88 books like Searching for Tao Canyon

By Pat Morrow, Jeremy Schmidt, Art Tomey

Here are 88 books that Searching for Tao Canyon fans have personally recommended if you like Searching for Tao Canyon. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West

Nate Schweber Author Of This America of Ours: Bernard and Avis Devoto and the Forgotten Fight to Save the Wild

From my list on public lands and conservation.

Why am I passionate about this?

By lucky lottery of birth, Missoula, Montana, nestled between forested mountains and sliced through by trout-filled rivers, is where I was born and raised. Public land conservation came into my consciousness naturally as clean, pine-scented air. But when I moved to overcrowded New York City in 2001 to try a career in journalism, homesickness made me begin researching conservation. Why are there public lands in the West? What forces prompted their creation? Who wants public lands, and who opposes them? Can their history teach us about our present and our future? These books began answering my questions. 

Nate's book list on public lands and conservation

Nate Schweber Why did Nate love this book?

From this bracing and brilliant biography, I learned about how John Wesley Powell went on an epic Western discovery adventure and became inspired to challenge thousands of years of Anglo dogma about rain, rivers, land, and how humankind must live with them.

Basic conservation is such a part of American life today that, like gravity, which Newton gets credit for discovering, we forget the genius it first took to conceptualize it. No one is more foundational to conservation than one-armed Grand Canyon explorer Powell. His story is here told by an admiring author, Wallace Stegner, who understood that genius because he was one. 

By Wallace Stegner,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Beyond the Hundredth Meridian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the “dean of Western writers” (The New York Times) and the Pulitzer Prize winning–author of Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety, a fascinating look at the old American West and the man who prophetically warned against the dangers of settling it
 
In Beyond the Hundredth Meridian, Wallace Stegner recounts the sucesses and frustrations of John Wesley Powell, the distinguished ethnologist and geologist who explored the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon, and the homeland of Indian tribes of the American Southwest. A prophet without honor who had a profound understanding of the American West, Powell warned long ago of…


Book cover of The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky

Stephen Trimble Author Of The Capitol Reef Reader

From my list on Utah Canyon Country.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long ago, in college in Colorado, I discovered Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire—the classic that grew from journals he kept while a ranger at Utah’s Arches National Park. I’d grown up in the West, visiting national parks and revering park rangers. Abbey gave me the model—live and write in these wild places. After graduating, I snagged jobs myself as a seasonal ranger/naturalist at Arches and Capitol Reef national parks. I was thrilled. Since then, I’ve spent decades exploring and photographing Western landscapes. After working on 25 books about natural history, Native peoples, and conservation, Capitol Reef still remains my “home park” and Utah Canyon Country my spiritual home.  

Stephen's book list on Utah Canyon Country

Stephen Trimble Why did Stephen love this book?

Ellen Meloy just might be my favorite Utah writer. She’s smart and witty. She’s laugh-out-loud funny. She’s self-deprecatory and never preachy. She gets her natural history right. And her writing is gorgeous. She died far too young, at 58, in 2004, and I miss her. As she wanders outward across Bears Ears National Monument from her home in Bluff, Ellen’s musings apply equally to the slickrock spine of the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef. So I was determined to include her in my own book. I chose an excerpt from The Anthropology of Turquoise—a terrific piece on sensual canyon country wildflowers, “slickrotica.” In her book, Ellen follows turquoise to the ends of the earth, but she always brings us back to her home territory in the canyons. 

By Ellen Meloy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this invigorating mix of natural history and adventure, artist-naturalist Ellen Meloy uses turquoise—the color and the gem—to probe deeper into our profound human attachment to landscape.

From the Sierra Nevada, the Mojave Desert, the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Bahamas to her home ground on the high plateaus and deep canyons of the Southwest, we journey with Meloy through vistas of both great beauty and great desecration. Her keen vision makes us look anew at ancestral mountains, turquoise seas, and even motel swimming pools. She introduces us to Navajo “velvet grandmothers” whose attire and aesthetics absorb the vivid palette of…


Book cover of Sagebrush Empire: How a Remote Utah County Became the Battlefront of American Public Lands

Stephen Trimble Author Of The Capitol Reef Reader

From my list on Utah Canyon Country.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long ago, in college in Colorado, I discovered Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire—the classic that grew from journals he kept while a ranger at Utah’s Arches National Park. I’d grown up in the West, visiting national parks and revering park rangers. Abbey gave me the model—live and write in these wild places. After graduating, I snagged jobs myself as a seasonal ranger/naturalist at Arches and Capitol Reef national parks. I was thrilled. Since then, I’ve spent decades exploring and photographing Western landscapes. After working on 25 books about natural history, Native peoples, and conservation, Capitol Reef still remains my “home park” and Utah Canyon Country my spiritual home.  

Stephen's book list on Utah Canyon Country

Stephen Trimble Why did Stephen love this book?

Former president Trump’s evisceration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments kept all of us canyon country activists busy for years with protests and op-eds. The backstory leading to President Biden’s restoration of both monuments pretty much outlines the history of conservation in America. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase, as well as Capitol Reef, were part of an enormous Escalante National Monument proposed in the 1930s that likely would have prevented the tragic flooding of Glen Canyon by Lake Powell. Jonathan Thompson recounts these historic fights over public lands by focusing on San Juan County, home to Canyonlands National Park and Bears Ears—the first preserve proposed by Native nations—bringing us right up to the 2020s. Controversies abound, and Thompson is an engaging storyteller and careful journalist.

By Jonathan P. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Thompson's investigative chops are impressive."

—SIERRA MAGAZINE

San Juan County, Utah, contains some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, rich in natural wonders and Indigenous culture and history. But it's also long been plagued with racism, bitterness, and politics as twisted as the beckoning canyons. In 2017, en route to the Valley of the Gods with his spouse, a Colorado man closed the gate on a corral. Two weeks later, the couple was facing felony charges. Award–winning journalist Jonathan P. Thompson places the case in its fraught historical context and—alongside personal stories from a life shaped by slickrock…


Book cover of A Quick Trip to Moab: Insurrection in the Wilderness

Stephen Trimble Author Of The Capitol Reef Reader

From my list on Utah Canyon Country.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long ago, in college in Colorado, I discovered Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire—the classic that grew from journals he kept while a ranger at Utah’s Arches National Park. I’d grown up in the West, visiting national parks and revering park rangers. Abbey gave me the model—live and write in these wild places. After graduating, I snagged jobs myself as a seasonal ranger/naturalist at Arches and Capitol Reef national parks. I was thrilled. Since then, I’ve spent decades exploring and photographing Western landscapes. After working on 25 books about natural history, Native peoples, and conservation, Capitol Reef still remains my “home park” and Utah Canyon Country my spiritual home.  

Stephen's book list on Utah Canyon Country

Stephen Trimble Why did Stephen love this book?

Kevin Jones’s rollicking page-turner takes place in the San Rafael Swell, just north of Capitol Reef—my home territory. All these southern Utah canyons share the same wild beauty and face the same threats. Jones was famously fired as Utah state archaeologist for standing up for Native rights, and his deep love of cultural history and rock art elevate this thriller into the ranks of regional classics. In his yarn, a regular guy—our hero, Stan—stops along the highway with his dog, Speck. A desperate woman, Lily, hides there and needs help. As all three are swept into a chase through the Swell, pursued by armed anti-wilderness extremists, Jones’s characters thoughtfully ponder the future of public lands while racing for their lives. We’re with them all the way. 

By Kevin T. Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Quick Trip to Moab as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anti-wilderness protesters have taken over a portion of eastern Utah. Stan Watson, driving to Moab, stops by the highway to walk his dog Speck, and encounters a woman who begs him for help. When he offers Lily and her injured husband a ride, they are confronted by armed men, and Stan is in for a nightmare he had not anticipated. Chased through the wildlands by rag-tag extremists riding off-road vehicles, Stan, Lily, and Frank, a lost reporter, face dehydration, starvation, and murder at the hands of their pursuers. When Stan and Frank become incapacitated, Lily and Speck lead them through…


Book cover of Thunderhead

M. S. Spencer Author Of Hidden Gem: The Secret of St. Augustine

From my list on treasure hunts.

Why am I passionate about this?

For much too long a perennial student, I hold degrees in Anthropology, Arabic Studies, and Library Science. I’ve studied nine languages and lived or traveled on five of the seven continents. I do not hunt tangible treasure—gold or jewels or sunken ships; I hunt knowledge. My love for rooting out treasure troves of information began with my first job. I held passes to the Library of Congress stacks, where I tracked down sources on Ethiopian history. After months of unearthing mostly obscure references, I came upon the mother lode—the great explorers’ accounts. It was like finding a chest of doubloons. I was hooked on the treasure of the mind.

M.S.'s book list on treasure hunts

M. S. Spencer Why did M.S. love this book?

Nora Kelly, assistant professor at the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute, assembles an expedition to find the lost city of Quivira—Coronado’s City of Gold. Their footsteps are dogged by a pair of murderous, pelt-covered creatures. After unimaginable horrors, they at last discover the pueblo city and its treasure—but in an ironic twist, it isn’t gold at all.

I recommend every single one of Preston and Child’s thrillers. Superbly written and, though fantastic, they never lack a good grounding in science. Thunderhead is particularly alluring to me because of the descriptions of the sere landscape of the slot canyons and high desert of southwest Utah.

By Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On a visit to her family's abandoned Santa Fe ranch, archaeologist Nora Kelly discovers an old letter, written from her father to her mother, now both dead. What perplexes Nora is the fact that the faded envelope was mailed and postmarked only a few weeks earlier.
Her father had vanished into the remote canyon country of Utah 16 years before, searching for Quivira, the fabled Lost City of Gold, whose legend has captivated explorers since the days of Coronado. Upon reading the letter, Nora learns that her father believed he had, in fact, located the lost city. But what happened…


Book cover of The Never-Open Desert Diner

Rick Bleiweiss Author Of Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives

From my list on fun mysteries you may never have read.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a mystery reader my entire life, starting with the Hardy Boys series as a child and then progressing to authors like Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Chester Himes, Ellery Queen, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and many, many others. I love trying to figure out the crime or mystery before the reveal, but usually don’t. And, I have always truly enjoyed mystery books which have humor and quirky characters in them. More recently, I have become an award-winning mystery novelist myself, having published both a historical fiction mystery series and stories set in contemporary times in an ongoing anthology series that combines murder, mystery, and music.

Rick's book list on fun mysteries you may never have read

Rick Bleiweiss Why did Rick love this book?

This book grabbed me so much that I constantly remember the joy I had in reading it over five years ago.

It is an offbeat, but very well-crafted mystery featuring quirky, but unforgettable, characters in an unusual setting in rural, off-the-beaten-path Utah – and its mystery is perfectly crafted. It is literate, funny, challenging, compelling, and powerful. It’s not often that you find a book in which one of the characters is a cellist.

I could not put this book down once I started reading it.

By James Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Never-Open Desert Diner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A singularly compelling debut novel, about a desert where people go to escape their past, and a truck driver who finds himself at risk when he falls in love with a mysterious woman.

Ben Jones lives a quiet, hardscrabble life, working as a trucker on Route 117, a little-travelled road in a remote region of the Utah desert which serves as a haven for fugitives and others looking to hide from the world. For many of the desert’s inhabitants, Ben's visits are their only contact with the outside world, and the only landmark worth noting is a once-famous roadside diner…


Book cover of Roadside Geology of Utah

Maya Silver Author Of Moon Zion & Bryce: With Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante & Moab

From my list on featuring the American Southwest desert.

Why am I passionate about this?

Even though I’m from humid DC, I’ve been drawn to the desert since I first set foot there as a kid on a family road trip. Now, I’m lucky enough to live in Utah, home to some of the world’s most legendary desert landscapes. One reason I love the desert is the otherworldly scenery: uncanny arches, bizarre hoodoos, and sand dunes you could disappear into. Before your eyes, layers of geologic time unfold in epochs. The desert is a great place for contemplating the past and future—and for great adventures, with endless sandstone walls to climb, slick rock to bike, and sagebrush-lined trails to hike.

Maya's book list on featuring the American Southwest desert

Maya Silver Why did Maya love this book?

Organized by the roads of Utah, this book helps you make sense of what you’re looking at out the window and along the trail. This is an essential guide to keep in your car if you’re road-tripping through the state!

Written by the late female geologist Halka Chronic and her two daughters, this book has great maps, photos, and writing that will turn you into an armchair geologist in no time and give you a deeper appreciation for the mountains, canyons, spires, and more formations of the Utah desert and beyond. 

By Felicie Williams, Lucy Chronic, Halka Chronic

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Arches National Park. Bryce Canyon. Zion. When one thinks of Utah, it�s rocks and iconic landforms�preserved in a nearly endless list of national parks and monuments�come immediately to mind. Perhaps more so than any other state, Utah is built for geologic exploration, and geologists/authors Felicie Williams, Lucy Chronic, and Halka Chronic are its expert tour guides.
The Beehive State is splitting at the seams with wondrous geological contrast. Utah�s high mountains, showcasing the results of what happens as the Earth bends, folds, and breaks itself apart, run like a backbone down the center of the state. To the east, the…


Book cover of The Executioner's Song

Rick R. Reed Author Of The Man from Milwaukee

From my list on true crime that would be criminal not to read.

Why am I passionate about this?

I chose this list for two reasons—one, true crime has always held great fascination for me. I have a real hunger to understand the motivations behind the darkest sides of human nature, which I believe exists in us all. My own book, The Man from Milwaukee, dives deep into this obsession by sympathetically portraying a closeted young gay man in 1991 Chicago, who sees the cannibal killer as a victim himself of his own irresistible murderous impulses, likening them to our main character’s own self-loathing toward his same-sex desires. 

Rick's book list on true crime that would be criminal not to read

Rick R. Reed Why did Rick love this book?

Mailer’s opus dramatizes the cursed life of Gary Gilmore. In 1976, he robbed and killed two strangers. After being tried and sentenced to death, Gilmore insisted on being executed, to the disagreement of the justice system, who wanted him to remain alive. Written simply and with great compassion, the novel is disturbing, yet ultimately thought-provoking and redemptive.

By Norman Mailer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Executioner's Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ANDREW O'HAGAN

In the summer of 1976 Gary Gilmore robbed two men. Then he shot them in cold blood. For those murders Gilmore was sent to languish on Death Row - and could confidently expect his sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. In America, no one had been executed for ten years.

But Gary Gilmore wanted to die, and his ensuing battle with the authorities for the right to do so made him into a world-wide celebrity - and ensured that his execution turned into the most gruesome media event of the decade.


Book cover of Autoboyography

Louise Willingham Author Of Not Quite Out

From my list on coming out.

Why am I passionate about this?

Louise is a geographer and writer from Staffordshire, England, where she aims to someday own a house with a library. Until then, she is collecting books of all genres – from romantic YA to true crime – and working on improving her embroidery skills. She can often be found either yelling about queer rights or walking through the countryside sometimes both!

Louise's book list on coming out

Louise Willingham Why did Louise love this book?

Coming out once is difficult, but going back into the closet is a unique sort of challenge. Tanner and Sebastian fall in love when neither of them are exactly ready for it, and their conflicting backgrounds make it difficult for them to reach a happy medium. No spoilers, but this book presented the pain of coming out – or not better than any other I’ve read.

By Christina Lauren,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Autoboyography 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?

Coming-of-age novel about two boys who fall in love in a writing class-one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.

Three years ago, Tanner Scott's family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High's prestigious Seminar-where honor roll students diligently toil to draft…


Book cover of Sonic Memories and other essays

Athena Dixon Author Of The Incredible Shrinking Woman

From my list on for growing up and finding your voice.

Why am I passionate about this?

Finding a voice is something I struggled with since childhood. Always afraid of being invisible or silent, finding common ground with writers who excelled at relating the human condition became a safe haven. I made a choice to focus on creative work that explores what is means to be simply human--to examine the hopes, needs, wants, and energies that make our daily lives move.

Athena's book list on for growing up and finding your voice

Athena Dixon Why did Athena love this book?

Sonic Memories makes the best use of a compact space without losing any of the narrative depth and emotional impact. This small collection of essays uses sound and music as its top note all the while using the silence in between to showcase a rich memoir-like exploration of Black girlhood growing into Black womanhood.

By Cija Jefferson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sonic Memories and other essays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sonic Memories is a debut collection of personal essays written and designed by the author.

These true stories begin in Utah in the late seventies. The author is two and her parents are hopeful newlyweds in their early twenties. We follow the family back to Maryland where her father's dream to practice law disintegrates when he doesn’t pass the bar after several attempts. His upwardly mobile hopes for his family are dashed, and the fallout from that—a fear of being trapped in a life of poverty and dreams deferred—dogs the author through most of her young adult/adult life. In these…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Utah, British Columbia, and country music?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Utah, British Columbia, and country music.

Utah Explore 23 books about Utah
British Columbia Explore 48 books about British Columbia
Country Music Explore 96 books about country music