100 books like Winter's Bone

By Daniel Woodrell,

Here are 100 books that Winter's Bone fans have personally recommended if you like Winter's Bone. 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 Beloved

Donna Hemans Author Of The House of Plain Truth

From my list on haunting: how the past lingers with us.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a culture that both fears and embraces spirits or outrightly rejects the idea that spirits live on beyond death. I grew up on stories of rolling calves and duppies that caused havoc among the living. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by what haunts us—whether it be our familial spirits that float among the living and continue to play a role in our lives, our memories, or our past actions. I’ve written three books that play with this idea of past actions lingering long into the characters’ lives and returning in unexpected ways.  

Donna's book list on haunting: how the past lingers with us

Donna Hemans Why did Donna love this book?

This book is a longtime favorite of mine. Toni Morrison was a master at blending the personal story and the political, and in this book, she blends the true story of a mother who kills her child to prevent slave catchers from returning the baby to life as a slave.

Morrison’s fictional Sethe is haunted by the ghost of the baby she killed and the memories of her difficult life as a slave. This is one of the novels I return to time after time, both for the beauty of the writing and the portrayal of a mother’s love, guilt, and the lingering impact of slavery.

By Toni Morrison,

Why should I read it?

33 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…

Book cover of True Grit

Sabrina Reeves Author Of Little Crosses

From my list on a fierce female protagonist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Boston and New York and currently live in Montreal. I have worked primarily in writing performance texts and plays. I founded the performance company Bluemouth Inc., with whom I have written and staged over a dozen works. In 2018, I completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Concordia University, where I was awarded the Dean of Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Creative Writing. As for my expertise in compiling this list, I am the daughter of a strong force-of-nature woman who fought for what she had and taught her kids they can get through anything as long as they have humor, music, and books.

Sabrina's book list on a fierce female protagonist

Sabrina Reeves Why did Sabrina love this book?

Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross has got grit.

This book was recommended to me by my firefighter brother, who often reads what I call “he-man” books. The titles always have words like mutiny, bullets, gangsters, firestorm, etc. So, when he suggested I read this book, I had my reservations. (In fairness, the books he recommends consistently end up on my list of all-time favorites–I guess that’s what I get for pre-judging!) In any case, over the years, I have learned the one thing we both love in a protagonist–and now I have a name for it–is grit. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

By Charles Portis,

Why should I read it?

15 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…

Book cover of The Quiet American

David Hagerty Author Of They Tell Me You Are Wicked

From my list on political crime fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

David Hagerty 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?

10 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…

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

Jim Landwehr Author Of Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir

From my list on the trials and joys of outdoor adventure.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a lover of all things outdoors since I was a boy. After my father was killed at a young age, my brothers and I took his love for outdoor adventure and made it our own. Fully aware of all that can go wrong, my brothers and I went into our ventures with a keen sense of humor. Camping, fishing, and kayaking all come with their own challenges and requisite hilarious moments. It is these moments of adversity, and personal risk, that are sometimes lightened by a good dose of laughter and levity.

Jim's book list on the trials and joys of outdoor adventure

Jim Landwehr Why did Jim love this book?

This book takes the author on the ultimate high-altitude adventure, an attempt to summit the highest mountain on Earth.

It is a sobering account of the commercialization and false promises behind various mountaineering groups that pitch the summiting of the mountain to people rich enough to think they have the stamina to conquer it, but who really have no right being there in the first place.

Everest and the people who attempt to climb it have always intrigued me and this book was a stark reminder that it is a place to be revered and respected, or risk its wrath. 

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

17 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 my list on true-crime that reads like Agatha Christie mystery.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Ken Sheldon 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…

Book cover of All the King's Men

Georg Loefflmann Author Of The Politics of Antagonism: Populist Security Narratives and the Remaking of Political Identity

From my list on understand how populism works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am Lecturer in US Foreign Policy at Queen Mary University of London, and I work on issues of national security and identity, political rhetoric and the role of the everyday in shaping politics, especially media and popular culture. I have written extensively on American politics and US foreign policy over these past years with two published monographs and more than a dozen articles in peer-reviewed academic journals, plus a couple of op-eds and multiple TV and radio appearances. My most recent research project explores the role of populism under the Trump presidency and its political impact in the United States.

Georg's book list on understand how populism works

Georg Loefflmann Why did Georg love this book?

This book is maybe my favorite novel ever written about politics and the lengths that some men are willing to go in the pursuit of power.

It features a memorable cast of characters, most importantly, of course, the figure of Governor Willie Stark, the quintessential populist politician, who manipulates others for his own gain and demonstrates a total lack of morals. Set in the 1930s, the story of Stark’s rise to power and eventual downfall always strikes me for how contemporary it feels and how many parallels it offers with the populist politics of our own time. 

By Robert Penn Warren,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked All the King's Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 16.

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

Lori Duffy Foster Author Of Never Let Go

From my list on thrillers with twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my years on the crime beat, I often met good people who did bad things and criminals with good intentions and good hearts. We tend to draw a line between good and evil, putting ourselves on the good side. From that perspective, we sit in judgment, believing we are incapable of evil because it’s “over there.” Inaccessible. Unfathomable. But that line is fictional. We redraw it constantly to feel good about ourselves and avoid empathizing with the worst of human nature. What I love about these five novels is that they expose that truth. The twists remind me that even my own line is blurred and ever-shifting.

Lori's book list on thrillers with twists

Lori Duffy Foster Why did Lori love this book?

I love historical fiction, especially when authors throw in a touch of crime. So, that’s what first drew me to this book.

What kept me reading and what made me rank this novel so highly is the gradual unlayering of the main character as the story progresses. Sure, Kya is a victim and a survivor, but she is so much more, and she is capable of more than I could have anticipated. As in some of my other favorite novels, it’s that loyalty to human nature, the understanding that circumstances can make good choices wrong and poor choices right, that pulled me in.

If I had known the ending when I started the book, I might not have believed it possible, but Delia Owens made it work.

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

44 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…

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

JD McKelvin Author Of These Cruel Watchers

From my list on exploring your inner darkness.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I learned that I was able to lucid dream at will, speaking to the beings I met in these places I’d never seen before, and it always gave me a sense of interconnectedness. A thread that goes through all of us and our histories. I believe that the ancients dedicated so much of their energy and resources to preserving their stories in order to maintain this connection because it’s so important. Inside all of us is a darkness that, if left unchecked would lead us to ruin. These books all demonstrate the inner struggle we have to understand and redirect that darkness toward the light and the good. 

JD's book list on exploring your inner darkness

JD McKelvin Why did JD love this book?

I often ask what the nature of laws and authority is. In the "Old West," when there was no overarching central authority, the survival of the fittest was the law. I’m curious how the clash of the old world with the new becomes a never-ending cycle and where it may lead.

I loved how none of the characters were all good or all bad, they were just survivors. This book is not meant to be liked or disliked. It’s meant to be experienced and "danced with."

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

14 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.

Book cover of Pop. 1280

Lynn A. Higgins Author Of Bertrand Tavernier

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Lynn A. Higgins 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 my list on women solving mysteries and seeking revenge.

Why am I passionate about this?

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

Andrew Welsh-Huggins 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.…

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