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Jim Shepard's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Jim Shepard recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Jim Shepard's favorite book recommendations of all time.


American Salvage

New from award-winning Michigan writer Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage is rich with local color and peopled with rural characters who love and hate extravagantly. They know how to fix cars and washing machines, how to shoot and clean game, and how to cook up methamphetamine, but they have not figured out how to prosper in the twenty-first century. Through the complex inner lives of working-class characters, Campbell illustrates the desperation of post-industrial America, where wildlife, jobs, and whole ways of life go extinct and the people have no choice but to live off what is... more
Recommended by Jim Shepard, and 1 others.

Jim ShepardShe has an amazing ability to be clear-eyed and compassionate about her characters at the same time. (Source)

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Bear and His Daughter

The stories collected in Bear and His Daughter span nearly thirty years - 1969 to the present - and they explore, acutely and powerfully, the humanity that unites us. In "Miserere," a widowed librarian with an unspeakable secret undertakes an unusual and grisly role in the anti-abortion crusade. "Under the Pitons" is the harrowing story of a reluctant participant in a drug-running scheme and the grim and unexpected consequences of his involvement. The title story is a riveting account of the tangled lines that weave together the relationship of a father and his grown daughter. less
Recommended by Jim Shepard, and 1 others.

Jim ShepardStone is great at writing about characters who are intricately self-aware and yet geniuses at self-destruction. (Source)

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The Collected Stories

The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel gathers together the complete work of a writer whose voice is as singular and astonishing as any in American fiction. Hempel, fiercely admired by writers and reviewers, has a sterling reputation that is based on four very short collections of stories, roughly fifteen thousand stunning sentences, written over a period of nearly three decades. These are stories about people who make choices that seem inevitable, whose longings and misgivings evoke eternal human experience. With compassion, wit, and the acutest eye, Hempel observes the marriages, minor... more
Recommended by Jim Shepard, and 1 others.

Jim ShepardAmy has a way of offhandedly rendering dire emotional states. She’s always been breathtakingly tender and funny. (Source)

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Recommended by Jim Shepard, and 1 others.

Jim ShepardThis was a hugely influential anthology in the early 80s. It’s a snapshot of the very best storywriters of an entire decade. (Source)

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Jesus' Son


The unnamed narrator in Jesus' Son lives through a car wreck and a heroin overdose. Is he blessed? He cheats, lies, steals--but possesses a child's (or a mystic's) uncanny way of expressing the bare essence of things around him. In its own strange and luminous way, this linked collection of short fiction does the same. The stories follow characters who are seemingly marginalized beyond hope, drifting through a narcotic haze of ennui, failed relationships, and petty crime. In "Dundun" the narrator decides to take a shooting victim to the hospital, though not for the usual reasons: "I... more
Recommended by James Altucher, Jim Shepard, and 2 others.

James AltucherThere was a movie about it and it's a beautiful collection of short stories about this total drug addict. (Source)

Jim ShepardWhat I love about Denis’s fiction is the way it’s populated by people who are marginal. His characters are like truants from life. (Source)

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