100 books like This Heavy Silence

By Nicole Mazzarella,

Here are 100 books that This Heavy Silence fans have personally recommended if you like This Heavy Silence. 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 Olive Kitteridge

Alina Grabowski Author Of Women and Children First

From my list on exploring how place shapes community.

Who am I?

I’m a writer who grew up in Massachusetts and now lives in Austin, Texas. Though I haven’t lived in Massachusetts for over a decade now, I find myself drawn back to the state’s coast in my fiction. My novel, Women and Children First, takes place in a fictional town south of Boston called Nashquitten. I’m obsessed with how where we’re from shapes who we become and the ways we use narrative to try and exert control over our lives. 

Alina's book list on exploring how place shapes community

Alina Grabowski Why did Alina love this book?

Elizabeth Strout is a master of character, and this cycle of linked stories, which takes place in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine, is no exception; following the eponymous Olive over several years, she appears as a major character in some stories, and a minor one in others.

I grew up in a small town beside the ocean, and Strout’s descriptive powers transported me to the salinated air and buoy-knocked waters of my youth.

But it’s her observations about human nature, filtered through the town’s tight-knit community, that makes the book so powerful. She examines questions that haunt us all: How do we take care of those around us—especially those who don’t want our help? What does it mean to be a caring partner, a good friend? How do we find grace and joy in a world where no one goes untouched by tragedy? 

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Olive Kitteridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE • The beloved first novel featuring Olive Kitteridge, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Oprah’s Book Club pick Olive, Again
“Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You’ll never forget her.”—USA Today
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post Book World • USA Today • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Seattle Post-Intelligencer • People • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • The Plain Dealer • The Atlantic • Rocky Mountain News • Library Journal
At times stern, at…

Book cover of Gilead

Kelly Flanagan Author Of The Unhiding of Elijah Campbell

From my list on making you fall in love with male protagonists.

Who am I?

As a clinical psychologist, a man, and a human being on his own journey of healing and becoming, I suppose I’m interested in stories with struggling but lovable male protagonists because I’m the struggling male protagonist in my own life story, learning how to fall in love again with myself and my story and the little boy who lives on within me. The courage my clients show in the process of facing their pain and finding something beautiful in it is inspiring to me. I hope my life reflects that courage, too. And I want to write stories that give others hope and inspiration for this kind of healing, as well.  

Kelly's book list on making you fall in love with male protagonists

Kelly Flanagan Why did Kelly love this book?

The Reverend John Ames—an aged Congregationalist minister in the small, secluded town of Gilead, Iowa—is dying of heart failure, while his seven-year-old son is just entering boyhood. As Ames wrestles with generational wounds related to his father and grandfather, he wonders tenderly about the wounds he might be passing on to his own son, both due to his presence and his pending absence. Thanks to Ames, we get to see life and existence through the eyes of the wise and dying—eyes we so rarely get to see through because, by definition, they leave us before we get a chance to look. The result is a luminous view of existence, and an abiding gratitude for having been alive.

By Marilynne Robinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



In 1956, towards the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son: 'I told you last night that I might be gone sometime . . . You reached up and put your fingers on my lips and gave me that look I never in my life saw on any other face besides your mother's. It's a kind of furious pride, very passionate and stern. I'm always a little surprised to find my eyebrows unsinged after…

Book cover of A Man Called Ove

Sally Jenkins Author Of Little Museum of Hope

From my list on life-affirming.

Who am I?

I like books driven by characters who ride the same emotional rollercoaster as we all do in real life. Characters who love the wrong people or who lose the people they were right to love or who fail to match the norms expected by society. Characters I can empathise with, root for, and learn from. A fairytale happy ending is not necessary and can detract from the magic of a book. But I do like to be left with a feeling of hope. If a fictional character can learn to approach life more positively, then maybe I can too! This is what I try to achieve in my own books.

Sally's book list on life-affirming

Sally Jenkins Why did Sally love this book?

A Man Called Ove was recommended to me by my husband. He is a voracious reader who has no qualms in casting a book to one side if it doesn’t immediately grab him – so I take his recommendations seriously. 

Ove is a grumpy old man who doesn’t want to continue living after the death of his wife. It sounds depressing and I nearly didn’t bother. But Backman’s skill as an author turns Ove’s story into an absolute delight. Ove may be grumpy, intolerant, and set in his ways but he is unable to turn his back on anyone in need – including an unattractive, large cat.

The book is a testament to everyone’s need for community.

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked A Man Called Ove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



There is something about Ove.

At first sight, he is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.

But isn't it rare, these days, to find…

Book cover of The Sowing Season

Linda MacKillop Author Of The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon

From my list on protagonists in intergenerational relationships.

Who am I?

Because of the presence of my four beloved grandparents throughout my growing up years, (all four of my grandparents even attended my wedding), I’ve always enjoyed relationships with older people. My comfort with older people translates into my friendships where many of the women in my life are quite a bit older than me. These intergenerational relationships offer wisdom and experience that informs my own life. I hold an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and have written one novel for adults and one for middle-grade readers. My past jobs include being a television engineer, an adjunct professor, and a publishing professional.

Linda's book list on protagonists in intergenerational relationships

Linda MacKillop Why did Linda love this book?

I love any book featuring an older protagonist in need of some good community and a few younger people. After being forced to sell the dairy farm he had poured his heart into, Gerrit Laninga stumbles into wide-open days and an empty schedule that leaves him adrift and purposeless. He’s even lost touch with his family during his long days farming and now experiences their resentment toward him. When a few needy kids stumble across his path, we see the power of how unconditional friendships influence us all. And it helps that the intergenerational misunderstandings insert humor into the story.

By Katie Powner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

After he's forced to sell the family farm he's labored on his whole life, 63-year-old Gerrit Laninga doesn't know what to do with himself. He sacrificed everything for the land--his time, his health, his family--with nothing to show for it but bitterness, regret, and two grown children who want nothing to do with him.

Fifteen-year-old Rae Walters has growing doubts and fears about The Plan--the detailed blueprint for high school that will help her follow in her lawyer father's footsteps. She's always been committed to The Plan, but now that the pressure to succeed is building, what was supposed to…

Book cover of The Four Winds

Kimberly Nixon Author Of Rock Bottom, Tennessee

From my list on books based on a true story.

Who am I?

I have a passion for the family story, and I have been blessed with a plethora of them. My mother grew up in Appalachia during the Great Depression and faced shame because her mother left the family to commit a felony. Her accounts of a childhood without and sleeping in an abandoned log cabin have been seared into my soul. My father, one of fourteen children during the Great Depression, worked on neighboring farms from the age of seven. History has two parts, the facts and details, but the telling of the story wrangles the purpose and sacrifice of those involved.

Kimberly's book list on books based on a true story

Kimberly Nixon Why did Kimberly love this book?

Sometimes people are given a horrible position at birth either by economics, environmental conditions, or bad luck. The Four Winds helped me understand some of the great migrations that have occurred in this country and the motivations that inspired the move.

I came to root for Elsa, the flawed main character, who sincerely did the best she could for her son. I felt her pain, agony, and frustration when a series of bad events happened along her journey.

It wasn’t an easy read, but a necessary one to understand resilience, courage, strength, and doing what you have to do when given no other choice.

By Kristin Hannah,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Four Winds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The Bestselling Hardcover Novel of the Year."--Publishers Weekly

From the number-one bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes a powerful American epic about love and heroism and hope, set during the Great Depression, a time when the country was in crisis and at war with itself, when millions were out of work and even the land seemed to have turned against them.

“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on…

Book cover of The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape

Susan Cole Author Of Holding Fast: A Memoir of Sailing, Love, and Loss

From my list on huge life changes and the stories behind them.

Who am I?

I have lived on or around sailboats for over thirty years. I had never sailed before meeting my husband. Many people dream of sailing off but few actually go. In 1996, we sailed away to the Caribbean with our seven-year-old daughter. Although I didn’t want to go, by the end of the voyage I found an inner strength that has stayed with me. The books I chose are all about making huge changes, taking leaps of faith. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Susan's book list on huge life changes and the stories behind them

Susan Cole Why did Susan love this book?

James Rebanks was born in England’s Lake District into a family who valued the hard work and ancient traditions of shepherding in the high hills. Later, he winds up at Oxford, seemingly headed for a life of financial success in the city, and realizes that while the world at large may value such success, he values the quiet, steady, solitary shepherd’s life and chooses that instead. He beautifully depicts a life steeped in tradition, honoring the seasons, and filled with characters. I loved learning about a slice of life that I knew little about.

By James Rebanks,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Shepherd's Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Affectionate, evocative, illuminating. A story of survival - of a flock, a landscape and a disappearing way of life. I love this book' Nigel Slater

'Triumphant, a pastoral for the 21st century' Helen Davies, Sunday Times, Books of the Year

'The nature publishing sensation of the year, unsentimental yet luminous' Melissa Harrison, The Times, Books of the Year

Some people's lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks' isn't. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and…

Book cover of Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Kerri Schlottman Author Of Tell Me One Thing

From my list on fierce female protagonists.

Who am I?

My sister and I were raised by our single mother in Southeast Detroit, who worked hard to put herself through law school when we were kids. We had a lot of financial struggles growing up, and I had to overcome many obstacles to get where I am today. Because of that, I am drawn to fierce female protagonists who overcome challenges and don’t shy away from struggle. In my own creative writing, I tend to feature strong female characters who have faced some type of instability and have worked hard to better their circumstances. I love an underdog and think there’s a lot of unsung narratives to tell.

Kerri's book list on fierce female protagonists

Kerri Schlottman Why did Kerri love this book?

This is a book I think should be required reading as it delves into Sarah Smarsh’s upbringing in rural Kansas and her experiences breaking her family’s cycle of poverty. As a memoir, we get a deep look at Smarsh’s life, spanning multiple generations of financial, physical, and mental struggles.

I identified so much with this book and appreciated that Smarsh bares so much of herself in order to get readers to understand the challenges that rural communities are going through. She is truly a fierce female, and I want everyone to read this memoir!

By Sarah Smarsh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Finalist for the National Book Award*
*Finalist for the Kirkus Prize*
*Instant New York Times Bestseller*
*Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, New York Post, BuzzFeed, Shelf Awareness, Bustle, and Publishers Weekly*

An essential read for our times: an eye-opening memoir of working-class poverty in America that will deepen our understanding of the ways in which class shapes our country and “a deeply humane memoir that crackles with clarifying insight”.*

Sarah Smarsh was born a fifth generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side, and the product of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. Through…

Book cover of Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm

JQ Rose Author Of Arranging A Dream

From my list on extraordinary life stories about ordinary people.

Who am I?

My author friend, Mary, brought her great, great, great + grandfather’s journal to our writers' group and shared excerpts from the pages written in the 1800s. When her grandfather was window shopping in downtown London, he peered into the bookstore window. He yearned to own the books on display, but he couldn’t afford them on a minister’s income. Only the rich could purchase books. The journal excerpts brought the 1800s to life. I decided then to begin recording my life experiences to make our lives today real for the generations of tomorrow. I share my enthusiasm for telling life stories by presenting workshops on how to write life stories. 

JQ's book list on extraordinary life stories about ordinary people

JQ Rose Why did JQ love this book?

When my friend recommended Bootstrapper, I wanted to read it because the author’s life paralleled the struggles my daughter experienced with the mean divorce from her husband. Divorce can bring you to your knees or build your strength and character. Divorce developed strength in my daughter and in Mardi. Mardi found a way to save her farm, deal with her young sons and begin a new chapter in her life filled with love and meaning. I recommend this feel-good story to inspire hope when one is completely lost.

By Mardi Jo Link,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Poignant, irreverent, and hilarious: a memoir about survival and self-discovery, by an indomitable woman who never loses sight of what matters most. 

It’s the summer of 2005, and Mardi Jo Link’s dream of living the simple life has unraveled into debt, heartbreak, and perpetually ragged cuticles. She and her husband of nineteen years have just called it quits, leaving her with serious cash-flow problems and a looming divorce. More broke than ever, Link makes a seemingly impossible resolution: to hang on to her century-old farmhouse in northern Michigan and continue to raise her three boys on well water and wood…

Book cover of Shoeless Joe

Terry McDermott Author Of Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching, and the Art of Deception

From my list on novels about baseball.

Who am I?

I grew up in rural Iowa in the 1950s and 60s, a place far removed from most of the world. Our town had no movie theater, no library, no anything except for a truly excellent baseball field. So we played – day, night, with full teams or three brothers or all by yourself. We also were tasked by our father with caring for the diamond, which was the home park for the local semi-pro team, the Cascade Reds. When I left town – fled would be a better description – I took my love of baseball with me. I played baseball in Vietnam, watched games in Hiroshima, Japan, Seoul, Korea, LA, Chicago, Seattle, Kansas City, and St. Louis. I could go on like this for a long time, but I think you get the picture.

Terry's book list on novels about baseball

Terry McDermott Why did Terry love this book?

This novel is less well-known, and much more accomplished, than the movie based on it – Field of Dreams. Where the movie is sappy, the book is lyrical and warmly nostalgic for a time and place – rural Iowa in the 1970s. There is a clear magical realism vibe to the whole thing. The plot structure of the novel is a very shaggy dog involving a baseball field in a corn field, the kidnapping of a famous novelist and numerous dead people coming back to life. The book is big-hearted and much of the writing is luminous.

By W.P. Kinsella,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The inspiration for the beloved film Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella is the story about the beauty and history of baseball, and the power and endurance of a dream.

“A moonlit novel about baseball, dreams, family, the land, and literature."—Sports Illustrated

“If you build it, he will come.” These mysterious words, spoken by an Iowa baseball announcer, inspire Ray Kinsella to carve a baseball diamond in his cornfield in honor of his hero, the baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson. What follows is both a rich, nostalgic look at one of our most cherished national pastimes and…

Book cover of Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia

Chris Smaje Author Of Saying NO to a Farm-Free Future: The Case For an Ecological Food System and Against Manufactured Foods

From my list on why we must adopt low-impact local food systems.

Who am I?

I started my career as an academic social scientist and seem set to end it as a gardener, small-scale farmer, and accidental ecological activist. I’ve learned a lot of things along the way from these different parts of my life that I channel in my writing. I don’t claim much expertise. In fact, I think claims to expert knowledge that can ‘solve’ modern problems are a big part of our modern problems. I’ve always been interested in how people and communities try to figure things out for themselves, often by picking up the pieces when big ideas have failed them. My writing arises out of that.

Chris' book list on why we must adopt low-impact local food systems

Chris Smaje Why did Chris love this book?

Almost everywhere, there’s a local agrarian tradition in which people ingeniously figured out how to build autonomous livelihoods on their local ecological base. And almost everywhere it’s been destroyed by modern economic forces, which not only import energy and capital non-resiliently from elsewhere, but also import scorn for older rural ways once admired for their tenacity.

With a historian’s eye for detail, a storyteller’s gift for narrative, and an intensely human empathy for ordinary lives, Steven Stoll tells this story in the case of Appalachia in the United States. But the implications go much wider, and are endlessly informative for thinking through the basis of local agrarian societies worldwide today.     

By Steven Stoll,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Short-listed for the Phi Beta Kappa Ralph Waldo Emerson Book Award

In Ramp Hollow, Steven Stoll offers a fresh, provocative account of Appalachia, and why it matters. He begins with the earliest European settlers, whose desire for vast forests to hunt in was frustrated by absentee owners―including George Washington and other founders―who laid claim to the region. Even as Daniel Boone became famous as a backwoods hunter and guide, the economy he represented was already in peril. Within just a few decades, Appalachian hunters and farmers went from pioneers to pariahs, from heroes to hillbillies, in the national imagination, and…

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