94 books like Return the Innocent Earth

By Wilma Dykeman,

Here are 94 books that Return the Innocent Earth fans have personally recommended if you like Return the Innocent Earth. 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 Prodigal Summer

D.J. Green Author Of No More Empty Spaces

From my list on fiction books where science plays a main character.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an avid reader of fiction and kind of a nerd, too, so I love books with science in them. I’m a scientist myself, now retired from a career in environmental and engineering geology. I am fascinated by the Earth and the geologic processes that shape it, from the seemingly mundane (like erosion) to the remarkable (like earthquakes, landslides, and volcanic eruptions). As a writer, I try to translate that wonder for non-scientist readers, all wrapped up in a compelling story. Each book on this list sure does that, weaving science into the fabric of a gripping narrative. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do.

D.J.'s book list on fiction books where science plays a main character

D.J. Green Why did D.J. love this book?

This is my favorite of Kingsolver’s books. I fell in love with so many of the characters, even some of the crustier sort. I also fell in love with the Appalachian mountains and valleys where they worked, studied, and sometimes struggled.

This is a poignant book about families and landscapes, and how we must find our own place in each.

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Prodigal Summer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is summer in the Appalachian mountains and love, desire and attraction are in the air. Nature, too, it seems, is not immune. From her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin, Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. She is caught off guard by a young hunter who invades her most private spaces and interrupts her self-assured, solitary life. On a farm several miles down the mountain, Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer's wife, finds herself marooned in a strange place where she must declare or…


Book cover of Another Country: Journeying toward the Cherokee Mountains

John Nolt Author Of A Land Imperiled: The Declining Health of the Southern Appalachian Bioregion

From my list on loss and hope in the southern Appalachian environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I moved from Ohio to southern Appalachia in 1978 to take a temporary job teaching philosophy at the University of Tennessee.  I hadn’t planned to stay, but I fell in love with the mountains. Recently I retired after a fruitful 44-year career here. Concern for this land and for my children and grandchildren led me to environmental activism and shifted my teaching and writing from mathematical logic to environmental and intergenerational ethics. Eventually I wrote or edited four books on environmental matters (two specifically on the southern Appalachian environment) in addition to three on logic and (most recently) a tome on the tricky topic of incomparable values.

John's book list on loss and hope in the southern Appalachian environment

John Nolt Why did John love this book?

Camuto’s supple prose draws the reader into a journey toward mountains that no longer exist, although they are named on some old maps: the southern Appalachians not as they are, but as they were before the European invasion. A keen historian and observant naturalist, Camuto walks deep into “what’s left of the backcountry,” documenting the hopeful reintroduction of the nearly extinct red wolf and reflecting on Cherokee place names, culture, and history. "Needless to say,” he confesses, “I never got to the Cherokee Mountains”—and, in sad irony, shortly after the book’s publication the red wolf reintroduction failed. Still, Camuto has succeeded in recording resonant reminiscences of places, peoples, and biotic populations now lost.

By Christopher Camuto,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The southern Appalachians encompass one of the most beautiful, biologically diverse, and historically important regions of North America. In the widely acclaimed Another Country: Journeying toward the Cherokee Mountains, Christopher Camuto describes the tragic collision of natural and cultural history embedded in the region. In the spirit of Thoreau's "Walking," Camuto explores the Appalachian summit country of the Great Smoky Mountains-the historical home of the Cherokee-searching for access to the nature, history, and spirit of a magnificent, if diminished, landscape.

As the author takes the reader through old-growth forests and ancient myths, he tells of the attempted restoration of Canis…


Book cover of The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

Robert Zimdahl Author Of Agriculture's Ethical Horizon

From my list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture.

Why am I passionate about this?

Several years ago I gave a paper - Human experiments in Teratogenicity - a brief exploration of the use of herbicides in the Vietnam. I was accused of and being a traitor to my discipline and siding with the environmentalists who wanted to diminish herbicide use in agriculture. I wasn't guilty as charged. The accusation encouraged me to explore agriculture's values and ethical foundation. I have continued to explore the ethics of agriculture, question the ethics of the whole agricultural enterprise. I've written, learned, and thought about the application of moral philosophy to agriculture. The book selected will help readers think about the questions and guide those interested in pursuing the application of moral philosophy to agriculture.

Robert's book list on beginning to think about the ethics of agriculture

Robert Zimdahl Why did Robert love this book?

Wendell Berry is a Kentucky farmer, a prolific author, an environmental activist, cultural critic, and poet.

In this book, one of his many, he raises important questions about the practice of agriculture in the United States and some of the consequences including loss of small farms and communities, the ecological effects, energy use, and agriculture's externalities.

His work has been largely ignored by the agricultural community including most faculty in colleges of agriculture. He writes eloquently about his concern that man was not made to rule the world and his claim that to rule the world we must conquer it.

Humans and agriculture have conquered and ignored and externalized the cultural, environmental, and human costs, which Berry explores in detail. His work has not been ignored by the environmental community.

By Wendell Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Since its publication in 1977, The Unsettling of America has been recognized as a classic of American letters. In it, Wendell Berry argues that good farming is a cultural and spiritual discipline. Today’s agribusiness, however, takes farming out of its cultural context and away from families. As a result, we as a nation are more estranged from the land—from the intimate knowledge, love, and care of it.

Sadly, his arguments and observations are more relevant than ever. Although “this book has not had the happy fate of being proved wrong,” Berry writes, there are people working “to make something comely…


Book cover of Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws

John Nolt Author Of A Land Imperiled: The Declining Health of the Southern Appalachian Bioregion

From my list on loss and hope in the southern Appalachian environment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I moved from Ohio to southern Appalachia in 1978 to take a temporary job teaching philosophy at the University of Tennessee.  I hadn’t planned to stay, but I fell in love with the mountains. Recently I retired after a fruitful 44-year career here. Concern for this land and for my children and grandchildren led me to environmental activism and shifted my teaching and writing from mathematical logic to environmental and intergenerational ethics. Eventually I wrote or edited four books on environmental matters (two specifically on the southern Appalachian environment) in addition to three on logic and (most recently) a tome on the tricky topic of incomparable values.

John's book list on loss and hope in the southern Appalachian environment

John Nolt Why did John love this book?

It rings with awe-struck musings on Bartram’s explorations, begun just before the American revolution, of the lush and bountiful landscapes of the southern British colonies. Bartram’s effusive descriptions of the astonishingly profuse flora and fauna, replete with taxonomic names, provide a baseline for gauging the steep ecological declines that followed. The Penguin edition includes an appreciative introduction by American writer James Dickey, best known for his novel Deliverance.

By William Bartram,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the request of Dr. Fothergill, of London, to search the Floridas, and the western parts of Carolina and Georgia, for the discovery of rare and useful productions of nature, chiefly in the vegetable kingdom; in April, 1773, I embarked for Charleston, South Carolina, on board the brigantine Charleston Packet, Captain Wright, the brig——, Captain Mason, being in company with us, and bound to the same port. We had a pleasant run down the Delaware, 150 miles to Cape Henlopen, the two vessels entering the Atlantic together. For the first twenty-four hours, we had a prosperous gale, and were cheerful…


Book cover of She Walks These Hills

Leslie Wheeler Author Of Rattlesnake Hill

From my list on where the sense of place becomes a character.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a mystery author from sunny California who moved to New England to be close to my dark roots. Places spark my imagination. As a child, I’d look at a house and wonder, “What would it be like to live there, in that town and that landscape?” On family road trips, my parents fueled my desire for knowledge about different places by reading from the WPA guides to the states. The books I enjoy the most have a strong sense of place. I want my readers to experience my settings as fully as I do. Setting is where a book begins. Characters and story spring from this fertile ground.

Leslie's book list on where the sense of place becomes a character

Leslie Wheeler Why did Leslie love this book?

I was drawn to this book because it’s loaded with atmosphere, and features hill folk like I do, with the difference that McCrumb’s characters inhabit the hills of Tennessee, while mine live in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. I especially like the way she weaves local lore and legends into the story, and how she reveals how the landscape appears to different characters, ranging from a long-ago woman, kidnapped by Indians who escapes and makes her way homeward, to a modern-day non-hillbilly who struggles to re-create her difficult journey. Then, there’s the way McCrumb adds a dash of the supernatural through a character with psychic powers—all of which have been grist to my fictional mill.

By Sharyn McCrumb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked She Walks These Hills as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Katie Wyler still crosses Ashe Mountain, and although a few can see her, Deputy Sheriff Martha Ayers doesn't believe in ghosts. Hiram Sorley has escaped after 30 years in prison and he's on his way home to Ashe Mountain. Only Martha seems to understand that Sorley's wife and daughter are in danger.


Book cover of Outer Dark

Hugh Sheehy Author Of Design Flaw

From my list on the world as a dream.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve loved fiction that excites my mind and imagination since I was very young. I spent a lot of time in the library growing up, mostly reading horror and historical narratives. Later, I became interested in music, painting, film, philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, religion, and politics. I’m not an expert in anything—I’m too driven to make things to be a good scholar—but these are the subject areas that inform what I write.

Hugh's book list on the world as a dream

Hugh Sheehy Why did Hugh love this book?

McCarthy’s second novel is an underappreciated masterpiece, one that combines the author’s distinct style and notoriously difficult subject matter with a genuinely sublime vision of the world. Simultaneously a horror novel, a historical fiction, a Gnostic heresy, a cosmic joke, and act of spiritual seeking, I cannot recommend it enough.  

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Outer Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By Cormac McCarthy, the author of the critically acclaimed Border Trilogy, Outer Dark is a novel at once mythic and starkly evocative, set in an unspecified place in Appalachia sometime around the turn of the century. A woman bears her brother's child, a boy; the brother leaves the baby in the woods and tells her he died of natural causes. Discovering her brother's lie, she sets forth alone to find her son. Both brother and sister wander separately through a countryside being scourged by three terrifying and elusive strangers, headlong toward an eerie, apocalyptic resolution.


Book cover of Trampoline: An Illustrated Novel

Meredith Sue Willis Author Of Their Houses

From my list on great American stories from Appalachia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in West Virginia and believed you had to leave the region to write. Only after I’d published my first novel did I discover books like these and many more. I have become a wide reader in our literature, with a special interest in novels that both tell the stories of individuals and families and explore the connection between resource extraction and poverty. It’s also a pleasure to read about regional successes as well as losses.  

Meredith's book list on great American stories from Appalachia

Meredith Sue Willis Why did Meredith love this book?

Kentucky writer Robert Gipe’s graphic novel is about a teen-age girl growing up in Appalachia. 

Dawn tells the story of her drug-dealing junk-food-scarfing Kentucky family and their dilemmas. Like Maynard’s characters, Gipe’s border stereotypes, or would, if Gipe didn’t know and respect his people so well. These are the descendants of the hunters of Hunter’s Horn and the battling miners of Storming Heaven.

There is also a strong political thread about Dawn's grandmother who is an organizer against mountaintop removal. The novel has the bonus of Gipe’s wry little black and white illustrations.

By Robert Gipe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Dawn Jewell is fifteen. She is restless, curious, and wry. She listens to Black Flag, speaks her mind, and joins her grandmother's fight against mountaintop removal mining almost in spite of herself. "I write by ear," says Robert Gipe, and Dawn's voice is the essence of his debut novel, Trampoline. She lives in eastern Kentucky with her addict mother and her Mamaw, whose stance against the coal companies has earned her the community's ire. Jagged and honest, Trampoline is a powerful portrait of a place struggling with the economic and social forces that threaten and define it. Inspired by oral…


Book cover of Bloodroot

John Mantooth Author Of Holy Ghost Road

From my list on appealing to horror readers and non-horror readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t consider myself specifically a horror reader (or writer for that matter!) any more than I consider myself a fantasy, mystery, or science fiction reader. As a writer (under my real name John Mantooth as well as my pseudonym, Hank Early), much of my work has been classified as horror, though I take pride in my novels appealing to people who aren’t typically well-versed in the genre. So, it got me thinking… what are some novels that may or may not be classified as horror that will appeal to a wide range of readers? I call these books horror-adjacent, and no matter what you typically read, I think you’ll enjoy them. 

John's book list on appealing to horror readers and non-horror readers

John Mantooth Why did John love this book?

Another one I read many years ago that still has its claws in me today. A sprawling epic made up of many Appalachian voices. There’s magic and grief and family secrets. It’s a Southern Gothic that will grip you from the first page and has influenced me as a writer in a myriad of ways. This might be an example of a novel that wasn’t classified as horror, but very well could have been. Will appeal to all kinds of readers. 

By Amy Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A dark and riveting story of the legacies—of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss—that haunt one family across the generations.

Myra Lamb is a wild girl with mysterious, haint blue eyes who grows up on remote Bloodroot Mountain. Her grandmother, Byrdie, protects her fiercely and passes down “the touch” that bewitches people and animals alike. But when John Odom tries to tame Myra, it sparks a shocking disaster, ripping lives apart.

"A fascinating look at a rural world full of love and life, and dreams and disappointment." --The Boston Globe

"If Wuthering Heights had been…


Book cover of What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia

Matthew Algeo Author Of All This Marvelous Potential: Robert Kennedy's 1968 Tour of Appalachia

From my list on Appalachia (for people who aren’t from Appalachia).

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of eastern Pennsylvania, not far from the Appalachian Mountains, but a world away from the place the rest of the country calls “Appalachia.” Researching All This Marvelous Potential, my book about Robert Kennedy’s 1968 tour of eastern Kentucky, was a revelation. Appalachia is rich in Black history, and queer history, and labor history, and a national leader in education. I am a journalist and author. All This Marvelous Potential is my sixth book.

Matthew's book list on Appalachia (for people who aren’t from Appalachia)

Matthew Algeo Why did Matthew love this book?

A welcome and necessary antidote to J.D. Vance’s drivel, Elizabeth Catte shatters stereotypes about Appalachia with a sledgehammer then crushes the pieces to dust under her feet. Contrary to much of what you hear and read about the place, Catte’s Appalachia is diverse, creative, entrepreneurial, energetic, and smart. The problem isn’t in Appalachia. The problem is outside it.

By Elizabeth Catte,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2016, headlines declared Appalachia ground zero for America's "forgotten tribe" of white working class voters. Journalists flocked to the region to extract sympathetic profiles of families devastated by poverty, abandoned by establishment politics, and eager to consume cheap campaign promises. What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia is a frank assessment of America's recent fascination with the people and problems of the region. The book analyzes trends in contemporary writing on Appalachia, presents a brief history of Appalachia with an eye toward unpacking Appalachian stereotypes, and provides examples of writing, art, and policy created by Appalachians as opposed to…


Book cover of Sour

Chuck W. Chapman Author Of Freak on a Moped

From my list on horror you’ve never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a fan of the horror genre since I was a kid. Even though sometimes I was so scared, I had to sleep with the light on or not sleep at all. Something about the darkness and the unknown has always seemed so alluring. I can't even count the number of horror movies I've watched or books I've read. That feel of the hair standing up on your arms or the back of your neck is a thrill like no other. 

Chuck's book list on horror you’ve never heard of

Chuck W. Chapman Why did Chuck love this book?

Tales of a witch's curse in Appalachia draw a grieving father to sacrifice everything for his son. How far will a parent go to save their child and then how much farther will they have to go to save themselves? A Southern voodoo twist on Pet Cemetery that’s twice as frightening and just as engaging.

By Tony Evans,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SOMETHING EVIL ROSE FROM WITHIN, AN ANCIENT BEING, ONE OLDER THAN TIME ITSELF...

Deep in the mountains of Appalachia, a legend is told about something evil that lurks within the dense woods of Gunrack Hollow. A witch is said to live there, one whose appetite for innocent souls dates back hundreds of years.

Sam Fletcher had heard the story his whole life, but he never really believed it. After all, as his father always said, it's just an old folktale...only a story.

But two years ago, something happened that made him believe. Something that ties back to an ancient evil…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Appalachia, Tennessee, and earth?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Appalachia, Tennessee, and earth.

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