10 books like The Milagro Beanfield War

By John Nichols,

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

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Death Comes for the Archbishop

By Willa Cather,

Book cover of Death Comes for the Archbishop

I read Death Comes for the Archbishop when I was fifteen. It was my first encounter with literary prose that was not assigned by a teacher, and it changed my life for the better by giving me a better understanding of myself and the human drama. I thought at the time: This is the best book I ever read. I re-read the novel in 2017 and thought: This is the best book I ever read. There’s no sex in it, but it’s a love story between two men. Cather’s novel has guided my work as a writer for more than sixty-five years.

Death Comes for the Archbishop

By Willa Cather,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Death Comes for the Archbishop as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of the most highly acclaimed novelists of the twentieth century—"a truly remarkable book" (The New York Times),an epic—almost mythic—story of a single human life lived simply in the silence of the southwestern desert.

In 1851 Father Jean Marie Latour comes to serve as the Apostolic Vicar to New Mexico. What he finds is a vast territory of red hills and tortuous arroyos, American by law but Mexican and Indian in custom and belief. In the almost forty years that follow, Latour spreads his faith in the only way he knows—gently, all the while contending with an unforgiving landscape,…


Alburquerque

By Rudolfo Anaya,

Book cover of Alburquerque

I was a fan of Anaya’s well-known novel, Bless Me, Ultima, and was intrigued that this title’s spelling itself was significant, returning the first ‘r’ to the city name a century after it was dropped by a white station owner. Anaya blends fantasy with history, examining the myth of racial purity and offering a different take on being a New Mexican and our connection to the land. He also departs from a familiar depiction of Albuquerque as a sleepy western town and paints it as a vibrant metropolis with all the associated political machinations. Mostly though, I felt a strong connection with the protagonist, an up-and-coming boxer who learns he was adopted and questions the definition of identity. 

Alburquerque

By Rudolfo Anaya,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book is a winner of PEN Center West Award for Fiction. Abran Gonzalez is a homeboy from the barrio, a young boxer whose world is shattered forever the night he is summoned to his mother's deathbed. He learns he is the son of an unknown Mexican man - a man he is desperately compelled to find. His quest will bring him in contact with many unpleasant characters.


A History of the Jews in New Mexico

By Henry J. Tobias,

Book cover of A History of the Jews in New Mexico

This is a nonfiction book and typical of New Mexico, as there are whole chapters of its history nobody really knows about. The (probably) first white American woman to come into the territory was a Jewish woman who accompanied her merchant husband and brothers. Even more interesting, merchants and traders weren’t even the first Jewish people - “Crypto-Jews” who were fleeing the inquisition came to New Mexico long before it was part of the US and kept their identity secret to assimilate. This is depicted with a character in Alburquerque and that perfectly encapsulates one of the overriding things about New Mexico and its tales – a deep sense of connectedness, across people, across the land. 

A History of the Jews in New Mexico

By Henry J. Tobias,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A History of the Jews in New Mexico as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this first history of the Jews in New Mexico--from the colonial period to the present day--the author continuously ties the Jewish experience to the evolution of the societies in which they lived and worked. The book begins with one of the least known but most fascinating aspects of New Mexico Jewry--the crypto-Jews who came north to escape the Mexican Inquisition. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the story is more familiar: German merchants settling in Las Vegas and Santa Fe and then coming to Albuquerque after the railroad arrived. To these accounts the author adds considerable nuance and detail,…


Skinwalkers

By Tony Hillerman,

Book cover of Skinwalkers

I have long been intrigued by the concept of shapeshifters, particularly the Navajo Skinwalker, a practitioner of spiritual arts who can learn to transform into another species while in pursuit of a particular end. I am not alone,  judging from all the ancient legends around the globe. Even today, depictions of shapeshifters are found in literature and on film in many guises. Tony Hillerman takes a deep dive into Navajo lore in this early novel with a close encounter with a suspected “yee naaldlooshii”. Feel the hair rise on your neck!

Skinwalkers

By Tony Hillerman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Don’t Miss the AMC television series, Dark Winds, based on the Leaphorn, Chee, & Manuelito novels, coming this summer! 

From New York Times bestselling author Tony Hillerman, Skinwalkers is the seventh novel featuring Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee—a riveting tale of sorcery, secrets, and murder.

Three shotgun blasts rip through the side of Officer Jim Chee’s trailer as the Navajo Tribal Policeman sleeps. He survives, but the inexplicable attack has raised disturbing questions about a lawman once beyond reproach.

Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn wonders why Chee was a target and what connection the assault has to a series of…


So Far from God

By Ana Castillo,

Book cover of So Far from God

When I read So Far From God, it did two things. First, it helped me understand this genre that was created by Latin American authors. Lois Parkinson Zamora said, “Magical realism is characterized by...its capacity to create (magical) meanings by envisioning ordinary things in extraordinary ways.” I understood what that meant when I read So Far From God. In the first chapter alone, one of the main characters, La Loca, dies and comes back to life. Her death was ordinary and extraordinary. I was hooked. 

Perhaps more importantly, in reading Castillo’s novel, I saw our shared Latina history, culture, and perspective through the stories she told. It was the first book that validated my experience as a Latina which is why it’ll always be close to my heart.

So Far from God

By Ana Castillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked So Far from God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sofia and her fated daughters, Fe, Esperanza, Caridad, and la Loca, endure hardship and enjoy love in the sleepy New Mexico hamlet of Tome, a town teeming with marvels where the comic and the horrific, the real and the supernatural, reside.


Die Noon

By Elise Sax,

Book cover of Die Noon

Matilda moves to the small New Mexico town of Goodnight after inheriting a house, a small newspaper, and two dogs. She learns just how odd the town is when she starts investigating the murder of a reporter. The town of Goodnight is pretty bizarre, but speaking as someone who lives in a small town in New Mexico, Goodnight is more believable than it might seem to an outsider. I prefer books where weirdness is something to celebrate, and here the characters embrace their crazy with enthusiastic joy. This story is part screwball comedy and part mystery, and both work.

Die Noon

By Elise Sax,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Matilda Dare can’t sleep. Her insomnia is one more reason to move to the quirky small town of Goodnight, New Mexico after she inherits a house, a small newspaper, and two old dogs there. But despite the Goodnight name, Matilda still spends hers wide awake, and she has good reason after a reporter is murdered. With a mystery to solve, she begins to investigate the town and uncovers more suspects than she knows what to do with.

Meanwhile, the hottie cowboy sheriff is doing his own investigation into Matilda, and the mysterious, handsome stranger, who just happens to live with…


Old Cold Cannibal

By Todd Maternowski,

Book cover of Old Cold Cannibal

Old Cold Cannibal is a bit of an outlier in this list, as it doesn’t fully conform to the Douglas Adams/Terry Pratchett style of humor/narration or plotting. But it’s a unique book with an amazing voice. I have a soft spot for harsh 1800s white narrators whose doubling down on arrogance and (historically accurate) racism wrap around from being awful to weirdly and unsettlingly charming. Old Cold Cannibal delivers on that 100% and allows it to infuse some humor into what is otherwise a very dark and disturbing narrative that follows a journey across the pre-Civil War U.S. to find and slay a dragon. It’s a rough, but entertaining read.

Old Cold Cannibal

By Todd Maternowski,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

1849. Two men —professional con artists on the run— cross the dangerous deserts and plains of Texas and New Mexico, on a quest to find and slay a Dragon that has laid waste to the countryside.


One of the Boys

By Daniel Magariel,

Book cover of One of the Boys

Dealing with an addicted child or sibling is traumatic enough; when the addict is your parent, the person who is supposed to protect and support you, the fear and betrayal are ramped up to an unbearable level. One of the Boys captures this in all its harrowing detail. Two barely teenaged boys move with their father from Kansas to New Mexico, where the father’s descent into meth addiction obliterates any sense of responsibility, affection, and decency he might once have possessed. Narrated by the younger son, One of the Boys is more than a realistic depiction of addiction; it also shows how far children will go to gain or retain a parent’s love, which is what makes the story so devastating.

One of the Boys

By Daniel Magariel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A father and his boys have won 'the war': the father's term for his bitter divorce and custody battle. They leave Kansas and drive through the night to their new apartment in Albuquerque. Settled in new schools, the brothers join basketball teams, make friends. Meanwhile their father works from home, smoking cheap cigars to hide another smell. Soon his missteps - the dead-eyed absentmindedness, the late-night noises, the comings and goings of increasingly odd characters - become sinister, and the boys find themselves watching him transform into someone they no longer recognize.

Set in the stark landscape of New Mexico…


The Cartel

By Don Winslow,

Book cover of The Cartel

If you’re looking for someone who can develop characters, it’s Don Winslow. I chose Winslow’s novel, The Cartel, due to my close association with drug enforcement while employed as an FBI agent. The choice I made couldn’t have been more fascinating. The character descriptions were so well written that I felt I was in the same room with them as they carried out their riveting schemes. Winslow employs betrayal, corruption, and dialogue in ways that bind you, as the reader, to the pages with all the tenacity and veracity you can handle. A dramatic and deep insight into the drug trade with all the realism you can imagine. This book is thorough and I was very impressed.

The Cartel

By Don Winslow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling second novel in the explosive Power of the Dog series—an action-filled look at the drug trade that takes you deep inside a world riddled with corruption, betrayal, and bloody revenge.

Book Two of the Power of the Dog Series

It’s 2004. Adán Barrera, kingpin of El Federación, is languishing in a California federal prison. Ex-DEA agent Art Keller passes his days in a monastery, having lost everything to his thirty-year blood feud with the drug lord. Then Barrera escapes. Now, there’s a two-million-dollar bounty on Keller’s head and no one else capable of taking Barrera…


The Sea Of Grass

By Conrad Richter,

Book cover of The Sea Of Grass

The Sea of Grass is a short novel, standard in length for the time in which it was published (1936), close in time to other short classics such as The Grapes of Wrath and The Postman Always Rings Twice. It is written in first person, and in some respects, it suggests the influence of The Great Gatsby, another short masterpiece some ten years earlier, with an observer narrator, an elegiac tone, an evocative prose style, and interesting figurative language. This novel, like many, draws upon the range war (nesters versus the cattle empire) for its premise, but it becomes a very interesting exploration of human nature and the inevitable passing of time. 

The Sea Of Grass

By Conrad Richter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Published in 1936, this novel presents in epic scope the conflicts in the settling of the American Southwest. Set in New Mexico in the late 19th century, The Sea of Grass concerns the often violent clashes between the pioneering ranchers, whose cattle range freely through the vast sea of grass, and the farmers, or "nesters," who build fences and turn the sod. Against this background is set the triangle of rancher Colonel Jim Brewton, his unstable Eastern wife Lutie, and the ambitious Brice Chamberlain. Richter casts the story in Homeric terms, with the children caught up in the conflicts of…


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