10 books like The Saddest Pleasure

By Moritz Thomsen,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Saddest Pleasure. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Vulnerable Observer

By Ruth Behar,

Book cover of The Vulnerable Observer

Ruth Behar is an academic, but this deeply personal book is nothing like your typical academic treatise. It’s part memoir, part essay collection, part manifesto for a more ethical – and more honest – way of recording the world and your own interactions with it. What Behar calls for is the “vulnerable observation” of the title: a recognition of the way your own personal and cultural baggage colours your way of seeing, and of the way that you, the writer, are always part of the story. What this leads to is the realisation that objectivity is not just unattainable, but probably undesirable. Behar aims her clarion call at her own profession, anthropology, but what she says applies as much to journalists, travel writers and anyone else who writes about the real world.

The Vulnerable Observer

By Ruth Behar,

Why should I read it?

1 author 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.


Stuart

By Alexander Masters,

Book cover of Stuart: A Life Backwards

“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.

Stuart

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…


Stealing with the Eyes

By Will Buckingham,

Book cover of Stealing with the Eyes

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.

Stealing with the Eyes

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…


For Love & Money

By Jonathan Raban,

Book cover of For Love & Money

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…

For Love & Money

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.…


Journey to the River Sea

By Eva Ibbotson, Kevin Hawkes (illustrator),

Book cover of Journey to the River Sea

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.

Journey to the River Sea

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.

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.


Amerzonia

By Mark Walters,

Book cover of Amerzonia: A Savage Journey Through The Americas

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…

Amerzonia

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.


The Works

By Kate Ascher,

Book cover of The Works: Anatomy of a City

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.

The Works

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…


Trials of Nation Making

By Brooke Larson,

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

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.  

Trials of Nation Making

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…


Suffering Is Never for Nothing

By Elisabeth Elliot,

Book cover of Suffering Is Never for Nothing

Elisabeth Elliot knows pain. She lost her first husband, Jim Elliot, when he and other missionary husbands were murdered by the tribe of people they were trying to reach. With incredible tenacity and bravery, Elisabeth continued to reach out to the tribe who killed her husband and ended up living among them and helping translate the bible into their language. In addition to that, she also lost her second husband to cancer. Despite all of that, she has offered the hope of Jesus to countless people – including myself. And the profound wisdom that she’s gained through unimaginable suffering has been such a gift to me as I’ve struggled to understand the purposes of my own pain. 

Suffering Is Never for Nothing

By Elisabeth Elliot,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Suffering Is Never for Nothing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hard times come for all in life, with no real explanation. When we walk through suffering, it has the potential to devastate and destroy, or to be the gateway to gratitude and joy.

Elisabeth Elliot was no stranger to suffering. Her first husband, Jim, was murdered by the Waoroni people in Ecuador moments after he arrived in hopes of sharing the gospel. Her second husband was lost to cancer. Yet, it was in her deepest suffering that she learned the deepest lessons about God.

Why doesn’t God do something about suffering? He has, He did, He is, and He will.…


Arthur

By Mikael Lindnord,

Book cover of Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

An emotional story that talks about bravery, hope, and loyalty. During an adventure race through the jungle of Ecuador in South America, a Swedish race team lead by Mikael Lindnord befriends a mangy, but determined dog. The dog (Arthur) joins the team and their adventure begins. In the end, the team saves the dog. But, as is so often the case in these animal/people encounters, it is the dog who becomes the quiet hero and ultimately saves the human.

Arthur

By Mikael Lindnord,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

When you are racing 435 miles through the jungles and mountains of South America, the last thing you need is a stray dog tagging along. But that's exactly what happened to Mikael Lindnord, captain of a Swedish adventure racing team, when he threw a scruffy but dignified mongrel a meatball one afternoon.

When they left the next day, the dog followed. Try as they might, they couldn't lose him - and soon Mikael realised that he didn't want to. Crossing rivers, battling illness and injury, and struggling through some of the toughest terrain on the planet,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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