The most recommended books by and about Homer

Who picked these books? Meet our 35 experts.

35 authors created a book list connected to Homer, and here are their favorite Homer books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of Homer book?


Book cover of The Wolf in the Attic

Pete Aldin Author Of Black Marks

From my list on werewolf thrillers without motorbikes or erotica.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by the dichotomy between humanity’s beauty and its penchant for visiting horror upon the world. This fascination drove me to write my own werewolf novel (and keep it true to the heart of the mythos). In no other genre/subgenre is human double-nature better explored than the werewolf one. From earliest times, these tales examined human complexity, mental illness, moral responsibility, the tenuousness of our understanding of reality. For me, a great werewolf novel is not an erotic romance or comedy urban fantasy. It’s a monster story: antsy, atmospheric, dark, violent, fraught. It's a thriller, not a swooner, with more in common with Jekyll and Hyde or Incredible Hulk than with Twilight

Pete's book list on werewolf thrillers without motorbikes or erotica

Pete Aldin Why did Pete love this book?

Oh, man, can Paul Kearney write. The language in this book is so beautiful, at first, you think you’re reading a mainstream historical novel. Oh, you’re definitely not.

When this novel starts, you think there’ll never be any violence or horror in this story. Oh, there most certainly will be. Imagine a story where a Chronicles of Narnia child discovers a netherworld where people say “fuck,” change shape, and invite her to join them in doing questionable things.

Wolf in the Attic deals in part with an adolescent finding her place/identity in an unfriendly world. Set in the 1930s, the book features brilliantly-rendered cameos from CS Lewis and Tolkien. Clever and atmospheric, with a kickass payoff.

By Paul Kearney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

1920s Oxford: home to C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien... and Anna Francis, a young Greek refugee looking to escape the grim reality of her new life. The night they cross paths, none suspect the fantastic world at work around them. Anna Francis lives in a tall old house with her father and her doll Penelope. She is a refugee, a piece of flotsam washed up in England by the tides of the Great War and the chaos that trailed in its wake.

Once upon a time, she had a mother and a brother, and they all lived together in the most…

Book cover of The Book About Everything: Eighteen Artists, Writers and Thinkers on James Joyce's Ulysses

Paul Anthony Cartledge Author Of Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece

From Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Professor Historian

Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Paul Anthony Cartledge Why did Paul love this book?

Despite its main title, this collection isn’t actually about ‘everything’, in the way that Douglas Adams’s Life, the Universe and Everything (the third volume of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) claimed to be. It’s the subtitle that says it all – well, almost everything.

Joyce’s modernist masterpiece was first published in Paris in 1922, the author by then well removed from his native Ireland. I’m a Classicist (trained in ancient Greek and Latin languages and Greek and Roman culture) and a specialist ancient Greek historian and archaeologist.

Joyce’s Ulysses occupies a very special, indeed unique place in what’s now routinely – and centrally – labelled ‘Classical reception’. (Ulysses is the Latin near-transliteration of Greek Oulixes, an alternative to Odysseus.) It’s a famously ‘difficult’ text, not so much in its underlying and structuring leitmotif – a transposition in every sense of the original Homeric epic hero Odysseus’ 10-year nostos,…

Book cover of The Cider House Rules

Julie F. Kay Author Of Controlling Women: What We Must Do Now to Save Reproductive Freedom

From my list on how reproductive rights are human rights.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author and human rights lawyer passionate about making reproductive rights accessible in law and in real life. My written work translates my legal cases into stories to engage readers in the fight to expand rights for all. My legal work leading the Abortion Coalition for Telemedicine seeks to make medication abortion legally available in all 50 states, regardless of a person’s ability to pay for it. I have 2 daughters and am always looking to learn from their experience in an ever-changing world and from a diverse range of other women making decisions about whether, when, and whom to have and raise children. 

Julie's book list on how reproductive rights are human rights

Julie F. Kay Why did Julie love this book?

A doctor colleague of mine said that this story made her decide to become an abortion provider.

This lively novel provides a wonderful time spent with an engaging and flawed doctor who is caring for children in an orphanage while also providing illegal abortion services for women in need. John Irving writes such engaging characters with humor about the heavy issues that play out in a bucolic New England town.

Today, as abortion is banned in so many parts of the US, and as we are having more honest conversations about the challenges of adoption, the book resonates even more. This book was made into a wonderful movie too–but the rule in our house is that you always have to read the book before you see the movie, no cheating. 

By John Irving,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The reason Homer Wells kept his name was that he came back to St Cloud's so many times, after so many failed foster homes, that the orphanage was forced to acknowledge Homer's intention to make St Cloud's his home.'

Homer Wells' odyssey begins among the apple orchards of rural Maine. As the oldest unadopted child at St Cloud's orphanage, he strikes up a profound and unusual friendship with Wilbur Larch, the orphanage's founder - a man of rare compassion and an addiction to ether. What he learns from Wilbur takes him from his early apprenticeship in the orphanage surgery, to…

Book cover of Rabbit Hill

Peter W. Fong Author Of The Coconut Crab

From my list on animals that talk.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have often spoken with the animals that I meet: from migrating ducks to street cats, woodchucks to chickadees. Mostly quietly—and always as if they not only could hear and understand, but also could reply. As our children grew, the replies became louder and more insistent. When our daughter was old enough to feel fearful of travel—particularly the crossing of open water in small boats—I began to tell her stories featuring these talking animals. Because the animals also were sometimes afraid, the stories helped to distract her from the perils of our own adventures and then, eventually, to enjoy them as well.

Peter's book list on animals that talk

Peter W. Fong Why did Peter love this book?

Although not nearly as well-known as Richard Adams’ Watership Down (an epic tale, with voyages and battles on the scale of Homer’s Odyssey), this book was published decades earlier and could be seen as a quiet precursor to that far more violent story.

The gardeners among you will immediately recognize both the fear and the excitement that the animals feel when contemplating unfamiliar humans. My wife and I, who have moved dozens of times in our long careers, often quote a line from Little Georgie: “New folks coming, oh my!”

By Robert Lawson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rabbit Hill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

It has been a while since Folks lived in the Big House, and an even longer time has passed since there has been a garden at the House. All the animals of the Hill are very excited about the new Folks moving in, and they wonder how things are going to change. It’s only a matter of time before the animals of the Hill find out just who is moving in, and they may be a little bit surprised when they do.

Book cover of The Odyssey

Athena Author Of Murder of Crows: Book One of the Pillars of Dawn

From my list on when destiny calls, and love answers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for the topic because it’s so unlimited. We’re all called to destiny inner/outer in so many ways. We see a lot of stories about those calls being massive adventures with global impact—but sometimes the small stories, those inner calls with inner love answers are just as epic, just as magnificent. Love of family, community, country, lovers, nature… truly, it can be anything. These are just a few books off the older shelves to illustrate the many ways love answers the call. My challenge is to go back and re-read them with this list in mind. Re-visit books from a decade ago, reframe the story with love.

Athena's book list on when destiny calls, and love answers

Athena Why did Athena love this book?

This is an obvious pick, I know. Still, it’s on record as the greatest adventure, the highest bar of duty and courage—and ultimately love.

Homer’s epic detailing Odysseus’ journey home from the Trojan War is fraught with peril and obstacles that would have made a lesser human give up and call it a day. 

Destiny called him away, but it was love that brought him home from war. At each crossroad Odysseus was offered an alternative, he chose to return to his wife, his son, and his land. He could have been made immortal.

He was offered riches and greater glory, and all the dude wanted was to kiss his wife and sleep in his own bed at the end of the day. Is that so much to ask?

The reason The Odyssey is on my list is to reflect the scale of destiny, and the answering and equal call…

By Homer, T. E. Lawrence (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Homer's great epic, The Odyssey, is perhaps Western literature's first adventure story, and certainly remains one of its finest. It describes King Odysseus of Ithaca's epic, ten-year quest to return home after the Trojan War. He encounters giants, sorceresses, sea-monsters and sirens, while his wife Penelope is forced to resist the suitors who besiege her on Ithaca. Both an enchanting fairy tale and a gripping drama, The Odyssey is immensely influential, not least for its rich complexity and the magnetism of its hero.

This Macmillan Collector's Library edition uses a translation by T. E. Lawrence, now remembered as 'Lawrence of…

Book cover of Why Bob Dylan Matters

Peter Tasker Author Of On Kurosawa: A Tribute to the Master Director

From Peter's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Reader Investor Japanophile Traveler with no destination

Peter's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Peter Tasker Why did Peter love this book?

Who would have thought that the teenage Robert Zimmerman, later known as Bob Dylan, belonged to his high school Latin club? Richard Thomas, who found the evidence, was not so surprised.

A Professor of Ancient Greek and Roman poetry at Harvard and a long-standing fan, he has traced Dylan’s increasing use of classical allusions. The singing Nobel prizewinner’s favorite is Ovid, whose phrases he has used over 30 times in his lyrics. “Ancient footsteps are everywhere,” to quote his song “When I Paint My Masterpiece.”

Thomas’s book is personal and easy to read, casting new light on the enigmatic 82-year-old. As a committed fan myself, I can safely say it is the best Dylan book yet, leaving out the ones he authored himself.

By Richard F. Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Bob Dylan Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'At last an expert classicist gets to grips with Bob Dylan' Mary Beard

'Thomas's elegant, charming book offers something for everyone - not just the super-fans' Independent

When the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan, the literary world was up in arms. How could the world's most prestigious book prize be awarded to a famously cantankerous singer-songwriter in his Seventies, who wouldn't even deign to make an acceptance speech?

In Why Dylan Matters, Harvard Professor Richard F. Thomas answers that question with magisterial erudition. A world expert…

Book cover of The Iliad

Martin Van Creveld Author Of The Privileged Sex

From my list on on war, full stop.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a professor emeritus of history at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, over the years I’ve been widely mentioned as one of the world’s foremost experts on military theory and history. On these and other topics I have written 34 books, which between them have been published in 19 languages. I’ve also consulted with defense departments, taught and lectured all over the world, etc., etc.

Martin's book list on on war, full stop

Martin Van Creveld Why did Martin love this book?

The Iliad is not a book on strategy. Nor on tactics, nor on logistics, nor on command and control, nor on any other individual aspect of warfare about which any number of lesser authors have written. An epic poem, it provides an unparalleled panorama of men (and, playing a secondary yet crucially important role, a few women) at war: the hope, the despair, the fear, the elation, the kindness, the rage, the horror, the love and the sex (which both increases the horror and to some extent makes up for it). All intertwined, and all pulsating along with the human heart. Probably written down around 750 BCE, but making use of much older material, for almost three millennia now it has been regarded not just as a classic but as the greatest classic of all. Unquestionably it will continue doing so for millennia more. 

By Homer, Gareth Hinds,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a companion volume to his award-winning adaptation of The Odyssey, the incomparable graphic novelist Gareth Hinds masterfully adapts Homer’s classic wartime epic.

More than three thousand years ago, two armies faced each other in an epic battle that rewrote history and came to be known as the Trojan War. The Iliad, Homer's legendary account of this nine-year ordeal, is considered the greatest war story of all time and one of the most important works of Western literature. In this stunning graphic novel adaptation — a thoroughly researched and artfully rendered masterwork — renowned illustrator Gareth Hinds captures all the…

Book cover of Ransom

Nathalie Abi-Ezzi Author Of A Girl Made of Dust

From my list on where war is not centre stage but present.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer, I'm fascinated by the experiences that affect people's identity. I want my characters to have this multiplicity and depth too, and since I was born and grew up in Lebanon, an obvious place for me to start was by looking at the impact that war had on people's everyday lives. The characters I write about simply want to get on with the business of living, but can't do this without taking into account the bigger events that are happening around them.

Nathalie's book list on where war is not centre stage but present

Nathalie Abi-Ezzi Why did Nathalie love this book?

An interpretation of part of The Iliad where King Priam journeys to Achilles' camp to beg for the return of his son Hector's body. Malouf gives us access to Priam's thoughts and feelings as he dresses as a carter and drives straight into the enemy camp, wondering at all the things that, as a king, he has never noticed before. Once in the camp, he must face the man who has been dragging his son's body behind his chariot day after day, only to wake up each morning and find it magically restored. This is a story about those who are left behind, told in heart-stoppingly beautiful writing. 

By David Malouf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In his first novel in more than a decade, award-winning author David Malouf reimagines the pivotal narrative of Homer’s Iliad—one of the most famous passages in all of literature.
This is the story of the relationship between two grieving men at war: fierce Achilles, who has lost his beloved Patroclus in the siege of Troy; and woeful Priam, whose son Hector killed Patroclus and was in turn savaged by Achilles. A moving tale of suffering, sorrow, and redemption, Ransom is incandescent in its delicate and powerful lyricism and its unstated imperative that we imagine our lives in the glow of…

Book cover of Animal Dreams

Alexia Casale Author Of The Best Way to Bury Your Husband

From my list on a historic crime driving the current story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved books where something in the past of the main storyline surges into its present, demanding that an old wrong be righted or an old mystery solved. It’s why my first degree was in Social and Political Sciences (Psychology major) instead of English Literature or Creative Writing: I knew that learning how to write would be useless if I didn’t understand the things I wanted to write about. The role of the past in shaping our present – our behaviours, sense of self, relationships – is endlessly fascinating, and stories that unpick this are often the ones that surprise me the most with their insight into the human condition.

Alexia's book list on a historic crime driving the current story

Alexia Casale Why did Alexia love this book?

The ‘crime’ in Animal Dreams is a legal technicality, and this is a literary contemporary novel rather than a crime one, but its narrative drive comes from the same need to untangle the past to set the characters free (or as free as they can be) in the present.

The writing is glorious – rich, deep, surprising, layered – reaching levels of technical mastery that few other writers even glimpse. There are several point-of-view characters and, unlike most books with this structure, Kingsolver wrings every last drop of drama and interest from the nuances this offers.

Instead of longing to get back to a preferred perspective, the reader revels in how vivid, how real, each character feels in turn. If you love LP Hartley’s The Go-Between, you’ll probably adore this.

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set in the southwestern mining town of Grace, Arizona, this novel revolves around Codi, her sister Hallie and their severe and distant father, Doc Homer. The author has previously written "The Bean Trees" and "Homeland", the latter a collection of short stories.

Book cover of Omeros

Eleanor Shearer Author Of River Sing Me Home

From my list on history in all its strange and unsettling glory.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I fell in love with History as an academic subject, I fell in love with stories. And as the granddaughter of Caribbean immigrants, true stories of my grandparents’ early lives could transport me to another place as vividly as fiction. So although I have studied History to Master’s level, where I specialized in the legacy of slavery, it is always to fiction that I turn to breathe life into the past. My favourite books are those that are unsettling in the unfamiliarity of the world they create, and yet deeply moving because, at heart, the characters are motivated by timeless and human things like grief, ambition, or love. 

Eleanor's book list on history in all its strange and unsettling glory

Eleanor Shearer Why did Eleanor love this book?

This is not a book about history so much as one that has history suffused through it.

To me, it so perfectly captures what I love most about the Caribbean – the way that the past is always close to the surface. Derek Walcott writes so movingly about St Lucia, which is where my grandmother was born.

This is a book that is made for re-reading – I have read it at least three times now, and every time I spot a new line or a new image to savour.  

By Derek Walcott,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Omeros is the grand epic poem told in multiple chapters from Nobel Prize-winning poet and playwright Derek Walcott.

With circular narrative design, titled with the Greek name for Homer, Omeros simultaneously charts two currents of history: the visible history charted in events--the tribal losses of the American Indian, the tragedy of African enslavement--and the interior, unwritten epic fashioned from the suffering of the individual in exile.

“One of the great poems of our time.” —John Lucas, New Statesman