The most recommended books about judges

Who picked these books? Meet our 20 experts.

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

What type of judge book?


Book cover of Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality

Keisha N. Blain Author Of Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer's Enduring Message to America

From my list on Black women in the Civil Rights Movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first learned about Fannie Lou Hamer more than a decade ago, and I have been deeply inspired by her life story and her words. I didn’t initially think I would write a book about her. But the uprisings of 2020 motivated me to do so. Like so many people, I struggled to make sense of everything that was unfolding, and I began to question whether change was possible. The more I read Hamer’s words, the more clarity I found. Her vision for the world and her commitment to improving conditions for all people gave me a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

Keisha's book list on Black women in the Civil Rights Movement

Keisha N. Blain Why did Keisha love this book?

Constance Baker Motley’s role within the Civil Rights Movement had not received the recognition it deserved until Tomiko Brown-Nagin’s Civil Rights Queen. Brown-Nagin reconstructs Motley’s life and pushes readers to consider the activist and legal career of the first Black woman appointed as a federal judge. As a writer who is especially interested in studying Black working-class women, I appreciate the author’s close attention to how Motley’s life from a working-class background to her position as a judge of the Southern District of New York.

By Tomiko Brown-Nagin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With the US Supreme Court confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson, “it makes sense to revisit the life and work of another Black woman who profoundly shaped the law: Constance Baker Motley” (CNN). The first major biography of one of our most influential judges—an activist lawyer who became the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary—that provides an eye-opening account of the twin struggles for gender equality and civil rights in the 20th Century.

“A must-read for anyone who dares to believe that equal justice under the law is possible and is in search of a model for how to…

Book cover of The Lacquer Screen: A Chinese Detective Story

Yun Rou Author Of The Monk of Park Avenue: A Modern Daoist Odyssey

From my list on better understanding and appreciating China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born to privilege in Manhattan. A seeker from the get-go, I perpetually yearned to see below the surface of the pond and understand what lay beneath and how the world really works. Not connecting with Western philosophy, religion, or culture, I turned to the wisdom of the East at a young age. I stayed the course through decades of training in Chinese martial arts, eventually reached some understanding of them, and realized my spiritual ambitions when I was ordained a Daoist monk in China in an official government ceremony. I write about China then and now and teach meditation and tai chi around the world. 

Yun's book list on better understanding and appreciating China

Yun Rou Why did Yun love this book?

Van Gulik is a giant in the field of historical mysteries, having penned the better part of 20 novels about his favorite protagonist “Judge Dee.” Set in ancient China, the stories typically involve political intrigue, moral quandaries, and settings so evocative it is easy to just close your eyes and see yourself in a pavilion overlooking a swan-filled lake or in a lady’s bed-chamber, a scholar’s library, or an artist’s studio. These novels are mood pieces as well as whodunnits, and the immersive experiences the author offers lead me to recommend not only this title but any and all in the series. Heaven for someone like me who loves what China used to be.

By Robert Van Gulik,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Early in his career, Judge Dee visits a senior magistrate who shows him a beautiful lacquer screen on which a scene of lovers has been mysteriously altered to show the man stabbing his lover. The magistrate fears he is losing his mind and will murder his own wife. Meanwhile, a banker has inexplicably killed himself, and a lovely lady has allowed Dee's lieutenant, Chiao Tai, to believe she is a courtesan. Dee and Chiao Tai go incognito among a gang of robbers to solve this mystery, and find the leader of the robbers is more honorable than the magistrate.


Book cover of Harold and Maude

Alvin Schnupp Author Of Goods & Effects

From my list on women artists and activists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by women who are artists and activists, such as Ivy Bottini, Käthe Kollwitz and Peggy Guggenheim. (All subjects of plays I wrote). They are convicted, unique, champions of justice, diversity and inclusion.

Alvin's book list on women artists and activists

Alvin Schnupp Why did Alvin love this book?

Maude is such a joyful, wise older woman who embraces life, who refuses to judge people, who provides guidance for a young troubled man.  

Especially infectious is Maude’s love of life which balances nicely with and counters Harold’s preoccupation with death.

The advice delivered by Maude, such as, “It’s best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much life. Aim above morality,” always contains a unique perspective that is profoundly unpredictable and truthful.

By Colin Higgins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nineteen-year-old Harold Chasen is obsessed with death. He fakes suicides to shock his self-obsessed mother, drives a customized Jaguar hearse, and attends funerals of complete strangers. Seventy-nine-year-old Maude Chardin, on the other hand, adores life. She liberates trees from city sidewalks and transplants them to the forest, paints smiles on the faces of church statues, and “borrows” cars to remind their owners that life is fleeting—here today, gone tomorrow! A chance meeting between the two turns into a madcap, whirlwind romance, and Harold learns that life is worth living. Harold and Maude started as Colin Higgins’ master’s thesis at UCLA…

Book cover of Justice on the Brink: A Requiem for the Supreme Court

Warner Blake Author Of J. S. White, Our First Architect: His Surviving Structures from 19th-Century Snohomish

From my list on covering the first draft of history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Warner is a multi-disciplinary artist who began with object theatre – writing, designing and building characters, and performing. Now, history writing is his primary focus, having written two books for 14 years, and still counting, writes a monthly blog, combining words and images to tell stories of early Snohomish. 

Warner's book list on covering the first draft of history

Warner Blake Why did Warner love this book?

Best to know up-front, I am a dedicated follower of the author. 

Linda Greenhouse once covered the Supreme Court for The New York Times between the years 1978-2008, yet, she is still contributing opinion pieces – perhaps on a First-responder status! 

Reading Greenhouse describing what just happened in the highest Court Room with a clarity that astounds me as I read the words, then a feeling of complete understanding. Like a backstage tour, during the performance, I just can’t get enough of her descriptive writing – it’s as if I’m there. 

This book sets the stage for the drama of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment by Donald Trump… and I assume you know what I’m talking about. A great read that makes us smarter.

By Linda Greenhouse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Justice on the Brink as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The gripping story of the Supreme Court’s transformation from a measured institution of law and justice into a highly politicized body dominated by a right-wing supermajority, told through the dramatic lens of its most transformative year, by the Pulitzer Prize–winning law columnist for The New York Times

“A dazzling feat . . . meaty, often scintillating and sometimes scary . . . Greenhouse is a virtuoso of SCOTUS analysis.”—The Washington Post

In Justice on the Brink, legendary journalist Linda Greenhouse gives us unique insight into a court under stress, providing the context and brilliant analysis readers of her work in…

Book cover of I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

Christy Mihaly Author Of The Supreme Court and Us

From my list on how the U.S. Supreme Court works.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a former lawyer, I want young readers to understand the judicial system and to appreciate how the structure of our government, with its three branches, buttresses our freedoms. That's why I wrote The Supreme Court and Us. My book surveys the court, its function, and some of its important cases. Reading it together with the other recommended titles will offer a multi-dimensional picture of the Court, its Justices, and its work. Each Supreme Court case is a fascinating story. I want to share these stories with kids. We need a knowledgeable new generation to be engaged in civic life – and these books are a good place to start.

Christy's book list on how the U.S. Supreme Court works

Christy Mihaly Why did Christy love this book?

This creative book showcases Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her frequent dissents from the Court's majority opinions. Beginning as a girl, Ruth often disagreed with other people's expectations. Using her strong-mindedness and intelligence and hard work, she excelled in college and law school, eventually overcoming prejudices against her as a woman and a Jew to become a law professor, a lawyer, and a judge. Author Debby Levy describes Ruth Bader Ginsburg's groundbreaking work as a lawyer seeking equality for men and women, including her numerous arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. And in discussing Justice Ginsburg's own tenure on the Supreme Court, Levy highlights Ruth's friendship with her political opposite, Justice Antonin Scalia. This book offers readers a three-dimensional profile of an iconic Justice.

By Debbie Levy, Elizabeth Baddeley (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked I Dissent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Get to know celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg-in the first picture book about her life-as she proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable!

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what's right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice's story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.

Book cover of Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made

Cliff Sloan Author Of The Court at War: FDR, His Justices, and the World They Made

From my list on understanding the Supreme Court.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fortunate to have had many Supreme Court experiences–seven arguments, a clerkship for Justice John Paul Stevens, head of Justice Stephen Breyer’s confirmation team, two books on the Court, analysis for the media, and my current Georgetown Law School position teaching constitutional law. I love to read about the Supreme Court and write and talk about the Court and its Justices. The vivid sagas that underlie the Justices and their cases help us to understand this powerful institution about which we know less than our other branches. It has never been more important to understand the Supreme Court and its role in American life and our constitutional democracy.

Cliff's book list on understanding the Supreme Court

Cliff Sloan Why did Cliff love this book?

Earl Warren was one of our most consequential Chief Justices.

Serving from 1953 to 1969, he led the way on many country-changing decisions. He deftly forged the Court’s unanimous opinion in Brown v. Board of Education and oversaw other landmark cases, establishing one-person, one-vote for our democracy; banning prayer in public schools; and presiding over a criminal justice revolution, including the famous Miranda decision that gave us warnings that every American knows by heart.

Jim Newton’s lively biography is indispensable in understanding these momentous developments, as well as the intriguing character of Warren, who also served as California’s Governor and the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee in 1948.

Perhaps more than any other Justice, Warren launched the modern era of our jurisprudence.

By Jim Newton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An account of the career of the former chief justice and chairman of the Warren Commission draws on previously unavailable government documents and new interviews to evaluate his integral roles in the evolutions of defining political moments from the past half century, from school desegregation to the support of Japanese Americans interred during World War II. 40,000 first printing.

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

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

From my list on women human rights visionaries.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Robin's book list on women human rights visionaries

Robin Kirk Why did Robin love this book?

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

By Shirin Ebadi, Azadeh Moaveni,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

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

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

Book cover of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Fern Schumer Chapman Author Of Is It Night or Day?: A Novel of Immigration and Survival, 1938-1942

From my list on making “good trouble”.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award-winning author who has written books for all ages and genres – a Young Adult historical novel, several works of non-fiction for middle school students, two picture books for children, an adult work of non-fiction, and an adult memoir. I love a great story, and, for each book, I target the audience I believe is best suited to my narrative. Several of my books were inspired by my mother’s story of childhood immigration as she fled Nazi Germany for America and the emotional legacy of that experience.

Fern's book list on making “good trouble”

Fern Schumer Chapman Why did Fern love this book?

An inspiring and lively biography that captures the courage of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a cultural icon who made good trouble by changing gender equality laws and breaking down the patriarchy one case at a time during her long, honorable, legendary life. Through the book’s illustrated timelines, archival photos and documents, annotated dissents, and text, the reader comes to know RBG’s drive, ethics, and personal story. I picked this book because it is a wonderful introduction to legal history, gender equality, and civil rights for young people.

By Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Notorious RBG 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?

"A tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that does more than catalog her achievements; it conveys her spirit, one that will leave readers in awe."*

This New York Times bestselling version of the acclaimed biography Notorious RBG is an excellent way to share with middle grade readers just why Justice Ginsburg was such a powerful role model. This entertaining and insightful full-color 200-page young readers' edition mixes pop culture, humor, and expert analysis for a remarkable account of the indomitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Heroine. Trailblazer. Pioneer.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an icon to millions. Her tireless fight…

Book cover of Youth in Care Chronicles: Reflections on Growing Up in the Child Welfare System

Peter Smyth Author Of Working with High-Risk Youth: A Relationship-based Practice Framework

From my list on challenge the status quo and develop a practice framework for working with youth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a social worker for 32 years, with 24 years focusing on working with the most marginalized and complex population of youth in society. Hearing the voices of youth saying that child welfare was irrelevant and that many had problematic relationships with their work got me researching ways to think differently and shift practice to make our work with youth more meaningful to them and us as workers. With a background in journalism, I was prompted to write, finally resulting in a book on this subject. I teach a course on social work practice with high-risk youth and continue to do consultation, training, and speaking for youth-serving organizations. 

Peter's book list on challenge the status quo and develop a practice framework for working with youth

Peter Smyth Why did Peter love this book?

I was fortunate to be involved with this book project (and write the foreword) with a number of very passionate people committed to supporting youth and giving them a voice.

The youth courageously wrote their stories so readers can learn from them, especially workers who are involved with providing support and helping youth. The youth share their experiences of growing up in the child welfare system, the good, the bad, and the ugly. They talk about what they learned and what they would like to see change and provide words of wisdom that can be valuable for workers to think about and reflect upon.

The stories demonstrate that youth want connections with healthy adults, but they are also a call to action for workers to get to know their youth, understand them, be genuine, and not judge them for circumstances beyond their control. This is a very heartfelt collection of…

Book cover of Flesh And Gold (Lyhhrt Trilogy)

Massimo Marino Author Of The Law

From my list on the rise and fall of Galactic Empires.

Why am I passionate about this?

My dad was a subscriber of “Astounding Stories." If you know the magazine, it is famous not only because it featured the giants of science fiction genre, but also for its colorful and imaginative covers. I didn’t have the right to read those stories until later, when dad thought I could understand them, but I loved the covers and imagined myself stories which started from them or used the scenes as inspiration for a short story which I wrote for myself. The science fiction bug wormed into my brain at that time. Then, I just devoured every novel which landed at home and kept writing. 

Massimo's book list on the rise and fall of Galactic Empires

Massimo Marino Why did Massimo love this book?

By now, it should be clear I like trilogies, reading and writing them. The Lyhhrt Trilogy is a perfect example of incredible imagination and wordsmith talent. As in some of my writings, there is palpable lyrical style and a dense compositional approach to a story that explores the awful and worming guts that must be, de facto, the only way any vast empire can form, emboweled and ejected into reality. The Galactic Federation here is a hostage of the nobility or despicable evilness of those carrying authority in the governing organization: game of thrones anyone? The spine of the story, as in The Law, is of a GalFed Judge who realizes cruelty and slavery are the crude reality in an empire focused on satisfying the same base urges that humanity spends so much energy on today. A well envisioned complicated and messy universe, the way it should be.

By Phyllis Gotlieb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flesh And Gold (Lyhhrt Trilogy) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A mature alien woman judge sees an amphibious human female, obviously a slave, displayed in a tank in front of a sex palace. And so a murderous plot of interstellar proportions, involving many races and planets, galactic corporations, explosive sex and horrible slavery is revealed.