100 books like The West Beyond the West

By Jean Barman,

Here are 100 books that The West Beyond the West fans have personally recommended if you like The West Beyond the West. 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 The Stone Angel

Lynne Bowen Author Of Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia

From my list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young person I loved to read history novels, but each book had to be about either British monarchs or American generals. Then I watched the movie Bye Bye Blues, a Canadian prairie story by Anne Wheeler, and realized for the first time that the story was about me, about us. It was such a heady feeling that I decided to study Western Canadian history at university. Three weeks after I got my M.A. from the University of Victoria I was offered the chance to write about Vancouver Island coal miners and the rest, as they say, is quite literally history.

Lynne's book list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada

Lynne Bowen Why did Lynne love this book?

Who would have thought that a novel about a ninety-year-old woman determined to avoid being put into a nursing home would become required reading for high school and university students? And yet this novel has been listed by several sources as one of the greatest Canadian novels ever written. Laurence’s writing style inspired me and gave me the assurance to write about Western Canadian history. It demonstrates one of the reasons why Laurence was named posthumously as “A Person of National Historic Significance” by the Canadian government in 2018.

By Margaret Laurence,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Above the town, on the hill brow, the stone angel used to stand. I wonder if she stands there yet...

Hagar Shipley - an irascible, independent nonagenarian - has lived a quiet life full of rage. As she approaches her death, she retreats from the squabbling of her son and his wife to reflect on her past - her ill-advised marriage, her two sons, the harshness of farm life on the prairie, her own failures and the betrayals and failures of others.


Book cover of The Englishman's Boy: A Novel

Lynne Bowen Author Of Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia

From my list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young person I loved to read history novels, but each book had to be about either British monarchs or American generals. Then I watched the movie Bye Bye Blues, a Canadian prairie story by Anne Wheeler, and realized for the first time that the story was about me, about us. It was such a heady feeling that I decided to study Western Canadian history at university. Three weeks after I got my M.A. from the University of Victoria I was offered the chance to write about Vancouver Island coal miners and the rest, as they say, is quite literally history.

Lynne's book list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada

Lynne Bowen Why did Lynne love this book?

I love a book that weaves fiction into historical events. The Cypress Hills are on the Canadian side of the international border where it cuts through the North American central plain. This was a gathering place for First Nations and Metis people, but the area also attracted American whisky traders and wolf hunters. The reasons for the massacre that occurred in 1873 are disputed, but fifty years later, the last living survivor, by then a grizzled bit player in Hollywood, tells his story to a young screenwriter.

By Guy Vanderhaeghe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Winner of the Governor General's Award

Counterpointing the stories of the legendary Western cowboy Shorty McAdoo and Harry Vincent, the ambitious young screenwriter commissioned to retell his story in 1920s Hollywood, this novel reconstructs an epic journey through Montana into the Canadian plains, by a group of men pursuing their stolen horses.

The Englishman's Boy intelligently and creatively depicts an American West where greed and deception are tempered by honor and strength. As Richard Ford has noted, "Vanderhaeghe is simply a wonderful writer. The Englishman's Boy, spanning as it does two countries, two centuries, two views of history―the Canadian Wild…


Book cover of Broken Ground

Lynne Bowen Author Of Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia

From my list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young person I loved to read history novels, but each book had to be about either British monarchs or American generals. Then I watched the movie Bye Bye Blues, a Canadian prairie story by Anne Wheeler, and realized for the first time that the story was about me, about us. It was such a heady feeling that I decided to study Western Canadian history at university. Three weeks after I got my M.A. from the University of Victoria I was offered the chance to write about Vancouver Island coal miners and the rest, as they say, is quite literally history.

Lynne's book list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada

Lynne Bowen Why did Lynne love this book?

Jack Hodgins, Western Canada’s literary wunderkind, put Vancouver Island on the literary map with his short stories and novels which demonstrate the truth in the adage “write about what you know”. As a writer I learned this from Jack and I also learned that if I find a subject fascinating my readers will too. In Broken Ground, his seventh novel, Jack writes about World War One veterans, still haunted by the horror of the trenches, as they struggle to farm amid the massive stumps of a former old growth forest.

By Jack Hodgins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Broken Ground is a riveting exploration of the dark, brooding presence of the First World War in the lives of the inhabitants of a “soldier’s settlement” on Vancouver Island. From out of a stubborn, desolate landscape studded with tree stumps, the settlers of Portuguese Creek have built a new life for themselves. But when an encroaching forest fire threatens this fledgling settlement, it also intensifies the remembered horrors of war. The story of Portuguese Creek is told by several of its citizens, including a boy trying to recover from the sudden loss of his father, and a former teacher haunted…


Book cover of The Dunsmuir Saga

Lynne Bowen Author Of Whoever Gives Us Bread: The Story of Italians in British Columbia

From my list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young person I loved to read history novels, but each book had to be about either British monarchs or American generals. Then I watched the movie Bye Bye Blues, a Canadian prairie story by Anne Wheeler, and realized for the first time that the story was about me, about us. It was such a heady feeling that I decided to study Western Canadian history at university. Three weeks after I got my M.A. from the University of Victoria I was offered the chance to write about Vancouver Island coal miners and the rest, as they say, is quite literally history.

Lynne's book list on revealing the hidden history of Western Canada

Lynne Bowen Why did Lynne love this book?

The late Terry Reksten, a researcher par excellence, spent much of her career writing about Robert Dunsmuir, a former indentured coal miner who became the richest man in British Columbia, and his descendants. Terry devoted most of this book to the building of Craigdarroch Castle and to the way Dunsmuir’s children and grandchildren spent his fortune, but it complements the coal mining books I have written that tell the stories of the men who dug the coal that built that fortune.

By Terry Reksten,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Dunsmuir Saga brings to life three generations of the legendary Dunsmuir family of Vancouver Island.

Robert Dunsmuir -- canny, acquisitive and imaginative -- became the richest man in British Columbia; his sons struggled to consolidate the family fortune; his grandchildren spent it. Award-winning author Terry Reksten brings the members of the Dunsmuir family and their colourful saga to life with her lively writing, vivid anecdotes and careful research. A selection of 50 historical photographs depicts the Dunsmuirs and their grand style of life.


Book cover of In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond: In Search of the Sasquatch

Ernest Solar Author Of Spirit of Sasquatch

From my list on believing in Bigfoot.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by the subject of Bigfoot ever since I was a child when my father drove through West Virginia and told me to search the woods for the elusive creature. From that point forward I wanted to spend as much time in the forest as I could. Over the years I have developed a fondness for the wild, the trees, and nature. For the past ten years, I’ve traveled around the country searching for Bigfoot in Washington, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The searches may have been hit or miss, but more importantly, I was able to experience the wonders and beauty of the wild forest.

Ernest's book list on believing in Bigfoot

Ernest Solar Why did Ernest love this book?

John Zada’s writing style is equal to Jon Krakauer and David Grann, in his ability to pull the reader into the narrative of the story with the precision of his words. In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond: In Search of the Sasquatch, Zada does an excellent job of providing historical context related to Bigfoot lore without retelling all of the classic stories. But what captured my heart the most, was the stunning imagery of the British Columbia coast and Great Bear Rainforest that Zada captured with his words.

By John Zada,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in a wild and immaculate landscape threatened by industry and environmental degradation, a compassionate and gripping exploration of one of the world's most baffling mysteries-the existence of the Sasquatch

On the central and north coast of British Columbia, the Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, containing more organic matter than any other terrestrial ecosystem on the planet. The area plays host to a wide range of species, from thousand-year-old western cedars to humpback whales to iconic white Spirit bears.

According to local residents, another giant is said to live in these woods. For…


Book cover of Save Me, Kurt Cobain

Don Aker Author Of The Space Between

From my list on grappling with loss.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having been a teacher for many years, I have had the great fortune to be surrounded by young people most of my adult life. As a result, I’ve been witness to countless moments reflecting the struggles of teenagers facing various challenges in their lives. Without question, one of the most painful is having to grapple with loss, and regardless whether it involves a friend, a family member, a home, an opportunity, or any number of other misfortunes, the act of facing and rising above that loss is often character-defining. I will always be grateful to my many students whose candour and courage have both inspired me and informed my own writing.

Don's book list on grappling with loss

Don Aker Why did Don love this book?

Nico’s mother vanished when she was four, and a chance discovery begins a search to uncover the truth of her disappearance. Reading it, I couldn’t believe this was the author’s first novel. Nico’s “voice” is amazingly real, continually pulling me along to the bittersweet conclusion, where she discovers what really happened to her mother. There was never a misstep in this book—everything worked perfectly, including the relationship between Nico and her dad, which was one of the most moving father-daughter relationships I’ve ever encountered in a YA novel. Her interweaving of Kurt Cobain’s life and music into the story of a girl searching for her mother was brilliant, and the writing is sublime. I lost track of the times when I read an image and thought, “Yes, this is exactly what that’s like!”, followed by “I so wish I’d written that.” Save Me, Kurt Cobain is a must-read.

By Jenny Manzer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Save Me, Kurt Cobain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain was not only alive, but might be your real father? This nuanced and bittersweet YA debut will keep you guessing until the end.

“Utterly gorgeous. Mesmerizing. Hypnotic. I love this book.” —Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places  
  
Nico Cavan has been adrift since her mother vanished when she was four—maternal abandonment isn’t exactly something you can just get over. Staying invisible at school is how she copes—that and listening to alt music and summoning spirits on the Ouija board with her best friend and coconspirator in sarcasm,…


Book cover of Brokering Belonging: Chinese in Canada's Exclusion Era, 1885-1945

Alison R. Marshall Author Of The Way of the Bachelor: Early Chinese Settlement in Manitoba

From my list on to reimagine Chinatown.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by Chinese culture. My great uncle owned an import-export shop in 1920s Montreal and many of the things in his shop decorated my family home. An aunt who worked in Toronto’s Chinatown took me to see a Chinese opera performance and this began my journey to understand Chinese thought and culture first with an MA in Chinese poetry and then with a Ph.D. in East Asian Studies. After I learned that Sun Yatsen had visited Manitoba, where I had moved for work, my attention turned to Chinese nationalism. More than 15 years later, my research and work on KMT culture continues.

Alison's book list on to reimagine Chinatown

Alison R. Marshall Why did Alison love this book?

Lisa Mar’s rich archival study provides a window into the important role of power brokers in Chinese Canadian political life and culture up until the end of the Second World War. My own book also tells the stories of Chinese Canadian power brokers who were active in political organizations and lobbied for the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act. Unlike the power brokers of Mars’s study, the men in my study were active and influential beyond Vancouver’s Chinatown and in prairie rural Canada.

By Lisa Rose Mar,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Brokering Belonging traces several generations of Chinese "brokers, " ethnic leaders who acted as intermediaries between the Chinese and Anglo worlds of Canada. At the time, most Chinese could not vote and many were illegal immigrants, so brokers played informal but necessary roles as representatives to the larger society. Brokers' work reveals the changing boundaries between Chinese and Anglo worlds, and how tensions among Chinese shaped them.

By reinserting Chinese back into mainstream politics, Brokering Belonging alters common understandings of how legally "alien" groups' helped create modern immigrant nations. Over several generations, brokers deeply embedded Chinese immigrants in the larger…


Book cover of Onion Man

Terence M. Green Author Of Shadow of Ashland

From my list on searching for answers in the past and present.

Why am I passionate about this?

There are things expressed only in writing, never spoken aloud in our culture. We can find them in books, in the honesty and insights of those willing to take the time and make the effort to say what they feel and think. Another reason to read is for the sheer joy of a story well told, one that can open both the mind and the heart. I have published 7 novels and a collection of short stories, have just retired from teaching creative writing at the university level. My life has been spent among books. Simply, I am in awe of the ones recommended here.

Terence's book list on searching for answers in the past and present

Terence M. Green Why did Terence love this book?

Mockler is currently a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Victoria (British Columbia, Canada). This small volume (poetry? prose? sui generis?) knocked me out the first time I read it in 2011, and its brevity has led to me re-reading it several times since. About an 18-year-old girl working in a canning factory in London, Ontario—wise, funny, moving, honest... it’s got it all. I’ve purchased several copies over the years and use them as gifts to fellow readers. Highly recommended.

By Kathryn Mockler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the late 1980s of London, Ontario-a time in Canada when the recession lay like a lead weight on the shoulders of young people, leaving the future bleak-an eighteen-year-old girl is working for the summer at a corn canning factory. Her story is told through a series of masterfully-sculpted linked poems, following her relationship with her boyfriend, her alcoholic mother, her terminally-ill grandfather, the factory job, and the man who every night "peels an onion and eats it as if it were an apple." The Onion Man doesn't speak English and is tormented by the other workers, and ater his…


Book cover of Twisted Lies

C. Becker Author Of Saving Euphoria

From my list on that have a connection with trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a B.S. degree in Medical Technology and connect my stories with science. The more I began researching problematic issues in our society for the subject matter of my trilogy, the more I began to empathize with the different kinds of suffering that people endure. I’ve incorporated traumas in all of my Euphoria trilogy stories, from illicit drugs, illnesses, loss, burns, skin regeneration, and human trafficking. Societal awareness is my passion; presenting issues to people who don’t realize these problems are as widespread as they actually are. 

C.'s book list on that have a connection with trauma

C. Becker Why did C. love this book?

I like how Twisted Lies addressed a young woman’s trauma and loss using fiction. C.B. Clark’s writing style flows smoothly and has a lot of description. Clark brings realistic problems like alcohol as a focus in the character’s life, but also intertwines romance and mystery in the characters. I laughed and cried as I read Twisted Lies. The case behind the story had me guessing up until the end.

By C. B. Clark,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Athena Cooper's tragic past drives her to seek solace in a bottle. The addiction threatens her legal career, and she risks spiraling out of control. When her dog engineers a meeting with an all-too-handsome hunk, it's lust at first sight…until she discovers his identity.

Businessman Russell Crawford is desperate to find the woman who cheated him out of his inheritance. His shock when she's the gorgeous redhead he'd met briefly is only intensified when she claims his father was a murderer.

Athena and Russ declare a truce and join forces to investigate the mystery of her parents' disappearance from an…


Book cover of Little Fortress

Karen Hofmann Author Of What Is Going to Happen Next

From my list on families and growing up in rural British Columbia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a rural community and have lived most of my adult life in a small city in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. I’m fascinated with West Coast culture, particularly the Canadian version of it, which is connected to the environment and outdoors, shaped by more recent immigration and its sense of distance and disconnect from the country’s capital and economic and social centres, and informed by a more gentle climate. Rural west coast culture is especially rich in iconoclasts, those who live outside the norm, and I’ve explored these sorts of characters in all four of my novels and my short story collection.

Karen's book list on families and growing up in rural British Columbia

Karen Hofmann Why did Karen love this book?

Laisha Rosnau is a prize-winning poet, and her literary skills shine in this novel about a noble Italian family, the Caetanis, who immigrate from Italy to Vernon, BC to escape the rise of fascism. Based on a true story, this intricate novel explores the bonds of family and friendship, the contrasts in class and changing times, and the hardships and beauties of life in a rural area through the lives of three women. I was captivated by the characters and the gorgeous, insightful writing. Ofelia and Sveva Caetani and their personal secretary, Miss Juul, will stay with you forever as women creating home and family in the face of exile, loss, and sweeping change.

By Laisha Rosnau,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Based on the true story of the Caetanis, Italian nobility driven into exile by the rise of fascism, the long-awaited second novel by award-winning author Laisha Rosnau follows this once glittering family to British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. When Ofelia Caetani takes her daughter, Sveva, into seclusion after the death of the duke, they are cared for by their personal secretary, Miss Jüül, who brings her own secrets to their twenty-five-year retreat from the world. As the stories of these three remarkable women unfurl in unexpected and often tragic ways, Little Fortress is revealed as a graceful and intricate tale of…


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