100 books like Levi's & Lace

By Jan Cleere,

Here are 100 books that Levi's & Lace fans have personally recommended if you like Levi's & Lace. 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 Calamity: The Many Lives of Calamity Jane

Lynn Downey Author Of Dudes Rush In

From my list on the women of the American West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved the history of the West since I was a child, as my family has lived here for over a century. I devoured historical fiction about pioneer girls in grammar school (including the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder), and as I got into college, I expanded my reading universe to include books about women’s roles in the West, and the meaning of this region in overall American history. This concept is what drew me to study the cultural influence of dude ranching, where women have always been able to shine -- and where I placed the protagonist of my first novel.

Lynn's book list on the women of the American West

Lynn Downey Why did Lynn love this book?

If you’re a fan of Deadwood or, going further back, the 1953 Doris Day movie, Calamity Jane, you will be fascinated by Jones’s book about the buckskin-wearing Martha Jane Canary, a.k.a. Calamity Jane. Details about her life are either sparse or exaggerated, so Jones tells us what the frontier legend has symbolized, both in her own time and in ours. Dressing like a man made her stand out and made her the object of both derision and decades of bad biographies. She still serves as a symbol of the way that women could defy expectations in the West, and Jones’s book gives us a Calamity Jane we can root for.

By Karen R. Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A fascinating new account of the life and legend of the Wild West's most notorious woman: Calamity Jane

"In this vivid and compelling biography, Karen Jones recovers the remarkable creativity of Martha Jane Canary, who helped to invent the mythic West by reinventing herself. As Calamity Jane, she told wild tales of adventure and blurred the lines between legend and history, male and female, and truth and possibility."-Alan Taylor, author of The Internal Enemy

Martha Jane Canary, popularly known as Calamity Jane, was the pistol-packing, rootin' tootin' "lady wildcat" of the American West. Brave and resourceful, she held her own…


Book cover of Ladies of the Canyons: A League of Extraordinary Women and Their Adventures in the American Southwest

Lynn Downey Author Of Dudes Rush In

From my list on the women of the American West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved the history of the West since I was a child, as my family has lived here for over a century. I devoured historical fiction about pioneer girls in grammar school (including the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder), and as I got into college, I expanded my reading universe to include books about women’s roles in the West, and the meaning of this region in overall American history. This concept is what drew me to study the cultural influence of dude ranching, where women have always been able to shine -- and where I placed the protagonist of my first novel.

Lynn's book list on the women of the American West

Lynn Downey Why did Lynn love this book?

The title of this marvelous group biography is a play on the title of the film and comic book series, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and suits the characters perfectly. Natalie Curtis, Carol Stanley, Alice Klauber, and Mary Cabot Wheelwright left their safe and secure lives and found a calling in the Southwest in the early 20th century. Along the way, they met important Hopi and Navajo leaders, as well as western enthusiasts like Theodore Roosevelt. This book is a marvelous read because the author weaves their lives together in ways that show how much they had in common, as well as how individual each woman was.

By Lesley Poling-Kempes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

WILLA Literary Award, 2016Reading the West Book Award for Nonfiction, MPIBASilver Medal, US History, 2016 IPPY AwardsWestern Writers of America Spur Award finalistLadies of the Canyons is the true story of remarkable women who left the security and comforts of genteel Victorian society and journeyed to the American Southwest in search of a wider view of themselves and their world.

Educated, restless, and inquisitive, Natalie Curtis, Carol Stanley, Alice Klauber, and Mary Cabot Wheelwright were plucky, intrepid women whose lives were transformed in the first decades of the twentieth century by the people and the landscape of the American Southwest.…


Book cover of Twenty Thousands Roads: Women, Movement, and the West

Lynn Downey Author Of Dudes Rush In

From my list on the women of the American West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved the history of the West since I was a child, as my family has lived here for over a century. I devoured historical fiction about pioneer girls in grammar school (including the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder), and as I got into college, I expanded my reading universe to include books about women’s roles in the West, and the meaning of this region in overall American history. This concept is what drew me to study the cultural influence of dude ranching, where women have always been able to shine -- and where I placed the protagonist of my first novel.

Lynn's book list on the women of the American West

Lynn Downey Why did Lynn love this book?

When we think of the West, we so often think about people moving and traveling, but rarely do women come to mind, except as pioneers in covered wagons. But ever since Sacagawea walked with the Lewis and Clark expedition, women have not only traveled West, they often led the way, both physically and metaphorically. Scharff’s book is a fascinating look at how hard it was for women to actually move through the region, whether stumping for suffrage or civil rights. Scharff’s book is especially valuable because she includes so many women of color, and you can feel their pain and their exhilaration on the page.

By Virginia Scharff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Sacagawea's travels with Lewis and Clark to rock groupie Pamela Des Barres's California trips, women have moved across the American West with profound consequences for the people and places they encounter. Virginia Scharff revisits a grand theme of United States history - our restless, relentless westward movement--but sets out in new directions, following women's trails from the early nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries. In colorful, spirited stories, she weaves a lyrical reconsideration of the processes that created, gave meaning to, and ultimately shattered the West. "Twenty Thousand Roads" introduces a cast of women mapping the world on their…


Book cover of Writing the Range: Race, Class, and Culture in the Women's West

Lynn Downey Author Of Dudes Rush In

From my list on the women of the American West.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved the history of the West since I was a child, as my family has lived here for over a century. I devoured historical fiction about pioneer girls in grammar school (including the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder), and as I got into college, I expanded my reading universe to include books about women’s roles in the West, and the meaning of this region in overall American history. This concept is what drew me to study the cultural influence of dude ranching, where women have always been able to shine -- and where I placed the protagonist of my first novel.

Lynn's book list on the women of the American West

Lynn Downey Why did Lynn love this book?

This hefty tome is a comprehensive and valuable collection of articles about women who were bound by race and class, and who also defied the expectations of these categories. Native American, Latinx, Asian, and Black women fill this fascinating volume, with stories that span colonial New Mexico to modern-day Hollywood. If you need a reference work on women of color, this book is not only your starting point, but it also has an extensive bibliography for further reading.

By Elizabeth Jameson, Susan Armitage,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A valuable introduction to the rapidly changing field of western history, Writing the Range explains clearly how race, class, and culture are constructed and connected. The first section examines issues raised by more than a decade of multicultural western women's histories; following are six chronological sections spanning four centuries. Each section offers a short introduction connecting its essays and placing them in analytic and historical perspective. Clearly written and accessible, Writing the Range makes a major contribution to ethnic history, women's history, and interpretations of the American West.


Book cover of The Gentle Tamers: Women of the Old Wild West

Jan Mackell Collins Author Of Behind Brothel Doors: The Business of Prostitution in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma (1860–1940)

From my list on historical prostitution.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having grown up with an older generation—my great-grandparents, great-great aunts and uncles, and a godmother, all who were born between 1877 and 1900—I learned to appreciate how they lived and what they went through. As a child, I found a hand-written poem about a brothel queen who caused a gunfight between her paramour and a stranger. Then, in college, I met a wonderful old man who told me stories about the former red-light district right in my own neighborhood. Once I learned the often tragic, but also successful stories of these ladies, I decided to be their voice and remind America how important they were to our history.

Jan's book list on historical prostitution

Jan Mackell Collins Why did Jan love this book?

First published in 1958, this is one of the first books to pay respect and present the truth about the struggles western women faced. Mr. Brown was very thorough in covering women’s roles in the west, from homesteaders and wives, to women kidnapped by Natives, to actresses and prostitutes. He also used primary sources, not the internet, to conduct his research. 

By Dee Brown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

All aspects of western feminine life, which include a good deal about the western male, are covered in this lively, informal but soundly factual account of the women who built the West. Among those whose stories are included are Elizabeth Custer; Lola Montez, Ann Eliza Young, Josephine Meeker, Carry Nation, Esther Morris, and Virginia Reed.


Book cover of Staking Her Claim: Women Homesteading the West

Marsali Taylor Author Of Women's Suffrage in Shetland

From my list on real women who refused to know their place.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m Marsali Taylor, a retired teacher of English, French and Drama. I’ve always been interested in women’s history—not queens and countesses, but what life was like for ordinary people like me. A chance to research women’s suffrage in the Scottish National Library got me started reading these women’s stories in their own words—and what stories they were, from the first women graduates to the war workers. Women’s Suffrage in Shetland took two years of fascinating research, and I hope it’s the foundation for more work by other researchers, both here in Shetland and in other communities whose women fought for the vote.

Marsali's book list on real women who refused to know their place

Marsali Taylor Why did Marsali love this book?

These women did know their place – they’d measured it out, filled in the claim forms, assembled their tiny wood shack cabin or turf –roofed dugout, sewn their corn and dug their vegetable patch. The usual picture of pioneer women is as the mother of the family, but a staggering 12% of those Wild West pioneering homesteaders were single women or widows, and this is the story of over twenty of them. After introductory chapters, it’s told in their voices, through magazine articles, letters back home and memoirs written later. We learn about how they set out on their adventure, the reality of farming and how they coped, and their triumph as they won their claim. Fascinating.

By Marcia Hensley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Instead of talking about the rights of women, these frontier women grabbed the opportunity to become landowners by homesteading in the still wild west of the early 1900s. Here they tell their stories in their own words-through letters and articles of the time-of adventure, independence, foolhardiness, failure, and freedom.


Book cover of Whiskey When We're Dry

Reese Hogan Author Of Shrouded Loyalties

From my list on cross-dressing women in wartime.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a nonbinary trans guy, I grew up obsessed with novels about women disguising themselves as men. I loved everything about the trope, and always felt disappointed when they had to go back to living as women. It is a trope I eagerly embraced when I wrote Shrouded Loyalties, and though I didn’t yet know the term “transgender,” I was already exploring my own gender identity through my reading and writing of this theme. The books I’ve chosen to highlight here are ones that became some of my very favorites, and also feature action-packed wartime settings like the one used in Shrouded Loyalties.

Reese's book list on cross-dressing women in wartime

Reese Hogan Why did Reese love this book?

This is slightly outside the boundaries of a wartime novel, as it takes place in the Old West, but it’s a fantastic book for this list, and shouldn’t be overlooked if you love this trope. Jess Harney makes a name for herself as a notorious male sharpshooter and outlaw. Her first-person voice is one of the most interesting I’ve read, and I loved how she fit in as one of the guys while never sacrificing who she was. She barely even thinks about her gender as she so naturally considers herself male. Books like this really highlight the blurred lines between cross-dressing out of necessity or desire, and I’m excited to see more authors addressing this trope with the nuance of queerness which is often part of it.

By John Larison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Whiskey When We're Dry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named a Best Book by Entertainment Weekly, O Magazine, Goodreads, Southern Living, Outside Magazine, Oprah.com, HelloGiggles, Parade, Fodor's Travel, Sioux City Journal, Read it Forward, Medium.com, and NPR's All Things Considered.

"A thunderclap of originality, here is a fresh voice and fresh take on one of the oldest stories we tell about ourselves as Americans and Westerners. It's riveting in all the right ways -- a damn good read that stayed with me long after closing the covers." - Timothy Egan, New York Times bestselling author of The Worst Hard Time

From a blazing new voice in fiction, a gritty…


Book cover of Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

Kara Alaimo Author Of Over The Influence: Why Social Media is Toxic for Women and Girls - And How We Can Take it Back

From my list on what it’s like to be a woman in this sexist, misogynistic world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a communication professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, a social media user, and a mom. After Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, I wrote an op-ed for CNN arguing that he’d won the election on social media, and I just never stopped writing. A few hundred op-eds and a book later, I’m still interested in what social media is doing to us all and the issues women are up against in our society. My book allowed me to explore how social media is impacting every single aspect of the lives of women and girls and exactly what we can do about it. I wrote it as a call to arms.

Kara's book list on what it’s like to be a woman in this sexist, misogynistic world

Kara Alaimo Why did Kara love this book?

Mikki Kendall’s account of what Black women and girls are up against in America left me angry and devastated. Her description of how Black girls are sexualized at shockingly young ages and how portraying them this way enables sexual abuse absolutely gutted me.

For me, this book was a powerful reminder of why no woman is safe in a culture that says you have to be viewed as respectable in order to be worthy of protection from violence.

By Mikki Kendall,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Hood Feminism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"One of the most important books of the current moment."-Time

"A rousing call to action... It should be required reading for everyone."-Gabrielle Union, author of We're Going to Need More Wine

"A brutally candid and unobstructed portrait of mainstream white feminism." -Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist

A potent and electrifying critique of today's feminist movement announcing a fresh new voice in black feminism

Today's feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki…


Book cover of The Autobiography of My Mother

Juyanne James Author Of The Persimmon Trail and Other Stories

From my list on written by African American female authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a black female writer who instinctively understood that in becoming an African American writer of stories (and essays), I would need to write from a long tradition of African American culture and history, as well as to learn everything I could from the amazing list of African American female writers who came before me. I embraced that notion, and as I began to place my own words on the page, I paid close attention to how those women writers had carefully chosen their own. These are the five books by African American women writers who have inspired me and helped me become the best writer I can be.

Juyanne's book list on written by African American female authors

Juyanne James Why did Juyanne love this book?

I may have admired Kincaid as a person even before I read her novel about a young woman who must find her way in life after her mother dies during childbirth. I admired Kincaid’s determined journey to become a writer: she left home as a teenager, worked, found a job as a staff writer for The New Yorker, then began writing stories and novels, even changing her name in the process.

Reading Autobiography—one of several of her books about the mother/daughter relationship—gave me a meaningful connection between the story being told and the language/syntax being used to tell that story. Kincaid’s amazing sense of honesty is only eclipsed by her lyrically perfect prose. I knew that if I found myself writing in that same beautiful style, I, too, might be able to tell my own stories as they should be told.

I also admired Kincaid’s ease in writing…

By Jamaica Kincaid,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the recipient of the 2010 Clifton Fadiman Medal, an unforgettable novel of one woman's courageous coming-of-age

Jamaica Kincaid's The Autobiography of My Mother is a story of love, fear, loss, and the forging of character, an account of one woman's inexorable evolution, evoked in startling and magical poetry.

Powerful, disturbing, stirring, Jamaica Kincaid's novel is the deeply charged story of a woman's life on the island of Dominica. Xuela Claudette Richardson, the daughter of a Carib mother and a half-Scottish, half-African father, loses her mother to death the moment she is born and must find her way on her…


Book cover of Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South

William Barney Author Of Rebels in the Making: The Secession Crisis and the Birth of the Confederacy

From my list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a youth devouring the books of Bruce Catton to my formative years as a historian, I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War, especially the thinking and experiences of southerners who lived through the cataclysmic war years. In my teaching and writing, I’ve tried to focus on the lived experiences, the hopes and fears, of southerners who seemingly embraced secession and an independent Southern Confederacy in the expectation of a short, victorious war only to become disenchanted when the war they thought would come to pass turned into a long, bloody stalemate. The books I’ve listed share my passion for the war and open new and often unexpected windows into the Confederate experience.

William's book list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy

William Barney Why did William love this book?

A great book for teaching me how much the wartime experiences and political resistance of the soldiers’ wives and the slaves impacted the fate of the Confederacy and pushed it in directions never imagined by the planters who created the Confederacy to serve their interests and not the majority of the population they expected to do their bidding. 

By Stephanie McCurry,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Confederate Reckoning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pulitzer Prize Finalist
Winner of the Frederick Douglass Book Prize
Winner of the Merle Curti Award

"McCurry strips the Confederacy of myth and romance to reveal its doomed essence. Dedicated to the proposition that men were not created equal, the Confederacy had to fight a two-front war. Not only against Union armies, but also slaves and poor white women who rose in revolt across the South. Richly detailed and lucidly told, Confederate Reckoning is a fresh, bold take on the Civil War that every student of the conflict should read."
-Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic

"McCurry challenges…


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