. When I was in graduate school, I devoured Larson’s Cochabamba, and soon found myself looking to get my hands on anything authored by her. Needless to say, I was eager to read Trials of Nation Making when it was released. I was not disappointed. This wonderfully engaging history examines the role that race and ethnicity played in the framing, founding, and forming of Andean republics, where Creole elites sought to solve the so-called “Indian Problem.” But this is no top-down history. As Larson masterfully illustrates, Indigenous historical actors employed a range of strategies—from legal action to open rebellion—to demand participation in nation-making processes.  

By Brooke Larson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book offers the first interpretive synthesis of the history of Andean peasants and the challenges of nation-making in the four republics of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia during the turbulent nineteenth century. Nowhere in Latin America were postcolonial transitions more vexed or violent than in the Andes, where communal indigenous roots grew deep and where the 'Indian problem' seemed so daunting to liberalizing states. Brooke Larson paints vivid portraits of Creole ruling elites and native peasantries engaged in ongoing political and moral battles over the rightful place of the Indian majorities in these emerging nation-states. In this story, indigenous…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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