100 books like Waste

By Catherine Coleman Flowers,

Here are 100 books that Waste fans have personally recommended if you like Waste. 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 Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Shannan Martin Author Of Start with Hello: (And Other Simple Ways to Live as Neighbors)

From my list on cultivating empathy and connection in a divided world.

Why am I passionate about this?

A dozen years ago, my family moved from a homogeneous community where everyone looked, lived, and believed as we did to a vibrant neighborhood filled with difference and complexity. This shifted something deep inside me and ultimately changed the way I see the world and myself within it. It set me on a path toward understanding how authentic, ordinary community holds the power to transform our world. To live as neighbors is to draw near to each other. I have written three books on this central theme and plan to spend the rest of my life reaching for empathy as our best tool in reclaiming the goodness of humanity.  

Shannan's book list on cultivating empathy and connection in a divided world

Shannan Martin Why did Shannan love this book?

This book is an instant classic. It took me years to finish reading it because I did not want it to end.

Kimmerer’s writing appealed to the dreamer in me while also explaining the science of the natural world in ways that were unforgettable. This beautifully written book connected me to my physical home and the people around me. I will come back to it again and again. 

By Robin Wall Kimmerer,

Why should I read it?

45 authors picked Braiding Sweetgrass as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Called the work of "a mesmerizing storyteller with deep compassion and memorable prose" (Publishers Weekly) and the book that, "anyone interested in natural history, botany, protecting nature, or Native American culture will love," by Library Journal, Braiding Sweetgrass is poised to be a classic of nature writing. As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer asks questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces indigenous teachings that consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take "us on a journey that is…


Book cover of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

Rannfrid Thelle Author Of Discovering Babylon

From my list on history about how we know the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved stories about people, places, and times other than those I can know myself. As a child, I was fascinated by a book of stories from “the steppes” of Central Asia. My drive to know more has taken me (through books or physically) along the Silk Road, given me tales from ancient Mesopotamia, shown me glimpses into the lives of Orthodox Jewish women, European immigrants to the “New World,” survivors of the transatlantic slave trade or the Korean War, and many other cultures and experiences. I am basically awe-struck by what humans have thought, created, suffered, and sung about throughout times and places. 

Rannfrid's book list on history about how we know the past

Rannfrid Thelle Why did Rannfrid love this book?

This book was exactly what I was looking for when I wanted a “fresh take” on US history.

Dunbar-Ortiz does a radical job in turning the narrative from the standard Eurocentric view, to presenting the history from an indigenous point of view.

By following the story of the area that became the United States from the point of view of the many different nations and communities that originate here, who inhabited the area prior to its colonization by European powers followed by US policies, and who continue to live here, I learned so much about why things are the way they are now.

This book is a must-read for all citizens who wish to be well-informed and live responsibly.

By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller

Now part of the HBO docuseries "Exterminate All the Brutes," written and directed by Raoul Peck

Recipient of the American Book Award

The first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples
 
Today in the United States, there are more than five hundred federally recognized Indigenous nations comprising nearly three million people, descendants of the fifteen million Native people who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the US settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. Now, for the first time, acclaimed historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortizoffers a history…


Book cover of Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

Mckay Jenkins Author Of Bloody Falls of the Coppermine: Madness and Murder in the Arctic Barren Lands

From my list on environmental justice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing books on environmental journalism and teaching Environmental Humanities and Environmental Justice at the University of Delaware for 25 years. Each of these books has made a particularly powerful impression on me and my students in recent years. They are powerful calls for a genuine reckoning with racial and environmental injustice throughout American history

Mckay's book list on environmental justice

Mckay Jenkins Why did Mckay love this book?

An illustrated book of long-form nonfiction that examines poor Black, Indigenous, White, and Migrant communities in the United States, and how they have all been broken by extractive capitalism and racist public policy. Hedges’ writing is intentionally polemical, designed to shatter any illusions about the welfare of our fellow citizens living in communities ruined by racism and industrial-scale environmental degradation. Sacco’s long-form graphic illustrations are equally haunting. I’ve taught this book continually for many years.

By Chris Hedges, Joe Sacco,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon.com and the Washington Post Three years ago, Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges and award-winning cartoonist and journalist Joe Sacco set out to take a look at the sacrifice zones, those areas in America that have been offered up for exploitation in the name of profit, progress, and technological advancement. They wanted to show in words and drawings what life looks like in places where the marketplace rules without constraints, where human beings and the natural world are used and then discarded to maximize profit. Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt is the…


Book cover of Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape

Adam M. Sowards Author Of An Open Pit Visible from the Moon: The Wilderness Act and the Fight to Protect Miners Ridge and the Public Interest

From my list on helping you get deep in the wilderness.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first started reading about wilderness, I accepted it as an obvious thing—a place without people. That lasted a short time before I realized the enormous historical complexity of such places. Rather than places without people, without history, without politics, “wilderness” became a laboratory of American society. I tried to capture that vibrancy in my book An Open Pit Visible from the Moon where I showed all the claims various people made on one wilderness area in the North Cascades. I'm a writer, historian, and former college professor who now calls the Skagit Valley of Washington home. As much as I enjoy studying wilderness, I prefer walking through it and noticing what it teaches.

Adam's book list on helping you get deep in the wilderness

Adam M. Sowards Why did Adam love this book?

To read Trace is to go on a mesmerizing journey with the wisest of guides. Savoy searches for American identities, and her own multifaceted ones, in the history and memory of landscapes across the continent. Every turn reveals tragic histories and surprising connections and omissions with the most beautiful language. Savoy excavates the palimpsest of stories embedded in landscapes’ histories in a helpful reminder that “nature” is always entangled with the richness and complexity of human life. With each careful word, Savoy deepened my appreciation for how landscape absorbs and reflects its history—and my admiration for her unbelievable gifts as a writer. Trace is one of those books you can read each year and your respect for it grows and the insights from it enlarge your life every time.

By Lauret Savoy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Through personal journeys and historical inquiry, this PEN Literary Award finalist explores how America’s still unfolding history and ideas of “race” have marked its people and the land.

Sand and stone are Earth’s fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent’s past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her―paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples…


Book cover of Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family

David Nicholson Author Of The Garretts of Columbia: A Black South Carolina Family from Slavery to the Dawn of Integration

From my list on race in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Though I was born in the U.S., I didn’t wind up living here full-time till I was almost 10. The result? I have always been curious about what it means to be an American. In one way or another, the books on my list explore that question. More than that, all (well, nearly all) insist that black history is inextricably intertwined with American history and that American culture is a mulatto culture, a fusion of black and white. After years of making my living as a journalist, editor, and book reviewer, I left newspapers to write fiction and non-fiction, exploring these and other questions.

David's book list on race in America

David Nicholson Why did David love this book?

I might not have written my own family history without the example of this book. I was enthralled when I read this compelling, well-researched, and well-written “family memoir” (as Murray calls it) years ago.

Everything about it drew me in, Murray’s compelling voice, the depth of her research, her descriptions of her relatives, and the vanished world they inhabited. Magisterial in every sense of the word, this is family history as American history, by a woman who was a lawyer, activist, and, in 1977, at age 67, the first black woman ordained an Episcopal priest.

Her book continues to inspire me to strive to meet her example.

By Paul Murray,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Proud Shoes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1956, Proud Shoes is the remarkable true story of slavery, survival, and miscegenation in the South from the pre-Civil War era through the Reconstruction. Written by Pauli Murray the legendary civil rights activist and one of the founders of NOW, Proud Shoes chronicles the lives of Murray's maternal grandparents. From the birth of her grandmother, Cornelia Smith, daughter of a slave whose beauty incited the master's sons to near murder to the story of her grandfather Robert Fitzgerald, whose free black father married a white woman in 1840, Proud Shoes offers a revealing glimpse of our nation's…


Book cover of Iran Awakening: One Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country

Robin Kirk Author Of Righting Wrongs: 20 Human Rights Heroes Around the World

From my list on women human rights visionaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a rights advocate since I was a middle schooler planning how to help save the whales. In college, I volunteered in anti-apartheid campaigns, then became a journalist covering the rise of the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru. I wanted my research and words to make change. I spent 12 years covering Peru and Colombia for Human Rights Watch. Now, I try to inspire other young people to learn about and advocate for human rights as a professor and the co-director of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. I also write fiction for kids that explores human rights themes and just completed The Bond Trilogy, an epic fantasy.

Robin's book list on women human rights visionaries

Robin Kirk Why did Robin love this book?

In 2003, Ebadi was the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her pioneering advocacy for human rights, including in her native Iran. I love her voice in this memoir: perceptive, funny, and very serious when it comes to making the case that human rights can flourish within Islam. You can feel both her passion and her bravery against the crushing authoritarianism that continues to strangle this vibrant country and culture. She also makes the case that the women of Iran will be the ones who finally prevail in the struggle for human rights. 

By Shirin Ebadi, Azadeh Moaveni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this remarkable book, Shirin Ebadi, Iranian human rights lawyer and activist, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, tells her extraordinary life story.

Dr Ebadi is a tireless voice for reform in her native Iran, where she argues for a new interpretation of Sharia law in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech. She is known for defending dissident figures, and for the establishment of a number of non-profit grassroots organisations dedicated to human rights. In 2003 she became the first Muslim woman, and the first Iranian, to be awarded…


Book cover of Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist

Robin Kirk Author Of Righting Wrongs: 20 Human Rights Heroes Around the World

From my list on women human rights visionaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a rights advocate since I was a middle schooler planning how to help save the whales. In college, I volunteered in anti-apartheid campaigns, then became a journalist covering the rise of the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru. I wanted my research and words to make change. I spent 12 years covering Peru and Colombia for Human Rights Watch. Now, I try to inspire other young people to learn about and advocate for human rights as a professor and the co-director of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. I also write fiction for kids that explores human rights themes and just completed The Bond Trilogy, an epic fantasy.

Robin's book list on women human rights visionaries

Robin Kirk Why did Robin love this book?

This is a must-read for anyone who has ever needed accommodations or has used a subway escalator, ramp, or subtitles. Heumann is an often bitingly funny advocate for the rights of the disabled (including firmly putting The Daily Show host Trevor Noah in his place during a 2020 interview). Along with other disabled people, Heumann helped shape and lead a movement that has transformed life for millions of disabled people around the world. That includes many who become disabled either temporarily or permanently because of age or accident. Along with this book, watched the Oscar-nominated Crip Camp, which features a young Judy Heumann at the beginning of her human rights journey.

By Judith Heumann, Kristen Joiner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Being Heumann as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year for Nonfiction

"...an essential and engaging look at recent disability history."— Buzzfeed

One of the most influential disability rights activists in US history tells her personal story of fighting for the right to receive an education, have a job, and just be human.

A story of fighting to belong in a world that wasn’t built for all of us and of one woman’s activism—from the streets of Brooklyn and San Francisco to inside the halls of Washington—Being Heumann recounts Judy Heumann’s lifelong battle to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion in society.

Paralyzed…


Book cover of Animalkind: Remarkable Discoveries about Animals and Revolutionary New Ways to Show Them Compassion

Robin Kirk Author Of Righting Wrongs: 20 Human Rights Heroes Around the World

From my list on women human rights visionaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a rights advocate since I was a middle schooler planning how to help save the whales. In college, I volunteered in anti-apartheid campaigns, then became a journalist covering the rise of the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru. I wanted my research and words to make change. I spent 12 years covering Peru and Colombia for Human Rights Watch. Now, I try to inspire other young people to learn about and advocate for human rights as a professor and the co-director of the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute. I also write fiction for kids that explores human rights themes and just completed The Bond Trilogy, an epic fantasy.

Robin's book list on women human rights visionaries

Robin Kirk Why did Robin love this book?

Slavery used to be the economic engine of the Americas. Only a few could clearly see that keeping other humans in bondage was a horrible crime. Ingrid Newkirk has a similar clarity of vision when it comes to animal rights. I believe that in the future, most of us look back with horror at industrial husbandry and the use of hormones to cultivate ever larger beasts for the slaughterhouse. You may not entirely agree with Newkirk, but you have to take her seriously. She’s also a genius at publicizing her cause of animal rights, helping to popularize veganism and the banning of fur and leather products as well as many kinds of animal research.

By Ingrid Newkirk, Gene Stone,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The founder and president of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, and bestselling author Gene Stone explore the wonders of animal life with "admiration and empathy" (The New York Times Book Review) and offer tools for living more kindly toward them.

In the last few decades, a wealth of new information has emerged about who animals are: astounding beings with intelligence, emotions, intricate communications networks, and myriad abilities. In Animalkind, Ingrid Newkirk and Gene Stone present these findings in a concise and awe-inspiring way, detailing a range of surprising discoveries, like that geese fall in love and stay with a partner for life,…


Book cover of Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader

T.M. Lemos Author Of Violence and Personhood in Ancient Israel and Comparative Contexts

From my list on the comparative history of violence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a biblical scholar who has become a historian of violence because I could no longer ignore the realities of the present or my own past. I write of violence for my childhood self, who was bullied for a decade and used to run away from school.  I write of it for my grandfather, who was born of exploitation.  I write of it for my African-American wife and daughter, in the hopes that I might contribute to the elimination of hierarchies that threaten their dignity and sometimes their lives.  Doing this work is not just intellectual for me—it is a memorialization and a ritual of healing. 

T.M.'s book list on the comparative history of violence

T.M. Lemos Why did T.M. love this book?

While Farmer is a physician and anthropologist rather than a historian and these collected essays are not historical in a strict sense, Farmer's account of structural violence is clear, readable, and evocative. An understanding of structural violence is a prerequisite for understanding the phenomenon of violence in any context, present or past.

By Paul Farmer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Partner to the Poor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For nearly thirty years, anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer has traveled to some of the most impoverished places on earth to bring comfort and the best possible medical care to the poorest of the poor. Driven by his stated intent to 'make human rights substantial', Farmer has treated patients - and worked to address the root causes of their disease - in Haiti, Boston, Peru, Rwanda, and elsewhere in the developing world. In 1987, with several colleagues, he founded Partners In Health to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. Throughout his career, Farmer has written eloquently…


Book cover of Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Essie Fox Author Of The Fascination

From my list on inspirational and eerie Gothic.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer of dark historical novels, I'm always drawn to other books that reflect my gothic themes. I think this interest first began when I read Wuthering Heights, soon afterwards studying the Victorian Sensation novels at university. These vividly described and densely plot-driven stories, often with shocking twists and vivid casts of characters, would thrill and entrance me. Afterwards I'd look out for any newly published books by contemporary writers dealing with similar ideas. I can't describe how it felt when I wrote one myself and saw it on the bookshop shelves. 

Essie's book list on inspirational and eerie Gothic

Essie Fox Why did Essie love this book?

Coming from Herefordshire on the border with Wales, my own novels are often steeped in the natural reflections of eerie rural isolation, with the folklore and pagan customs of those places existing hand in hand with the newer forms of Christianity. Perhaps this is why I connect so passionately with the novels that are set in Thomas Hardy's Wessex.

And what a spell beautiful Tess was to weave around my heart. This profoundly moving novel will never be forgotten.

By Thomas Hardy, Simon Gatrell (editor), Juliet Grindle (editor)

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Tess of the D'Urbervilles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'She looked absolutely pure. Nature, in her fantastic trickery, had set such a seal of maidenhood upon Tess's countenance that he gazed at her with a stupefied air: "Tess- say it is not true! No, it is not true!"'

Young Tess Durbeyfield attempts to restore her family's fortunes by claiming their connection with the aristocratic d'Urbervilles. But Alec d'Urberville is a rich wastrel who seduces her and makes her life miserable. When Tess meets Angel Clare, she is offered true love and happiness, but her past catches up with her and she faces an agonizing moral choice.

Hardy's indictment of…


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