10 books like Life on the Mississippi

By Mark Twain,

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

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Gift from the Sea

By Anne Morrow Lindbergh,

Book cover of Gift from the Sea

Although times have certainly changed since Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote Gift from the Sea in 1955, the struggle to define ourselves and our relationships has not. Secluding herself on an almost deserted island, Lindbergh uses a variety of distinctive beach shells as writing prompts to philosophically examine the way we live and relate to each other.

The simplicity of being isolated in a rustic cottage beside a beautiful beach with only seagulls as companions allows Lindbergh the freedom to explore and question the choices we make. In today’s noisy, frenetic world, who among us wouldn’t like to escape to an island to contemplate our life’s trajectory? A soft breeze, the rhythmic music of the waves, the sun on our backs, and time to think. Sign me up.

Gift from the Sea

By Anne Morrow Lindbergh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gift from the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Quietly powerful and a great help. Glorious' Emma Thompson

'Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.'

Holidaying by the sea, and taking inspiration from the shells she finds on the seashore, Anne Morrow Lindbergh meditates on youth and age, love and marriage, peace, solitude and contentment. First published in 1955 and an instant bestseller, Gift from the Sea's insights - into aspects of the modern world that threaten to overwhelm us, the complications of technology, the ever multiplying commitments that take us from our families - are as relevant today as they ever were,…


All Creatures Great and Small

By James Herriot,

Book cover of All Creatures Great and Small

Bewitched by the fragrant fells, humble farms, and verdant scenery of Yorkshire, England, James Herriot, a 23-year-old veterinarian, found his love of place and stayed there till the end of his life. Set in the 1930s, All Creatures Great and Small documents not only the charming vistas of Herriot’s veterinary world, but also the beguiling animals and characters who gave voice to this enchanting landscape.

As a young teacher back in the 1970s, I came across his memoir and was immediately smitten even before it became a wildly popular series. Although I did not know it at the time, I think Herriot’s approach to finding a story in the everydayness of life subconsciously influenced my own writing of personal essays and memoir. To him, I tip my pen.

All Creatures Great and Small

By James Herriot,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked All Creatures Great and Small as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A tie-in to the PBS Masterpiece series and Christmas special, available on streaming and home video.

All Creatures Great and Small is first volume in the multimillion copy bestselling series. Delve into the magical, unforgettable world of James Herriot, the world's most beloved veterinarian, and his menagerie of heartwarming, funny, and tragic animal patients.

For fifty years, generations of readers have flocked to Herriot's marvelous tales, deep love of life, and extraordinary storytelling abilities. For decades, Herriot roamed the remote, beautiful Yorkshire Dales, treating every patient that came his way from smallest to largest, and observing animals and humans alike…


Out of Africa

By Isak Dinesen,

Book cover of Out of Africa

I have never been to Africa and probably will not get there, but because of Karen Blixen’s haunting memoir, Out of Africa, I feel I have seen its beauty and allure. Living on and managing her coffee plantation near the Ngong Hills of British East Africa (now Kenya) from 1913-1931, Blixen’s love of place is clearly evident in her mesmerizing descriptions of her home, the people who lived beside her, and the African wilderness that surrounded it all. 

With lyrical language, Blixen brings to life the gentle elephants traipsing across the plains, the roar of the lions, the herd of running zebras, but more importantly, the captivating images of an environment that has long since disappeared for all. In my dreams, I am there.

Out of Africa

By Isak Dinesen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Out of Africa, author Isak Dinesen takes a wistful and nostalgic look back on her years living in Africa on a Kenyan coffee plantation. Recalling the lives of friends and neighbours—both African and European—Dinesen provides a first-hand perspective of colonial Africa. Through her obvious love of both the landscape and her time in Africa, Dinesen’s meditative writing style deeply reflects the themes of loss as her plantation fails and she returns to Europe.

HarperTorch brings great works of non-fiction and the dramatic arts to life in digital format, upholding the highest standards in ebook production and celebrating reading in…


A Christmas Memory

By Truman Capote,

Book cover of A Christmas Memory

There is no finer memoir celebrating a love of place than Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory. His opening lines take you right into the heart of the kitchen in a rural Alabama home where he lived as a young boy with an elderly distant cousin in the late 1920s. Those few cherished years would influence his writing and life for as long as he lived.

Writing in concise, elegant language, Capote centers his brief memoir around one Thanksgiving and Christmas when he was seven and his beloved cousin, Miss Souk Faulk, was in her late sixties. Perhaps it is because I have hosted Thanksgiving for my family for years, that I so appreciate Capote’s ability to capture, with humor and poignancy, the power of traditions with those you love.

A Christmas Memory

By Truman Capote,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A holiday classic from "one of the greatest writers and most fascinating society figures in American history" (Vanity Fair)!

First published in 1956, this much sought-after autobiographical recollection from Truman Capote (In Cold Blood; Breakfast at Tiffany's) about his rural Alabama boyhood is a perfect gift for Capote's fans young and old.

Seven-year-old Buddy inaugurates the Christmas season by crying out to his cousin, Miss Sook Falk: "It's fruitcake weather!" Thus begins an unforgettable portrait of an odd but enduring friendship and the memories the two friends share of beloved holiday rituals.


The USS Carondelet

By Myron J. Smith Jr.,

Book cover of The USS Carondelet: A Civil War Ironclad on Western Waters

“The cruise of a ship is a biography,” wrote Raphael Semmes about his ocean-straddling tall ship, CSS Alabama. “The ship becomes a personification. She not only, ‘walks the waters like a thing of life,’ but she speaks in moving accents to those capable of interpreting her.” In this excellent biography of Carondelet’s career, a squat, ugly, ironclad gunboat also becomes a major character along with the men who designed and built the revolutionary vessel, stoked her engines, and fired her big guns. In tactics and technology, riverine warfare was invented from scratch and indispensable to victory. This work (and Smith’s entire series on brown water war vessels) provides fresh and enlightening perspectives on every major battle down the Mississippi from Forts Henry and Donelson through Vicksburg to Red River.

The USS Carondelet

By Myron J. Smith Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The USS Carondelet had a revolutionary ship design and was the most active of all the Union's Civil War river ironclads. From Fort Henry through the siege of Vicksburg and from the Red River campaign through the Battle of Nashville, the gunboat was prominent in war legend and literature. This history draws on the letters of Ensign Scott Dyer Jordan and Rear Adm. It falls in the category of Henry Walke's memoirs.


The Great Plains

By Walter Prescott Webb,

Book cover of The Great Plains

Originally published in 1932, this remains one of the most accessible and thought-provoking books ever written about the American West. Webb’s work rises to the level of literature, especially when describing early encounters by white Americans with the landscape and native people they met west of the 98th meridian. Few writers have captured so vividly the expansion of America from the humid and forested east to the arid west of the Great Plains. Some of Webb’s conclusions may feel a little dated, but this remains a very compelling and rewarding book.

The Great Plains

By Walter Prescott Webb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This classic description of the interaction between the vast central plains of America and the people who lived there has, since its first publication in 1931, been one of the most influential, widely known, and controversial works in western history. Arguing that "the Great Plains environment. . .constitutes a geographic unity whose influences have been so powerful as to put a characteristic mark upon everything that survives within its borders," Webb singles out the revolver, barbed wire, and the windmill as evidence of the new phase of civilization required for settlement of that arid, treeless region. Webb draws on history,…


Behind the Rifle

By Shelby Harriel,

Book cover of Behind the Rifle: Women Soldiers in Civil War Mississippi

When Lauren Cook and I published They Fought Like Demons, we knew that our book, although groundbreaking, was only the tip of the iceberg in the story of women soldiers in the Civil War, and we always hoped that another scholar would pick up the torch and move the story forward.  Shelby Harriel has done just that.  Behind the Rifle is a meticulously researched and ably written account of the distaff soldiers who hailed from Mississippi, or found themselves there.  Citing previously unknown sources along with revealing newly-located photographs, Harriel’s contribution to the history of women soldiers is remarkable.

Behind the Rifle

By Shelby Harriel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During the Civil War, Mississippi's strategic location bordering the Mississippi River and the state's system of railroads drew the attention of opposing forces who clashed in major battles for control over these resources. The names of these engagements-Vicksburg, Jackson, Port Gibson, Corinth, Iuka, Tupelo, and Brice's Crossroads-along with the narratives of the men who fought there resonate in Civil War literature. However, Mississippi's chronicle of military involvement in the Civil War is not one of men alone. Surprisingly, there were a number of female soldiers disguised as males who stood shoulder to shoulder with them on the firing lines across…


Grant Moves South

By Bruce Catton,

Book cover of Grant Moves South

The war’s greatest military historian takes on its greatest military figure in Bruce Catton’s spirited two-volume classic: Grant Moves South and Grant Takes Command. Written decades ago, these paired volumes remain the finest historical account of Grant’s triumphant Civil War career. In the opening volume, we meet the recently minted brigadier in September 1861 as he prepares to join his army at desolate Cairo, Illinois, having just recovered from a succession of crushing personal failures. In the concluding volume, we leave him at Petersburg Virginia in April 1865, after he demolishes R. E. Lee’s army in the climactic battle of the war. Wannabe revisionists think Catton is outdated. Don’t believe them.

Grant Moves South

By Bruce Catton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first part of the military biography of Ulysses S. Grant and follows Grant from the summer of 1861 when he takes on his first Civil War command through battles at Belmont, Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth and Vicksburg to the summer of 1863. The author has used letters, diaries and despatches in order to provide a rounded picture of this general's personality. "Grant Takes Command" forms the second part of this biography.


Old Glory

By Jonathan Raban,

Book cover of Old Glory: An American Voyage

Sometimes it takes an outsider to see deeper into a country. Raban was a respected English novelist and critic when he moved to the USA and settled there – something I would later do myself. He proceeded to produce a series of brilliantly vivid travel books about his new homeland, of which this was the first. Avoiding the inevitable road trip (though he did those later), he takes a motorboat for a solo journey down the Mississippi River. Long periods alone allow him the chance to reflect on the river, nature, and the USA, but he also has lively encounters with the people who live by the river, revealing their passions and their pains.

Old Glory

By Jonathan Raban,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Jonathan Raban is one of the world's greatest living travel writers.' William Dalrymple

'The best book of travel ever written by an Englishman about the United States' Jan Morris, Independent

Navigating the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans, Raban opens himself to experience the river in all her turbulent and unpredictable old glory. Going wherever the current takes him, he joins a coon-hunt in Savana, falls for a girl in St Louis, worships with black Baptists in Memphis, hangs out with the housewives of Pemiscot and the hog-king of Dubuque. Through tears of laughter, we are led into the…


The Confidence-Man

By Herman Melville,

Book cover of The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade

Melville’s first novel calls “the white civilized man” “the most ferocious animal on the face of the earth.” Billy Budd, his final work, predicts the triumph of militarism and war. My first public speech against the Vietnam War began with a quote from The Confidence-Man (1857). I’ve read it many times and published an annotated edition, so I can guarantee you that every time you read this book you will get more out of it, just as I do. The steamboat Fidele sails down the Mississippi. A Christ-like passenger disappears. A negro cripple lists passengers we should look for. Avatars of the confidence man bamboozle representative Americans. After the sun sets, slave states are on both sides of the southward voyage, a mysterious “Cosmopolitan” appears, darkness envelopes the boat, and its destination seems to be the apocalypse.  What is this book about? America. Our species. Where we are headed. 

The Confidence-Man

By Herman Melville,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On April Fool's Day in 1856, a shape-shifting grifter boards a Mississippi riverboat to expose the pretenses, hypocrisies, and self-delusions of his fellow passengers. The con artist assumes numerous identities — a disabled beggar, a charity fundraiser, a successful businessman, an urbane gentleman — to win over his not-entirely-innocent dupes. The central character's shifting identities, as fluid as the river itself, reflect broader aspects of human identity even as his impudent hoaxes form a meditation on illusion and trust.
This comic allegory addresses themes of sincerity, character, and morality in its challenge to the optimism and materialism of mid-19th-century America.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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