10 books like Astra

By Cedar Bowers,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Astra. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Greenwood

By Michael Christie,

Book cover of Greenwood

I love generational sagas, and this novel explores several generations of the Greenwood family, from the 1930s into the future. Set primarily on a remote island off the coast of British Columbia, Greenwood explores the passions and bonds and stories that arc through families, as well as the fate and interconnectedness of the West Coast forests, their destroyers and their preservers. The novel reminded me of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and of Richard Powers’ The Overstory, and maybe speaks even more truly and uniquely. Michael Christie is an insightful and gifted storyteller.

Greenwood

By Michael Christie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The truth is that all family lines, from the highest to the lowest, originate somewhere, on some particular day. Even the grandest trees must've once been seeds spun helpless on the wind, and then just meek saplings nosing up from the soil.'

2038. On a remote island off the Pacific coast of British Columbia stands the Greenwood Arboreal Cathedral, one of the world's last forests. Wealthy tourists flock from all corners of the dust-choked globe to see the spectacle and remember what once was. But even as they breathe in the fresh air and pose for photographs amidst the greenery,…


Little Fortress

By Laisha Rosnau,

Book cover of Little Fortress

Laisha Rosnau is a prize-winning poet, and her literary skills shine in this novel about a noble Italian family, the Caetanis, who immigrate from Italy to Vernon, BC to escape the rise of fascism. Based on a true story, this intricate novel explores the bonds of family and friendship, the contrasts in class and changing times, and the hardships and beauties of life in a rural area through the lives of three women. I was captivated by the characters and the gorgeous, insightful writing. Ofelia and Sveva Caetani and their personal secretary, Miss Juul, will stay with you forever as women creating home and family in the face of exile, loss, and sweeping change.

Little Fortress

By Laisha Rosnau,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on the true story of the Caetanis, Italian nobility driven into exile by the rise of fascism, the long-awaited second novel by award-winning author Laisha Rosnau follows this once glittering family to British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. When Ofelia Caetani takes her daughter, Sveva, into seclusion after the death of the duke, they are cared for by their personal secretary, Miss Jüül, who brings her own secrets to their twenty-five-year retreat from the world. As the stories of these three remarkable women unfurl in unexpected and often tragic ways, Little Fortress is revealed as a graceful and intricate tale of…


The Tree Whisperer

By Harold Rhenisch,

Book cover of The Tree Whisperer: Writing Poetry by Living in the World

I loved this book for the beauty of the prose and for Harold Rhenisch’s inimitable voice, his language, his wit, his eye for detail. Rhenisch has published many books of poetry and non-fiction about the BC Interior, and it’s difficult to choose just one. I liked this, a study of the apple and the rose, of pruning trees, of BC Interior orcharding, of a unique lifestyle and culture, and of life and living. Rhenisch is one of the best Canadian writers and should be more well-known.  

The Tree Whisperer

By Harold Rhenisch,

Why should I read it?

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


Sisters of Grass

By Theresa Kishkan,

Book cover of Sisters of Grass

There’s so much to love about this book: the language, the location, the history, the characters. Anna, a young woman who is creating an exhibit on textiles from 19th-century Interior BC, discovers a box of the personal effects of a woman who lived decades before. Margaret is the daughter of an Aboriginal mother and a settler father. Kishkan recreates the unique beauty of the South Cariboo/Nicola valley landscape as a backdrop to this intricately woven story of family, friendship, love—and train robbers.

Sisters of Grass

By Theresa Kishkan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her vibrant first novel, Sisters of Grass, Theresa Kishkan weaves a tapestry of the senses through the touchstones of a young woman's life. Anna is preparing an exhibit of textiles reflecting life in central British Columbia a century ago. In a forgotten corner of a museum, she discovers a dusty cardboard box containing the century-old personal effects of a Nicola valley woman. Fascinated by the artifacts, she reconstructs the story of their owner, Margaret Stuart. Margaret, the daughter of a Native mother and a Scottish-American father, she tries to fit into both worlds. She's taught photography by a visiting…


River of Lies

By R.M. Greenaway,

Book cover of River of Lies

I always enjoy a good mystery and R.M. Greenaway’s River of Lies is definitely one I would recommend. This book is the fifth in the B.C. Crime Series of mysteries by Greenaway but it was the first I had read—and it won’t be the last. The two detectives, Cal Dion and David Leith, are strong characters who come together in this book to solve a murder of a young black female janitor, a missing child case, a drowning, and an apparent suicide. Once they find the missing link between all these incidents, they are able to make progress. I found this an absorbing whodunit that held my attention to the very last page.

River of Lies

By R.M. Greenaway,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In rain-drenched Vancouver, detectives Dion and Leith work to separate truth from lies in two seemingly unrelated cases.

February is the month of romance, but in North Vancouver it's also become the month of murder. While the North Shore RCMP slog through the rain in the search for whoever left a young woman to die in the Riverside Secondary School parking lot - their first clue a Valentine's Day card - a toddler mysteriously vanishes from a Riverside Drive home in the midst of a dinner party.

With Constable JD Temple's full attention on the parking lot murder, Constables Dave…


The End of East

By Jen Sookfong Lee,

Book cover of The End of East

Jen Sookfong has written a debut novel that held my attention throughout. She describes three generations of a Chinese-Canadian family in Vancouver beginning in 1913 when Chan Seid Quan emigrates to Vancouver at the age of 17. Years later after his death at age 94, his grand-daughter, Samantha, is forced to leave Montreal in order to take care of her mother in Vancouver. She feels resentment until she begins to delve into her family’s past and discovers alienation and hardship. Author Sookfong is an expert on immigration and the fate of many Chinese people. This is a beautiful tale of family conflicts set in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

The End of East

By Jen Sookfong Lee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Amy Tan and Jhumpa Lahiri, a moving portrait of three generations of family living in Vancouver's Chinatown

From Knopf Canada's New Face of Fiction program--launching grounds for Yann Martel's Life of Pi and Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees--comes this powerfully evocative novel.

At age eighteen, Seid Quan is the first in the Chan family to emigrate from China to Vancover in 1913. Paving the way for a wife and son, he is profoundly lonely, even as he joins the Chinatown community.

Weaving in and out of the past and the present, The End of East…


Blackout

By K. Monroe,

Book cover of Blackout

Blackout follows Allie, a girl who has woken up after a car accident with amnesia in the small town of Pender Falls, British Columbia. Allie can’t remember who she was before, but she’s forced to fall back into the life of “Old Allie”—a girl who had a boyfriend the new Allie isn’t comfortable with, a best friend she doesn’t trust, and a shady past she finds more than unsavory. Allie slowly discovers that she doesn’t like who she was before—and she wants to be better.

The core mystery of this story revolves around Allie discovering the events that lead to her car accident. What caused it? And do all these strange dreams mean anything? Can she really trust the people who apparently love and know her?

While the mystery certainly kept me turning the pages, what I loved most about this book was the characters. Allie is a strong girl…

Blackout

By K. Monroe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Some secrets are best left forgotten.

When Allie Castillo wakes up after a terrible car accident, with head injuries and zero recollection of who she is or what happened, one thing haunts the edges of her mind: the crash may not have been an accident.

Her body still bruised, she returns to a life she doesn’t recall, to a house that’s unfamiliar, and to a family that doesn’t feel like her own. School is another minefield―her boyfriend wants his girl back, her best friend wants to carry on their old partying ways, and the mysterious guy at the back of…


On the Farm

By Stevie Cameron,

Book cover of On the Farm: Robert William Pickton and the Tragic Story of Vancouver's Missing Women

While Janet Smith was Vancouver’s shame in the 1920s, Willy Pickton was our boogeyman in the ‘90s. How did this pig farmer get away with murdering up to 50 women?—he was convicted of only six—because the women were sex workers and drug addicts that he picked up in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside and the police really didn’t give a shit. An investigative journalist, Cameron does a great job of outlining the botched police investigation and the department’s reluctance to believe it was a serial killer. Pickton is pure evil, and what I loved about Cameron’s work is how she not only gets into his head, but tells the stories of the victims, and in doing so, helps give them back a voice.

On the Farm

By Stevie Cameron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Farm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Verteran investigative journalist Stevie Cameron first began following the story of missing women in 1998, when the odd newspaper piece appeared chronicling the disappearances of drug-addicted sex trade workers from Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside. It was not until February 2002 that pig farmer Robert William Pickton would be arrested, and 2008 before he was found guilty, on six counts of second-degree murder. These counts were appealed and in 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its conclusion. The guilty verdict was upheld, and finally this unprecedented tale of true crime could be told.

Covering the case of one of North…


The West Beyond the West

By Jean Barman,

Book cover of The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia

A mule-drawn wagon train moves precariously along a narrow road carved out of a steep rock wall—this book lives up to the promise of its cover. The book jacket blurb entices lovers of history like me: “British Columbia is regularly described in superlatives both positive and negative—the most spectacular scenery, the strangest political campaigns, the mildest winters, the most rain, the most aggressive resource developers, the biggest peace and environmental movements, the closest Canadian ties to Japan and China, and the richest native culture.” The author, Jean Barman, is one of my mentors and an inspiration to everyone who is interested in British Columbia history.

The West Beyond the West

By Jean Barman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

British Columbia is regularly described in superlatives both positive and negative - most spectacular scenery, strangest politics, greatest environmental sensitivity, richest Aboriginal cultures, most aggressive resource exploitation, closest ties to Asia. Jean Barman's The West beyond the West presents the history of the province in all its diversity and apparent contradictions. This critically acclaimed work is the premiere book on British Columbian history, with a narrative beginning at the point of contact between Native peoples and Europeans and continuing into the twenty-first century. Barman tells the story by focusing not only on the history made by leaders in government but…


Inventing Stanley Park

By Sean Kheraj,

Book cover of Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History

Stanley Park occupies such a giant place in the city’s imagination. Most Vancouverites well remember the devastating windstorm that blew through the city in 2006 – it tore down several trees in my own neighbourhood and scared me witless – leveling great swathes of the park. Historian Sean Kheraj uses the storm as a jumping-off point to reflect on the park’s history and its complicated relationship with the citizens of the city.

Inventing Stanley Park

By Sean Kheraj,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inventing Stanley Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In early December 2006, a powerful windstorm ripped through Vancouver's Stanley Park. The storm transformed the city's most treasured landmark into a tangle of splintered trees and shattered a decades-old vision of the park as timeless virgin wilderness. In Inventing Stanley Park, Sean Kheraj traces how the tension between popular expectations of idealized nature and the volatility of complex ecosystems helped transform the landscape of one of the world's most famous urban parks. This beautifully illustrated book not only depicts the natural and cultural forces that shaped the park's landscape, it also examines the roots of our complex relationship with…


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