100 books like The Sound of Gravel

By Ruth Wariner,

Here are 100 books that The Sound of Gravel fans have personally recommended if you like The Sound of Gravel. 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 Freckled

Brian Rush McDonald Author Of The Long Surrender: A Memoir about Losing My Religion

From my list on people who left life-defining ideologies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became involved in a rigid religious movement as a teen and prepared for the ministry at a fundamentalist college and seminary. I took this ideology to its logical extreme and became a foreign missionary. I know from the inside how such an ideology takes hold of a person and how difficult it is to escape its grasp, especially when family and career are intertwined. Through my own struggle with depression and anxiety, I scoured books to help understand myself and faith development, eventually earning a Ph.D in counseling, emphasizing developmental theory. I know from personal experience what it means to walk away from a way of thinking that has defined much of your life.

Brian's book list on people who left life-defining ideologies

Brian Rush McDonald Why did Brian love this book?

T.W. Neal grows up with parents who opt to live on a sparsely populated Hawaiian island, not wearing clothes, surfing, smoking Marijuana, and eating magic mushrooms. The family lives in a van or in housing with few modern amenities and the author attends school on the island only sporadically. Due to her mother’s mental illness and her father’s alcohol abuse, she at times, has to run the household. With difficulty she connects with relatives and a few teachers and begins to reach for a lifeline to break free from the life her parents chose. She wants to go to college and eventually is able to leave the island and pursue a mainstream life. It is astounding that a person growing up in such circumstances would have the desire and determination to forge a different life.

By TW Neal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For fans of The Glass Castle and Educated, comes mystery author Toby Neal’s personal story of surviving a wild childhood in paradise. We never call it homeless. We're just "camping" in the jungle on Kauai...

We live in a place everyone calls paradise. Sure, Kauai’s beautiful, with empty beaches, drip-castle mountains, and perfect surf...but we’ve been "camping" for six months, eating boiled chicken feed for breakfast, and wearing camouflage clothes so no one sees us trespassing in our jungle hideout. The cockroaches leave rainbow colors all over everything from eating the crayons we left outside the tent, and now a…


Book cover of The 19th Wife

Brenda Stanley Author Of The Treasure of Cedar Creek

From my list on escaping polygamist cults.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in southern Utah for many years, I saw first-hand the polygamist communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah. It always intrigued me that these people still held on to the beliefs and teachings of the early Mormon leaders regardless of the laws or scorn of those who lived around them. The research I did for The Treasure of Cedar Creek, was about polygamy, but also the history of the area of Idaho where the novel takes place and how it would be as a woman not only trying to escape, but facing the challenges of the terrain and perceptions of the day.

Brenda's book list on escaping polygamist cults

Brenda Stanley Why did Brenda love this book?

I love escaping into a story, and if it is historical fiction, I want it to be historically accurate. By telling the story in both the present day and in the past, I was intrigued and this kept me reading. The novel is based on the experiences of a real woman living in polygamy but tells the story of what happened then and how it affects the lives of others later. It may be fictional, but the historical accuracy made the story come to life. I could feel her angst with being part of her family, but also knowing she didn’t want this life.

By David Ebershoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 19th Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jordan returns from California to Utah to visit his mother in jail. As a teenager he was expelled from his family and religious community, a secretive Mormon offshoot sect. Now his father has been found shot dead in front of his computer, and one of his many wives - Jordan's mother - is accused of the crime.
Over a century earlier, Ann Eliza Young, the nineteenth wife of Brigham Young, Prophet and Leader of the Mormon Church, tells the sensational story of how her own parents were drawn into plural marriage, and how she herself battled for her freedom and…


Book cover of The Scent of Rain

Brenda Stanley Author Of The Treasure of Cedar Creek

From my list on escaping polygamist cults.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in southern Utah for many years, I saw first-hand the polygamist communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah. It always intrigued me that these people still held on to the beliefs and teachings of the early Mormon leaders regardless of the laws or scorn of those who lived around them. The research I did for The Treasure of Cedar Creek, was about polygamy, but also the history of the area of Idaho where the novel takes place and how it would be as a woman not only trying to escape, but facing the challenges of the terrain and perceptions of the day.

Brenda's book list on escaping polygamist cults

Brenda Stanley Why did Brenda love this book?

This book was so hard for me to put down. I was caught up in the many twists and turns, and wanted to know how this young girl would escape. This story not only looks at the horrors of modern-day polygamist cults but also the challenges of the foster care system. I was swept up and cheering her on as she escaped into the treacherous terrain of the Arizona desert. With Montgomery’s vivid descriptions, I could feel the heat and the struggles these young people faced while trying to escape. This book is beautifully written and had me connected to the characters from the beginning.

By Anne Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away. 

Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat…


Book cover of Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs

Brenda Stanley Author Of The Treasure of Cedar Creek

From my list on escaping polygamist cults.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in southern Utah for many years, I saw first-hand the polygamist communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah. It always intrigued me that these people still held on to the beliefs and teachings of the early Mormon leaders regardless of the laws or scorn of those who lived around them. The research I did for The Treasure of Cedar Creek, was about polygamy, but also the history of the area of Idaho where the novel takes place and how it would be as a woman not only trying to escape, but facing the challenges of the terrain and perceptions of the day.

Brenda's book list on escaping polygamist cults

Brenda Stanley Why did Brenda love this book?

I found Wall’s first-hand account of what life is like inside a polygamist cult to be both revealing and tragic. The book is nonfiction but reads like a novel. I loved how the pages were full of descriptive passages that gave me an insider’s view of what these young girls are taught and must face as child brides. It helped me see that what began decades before is still happening under a cloak of secrecy. I found this book revealing and disturbing, and one I couldn’t put down.

By Elissa Wall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A tale of survival and freedom, Stolen Innocence is the story of one heroic woman who stood up for what was right and reclaimed her life.

In September 2007, a packed courtroom in St. George, Utah, sat hushed as Elissa Wall, the star witness against polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, gave captivating testimony of how Jeffs forced her to marry her first cousin at the age of fourteen. This harrowing and vivid account proved to be the most compelling evidence against Jeffs, showing the harsh realities of the lengths to which Jeffs went in order to control the sect's women.…


Book cover of Keep Sweet

Brenda Stanley Author Of The Treasure of Cedar Creek

From my list on escaping polygamist cults.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in southern Utah for many years, I saw first-hand the polygamist communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hilldale, Utah. It always intrigued me that these people still held on to the beliefs and teachings of the early Mormon leaders regardless of the laws or scorn of those who lived around them. The research I did for The Treasure of Cedar Creek, was about polygamy, but also the history of the area of Idaho where the novel takes place and how it would be as a woman not only trying to escape, but facing the challenges of the terrain and perceptions of the day.

Brenda's book list on escaping polygamist cults

Brenda Stanley Why did Brenda love this book?

I read this book in two days because the story kept pulling me back. It’s a YA novel that is accurate and haunting in its telling of the life of a young girl trapped in a polygamist cult. I loved how realistic this story felt. To explore what happens when this girl is caught going against the teachings of the cult and the horrific ramifications had me wanting to know what would happen next. I found this book so intriguing and came away with an interesting perspective on the issue of modern-day polygamy.

By Michele Dominguez Greene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Alva Jane has never questioned her parents, never questioned her faith, never questioned her future. She is content with the strict rules that define her life in Pineridge, the walled community where she lives with her father, his seven wives, and her twenty-eight siblings. This is the only world Alva has ever known, and she has never thought to challenge it.

But everything changes when Alva is caught giving her long-time crush an innocent first kiss. Beaten, scorned, and now facing a forced marriage to a violent, fifty-year old man, Alva suddenly realizes how much she has to lose--and how…


Book cover of All Who Go Do Not Return: A Memoir

Brian Rush McDonald Author Of The Long Surrender: A Memoir about Losing My Religion

From my list on people who left life-defining ideologies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became involved in a rigid religious movement as a teen and prepared for the ministry at a fundamentalist college and seminary. I took this ideology to its logical extreme and became a foreign missionary. I know from the inside how such an ideology takes hold of a person and how difficult it is to escape its grasp, especially when family and career are intertwined. Through my own struggle with depression and anxiety, I scoured books to help understand myself and faith development, eventually earning a Ph.D in counseling, emphasizing developmental theory. I know from personal experience what it means to walk away from a way of thinking that has defined much of your life.

Brian's book list on people who left life-defining ideologies

Brian Rush McDonald Why did Brian love this book?

Shulem Deen grew up in the culture of Hassidic Judaism in New York City. With limited education and awkward English, he decides to explore the world beyond the insular community in which he has lived his entire life. Despite warnings from his wife and recriminations from his community, he eventually decides to leave and seek a new life for which his previous existence has left him completely unprepared. I’m intrigued that a person has the courage to push the boundaries of his existence even though no one in his family or community supports him.

By Shulem Deen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Who Go Do Not Return as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shulem Deen was raised to believe that questions are dangerous. As a member of the Skveres, one of the most insular Hasidic sects in the US the US, he knows little of the outside world. After turning on the radio, his curiosity leads him to a feverish inquiry into the tenets of his religious beliefs and his faith unravels. In All Who Go Do Not Return, Deen bravely traces his harrowing loss of faith.


Book cover of An Unquenchable Thirst: A Memoir

Brian Rush McDonald Author Of The Long Surrender: A Memoir about Losing My Religion

From my list on people who left life-defining ideologies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became involved in a rigid religious movement as a teen and prepared for the ministry at a fundamentalist college and seminary. I took this ideology to its logical extreme and became a foreign missionary. I know from the inside how such an ideology takes hold of a person and how difficult it is to escape its grasp, especially when family and career are intertwined. Through my own struggle with depression and anxiety, I scoured books to help understand myself and faith development, eventually earning a Ph.D in counseling, emphasizing developmental theory. I know from personal experience what it means to walk away from a way of thinking that has defined much of your life.

Brian's book list on people who left life-defining ideologies

Brian Rush McDonald Why did Brian love this book?

The author had been to college for one year when she decides to commit herself to become a nun and joins the Missionaries Charity, led by the famous Mother Theresa of Calcutta. For more than twenty years she serves faithfully in the sacrificial community of nuns, her emotions constantly swinging between devotion and desire for something different—longing to continue the learning she started in college and also dreaming of connectedness through romance. Even though she rises to positions of authority in the organization, she decides to leave the order for a different life. This story intrigues me cause of Johnson’s genuine devotion to the cause and to its leader, but also her honesty about her human longings.

By Mary Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An unforgettable spiritual autobiography about a search for meaning that begins alongside one of the great religious icons of our time and ends with a return to the secular world
 
At seventeen, Mary Johnson saw Mother Teresa’s face on the cover of Time and experienced her calling. Eighteen months later, she entered a convent in the South Bronx to begin her religious training. Not without difficulty, this bright, independent-minded Texas teenager eventually adapted to the sisters’ austere life of poverty and devotion, and in time became close to Mother Teresa herself.

Still, beneath the white and blue sari beat the…


Book cover of Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life

Brian Rush McDonald Author Of The Long Surrender: A Memoir about Losing My Religion

From my list on people who left life-defining ideologies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became involved in a rigid religious movement as a teen and prepared for the ministry at a fundamentalist college and seminary. I took this ideology to its logical extreme and became a foreign missionary. I know from the inside how such an ideology takes hold of a person and how difficult it is to escape its grasp, especially when family and career are intertwined. Through my own struggle with depression and anxiety, I scoured books to help understand myself and faith development, eventually earning a Ph.D in counseling, emphasizing developmental theory. I know from personal experience what it means to walk away from a way of thinking that has defined much of your life.

Brian's book list on people who left life-defining ideologies

Brian Rush McDonald Why did Brian love this book?

The author grows up in the Jehovah’s Witness faith and, along with her husband goes to China as a ‘preacher.’ She is increasingly unhappy with her religion and marriage. While working at a podcast to support herself, she corresponds with an American who challenges her religious beliefs. Deciding to leave the church, she tells her husband she wants a divorce and returns to the US to begin reconstructing her life. To make such a life-altering change while living in a foreign country without any support, even from her husband shows incredible courage. I am amazed at how the desire to leave an oppressive ideology can embolden a person to make nearly unthinkable choices.

By Amber Scorah,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"À la Tara Westover's Educated, Scorah's pensive, ultimately liberating memoir chronicles her formative years as a Jehovah's Witness...and captures the bewilderment of belief and the bliss of self-discovery."--O, The Oprah Magazine, Named one of "The Best Books by Women of Summer 2019"

"Scorah's book, the bravery of which cannot be overstated, is an earnest one, fueled by a plucky humor and a can-do spirit that endears. Her tale, though an exploration of extremity, is highly readable and warm."--The New York Times Book Review

A riveting memoir of losing faith and finding freedom while a covert missionary in one of the…


Book cover of Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith

Alex Beam Author Of American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church

From my list on Mormon history.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2012, a publisher asked me if I wanted to write a book about Joseph Smith's assassination. I leapt at the chance, in part because I was fascinated by Smith and the Latter-day Saints, and in part because I appreciated how many of the important contributions to Mormon history --- including Fawn Brodie’s famous biography of Joseph Smith, or the first honest and comprehensive account of the Mountain Meadows Massacre -- sprang from the pens of women and men with no formal academic training. By contrast, many “scholars” have disgraced themselves with prevaricating or pusillanimous accounts of the religion’s raucous and fascinating 190-year history. So jump in! Never a dull moment with the Latter-day Saints! 

Alex's book list on Mormon history

Alex Beam Why did Alex love this book?

This is an honest book about Joseph Smith’s first, and only “real” wife, Emma, who virulently opposed polygamy and, after Joseph’s death, convinced herself that it never existed. Emma is one of the three titans of Mormon history: she, her husband, and the subject of my next pick.

By Linda King Newell, Valerie Tippetts Avery,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mormon Enigma is the bestselling biography of Emma Hale Smith, wife of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. It was Joseph Smith who announced that an angel of the Lord had commanded him to introduce a 'new order of marriage.' And it was Emma Hale Smith who confronted the practice of polygamy head on.

As the authors note in their introduction, "Early leaders in Utah castigated Emma from their pulpits for opposing Brigham Young and the practice of polygamy, and for lending support to the Reorganization. As these attitudes filtered down through the years, Emma was virtually written out of official…


Book cover of Burned

Ryan A. Kovacs Author Of Create Destruction: Phase I

From my list on human choice & consequence.

Why am I passionate about this?

I firmly live by the saying, “Where we are in life is a direct reflection of the choices we’ve made, or failed to make.” The theme of choice and consequence has not just been a way of living but the very trope in all my novels. The beauty in showing the process of making a choice, for my characters, in their stories, brings them to life. It forces the reader to step inside that decision tree, to analyze and predict the outcome despite the unknown. We are continuously propelled into the unknown and we make choices based on the notion of understanding what those choices will mean.

Ryan's book list on human choice & consequence

Ryan A. Kovacs Why did Ryan love this book?

Ellen Hopkins is the master of novel-in-verse style writing and the true inspiration for my particular style.

She harnesses the human condition in ever-evolving characters while simultaneously displaying their choices and subsequent consequences. Her stories embody the true philosophical underpinnings that make readers question everything, and for good reason.

With a few of her novels being banned due to their content and free-thinking inspiration, her stories beg to be read and characters empathized. At the core, she is a poet, much like myself, and any poet who loves a good story can identify with her compelling stories and stylistic approach.

By Ellen Hopkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Burned 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?

I do know things really began to spin out of control after my first sex dream.

It all started with a dream. Nothing exceptional, just a typical fantasy about a boy, the kind of dream that most teen girls experience. But Pattyn Von Stratten is not like most teen girls. Raised in a religious -- yet abusive -- family, a simple dream may not be exactly a sin, but it could be the first step toward hell and eternal damnation.

This dream is a first step for Pattyn. But is it to hell or to a better life? For the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in polygamy, Mexico, and cults?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about polygamy, Mexico, and cults.

Polygamy Explore 17 books about polygamy
Mexico Explore 206 books about Mexico
Cults Explore 55 books about cults