100 books like Underground Religion

By Ruth Whitehouse,

Here are 100 books that Underground Religion fans have personally recommended if you like Underground Religion. 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 Les Hommes aux Temps de Lascaux: 40000-10000 avant J.C.

Brian D. Hayden Author Of The Eyes of the Leopard

From my list on prehistory and what life was like in the Stone Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became intrigued by Upper Paleolithic societies when I studied prehistory at the University of Bordeaux. Over time, I became more and more involved in trying to understand why some Upper Paleolithic societies produced such great art – both painted and carved. After years of studying hunter-gatherer cultures, I concluded that the Upper Paleolithic groups producing fine art were not simple egalitarian groups, but were almost certainly more complex types of hunter-gatherers like the ethnographic groups in California and the Northwest Coast with striking economic and social inequalities – and great art. I decided to put all these ideas into an adventure novel for young readers: The Eyes of the Leopard.  

Brian's book list on prehistory and what life was like in the Stone Age

Brian D. Hayden Why did Brian love this book?

Les Hommes aux Temps de Lascaux is in French, but it is the best, most comprehensive summary of the things we know about life in the Upper Paleolithic, from about 35,000 to 10,000 years ago. It covers all the basics (physical types, chronology, stone and bone tools, hunting-fishing, and plant foods) without delving into the minutiae that would only interest specialists. Beaune also deals with the arts, clothing and adornments, games, feasts, music, use of caves, funeral practices, and other interesting aspects of society. A newer version has just appeared, but is also only available in French; the title is Préhistoire Intime: Vive dans la Peau des Homo Sapiens.

By Sophie A. de Beaune,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Les Hommes aux Temps de Lascaux as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

L'image classique de l'homme paléolithique, misérablement accoutré de haillons, condamné à pourchasser le gibier et fuyant au fond des grottes, a bien changé. Certes, l'homme de ces temps n'avait pas encore appris à domestiquer ni les plantes ni les animaux, mais il connaissait parfaitement son environnement et tirait parti de toutes ses ressources avec beaucoup d'intelligence. De plus, il suffit de se plonger dans l'univers de cavernes ornées telles que Lascaux, Niaux, ou encore la grotte Chauvet, récemment découverte en Ardèche, pour mesurer la richesse de l'imaginaire et des conceptions religieuses de ces grands chasseurs.
Dans un style simple et…


Book cover of The Shamans of Prehistory: Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves

Brian D. Hayden Author Of The Eyes of the Leopard

From my list on prehistory and what life was like in the Stone Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became intrigued by Upper Paleolithic societies when I studied prehistory at the University of Bordeaux. Over time, I became more and more involved in trying to understand why some Upper Paleolithic societies produced such great art – both painted and carved. After years of studying hunter-gatherer cultures, I concluded that the Upper Paleolithic groups producing fine art were not simple egalitarian groups, but were almost certainly more complex types of hunter-gatherers like the ethnographic groups in California and the Northwest Coast with striking economic and social inequalities – and great art. I decided to put all these ideas into an adventure novel for young readers: The Eyes of the Leopard.  

Brian's book list on prehistory and what life was like in the Stone Age

Brian D. Hayden Why did Brian love this book?

The use of deep caves for rituals and creating extraordinary paintings has provoked many discussions on why people did this so long ago. There are many theories, but one of the most discussed ideas is that the paintings were produced by shamans as records of their spiritual visions, or to connect with their animal spirit helpers. Lewis-Williams and Clottes are the leading proponents of this interpretation. They rely on comparisons of the Stone Age art with art produced in historic times by Bushman shamans in South Africa. This is an excellent introduction to Paleolithic art and arguments about the art. My own explanation shares some aspects of their model, but focuses on secret societies (shamans were usually members). This is also a main feature in my own book.

By Jean Clottes, David Lewis-Williams, Sophie Hawkes (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French


Book cover of Social Inequality Before Farming?

Brian D. Hayden Author Of The Eyes of the Leopard

From my list on prehistory and what life was like in the Stone Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became intrigued by Upper Paleolithic societies when I studied prehistory at the University of Bordeaux. Over time, I became more and more involved in trying to understand why some Upper Paleolithic societies produced such great art – both painted and carved. After years of studying hunter-gatherer cultures, I concluded that the Upper Paleolithic groups producing fine art were not simple egalitarian groups, but were almost certainly more complex types of hunter-gatherers like the ethnographic groups in California and the Northwest Coast with striking economic and social inequalities – and great art. I decided to put all these ideas into an adventure novel for young readers: The Eyes of the Leopard.  

Brian's book list on prehistory and what life was like in the Stone Age

Brian D. Hayden Why did Brian love this book?

This is actually an edited book of papers dealing with the social organization among prehistoric and ethnographic hunter-gatherers. It is one of the few publications that discusses issues like inequality from a variety of different viewpoints, including diametrically opposed views about Upper Paleolithic societies – whether they were egalitarian or non-egalitarian. Another important aspect of this volume is the inclusion of ethnographic hunter-gatherers to generate insights into how prehistoric hunter-gatherers could have organized themselves. Some unique features include the examination of dogs as indicators of inequalities and the nature of the cave paintings as indicators of inequalities. Mobility, population densities, surpluses, and many other factors all create a heady brew of debate and intriguing ideas. This book is highly recommended, even if a bit technical.

Book cover of Ce que l'art préhistorique dit de nos origines

Brian D. Hayden Author Of The Eyes of the Leopard

From my list on prehistory and what life was like in the Stone Age.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became intrigued by Upper Paleolithic societies when I studied prehistory at the University of Bordeaux. Over time, I became more and more involved in trying to understand why some Upper Paleolithic societies produced such great art – both painted and carved. After years of studying hunter-gatherer cultures, I concluded that the Upper Paleolithic groups producing fine art were not simple egalitarian groups, but were almost certainly more complex types of hunter-gatherers like the ethnographic groups in California and the Northwest Coast with striking economic and social inequalities – and great art. I decided to put all these ideas into an adventure novel for young readers: The Eyes of the Leopard.  

Brian's book list on prehistory and what life was like in the Stone Age

Brian D. Hayden Why did Brian love this book?

Although this book is in French, it is the most detailed defense to date of the view that at least some Upper Paleolithic societies were non-egalitarian, i.e. that they had significant wealth and power differences between individuals or families. The title emphasizes art, but this is really just a point of departure for understanding the entire economic, social, and political organization of certain Upper Paleolithic groups and why the great works of art were produced. It uses the initial arguments that I developed in an earlier book (in French) to structure the supporting data. So, naturally, I am favorably disposed towards it. But it is a good book as well! If you can read French, this is highly recommended.

By Emmanuel Guy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ce que l'art préhistorique dit de nos origines as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Que nous dit l’art préhistorique des sociétés qui l’ont produit ? À distance des interprétations religieuses communément admises, ce livre suggère d’en repenser la valeur sociale.
Ce n’est pas sans raison, en effet, que l’art des grottes se signale, dès ses origines, par un goût marqué pour l’imitation. L’histoire de l’art nous rappelle à juste titre que le prestige suscité par l’imitation sert toujours les intérêts politiques d’une élite (voir la Grèce athénienne ou la Renaissance florentine). Mais plus encore, le savoir-faire exceptionnel qui est mis en œuvre dans les grottes révèlerait déjà des statuts différenciés entre les individus ;…


Book cover of The Flounder

Crystal King Author Of Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome

From my list on novels about food.

Why am I passionate about this?

Crystal King is the author of The Chef’s Secret and Feast of Sorrow, which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and was a Must-Read for the MassBook Awards. She is an author, culinary enthusiast, and marketing expert. Her writing is fueled by a love of history and a passion for the food, language, and culture of Italy. She has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at GrubStreet, Harvard Extension School, and Boston University, among others. She resides in Boston.

Crystal's book list on novels about food

Crystal King Why did Crystal love this book?

An epic feast of a book, The Flounder winds the reader from the Stone Age to the present day, mixing fantasy and history with dashes of actual recipes here and there. This novel is a long meal, full of the strangest stories including talking fish and three-breasted women, but in every era and every chapter, there is a woman who is master of both man and kitchen.

By Günter Grass,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gunter Grass, says The Times, 'is on his own as an artist', and indeed this extraordinary, provoking and joyously Rabelaisian celebration of life, food and sex is unique.

Lifted from their ancient fairytale, the fisherman and his wife are still living today. During the months of Ilsebill's pregnancy, the fisherman tells her of his adventures through time with the Flounder, constituting a complete reworking of social, political and gastronomic history.


Book cover of Stone Age Economics

Thomas Hylland Eriksen Author Of Small Places, Large Issues: An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology

From my list on economic anthropology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an anthropologist and writer who has published more than fifty books, ranging from novels and essays to academic monographs and textbooks. I am passionate about trying to make the world a slightly better place, and I am convinced that we need to think differently about the good life and the economy in order to get out of the corner we’ve painted ourselves into. Economic anthropology offers alternative perspectives on the world and the human condition. It's far less obscure than it sounds.

Thomas' book list on economic anthropology

Thomas Hylland Eriksen Why did Thomas love this book?

Building on Mauss, Polanyi, and others, Sahlins described, in 1972, societies without money, without states or formal power, but which nevertheless did well. The most famous essay in the book is titled, appropriately, "The Original Affluent Society" and describes the lives of hunter and gatherers before they were overrun by farmers and armies. Very thought-provoking. Sometimes, less is more.

By Marshall Sahlins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since its first publication over forty years ago Marshall Sahlins's Stone Age Economics has established itself as a classic of modern anthropology and arguably one of the founding works of anthropological economics. Ambitiously tackling the nature of economic life and how to study it comparatively, Sahlins radically revises traditional views of the hunter-gatherer and so-called primitive societies, revealing them to be the original "affluent society."

Sahlins examines notions of production, distribution and exchange in early communities and examines the link between economics and cultural and social factors. A radical study of tribal economies, domestic production for livelihood, and of the…


Book cover of Dawn of Art: The Chauvet Cave

Martin Puchner Author Of Culture: The Story of Us, From Cave Art to K-Pop

From my list on discovering forgotten masterpieces of world culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been driven by curiosity about other cultures. I grew up in Germany but became restless and studied in Italy before moving to the United States. Some of the texts I recommend here I discovered while working on the Norton Anthology of World Literature. When I began this work, I realized just how narrow my own education had been and spent the next several years reading world literature and world culture. Ever since, I’ve been on a mission to expand how culture is taught. This is why I became an academic: to excite students about world culture.

Martin's book list on discovering forgotten masterpieces of world culture

Martin Puchner Why did Martin love this book?

The Chauvet Cave in Southern France is a unique time capsule that gives us a glimpse into the imaginary world of humans living 30,000 years ago.

Dawn of Art is written by those who discovered the cave and recognized it as the earliest masterpiece of human-made art.

What I found most fascinating about the cave as described in this book is the fact that humans decorated it over a period of thousands of years, perhaps as many as two hundred generations.

This is a remarkable achievement of collective artmaking, with one generation passing down the required artistry to the next generation. It made me wonder whether we have lost the reverence for the past that our distant ancestors must have possessed.

By Jean-Marie Chauvet, Eliette Brunel Deschamps, Christian Hillaire

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An intriguing study of the early evolution of human artistic endeavors focuses on recent discoveries in the Chauvet cave, Stone Age paintings and engravings of animals that are more than thirty thousand years old. BOMC Div. Natural Science Main.


Book cover of History Year by Year: The History of the World, from the Stone Age to the Digital Age

Caroline Fernandez Author Of The Adventures of Grandmasaurus at the Aquarium Rescue Centre

From my list on for children to explore the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Canadian children’s author who is curious about people, places, and history. There is always something new to discover. I am an introvert by nature but I love travelling the world through the pages of books. By exploring the world (in real life or through reading) we learn about survival, struggle, and overcoming obstacles. We might just get inspired to make a greater contribution to our world. 

Caroline's book list on for children to explore the world

Caroline Fernandez Why did Caroline love this book?

Bite-sized bits of world knowledge are a great way to explore the world from the comfort of your own living room (or car or classroom). Visuals and a timeline help kids navigate history, discoveries, wars, revolutions, and inventions. This is the type of book kids can pick up and put down anytime. It also adds to general knowledge and builds great ideas for family trivia night!

By DK Smithsonian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked History Year by Year as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Get to grips with history like never before as you travel through the ages in this history encyclopedia for children that stretches from prehistoric times to modern day.

Introducing an updated volume of History Year by Year - a timeline of world history that joins the dots of history by putting key historic events across the world on one timeline for children, including everything from prehistoric people, to world wars, humans on the moon, and so much more! Every page is jam-packed pictures and original artefacts, to give children an accurate insight into each era. Including features that explain major…


Book cover of Under the Mountain Wall: A Chronicle of Two Seasons in Stone Age New Guinea

Jonathan Meiburg Author Of A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World's Smartest Birds of Prey

From my list on taking you to another world.

Why am I passionate about this?

If you’re curious about the world, you can find secret doors that open onto sudden vistas. For me, exploring the lives and origins of the caracaras unveiled an astonishing story about life on Earth—and though the books in my list are mostly nonfiction, they all explore real worlds as absorbing as any fantasy. 

Jonathan's book list on taking you to another world

Jonathan Meiburg Why did Jonathan love this book?

Matthiessen is best known for The Snow Leopard, but I think this book, written fifteen years earlier, exceeds it. As part of an anthropological expedition to the highlands of New Guinea, he was among the first westerners to describe the lives of the indigenous Papuan farmers who lived there—and he dares to imagine them from the inside, with his trademark understated lyricism. It's an extraordinary book, full of beauty and drama, and though it isn’t a journey to the distant past, it often feels like it: this was a place where neighboring villages fought ritualized wars against one another every week or so. The last line alone is worth the price of admission. 

By Peter Matthiessen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Under the Mountain Wall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A remarkable firsthand view of a lost culture in all its simplicity and violence by renowned writer Peter Matthiessen (1927 to 2014), author of the National Book Award–winning The Snow Leopard and the novel In Paradise.
 
In the Baliem Valley in central New Guinea live the Kurelu, a Stone Age tribe that survived into the twentieth century. Peter Matthiessen visited the Kurelu with the Harvard-Peabody Expedition in 1961 and wrote Under the Mountain Wall as an account not of the expedition, but of the great warrior Weaklekek, the swineherd Tukum, U-mue and his family, and the boy Weake, killed in…


Book cover of Stone Age Present: How Evolution Has Shaped Modern Life -- From Sex, Violence and Language to Emotions, Morals and Communities

Bruce Nappi Author Of Collapse 2020 Vol. 1: Fall of the First Global Civilization

From my list on the impending collapse of global civilization.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was an Eagle Scout selected for the 1964 North Pole expedition, graduate of MIT with both BS and MS degrees in Aero Astro – yes, a true MIT rocket scientist. I quickly took planning roles at the “bleeding edge” of technology: missiles, nuclear power, heart pumps, DNA sequencing, telemedicine… In every case, however, the organizations were plagued by incompetence and corruption. As an individual, I interacted with activist leaders in movements for: peace, climate, social justice, ending poverty, etc. Again, incompetence and corruption. Throughout, I dug for answers into the wisdom of the classics and emerging viewpoints. Finally. All that effort paid off. I found the “big picture”! 

Bruce's book list on the impending collapse of global civilization

Bruce Nappi Why did Bruce love this book?

Unravelling the confusion of our time always begs the question, “how could such confusion happen with the greatness of human thinking?” Allman has a simple answer: maybe our notion about “modern intelligence” isn’t so obvious. His point is: biological evolution is extremely slow. The time from the stone age to now is extremely short on evolutionary scales. Instead of focusing just on modern marvels like jet planes, what if we first compare our image of a “stone age man,” with the thinking ability of “modern” miners during the 1849 California gold rush? Hmmm… not “all” that different. Then compare a current apartment designer with the designers of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, 3,000 BC? Are modern brains actually going backward? This book will really challenge your “stone age” brain.

By William Allman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Simon & Schuster, The Stone Age Present explores how evolution has shaped modern life—from sex, violence, and language to emotions, morals, and communities.

In this fascinating synthesis of the disciplines of anthropology, psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and biology, William Allman shows us how our minds have evolved in response to challenges faced by our prehistoric ancestors, and reveals how our brains continue to harbor that legacy in the present day.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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