10 books like Winter's Bone

By Daniel Woodrell,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Winter's Bone. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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By Toni Morrison,

Book cover of Beloved

Reginald Gibbons Author Of Sweetbitter

From the list on characters’ life of feeling and cultural context.

Who am I?

Nothing about the art of writing is more interesting to me—as both reader and writer—than the power of language to open, or to enhance, or to teach, our perceptions about life and about living in the richest emotional and thoughtful ways possible. My own Sweetbitter is my major effort at imagining in language or with language as a kind of perception. Our intuitions are immensely valuable, when we can catch hold of them; for the writer, the process of imagining and articulating is a kind of method of deepening our perceptiveness and our intuitions. My books of poems, also, are a necessary—for me—practice of the art of writing.

Reginald's book list on characters’ life of feeling and cultural context

Discover why each book is one of Reginald's favorite books.

Why did Reginald love this book?

I don’t think I could have written my book had I not read Morrison’s extraordinary, brilliant Beloved.

From her book, I learned how to create the historical setting in which characters live, suffer, love, and die. In her novel I also learned the profound capacity of language to create what seems utterly real, even though it is imagined. And real in very complex, dazzlingly full, amazingly perceptive, penetrating, ways.

Style is a novelist’s presence or even identity on the page, and while, for a writer of fiction, imitating some other writer’ style never really works, and is anyway a sort of crutch, there is so much richness in the great writers (like Morrison) that probably every writer who has read Beloved has learned from that book—reading it not only as a person but also a great artist of prose.  

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Toni Morrison was a giant of her times and ours... Beloved is a heart-breaking testimony to the ongoing ravages of slavery, and should be read by all' Margaret Atwood, New York Times

Discover this beautiful gift edition of Toni Morrison's prize-winning contemporary classic Beloved

It is the mid-1800s and as slavery looks to be coming to an end, Sethe is haunted by the violent trauma it wrought on her former enslaved life at Sweet Home, Kentucky. Her dead baby daughter, whose tombstone bears the single word, Beloved, returns as a spectre to punish her mother, but also to elicit her…

True Grit

By Charles Portis,

Book cover of True Grit

Kim Taylor Blakemore Author Of The Good Time Girls

From the list on fierce women in the American West.

Who am I?

The United States Old West is a legend, a myth, a land of contradictions. I grew up and have never left this vast land of scorching deserts, soaring peaks, misty coasts, and redwoods that touch the heavens. I grew up on the myths – Tombstone, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane, Pearl Hart. What I love most are the stories of the women of the West, who survive with grit, wiles, and no small amount of courage. I love finding the lesser known women through novels and research and seeing their lives bloom before my eyes. Cowgirls, sufragettes, doctors, ex-slaves, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, cattle rustlers, homesteaders, dancehall girls.

Kim's book list on fierce women in the American West

Discover why each book is one of Kim's favorite books.

Why did Kim love this book?

One of my all-time favorites, both heartrending and humorous and a must read.

True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, a determined and tenacious young girl seeking justice for her father's murder. She hires the relentless U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn to help her track down the killer.

Readers will love this book for its gripping narrative, vivid characters, and Mattie's unwavering resolve and courage, which challenges traditional gender roles in the Wild West.

By Charles Portis,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked True Grit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is no knowing what lies in a man's heart. On a trip to buy ponies, Frank Ross is killed by one of his own workers. Tom Chaney shoots him down in the street for a horse, $150 cash, and two Californian gold pieces. Ross's unusually mature and single-minded fourteen-year-old daughter Mattie travels to claim his body, and finds that the authorities are doing nothing to find Chaney. Then she hears of Rooster - a man, she's told, who has grit - and convinces him to join her in a quest into dark, dangerous Indian territory to hunt Chaney down…

The Quiet American

By Graham Greene,

Book cover of The Quiet American

David Hagerty Author Of They Tell Me You Are Wicked

From the list on political crime fiction.

Who am I?

I grew up in Chicago in the waning days of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s machine, which politicized everything from schools to loading zones. Everyone—whether they were civil servants or small business owners—had to pledge loyalty to Da Boss, Hizzoner, or suffer the consequences. As a result, I’ve always gravitated to crime stories with a political element, one showing the effects of big conflicts on regular people. And I’ve written about the same. 

David's book list on political crime fiction

Discover why each book is one of David's favorite books.

Why did David love this book?

Before the U.S. entered the war in Vietnam, Graham Greene forecast its disastrous consequences. His love triangle, set amid the escalating conflict, perfectly captures the naiveté of American interventionism overseas. I love the subtext of the tale, which is narrated by an embittered British journalist. Although it’s never spoken, we intuit that he is addicted to opium and living the life of a dissolute expatriate. Fowler watches in horror as a U.S. diplomat tries to steal both the woman and the country he has adopted. He claims impartiality and indifference until he cannot any longer.

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Quiet American as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Graham Greene's classic exploration of love, innocence, and morality in Vietnam

"I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused," Graham Greene's narrator Fowler remarks of Alden Pyle, the eponymous "Quiet American" of what is perhaps the most controversial novel of his career. Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission to Saigon, where the French Army struggles against the Vietminh guerrillas.

As young Pyle's well-intentioned policies blunder into bloodshed, Fowler, a seasoned and cynical British reporter, finds it impossible to stand safely aside as an observer. But…

Into Thin Air

By Jon Krakauer,

Book cover of Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

T.L. Bodine Author Of Neverest

From the list on to read instead of going out in the elements.

Who am I?

I've often lived around the fringes of nature, from late-night cross-country road trips through forested backwoods, to living off-grid in New Mexico's high desert. As much as I've lived in the shadow of mountains and extreme environments, I've never dared to venture up into them – and I'm endlessly fascinated by the people who do. What is it that drives people toward extreme sports and outdoor challenges, even understanding the risks? Why do people risk life and limb to venture into places where man isn't meant to be? It's a question I don't think I'll ever stop finding fascinating. 

T.L.'s book list on to read instead of going out in the elements

Discover why each book is one of T.L.'s favorite books.

Why did T.L. love this book?

A work of nonfiction, this is Krakauer's memoir of the then-worst tragedy to befall climbers on Mount Everest – a doomed 1996 summit bid that left five people dead and another irrevocably changed.

This is an intense and breathless journey to the peak, that leaves you simultaneously longing to go on this journey and see the sights described...and very happy to be home warm in bed and far from this miserable call to adventure.

This is the flagship mountaineering memoir for a reason! 

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Into Thin Air as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The epic account of the storm on the summit of Mt. Everest that claimed five lives and left countless more—including Krakauer's—in guilt-ridden disarray. 

"A harrowing tale of the perils of high-altitude climbing, a story of bad luck and worse judgment and of heartbreaking heroism." —PEOPLE

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. 

By writing Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons…

Book cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Ken Sheldon Author Of Deep Water: Murder, Scandal, and Intrigue in a New England Town

From the list on true-crime that reads like Agatha Christie mystery.

Who am I?

I started out as a technical writer for computer magazines and my specialty was explaining complex subjects in language the average person could understand. I got tired of that and began writing for general interest magazines, then wrote a couple of thrillers, then plays. For years, I’d been hearing the story of a gentleman farmer who was murdered in 1918, toward the end of WWI, not far from where I live. The murder was never solved and was rumored to involve German espionage. I decided to tackle the story, which involved a mountain of research into historical documents and uncovered a case that was as compelling as any fictional mystery.

Ken's book list on true-crime that reads like Agatha Christie mystery

Discover why each book is one of Ken's favorite books.

Why did Ken love this book?

On an early trip to Savannah, I stayed a block from the mansion where the murder at the heart of John Berendt’s bestselling book took place and where the movie was filmed. I wrote much of my own book in another apartment not far away. In my writing, I was inspired by the way Berendt included himself in his story and I decided to incorporate some of my own struggles to uncover the truth about the brutal murder of William K. Dean.

By John Berendt,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Genteel society ladies who compare notes on their husbands' suicides. A hilariously foul-mouthed black drag queen. A voodoo priestess who works her roots in the graveyard at midnight. A morose inventor who owns a bottle of poison powerful enough to kill everyone in town. A prominent antiques dealer who hangs a Nazi flag from his window to disrupt the shooting of a movie. And a redneck gigolo whose conquests describe him as a 'walking streak of sex'.

These are some of the real residents of Savannah, Georgia, a city whose eccentric mores are unerringly observed - and whose dirty linen…

All the King's Men

By Robert Penn Warren,

Book cover of All the King's Men

James Sulzer Author Of The Voice at the Door

From the list on poets and politics.

Who am I?

As a teenager, I “discovered” the poetry of Emily Dickinson and put her verse to music. Later, at Yale University I delved deeper into the power of rhythms, the beauty of images, the clarity of insights—how they combine to create a genuine poetic voice that reveals an interior world. Politics, of course, define our interactions in the exterior world, and great novels meld these two elements—poetry and politics—into a seamless union. I’ve been inspired to write novels about two poets—Emily Dickinson and John Keats—to bring the reader into the intense, poetic world of their blazing interiors and their unique outward politics.

James' book list on poets and politics

Discover why each book is one of James' favorite books.

Why did James love this book?

Harsh politics and tender poetic feelings: All the King’s Men is a classic novel about the rise and fall of a would-be dictator named Willie Stark. But it’s also about the personal lives of the people behind the power struggles—especially the bemused, poetic narrator, Jack Burden, who loses the love of his life, Anne Stanton, to the increasingly tyrannical Stark. As a teenager I fell in love with the love story. This novel convinced me of the power of combining the personal and the public, which I am working on in my new novel about the Black Panther rally in New Haven in 1970.

By Robert Penn Warren,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked All the King's Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Willie Stark's obsession with political power leads to the ultimate corruption of his gubernatorial administration.

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Susanna Beard Author Of The Best Friend

From the list on featuring a feisty female.

Who am I?

Since I was a girl, I’ve had an enduring sense that women must work harder, be cleverer, think more creatively than men, both at work and sometimes at home. So I love a woman who stands up for herself, who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. At one time, when the series Spooks was popular on TV, I wanted to be Ros, the operator who, when a dodgy guy followed her, hid around a corner. She flattened him with some nifty moves, stole his car keys and said: “Never follow me again.” Brilliant! I hope you enjoy all the feisty females on my book list. 

Susanna's book list on featuring a feisty female

Discover why each book is one of Susanna's favorite books.

Why did Susanna love this book?

This is a book of many parts. It’s essentially a coming-of-age murder mystery, but there’s so much more to enjoy in this book – not least the wonderful filmic descriptions of the setting. 

The lead character is a young girl named Kya who grows up alone in the marshes of North Carolina when her family deserts her. For me, she’s the classic clever, feisty girl who has no choice but to survive on her wits.

She learns to feed herself and finds ways to survive on her own – she’s a problem-solver, a lover of nature, a free spirit – and when the locals decide she’s bad news, she gets herself out of an accusation of murder. What a girl!

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

32 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…

Blood Meridian

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

Baron Birtcher Author Of South California Purples

From the list on discovering a great new thriller series.

Who am I?

I’ve been a traditionally published author of thrillers and mysteries for nearly 20 years. I grew up in rural southern California (yes, it was rural then) surrounded by open spaces, riding horseback through the rolling cattle pastures of San Juan Capistrano. My recollections of those experiences, and the culture shift that inevitably arises out of every generation is a deep and fascinating well from which to draw stories and the characters who flesh them out. My thrillers have won a number of literary awards, and have been bestsellers—for which I am profoundly grateful. I hope you’ll join to relive the ethos, the passion, and the challenges faced when the Old West meets the New.

Baron's book list on discovering a great new thriller series

Discover why each book is one of Baron's favorite books.

Why did Baron love this book?

While more manageable in size, this novel hits on every cylinder.

Spectacular insights into the Old West and the New are told with language that somehow manages to be both elegant and gritty at the same time. 

Sometimes the scene descriptions are rendered sparely, other times with a nearly poetic hand, but at all times create a durable and memorable backdrop for the drama.

If you are a writer, this is a book you’ll want to read more than once or twice, just as you will likely find yourself re-reading entire paragraphs just to experience the language for a second time.

This book was a significant catalyst in my career, and proved foundational in my pursuing the crafting of a new contemporary western thriller series of my own. 

There is a reason Cormac McCarthy is considered a modern treasure, and this book is one of his most (in my opinion)…

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Blood Meridian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion, brilliantly subverting the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the Wild West. Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennessean who stumbles into a nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.

Pop. 1280

By Jim Thompson,

Book cover of Pop. 1280

Lynn A. Higgins Author Of Bertrand Tavernier

From the list on to read in with the eccentric movie adaptations.

Who am I?

I'm a recently retired Professor of French literature and cinema studies at Dartmouth College. Because I love both books and movies, I developed a course on adaptation, which I taught with pleasure for many years. I wanted to give students the opportunity to learn how to analyze literary texts and films, separately and in juxtaposition, and they especially enjoyed discovering how the “same” story works quite differently in different media. In addition to the two volumes on Tavernier, my published books include New Novel, New Wave, New Politics: Fiction and the Representation of History in Postwar France; Parables of Theory: Jean Ricardou’s Metafiction; and Rape and Representation (co-edited with Brenda Silver).

Lynn's book list on to read in with the eccentric movie adaptations

Discover why each book is one of Lynn's favorite books.

Why did Lynn love this book?

I was introduced to this book through Tavernier’s brilliant adaptation, Clean Slate (Coup de Torchon, 1981). Set in Texas, Thompson’s novel was published in 1964, during the Civil Rights Movement, and it offers a portrait of petty-minded racism in the continuing aftermath of slavery. Tavernier’s adaptation transposes the story to 1930s French colonial West Africa. I remain haunted by the ways the two settings illuminate each other. Tavernier’s blending of a deadly serious historical crisis with touches of comedy—slapstick even—brings both eras and the novel itself to life in enjoyable and instructive ways.

By Jim Thompson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Pop. 1280 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A classic crime novel from 'the best suspense writer going, bar none' New York Times

Nick Corey likes being the high sheriff of Potts County. But Nick has a few problems that he needs to deal with: like his loveless marriage, the pimps who torment him, the honest man who is running against him in the upcoming elections and the women who adore him.

And it turns out that Nick isn't anything like as amiable, easy-going or as slow as he seems. He's as sly, brutal and corrupt as they come.

Book cover of The Marsh King's Daughter

Andrew Welsh-Huggins Author Of The End of the Road

From the list on women solving mysteries and seeking revenge.

Who am I?

I’m a veteran journalist and a long-time lover of mysteries and crime fiction. My new novel, The End of The Road ties together my experience over many years covering true crime and my love of the Classics—my college major—and in particular Homer’s Odyssey. In later years, reading Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, in which she recasts the return of Odysseus from the Trojan War as the story of his long-suffering wife Penelope, inspired me to tell my own tale of an arduous journey from Penelope’s perspective. Being a crime reporter and mystery aficionado helped me spin Penny’s story from a procedural and plotting standpoint; reading Homer helped me explore the literary side of her adventure.

Andrew's book list on women solving mysteries and seeking revenge

Discover why each book is one of Andrew's favorite books.

Why did Andrew love this book?

Dionne’s book drew me in immediately with its provocative opening lines: “If I told you my mother’s name, you’d recognize it right away. My mother was famous, though she never wanted to be. Hers wasn’t the kind of fame anyone would wish for.”

Dionne divides the subsequent story between past and present, beginning with protagonist Helena’s hunt for her father after he escapes from prison, knowing he'll come for her. To track him, Helena uses the backwoods skills her father taught her as she grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness.

Through flashbacks, we learn the bizarre details of Helena’s upbringing as the child of a woman her father abducted as a teenager and held captive for years. Totally gripping.

By Karen Dionne,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Marsh King's Daughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published in ebook and paperback as Home

You'd recognise my mother's name if I told it to you. You'd wonder, briefly, where is she now? And didn't she have a daughter while she was missing?

And whatever happened to the little girl?

Helena's home is like anyone else's. With a husband and two daughters, and a job she enjoys. But no one knows the truth about her childhood.

Born into captivity and brought up in an isolated cabin until she was 12, Helena was raised to be a killer by the man who kept her captive - her own father.…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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