100 books like The Old Forest and Other Stories

By Peter Taylor,

Here are 100 books that The Old Forest and Other Stories fans have personally recommended if you like The Old Forest and Other Stories. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of All the King's Men

Georg Loefflmann Author Of The Politics of Antagonism: Populist Security Narratives and the Remaking of Political Identity

From my list on understand how populism works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Lecturer in US Foreign Policy at Queen Mary University of London, and I work on issues of national security and identity, political rhetoric and the role of the everyday in shaping politics, especially media and popular culture. I have written extensively on American politics and US foreign policy over these past years with two published monographs and more than a dozen articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, plus a couple of op-eds and multiple TV and radio appearances. My most recent research project explores the role of populism under the Trump presidency and its political impact in the United States.

Georg's book list on understand how populism works

Georg Loefflmann Why did Georg love this book?

This book is maybe my favorite novel ever written about politics and the lengths that some men are willing to go in the pursuit of power.

It features a memorable cast of characters, most importantly, of course, the figure of Governor Willie Stark, the quintessential populist politician, who manipulates others for his own gain and demonstrates a total lack of morals. Set in the 1930s, the story of Stark’s rise to power and eventual downfall always strikes me for how contemporary it feels and how many parallels it offers with the populist politics of our own time. 

By Robert Penn Warren,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked All the King's Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16.

What is this book about?

Willie Stark's obsession with political power leads to the ultimate corruption of his gubernatorial administration.


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 Lie Down in Darkness

John Milliken Thompson Author Of The Reservoir: A Novel

From my list on non-Faulkner books from the American South.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in North Carolina and Washington, D.C., and have since lived in Arkansas and Virginia. My two novels are historical, set in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Virginia and North Carolina, and are heavily influenced by the great Southern writers. My books feature family dramas, how the land interacts with characters, questions of fate and personal action, and the decisions that change people’s lives. I love Faulkner, but you’ll find him on every list. He influenced every writer who came later, but there are plenty of other heavy hitters to choose from. Here are a few favorites.

John's book list on non-Faulkner books from the American South

John Milliken Thompson Why did John love this book?

I’ve read it twice, and I can only stand back in wonder at how a person could create such a magnificent work of art (his first novel) at age 26. For richness of character development, philosophical weight, and power of language, this is one for the ages. Though the subject matter is heavy, it’s not a difficult read. Yet there are passages where you’ll want to slow down and take in the music of the words.

By William Styron,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lie Down in Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this novel, the South looms dark and ominous in the background with its Biblical rhetoric, its conflict between a tradition of religious fundamentalism and modern scepticism, racial contrasts and the industrialisation of a rural society. But more than a novel of time and place, it is the story of a tormented family submerged in infidelity and driven by a vengeful love that is blocked, hurt and perverted. Peyton Loftis, who frantically needs a husband precisely because she loves her father; the decadent Milton, whose infidelity has made his marriage no more than a stage drama; and Helen, his wife,…


Book cover of The Dog of the South

John Milliken Thompson Author Of The Reservoir: A Novel

From my list on non-Faulkner books from the American South.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in North Carolina and Washington, D.C., and have since lived in Arkansas and Virginia. My two novels are historical, set in the late 1800s and early 1900s in Virginia and North Carolina, and are heavily influenced by the great Southern writers. My books feature family dramas, how the land interacts with characters, questions of fate and personal action, and the decisions that change people’s lives. I love Faulkner, but you’ll find him on every list. He influenced every writer who came later, but there are plenty of other heavy hitters to choose from. Here are a few favorites.

John's book list on non-Faulkner books from the American South

John Milliken Thompson Why did John love this book?

Has to be one of the funniest novels ever written: a road-trip story with weird characters, small-time conmen, and twisting dialogue that could’ve been assembled by Beckett. It’s impossible to predict where the story’s heading. There’s nothing like it out there, and it’s as different from Portis’s brilliant True Grit as Mark Twain from Cormac McCarthy (both of whom Portis resembles), and probably his best.

By Charles Portis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ray Midge is waiting for his credit card bill to arrive. His wife, Norma, has run off with her ex-husband, taking Ray's cards, shotgun and car. But from the receipts, Ray can track where they've gone. He takes off after them, as does an irritatingly tenacious bail bondsman, both following the romantic couple's spending as far as Mexico. There Ray meets Dr Reo Symes, the seemingly down-on-his-luck and rather eccentric owner of a beaten up and broken down bus, who needs a ride to Belize. The further they drive, in a car held together by coat-hangers and excesses of oil,…


Book cover of Final Vinyl Days: And Other Stories

Stephanie Kepke Author Of Feel No Evil

From my list on flawed, yet sympathetic characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

In second grade my teacher told me I should be a writer—I haven’t wavered in my path since. I was a voracious reader as a child and regularly snatched books off my mom’s night table. My love for flawed characters grew with each book I devoured. I felt a connection with these characters, which fueled my dream to become a writer. When I was twenty-one years old and studying writing, I wrote in my journal, “I want to write books that make people cry.” I love to explore the gray areas in life, and I’m honored that readers have told me my books do make them cry (and laugh). 

Stephanie's book list on flawed, yet sympathetic characters

Stephanie Kepke Why did Stephanie love this book?

I love this short story collection by Jill McCorkle, because Jill is a master of complex yet subtle emotions—it left me laughing out loud on one page and crying on the next. The characters in each story are flawed and multi-dimensional and so gloriously human that I rooted for them, despite any shortcomings.

In Your Husband Is Cheating on Us, I sympathized with the unnamed narrator/speaker because her humanity shines through, even though she’s the other woman coming clean to her affair partner’s wife (and I was even hoping for her morally murky proposal to succeed). I love the short story form, and this is one of my favorites, but they’re all stellar in this collection. It’s a Funeral! RSVP feels like chatting with a best friend who’s made some questionable decisions, but you love her anyway—especially when the narrator divulges her dark secret. It’s funny and tender and heartbreaking. 

By Jill McCorkle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Jill McCorkle feels a short story coming on, she goes right ahead and "wastes" wonderful ideas instead of hoarding them for a novel. The result is another extraordinary collection of stories and characters. In "It's a Funeral! RSVP," the storyteller is a woman who takes up self-styled "careers" that suit her circumstances. Now she's stumbled onto one that's so successful that she just can't quit. It's planning funerals, what she calls Going Out Parties, in which the clients are the soon-to-be-deceased themselves. In "Life Prerecorded," perhaps McCorkle's finest short piece to date, the pregnant narrator finds the real meaning…


Book cover of The Water Dancer

Henry G. Brinton Author Of War Bug

From my list on civil war novels and histories on global tensions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am saddened and frustrated by polarization in American life today, and I believe that the Civil War has lessons to teach us about how we can avoid deeper divisions in our country. I grew up in Maryland, a border state, and have relatives that fought for the North, as well as relatives who fought for the South. In addition, I have Quaker ancestors who hated slavery and supported the Union, but who would not fight because they were pacifists. I am passionate about understanding the tensions that have always run through American life, and want to explore the topic deeply in my reading and writing. 

Henry's book list on civil war novels and histories on global tensions

Henry G. Brinton Why did Henry love this book?

I had appreciated the author as a writer of insightful essays and opinion pieces, so I was intensely curious about his first work of fiction. He blew me away with his imaginative telling of the liberation of enslaved people during the Civil War. Fact and fiction dance back and forth in this book, which reveals the horrors of slavery while celebrating the joy of the unstoppable human quest for freedom.

By Ta-Nehisi Coates,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Water Dancer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE NEW YORK TIMES #1 BESTSELLER

OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK

'One of the best books I have ever read in my entire life. I haven't felt this way since I first read Beloved . . .' Oprah Winfrey

Lose yourself in the stunning debut novel everyone is talking about - the unmissable historical story of injustice and redemption that resonates powerfully today

Hiram Walker is a man with a secret, and a war to win. A war for the right to life, to family, to freedom.

Born into bondage on a Virginia plantation, he is also born gifted with a…


Book cover of Long Gone

Jerry Grillo Author Of The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton

From my list on stories for baseball omnivores.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a baseball history fanatic who writes on a wide range of topics for work and pleasure, which I’m glad to say often are the same thing. I’ve been a journalist for many years, even covered a few World Series, and I’ve written stories for books published by the Society for American Baseball Research. I’ve also written a lot about music, science, business, and politics, for newspapers and magazines. I’ve been a playwright, fortunate to have seen my work staged in different venues. And I also wrote a book called, The Music and Mythocracy of Col. Bruce Hampton: A Basically True Biography, which I’m really excited to tell you about in the next section!

Jerry's book list on stories for baseball omnivores

Jerry Grillo Why did Jerry love this book?

This novel by one of my favorite writers, the late, great Paul Hemphill – an icon of journalism and storytelling in the American South – is a hilarious, vaguely autobiographical story of life in the low minor leagues. Hemphill perfectly captures the language, grit, rhythm, and flow of minor league baseball in the mid-1950s, touching on issues of worker’s rights, segregation, sex, love, teamwork, and courage, without preaching or being sentimental.

My favorite moment in the book (and the terrific HBO movie version, starring William Peterson and Virginia Madsen) is when a Klan roadblock stops the Stogies’ team bus because they want to lynch the team’s star catcher, Joe Louis Brown, the only black player in the league – one the Stogies suggests, “let ‘em hang Whisenant, he’s only batting .179.”

By Paul Hemphill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A story with a heart of gold about love and the loss of innocence at the bottom of the most minor league in baseball-the class D Alabama-Florida League in the 1950s, with a sour old maverick manager, a yearning teenage second baseman, and a black catcher masquerading as a Venezuelan. "A first-rate novel."-Newsweek. "A sharp, unsentimental portrait of the minor league life...and Hemphill makes it all come to life, believably and memorably."-Sports Illustrated. "So good, so true, so funny..."-New York Times Book Review.


Book cover of The Hidden Wound

Neta Jackson Author Of The Yada Yada Prayer Group

From my list on friendship across racial and cultural barriers.

Why am I passionate about this?

During college, I attended an inner-city black church during the years of the civil rights movement—and it changed the course of my life. My husband and I have lived in diverse neighborhoods and attended multicultural churches for most of our 56 years of marriage, realizing we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters of color. But the biggest influence that caused me to write the Yada Yada Prayer Group novels was/is the prayer group of sisters of color that I’ve been part of for over 25 years. As we spent time together every week for years (!), these sisters helped turn my life and my faith upside down—or maybe “right side up.”

Neta's book list on friendship across racial and cultural barriers

Neta Jackson Why did Neta love this book?

Two people who worked for Wendell Berry’s family when he was a child had a profound effect on his life—“Aunt Georgie” Ashby and Nick Watkins. With the simplicity of their lives birthing profound wisdom, Berry credits them for helping to expose the hidden wound of racism and putting his feet on a path to reject the deeply ingrained racism of his youth. The result is a deeply thoughtful book of reflections and wisdom on the cancer that infects our society and what we must do to lance and heal it—if we will. A “must read” on your bookshelf.

By Wendell Berry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An impassioned, thoughtful, and fearless essay on the effects of racism on the American identity by one of our country’s most humane literary voices.

Acclaimed as “one of the most humane, honest, liberating works of our time” (The Village Voice), The Hidden Wound is a book-length essay about racism and the damage it has done to the identity of our country. Through Berry’s personal experience, he explains how remaining passive in the face of the struggle of racism further corrodes America’s great potential. In a quiet and observant manner, Berry opens up about how his attempt to discuss racism is…


Book cover of Uncle Tom's Cabin

John J. Miller Author Of The First Assassin

From my list on the American Civil War and 5 novels to immerse yourself within it.

Why am I passionate about this?

John J. Miller is director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College, a writer for National Review, and the host of two book-themed podcasts, The Great Books and The Bookmonger. His books include The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football and Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas. He lives on a dirt road in rural Michigan.

John's book list on the American Civil War and 5 novels to immerse yourself within it

John J. Miller Why did John love this book?

“So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war,” Abraham Lincoln supposedly said when he met Stowe. The quote may be apocryphal, but it points to a truth about the 1852 novel that shaped American opinions about the cruelty and injustice of slavery. The writing is a bit melodramatic for modern sensibilities, but it’s hard to beat the scene in which the escaped slave Eliza tries to carry her young son across an icy river for freedom on the other side.

By Harriet Beecher Stowe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Uncle Tom's Cabin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Uncle Tom's Cabin is the most powerful and enduring work of art ever written about American slavery"-Alfred Kazin

"To expose oneself in maturity to Uncle Tom's cabin may...prove a startling experience"-Edmund Wilson

In Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe created America's first black literary hero as well as the nation's antecedent protest novel. The novel's vast influence on attitudes towards African American slavery was considered an incitation towards the American Civil War; conjointly, its powerful anti-slavery message resonated with readers around the world at its time of publication.

With unashamed sentimentality and expressions of faith, Harriet Beecher Stowe, in Uncle…


Book cover of Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War

Susan Crane Author Of Nothing Happened: A History

From my list on books about Nothing, in particular: because Nothing always means Something.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by how we remember the past and why some things get written into histories and other things don’t. I realized that Nothing happens all the time but no one has thought to ask how we remember it. Once I started looking for how Nothing was being remembered, I found it all around me. Books I read as a kid, movies I’d seen, songs I’d heard – these were my sources. So when I started working, Nothing got done (yes, I love puns!).

Susan's book list on books about Nothing, in particular: because Nothing always means Something

Susan Crane Why did Susan love this book?

Like a classic wine pairing, read Horwitz and Smith together and savor the full flavors. White journalist Horwitz visited every former Confederate state and talked to local people about how memories of the Confederacy were still alive at the end of the twentieth century.

I loved his eye for detail and his knack for finding fascinating people to talk to. His stories are hilarious, outrageous, and compelling all at once.

By Tony Horwitz,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Confederates in the Attic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent takes us on an explosive adventure into the soul of the unvanquished South, where Civil War reenactors, battlefield visitors, and fans of history resurrect the ghosts of the Lost Cause through ritual and remembrance.  

"The freshest book about divisiveness in America that I have read in some time. This splendid commemoration of the war and its legacy ... is an eyes–open, humorously no–nonsense survey of complicated Americans." —The New York Times Book Review

For all who remain intrigued by the legacy of the Civil War—reenactors, battlefield visitors, Confederate descendants and other Southerners,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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