The best books that capture the imagination and make you think

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a small Nebraska farm where a grove of trees was a vast forest, a cow pasture was an endless desert, and a corn cob pile was the tallest mountain in the world. Our horse barn doubled as a castle and fortress for fighting every evil bad guy—including aliens from outer space. I was mortally wounded dozens of times, conducted my first wedding in a grain bin-cathedral at age eight, and read every book our country school could borrow. In college I majored in sociology, minored in history, and receive a Master of Divinity in seminary. My reading list reflects my love of adventurous variety.

I wrote...

Parallel Missions: The Journey Begins

By Larry Sydow,

Book cover of Parallel Missions: The Journey Begins

What is my book about?

What would you do if you saved the life of a total stranger who claimed to be from a parallel universe? Derek and Margo did and were recruited to join him and his wife to save this world and Parallel worlds. Their guiding principle: “As on Earth, so in Parallel.”

After a visit to Parallel, hundreds of years advanced scientifically over Earth, they return, rejuvenated and ready for the Missions. With the help of Bart, a space-age computer, the Team turns a simple European vacation into a working one as the Missions become more dangerous and complex. Their message on every Mission is spelled out in the appropriate language on their logo: “Violence begets violence – peace begets peace.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Larry Sydow Why did I love this book?

This book of fiction, based on facts, captured my attention from the first page, where the Panama Hotel took an older Henry Lee back to the days of WWII. It was an excellent description of the way the American military hauled Japanese American citizens to relocation facilities resembling concentration camps. For me, it was an inside look at the fear and pain experienced by people who face prejudice, as did the Chinese boy and Japanese girl. Young Henry and Keiko faced that bigotry and overcame it, despite every effort to make them hate. If those two children could do it, why can’t I and others surmount racial divisions?

By Jamie Ford,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1986, The Panama Hotel The old Seattle landmark has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made a startling discovery in the basement: personal belongings stored away by Japanese families sent to interment camps during the Second World War. Among the fascinated crowd gathering outside the hotel, stands Henry Lee, and, as the owner unfurls a distinctive parasol, he is flooded by memories of his childhood. He wonders if by some miracle, in amongst the boxes of dusty treasures, lies a link to the Okabe family, and the girl he lost his young heart to, so…

Book cover of Assassin's Apprentice

Larry Sydow Why did I love this book?

Hobb had me rooting for “the Bastard” from the first chapter. With everything against him, Fitz grew up with palace intrigue, was taught by the master assassin, and learned the art of “skilling – despite the efforts of a “legitimate” prince and his followers to prevent it. However, loyalty, determination, and persistence flowed throughout the book. I had trouble putting the book down.

By Robin Hobb,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Assassin's Apprentice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Voyager Classics - timeless masterworks of science fiction and fantasy.

A beautiful clothbound edition of Assassin's Apprentice, the first book in the critically acclaimed Farseer Trilogy.

In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma.

Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard cast out into the world, friendless and lonely. Only his magical link with animals - the old art known as the Wit - gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if…

Book cover of The Noted Desperado Pancho Dumez

Larry Sydow Why did I love this book?

Lemay combines historical facts with great fiction. The prologue had me hooked and rooting for a couple of juvenile delinquents determined to find Billy the Kid’s missing tombstone. Two cousins make some astonishing discoveries, from digging their own graves to chasing desperados. I couldn’t help but wish every adventure was true and Pancho and Dorado were friends of mine. I look forward to a sequel.

By John Lemay, Logan Pack (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Noted Desperado Pancho Dumez as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


26 years ago, outlaw Billy the Kid’s tombstone was stolen from Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Now it has mysteriously been returned. When teenage brothers Pancho and Dorado Dumez steal it themselves, they get more than they bargained for. Encased inside the tombstone is a map that leads to the Southwest’s greatest treasure: The Lost Adams Diggings—a canyon comprised of solid gold. But the brothers aren’t the only ones on the treasure’s trail. So is bounty hunter Seven McCaw, and along with him comes a modern…

Book cover of A Man Called Ove

Larry Sydow Why did I love this book?

I would have skipped this book, but my wife told me it was a must-read. It took a couple of chapters to hook me, but hook me, it did. Ove is the kind of guy who dives others crazy. However, his efforts at suicide fail because of friendships he doesn’t want, and his loving, caring nature surfaces big time. Ove reminds me that no man of any worth is an island. It would be great if more of us followed his example of loving and caring for neighbors—especially those who annoy us.

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked A Man Called Ove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



There is something about Ove.

At first sight, he is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.

But isn't it rare, these days, to find…

Book cover of The Tale Teller

Larry Sydow Why did I love this book?

Anne Hillerman follows her father Tony’s tradition of taking me into the world of Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Nation. Her knowledge of the superstitions and practices of the Navajo weaves through the Leaphorn’s, Jim and Manuelito Chee’s criminal investigations. I was fascinated by the twists, turns, and dangers they faced and the obstacles created by tribal and governmental regulations. Their corroboration and determination were an inspiration. I was reminded again of the importance of working together rather than trying to go it alone.

By Anne Hillerman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Don't miss the TV series, Dark Winds, based on the Leaphorn, Chee, & Manuelito novels, now on AMC and AMC+!


Legendary Navajo policeman Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn takes center stage in this riveting atmospheric mystery from New York Times bestselling author Anne Hillerman that combines crime, superstition, and tradition and brings the desert Southwest vividly alive.

Joe Leaphorn may have retired from the Tribal Police, but he finds himself knee-deep in a perplexing case involving a priceless artifact-a reminder of a dark time in Navajo history. Joe's been hired to find a missing biil, a traditional dress…

You might also like...

The Wind Blows in Sleeping Grass

By Katie Powner,

Book cover of The Wind Blows in Sleeping Grass

Katie Powner Author Of The Wind Blows in Sleeping Grass

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Small town resident Animal lover Question asker

Katie's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Pete is content living a simple life in the remote Montana town of Sleeping Grass, driving the local garbage truck with his pot-bellied pig Pearl and wondering about what could've been. Elderly widow Wilma is busy meddling in Pete's life to try and make up for past wrongs that he knows nothing about. Yet.

When the sister Pete was separated from as a child shows up, Pete must confront a past he buried long ago, and Wilma discovers her long-awaited chance at redemption may cost more than she’s willing to pay.

The Wind Blows in Sleeping Grass

By Katie Powner,

What is this book about?

For the first time in his life, Pete has everything to lose.

After years of drifting, fifty-year-old Pete Ryman has settled down with his potbellied pig, Pearl, in the small Montana town of Sleeping Grass--a place he never expected to see again. It's not the life he dreamed of, but there aren't many prospects for a high-school dropout like him.

Elderly widow Wilma Jacobsen carries a burden of guilt over her part in events that led to Pete leaving Sleeping Grass decades ago. Now that he's back, she's been praying for the chance to make things right, but she never…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Navajo, Japanese Americans, and neighbourhoods?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Navajo, Japanese Americans, and neighbourhoods.

The Navajo Explore 23 books about the Navajo
Japanese Americans Explore 44 books about Japanese Americans
Neighbourhoods Explore 26 books about neighbourhoods