The most recommended hero's journey books

Who picked these books? Meet our 76 experts.

76 authors created a book list connected to Hero's journey, and here are their favorite Hero's journey books.
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What type of Hero's journey book?


The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Claudia Amendola Alzraa Author Of The Transformational Path: How Healing, Unlearning, and Tuning into Source Helped Me Manifest My Most Abundant Life

From the list on completely transforming your life.

Who am I?

I’ve known I was “special” since I was a child. I saw, felt, and heard things that others did not. Eventually I embraced my clairaudient mediumship gifts and turned it into a thriving business, allowing me to live a life of purpose: helping others find their passions and live their most joyful lives. But the journey never ends; I am always on a mission to transform. Consistently, literature has been where I turn when I am seeking wisdom on becoming the best version of myself. I also pursued certification as a Book Therapist - the first thing I’ll recommend to friends, family, or clients is the best book for their dilemma!

Claudia's book list on completely transforming your life

Why did Claudia love this book?

J.R.R. Tolkien's masterful storytelling is unmatched, and The Lord of the Rings weaves together moral dilemmas and profound philosophical ideas seamlessly, encouraging me to contemplate the nature of power, the importance of preserving the natural world, and the significance of individual choices.

The book's themes of heroism, friendship, sacrifice, and the struggle between good and evil resonate deeply. In addition, each of his characters feels like an aspect of oneself; the introspection it inspires is brilliant!

The Lord of the Rings instills a sense of wonder, ignites the imagination, and imparts timeless wisdom, which heavily transformed my perspective on life, my values, and my understanding of the human condition.

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

52 authors picked The Lord of the Rings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…

The Writer's Journey

By Christopher Vogler,

Book cover of The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

Larry A. Brown Author Of How Films Tell Stories: The Narratology of Cinema

From the list on the art of filmmaking.

Who am I?

One reason I became a professor of humanities, teaching subjects like film, theater, and literature, was to share my enthusiasm for the great works of imagination which have inspired people for centuries. Stories shape our lives and pass on our most important values and beliefs to future generations. In my academic career, I have directed plays and have written two novels, but teaching film has been my major passion for the last several years. 

Larry's book list on the art of filmmaking

Why did Larry love this book?

This popular text on screenwriting relates films to narrative ideas found in ancient myths around the world.

Vogler does an excellent job in demonstrating how films often use elements of plot and character that have proven to be universal characteristics of stories for centuries. He applies these concepts not only to fantasy films but standard Hollywood dramas such as Titanic

By Christopher Vogler,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Writer's Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally an influential memo Vogler wrote for Walt Disney Animation executives regarding The Lion King, The Writer’s Journey details a twelve-stage, myth-inspired method that has galvanized Hollywood’s treatment of cinematic storytelling. A format that once seldom deviated beyond a traditional three-act blueprint, Vogler’s comprehensive theory of story structure and character development has met with universal acclaim, and is detailed herein using examples from myths, fairy tales, and classic movies. This book has changed the face of screenwriting worldwide over the last 25 years, and continues to do so.

Book cover of The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Robert B. Marks Author Of Re: Apotheosis

From the list on writing for new (and even established) fiction writers.

Who am I?

Writing is in my blood – my grandmother wrote poetry, my mother writes novels, and over the last twenty-plus years I’ve written just about everything (and now I teach writing at my local university). I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. While my fiction career may be newly revived, I spent over 20 years as a pop culture commentator, poking at the minutia of the stories I love. I think stories may be one of the most important things in our culture – they inspire us, they brighten our day, they bring us to tears, and sometimes when we are lost they show us the way.

Robert's book list on writing for new (and even established) fiction writers

Why did Robert love this book?

This will be one of my more controversial picks – there are plenty of people who disagree with Campbell as a folklorist, a mythographer, and with his depiction of the Hero’s Journey. But, what is important about Campbell is his exploration of why the elements that appear in stories have the impact they do on our psyche, and how they fit together. One may not agree with all of Campbell’s conclusions, but I don’t think there’s a writer out there who won’t benefit from his exploration of the subject. I know I did.

By Joseph Campbell,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Hero with a Thousand Faces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joseph Campbell's classic cross-cultural study of the hero's journey has inspired millions and opened up new areas of research and exploration. Originally published in 1949, the book hit the New York Times best-seller list in 1988 when it became the subject of The Power of Myth, a PBS television special. The first popular work to combine the spiritual and psychological insights of modern psychoanalysis with the archetypes of world mythology, the book creates a roadmap for navigating the frustrating path of contemporary life. Examining heroic myths in the light of modern psychology, it considers not only the patterns and stages…

Season of Migration to the North

By Tayeb Salih, Denys Johnson-Davies,

Book cover of Season of Migration to the North

Kim Barnes Author Of In the Kingdom of Men

From the list on Arabic writers on the destruction of colonization.

Who am I?

In the 1950s, my mother and father left the red dirt of Oklahoma for the forests of Idaho to escape their families’ poverty. Instead of sharecropping, my father became a logger, but my aunt and her husband, a drilling rig roughneck, moved to the deserts of Saudi Arabia to work for Aramco and live in the American compound of Abqaiq. I remember the gifts they brought me: camel hide purses, Aladdin slippers. The Saudis, too, were experiencing rapid modernization and expanding wealth. I became fascinated by the conflict inherent in the sudden enmeshing of cultures and meteoric shift in power and privilege.

Kim's book list on Arabic writers on the destruction of colonization

Why did Kim love this book?

I planned to read this book for research but ended up so immersed in the story that I kept forgetting to take notes. The narrative, a “clever inversion of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” follows the travels and travails of a young protagonist tangled in the contradictions of his African childhood, his formal education in England, and his return home with what he sees as the boon of modern thought. Part mystery, part romance, part history, part monomyth, part psychological thriller, the novel is set in an “unsettled and violent no-man’s-land between…tradition and innovation, holiness and defilement...” This book fascinated and haunted me even as it informed me about the complexities, dichotomies, and dissonance of colonization. Shot through with “allusions to Arabic and European fiction, Islamic history, Shakespeare, Freud, and classical Arabic poetry,” Salih’s novel should first be read for what it is: a brilliant work of art.

By Tayeb Salih, Denys Johnson-Davies,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Season of Migration to the North as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After years of study in Europe, the young narrator of Season of Migration to the North returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country. Back home, he discovers a stranger among the familiar faces of childhood—the enigmatic Mustafa Sa’eed. Mustafa takes the young man into his confidence, telling him the story of his own years in London, of his brilliant career as an economist, and of the series of fraught and deadly relationships with European women that led…

The Lincoln Highway

By Amor Towles,

Book cover of The Lincoln Highway

Gabrielle Yetter Author Of Whisper of the Lotus

From Gabrielle's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Traveler Empath Adventurer Animal lover

Gabrielle's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Gabrielle love this book?

After I read Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow, I became hooked on this author’s work, and The Lincoln Highway did not disappoint.

I loved the quirky, memorable characters and creative story with peculiar twists and turns, not to mention Towles’ beautiful writing. I felt as though I was right there beside them on that wild and wacky road trip across the USA.

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Lincoln Highway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


More than ONE MILLION copies sold

A TODAY Show Read with Jenna Book Club Pick

A New York Times Notable Book, and Chosen by Oprah Daily, Time, NPR, The Washington Post, Bill Gates and Barack Obama as a Best Book of the Year

“Wise and wildly entertaining . . . permeated with light, wit, youth.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A classic that we will read for years to come.” —Jenna Bush Hager, Read with Jenna book club
“Fantastic. Set in 1954, Towles uses the story of two brothers to show that our personal…

Claim Your Power

By Mastin Kipp,

Book cover of Claim Your Power: A 40-Day Journey to Dissolve the Hidden Trauma That's Kept You Stuck and Finally Thrive in Your Life's Unique Purpose

Kaighla Rises Author Of Evryn, The Light

From the list on remembering you’re 100% that bitch.

Who am I?

I am a writer, poet, and seeker, creating art that empowers women to choose their own destiny and live their truth, authentically. I’ve spent the better part of my life feeling powerless, victimized, and alone. For years, I lived in situations that demanded that I give up my power and subjugate myself to men in order to be respected and welcomed into my community. And then, after a period of extreme trauma, I learned how I had been brainwashed. So I have made it my life’s mission to spread this one message: you have all the power you will ever need, right now, within you. Claim it.

Kaighla's book list on remembering you’re 100% that bitch

Why did Kaighla love this book?

In the summer of 2019, my world began to crumble, and this book was the catalyst for the earthquake I desperately needed.

When I picked it up, I was on the tail end of a failing marriage, but I didn’t know it yet. All I knew was that I needed to figure out who I was outside of the trauma narrative I had told about my story, again and again. And I needed to stop feeling like a victim in my own story. 
If you need a swift kick in the rear-end, this book is the one for you. With insightful and encouraging, but direct, prose, Kipp invites you to take a careful look at who you are and what values you truly hold, dispute your best intentions. I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted, but I didn’t feel empowered to make those dreams a reality…

By Mastin Kipp,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Has your vision board turned into just wishful thinking? Do you believe in the power of intention and goal setting, but are losing self-respect because you aren't following through? Do you feel completely stuck in life?If things haven't been going the way you've planned, know this: Everything changes the moment you discover your life's unique Purpose. Success, love, abundance, health and well-being, and vibrant energy are all by-products of leading a Purpose-filled life.Maybe you don't know what your life's Purpose is, or you don't believe you have one, or you thought you knew what it was…

Furies of Calderon

By Jim Butcher,

Book cover of Furies of Calderon

J.W. Kiefer Author Of Death

From the list on the most unique magic systems.

Who am I?

I'm a fiction author and minister from Upstate New York. As a young boy, I had many supernatural experiences. My earliest memory is of a supernatural basis. For me, the unseen world, and those things that others either deny exist or have relegated to ancient history and myth, have always been real to me. Reading, films, video games, and all other forms of storytelling were ways for me to experience the strange and the mysterious. What I found as I walked through such places as Middle Earth, Narnia, and Ice Wind Dale, was that the stories of these characters that overcame adversity, failures, and weaknesses to become heroes inspired me as well.

J.W.'s book list on the most unique magic systems

Why did J.W. love this book?

Well, I could have chosen Dresden for this list instead of the Codex Alera but come on! Spirit-like creatures, that inhabit the elements working alongside humans, how can you go wrong? It kind of feels like Pokemon without the balls. Seriously though, it is far more than that. Each person when they reach a certain age is approached by a Fury. They bond with this fury and then they are able to use the elemental-based powers to perform various different feats. Air furies can help you fly, earth furies can give you enhanced strength, and so on. And just like many toys and games from the 80s, each type of fury is weak or strong against the other types. Air is weak against earth, fire against water, and likewise.

Yes, elemental magic is a staple in the fantasy world, but to merge it with elemental beings, that I found to…

By Jim Butcher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this extraordinary fantasy epic, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Dresden Files leads readers into a world where the fate of the realm rests on the shoulders of a boy with no power to call his own...
For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies—elementals of earth, air, fire, water, wood, and metal. But in the remote Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting. At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help…

Marikit and the Ocean of Stars

By Caris Avendano Cruz,

Book cover of Marikit and the Ocean of Stars

Kate Sweeney Author Of This One's for You

From the list on Hero’s Journey for introverts who love adventure.

Who am I?

I'm a deeply introverted person who has always loved epic stories. The hero’s journey is one of my favorite kinds of books, because it gives the reader a chance to put themselves into someone else’s shoes and experience the full spectrum of life, a complete transformation that can only be found in a journey away from home. I’ve wanted to take on the Hero’s Journey in my own writing for a long time, and got to do this in my most recent book, This One’s for You. The protagonist of this book is an introvert like me. He's one of the many characters that have inspired me to try some adventures of my own. 

Kate's book list on Hero’s Journey for introverts who love adventure

Why did Kate love this book?

When I became a parent, I was excited to read many of the epic adventure stories of my childhood with my son.

Unfortunately, many of them did not age well, and I find myself longing for something that captures the spirit of the books I used to love with healthier, more contemporary messages about life. Marikit fulfilled this desire for me on every level.

The story is full of magical adventures, with a lovable, brave protagonist and lots of important things to say about friendship, family, and staying true to one’s true self. My son and I were captivated.

By Caris Avendano Cruz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marikit and the Ocean of Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marikit is used to wearing recycled clothes. Her mother, the best seamstress in the barrio, has become an expert at making due ever since Marikit's father and brother were lost at sea. But for her tenth birthday, all Marikit wants is something new. So when her mother gifts her a patchwork dress stitched together with leftover scraps from her workshop, Marikit vows to never wear it. That is, until the eve of her birthday, when shadow creatures creep into their home and upend the very life she knew.

Marikit discovers that her dress is a map, one lovingly crafted to…

Screenwriting 101

By Film Crit Hulk,

Book cover of Screenwriting 101

Marshall Dotson Author Of Actions and Goals: The Story Structure Secret

From the list on story structure.

Who am I?

I’ve been a student of story structure for decades. As a novelist, this initially started as a means to learn as much as I could from those with more experience than myself, but quickly grew into a passion. I read everything on the subject I could get my hands on and eventually began analyzing the plots of novels and movies for myself, amalgamating what I had learned with my own theories and insights which coalesced into a wholly new structural paradigm. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working with many talented screenwriters and novelists to help them shape their stories using Six Act Structure. 

Marshall's book list on story structure

Why did Marshall love this book?

Most of the books on this list aren’t strictly about story structure but instead combine unique storytelling insights with innovative structural concepts. Topping the list in that regard is Film Crit Hulk’s Screenwriting 101. Equal parts writing guide and manifesto against overused storytelling techniques like 3-Act Structure and the Hero's Journey, his emotional approach to structuring stories is perhaps the most thought-provoking I’ve encountered. Unfortunately, the book is currently out-of-print, though I have heard that Hulk (a pseudonym, obviously) intends to release a second edition in the future. Fingers crossed.

This is currently out of print, but a new edition is expected soon.

By Film Crit Hulk,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Screenwriting 101 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Knee-Deep in Thunder

By Sheila Moon, Peter Parnall (illustrator),

Book cover of Knee-Deep in Thunder

Rebecca Chace Author Of June Sparrow and the Million-Dollar Penny

From the list on to reach for in the middle of the night.

Who am I?

I'm a writer who has mostly written books for adults, as well as plays and screenplays, and June Sparrow and the Million Dollar Penny is my only book for children (so far). Though I read a lot of adult literature I have never stopped reading children's books. I always keep a "comfort" book on my bedside table for the middle of the night. I think that a really well-written, timeless children's book can teach us, comfort us, and take us on a journey. No matter what age you may be, I hope that you will read these books, or revisit them even if you think you are "too old" for children's books.

Rebecca's book list on to reach for in the middle of the night

Why did Rebecca love this book?

This is a book I reach for if I wake up in the middle of the night, feeling worried or anxious, and I just want to go to another world. The lead character is a young girl who is brave and kind (but not perfect!) who enters a magical world by accident. This world turns out to be made up of many of the elements of our own world that we may not notice—ants, beetles, spiders, and other creatures (not all insects, but these insects are wonderful). They become part of a band of adventurers who face an epic hero's journey with a strong message about how to stand by each other, without being corny or predictable.

This is an older book, published in 1969 by a Native American author who draws on Navajo mythology. I recently re-read it myself, and it was one of those books that I couldn't…

By Sheila Moon, Peter Parnall (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Knee-Deep in Thunder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In service Maris finds danger, absurdity, joy, deep friendship. What happens in the Great Land may be a paradigm for what could happen on earth. "If it is done with courage it leads a heart home." First published over 20 years ago by Atheneum Press, Knee Deep in Thunder and Hunt Down the Prize have been reprinted now together with the first printing of Deepest Roots. This first book in the trilogy begins Maris' adventures informed by Navajo mythology and a deep stream of age-old wisdom; but her problems and questions all belong to today. Originally written for young people,…


By Ernie Lindsey,

Book cover of Super

Taylor Ellwood Author Of Learning How to Fly

From the list on how to save the day from the villain.

Who am I?

I really enjoy superhero fiction, especially superhero fiction that challenges the usual norms of the superhero genre. I’ve always liked reading comics and moving onto superhero novels has only deepened my love of the genre. The list I’ve created is just the tip of the iceberg for superhero fiction and I highly recommend you check out these books for interesting takes on superheroes and villains. 

Taylor's book list on how to save the day from the villain

Why did Taylor love this book?

The main character is an assassin who hunts down superheroes who’ve gone rogue.

He’s been given an impossible mission to assassinate one of the most powerful superheroes, who’s impervious to just about everything, and also stop a rival assassin from killing the president.

This was a nail-biting adventure that will keep you on your toes, wanting to know what happens next.

By Ernie Lindsey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the USA Today bestselling author of Sara's Game, this is SUPER, a unique blend of superhero fiction and crime thriller.

"Impossible to put down until you know the answers. Exciting, thrilling, and full of deception, this is one of my favorite books of the year."
- Jason Gurley, bestselling author of Greatfall

"Every hero's journey has a beginning, middle, and end...I am that end."

A world mourning a fallen superhero.

A president targeted for assassination.

A conspiracy that runs deeper than anyone suspects.

Leo Craft is the best at what he does; he assassinates superheroes, but only the ones…

Book cover of The Hero with an African Face: Mythic Wisdom of Traditional Africa

Gail Nyoka Author Of Voices of the Ancestors: Stories & Lore From Ghana’s Volta Region

From the list on folktales from Africa.

Who am I?

Once upon a time, I didn’t know any stories from Africa. I found one, and it stirred me to my core. I found others and read them to my children. These were oral stories that had been trapped between the covers of books. One day, I discovered the oral tradition – stories told as they were originally heard. They had been liberated from the page and flew into my heart. A storyteller was born in me. I went on my own journey to collect stories in Ghana. I now tell stories from traditions around the world.

Gail's book list on folktales from Africa

Why did Gail love this book?

This book features some epic stories from Africa. Not all the stories are given in their entirety, but there is enough to give a good picture of what transpires in tales that would traditionally be told over several evenings. Ford presents an analysis of some African tales not usually found in collections, and I enjoyed this deep dive into the meanings hidden in the stories.

By Clyde W. Ford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hero with an African Face as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this remarkable book, Clyde Ford restores to us the lost treasure of African mythology, bringing to life the ancient tales and showing why they matter so much to us today.African myths convey the perennial wisdom of humanity: the creation of the world, the hero's journey, our relationship with nature, death, and resurrection. From the Ashanti comes the moving account of the grief-stricken Kwasi Benefo's journey to the underworld to seek his beloved wives. From Uganda we learn of the legendary Kintu, who won the love of a goddess and created a nation from a handful of isolated clans. The…

I'll Show Myself Out

By Jessi Klein,

Book cover of I'll Show Myself Out: Essays on Midlife and Motherhood

Olga Mecking Author Of Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing

From the list on that will change the way you think about parenting.

Who am I?

I’m a writer, journalist, and occasional translator. Originally from Poland, I now live in the Netherlands with my German husband and three multilingual children. Since my children were born, I’ve become fascinated by the various ways culture and society affect the way we raise our children. I have written about various topics, but mostly parenting for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and the BBC, among others. When not writing or thinking about writing, I can be found reading books, drinking tea, and doing nothing.

Olga's book list on that will change the way you think about parenting

Why did Olga love this book?

In this essay collection, accomplished writer Jessi Klein shares her thoughts about the changes she went through since becoming a parent. The red thread connecting these essays is the hero’s journey – and how mothers receive a call to adventure that they often refuse, meet mentors and find themselves in a completely new world. The ordeal leaves them changed but ultimately, they learn new lessons and become better and wiser for it. 

Not only are the essays hilarious and thought-provoking but I especially loved how Klein compared mothers to heroes. Because isn’t that exactly what we are?

By Jessi Klein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I'll Show Myself Out as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times bestseller, I'll Show Myself Out is the eagerly anticipated second essay collection from Jessi Klein, author of the acclaimed debut You'll Grow Out of It.

"Sometimes I think about how much bad news there is to tell my kid, the endlessly long, looping CVS receipt scroll of truly terrible things that have happened, and I want to get under the bed and never come out. How do we tell them about all this? Can we just play Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire and then brace for questions? The first of which should be,…

The American Monomyth

By Robert Jewett, John Shelton Lawrence,

Book cover of The American Monomyth

Barry Spector Author Of Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence

From the list on American addiction to innocence.

Who am I?

As a student of mythology and archetypal psychology, I invite you to interrogate your assumptions about self and society, to consider the narratives that we all take for granted. We live between great polar opposites. One is how our leaders embody old, toxic stories. The other asks who we might become if we imagine new ones. But only by dropping our sense of innocence and acknowledging the depths of our darkness can we open ourselves to the possibilities of real transformation. I invite you inside our mythic walls, to examine what it means to be an American. I hope to facilitate a collective initiation and invite you to think mythologically.

Barry's book list on American addiction to innocence

Why did Barry love this book?

My introduction to world mythology was Joseph Campbell, who described a nearly universal narrative – or monomyth – in which a young man (such as Christ, Percival, or the Buddha) ventures from his land, defeats opponents or temptations and returns with a critical gift for his people.

America, however, inverted this myth in profoundly important ways. In our story, repeated over three centuries in thousands of sermons, novels, movies, television, and video games, an innocent and racially pure community is threatened by evil (usually non-white).

When democratic institutions fail to suppress the threat, a selfless superhero arrives – from elsewhere – to defeat the villains and restore the community to harmony. Then, however, disdaining the feminine values of community and relationship, this hero disappears (often into the West).

I realized that he is the model for both our ideas of distant fathering as well as our unshakable belief in American…

By Robert Jewett, John Shelton Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?