100 books like Kingston

By James A. Roy,

Here are 100 books that Kingston fans have personally recommended if you like Kingston. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Roughing It in the Bush Or, Life in Canada

Morgan Wade Author Of Bottle and Glass

From my list on frontier life in 19th century Canada.

Who am I?

When I moved to Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 2001 I was amazed to find how this city, unlike many North American cities, has preserved and celebrated its past. It’s in the architecture, the streets, the fabric, and the soil. As someone with a deep love of reading and exploring history, I immediately began to research my new home. I didn’t discover the sort of bloodless accounts often taught in school, replete with dates and facts. This history simmers and boils; full of tales of pirates and officers, gadflies and ne’er-do-wells, countless plucky frontiersmen and women. There is enough raw material for a thousand novels. 

Morgan's book list on frontier life in 19th century Canada

Morgan Wade Why did Morgan love this book?

The gold standard source for what life was like for the hardy souls arriving in Upper Canada in the early 19th century. Although writing from a position of relative privilege, Moodie writes of hardships and deprivations that make the modern reader blanch. We wonder whether we could have survived what she and her family endure.  She writes with richness and great humanity so that we can vividly imagine what it must have been like for her to be taken from the relatively comfortable life she’d known and to make a life in the bush.  Despite her trials and tribulations, she comes to have a great love for the beauty and wildness of her adopted home.

By Susanna Moodie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roughing It in the Bush Or, Life in Canada as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of A Troublesome Berth: The Journal of First Lieutenant Charles Allan Parker, Royal Marines: The Canada Years, 1838-1840

Morgan Wade Author Of Bottle and Glass

From my list on frontier life in 19th century Canada.

Who am I?

When I moved to Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 2001 I was amazed to find how this city, unlike many North American cities, has preserved and celebrated its past. It’s in the architecture, the streets, the fabric, and the soil. As someone with a deep love of reading and exploring history, I immediately began to research my new home. I didn’t discover the sort of bloodless accounts often taught in school, replete with dates and facts. This history simmers and boils; full of tales of pirates and officers, gadflies and ne’er-do-wells, countless plucky frontiersmen and women. There is enough raw material for a thousand novels. 

Morgan's book list on frontier life in 19th century Canada

Morgan Wade Why did Morgan love this book?

I used Parker’s journal extensively in my research for Bottle and Glass.  It is the account of a British officer arriving in the Canadian wilderness for the first time. Parker’s style is very much modern and journalistic, giving an immediacy to the wonder and apprehension he has for his new surroundings.  The reader is right there with him marveling over the rudeness of frontier life.  A representative quote: “Kingston is one of the dirtiest, or rather muddiest places I have ever been in, even in my extensive peregrinations; it is the worst lighted, and most miserably paved place I have ever been in… the number of masterless dogs prowling about the streets at all times is abominable, the quantity of pigs laying in every corner is disgusting in the extreme, and the number of cattle roaming about the streets with their inexpressive countenances is really, really past bearing!”

Book cover of The Gentleman's Bottle Companion: A Collection of Eighteenth Century Bawdy Ballads

Morgan Wade Author Of Bottle and Glass

From my list on frontier life in 19th century Canada.

Who am I?

When I moved to Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 2001 I was amazed to find how this city, unlike many North American cities, has preserved and celebrated its past. It’s in the architecture, the streets, the fabric, and the soil. As someone with a deep love of reading and exploring history, I immediately began to research my new home. I didn’t discover the sort of bloodless accounts often taught in school, replete with dates and facts. This history simmers and boils; full of tales of pirates and officers, gadflies and ne’er-do-wells, countless plucky frontiersmen and women. There is enough raw material for a thousand novels. 

Morgan's book list on frontier life in 19th century Canada

Morgan Wade Why did Morgan love this book?

Bottle and Glass is set in actual, historical Kingston taverns from the early 1800’s. It is said that there was then a drinking shop in town for every seventh male adult and one visitor claimed that two thirds of the people he passed on the road were drunk. In 1812, when Kingston had a population of less than four thousand, it had about eighty taverns.  So, the Bottle Companion, published in 1768, is a perfect pairing. It is filled with all manner of ribald drinking songs and saucy lyrics, paeans to drink and revelry; it helps set the tone for what early 19th century life was really like. A number of characters in Bottle and Glass, at particular moments of high spirits and ever-expanding mayhem, belt out selections from the Companion.   

Book cover of Lonesome Dove

David Z. Pyke Author Of Rescuing Crockett

From my list on elements of historical adventure fiction.

Who am I?

My passion for historical adventure and Texas history stems from my heritage: I’m a native Texan related to one of the Alamo defenders. My great-great-great-great-great-granduncle, Isaac Millsaps, was one of the Immortal 32, the reinforcements from Gonzales who answered William Barret Travis's call for help, rode to San Antonio, and died in the Alamo on March 6, 1836. My relationship with words began in elementary school, where I read Beowulf and Dracula by the time I was 10 years old (probably explains a lot about me). I began writing for newspapers in 1975 and have been writing professionally ever since.

David's book list on elements of historical adventure fiction

David Z. Pyke Why did David love this book?

I chose this for characters and setting. Larry McMurtry was one of the greatest American writers and a chronicler of life in Texas, and he won the Pulitzer Prize for Lonesome Dove, the story of two aging Texas Rangers on a final adventure together.

McMurtry immerses the reader in his world, but more importantly he immerses his characters in that world. The relationships are amazing: between characters who face deeply personal and tragic life-or-death decisions, but also between characters and the novel’s savage, lethal world.

McMurtry’s stories are character-driven slices of life, but authors of plot-driven books can learn from McMurtry when it comes to characters and their world.

By Larry McMurtry,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Lonesome Dove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a powerful, triumphant portrayal of the American West as it really was. From Texas to Montana, it follows cowboys on a grueling cattle drive through the wilderness.

It begins in the office of The Hat Creek Cattle Company of the Rio Grande.
It ends as a journey into the heart of every adventurer who ever lived . . .

More than a love story, more than an adventure, Lonesome Dove is an epic: a monumental novel which embraces the spirit of the last defiant wilderness of America.

Legend and fact, heroes and outlaws,…


Book cover of Mr. McGill Goes to Town

Holly L. Niner Author Of No More Noisy Nights

From my list on finding and helping friends.

Who am I?

As I child I could be found reading anywhere, anytime. Through books I could go on adventures, learn about new worlds, explore emotions, and make friends. A schoolmate and I picked our library books together and traded during the week so we wouldn’t run out! As I shared this love of reading with my children, I realized I wanted to write books that a child would ask for again and again. Books that would explain tough topics, bring giggles, ignite imaginations, show a child the importance of friends, and empower them to solve their own problems. 

Holly's book list on finding and helping friends

Holly L. Niner Why did Holly love this book?

Recently my son asked if I still had this book because he wanted to read it to his children. Why do some childhood books stick in our memory? Mr. McGill was a fun book with characters like Mr. McGill repairing his mill, Mr. McRae cutting his hay, Mr. McCall building his wall. They all have tasks that are too big to do alone and they all want to get to town before the sun goes down. It is a wonderful story of working together; showing how helping someone else can help you. And why do they want to get to town before the sun goes down? “Then when they were done, they sat out of the sun, where Mr. McQuade served them cool lemonade! Ahhh…”

By Jim Aylesworth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mr. McGill Goes to Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Mr. McGill and four of his friends agree to help each other finish their chores so that they will all have time to go to the town fair.


Book cover of Canada

William Mark Habeeb Author Of Venice Beach

From my list on poignant coming-of-age about boys.

Who am I?

My novel Venice Beach—like the five books I recommend here—has been classified as a “coming-of-age” novel, a classification that I have no quarrels with as long as it’s understood that coming-of-age is not regarded simply as a synonym for “adolescence” or “being a teenager.” The coming-of-age years—generally defined as between ages 12 and 18—are so much more than a period of life wedged between childhood and adulthood. Coming of age is a process, not a block of time; it is a hot emotional forge in which we experience so many “firsts” and are hammered, usually painfully, into the shapes that will last a lifetime. 

William's book list on poignant coming-of-age about boys

William Mark Habeeb Why did William love this book?

You’re fifteen years old, living unhappily with your feckless parents and unstable older sister in a small town in Montana. And then your family implodes: your parents are arrested for bank robbery and your sister flees to parts unknown. As troubling as the premise is, Canada becomes even darker and more ominous as young Dell Parsons travels alone to Saskatchewan to live with erstwhile family friends, but in fact enters a whole new world of intrigue and violence. Dell is a stoic character, and you desperately want to see his life take a turn for the better. What you get instead is a case study in resiliency and survival. Ford’s prose is powerful; every word counts, every sentence pulls you deeper into the story.

By Richard Ford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

First, I'll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then the murders, which happened later.

In 1956, Dell Parsons' family came to a stop in Great Falls, Montana, the way many military families did following the war. His father, Bev, was a talkative, plank-shouldered man, an airman from Alabama with an optimistic and easy-scheming nature. Dell and his twin sister, Berner, could easily see why their mother might have been attracted to him. But their mother Neeva - from an educated, immigrant, Jewish family - was shy, artistic and alienated from their father's small-town world of money scrapes and living…


Book cover of Camp X

Nancy McDonald Author Of One Boy's War

From my list on historical middle grade exceptional child heroes.

Who am I?

A longtime student of history, particularly WW2 and the Cold War, my interest was personally piqued when I started to discover more about how my husband’s family narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo – and certain death in a concentration camp. I’m driven to write novels set in this era for middle grade kids – featuring brave young heroes faced with moral dilemmas– so they can learn about the horrors of antisemitism, tyrants, and war because “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

Nancy's book list on historical middle grade exceptional child heroes

Nancy McDonald Why did Nancy love this book?

It’s summer 1943 and brothers George and Jack Braun have moved to Whitby, Ontario where their mother has a job in a munitions factory while their father is off fighting the Nazis. Bored, they’re playing make-believe war games one day when they stumble on a highly secret training school for spies. When they learn of a German plan to invade it, they're determined to thwart it – whatever it takes. Inspired by the real Camp X, it’s an entertaining read – I like the relationship between the brothers, it rings true – and, in a nice touch, there’s a cameo appearance by a real-life person, in this case, spymaster William Stephenson, best known as the inspiration for James Bond! 

By Eric Walters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Camp X as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

It's 1943, and nearly-12-year-old George and his older brother Jack are spending a restless wartime summer in Whitby, Ontario, where their mom is working at a munitions plant while their dad is off fighting the Germans. One afternoon, the boys stumble across Canada's top-secret spy camp-and so begins an exciting and terrifying adventure as George and Jack get caught up in the covert activities of Camp X.

Fascinated by Camp X and its secrets, the boys begin to suspect local townspeople of being spies. Is the police chief keeping tabs on people for enemy purposes? Is Jack's boss at the…


Book cover of Canada and immigration: Public policy and public concern

Valerie Knowles Author Of Strangers at Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2015

From my list on capturing Canada’s colourful immigration history.

Who am I?

I am a Canadian freelance writer, who has a BA in honours history from Smith College, an MA in history from McGill University, and a Bachelor in Journalism from Carleton University. As I have a special interest in Canadian history and Canadian biography, I have authored books in these subject areas. These include an award-winning biography of Sir William Van Horne, a polymath and railway general who pushed through the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and Cairine Wilson. Canada’s first woman senator, who was celebrated for her work with refugees in the 1930s and 1940s, and a best-selling survey of Canadian immigration and immigration policy, Strangers At Our Gates.

Valerie's book list on capturing Canada’s colourful immigration history

Valerie Knowles Why did Valerie love this book?

This book, which was written when serious questions were being asked about Canadian immigration, is a gold mine of information on this delicate and emotional subject. The research is both extensive and meticulous. Moreover, the author does not just cite and explain facts about events and circumstances, she also provides clues as to what she feels constitutes an immigration policy.

By Freda Hawkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Remarkable changes have taken place in Canadian immigration policy, law, and management since this book was first published. A long-awaited new Immigration Act was passed in 1976 and became law in 1978. This marked the beginning of a new, more liberal, and more co-operative era in Canadian immigration. The new Act established clear national objectives in immigration and refugee policy. The new edition of Canada and Immigration takes into account these major changes in Canadian attitudes and policies toward immigration. The author discusses what these changes have meant for Canada, considering the new laws, closer federal-provincial collaboration, more confident and…


Book cover of Delicious Monsters

C.M. Lockhart Author Of We Are the Origin

From my list on Black girls who aren’t all that nice.

Who am I?

I’m a Black woman who writes stories about Black girls who aren’t all that nice. And, to me, that means writing stories where Black girls are at the forefront of their stories and given the space to be whoever they are, wholly and without minimizing their character to make them fit into neat boxes next to others. I do this because being able to take up space as you are is, oftentimes, a privilege. And I want to make sure the stories I write offer that space to every reader who picks up one of my books.

C.M.'s book list on Black girls who aren’t all that nice

C.M. Lockhart Why did C.M. love this book?

This book hasn’t left my mind since the first time I picked it up.

It’s a haunted house story that follows Daisy, a Black girl who would rather be left alone and is just trying to make it out of her current situation intact. But the house is calling to her. And ten years later, Brittney is trying to figure out what happened.

I loved the complexity of both girls, the mystery of the house, and the honesty written into two Black girls who were always honest to who they were.

By Liselle Sambury,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Delicious Monsters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The Haunting of Hill House meets Sadie in this evocative and mind-bending psychological thriller following two teen girls navigating the treacherous past of a mysterious mansion ten years apart.

Daisy sees dead people-something impossible to forget in bustling, ghost-packed Toronto. She usually manages to deal with her unwanted ability, but she's completely unprepared to be dumped by her boyfriend. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion in northern Ontario where she spent her childhood summers, Daisy jumps at the chance to escape. But the house is nothing like Daisy expects, and she begins to realize that her experience with…


Book cover of The New Land with the Green Meadows

Gordon Campbell Author Of Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth

From my list on the Norse in Canada.

Who am I?

I live in England but grew up in Canada, where my Grade 5 Social Studies teacher filled my head with stories of people and places, including the Vikings. In the early 1960s, I learned about the excavations at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland featured in Canadian newspapers. My first job was in Denmark, and I subsequently travelled in the Nordic homelands and settlement areas, including the Faeroes, Iceland, and Greenland, visiting museums and archaeological sites at every opportunity. Norse America is my 26th book, but it is both the one with the deepest roots in my own past and the one most engaged with contemporary concerns about race.

Gordon's book list on the Norse in Canada

Gordon Campbell Why did Gordon love this book?

The Norse site at L’Anse aux Meadows was discovered by the Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad in 1960. The following year he returned to the site with his wife Anne Stina, a trained archaeologist who led the annual summer excavations until 1968. This book is her memoir of the digs, which was published in Norwegian in 1975 and translated for the predecessor to this edition in 2006. The book ranges beyond the archaeology to encompass an evocative and sometimes lyrical account of the Ingstads’ spartan life on the site, its moments of great excitement when Norse artefacts were found, and their experience of the local community.

By Anne Stine Ingstad,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The New Land with the Green Meadows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anne Stine Ingstad tells us about her challenging journey to Newfoundland and Labrador where Helge makes a fascinating discovery of Norse settlement in 1960.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Canada, American frontier, and presidential biography?

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