100 books like A Marsh Island

By Sarah Orne Jewett, Don James McLaughlin (editor),

Here are 100 books that A Marsh Island fans have personally recommended if you like A Marsh Island. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought

Donna J. Drucker Author Of Fertility Technology

From my list on the history of sexuality in modernity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long been drawn to how people of the past think about their sexual identities, attractions, and behaviors. I conducted my PhD research at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, where I spent many happy hours reading letters and books voicing people’s unfiltered desires for sexual arousal, connection, and expression. I found the punched-card machines that Alfred Kinsey used to organize data from his personal interviews oddly compelling, and that interest developed into a long-term engagement with the intersection of gender and sexuality with science and technology. I share my fascination with readers through my books on Kinsey, machines used in sex research, contraception, and fertility technology.

Donna's book list on the history of sexuality in modernity

Donna J. Drucker Why did Donna love this book?

Mitra’s book centers on the colonial period in India, when European scholars, British officials, and Indian intellectuals, focused on sexuality, specifically the figure of the prostitute, in order to study and to understand the place of women in modern Indian society.

The specter of deviant female sexuality structured fiction and intellectual thought on topics ranging from caste domination to trafficking, to widowhood and inheritance, to abortion and infanticide.

Indian Sex Life compellingly illustrates the importance of female deviance in the imagination of scholars and writers, and how they used their ideas about women’s sexuality to solidify rigid gender ideals—and to blame women for the failures of modern society. Mitra’s accounting of this history is richly drawn and hard to put down.

By Durba Mitra,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Indian Sex Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How British authorities and Indian intellectuals developed ideas about deviant female sexuality to control and organize modern society in India

During the colonial period in India, European scholars, British officials, and elite Indian intellectuals-philologists, administrators, doctors, ethnologists, sociologists, and social critics-deployed ideas about sexuality to understand modern Indian society. In Indian Sex Life, Durba Mitra shows how deviant female sexuality, particularly the concept of the prostitute, became foundational to this knowledge project and became the primary way to think and write about Indian society.

Bringing together vast archival materials from diverse disciplines, Mitra reveals that deviant female sexuality was critical…


Book cover of Sexual Progressives: Reimagining Intimacy in Scotland, 1880-1914

Donna J. Drucker Author Of Fertility Technology

From my list on the history of sexuality in modernity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long been drawn to how people of the past think about their sexual identities, attractions, and behaviors. I conducted my PhD research at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, where I spent many happy hours reading letters and books voicing people’s unfiltered desires for sexual arousal, connection, and expression. I found the punched-card machines that Alfred Kinsey used to organize data from his personal interviews oddly compelling, and that interest developed into a long-term engagement with the intersection of gender and sexuality with science and technology. I share my fascination with readers through my books on Kinsey, machines used in sex research, contraception, and fertility technology.

Donna's book list on the history of sexuality in modernity

Donna J. Drucker Why did Donna love this book?

A small number of Scots at the end of the Victorian era and throughout the Edwardian era were eager to live in a world ungoverned by Protestant Christianity and unrestricted by its strict sexual morality.

Cheadle introduces readers to socialists, freethinkers, and writers in Glasgow and Edinburgh who advocated for sexual freedoms grounded in new forms of political, religious, and cultural thought. One example is Jane Hume Clapperton, who was deeply involved in the suffrage movement, described birth control methods in her 1888 novel Margaret Dunmore, and demanded full sexual freedom for women. 

Sexual Progressives brings them to life, showing how they questioned dominant morality and envisioned a way of life in which people could prioritize sexual freedom and pleasure. You won’t forget them.

By Tanya Cheadle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sexual Progressives as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sexual Progressives is a major new study of the feminists and socialists who campaigned against the moral conservatism of the Victorian period. Drawing on a range of sources, from letters and diaries to radical newspapers and utopian novels, it provides the first group portrait of Scotland's hitherto neglected sexual rebels. They include Bella and Charles Pearce, prominent Glasgow socialists and disciples of an American-based mystic who taught that religion needed 're-sexed'; Jane Hume Clapperton, a feminist freethinker with advanced views on birth-control and women's right to sexual pleasure; and Patrick Geddes, founder of an avant-garde Edinburgh subculture and co-author of…


Book cover of Racism and the Making of Gay Rights: A Sexologist, His Student, and the Empire of Queer Love

Donna J. Drucker Author Of Fertility Technology

From my list on the history of sexuality in modernity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long been drawn to how people of the past think about their sexual identities, attractions, and behaviors. I conducted my PhD research at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, where I spent many happy hours reading letters and books voicing people’s unfiltered desires for sexual arousal, connection, and expression. I found the punched-card machines that Alfred Kinsey used to organize data from his personal interviews oddly compelling, and that interest developed into a long-term engagement with the intersection of gender and sexuality with science and technology. I share my fascination with readers through my books on Kinsey, machines used in sex research, contraception, and fertility technology.

Donna's book list on the history of sexuality in modernity

Donna J. Drucker Why did Donna love this book?

Interest in the German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld and his Institute for Sexual Science (active 1919–1933 in Berlin) has grown since the television program Transparent included him in its second season in 2015.

Laurie Marhoefer’s new book challenges his status as a queer history hero, highlighting how his views on sexual emancipation, cross-dressing (as drag was then known), and transgenderism were embedded in racism and colonialism. Marhoefer also tells the lesser-known history of Hirschfeld’s companion in later life, Li Shiu Tong, who after Hirschfeld’s death in May 1935 continued his own research on human sexuality. 

Li’s previously unknown manuscript and notes—rescued serendipitously from a waste bin soon after his death in Vancouver in 1993—is a stark reminder of how many histories of sexuality are at risk of being (almost) similarly lost.

By Laurie Marhoefer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Racism and the Making of Gay Rights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1931, a sexologist arrived in colonial Shanghai to give a public lecture about homosexuality. In the audience was a medical student. The sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld, fell in love with the medical student, Li Shiu Tong. Li became Hirschfeld's assistant on a lecture tour around the world.

Racism and the Making of Gay Rights shows how Hirschfeld laid the groundwork for modern gay rights, and how he did so by borrowing from a disturbing set of racist, imperial, and eugenic ideas.

Following Hirschfeld and Li in their travels through the American, Dutch, and British empires, from Manila to Tel Aviv…


Book cover of The Queerness of Home: Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of Domesticity after World War II

Donna J. Drucker Author Of Fertility Technology

From my list on the history of sexuality in modernity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long been drawn to how people of the past think about their sexual identities, attractions, and behaviors. I conducted my PhD research at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, where I spent many happy hours reading letters and books voicing people’s unfiltered desires for sexual arousal, connection, and expression. I found the punched-card machines that Alfred Kinsey used to organize data from his personal interviews oddly compelling, and that interest developed into a long-term engagement with the intersection of gender and sexuality with science and technology. I share my fascination with readers through my books on Kinsey, machines used in sex research, contraception, and fertility technology.

Donna's book list on the history of sexuality in modernity

Donna J. Drucker Why did Donna love this book?

While many books on LGBTQ+ history focus on public activism, Vider turns attention to how queer people in the post-World War II era formed homes, partnerships, and community.

For example, groups like the AIDS Action Committee in Boston in the 1980s formed buddy programs for people living with AIDS and volunteer caregivers. Caregivers could live with their buddies or visit them, providing practical assistance as well as companionship, connectedness, and a sense of belonging. 

The Queerness of Home looks at the quieter but no less political and impactful side of queer life from the late 1940s through the 1980s, showing how a sense of place and connection helped queer people feel grounded and safe in a culture in which it was not always possible to live their full truth in public.

By Stephen Vider,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vider uncovers how LGBTQ people reshaped domestic life in the postwar United States.

From the Stonewall riots to the protests of ACT UP, histories of queer and trans politics have almost exclusively centered on public activism. In The Queerness of Home, Stephen Vider turns the focus inward, showing that the intimacy of domestic space has been equally crucial to the history of postwar LGBTQ life.

Beginning in the 1940s, LGBTQ activists looked increasingly to the home as a site of connection, care, and cultural inclusion. They struggled against the conventions of marriage, challenged the gendered codes of everyday labor, reimagined…


Book cover of Gravestones of Early New England and the Men Who Made Them: 1653-1800

James Blachowicz Author Of From Slate to Marble: Gravestone Carving Traditions in Eastern Massachusetts, 1770-1870

From my list on New England gravestones and stonecutters.

Why am I passionate about this?

It was in 1972, while spending a summer with my wife in Falmouth (on Cape Cod), that I first discovered the 18th-century slate gravestones of New England. Anyone who visits these cemeteries will find it difficult not to be impressed by these monuments–which are among the oldest and most distinguished works of art produced by the craftsmen of the early American colonies. My fascination with them spiraled into many such trips in subsequent years, when I photographed much of this work, learned how to identify the stonecutters responsible for them, and determined the extent and locations of their production. 

James' book list on New England gravestones and stonecutters

James Blachowicz Why did James love this book?

Harriette Merrifield Forbes pioneered the field of American gravestone studies. Her admirable study has separate chapters on several artisans, including the 17th and 18th-century stonecutters of Boston, the Lamsons of Charlestown, the Fosters of Dorchester, the stonecutters of Groton and Harvard, and the “Thistle-Carver” of Tatnuck. It also has chapters on the gravestones of Rhode Island and Connecticut. 

Forbes initiated real interest in this area of research. I found it astounding that she could have accomplished so much in the 1920s—before the introduction of modern battery-powered flash systems (which I relied on so often in highlighting shallow carvings and lettering)—and almost singlehandedly lit the fire of inquiry in so many of us who followed her model. She was also attentive to the human side of this craft, with many interesting observations on the stonecutters’ intentions and skills.


By Harriette Merrifield Forbes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gravestones of Early New England and the Men Who Made Them as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Riverside Press Limited Edition of "Seven hundred and eighty copies of this First Edtion, of which seven hundred and fifty are for sale." Frontispiece is of the 1703 gravestone of John Cleverly, Quincy. This volume deals with the history and symbolism of early gravestones and contains black & white photos throughout. Several stone artists have been researched and included in the text. An historic and fascinating volume.


Book cover of The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea

Nick Kolakowski Author Of Hell of a Mess

From my list on read during a fierce, possibly city-destroying storm.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a crime and horror author based in New York City. I’ve lived through a couple of direct hits from mega-storms and other natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, which plowed through my neighborhood in 2012. Those kinds of experiences leave a psychological mark I’ve tried to process through both fiction and non-fiction. This writing has also allowed me to explore how people and cities could potentially survive the calamities that await us, especially in coastal regions vulnerable to climate change.  

Nick's book list on read during a fierce, possibly city-destroying storm

Nick Kolakowski Why did Nick love this book?

This is one of the nonfiction books I read as a teenager that convinced me to become a professional writer. The author, Sebastian Junger, doesn’t just describe the titular storm (which hit the U.S. East Coast in 1991) in terrifying detail—he also manages to assemble all of the weather-driven chaos into a real, gripping narrative. We don’t know a lot about what actually happened to the Andrea Gail, the fishing boat at the center of the narrative, but Junger recreates its final hours in a way that feels bracingly real—and heartbreaking.

Even if you don’t like nonfiction books, The Perfect Storm has the pacing and heart of a novel. I consider it one of the finest—maybe the finest—disaster narrative ever written, and it’s a perfect choice of book if you’re trapped inside by a raging storm.

By Sebastian Junger,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Perfect Storm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was the storm of the century, boasting waves over one hundred feet high-a tempest created by so rare a combination of factors that meteorologists deemed it "the perfect storm." In a book that has become a classic, Sebastian Junger explores the history of the fishing industry, the science of storms, and the candid accounts of the people whose lives the storm touched. The Perfect Storm is a real-life thriller that makes us feel like we've been caught, helpless, in the grip of a force of nature beyond our understanding or control.

Winner of the American Library Association's 1998 Alex…


Book cover of The Wendy Project

Kindra Neely Author Of Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting

From my list on to help process big emotions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m deeply passionate about helping others find ways to work through their emotions. After surviving a mass shooting in 2015 the first place I turned to was the library. I quickly found myself frustrated and lacking when I couldn’t find books to help me understand what I was going through and what to expect next. It was terribly discouraging as I found it difficult to express myself to my loved ones. When I started to find books like the ones on this list, it opened a world to me that I had to be a part of – books that help people process difficult emotions. 

Kindra's book list on to help process big emotions

Kindra Neely Why did Kindra love this book?

Although shorter than the other books on my list, I think the story and art is none the less impactful. The Wendy Project deals with grief, especially grief in younger readers with a gentle understanding. I loved the unique approach to the whole book as well. The book is the journal of the main character Wendy, who receives it and starts to draw in it during the events of the story. I found The Wendy Project in my hands at a time when I was struggling to acknowledge my own grief, and it certainly nudged me to face it.  

By Melissa Jane Osborne, Veronica Fish (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

16-year-old Wendy Davies crashes her car into a lake on a late summer night in New England with her two younger brothers in the backseat. When she wakes in the hospital, she is told that her youngest brother, Michael, is dead. Wendy, once a rational teenager, shocks her family by insisting that Michael is alive and in the custody of a mysterious flying boy. Placed in a new school, Wendy negotiates fantasy and reality as students and adults around her resemble characters from Neverland. Given a sketchbook by her therapist, Wendy starts to draw. But is The Wendy Project merely…


Book cover of Harvest Home

Stephanie Ellis Author Of The Five Turns of the Wheel

From my list on the dark delights of folk horror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in an isolated rural pub in England. My love of folk horror was born of a strong nostalgia for that time and it has fed into both my writing and my reading. I understood isolation, small communities, the effect of strangers, as well as the sense of ‘otherness’ in the atmosphere of the countryside – the calm before the storm, the liminal twilight. It also meant that I could tell when a writer had captured the ‘essence’ of folk horror. When the author weaves a story between the landscape and man, blends traditions and mythology they take me to that place I know.

Stephanie's book list on the dark delights of folk horror

Stephanie Ellis Why did Stephanie love this book?

Think folk horror and you think rural setting, pretty cottages, white picket fences, and lurking ritual. Harvest Home is a folk horror classic and hits these expectations spot on.

A city couple escapes to the village of Cornwall Coombe to give their daughter a better quality of life. Everything is perfect until the husband discovers they were welcomed for a very specific reason. This discovery, becoming more evident as the harvest ritual approaches, leaves him in fear of losing his life and his family.

I loved this gradual teasing out of horror, subtle nuances that build to the awful climax. The ending is chilling, contrasting so sharply as it does against the background of a rural paradise, giving me one of those ‘oh!’ moments.

By Thomas Tryon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Harvest Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A family flees the crime-ridden city-and finds something worse-in "a brilliantly imagined horror story" by the New York Times-bestselling author (The Boston Globe).

After watching his asthmatic daughter suffer in the foul city air, Theodore Constantine decides to get back to the land. When he and his wife search New England for the perfect nineteenth-century home, they find no township more charming, no countryside more idyllic than the farming village of Cornwall Coombe. Here they begin a new life: simple, pure, close to nature-and ultimately more terrifying than Manhattan's darkest alley.

When the Constantines win the friendship of the town…


Book cover of The Condition

Katie O'Rourke Author Of Finding Charlie

From my list on deeply lovable dysfunctional families.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in New England, growing up along the seacoast of New Hampshire. I went to college in Massachusetts and graduated with a degree in gender and sexuality. I live in Tucson, Arizona with my sweet yellow lab and even sweeter boyfriend. I’m a hybrid author. My debut novel, Monsoon Season, was traditionally published along with A Long Thaw, which I later rereleased on my own. Finding Charlie was chosen for publication by KindleScout in 2015. My fourth book, Blood & Water launched in 2017. I write the kind of fiction I like to read: character-driven, relationship-focused, and emotionally complex.

Katie's book list on deeply lovable dysfunctional families

Katie O'Rourke Why did Katie love this book?

Jennifer Haigh's novel is a family saga that reads like a post-mortem. With alternating narration, each of the five family members gives their perspective on what led to the family's demise and current state. The novel's title, The Condition, seems to refer specifically to one child in the family who has been diagnosed with a rare medical condition called Turner's Syndrome. But throughout the book, it becomes clear that each family member has developed their own "condition" or way of existing that is just as much a part of their identity.

By Jennifer Haigh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1976, during their annual retreat on Cape Cod, the McKotch family came apart. Now, twenty years after daughter Gwen was diagnosed with Turner's syndrome—a rare genetic condition that keeps her trapped forever in the body of a child—eminent scientist Frank McKotch is divorced from his pedigreed wife, Paulette. Eldest son Billy, a successful cardiologist, lives a life built on secrets and compromise. His brother Scott awakened from a pot-addled adolescence to a soul-killing job and a regrettable marriage. And Gwen—bright and accomplished but hermetic and emotionally aloof—spurns all social interaction until, well into her thirties, she…


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