Books Like Siddhartha

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

Herman Hesse's short novel is both spiritual and philosophical. If your students loved 'Siddhartha' then this lesson will give you some books to recommend to keep them reading.


Siddhartha is the story of a man's quest for spiritual enlightenment. Set in 600 BC in India, Hesse's slim volume depicts the journey of the title character who is born into a life of privilege and who gives it all up to focus on his inward journey. It's a novel of maturity, friendship, family, and love. The books below contain similar themes and subject matter.


What if Siddhartha came to America with the ability to teach people to see behind the illusions they perceive as reality and thus understand the true workings of the world? That's one of the underlying questions that forms Richard Bach's novel Illusions. If your students enjoyed the inward journey of Siddhartha and his attempts to see past the veil of illusion that Hesse's characters call 'maya,' then they will get into Bach's tale. In Illusions, two barnstorming pilots meet. One of them purports to be a messiah who has become frustrated with people who value the spectacle of miracles more than the lessons behind them, and through their interactions the reader learns his message. If your students liked the depth of Siddhartha they'll like this one too, but they'll also enjoy the sometimes whimsical tone of Bach's book.

A Hunger Artist

One of the major sections of Siddhartha is his time with the ascetic monks. In that portion, he learns to deny his body, and once he has freed himself from physical needs like shelter and food, Siddhartha discovers that he can focus his mind better on his spiritual journey. Kafka treads some similar ground in his novel A Hunger Artist. Kafka's main character is a traveling artist who specializes in fasting for long period of time as a form of entertainment for the towns he visits. Like Siddhartha, he comes to understand that total self-denial isn't the correct path, and he learns the harmful truth about pride. These books have some of the same themes, but Kafka's text contains a darker, more cynical ending.

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