10 books like Things Fall Apart

By Chinua Achebe,

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

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Man’s Search for Meaning

By Viktor Frankl,

Book cover of Man’s Search for Meaning

In apposition to the Levi book I listed first, Frankl becomes more of what he already is, which is a transformation of a completely different sort. The author’s professional life becomes magnified, his thought processes on suffering become exponential. The Holocaust experience affects him so much, so deeply, that he emerges with a new field of thought that shakes up the foundational thought on mental health that Freud had well established. One is not a slave to his own mind; one can attain mastery under any circumstances with certain shifts of reason. Resonant for all time, and certainly for our time.

Man’s Search for Meaning

By Viktor Frankl,

Why should I read it?

26 authors picked Man’s Search for Meaning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the outstanding classics to emerge from the Holocaust, Man's Search for Meaning is Viktor Frankl's story of his struggle for survival in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps. Today, this remarkable tribute to hope offers us an avenue to finding greater meaning and purpose in our own lives.


Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity

By Richard Rorty,

Book cover of Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity

If you think too much and you’re not religious, you may have bumped up against a question that troubled much of my existence: on the one hand, I want (and sometimes fail) to live a life I can call morally good, but on the other hand, I don’t have any sort of theories or transcendental claims to base my “morally good” on. It’s hard to say you believe in X when your answer to “Why do you believe in X?” is, “because it’s X!” Rorty (on my reading) reminds us we don’t need to be torn apart by the intrusion of intellectual skepticism into our desire to act in a moral manner. To borrow from Nike, just do it.

Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity

By Richard Rorty,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this 1989 book Rorty argues that thinkers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Wittgenstein have enabled societies to see themselves as historical contingencies, rather than as expressions of underlying, ahistorical human nature or as realizations of suprahistorical goals. This ironic perspective on the human condition is valuable on a private level, although it cannot advance the social or political goals of liberalism. In fact Rorty believes that it is literature not philosophy that can do this, by promoting a genuine sense of human solidarity. A truly liberal culture, acutely aware of its own historical contingency, would fuse the private, individual…


Eating Animals

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Book cover of Eating Animals

What is the meaning of life? We could take the question further by disposing of our blinkers and asking, what is the meaning of the other lives that may not look like ours? These lives consist of the millions of animals who die in the factory farms built to conceal their suffering and turn them into fungible objects, not lives. Safran’s book is an eye-opening exposition of how we have enslaved animals for food that we don’t even need in the 21st century—damaging ourselves and the environment in the process. One meaning of life: the value of letting other lives have meaning too.

Eating Animals

By Jonathan Safran Foer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

To reduce risk of pandemics for ourselves, our gaze needs to turn to the health of animals. Discover Jonathan Safran Foer's eye-opening and life-changing account of the meat we eat.

'Should be compulsory reading. A genuine masterwork. Read this book. It will change you' Time Out

Eating Animals is the most original and urgent book on the subject of food written this century. It will change the way you think, and change the way you eat. For good.

Whether you're flirting with veganuary, trying to cut back on animal consumption, or a lifelong meat-eater, you need to read this book.…


My Happy Life

By Lydia Millet,

Book cover of My Happy Life

My book club found this book depressing and shook their heads at my choice. I found it a fascinating account of a life that is meaningful for its owner. The protagonist is a woman dying in an abandoned mental hospital after years of abuse and neglect. And yet, she has a psychological condition that makes her infinitely compassionate towards others: she can only perceive goodwill and love. When she tells the story of her “happy life,” she even feels bad for her rapist. You will love or hate this book. But it will make you think.

My Happy Life

By Lydia Millet,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

At the opening of My Happy Life, the unnamed narrator has been abandoned in a locked room of a deserted mental hospital. She hasn't seen the nice man who brings her food in days; so she's eaten the soap, the toothpaste, and even tried to eat the plaster on her walls — a dietary adventure that ended none too well. This woman's story, covering decades and spanning continents, is tragic, yet she is curiously at peace, even happy. Despite a lifetime of neglect, physical abuse, and loss, she's incapable of perceiving slight or injury. She has infinite faith in the…


Paths in the Rainforests

By Jan Vansina,

Book cover of Paths in the Rainforests: Toward a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa

A seminal history of the development of political institutions in Central Africa over the past 2,000 years. Africa took a very different path into the modern world than Eurasia did and instead of building large centralized and repressive states instead innovated all sorts of different ways of reconciling the autonomy of the individual, men and women, and the local community, with the benefits of living in larger societies. These historical processes still shape Africa today.

Paths in the Rainforests

By Jan Vansina,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paths in the Rainforests as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vansina’s scope is breathtaking: he reconstructs the history of the forest lands that cover all or part of southern Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Congo, Zaire, the Central African Republic, and Cabinda in Angola, discussing the original settlement of the forest by the western Bantu; the periods of expansion and innovation in agriculture; the development of metallurgy; the rise and fall of political forms and of power; the coming of Atlantic trade and colonialism; and the conquest of the rainforests by colonial powers and the destruction of a way of life.

“In 400 elegantly brilliant pages Vansina lays out five…


Bitter Money

By Parker Shipton,

Book cover of Bitter Money

It isn’t just African politics that is different. Economics is too. If modern economics had been invented by an African, instead of Adam Smith, it would look very different. Wealth would be measured in people rather than material objects, property, and capital. There would be much less emphasis on markets. Some things, should never be sold, and if they were it would create “bitter money” and bad luck. This book is a great place to start to re-think your ideas about economics.

Bitter Money

By Parker Shipton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“fascinating little book adds to the study of culture to political economy” MacGaffey ~Journal of Anthropological Research “presents fascinating material on beliefs about money in some Luo-speaking communities of Kenya… an insightful analysis… a case that will generate fruitful discussions for years to come” Ferguson ~American Ethnologist BITTER MONEY unites symbolic and economic analysis in exploring the beliefs about forbidden exchanges among the Luo of Kenya and other African peoples. Shipton's multi-paradigmatic theoretical explanation briefly summarizes a century of anthropological thought about African exchange, while integrating ways of understanding rural African economy, politics, and culture.


Fighting for the Rain Forest

By Paul Richards,

Book cover of Fighting for the Rain Forest: War, Youth and Resources in Sierra Leone

African civil wars are not about ethnicity, diamonds, or foreign aid. They are genuine political conflicts about how society is to be organized, created by grievances and political marginalization and also deeply embedded in local cultures. As such, they stem from the same roots as the English Civil War of the 1640s or the American Revolutionary War of the 1770s-1780s. This is all revealed in this brilliant book on the Sierra Leone civil war.

Fighting for the Rain Forest

By Paul Richards,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fighting for the Rain Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do small wars in Africa manifest a 'new barbarism'?
What appears as random, anarchic violence is no such thing. The terrifying military methods of of Sierra Leone's soldiers may not fir conventional western models of warfare,but they are rational and effective nonetheless. The war must be understood partly as a 'performance', in which techniques of terror compensate for lack of equipment.

PAUL RICHARDS is Professor of Technology and Agrarian Development, Wageningen University

Published in association with the International African Institute


Anti-Politics Machine

By James Ferguson,

Book cover of Anti-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho

Many people get involved with Africa through their concern for its’ poverty and with a genuine desire to help “develop” Africa. Ferguson’s analysis shows how counter-productive this is without an understanding of the ways in which African society differs from western society. Much social theory is generalizations based on interpretations of western development. These ideas are then projected into Africa on the basis that the more they are like us, the more developed they will be. I hope these five books help you un-learn this perspective and embrace the originality and genius of Africa.

Anti-Politics Machine

By James Ferguson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anti-Politics Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Development, it is generally assumed, is good and necessary, and in its name the West has intervened, implementing all manner of projects in the impoverished regions of the world. When these projects fail, as they do with astonishing regularity, they nonetheless produce a host of regular and unacknowledged effects, including the expansion of bureaucratic state power and the translation of the political realities of poverty and powerlessness into "technical" problems awaiting solution by "development" agencies and experts. It is the political intelligibility of these effects, along with the process that produces them, that this book seeks to illuminate through a…


Winning the Green New Deal

By Guido Girgenti, Varshini Prakash,

Book cover of Winning the Green New Deal: Why We Must, How We Can

I was one in a world of frustrated and increasingly anxious people back in 2018. Politicians just weren’t talking about the severity of the environmental crisis and the vast actions that we need (and can) undertake to tackle it. And then Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg and Fridays for the Future, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal, and the Sunrise Movement came along. Suddenly everyone was talking about it. This set of essays brings so many of those thinkers and doers together to give us an inspiring road map for getting out of the crisis and realizing a better world in the process. And it shows us that these movements are built on the shoulders of giants, particularly in the global south. 

Winning the Green New Deal

By Guido Girgenti, Varshini Prakash,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Winning the Green New Deal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An urgent and definitive collection of essays from leaders and experts championing the Green New Deal—and a detailed playbook for how we can win it—including contributions by leading activists and progressive writers like Varshini Prakash, Rhiana Gunn-Wright, Bill McKibben, Rev William Barber II, and more.

In October 2018, scientists warned that we have less than 12 years left to transform our economy away from fossil fuels, or face catastrophic climate change. At that moment, there was no plan in the US to decarbonize our economy that fast. Less than two years later, every major Democratic presidential candidate has embraced the…


Shōgun

By James Clavell,

Book cover of Shōgun

I have always been fascinated by the Far East, so when James Clavell published Shōgun, I was enthralled throughout all its many pages. It allowed me to delve into the mysteries of that island nation, so isolated by location and culture from the world I knew.

Years later that fascination was further enriched when I went to work for a Japanese motor vehicle company. My department shared a work area with the Japanese representatives stationed in South Africa for 2 to 3 years, so I was able to build some form of relationship with them. When I visited Japan on business I was privileged to enjoy that culture firsthand, albeit it much removed from the Japan of the Shōgun era. The bonus was to be exposed to slices of Japanese life not usually accessible to the average visitor.

Shōgun

By James Clavell,

Why should I read it?

8 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…


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