68 books like Life on the Mississippi

By Mark Twain,

Here are 68 books that Life on the Mississippi fans have personally recommended if you like Life on the Mississippi. 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 Gift from the Sea

Julie Chavez Author Of Everyone But Myself: A Memoir

From my list on to feel less alone in the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author and elementary librarian living in Northern California. My mind is a busy neighborhood: there are all sorts of thoughts and feelings running around up there like hordes of naughty unsupervised children. I need books to ground me, to encourage me to slow down, to help me feel and release those emotions. As an elementary librarian, I’m a voracious reader, but I only choose to return to the most necessary, beautiful books. These authors comfort me through their words, pulling forth laughter, tears, and the knowledge that I’m not so crazy after all. Or, if I am, I’m not the only one.

Julie's book list on to feel less alone in the world

Julie Chavez Why did Julie love this book?

This memoir was written in 1955 but its wisdom is evergreen because, nearly seventy years later, it’s still very difficult to be a woman.

We are many things to many people and it’s easy to lose ourselves in that swirl of activity and to-dos, which is precisely what happened to me. Depression and anxiety had reading off limits to me for a time, and this was the kind, gentle book that brought me back to the page, the one that said, Yes, yes.

That’s how it is, to love. It’s hard, not because you’re doing it wrong, but because you’re doing it right.

By Anne Morrow Lindbergh,

Why should I read it?

4 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,…


Book cover of Out of Africa

B.W. Powe Author Of These Shadows Remain: A Fable

From my list on vistas and fantasias of the subconscious.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is B.W. Powe—and I’m a writer, poet, teacher, mentor, and musician. I’ve written since I was a boy, when I began to dream of beautiful sentences, and finding a way to turn music into literary expression. I live in Stouffville, a small edge town near Toronto, Canada—and a portion of the year in Cordoba, Spain, where my wife is from. I was encouraged by my mother, an amateur pianist, and my father, a politician, and novelist. We lived in Toronto through the 60s-90s and witnessed how the city sprawled. I’ve written about the Genesis Overdrive that informs culture and lives. My latest book, Ladders Made of Water, will be available on February 14th, 2023.

B.W.'s book list on vistas and fantasias of the subconscious

B.W. Powe Why did B.W. love this book?

A poignant, perceptive memoir of the author’s time in Africa—and her experiences there, her discovery of love and the loss of that love; evocations of people and sky, contemplations of weather and landscape unlike any other I’ve read.

It should be read (and always honoured) because it’s as close to a reverie on sorrow and wonder, the mystery of stark wildernesses and solitudes, as I’ve found. It’s the book I wish I’d written, above so many others.

By Isak Dinesen,

Why should I read it?

6 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 1914 Karen Blixen arrived in Kenya with her husband to run a coffee-farm. Drawn to the exquisite beauty of Africa, she spent her happiest years there until the plantation failed. A poignant farewell to her beloved farm, "Out of Africa" describes her friendships with the local people, her dedication for the landscape and wildlife, and great love for the adventurer Denys Finch-Hatton.


Book cover of All Creatures Great and Small

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer Author Of Hayley and the Hot Flashes

From my list on entertaining stories about relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a small town, with wonderful librarians who introduced me to books I remember fondly to this day. The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, and, of course, Little Women shaped my love for stories about relationships and the simple pleasures of daily life. Whether it’s a mystery or a memoir, I want interesting interactions between the main characters, meaty descriptions of daily activities and affairs, and, of course, a happy ending. As I’ve gotten older, I like books with older protagonists; those are hard to come by—one reason I wrote a novel about the adventures of five middle-aged girlfriends!

Jayne's book list on entertaining stories about relationships

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer Why did Jayne love this book?

As entertaining as the PBS series about Yorkshire veterinarian James Herriott (pseudonym for author James Alfred Wight) is, the book is even better.

A blend of memoir, travelogue, and journal, Herriott’s tales of life among the farmers of England’s Yorkshire Dales are heartwarming, hilarious, and riveting. From his familial relationships with the Farnon brothers, with whom he lives, to the sometimes endearing, sometimes mercurial encounters with his patients—both the 2-legged and 4-legged variety—reading the adventures of this country vet is both informative and engaging.

You’ll go places you never imagined, want to watch the series—original and remake—all over again, and will, if you’re like me, make a solemn pledge to visit the Dales before you die! 

By James Herriot,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked All Creatures Great and Small as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

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…


Book cover of A Christmas Memory

Marnie O. Mamminga Author Of Return to Wake Robin: One Cabin in the Heyday of Northwoods Resorts

From my list on historic memoirs that speak to the love of place.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always loved a sense of place. Perhaps it is because I have lived in the same river valley my whole life, my home for 45 years, and shared a cabin with my siblings that has been in our family for 93 years. Even so, I'm always looking for the nuances in familiar landscapes that expand our understanding of ourselves and each other. I have published dozens of personal essays, two memoirs, Return to Wake Robin: One cabin in the Heyday of Northwoods Resorts and On a Clear Night: Essays from the Heartland, and many monthly perspectives for NPR’s WNIJ radio station. As a former teacher, I enjoyed helping my students find their writing voice. 

Marnie's book list on historic memoirs that speak to the love of place

Marnie O. Mamminga Why did Marnie love this book?

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.

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.


Book cover of Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

Necropolis describes how the yellow fever shaped New Orleans society in the 1800s.

While the fever was killing tens of thousands of people for almost two centuries from the founding of the city in 1718 until the last yellow fever epidemic in 1905, giving its victims horrible deaths in which they cried blood and vomited tar-like bile in the process, the disease helped preserve the city’s Creole culture by killing off a large proportion of immigrants to the city who were more susceptible than native-born New Orleans.

Before reading this book, I had no idea that being “acclimated” to yellow fever by surviving a case of this horrible disease was what made white transplants into bonafide citizens of the city. 

By Kathryn Olivarius,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Disease is thought to be a great leveler of humanity, but in antebellum New Orleans acquiring immunity from the scourge of yellow fever magnified the brutal inequities of slave-powered capitalism.

Antebellum New Orleans sat at the heart of America's slave and cotton kingdoms. It was also where yellow fever epidemics killed as many as 150,000 people during the nineteenth century. With little understanding of mosquito-borne viruses-and meager public health infrastructure-a person's only protection against the scourge was to "get acclimated" by surviving the disease. About half of those who contracted yellow fever died.

Repeated epidemics bolstered New Orleans's strict racial…


Book cover of A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

Written by accomplished historian Carolyn Morrow Long, A New Orleans Voudou Priestess tells the true story of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau based on extensive archival research.

In telling her readers about this Creole woman of color who was deeply embedded in the culture of New Orleans in the 1800s, we learn the real story of a woman who was often glorified and denigrated by the press and by local authors who wrote many fantastical tales about her life misleading many about her character and her religion. 

By Carolyn Morrow Long,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A New Orleans Voudou Priestess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Legendary for an unusual combination of spiritual power, beauty, charisma, showmanship, intimidation, and shrewd business sense, Marie Leveau also was known for her kindness and charity, nursing yellow fever victims and ministering to condemned prisoners, and her devotion to the Roman Catholic Church. In separating verifiable fact from semi-truths and complete fabrication, Carolyn Morrow Long explores the unique social, political, and legal setting in which the lives of Laveau's African and European ancestors became intertwined in nineteenth-century New Orleans.


Book cover of The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

I discovered and used The World That Made New Orleans as a source for my book.

Upon opening the book, I was gleefully surprised to discover what an informative, interesting, and fun read it is. Sublette describes the French origins of the city in the early 1700s which involved wild parties, debauchery, tragic exploratory expeditions, and a massive Ponzi scheme that used Louisiana and the fictional gold mines there to defraud most every rich person in France, eventually crashing the entire French economy.

He then took me on a thrilling journey through the Spanish and early American periods to quadroon balls, Congo Square, and so many other fascinating places. I knew the city’s history was interesting, but reading The World That Made New Orleans blew me away. 

By Ned Sublette,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The World That Made New Orleans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named one of the Top 10 Books of 2008 by The Times-Picayune.  Winner of the 2009 Humanities Book of the Year award from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. Awarded the New Orleans Gulf South Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award for 2008. 

New Orleans is the most elusive of American cities. The product of the centuries-long struggle among three mighty empires--France, Spain, and England--and among their respective American colonies and enslaved African peoples, it has always seemed like a foreign port to most Americans, baffled as they are by its complex cultural inheritance.

 

The World That Made New…


Book cover of Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red-Light District

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Why am I passionate about this?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

This book provides an intimate look at Storyville, the legal New Orleans red-light district that operated in a grid of streets nestled between St. Louis Cemeteries no. 1 and 2 near the French Quarter from 1897 to 1917.

Although the book is a bit dated (it was published in 1974) and includes a few wild and unsubstantiated stories about certain historic New Orleans personalities, such as Marie Laveau, this mostly factual volume is a fascinating and detailed portrait of the "District," as Storyville was often called, and the colorful, sometimes tragic stories of the people who lived and worked there.

By Al Rose,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A true-to-life impression of Storyville, the only legally established red light district in the US

At the turn of the twentieth-century, there were hundreds of red-light districts in the United States, ranging in size from a discreet “house” or two in or near small towns and cities to block after bawdy block of brothels in larger cities such as Chicago and San Francisco. Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red Light District seeks to offer the reader a reasonably true-to-life impression of Storyville, the most famous of the large districts and the only such district…


Book cover of Old Glory: An American Voyage

Mike Gerrard Author Of Snakes Alive and Other Travel Writing

From my list on US travel writing chosen by a travel writer.

Why am I passionate about this?

I always wanted to be a writer but never thought I’d become a travel writer. And like many British teenagers, I also had a passion for the USA – its movies, its music, its writers – but never imagined I would end up living in Arizona. I’ve now traveled in the US widely and understand why its landscapes, its people, and its culture have produced so much good travel writing. It’s a country that’s inspiring and surprising in equal measure, ever-changing, vast, and even though I didn’t grow up there it certainly made me who I am. 

Mike's book list on US travel writing chosen by a travel writer

Mike Gerrard Why did Mike love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Lincoln in New Orleans: The 1828-1831 Flatboat Voyages and Their Place in History

Rose Osterman Kleidon Author Of 1836: Year of Escape

From my list on immigration in the 1800s.

Why am I passionate about this?

By chance, I was entrusted with rare historical documents about the immigrant generations in our family, which inspired this novel and grounded it in reality. Who wouldn’t wonder why they came? Besides, I have always been fascinated by pre-modern times and how steam power changed everything and dragged us along, kicking and screaming. And, even though they arrived in America in 1836, I grew up on the farm where they lived, so I heard tales of their amazing journey. It may be 186 years on, but it’s time to tell their story, which, it turns out, is a story for us all.  

Rose's book list on immigration in the 1800s

Rose Osterman Kleidon Why did Rose love this book?

As a teenager, Abraham Lincoln built a flatboat and floated down the Mississippi to New Orleans to sell the produce his family and neighbors had grown. This and a similar trip three years later were his only exposure to the Deep South. They immersed him in a culture of riverboat men that was archetypical of the era and included events that became part of the mythology surrounding him, an attack by runaway slaves that could have killed him, and his rescue of fellow boatman from drowning. Campanella is a university professor, tireless researcher, and excellent writer.

By Richard Campanella,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lincoln in New Orleans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1828, a teenaged Abraham Lincoln guided a flatboat down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. The adventure marked his first visit to a major city and exposed him to the nation's largest slave marketplace. It also nearly cost him his life, in a nighttime attack in the Louisiana plantation country. That trip, and a second one in 1831, would form the two longest journeys of Lincoln's life, his only visits to the Deep South, and his foremost experience in a racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse urban environment.

Lincoln in New Orleans: The 1828-1831 Flatboat Voyages and Their Place in…


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Interested in the Mississippi River, New Orleans, and the American Civil War?

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