The best Andrew Carnegie books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about Andrew Carnegie and why they recommend each book.

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Status Anxiety

By Alain De Botton,

Book cover of Status Anxiety

It’s hilarious and cringey at the same time to read this honest look at status anxiety. It’s hilarious to watch others seek status. As for yourself, you hopefully relieve your cringing because you see how status has obsessed people throughout history. 

The author says we seek the love of the world as well as the love of a partner. The quest can ruin an otherwise good life, so he offers solutions. I love his explanation of the original “Bohemians.” They were the hipsters of the 19th century! They created those impressionist paintings we love because they were aching for status.

The author is a famous British philosopher who inherited a fortune. He sees that money does not relieve status anxiety. But he misses the real reason: because we’ve inherited the brain of status-seeking animals (as explained in all of my books). 

Status Anxiety

By Alain De Botton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP TEN BESTSELLER

From one of our greatest voices in modern philosophy, author of The Course of Love, The Consolations of Philosophy, Religion for Atheists and The School of Life - Alain de Botton sets out to understand our universal fear of failure - and how we might change it

'De Botton's gift is to prompt us to think about how we live and how we might change things' The Times

We all worry about what others think of us. We all long to succeed and fear failure. We all suffer - to a greater or lesser…


Who am I?

I grew up around a lot of suffering over status. I didn’t want to suffer, so I kept trying to understand why everyone plays a game that they insist they don’t want to play. I found my answer when I studied evolutionary psychology. This answer really hit home when I watched David Attenborough’s wildlife documentaries. I saw the social rivalry among our mammalian ancestors, and it motivated me to research the biology behind it. I took early retirement from a career as a Professor of Management and started writing books about the brain chemistry we share with earlier mammals. I’m so glad I found my power over my inner mammal!


I wrote...

Status Games: Why We Play and How to Stop

By Loretta Graziano Breuning,

Book cover of Status Games: Why We Play and How to Stop

What is my book about?

People care about status despite their best intentions because our brains are inherited from animals who cared about status. The survival value of status in the state of nature helps us understand our intense emotions about status today. Beneath your verbal brain, you have a brain common to all mammals. It rewards you with pleasure hormones when you see yourself in a position of strength, and it alarms you with stress hormones when you see yourself in a position of weakness. 

But constant striving for status can be anxiety-provoking and joy-stealing. It releases those stress chemicals when you think others are ahead of you. Loretta Breuning shows you how to rewire your brain to avoid the trap of comparison and status-seeking to achieve more contentment and satisfaction in life.

Homeland Elegies

By Ayad Akhtar,

Book cover of Homeland Elegies

This book calls itself a novel, but it is deeply intertwined with the author’s own life and experiences as a second-generation immigrant from Pakistan. The chapters often read more like incisive personal essays than segments advancing the plot of a conventional novel, as the author grapples with the economic obsessions and spiritual poverty of contemporary American culture, the experience of everyday racism and the rage it provokes, and the feelings of alienation that many immigrants feel from both their country of origin and their adopted home. 

The central preoccupation of the book is the difficulty of living as a complete, nuanced, self-contradictory individual in a world that forces you to choose—between cultures in conflict with each other, between absolutist world views that permit no ambivalence, between economic success and authenticity. It is a tension that may be especially pronounced in an immigrant’s life, but one that entraps everyone and results…

Homeland Elegies

By Ayad Akhtar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This "beautiful novel . . . has echoes of The Great Gatsby": an immigrant father and his son search for belonging—in post-Trump America, and with each other (Dwight Garner, New York Times).

One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year 
One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2020
A Best Book of 2020 * Entertainment Weekly * Washington Post * O Magazine * New York Times Book Review * Publishers Weekly * NPR * The Economist * Shelf Awareness * Library Journal * St. Louis Post-Dispatch * Slate
Finalist for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for…


Who am I?

I’m a language scientist and a writer, but most of all, a person who is smitten with language in all its forms. No doubt my fascination was shaped by my early itinerant life as a child immigrant between Czechoslovakia to Canada, with exposure to numerous languages along the way. I earned a PhD in linguistics and taught linguistics and psychology at Brown University and later, the University of Calgary, but I now spend most of my time writing for non-academic readers, integrating my scientific understanding of language with a love for its aesthetic possibilities.


I wrote...

Book cover of Memory Speaks: On Losing and Reclaiming Language and Self

What is my book about?

Memory Speaks relates a tale that is as familiar as it is painful: as a child immigrant to Canada, I quickly absorbed the English language and lost much of my ability to speak my own mother tongue—and with it, a deep connection to my elders and my own cultural origins. A linguist by training, I set out to understand the science of language loss and the potential for renewal, weaving together a rich body of psychological research with my personal story of language loss.

I challenge the view that linguistic pluralism splinters loyalties and communities, arguing that the struggle to remain connected to an ancestral language and culture can bring people together, as people from all backgrounds recognize the crucial role of language in forming a sense of self.

Book cover of My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir

Have you ever searched for queer history only to find… yourself? This is Jenn Shapland’s story in her delightful biography-slash-memoir about the writer Carson McCullers. Shapland digs through McCullers’ letters, discovers the late writer’s therapy appointment notes, and even recounts her own experiences living in McCullers’ former home, looking for any shreds of evidence to confirm the famed writer’s queerness. In the process, Shapland discovers her own lesbianism. As a trans lesbian, I relate so vividly to Shapland’s experiences of rethinking her own identity in the process of doing queer history. I love how she interweaves her own life with McCullers’—a kind of transgenerational rejection of the closet and a celebration of queer womanhood.  

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers

By Jenn Shapland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Publishing Triangle Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction, Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award, and a Lambda Literary Award


Finalist for the National Book Award


Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction


How do you tell the real story of someone misremembered—an icon and idol—alongside your own? Jenn Shapland’s celebrated debut is both question and answer: an immersive, surprising exploration of one of America’s most beloved writers, alongside a genre-defying examination of identity, queerness, memory, obsession, and love.


Shapland is a graduate student when she first uncovers letters written to Carson McCullers by a…


Who am I?

I am a queer transgender woman living in the Appalachian South. When I moved here in 2015 I threw myself into doing community-based LGBTQ history. I co-founded the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project, an ongoing queer public history initiative based in Roanoke, Virginia. As a historian and an avid reader, I am fascinated by how queer and trans people think about the past, how we remember and misremember things, and what role historical consciousness plays in informing the present and future. 


I wrote...

Living Queer History: Remembrance and Belonging in a Southern City

By G. Samantha Rosenthal,

Book cover of Living Queer History: Remembrance and Belonging in a Southern City

What is my book about?

I wanted to write a book that is not just an LGBTQ history, but explores how we think historically as queer and trans people—how history has the power to shape our sense of place and of ourselves. 

Living Queer History tells the story of an LGBTQ community in Roanoke, Virginia, a small city on the edge of Appalachia. Interweaving historical analysis, theory, and memoir, Samantha Rosenthal tells the story of their own journey—coming out and transitioning as a transgender woman—in the midst of working on a community-based history project that documented a multigenerational southern LGBTQ community. Based on over forty interviews with LGBTQ elders, Living Queer History explores how queer people today think about the past and how history lives on in the present.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

By Jesmyn Ward,

Book cover of Sing, Unburied, Sing

This richly-told journey story revolves around 13-year-old Jojo and his family. Jojo lives with his grandparents, Mam and Pop, his baby sister, Kayla, and his emotionally absent and drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on the small family farm. The many trials Jojo faces while caring for his baby sister on a trip with his neglectful, selfish mother to Parchman Prison to retrieve his father propel him toward maturity. At the beginning of the novel Jojo says he doesn’t understand his mother, but by the end he has developed understanding.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

By Jesmyn Ward,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Sing, Unburied, Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018 WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2017 ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2017 SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE NEW STATESMAN, THE FINANCIAL TIMES, THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, TIME AND THE BBC Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Finalist for the Kirkus Prize Finalist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award 'This wrenching new novel by Jesmyn Ward digs deep into the not-buried heart of the American nightmare. A must' Margaret Atwood 'A powerfully…


Who am I?

Susan Beckham Zurenda taught English for 33 years on the college level and at the high school level to AP students. Her debut novel, Bells for Eli (Mercer University Press, March 2020; paperback edition March 2021), has been selected the Gold Medal (first place) winner for Best First Book—Fiction in the 2021 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards), a Foreword Indie Book Award finalist, a Winter 2020 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, a 2020 Notable Indie on Shelf Unbound, a 2020 finalist for American Book Fest Best Book Awards, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for 2021. She has won numerous regional awards for her short fiction. She lives in Spartanburg, SC.


I wrote...

Bells for Eli

By Susan Beckham Zurenda,

Book cover of Bells for Eli

What is my book about?

In the 1960’s small-town of Green Branch, SC, first cousins, Eli and Delia, grow up across the street in a relationship illustrating extraordinary depths of tenderness and friendship. After a life-altering childhood accident compromises Eli and makes him the target of bullying, Delia becomes his great defender. Later, the outer appearance of Eli’s accident gone, the cousins’ relationship evolves into more complicated feelings. Though Eli dates every girl in town, Delia is never far away. At every turn he assumes the role of her protector. His wounds of the heart from childhood never leave, however, and are the catalyst for decisions that bring the novel to a staggering conclusion, and Delia discovers a shocking family secret revealing truths about Eli she has never known.

Book cover of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

One of the greatest days of my professional career was when a media outlet called me a “Digital Dale Carnegie.” They had no idea what a fan I am of Carnegie's work. Carnegie passed away (1955) long before I was born but he continues to have a profound impact on my life. My grandfather, and father have both taken Dale Carnegie Courses. While Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People is wonderful and is one of the best-selling books of all time, my favorite is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

In our modern world, worry is almost a certainty. We worry as parents, business owners, employees— we never seem to run out of things to worry about. Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living reframed my perspective on the cost of worrying. Eliminating the fear of the unknown is often the first step…

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

By Dale Carnegie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Stop Worrying and Start Living as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first trade paperback edition of the classic guide to conquering the fears and worries that prevent individuals from living full and happy lives offers practical advice on how to eliminate business and financial anxieties, turn criticism into an advantage, avoid fatigue, and more. Reprint. 25,00


Who am I?

I’ve been in the digital space for 30 years and my breakthrough book was Socialnomics. In this book, I encouraged individuals and organizations to lean into social media and digital, both personally and professionally; emphasizing that this shift wasn’t just for teenagers, that it would change the world more than anything in our lifetime. That it would become a powerful force around business, politics, gaming, and beyond. And, unfortunately, it did. It was even more powerful than I could have imagined. What I didn’t comprehend was that we would lean in too much. I realized I needed to give the anti-venom to Socialnomics. We needed as a society to return to focusing on what matters most.


I wrote...

The Focus Project: The Not So Simple Art of Doing Less

By Erik Qualman,

Book cover of The Focus Project: The Not So Simple Art of Doing Less

What is my book about?

Whether you’re a programmer, mother, executive, teacher, or entrepreneur, this book is for you if… 1. You feel like you need 5 more hours in your day. 2. You are being pulled in a million directions with no end in sight. 3. Your life is busy instead of big.

Welcome to The Focus Project, a book designed to provide answers and solutions to the challenges of focusing in an unfocused world. Combining street science and institutional research alongside his own personal focus project, Qualman delivers practical advice on thinking big versus busy. The following is a guide to doing less, better. This enables us to achieve more–both personally and professionally.

The Book of Eels

By Patrik Svensson,

Book cover of The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World

I met Patrik Svensson at a book event in 2019, just as his novel was released and came away with a signed copy when I left. I brought it home and put it aside for a later read. When I finally picked it up, I was fascinated. This is another autobiographical story, this one about a little boy growing up in the southern part of Sweden. The father and son only really come together when they go eel fishing. The father teaches the son the elaborate technique of setting the eel traps and through this they establish a silent bond. Interspersed throughout the narrative are chapters with facts about the mysterious life cycle of eels. It is an extraordinary novel, unlike any other I have read. 

The Book of Eels

By Patrik Svensson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Part H Is for Hawk, part The Soul of an Octopus, The Book of Eels is both a meditation on the world’s most elusive fish—the eel—and a reflection on the human condition

Remarkably little is known about the European eel, Anguilla anguilla. So little, in fact, that scientists and philosophers have, for centuries, been obsessed with what has become known as the “eel question”: Where do eels come from? What are they? Are they fish or some other kind of creature altogether? Even today, in an age of advanced science, no one has ever seen eels mating or giving birth,…


Who am I?

I am an accidental emigrant now living in Auckland, New Zealand. I arrived with my then husband and our three sons in 1990 for a three-year spell. And here I am with two sons now settled in New Zealand and one in Sweden and me in a very awkward split position between the two. I am also an accidental author as my first career was in law and finance. I am presently working on my seventh novel. My novels are what my publishers call literary fiction and they often involve characters who, like me, have no fixed abode. 


I wrote...

Astrid & Veronika

By Linda Olsson,

Book cover of Astrid & Veronika

What is my book about?

My first novel was published first in New Zealand and from there took on the world. The big test for me came with the publication in Sweden. I thought that perhaps my homesickness had made me idealize my home country and its people. But the reaction was overwhelmingly positive and Astrid and Veronika (Let me sing you gentle songs) is the bestselling first novel ever in both my home countries. When I first began receiving questions about my story, I struggled to give a reply. I hadn’t so much thought of it in that way while writing. What it was about. But it is a story of friendship. And to me it is a story about my love for my home country in the far north. 

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