100 books like World of Wonders

By Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Fumi Nakamura (illustrator),

Here are 100 books that World of Wonders fans have personally recommended if you like World of Wonders. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Men We Reaped: A Memoir

Joe Wilkins Author Of The Entire Sky

From my list on books about rural America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on the high plains of eastern Montana. Like most rural folks, we lived close to the bone, even in the best of times. Then, when I was nine, my father died—and things got even harder. We finally had to put our acres up for lease, and I made a goal to leave that hard place. Though I worked hard for this new life I find myself leading—I studied, won scholarships, earned an MFA, and became a professor—ever since I left Montana, I’ve been trying to understand the distance between there and where I find myself now. I’ve been trying to understand rural America.

Joe's book list on books about rural America

Joe Wilkins Why did Joe love this book?

I don’t know of another book that so successfully explodes all our usual myths of rural America. Jesmyn Ward tells a story of community and tragedy as she chronicles the deaths of five young men across five years, including her younger brother, in her hometown of DeLisle, Mississippi, a rural, primarily African American community on the Gulf Coast.

This memoir is deeply sad and troubling, but I found the power of Ward’s language, wisdom, and resilience simply stunning. 

By Jesmyn Ward,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Men We Reaped as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

_______________ 'A brutal, moving memoir ... Anyone who emerges from America's black working-class youth with words as fine as Ward's deserves a hearing' - Guardian 'Raw, beautiful and dangerous' - New York Times Book Review 'Lavishly endowed with literary craft and hard-earned wisdom' - Time _______________ The beautiful, haunting memoir from Jesmyn Ward, the first woman to win the National Book Award twice 'And then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped' - Harriet Tubman Jesmyn Ward's acclaimed memoir shines…


Book cover of Another Brooklyn

Kevin Carey Author Of Junior Miles and the Junkman

From my list on by writers in the first-person voice.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated with the first-person voice, the way it magically pulls us into a story through the character’s/narrator’s perspective, and how when done well, can feel so natural and personal. I’ve tried to write in this perspective over the years, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. I hope I have done it adequately with this current novel. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert when it comes to the first-person, but I am an interested participant. I am a creative writing professor, but I am also a student of writing and always will be. The more I investigate, the more I read, the more I learn. Focusing on this topic has been no exception. 

Kevin's book list on by writers in the first-person voice

Kevin Carey Why did Kevin love this book?

Some first person voices are just so naturally nostalgic, like you’re sitting around a campfire listening to someone telling you a story.

“The year my mother started hearing voices from her dead brother Clyde,” or “But Gigi was the first to fly.” So many moments to hold onto in this novel, each an introduction to another tale, or a memory you can’t wait to listen to and run off down the street to share it for yourself.

The voice of August is so real and clear and poetic that one forgets there’s even a writer behind it. This close first-person voice lets us in, welcomes us into the secrets of the street. “Everywhere we looked we saw the people trying to dream themselves out.” And dream I did, along every glorious page, only I never wanted out.

By Jacqueline Woodson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER FROM A NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNING AUTHOR

A TIME MAGAZINE TOP 10 NOVEL OF 2016 | SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION 2016

FROM THE WINNER OF THE ASTRID LINDGREN MEMORIAL AWARD 2018

They used to be inseparable. They used to be young, brave and brilliant - amazingly beautiful and terrifyingly alone. August, Sylvia, Angela and Gigi shared everything: songs, secrets, fears and dreams. But 1970s Brooklyn was also a dangerous place, where grown men reached for innocent girls, where mothers disappeared and futures vanished at the turn of a street corner.

Another…


Book cover of The Known World

Xolani Kacela Author Of Stop Anxiety In Its Tracks

From my list on a deep understanding of human nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for helping people realize they are only limited by their imagination. By dreaming wildly and acting on one’s dreams, a person can achieve highly unlikely outcomes. People are born to be free and pursue the things in life that make them happy and fulfilled. However, people need education, training, and mentoring. I am driven to do each of these to help others live fulfilling and purposeful lives. My expertise arises from my formal training and applied life lessons acquired from modeling highly-gifted teachers and friends.

Xolani's book list on a deep understanding of human nature

Xolani Kacela Why did Xolani love this book?

This book is so special in its depiction of human beings striving for survival.

It is the only book that shows African American as slaveholders. The charm is the clarity with which Jones writes. His gift is the ability to say complex things simply. He made me strive to be a better writer. His story helped me feel deeply in ways I had not previously known I could feel.

By Edward P. Jones,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Known World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Masterful, Pulitzer-prize winning literary epic about the painful and complex realities of slave life on a Southern plantation. An utterly original exploration of race, trust and the cruel truths of human nature, this is a landmark in modern American literature.

Henry Townsend, a black farmer, boot maker, and former slave, becomes proprietor of his own plantation - as well as his own slaves. When he dies, his widow, Caldonia, succumbs to profound grief, and things begin to fall apart: slaves take to escaping under the cover of night, and families who had once found love beneath the weight of slavery…


Book cover of Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being

Badia Ahad-Legardy Author Of Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture

From my list on inspiring good feelings.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professor of African American literature and culture, I’ve spent my career writing, reading, teaching, talking and thinking about black interiority: feelings, emotions, memory, affect. My publications and lectures focus mostly on the creative and diverse ways that black people have created spaces of pleasure and possibility, even in the most dire times and under extremely difficult conditions. I’ve been told that I’m a natural optimist, so it is fitting that my most recent book and this recommendation list is all about the intentional and creative ways that people cultivate joy and a sense of possibility for themselves and others.

Badia's book list on inspiring good feelings

Badia Ahad-Legardy Why did Badia love this book?

Every now and then I come across a book that I wish I had written, and Quashie’s Black Aliveness is among them. One of the motivating premises of Afro-Nostalgia is the sense that so much of black life is narrated through a trauma, oppression, and death. Black Aliveness operates from a similar premise and is centrally concerned with the “quality of aliveness” in African American poetry and literature. Here is one of my favorite passages in the book: “As necessary as ‘Black Lives Matter’ has proven to be, so efficient and beautiful a truth-claim, its necessity disorients me…I want a black world where matter of mattering matters indisputably, where black mattering is beyond expression.”

By Kevin Quashie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Aliveness, or a Poetics of Being as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being, Kevin Quashie imagines a Black world in which one encounters Black being as it is rather than only as it exists in the shadow of anti-Black violence. As such, he makes a case for Black aliveness even in the face of the persistence of death in Black life and Black study. Centrally, Quashie theorizes aliveness through the aesthetics of poetry, reading poetic inhabitance in Black feminist literary texts by Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Toni Morrison, and Evie Shockley, among others, showing how their philosophical and creative thinking constitutes worldmaking. This…


Book cover of Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces

Badia Ahad-Legardy Author Of Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture

From my list on inspiring good feelings.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professor of African American literature and culture, I’ve spent my career writing, reading, teaching, talking and thinking about black interiority: feelings, emotions, memory, affect. My publications and lectures focus mostly on the creative and diverse ways that black people have created spaces of pleasure and possibility, even in the most dire times and under extremely difficult conditions. I’ve been told that I’m a natural optimist, so it is fitting that my most recent book and this recommendation list is all about the intentional and creative ways that people cultivate joy and a sense of possibility for themselves and others.

Badia's book list on inspiring good feelings

Badia Ahad-Legardy Why did Badia love this book?

The word, utopia, derives from the Greek terms ou “not” + topos “place”---“no place.” Yet, the idea of a perfect “place” or society is one that has captured the imagination of artists, writers, politicians, and governments for centuries. I really love the concept of “everyday utopias” because it focuses on small, local spaces of joy and pleasure that people create for themselves outside and beyond the boundaries of social norms and expectations. Inherent in the term “utopia” is the impossibility of the idea and yet, readers witness thriving communities that show the possibilities of alternative systems of governance, self-sufficiency, civility, and citizenship, as well as well-being and pleasure.

By Davina Cooper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Everyday utopias enact conventional activities in unusual ways. Instead of dreaming about a better world, participants seek to create it. As such, their activities provide vibrant and stimulating contexts for considering the terms of social life, of how we live together and are governed. Weaving conceptual theorizing together with social analysis, Davina Cooper examines utopian projects as seemingly diverse as a feminist bathhouse, state equality initiatives, community trading networks, and a democratic school where students and staff collaborate in governing. She draws from firsthand observations and interviews with participants to argue that utopian projects have the potential to revitalize progressive…


Book cover of Animals Strike Curious Poses

Jess Bowers Author Of Horse Show

From my list on animal lovers who are also history geeks.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a fiction writer and animal studies scholar, I’m always looking for strange historical anecdotes about human/animal relationships and literary works that help me view humanity’s complex historical relationship with our fellow creatures through fresh eyes. As these books show, whenever humans write about animals, we also write about personhood, bodily autonomy, coexistence, partnership, symbiosis, spectacle, sentience, and exploitation—themes perpetually relevant to what it means to be human!

Jess' book list on animal lovers who are also history geeks

Jess Bowers Why did Jess love this book?

This book immediately caught my eye with its cheeky Prince quote-as-title, then blew me away with Passarello’s meticulously researched, elegantly crafted essays, each centering around a different animal from world history.

Passarello’s prose is lyrical, whether she’s dramatizing Mozart’s creative correspondence with his pet starling, introducing us to “Mike, the headless chicken,” or whimsically “finishing” Christopher Smart’s famed 18th-century paean to his beloved cat Jeoffry.

Reading this book feels like visiting a combination zoo/museum with my smartest animal-loving friend.

By Elena Passarello,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Animals Strike Curious Poses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beginning with Yuka, a 39,000 year old mummified woolly mammoth recently found in the Siberian permafrost, each of the 16 essays in Animals Strike Curious Poses investigates a different famous animal named and immortalized by humans. Modeled loosely after a medieval bestiary, these witty, playful, whipsmart essays traverse history, myth, science, and more, bringing each beast vibrantly to life.

Elena Passarello is an actor, a writer, and recipient of a 2015 Whiting Fellowship in nonfiction. Her first collection with Sarabande Books, Let Me Clear My Throat, won the gold medal for nonfiction at the 2013 Independent Publisher Awards. She lives…


Book cover of The Book of Delights: Essays

Matthew Gavin Frank Author Of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers: A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed Along Coastal South Africa

From my list on nonfiction featuring amazing flying things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many who carry over childish curiosity into adulthood, I'm attracted to forbidden places. I trespass. When I heard that a portion of South Africa’s coast was owned by the De Beers conglomerate and closed to the public for nearly 80 years, plunging the local communities into mysterious isolation, I became obsessed with visiting the place. Afterward, I began studying carrier pigeons—the amazing flying things that folks use to smuggle diamonds out of the mines. I wrote a book about this, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers. I'm also the author of nonfiction books about the first-ever photograph of the giant squid, working on a medical marijuana farm, and American food culture.

Matthew's book list on nonfiction featuring amazing flying things

Matthew Gavin Frank Why did Matthew love this book?

In Ross Gay’s linked essay collection, The Book of Delights, the desire to record joyous observations, and to examine the complexities and “underbellies” of such quotidian moments—becomes, as the book progresses, an act of political commentary, and unexpected engagement of social justice. The essay, “Bird Feeding,” shows Gay obsessively watching a man feed a pigeon until their bodies—that of the man and that of the bird—seem to fuse together. “How often do you get to see someone slow dancing with a pigeon!” Gay exclaims, revealing the often-hidden tenderness that can exist between human beings and wild birds.   

By Ross Gay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
As Heard on NPR's This American Life
'The delights he extols here (music, laughter, generosity, poetry, lots of nature) are bulwarks against casual cruelties . . . contagious in their joy' New York Times

The winner of the NBCC Award for Poetry offers up a spirited collection of short lyric essays, written daily over a tumultuous year, reminding us of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling, and celebrating ordinary wonders.

Among Gay's funny, poetic, philosophical delights: a friend's unabashed use of air quotes, cradling a tomato seedling aboard an aeroplane, the silent nod of…


Book cover of Sidewalks

Matthew Gavin Frank Author Of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers: A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed Along Coastal South Africa

From my list on nonfiction featuring amazing flying things.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many who carry over childish curiosity into adulthood, I'm attracted to forbidden places. I trespass. When I heard that a portion of South Africa’s coast was owned by the De Beers conglomerate and closed to the public for nearly 80 years, plunging the local communities into mysterious isolation, I became obsessed with visiting the place. Afterward, I began studying carrier pigeons—the amazing flying things that folks use to smuggle diamonds out of the mines. I wrote a book about this, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers. I'm also the author of nonfiction books about the first-ever photograph of the giant squid, working on a medical marijuana farm, and American food culture.

Matthew's book list on nonfiction featuring amazing flying things

Matthew Gavin Frank Why did Matthew love this book?

Valeria Luiselli dissects the odd systems and networks of our world’s cities and reveals in their hidden corners and corridors strange and magical identities. Luiselli’s essays further interrogate a city’s relationship to the bodies, cultures, artifacts, and languages that inhabit its spaces. In the essay, “Flying Home,” Luiselli journeys to Mexico City, the place of her birth, and, staring out of her airplane window, considers the city’s layout from this great height. This act of “mapping” according to her extraordinary vantage (suspended in flight), allows for a greater, incantatory meditation on our various perceptions of “home,” and how said perceptions depend as much on the imagination and on ephemeral memories as they do on reality.   

By Valeria Luiselli, Christina Macsweeney (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Luiselli's essays (originally published in Mexico) have been released to great acclaim abroad and has been translated for and published in the UK, Italy, Germany, and The Netherlands
Alma Guillermoprieto called Luiselli "one of the most important new voices in Mexican writing" at BEA and Luiselli is similarly known to and beloved by Latin American writers and venues including PEN America, the Americas Society, and the Mexican Cultural Institute
Luiselli's work is well known to bilingual Spanish language readers (including invitations to appear at Instituto Cervantes in Chicago and the Spanish language bookclub at McNally Jackson)
Luiselli is an engaging…


Book cover of The Book of Barely Imagined Beings

Sam Kean Author Of The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science

From my list on the wonders of biology.

Why am I passionate about this?

Sam Kean is the New York Times bestselling author of five books, including The Bastard Brigade, The Dueling Neurosurgeons, and The Disappearing Spoon. He edited The Best American Nature and Science Writing in 2018, and his stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, and Slate. His work has been featured on NPR’s “Radiolab,” “Science Friday,” “All Things Considered,” and “Fresh Air,” and his podcast, The Disappearing Spoon, debuted at #1 on the iTunes charts for science podcasts.

Sam's book list on the wonders of biology

Sam Kean Why did Sam love this book?

Imagine a medieval bestiary of whimsical creatures, but with a twist. Instead of being imaginary, the animals here really exist. The book moves alphabetically from axolotl to zebrafish, with a new delight on every page. It’s a perfect reminder of what biologist J.B.S. Haldane once said: that the universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it’s stranger than we can imagine.

By Caspar Henderson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Axolotl to Zebrafish, discover a host of barely imagined beings: real creatures that are often more astonishing than anything dreamt in the pages of a medieval bestiary. Ranging from the depths of the ocean to the most arid corners of the earth, Caspar Henderson captures the beauty and bizarreness of the many living forms we thought we knew and some we could never have contemplated, inviting us to better imagine the precarious world we inhabit.

A witty, vivid blend of pioneering natural history and spiritual primer, infectiously celebratory about life's sheer ingenuity and variety, The Book of Barely Imagined…


Book cover of Ice! Poems About Polar Life

Alicia Klepeis Author Of Penguins & Polar Bears: A Pretty Cool Introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic

From my list on the polar regions for children.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a geographer and the author of more than 170 (mostly nonfiction) books for kids. I began my career at the National Geographic Society and have worked on a variety of projects for them over the last three decades. I also taught middle-school geography for years. In addition to my featured book, I have written numerous magazine articles on topics related to polar regions—from Siberia’s Eveny people to climate change in the Arctic. I am the author of Living in the Arctic and several books on countries in the polar regions. I was recently interviewed by PBS Books for my book on Benjamin Franklin’s scientific work.

Alicia's book list on the polar regions for children

Alicia Klepeis Why did Alicia love this book?

“Fish and penguins, squids and seals,

All find krill make splendid meals.”

So begins Douglas Florian’s poem about krill. Writing nonfiction poetry is no small feat and this book is a masterpiece of that artform. Each two-page spread focuses on an area or a creature related to the polar regions and features a poem, illustration, and short chunk of expository writing to give the reader more information on the subject. It covers subjects including ptarmigans, narwhals, musk ox, and many more. This book is funny, clever, and a joy to read aloud. Readers will love this one!

By Douglas Florian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ice! Poems About Polar Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Funny poems paired with intriguing facts introduce young readers to the fascinating creatures that live in Earth's polar regions.

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year!

The remote North and South Poles-- which poet Douglas Florian calls our "Earth refrigerator"-- are home to a wide variety of unusual, rarely-seen creatures including caribou, penguins, ptarmigans, narwhals, and many more! Young readers will love learning about these polar denizens and the ways they've adapted to their cold, windy, frozen environments.

Whimsical, colorful art and humorous poems introduce more than a dozen polar animals, and touch on the unique characteristics of the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in animals, narwhals, and friendships?

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