100 books like The Last Sin Eater

By Francine Rivers,

Here are 100 books that The Last Sin Eater fans have personally recommended if you like The Last Sin Eater. 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 To Kill a Mockingbird

Paul Lamb Author Of One-Match Fire

From my list on understand the joys and sorrows of being a father.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the natural course as a young man, I became a husband and a father. I have four children and eleven grandchildren. Fatherhood has been the most difficult yet rewarding job of my life. You never stop being a parent. So, it was inevitable that this would become a subject of my writing. I have tried to be a compassionate caregiver and a positive role model to my children; you’ll have to ask them if I’ve succeeded. In my novel, I try to depict two fathers (and their two sons) as good yet flawed men, doing their best and finding their way. Just as all fathers do.

Paul's book list on understand the joys and sorrows of being a father

Paul Lamb Why did Paul love this book?

I think Atticus Finch represents the best qualities in a father and a man. If he is idealized, as many have said, it is an ideal all fathers can aspire to.

I first read this in high school, and I’m not sure I was mature enough to appreciate it. Later, it was a selection in the book discussion group I was in, where we focused less on the characters and more on the themes. When I read it a third time on my own, as an adult and father, I came to appreciate how Atticus Finch models the behavior he wants to see in the world, and that, I think, is the most effective form of fathering.

By Harper Lee,

Why should I read it?

32 authors picked To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel - a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped…

Book cover of Peace Like a River

Maureen McQuerry Author Of Between Before and After

From my list on family secrets with a literary voice and a touch of wonder.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always believed in magic, the kind that’s just around the corner, out of view. I loved books and libraries. So, it was no surprise that I became a teacher, and later, a poet and novelist. Now, as the author of four novels, I want my books to capture what I love best from poetry and teaching: beautiful, unexpected language, a touch of wonder, and themes that probe the big questions of life. A library shows up in most of my novels along with a bit of the fantastic.

Maureen's book list on family secrets with a literary voice and a touch of wonder

Maureen McQuerry Why did Maureen love this book?

Wow. The voice in this book takes my breath away. I’ve never read anything else quite like it.

There’s a plot full of adventure, tragedy, and healing, but mostly, there is Rueben Land and his sister Swede, two of the most compelling characters in literature. The story begins with a miracle when Rueben’s father commands his newly stillborn son to breathe.

Questions about miracles, hope, faith, and redemption pepper the story with no easy answers, again asking: What does it mean to be human? That’s a question all great literature grapples with.

By Leif Enger,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Peace Like a River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Israel Finch and Tommy Basca, the town bullies, break into the home of school caretaker Jeremiah Land, wielding a baseball bat and looking for trouble, they find more of it than even they expected. For seventeen-year-old Davey is sitting up in bed waiting for them with a Winchester rifle. His younger brother Reuben has seen their father perform miracles, but Jeremiah now seems as powerless to prevent Davey from being arrested for manslaughter, as he has always been to ease Reuben's daily spungy struggle to breathe. Nor does brave and brilliant nine-year-old Swede, obsessed as she is with the…

Book cover of This Tender Land

Brenda Smith Author Of Becoming Fearless: Finding Courage in the African Wilderness

From my list on surviving and finding courage in the wilderness.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the daughter of a prim and proper New England family, expectations were that I would follow societal norms: attend college, get married, and raise a family. I knew practically nothing about the world outside the United States, nor had I any curiosity about it. Everything changed in 1980 when I took a job as an accountant working for one of the world’s greatest adventurers, Richard Bangs. He literally dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the remotest heart of Africa, where I became infected by wanderlust. Ever since, as a single woman, I have embraced a life of adventure traveling around our amazing planet.

Brenda's book list on surviving and finding courage in the wilderness

Brenda Smith Why did Brenda love this book?

This story also tells of a river journey by four young orphans who in 1932 escape from a horrid Indian training school and travel for months down the Mississippi River. They head into the unknown, unprotected from the perils they encounter.

On my journey, I needed to be constantly vigilant for natural predators like lions, hippos, and crocs. These children had to be on the lookout for human predators: the search party sent looking for them, drifters, grifters, and traveling faith healers. Facing each obstacle we encountered on our trips, we managed not only to survive but actually thrive in hostile surroundings.

By William Kent Krueger,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked This Tender Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1932, Minnesota-the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O'Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent's wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own.

Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will fly into the unknown and cross paths with others…

Book cover of Ordinary Grace

Kelly Flanagan Author Of The Unhiding of Elijah Campbell

From my list on making you fall in love with male protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a clinical psychologist, a man, and a human being on his own journey of healing and becoming, I suppose I’m interested in stories with struggling but lovable male protagonists because I’m the struggling male protagonist in my own life story, learning how to fall in love again with myself and my story and the little boy who lives on within me. The courage my clients show in the process of facing their pain and finding something beautiful in it is inspiring to me. I hope my life reflects that courage, too. And I want to write stories that give others hope and inspiration for this kind of healing, as well.  

Kelly's book list on making you fall in love with male protagonists

Kelly Flanagan Why did Kelly love this book?

I remember as a boy weeping at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows, not because the dogs died, but because Billy Colman returned decades later to find the rusted axe from that fateful night still stuck in the tree. Great books show us time isn’t linear; it’s like an accordion folding over on itself, so a pivotal moment from our past can, in some mysterious way, always feel present. Here. Somehow on the tip of time’s tongue. It makes you ache with the fullness of your story, your life. The ending of Ordinary Grace did that to me. As I turned the final pages, I wept, my kids pounding on the locked door of the bedroom, and my own childhood pounding on the door of my heart. 

By William Kent Krueger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


From New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger, a brilliant new novel about a young man, a small town, and murder in the summer of 1961.

"That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word."

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their…

Book cover of Look Homeward, Angel

Beverly A. Li Author Of The Elbow Grease Legacy

From my list on seeking to unravel dysfunctional family cycles.

Why am I passionate about this?

It took a career as a librarian to help me understand my need for order, instead of the emotional chaos I grew up with in a large family. Being the child of an alcoholic father and a codependent mother gave me little personal value. After gaining some sense of worth in college, I wanted to give my kids the stability and support every child deserves, but I had to learn how to do this. I used my resources: education, self-scrutiny, honesty, art, nature, and the good Lord of the universe.

Beverly's book list on seeking to unravel dysfunctional family cycles

Beverly A. Li Why did Beverly love this book?

As a leader in autobiographical fiction, Wolfe writes of a large family dominated by an alcoholic, authoritarian father who is highly dramatic in words and behavior.

His wife’s determination to survive by running a boarding house and investing in real estate leaves little time for parental attention to the needs of their children.

While most grow to repeat the dysfunctional family habits that hinder healthy development, the youngest child, with the help of his teachers, struggles enough to finally take steps away from the pain, and out of the cycle, as I did with my own life.

By Thomas Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Look Homeward, Angel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The spectacular, history-making first novel about a young man’s coming of age by literary legend Thomas Wolfe, first published in 1929 and long considered a classic of twentieth century literature.

A legendary author on par with William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Wolfe published Look Homeward, Angel, his first novel, about a young man’s burning desire to leave his small town and tumultuous family in search of a better life, in 1929. It gave the world proof of his genius and launched a powerful legacy.

The novel follows the trajectory of Eugene Gant, a brilliant and restless young man whose…

Book cover of Winter's Bone

Carl Vonderau Author Of Saving Myles

From my list on thrillers that are as much about family as danger.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a former international banker and now a prize-winning author. My books take place in the financial world. However, my writing principle is that behind every crime is a family. In my thrillers, the crime amplifies the family dysfunction. My characters can only survive by growing and coming together. If you like character development, as well as the twists and turns of a good plot, you will like the novels that I recommend. 

Carl's book list on thrillers that are as much about family as danger

Carl Vonderau Why did Carl love this book?

This is one of the few thrillers that brought tears to my eyes.

Ree, a teenage girl, must save her family by negotiating with the violent inhabitants of the Ozarks. Ree’s father has disappeared from his trial and, if she doesn’t find him, the family will lose everything they own because he pledged it as collateral for his bail bond.

I love how Woodrell portrayed her loyalty and fierceness, as well as how he wrote the deeply flawed characters who love her. His descriptions and metaphorical uses of winter and the landscape are breathtaking.

The book is literary but also has great narrative propulsion.

By Daniel Woodrell,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Winter's Bone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a fiercely original tale of love, heartbreak and resilience in the lonely wastes of the American Midwest. The last time Ree saw her father, he didn't bring food or money but promised he'd be back soon with a paper sack of cash and a truckload of delights. Since he left, she's had to look after her mother - sedated and losing her looks - and her two younger brothers. Ree hopes the boys won't turn out like the others in the Ozark mountains - hard and mean before they've learnt to shave. One cold winter's day, Ree discovers…

Book cover of Gap Creek

Solveig Eggerz Author Of Seal Woman

From my list on where characters don’t mingle much and talk funny.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written all my life. This includes freelance writing as well as reporter jobs at small, weekly newspapers in the DC/VA area. I have also taught writing (creative and technical writing) to students as diverse as jail inmates, residents of homeless shelters, military officers at the Pentagon, CIA employees, and firefighters at Ronald Reagan National Airport. Both of my published novels are works of historical fiction set in my native Iceland: Seal Woman and Sigga of Reykjavik. These novels cover the time 1908 to 1955, a period when Iceland was a little-known island. I have always been drawn to novels about isolated, cold-weather places where unusual characters and mannerisms flourish. 

Solveig's book list on where characters don’t mingle much and talk funny

Solveig Eggerz Why did Solveig love this book?

This depiction of a life of poverty in southern Appalachia around 1900 would be too sad to warrant its reading, were it not for its strong and sensitive narrator, Julie Harmon. The author describes the mundane details of butchering a hog or washing of a dead man’s feet within the context of the marriage of Hank and Julie, poor, uneducated, and perhaps mismatched young people who face one adversity after another. The details of ordinary life blossom into unexpected meaning in the interpretation of a sensitive narrator who not only cherishes details, but who is also exquisitely aware of her own feelings. She speaks in the straightforward language of an uneducated person rather than in the flowery prose of a voice attuned to expressing itself. Yet her presentation takes on the poetry of a clever woman gifted with a unique interiority.

Through Julie, the author renders nuanced feelings in a…

By Robert Morgan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller & Oprah's Book Club Pick

Young Julie Harmon works “hard as a man,” they say, so hard that at times she’s not sure she can stop. People depend on her to slaughter the hogs and nurse the dying. People are weak, and there is so much to do. At just seventeen she marries and moves down into the valley of Gap Creek, where perhaps life will be better.

But Julie and Hank’s new life in the valley, in the last years of the nineteenth century, is more complicated than the couple ever imagined. Sometimes it’s…

Book cover of Cold Mountain

David L. Robbins Author Of War of the Rats

From my list on love and war and describing both battlefields.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve penned (so far) seventeen novels, most set during some historical conflict or other, all of them revolving around intense personal relationships (loyalty, love, betrayal, those sorts of profound truths). I tend to read the sorts of books I wish to write. I also teach creative writing at a university (VCU); I tell my students that if they want to really know what a character is made of, shoot at them or have them fall in love. In my own work, I do both.

David's book list on love and war and describing both battlefields

David L. Robbins Why did David love this book?

When Inman decides he’s had enough of the Civil War, he takes a very long walk home. Along his path, he encounters the detritus of the conflict in shattered land and people. Meanwhile, his love, Ada, tries to cobble together some remnants of her former life.

Maybe a book out of fashion these days because it’s set in the defeated South, and that I understand. However, it remains a masterclass in style, vision, plot, and insight. 

By Charles Frazier,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Cold Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1997, Charles Frazier’s debut novel Cold Mountain made publishing history when it sailed to the top of The New York Times best-seller list for sixty-one weeks, won numerous literary awards, including the National Book Award, and went on to sell over three million copies. Now, the beloved American epic returns, reissued by Grove Press to coincide with the publication of Frazier’s eagerly-anticipated second novel, Thirteen Moons. Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, a Confederate soldier named Inman decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge mountains to Ada, the woman he loves.…

Book cover of God's Little Acre

Lillah Lawson Author Of Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree

From my list on Southern Gothic with a heart.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of three novels (with two more set to release next year); Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree; The Dead Rockstar Trilogy; and I'm happiest when straddling literary genres. I have published works of historical fiction, as well as southern gothic, horror, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, and literary fiction. My debut, Monarchs Under the Sassafras Tree was nominated for Georgia Author of the Year in 2020. In addition to writing, I am a genealogist and recently went back to school to obtain my history degree. My love of writing, history, and family all intersect to inform my writing and I always set my characters in good old Georgia.

Lillah's book list on Southern Gothic with a heart

Lillah Lawson Why did Lillah love this book?

Erskine Caldwell is deeply underrated; for my money, he’s one of the best southern gothic writers in the genre. Perhaps it’s down to the risque nature of his books and characters, which were especially provocative (and in some cases, downright despicable) for the time period. However, beyond the depravity there is a real beating heart in his books that perfectly capture the desperation and grief of depression-era Georgia. 

By Erskine Caldwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God's Little Acre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Like Tobacco Road, this novel chronicles the final decline of a poor white family in rural Georgia. Exhorted by their patriarch Ty Ty, the Waldens ruin their land by digging it up in search of gold. Complex sexual entanglements and betrayals lead to a murder within the family that completes its dissolution. Juxtaposed against the Waldens' obsessive search is the story of Ty Ty's son-in-law, a cotton mill worker in a nearby town who is killed during a strike.

First published in 1933, God's Little Acre was censured by the Georgia Literary Commission, banned in Boston, and once led the…

Book cover of This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind

Katie Powner Author Of Where the Blue Sky Begins

From my list on small towns with big hearts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up on a dairy farm on the outskirts of a town with about a hundred residents. I remember walking to town with my sister and two brothers to buy candy and rent a VHS movie from the tiny grocery store. My first job off the farm was doing dishes at the local café, where my father and the other farmers would drink coffee and read the newspaper at table 10. These experiences shaped me as a person and hooked me on small-town living. I believe it’s the people in the smallest of towns that have the biggest of hearts.

Katie's book list on small towns with big hearts

Katie Powner Why did Katie love this book?

I’ve lived in Montana for over twenty years, so any books related to Montana get my attention. This book in particular, however, is so much more than just a memoir about growing up in the wilds of Big Sky Country. It’s a beautiful and poetic masterpiece that pays homage to the tiny towns and quirky community members that gave Ivan Doig a sense of home and family as a child. I enjoyed reading the familiar names of towns and mountains that I’ve grown to love during my time in Montana, and I especially appreciate how Doig shows us that the size of people’s hearts is more important than the size of their town.

By Ivan Doig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

National Book Award Finalist: A “beautifully written, deeply felt” memoir about growing up in the American West (Los Angeles Times).
Ivan Doig grew up in the rugged wilderness of western Montana among the sheepherders and denizens of small-town saloons and valley ranches. What he deciphers from his past with piercing clarity is not only a raw sense of land and how it shapes us, but also of the ties to our mothers and fathers, to those who love us, and our inextricable connection to those who shaped our values in our search for intimacy, independence, love, and family.
A powerfully…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in rural, coming of age, and bildungsroman?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about rural, coming of age, and bildungsroman.

Rural Explore 18 books about rural
Coming Of Age Explore 1,211 books about coming of age
Bildungsroman Explore 296 books about bildungsroman