The best books to get lost in the swamp, the wilderness, the mountains, or the ocean

Why am I passionate about this?

USA Today and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Marsh King's Daughter - “Subtle, brilliant and mature . . . as good as a thriller can be.” – The New York Times Book Review, and soon to be a major motion picture starring Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn, and The Wicked Sister, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2020. "Massively thrilling and altogether unputdownable. Dionne is proving to be one of the finest suspense writers working today.” – Karin Slaughter


I wrote...

The Wicked Sister

By Karen Dionne,

Book cover of The Wicked Sister

What is my book about?

For a decade and a half, Rachel Cunningham has chosen to lock herself away in a psychiatric facility, tortured by gaps in her memory and the certainty that she is responsible for her parents’ deaths. But when she learns new details about their murders, Rachel returns to the place where she once felt safest in a quest for answers: her family’s sprawling log cabin in the remote forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

As Rachel begins to uncover what really happened on the day her parents were murdered, she learns that home can be a place of unspeakable evil, and that the bond she shares with her sister might be the most poisonous of all. A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2017.

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

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Girls in the Stilt House

Karen Dionne Why did I love this book?

Set in 1920s Mississippi, this Southern novel weaves a harrowing tale of two teenage girls who are drawn into a dangerous world of bootleggers and moral corruption. Forced to come to terms with their hidden past, they discover that they are linked in ways that could cost them their lives.

As rich and lush as the Natchez Trace swamps where the story takes place, Mustian’s lyrical prose combined with her deep insight into the resiliency of the human spirit make this novel shine. You know a book is good when you wish you’d written it!

By Kelly Mustian,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Girls in the Stilt House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE USA TODAY BESTSELLER!
"Remarkable debut.... [a] nearly flawless tale of loss, perseverance and redemption."-Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
Set in 1920s Mississippi, this debut Southern novel weaves a beautiful and harrowing story of two teenage girls cast in an unlikely partnership through murder-perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and If the Creek Don't Rise.
Ada promised herself she would never go back to the Trace, to her hard life on the swamp and her harsh father. But now, after running away to Baton Rouge and briefly knowing a different kind of life, she finds herself with nowhere to…


Book cover of One Step Too Far

Karen Dionne Why did I love this book?

Frankie Elkin doesn’t know the woods, but she knows how to find people.

As she and her rescue team head into the Wyoming wilderness in search of a lost hiker, it quickly becomes clear that someone is tracking them; someone who will do whatever it takes to stop them. Gardner is an avid hiker, and her intimate knowledge of the rugged Wyoming backcountry shines on every terrifying page.

This immersive, propulsive, utterly chilling, and yet deeply moving wilderness thriller is one of the best books I read all year.

By Lisa Gardner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked One Step Too Far as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a chilling thriller about a young man gone missing in the wilderness of Wyoming . . . and the secrets uncovered by the desperate effort to find him
 
Timothy O’Day knew the woods. Yet when he disappeared on the first night of a bachelor party camping trip with his best friends in the world, he didn’t leave a trace. What he did leave behind were two heartbroken parents, a crew of guilt-ridden groomsmen, and a pile of clues that don’t add up.
 
Frankie Elkin doesn’t know the woods, but she knows…


Book cover of The Tally Stick

Karen Dionne Why did I love this book?

I read this novel in one sitting, swept up and carried away to a world I never knew and a place I’ve never been: New Zealand’s West Coast, a rough and rugged land where after just five days in the country, the entire Chamberlain family disappears.

With the parents dead, what will become of the children? And what will they do to survive? Complicated moral choices elevate this richly drawn, intensely atmospheric, and absolutely stunning story of loss and endurance.

By Carl Nixon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Lost in the wilderness: subjugation, survival, and the meaning of family

Up on the highway, the only evidence that the Chamberlains had ever been there was two smeared tire tracks in the mud leading into an almost undamaged screen of bushes and trees. No other cars passed that way until after dawn. By that time the tracks had been washed away by the heavy rain. After being in New Zealand for only five days, the English Chamberlain family had vanished into thin air. The date was 4 April 1978. In 2010 the remains of the eldest child are discovered in…


Book cover of The Girl in the Mirror

Karen Dionne Why did I love this book?

Rose Carlyle’s debut psychological suspense left me gobsmacked.

Set against a backdrop of sparkling tropical islands, ocean storms, and outrageous wealth, the novel explores the terrible consequences of greed, deadly lies, and out-of-control jealousy. With an ending I absolutely did not see coming, Carlyle doesn’t just knock the ball out of the park—she sends it flying into the next universe. 

By Rose Carlyle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Girl in the Mirror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* * THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER * *
________________________________

'Fresh, flavorful, and utterly intoxicating' A. J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window

'It's impossible to do justice to the twists and turns ... riveting' New York Times
________________________________

She already has your looks. Now she wants your life...

Beautiful twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beneath the surface lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of open-hearted Summer's seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband Adam.

Called to Thailand to help sail the beloved family yacht to…


Book cover of No Exit

Karen Dionne Why did I love this book?

When college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a blizzard in the Colorado mountains, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop along with four complete strangers.

She thinks she’s safe—until she discovers a little girl locked inside an animal crate in the van parked next to hers. Which of the people sheltering with her put her there? How can Darby save her? Who can she trust? This intense and brutal no-holds-barred thriller features a heroine unlike any I’ve ever seen and a story I won’t quickly forget. 

By Taylor Adams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked No Exit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“What a box of tricks! This full-throttle thriller, dark and driving, rivals Agatha Christie for sheer ingenuity and James Patterson for flat-out speed. Swift, sharp, and relentless.” — A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets…


You might also like...

Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

Book cover of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

Wendy Lee Hermance Author Of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Wendy Lee Hermance was heard on National Public Radio (NPR) stations with her Missouri Folklore series in the 1980s. She earned a journalism degree from Stephens College, served as Editor and Features Writer for Midwestern and Southern university and regional publications, then settled into writing real estate contracts. In 2012 she attended University of Sydney, earning a master’s degree by research thesis. Her books include Where I’m Going with this Poem, a memoir in poetry and prose. Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat marks her return to feature writing as collections of narrative non-fiction stories.

Wendy's book list on why Portugal is weird

What is my book about?

Weird Foods of Portugal describes the author's first years trying to make sense of a strange new place and a home there for herself.

Witty, dreamlike, and at times jarring, the book sizzles with social commentary looking back at America and beautiful, finely drawn descriptions of Portugal and its people. Part dark-humor cautionary tale, part travel adventure, ultimately, Hermance's book of narrative non-fiction serves as affirmation for any who wish to make a similar move themselves.

Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

What is this book about?

"Wendy Lee Hermance describes Portugal´s colorful people and places - including taxi drivers and animals - with a poet´s empathy and dark humor. Part travel adventure, part cautionary tale, Weird Foods of Portugal is at it´s heart, affirmation for all who consider making such a move themselves."


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in wilderness survival, Wyoming, and Mississippi?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about wilderness survival, Wyoming, and Mississippi.

Wilderness Survival Explore 26 books about wilderness survival
Wyoming Explore 48 books about Wyoming
Mississippi Explore 80 books about Mississippi