81 books like The Solace of Open Spaces

By Gretel Ehrlich,

Here are 81 books that The Solace of Open Spaces fans have personally recommended if you like The Solace of Open Spaces. 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 Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle

Karen Gershowitz Author Of Wanderlust: Extraordinary People, Quirky Places, and Curious Cuisine

From my list on making you want to travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been traveling since age seventeen when I boarded a plane and headed to Europe on my own. Over the next three years I lived in London, took weekend jaunts across the continent, and became completely bitten by the travel bug. Since then, I’ve traveled to more than 95 countries. I’ve lost and gained friends and lovers and made a radical career change so that I could afford my travel addiction. Like my readers, I am an ordinary person. Through travel I’ve learned courage and risk-taking and succeeded at things I didn’t know I could do. My goal in writing is to inspire others to take off and explore the world.

Karen's book list on making you want to travel

Karen Gershowitz Why did Karen love this book?

I think of myself as an adventurous traveler, but Dervla Murphy travels in a way that I would never even consider.

So, it’s a pleasure to sit in a comfortable chair and read about places I’ll never visit and people who I’d love to meet, but never will. Murphy writes so vividly I feel as though I am right beside her as she fends off wolves, struggles to drag a bicycle uphill through mountain snow, and shares tea with nomads.

This was her first book and every book that follows is equally compelling.

By Dervla Murphy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Braving hunger, heat exhaustion, unbearable terrain and cultures largely untouched by civilization, Dervla Murphy chronicles her determined trip through nine countries, through snow and ice in the mountains and miles of barren land in the scorching desert. Full Tilt is a highly individual account by a celebrated travel writer based on the daily diary Murphy kept while riding through Yugoslavia, Persia, Afghanistan, over the Himalayas to Pakistan and into India. Murphy's charm and gracious sensitivity as a writer and a traveler reveals not only civilizations of exotic people and places but the wonder of a woman alone on an extraordinary…


Book cover of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

Brett Dakin Author Of Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos

From my list on books about living abroad in Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

Right after college, I lived abroad in Asia, in the small, landlocked country of Laos. A key theme of the book is the role of the U.S. in the world. During the Vietnam War, Laos was subject to a massive bombing campaign by the U.S., and decades later, the country was still coping with the effects. As unexploded bombs continued to kill people every year, how would my colleagues and neighbors react to an American living among them? The book is mainly about the joys of navigating another culture, and while Laos is unique, I’ve read a lot of books about living abroad in Asia, and common themes certainly emerge.

Brett's book list on books about living abroad in Asia

Brett Dakin Why did Brett love this book?

I love just about anything Peter writes, but this book is special; it’s his first, about his stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in China in the late 1990s, just about the time I moved to Laos. It was a great inspiration to me: the perfect combination of personal memoir and cultural insight.

Bonus: Peter continues to write for the New Yorker magazine about his students from all those years ago and what they are up to today.

By Peter Hessler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Peter Hessler went to China in the late 1990s, he expected to spend a couple of peaceful years teaching English in the town of Fuling on the Yangtze River. But what he experienced - the natural beauty, cultural tension, and complex process of understanding that takes place when one is thrust into a radically different society - surpassed anything he could have imagined. Hessler observes firsthand how major events such as the death of Deng Xiaoping, the return of Hong Kong to the mainland, and the controversial consturction of the Three Gorges Dam have affected even the people of…


Book cover of Notes from a Small Island

Karen Gershowitz Author Of Wanderlust: Extraordinary People, Quirky Places, and Curious Cuisine

From my list on making you want to travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been traveling since age seventeen when I boarded a plane and headed to Europe on my own. Over the next three years I lived in London, took weekend jaunts across the continent, and became completely bitten by the travel bug. Since then, I’ve traveled to more than 95 countries. I’ve lost and gained friends and lovers and made a radical career change so that I could afford my travel addiction. Like my readers, I am an ordinary person. Through travel I’ve learned courage and risk-taking and succeeded at things I didn’t know I could do. My goal in writing is to inspire others to take off and explore the world.

Karen's book list on making you want to travel

Karen Gershowitz Why did Karen love this book?

Shortly after it was first published, I picked this book up in the bookstore at Heathrow on my way home from a business trip. I spent the entire flight glued to it and laughing out loud.

This was Bryson’s first travel book and one that changed my perception of what travel writing could be. It is perceptive, irreverent, and focuses on the small, often quirky, details that make travel so interesting. I am now a huge fan of all of Bryson’s books, but this was the one that got me hooked.

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Notes from a Small Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1995, before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire to move back to the States for a few years with his family, Bill Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of the nation's public face and private parts (as it were), and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite; a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named…


Book cover of Into the Heart of Borneo

Karen Gershowitz Author Of Wanderlust: Extraordinary People, Quirky Places, and Curious Cuisine

From my list on making you want to travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been traveling since age seventeen when I boarded a plane and headed to Europe on my own. Over the next three years I lived in London, took weekend jaunts across the continent, and became completely bitten by the travel bug. Since then, I’ve traveled to more than 95 countries. I’ve lost and gained friends and lovers and made a radical career change so that I could afford my travel addiction. Like my readers, I am an ordinary person. Through travel I’ve learned courage and risk-taking and succeeded at things I didn’t know I could do. My goal in writing is to inspire others to take off and explore the world.

Karen's book list on making you want to travel

Karen Gershowitz Why did Karen love this book?

What happens when an out-of-shape, stay-at-home book reviewer is talked into trekking into one of the most remote parts of the world?

Misadventures abound in the jungle, terrifying at the time but hilarious in retrospect. This is one of the books I use for inspiration when I am considering venturing into unusual, distant areas of the globe. It demonstrates that anyone with the will to do it can explore, survive, enjoy, and even see the humor in outrageous situations.

By Redmond O'Hanlon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of a 1983 journey to the center of Borneo, which no expedition had attempted since 1926. O'Hanlon, accompanied by friend and poet James Fenton and three native guides brings wit and humor to a dangerous journey.


Book cover of Close Range: Wyoming Stories

Alyson Hagy Author Of Boleto

From my list on the West that twist the myth.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer fascinated by landscape and history—and the American West is my magnet. I’ve set three books in the West. I can’t get enough of the place. An entire national myth is enshrined “where the deer and the antelope play.” Independence. Freedom from the past. Land we can supposedly call our own. The West is so beautiful and also so scarred. I love to read books that deepen my experience of the deserts, mountains, and rivers. I also love to learn about the people who were here before me, those who have hung on, and those who hope to heal the scars. These books are great stories about a bewitching place.

Alyson's book list on the West that twist the myth

Alyson Hagy Why did Alyson love this book?

Annie Proulx is a genius with character, and she’s obsessed with how hard humans work to uphold their myths of identity and achievement even when the odds are stacked against them. Close Range is the best of her three very good story collections about the West. It’s famous, and rightly so, for the trail-blazing tale of cowboy queerness "Brokeback Mountain". But each story is taut with observation and image. “The Mud Below,” “The Half-Skinned Steer”—there’s more than one American classic in this book. Some Westerners aren’t fans of Proulx, but I am. She doesn’t pull her punches about what it’s really like to ranch, rodeo, fantasize about retirement, or care for family in a place with no safety net, extreme weather, and no neighbors around the corner.

By Annie Proulx,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Close Range as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning and bestselling author of The Shipping News and Accordion Crimes comes one of the most celebrated short story collections of our time.

Annie Proulx's masterful language and fierce love of Wyoming are evident in this collection of stories about loneliness, quick violence, and wrong kinds of love. In "The Mud Below," a rodeo rider's obsession marks the deepening fissures between his family life and self-imposed isolation. In "The Half-Skinned Steer," an elderly fool drives west to the ranch he grew up on for his brother's funeral, and dies a mile from home. In "Brokeback Mountain," the…


Book cover of Land of Hills and Valleys

Emily Hayse Author Of These War-Torn Hands

From my list on capturing the poignant beauty of the American West.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I can remember, I've been captivated by the American West. Was it that cowboys were brave and if you had integrity it was most certainly put to the test? Was it that everyone rode horses and I was a horse crazy girl? Whatever it was that struck me, it stayed. I have treasured the West ever since, through books, film, art, and most recently, a fantasy western trilogy of my own. 

Emily's book list on capturing the poignant beauty of the American West

Emily Hayse Why did Emily love this book?

A slightly more modern take, this book is set in the 1930s, in the perspective of a girl who inherits an ailing Wyoming ranch and she falls in love with the land and the people who inhabit it. What I loved about this one was the discovery of the land and the lifestyle through the eyes of the main character. Throw in a mystery and a lovely romance and you'll be breathless by the end. 

By Elisabeth Grace Foley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Her inheritance came with an unsolved mystery.

If she can’t find out the truth, she may lose more than she gained.

Lena Campbell never knew her grandfather—but she always dreamed of visiting Wyoming, where her mother was born and raised. When she receives word that her grandfather is dead and his Wyoming ranch belongs to her, she jumps at the chance.

Only later does she learn that Garth McKay was murdered, and the murder is still unsolved.

Despite this shadow hanging over her, Lena thrives in her new life—and unexpectedly finds love there. And then a new revelation breaks the…


Book cover of Riding the White Horse Home: A Western Family Album

Laurie Marr Wasmund Author Of My Heart Lies Here

From my list on why the American West always will be the "Wild West”.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised in the American West, I have watched the explosive growth in Colorado with dismay. In my lifetime, metro Denver has grown from a population of about 500,000 people to more than 5.5 million. The Colorado of large ranches and wide, open spaces is disappearing. I have named my publishing company “lost ranch books,” in honor of the ranch where I grew up, which was sold and developed with cookie-cutter houses. I’ve now set out to recapture historic Colorado by writing about it. My award-winning books center on Colorado’s and the American West’s history, for not only is it fascinating and, often, troubling, but it still resonates today.

Laurie's book list on why the American West always will be the "Wild West”

Laurie Marr Wasmund Why did Laurie love this book?

Jordan’s memoir strikes close to my heart: parents, like mine, who encourage their children to better their lives by leaving their homes, going to college, working at fulfilling jobs, and building loving families. But where does that leave the family ranch? As in my own family, Jordan’s parents sell it when there is no one to return and take over the hard, often unrewarding work. In this beautifully written, poignant work, Jordan explores her ancestors, neighbors, and her own time on the ranch, and she makes the reader feel just how deep her grief is over the loss of her heritage and, especially, the land. Be ready to cry.

By Teresa Jordan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Riding the White Horse Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The daughter and granddaughter of Wyoming ranchers, Teresa Jordan gives us a lyrical and superbly evocative book that is at once a family chronicle and a eulogy for the land her people helped shape and in time were forced to leave. Author readings.


Book cover of Searching for Calamity: The Life and Times of Calamity Jane

Chris Hannan Author Of Missy

From my list on the American West with female central characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in a little shipbuilding town in Scotland but, like everyone else in the world back then, I grew up in the American West. These were the stories we all grew up with – burned into our imaginations along with stories from the Bible or the Greek myths. Nowadays, the West is still important to me – but today it is the personal accounts of the West that interest me most – the personal diaries and eye-witness accounts of the brides, the doctors, teachers, mothers, children, who experienced the West first-hand.

Chris' book list on the American West with female central characters

Chris Hannan Why did Chris love this book?

The hard-drinking, cigar-smoking, cross-dressing heroine of the American West continues to keep a python grip on the imagination. “I’m a howling coyote from Bitter Creek, the further up you go the worse it gets and I’m from the headwaters,” she used to rap. Calamity fascinates because she is a self-made myth and Linda Jucovy’s biography is an informed and insightful exploration of that myth.   

By Linda Jucovy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Who in the world would think that Calamity Jane would get to be such a famous person?” one of the pallbearers at her funeral asked an interviewer many years later. It seemed like a reasonable question. Who else has accomplished so little by conventional standards and yet achieved such enduring fame?

But conventional standards do not apply. Calamity was poor, uneducated, and an alcoholic. For decades, she wandered through the small towns and empty spaces of the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana. But she also had a natural talent for self-invention. She created a story about herself and promoted it tirelessly…


Book cover of Rock Springs: Stories

Shann Ray Author Of American Masculine: Stories

From my list on short stories for love, justice, and wisdom.

Why am I passionate about this?

Alongside writing poems and short stories, I am a clinical psychologist focusing on the psychology of men. People echo the vastness of the stellar expanse in which only 1% is matter like the planets and stars, our bodies, days in which we love and hate, moments we embody healthy intimacy or enact violence, the light that gives the face radiance. 19% of the universe is dark energy, and 80% dark matter-- less than 1% is light, and yet light is the foundation of life. "God is light," the ancient text intones, and though the words resound, what that light means in the despair of this world is a beloved mystery.

Shann's book list on short stories for love, justice, and wisdom

Shann Ray Why did Shann love this book?

How do we overcome the most wild and unforgiving shadows of our personal and communal life together? If anyone can help us more closely understand our lack of understanding of one another, it is the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and short story writer, Richard Ford. The spare beauty of Wildlife (Ford’s homage to the dark force of lost love), is in close attunement with his cult classic of short story lore, Rock Springs. Ford’s subtlety and power as an artist are irrevocably tied to the uncommon life-giving capacity he shapes in us when we give ourselves to the ancient wisdom of this story collection. 

By Richard Ford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ten “beautifully imagined and crafted stories” of the American West by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Independence Day (Joyce Carol Oates).
 
In these ten exquisite stories, Richard Ford explores the wind-scrubbed landscape of the American West and the guarded hopes and gnawing loneliness of the people who live there: a refugee from justice driving across Wyoming with his daughter and girlfriend in a stolen Mercedes; a boy watching his family dissolve in a night of tragicomic violence; and two men and a woman swapping hard-luck stories in a frontier bar as they try to sweeten their luck.
 
In the tradition…


Book cover of The Virginian

Mark Warren Author Of Indigo Heaven

From my list on Westerns that don’t thrive off of gunfights.

Why am I passionate about this?

Because I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, my supply of heroes was liberally doled out by the 130+ Western series that dominated nighttime television in those decades. My parents allowed me one program per week. It was a Western. I was soon interested in history, to know what really did happen in the American West, and so I came to understand the great discrepancies between fact and TV. The truth, for me, is so much more interesting than the myth. As a Western historian, I've done my share of historical research, but I still gravitate toward fiction as a writer. I love the freedom to engage my characters’ thoughts and emotions.

Mark's book list on Westerns that don’t thrive off of gunfights

Mark Warren Why did Mark love this book?

This is where the “Western novel” began.

By reading this book, people of the early 20th century were introduced to a prototype protagonist who would be duplicated (with variations) for generations to come. Authors who followed this lead were Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, Jack Schaefer, Charles Portis, Elmer Kelton, and I.

As a boy I found my heroes in the format of the lone common man who faced up to adversities that cut against his moral code.  These protagonists played a large part in shaping my values. Even though the characters were fictitious, the lessons were real. The inspiration hit home.

Wister’s influence on later writers remains intact for good reason. His work was the historical beginning of the “Western,” which, to many folks, serves as the quintessential American story.

By Owen Wister,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Virginian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Still as exciting and meaningful as when it was written in 1902, Owen Wister's epic tale of one man's journey into the untamed territory of Wyoming, where he is caught between his love for a woman and his quest for justice, has exemplified one of the most significant and enduring themes in all of American culture.

With remarkable character depth and vivid descriptive passages, The Virginian stands not only as the first great novel of American Western literature, but as a testament to the eternal struggle between good and evil in humanity and a revealing study of the forces that…


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