80 books like Townie

By Andre Dubus III,

Here are 80 books that Townie fans have personally recommended if you like Townie. 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 Shining

Ben Monroe Author Of The Seething

From my list on scary stories to bring on vacation.

Who am I?

I’ve been a fan of horror stories as long as I can remember. The sense of building dread, and the moment of release when the terrible thing happens. I love stories about people put in impossible situations, and seeing how they overcome them, and that’s what good horror brings to the table. Being an avid reader I always have a book with me. To me, picking the right book to take on a holiday is as important as choosing the right clothing. I certainly hope this list gives you some ideas for your next vacation read.

Ben's book list on scary stories to bring on vacation

Ben Monroe Why did Ben love this book?

Perhaps a trip to the mountains is more your style? Spend some time in a snowy cabin with a hot drink and a copy of this classic ghost story. If you’re only familiar with the film version of this tale, then buckle up, buddy.

The book goes places the film never could, and is very much worth the time. The set up and pay off are great, and the sense of isolation and dread which pervades the book is palpable. It’s a classic for a reason. I reread this book every winter, and it never gets old.

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Before Doctor Sleep, there was The Shining, a classic of modern American horror from the undisputed master, Stephen King.

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around…


Book cover of Portnoy's Complaint

Matthew Arnold Stern Author Of The Remainders

From my list on Jewish families in crisis.

Who am I?

Reseda, California plays an important part in my novels. I grew up there in a middle-class Jewish family, and we experienced the turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s. My parents got divorced, and my brother and I were raised by our working mom until she became paralyzed by a stroke. I found refuge in writing. I wrote The Remainders in 2016 during a tumultuous time when issues of family conflict, homelessness, and the growing cruelty of society came into focus. Still, I believe decency and compassion will prevail. The books I write and enjoy reading seek to find light in the darkest of circumstances.

Matthew's book list on Jewish families in crisis

Matthew Arnold Stern Why did Matthew love this book?

I stumbled onto this book at way too young of an age.

It’s vulgar, graphic, and crude—but one of the best expressions of Jewish anxiety and the sense of “otherness” I’ve read. It’s both funny and revealing. And with a return of sexual repression, male anxieties, and incel rage, this book is again relevant.

By Philip Roth,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Portnoy's Complaint as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The most outrageously funny book about sex written' Guardian

Portnoy's Complaint n. [after Alexander Portnoy (1933-)]:A disorder in which strongly-felt ethical and altruistic impulses are perpetually warring with extreme sexual longings, often of a perverse nature.

Portnoy's Complaint tells the tale of young Jewish lawyer Alexander Portnoy and his scandalous sexual confessions to his psychiatrist.

As narrated by Portnoy, he takes the reader on a journey through his childhood to adolescence to present day while articulating his sexual desire, frustration and neurosis in shockingly candid ways.

Hysterically funny and daringly intimate, Portnoy's Complaint was an immediate bestseller upon its publication…


Book cover of The Risk Pool

Chuck Augello Author Of A Better Heart

From my list on fathers and sons.

Who am I?

When I started writing my novel A Better Heart, the focus was not on fathers and sons, but from the moment the narrator’s estranged father walked through the door, I knew their relationship would drive the story. As a reader, I enjoy following characters as they navigate the potholes of their lives, and family often present the biggest holes. Our primary relationships are with our parents, and their influence is a big part of who we become as adults. Exploring that bond often makes great fiction. My father died of cancer ten years ago. In writing about fathers and sons, perhaps I’m trying to imagine a different ending.          

Chuck's book list on fathers and sons

Chuck Augello Why did Chuck love this book?

The Risk Pool shows the importance of accepting and loving our fathers for who they are instead of resenting them for who they never could be. Sam Hall, the irresponsible wreck of a dad in this warm-hearted and funny book, is by any definition a terrible father, yet his relationship with his son Ned feels real in ways that most fictionalized father-son relationships don’t. Forced to care for Ned when Ned’s mother is hospitalized with mental illness, Sam introduces his son to pool halls, bars, bookies, drunks, and the occasional petty crime. Though aware of his father’s many faults, Ned can’t help but be charmed by Sam’s easy-going life, and even when Sam disappears for years, the bond remains strong.  

By Richard Russo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Risk Pool is a thirty-year journey through the lives of Sam Hall, a small-town gambling hellraiser, and his watchful, introspective son Ned. When Ned's mother Jenny suffers a breakdown and retreats from her husband's carelessness into a dream world, Ned becomes part of his father's seedy nocturnal world, touring the town's bars and pool halls, struggling to win Sam's affections while avoiding his sins.


Book cover of The Cider House Rules

Chuck Augello Author Of A Better Heart

From my list on fathers and sons.

Who am I?

When I started writing my novel A Better Heart, the focus was not on fathers and sons, but from the moment the narrator’s estranged father walked through the door, I knew their relationship would drive the story. As a reader, I enjoy following characters as they navigate the potholes of their lives, and family often present the biggest holes. Our primary relationships are with our parents, and their influence is a big part of who we become as adults. Exploring that bond often makes great fiction. My father died of cancer ten years ago. In writing about fathers and sons, perhaps I’m trying to imagine a different ending.          

Chuck's book list on fathers and sons

Chuck Augello Why did Chuck love this book?

The most loving father-son relationship I’ve ever read features Dr. Wilbur Larch and the orphan Homer Wells, who becomes the doctor’s apprentice before seeking a better life at an apple orchard in Maine.  Larch creates a fake heart ailment to keep Homer from World War 2, eventually conjuring an alternate identity to allow Homer to continue the doctor’s work caring for orphans and their mothers. But what if that life differs from what Homer wants? Irving’s novel shows how rifts between fathers and sons can exist without it diminishing the love and respect. Larch and Homer differ strongly in their beliefs on abortion, yet their bond is unbreakable. In a beautiful moment, both men gaze at their paired shadows on a hillside and wonder what their futures will bring.        

By John Irving,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The reason Homer Wells kept his name was that he came back to St Cloud's so many times, after so many failed foster homes, that the orphanage was forced to acknowledge Homer's intention to make St Cloud's his home.'

Homer Wells' odyssey begins among the apple orchards of rural Maine. As the oldest unadopted child at St Cloud's orphanage, he strikes up a profound and unusual friendship with Wilbur Larch, the orphanage's founder - a man of rare compassion and an addiction to ether. What he learns from Wilbur takes him from his early apprenticeship in the orphanage surgery, to…


Book cover of Empire Falls

Shannon Bowring Author Of The Road to Dalton

From my list on capturing the Maine experience.

Who am I?

As a born and bred Mainer, there are dozens of great books I could recommend set in the Pine Tree State. But the five I’ve curated capture, for me, the diversity of the Maine culture, from the long-gone loggers who made their living from the woods to the often-overlooked Indigenous communities to the mill towns struggling to survive. When a non-Mainer thinks of our state, what usually comes to mind are quaint coastal villages, lighthouses, lobster… And while those things are part of what makes Maine the place it is, there exists, both on and off the page, plenty of other experiences and histories to discover here. 

Shannon's book list on capturing the Maine experience

Shannon Bowring Why did Shannon love this book?

When I think of Maine, I think of mill towns. When I think of mill towns, I think of Empire Falls. And to consider Russo’s titular town is to consider what happens to a community when its once-lucrative mills are abandoned.

I have witnessed it repeatedly through the years, all around the state of Maine—first our mills go out of business, then the towns that grew around those mills gradually, inexorably decline. Russo captures this struggle, creating characters as real as the millworkers I grew up with.

He also emphasizes a strange thing that happens in these blue-collar communities: even though the people who live there know their town will never be as it once was, most of them still can’t bring themselves to leave. 

By Richard Russo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • PULITZER PRIZE WINNER • The bestselling author of Nobody's Fool and Straight Man delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

“Rich, humorous ... Mr. Russo’s most seductive book thus far.” —The New York Times

Welcome to Empire Falls, a blue-collar town full of abandoned mills whose citizens surround themselves with the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors and who find humor and hope in the most unlikely places, in this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Richard Russo.

Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at…


Book cover of Walden: Life in the Woods

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Author Of Ark

From my list on living big in small spaces.

Who am I?

I’m an American author who lived three years in a backyard tiny house with my family: husband, two young children, and a part-time dog. We wanted to live a bigger life, focused on our favorite activities and most important relationships. I wrote this book during the first spring of COVID-19, partly as a way to record my family’s experience weathering a pandemic in under 300 square feet, and partly as a way to explore the ways that children can be resourceful when life gives them a pinch. I've been a writer for most of my life, and I love to teach writing. Ark is my first middle-grade novel, and my lucky thirteenth book to publish!

Elisabeth's book list on living big in small spaces

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta Why did Elisabeth love this book?

The classic book on what happens when we dare to live differently: “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.”

Thoreau takes on the ordinary traps of daily life that humans so often fall into, and explores the spiritual costs of becoming human havings rather than human beings. This book contains everything: nature, philosophy, economics, a heady dose of DIY energy, and a reminder of how little it takes to live a very good life.

By Henry David Thoreau,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Henry David Thoreau is considered one of the leading figures in early American literature, and Walden is without doubt his most influential book.

Designed to appeal to the booklover, the Macmillan Collector's Library is a series of beautiful gift editions of much loved classic titles. Macmillan Collector's Library are books to love and treasure.

It recounts the author's experiences living in a small house in the woods around Walden Pond near Concord in Massachusetts. Thoreau constructed the house himself, with the help of a few friends, to see if he could live 'deliberately' - independently and apart from society. The…


Book cover of A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight

Laurie Loewenstein Author Of Funeral Train

From my list on immersive settings of time and place.

Who am I?

Even though I have not lived in the Midwest for fifty years, I remain a Midwesterner. It is in how I speak (adding an “r” to wash), what I like to eat (Cincinnati chili), and explains my favorite smell (the inside of a barn). Both as a reader and writer, I want to know where the story is “from.” What does this place look like? Smell like? What is the cadence of the characters’ speech? All this translates into an immersive experience and that is something I look for both in a book I pick up and in one I write. 

Laurie's book list on immersive settings of time and place

Laurie Loewenstein Why did Laurie love this book?

I am a total sucker for crime books that include blueprints of the house where a murder took place… and specifically for books about Lizzie Borden and what she did (or did not do) on August 4, 1892. I really can’t explain my preoccupation. A Private Disgrace delivers on the blueprints and much more. I have read it many times over. The author was born twelve years after the murders in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lincoln heard from her parents how Lizzie Borden was tried and acquitted for butchering her father and stepmother with an axe. The author knows the town intimately and uses her insider knowledge to formulate plausible answers as to who committed the murders and why. And Lincoln thrusts us directly into the murder house with her vivid depictions. The stifling heat of the August day, the family’s three consecutive meals of left-over mutton, the stink of the…

By Victoria Lincoln,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

~Winner of the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best Fact True Crime Novel of the Year, 1967~

A Private Disgrace is the single best account of the ghastly murders which took place in Fall River, Massachusetts on August 14, 1892.

Lizzie Andrew Borden (b.1860 – d.1927) was tried and acquitted in the 1892 axe murders of her father and stepmother in Fall River, Massachusetts. Media coverage of the case created a furor throughout the United States reminiscent of the Rosenberg, Claus von Bulow and O.J. Simpson trials. No other suspect was ever charged with the double homicide, and…


Book cover of Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, 1620-1691

Noelle A. Granger Author Of The Last Pilgrim

From my list on colonial Plymouth.

Who am I?

Growing up in Plymouth, MA, I was steeped in the history of the Pilgrims, eventually working as a tour guide at Plimoth-Patuxet.  After I retired as professor emerita from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I wrote and published a series of mysteries. That experience and my New England background buoyed my confidence that I could write about a Pilgrim woman, keeping true to the history of the Plimoth Colony. The story of Mary Allerton Cushman’s life was the result. It was long-listed for the Devon and Cornwall International Novel Prize. 

Noelle's book list on colonial Plymouth

Noelle A. Granger Why did Noelle love this book?

Former Historian General of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Stratton writes a complete treatment of the history and genealogy of the Plymouth Colony. While the book contains verbatim transcriptions of important documents and an annotated bibliography, which are manna to the writer of historical fiction, it also has informative chapters on law and order, inheritance, morality and sex, everyday life and manners, freemen and servants, and the diaspora of Pilgrim families to other towns in the colony. Thus, along with other books listed here, the research done by the author helped me to create the real world of the Plymouth Colony and allowed me to reinforce the concept that the Pilgrims were not so different from their millions of descendants four centuries later.

By Eugene Aubrey Stratton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first truly complete treatment of the history and genealogy of Plymouth Colony. It includes a concise history of the colony, both chronologically and topically, and more than 300 biographical sketches of its inhabitants. Richly documented and illustrated with maps and photographs, the three-dimensional Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, 1620-1691 was written for historians and genealogists alike and provides and in-depth view of this important epoch in American history. The researcher will find the verbatim transcriptions of important contemporary documents in the eleven appendices invaluable, and the annotated bibliography clearly describes the abundance of primary and secondary…


Book cover of Caleb's Crossing

Amy Belding Brown Author Of Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America

From my list on New England’s forgotten conflict.

Who am I?

I write historical fiction set in New England and based on the lives of real people. My New England roots go back to the 1630s when my English ancestors first came to the region so I’m steeped in its traditions and literature. I love doing the research for my books, especially when my characters lead me in new directions. I spent ten years digging into the conflict between the Puritans and the indigenous Natives and in the process discovered a largely forgotten story that has long-lasting implications for our day.

Amy's book list on New England’s forgotten conflict

Amy Belding Brown Why did Amy love this book?

When Caleb’s Crossing came out I couldn’t wait to read it. Not only was it written by one of my favorite authors, it was inspired by a true story and set in the same place and time period as the novel I was working on. Brooks’ depiction of the love between a Puritan minister’s daughter and the son of a Wampanoag leader is fraught with tension as two very different cultures collide. The novel brings to life the forces driving the conflict through the characters of Bethia and Caleb as they struggle to navigate a perilous time and the looming prospect of war.

By Geraldine Brooks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Caleb's Crossing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bestselling tale of passion and belief, magic and adventure from the author of The Secret Chord and of March, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha's vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's father is a Calvinist minister who seeks to convert the native Wampanoag, and Caleb becomes a prize in the contest…


Book cover of The Recycled Citizen

Dory Codington Author Of Beside Turning Water

From my list on realistic historical fiction that makes you swoon.

Who am I?

I started the Edge of Empire series which includes Beside Turning Water when I was a Park Guide at Boston’s National Historical Park. As a guide I gave tours on the Freedom Trail which preserves the buildings and stories from the era of the American Revolution. I wanted to create a book like the ones I love full of romance a bit of sex, and with historical accuracy. Books that would help readers fall in love with the characters and understand the history of the events in the Revolution without that dry history-class feeling.

Dory's book list on realistic historical fiction that makes you swoon

Dory Codington Why did Dory love this book?

Detectives Sarah Kelling and her much-loved husband Max Bittersohn live in her inherited house on Beacon Hill, Boston. These are detective novels of the cozy and charming sort, and because of the relationship between Sarah and Max are adventure romances as well.

Sarah has a large extended family and they enter into all the books as friends. This makes each one a friend and fun to read. MacCleod knows Boston and her descriptions of the habits and haunts of classic Beacon Brahmins/Yankees are as charming and rich as her plots. I recommend this and her other books for the fun of reading and the great plots.

By Charlotte MacLeod,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “funny and exciting” mystery in the series featuring a husband-and-wife sleuthing team in Boston (Publishers Weekly).

Boston and its suburbs are stuffed with Kellings, and the city is about to get one more. Sarah Kelling and her husband Max Bittersohn—a pair of amateur sleuths equally at home in back alleys as they are at black-tie balls—are about to have a baby. And if the child takes after his parents, he will be one of the cleverest infants in New England. But while Sarah is a month away from giving birth, she cannot let pregnancy slow her down—she has a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Massachusetts, the working class, and Boston?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Massachusetts, the working class, and Boston.

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