The best books about judges

8 authors have picked their favorite books about judges and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Notorious RBG

By Irin Carmon, Shana Knizhnik,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Is It Night or Day?: A Novel of Immigration and Survival, 1938-1942

By Fern Schumer Chapman,

Book cover of Is It Night or Day?: A Novel of Immigration and Survival, 1938-1942

What is my book about?

Civil Rights activist John Lewis has famously said: “Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and redeem the soul of America.” What did he mean? Speak truth to power. Make a difference. Never give up. Acts large and small fall into Lewis’s philosophy of “making good trouble.” 

My mother, Edith, was an unaccompanied minor who fled Nazi Germany for America in 1938, and she falls into the category of never giving up. When she was only 12 years old, Edith traveled all by herself from her home in Germany to a place that seemed as foreign as the moon: Chicago, Illinois. My historical novel, Is It Night or Day?, a Junior Library Guild title, captures the story of the challenges many immigrants face as they make a new life in America. For my mother, simply surviving was an act of making good trouble.

I Dissent

By Debbie Levy, Elizabeth Baddeley (illustrator),

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Supreme Court and Us

By Christy Mihaly, Neely Daggett (illustrator),

Book cover of The Supreme Court and Us

What is my book about?

This book introduces young readers to the U.S. Supreme Court, its history, its processes, and its significance. The illustrator, Neely Daggett, engages readers with her kid-friendly, comic-style format showing the young protagonists, Ada and Bea, as they tour Washington, D.C. and learn about the Supreme Court. The two girls joke and talk with various helpful characters, including some past Supreme Court Justices, participants in important legal cases, and the Constitution itself. They come to understand how the Court has shaped our lives. Cases discussed include Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, and disputes over whether schools can require the pledge of allegiance. Back matter provides additional depth and details. 

Flesh And Gold (Lyhhrt Trilogy)

By Phyllis Gotlieb,

Book cover of Flesh And Gold (Lyhhrt Trilogy)

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.


Who am I?

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. 


I wrote...

The Law

By Massimo Marino,

Book cover of The Law

What is my book about?

Tancredi Gilmor is one of the Law Scholars at the Tribunal of Ahthaza, the capital planet of the subjugated Kritas race. When the Tribunal adopts tougher measures against the mounting turmoils, and the marines tighten their grip on the population, violence escalates and Tancredi is confronted with the brutality of the space marines' oppression; his steadfast loyalty to The Law falters and puts his role within the Tribunal at risk.

Tancredi's behavior intrigues Mekte, a young female Kritas who sees in him the hope for a change. As a member of the Kritas insurgence, Mekte risks everything to meet with Tancredi in secret, believing that together they can and must change the world.

The Highest Tribute

By Kekla Magoon, Laura Freeman (illustrator),

Book cover of The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall's Life, Leadership, and Legacy

The through-line in this picture book biography is Thurgood Marshall's quest for change, which the author says started early in his life. Marshall grew up in Baltimore under segregation. His parents wanted greater opportunities for their children. Marshall pushed against racial boundaries in college and beyond. As a young lawyer he won an early court order desegregating a school, and went on to argue a series of landmark desegregation cases before the Supreme Court. After becoming the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice, he continued to push for change by persuading his colleagues on the bench. This book highlights the Court's ability to make change and honors a trailblazing man who left a lasting legacy. Helpful back matter includes a timeline and list of important Supreme Court cases.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Supreme Court and Us

By Christy Mihaly, Neely Daggett (illustrator),

Book cover of The Supreme Court and Us

What is my book about?

This book introduces young readers to the U.S. Supreme Court, its history, its processes, and its significance. The illustrator, Neely Daggett, engages readers with her kid-friendly, comic-style format showing the young protagonists, Ada and Bea, as they tour Washington, D.C. and learn about the Supreme Court. The two girls joke and talk with various helpful characters, including some past Supreme Court Justices, participants in important legal cases, and the Constitution itself. They come to understand how the Court has shaped our lives. Cases discussed include Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, and disputes over whether schools can require the pledge of allegiance. Back matter provides additional depth and details. 

Iran Awakening

By Shirin Ebadi, Azadeh Moaveni,

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

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. 


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Righting Wrongs: 20 Human Rights Heroes Around the World

By Robin Kirk,

Book cover of Righting Wrongs: 20 Human Rights Heroes Around the World

What is my book about?

Most people aren’t aware that determined individuals thought up and fought for the human rights we now take for granted. Righting Wrongs introduces you to 20 fascinating people who envisioned women’s rights, the rights of children and the disabled, indigenous and LGBTQ rights, and protections against torture and land mines, among other things. These stories of hope and hard work show how people working together can dramatically change the world for the better.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Nancy Hendricks,

Book cover of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life in American History

The Notorious RBG was my neighbor at the Watergate complex in Washington, DC, for forty years and my dear friend through all of them. I can still see her sitting on her patio, even with advanced cancer, contemplating the issues that shaped her own life and the nation’s: What is right? What is just? What is fair? Is it possible to spend a life any more usefully than that?

Who am I?

I’m a man who has led two lives. The first was as a junk dealer’s son from Buffalo, New York, who worked his tail off in school, won a full scholarship to Columbia University in 1958, and began dreaming of entering politics and someday becoming governor of New York State. The second life arrived suddenly during the third semester of my junior year when blindness seemed to rob me of my dreams. It didn’t, and along with dear friends and a loving family, these biographies have played a central role in keeping my dreams alive.


I wrote...

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man's Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life

By Sanford D. Greenberg,

Book cover of Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man's Blindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life

What is my book about?

It’s a memoir built around a tragic event—the day in February 1961 when a Detroit surgeon blinded me ironically to save my eyes—but it is far from a tragic tale. My future wife, Sue, my college roommate Art Garfunkel, and others got me back on my feet and helped me find my way from there. Today, I consider myself, as did Lou Gehrig in his distress, “the luckiest man in the world.” That’s the story I tell, in part to understand my own life and in part to encourage others. It's also available in a Young Adult edition.

Nineteen Minutes

By Jodi Picoult,

Book cover of Nineteen Minutes

I’m a huge Jodi Picoult fan. When I’m hungry for a good read, I grab one of her books because I know a juicy story and flawlessly sweet writing await me. But Nineteen Minutes? It’s like a forbidden dessert, my favorite of all her novels. The opening grabs you and won’t let go. There’s a school shooting, lots of kids, parents, and an investigator who allows his niece to paint his toenails. (Picoult creates characters who quietly charm you.) The most thought-provoking suspense novel I’ve ever read, Nineteen Minutes describes the multi-faceted inner workings of teenagers’ minds and the fruitless attempts of parents (and investigators with pink toes) to understand them. If, like me, you like solving puzzles and enjoy stories with lots of moving parts, this one’s for you. 


Who am I?

I've suffered from insomnia since I was a child, and the best way to pass the dark hours is to keep my mind engaged. Whether that means reading a thriller, murder mystery, or deep-rooted, life-altering tale, a novel has to do more than entertain me. It has to capture me. Draw my thoughts away from my bedroom’s black corners. Always, an e-book reader and paperback sit on my nightstand. If it’s past midnight and I’m awake, I hear them calling. If they are thought-provoking with lots of moving parts to keep me guessing? I can’t stop turning pages. I am CJ Zahner and I’m a true suspense junkie. 


I wrote...

Dream Wide Awake

By C.J. Zahner,

Book cover of Dream Wide Awake

What is my book about?

Boys are disappearing and six-year-old Mikala Daly dreams they are in a dark, damp cellar. A kidnapper scribbles quotes on three abduction notes. His fourth mentions Detective Jack Daly’s daughter Mikala. Is he someone they know? Jack crumbles the note and slips it into a pocket. He can't tell anyone she's dreaming. In this page-turning crime thriller, four words on Christian stationery force a father to work alone while narrowing a web of kidnapping suspects. Years before, Jack married into a family rumored to have a sixth sense. Now his daughter has inherited that “gift.” If he uses her dreams, will he risk her life?

"I picked this up and could. Not. Put. It. Down. I kept thinking about it for weeks afterward." – Amazon Reviewer.

Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee

By Robert Van Gulik,

Book cover of Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee

As the West had its long history of Rome and her influence in Europe, so Asia has an even longer story of the Chinese people and their state. For an introduction and appreciation of this brilliant and complex civilization, I recommend Celebrated Cases Of Judge Dee: Dee Goong-An, by Robert van Gulik, and the same author's series of Chinese detective novels featuring Judge Dee.

The real Judge Di Renjie was a member of the Tang Dynasty civil service in the 7th century, who rose to be a chancellor to the Empress Wu. A legendary figure in Chinese history, he became a popular literary detective - a sort of Sherlock Holmes. Van Gulik, himself a civil servant, was a Dutch scholar who served as an advisor to the Chinese government during WWII. He made this translation of an 18th century Chinese detective novel about Dee, and followed it with about…


Who am I?

Benita Kane Jaro's novels are admired for their intense focus on the personal experience of historical events, and on the literature in which the participants expressed it. Her novels and translations have been featured in many academic journals, books, and papers, and cited on popular internet sites, Wikipedia, National Public Radio, major American newspapers, and lists of the best novels on Roman history in the US and abroad.


I wrote...

The Key: A Passionate Novel About Catullus

By Benita Kane Jaro,

Book cover of The Key: A Passionate Novel About Catullus

What is my book about?

Gaius Valerius Catullus, a young poet from the provinces, comes to Rome. There he falls in love with a woman of the highest reaches of Roman society, deeply involved in politics. Their affair, embodied in his incandescent poetry, thrusts him into the upheaval of a collapsing Republic amid the shifting loyalties of ambitious men and women, of ordinary citizens, of slaves and free. The first volume of a trilogy about the destruction of the Roman Republic and the rise of Julius Caesar.

The Lacquer Screen

By Robert Van Gulik,

Book cover of The Lacquer Screen: A Chinese Detective Story

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.


Who am I?

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. 


I wrote...

The Monk of Park Avenue: A Modern Daoist Odyssey

By Yun Rou,

Book cover of The Monk of Park Avenue: A Modern Daoist Odyssey

What is my book about?

A literary memoir like no other, Monk of Park Avenue recounts novelist and martial master Monk Yon Rou’s spiritual journey of self-discovery. Learn from Yon Rou as he tackles tragedy and redemption on an unforgettable soul-searching odyssey.

A spiritual journey with extraordinary encounters. Yon Rou’s memoir is a kaleidoscopic ride through the upper echelons of New York Society and the nature-worshipping, sword-wielding world of East Asian religious and martial arts. Monk of Park Avenue divulges a privileged childhood in Manhattan, followed by the bitter rigors of kung fu in China and meditations in Daoist temples. Join Yon Rou’s adventure as he encounters kings, Nobel laureates, and the Mob. Witness this martial master’s incarceration in a high-mountain Ecuadorian hellhole and fight for survival in Paraguay’s brutal thorn jungle.

Turning Pages

By Sonia Sotomayor, Lulu Delacre (illustrator),

Book cover of Turning Pages: My Life Story

Written by sitting United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Turning Pages tells the inspiring story of the author's early life. Justice Sotomayor's beautiful spirit shines through as she recounts her early struggles to learn English, her fear of the daily injections needed to control her diabetes, and how she overcame these and other challenges. Sotomayor credits her love of books and reading for her many accomplishments. As an added bonus, the book includes plenty of personal photographs, showing scenes and people from the author's childhood, family, and friends. This is a lovely, personal, uplifting work—and not at all the celebrity book you might expect.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

The Supreme Court and Us

By Christy Mihaly, Neely Daggett (illustrator),

Book cover of The Supreme Court and Us

What is my book about?

This book introduces young readers to the U.S. Supreme Court, its history, its processes, and its significance. The illustrator, Neely Daggett, engages readers with her kid-friendly, comic-style format showing the young protagonists, Ada and Bea, as they tour Washington, D.C. and learn about the Supreme Court. The two girls joke and talk with various helpful characters, including some past Supreme Court Justices, participants in important legal cases, and the Constitution itself. They come to understand how the Court has shaped our lives. Cases discussed include Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, and disputes over whether schools can require the pledge of allegiance. Back matter provides additional depth and details. 

Or, view all 11 books about judges

New book lists related to judges

All book lists related to judges

Bookshelves related to judges