The best country life books

Who picked these books? Meet our 97 experts.

97 authors created a book list connected to country life, and here are their favorite country life books.
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What type of country life book?


The Lost Man

By Jane Harper,

Book cover of The Lost Man

Nikki Crutchley Author Of To the Sea

From the list on an isolated setting.

Who am I?

I am a crime writer from New Zealand and have set all of my books either in small towns or isolated settings. The appeal of isolated settings, for me, is that social norms are lacking, people are often making their own rules in which to live by and they have chosen to live this life for particular reasons. The physical environment of isolated settings holds power and danger, but also beauty. In the five books I’ve chosen, all settings are stunning in their own way but with the introduction of characters with their own stories and histories, the beauty often contradicts the dark events going on and the secrets being kept.

Nikki's book list on an isolated setting

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

Why did Nikki love this book?

You can’t get more isolated than the Australian outback. Or more brutal. And it’s here that stockman Cameron Bright is found dead, on the border of two cattle properties, at an old stockman’s grave.

The Lost Man goes on to tell the story of the Bright family, who live in this harsh environment, making a living off the land. Nathan, Cameron’s older brother, especially, needs answers about his brother’s death and starts questioning the family’s finances, along with his family’s past and begins to wonder if something more sinister is at play.

I loved the way Jane Harper portrayed this vast, unforgiving landscape and the way it has total control over the people who choose to make their homes there.

By Jane Harper,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Two brothers meet in the remote Australian outback when the third brother is found dead, in this stunning new standalone novel from Jane Harper

Brothers Nathan and Bub Bright meet for the first time in months at the remote fence line separating their cattle ranches in the lonely outback.

Their third brother, Cameron, lies dead at their feet.

In an isolated belt of Australia, their homes a three-hour drive apart, the brothers were one another’s nearest neighbors. Cameron was the middle child, the one who ran the family homestead. But something made him head out…

Where the Heart Is

By Billie Letts,

Book cover of Where the Heart Is

Margaret Meps Schulte Author Of Strangers Have the Best Candy

From the list on getting you talking to strangers.

Who am I?

When I was a youngster, my parents took me on 6-week journeys across the United States by car. We'd stop in a small town each night, and I would explore on foot and meet other kids at the swimming pool or ice cream shop. That slow mode of travel has become my default, and I've spent years exploring back roads, small towns, and bywaters by car, bicycle, and sailboat. I write about the strangers I've found and the "candy" I've gotten from them: strangers have lessons for all of us and are not as dangerous as we've been told.

Margaret's book list on getting you talking to strangers

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

Why did Margaret love this book?

In this novel, a pregnant teenager gets abandoned in a small town where she doesn't know anyone. She begins connecting with strangers, one at a time, studying them and deciding which ones are safe to talk to. Eventually, the main character has built a complete support network for herself and her child. I love the way author Billie Letts describes the process of talking to strangers and connecting with them until they become some of our closest friends. It's the same way I get candy from strangers in real life.

By Billie Letts,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Where the Heart Is as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 17-year-old pregnant girl heading for Califonia with her boyfriend finds herself stranded at a Wal-Mart in Oklahoma, with just $7.77 in change. But she's about to be helped by a group of down-to-earth, deeply caring people, including a bible-thumping nun and an eccentric librarian.

Round Trip

By Ann Jonas,

Book cover of Round Trip

Kevin Tseng Author Of One Snowy Morning

From the list on seeing things differently.

Who am I?

Growing up, I loved drawing and painting and disliked writing papers, so always thought of myself solely as an illustrator. Then one day, the tale of a pie-baking worm looking for new digs (Ned’s New Home) popped into my head and I shifted into author-illustrator. Later, the story of some highly innovative forest critters (One Snowy Morning) took form and I flipped fully into the role of author (with illustrator Dana Wulfekotte’s vision filling the pages). Of course, children’s story narratives can carry big ideas. For me, the opportunities surrounding the books themselves have taught me that the ability to see things differently is a very valuable tool.

Kevin's book list on seeing things differently

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

Why did Kevin love this book?

As a kid, I remember staring out the window during car rides and being mesmerized by shapes, repetition, and motion. This masterfully designed book captures that dream-like quality during a daytime road trip from country into city. The detailed black-and-white illustrations use silhouette and pattern to convey the shifting scenery. And just when you think the book has come to an end, you flip the entire thing over and travel back home — at night!

By Ann Jonas,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book isn't just the STORY of a family’s round trip - it IS a round trip! Read forward and look at the sights, then flip the book over to see something different on the way back. The black-and-white illustrations for the trip into the city become something different when the book is turned upside down for the journey home. Clouds turn into puddles, fields of wheat turn into rain, lightning becomes mountain trails, and building lights morph into stars. "Round Trip" was featured on Reading Rainbow, the acclaimed PBS-TV series celebrating books and reading.

More Scenes from the Rural Life

By Verlyn Klinkenborg,

Book cover of More Scenes from the Rural Life

Jonathan T. Jefferson Author Of Echoes from the Farm

From the list on rural life in upstate New York.

Who am I?

Born in 1969 as the seventh of eight children to two Harlem-raised parents, I benefited from both the inner-city life of Queens, New York and childhood summers spent on a farm in rural upstate New York. Academic, professional, and physical accomplishments have punctuated my life. An adventurer by nature, I became the first African American to hike to the top of every mountain in the northeast US over 4,000' (115 of them) by September of 2000. At that time, less than 400 people had accomplished this feat; whereas thousands have scaled Mount Everest. My home city’s iconic landmarks create a psychological veil that blinds people to the vast open spaces that dominate New York State. 

Jonathan's book list on rural life in upstate New York

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

Why did Jonathan love this book?

This book can be more aptly titled “Life”. Klinkenborg’s musings over an eleven-year span while maintaining his farm in upstate New York’s Hudson Valley go well beyond the allotted time and location. His many astute observations about nature, animals, and people are expertly framed with blunt and humorous analogies. The Interlude and final chapter ("Coda") state the importance of the sciences exploring cosmology, biology, and archeology and why knowledge morphs through history. A must-read for any urbanite or suburbanite curious about country living.

By Verlyn Klinkenborg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked More Scenes from the Rural Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Verlyn Klinkenborg's regular column, The Rural Life , is one of the most read and beloved in the New York Times. Since 1997, he has written eloquently on every aspect, large and small, of life on his upstate New York farm, including his animals, the weather and landscape, and the trials and rewards of physical labor, as well as broader issues about agriculture and land use behind farming today. Klinkenborg's pieces are admired as much for their poetic writing as for their insight: peonies are the sheepdog of flowers," dry snow "tumbles offthe angled end of the plow-blade as if…

Close to Famous

By Joan Bauer,

Book cover of Close to Famous

Cori Cooper Author Of Bake Believe

From the list on baking magic.

Who am I?

I’m a writer that absolutely loves baking! There’s just something about taking commonplace ingredients and creating something extraordinary.  I’m amazed at the way food brings people together and lifts them up. That’s why I am so captivated by stories that include cooking or baking. All the better if there’s a strong family theme and an element or two of magic. I included books on my list that do these things really well, and relate to my own Bake Believe trilogy. Try not to get too hungry while you read!

Cori's book list on baking magic

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

Why did Cori love this book?

Foster dreams of having her own cooking show one day but is hampered by a secret she’s never told anyone. When she and her mama have to skip town quickly to escape her mama’s crazy, Elvis-impersonating boyfriend, they end up in Culpepper. A tiny, little podunk place too small to be called a town. Foster wows the local, severely grumpy, cafe owner with her delectable baking skills and works out a deal to supply him with cupcakes and more. She also strikes up an unlikely friendship with a reclusive woman who gives Foster the courage to face her secret. This book was lovely from start to finish.

By Joan Bauer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard's goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster's mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitants-and put their big ambitions to the test. Full of humor, unforgettable characters, surprises, and lots and lots of heart, this is Joan Bauer at her most…

We Took to the Woods

By Louise Dickinson Rich,

Book cover of We Took to the Woods

Shannon Bowring Author Of The Road to Dalton

From the 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

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

Why did Shannon love this book?

In lyrical prose, Rich brings the reader into her real experience as a woman living in the Maine woods during the 1930s.

Rich’s narrative often reads like an adventure story—black bears, raging snowstorms—but some of my favorite scenes center around the endless daily chores necessary to a life in the wilderness. I also love Rich’s stories of the logging camps that surround her and her husband’s homestead.

Her riveting descriptions of the annual river drives, during which logs would be floated from the forest down to the lumber and paper mills, recall a way of life nearly unfathomable for those of us in the modern age. And if all that weren’t enough, Rich’s singular, humorous voice is simply a delight to read. 

By Louise Dickinson Rich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Took to the Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In her early thirties, Louise Dickinson Rich took to the woods of Maine with her husband. They found their livelihood and raised a family in the remote backcountry settlement of Middle Dam, in the Rangeley area. Rich made time after morning chores to write about their lives. We Took to the Woods is an adventure story, written with humor, but it also portrays a cherished dream awakened into full life. First published 1942.

Stepping Stones

By Lucy Knisley,

Book cover of Stepping Stones

Misty Wilson Author Of Play Like a Girl

From the list on graphic novels featuring girls who persevere.

Who am I?

Growing up, if I wasn’t good at something right away, I’d quit. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of others. Because of that, I never experienced how great it felt to overcome obstacles, to succeed at something hard—until I played football. Girls Who Persevere is an important topic to me because so often, girls are treated as if they’re inferior or incapable. It’s ingrained in them that they shouldn’t try certain things (like football!), and if they fail at first, it must mean they can’t do it. I think it’s important to see strong girls doing big things, even when they’re hard. These books show just that.

Misty's book list on graphic novels featuring girls who persevere

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

Why did Misty love this book?

This graphic novel is based on Lucy’s real life. It’s about a girl who begrudgingly moves from her home in the city to the country to live with her mom’s new boyfriend and share a bedroom with his daughters. I love this one because when you’re a kid, so many things are out of your control, and grown-ups are the ones making decisions for you. Sometimes, kids are forced to learn a whole new way of life. Stepping Stones is a great depiction of that experience—an experience I can relate to as someone whose mom remarried and then had to move towns and schools. I love how the main character, Jen, is terrible at math but has to handle money at the farmer’s market. She spends the summer persevering through her math troubles, her embarrassment related to it, and her new family and farm work expectations. 

By Lucy Knisley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This contemporary middle-grade graphic novel about family and belonging from New York Times bestselling author Lucy Knisley is a perfect read for fans of Awkward and Be Prepared.

Jen is used to not getting what she wants. So suddenly moving the country and getting new stepsisters shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

Jen did not want to leave the city. She did not want to move to a farm with her mom and her mom's new boyfriend, Walter. She did not want to leave her friends and her dad.

Most of all, Jen did not want to get new…

Anne of Green Gables

By L.M. Montgomery,

Book cover of Anne of Green Gables

Cathy Gohlke Author Of Ladies of the Lake

From the list on the wonder and complexity of friendships and love.

Who am I?

From the moment my grandmother told me that books were not created by magic, but that real people write books (I was five years old) I knew that I wanted to become a writer—as surely as did Anne in Anne of Green Gables. Themes of the joy, the complexity, and responsibility of friendship and family, of working together despite great challenges to overcome obstacles for purposes beyond ourselves, and of doing that while sometimes working through stages of grief all resonate with me, are all part of my life. The books I’ve recommended, as well as the books I’ve written, contain those themes.

Cathy's book list on the wonder and complexity of friendships and love

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

Why did Cathy love this book?

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s characters live and breathe in my heart. 

In Anne of Green Gables, orphaned Anne Shirley is taken in by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of quaint Avonlea on beautiful Prince Edward Island. Anne’s many social challenges, her antics—well-meaning but with frequent disastrous (and humorous) results, her close friendship with neighboring Diana Barry, and her many hopes and longings and dreams warm and delight my heart. 

Like Anne, several characters in my own stories—as well as I—longed from childhood to become a writer. In my book, my heroine, also an orphan from Prince Edward Island, strikes up a correspondence with the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. 

Anne of Green Gables is a book rich in characters that will never grow old—a perfect pleasure.

By L.M. Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Anne of Green Gables as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Anne of Green Gables is the classic children's book by L M Montgomery, the inspiration for the Netflix Original series Anne with an E. Watch it now!

Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are in for a big surprise. They are waiting for an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables - but a skinny, red-haired girl turns up instead. Feisty and full of spirit, Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts' affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter. It's not long before Anne finds herself in trouble, but soon it becomes impossible for the Cuthberts to…

Book cover of The History of the Countryside

Jack Nisbet Author Of The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest

From the list on the interwoven lifeways of plants and people.

Who am I?

I have studied the intersection of human and natural history as an enthusiast, newspaper columnist, teacher, museum curator, and author. I strongly believe in the value of local knowledge, which has led me to work with and learn from several Plateau tribal communities. I use primary documents, including field journals, maps, artwork, oral histories, and the landscape itself as my building blocks. If I can arrive at a confluence of rivers on the same day of the year as some early white visitors and search for the living things that they wrote about during their stay, then I have something that I can compare directly with tribal oral histories. 

Jack's book list on the interwoven lifeways of plants and people

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

Why did Jack love this book?

This classic study of the creation of the modern British landscape by a revered historical ecologist draws on everything from pollen counts to the Domesday Book. Along the way, Rackham explodes dozens of common myths about what Great Britain used to be like, employs archaeology for very practical purposes, and demonstrates the astonishing resilience of plants and trees. Every time I look at Rackham’s work I see new ways to apply it to the Pacific Northwest.

By Oliver Rackham,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The History of the Countryside as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From its earliest origins to the present day, this award-winning, beautifully written book describes the endlessly changing character of Britain's countryside.

'A classic' Richard Mabey

Exploring the natural and man-made features of the land - fields, highways, hedgerows, fens, marshes, rivers, heaths, coasts, woods and wood pastures - he shows conclusively and unforgettably how they have developed over the centuries. In doing so, he covers a wealth of related subjects to provide a fascinating account of the sometimes subtle and sometimes radical ways in which people, fauna, flora, climate, soils and other physical conditions have played their part in the…

Rilla of Ingleside

By L. M. Montgomery,

Book cover of Rilla of Ingleside

Jeanie Nicholson Author Of Gone to the Dogs

From the list on people who love dogs.

Who am I?

I’m passionate about dogs. Besides being a novelist, I write and blog about dogs for a living. Save a few grief-filled months here and there, there’s never been a time in my life when I didn’t have at least one dog, each one just as special and beloved as the last. My current special beloved is a German shepherd named Dixie, a big, goofy girl who loves belly rubs and tug-of-war almost as much as food and cuddles. Dogs also make the stakes feel higher when there’s an element of danger involved. Sure, go ahead, kill off the main character. Just don’t harm the dog and everything will be fine.

Jeanie's book list on people who love dogs

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

Why did Jeanie love this book?

The last book in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved Anne of Green Gables series, this volume focuses on Anne’s children as they grow into adulthood during the tumultuous years of World War I.

With Anne’s youngest daughter Rilla as the central protagonist, Rilla of Ingleside is the poignant story of a young woman coming of age at a time when people thought the world might be coming to an end.

Rilla grows from a spoiled and flighty young teen to a capable and level-headed young woman as she watches the young men in her community – her brothers included – march off to war.

While it’s not central to the story, a highlight of this book is Dog Monday, the little yellow dog belonging to Rilla’s eldest brother, whose loyalty as he patiently waits at the train station for his master’s return knows no bounds.

Although it’s the final book in…

By L. M. Montgomery,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It's 1914 and the world is on the brink of war. But at almost fifteen, Anne and Gilbert's youngest daughter, Rilla, dreams only of her first dance and getting her first kiss from the dashing Kenneth Ford. Soon, however, even far-off Ingleside is engulfed by Europe's raging conflict, as Rilla's brothers Jem and Walter both enlist, and Rilla finds herself caring for an orphaned newborn.
   As the conflict spreads, the Blythes wait anxiously for word of their absent sons, and a bad omen leads them to conclude that something terrible has happened overseas. Have Jem and Walter been lost, like…


By André Alexis,

Book cover of Pastoral

Karla Huebner Author Of In Search of the Magic Theater

From the list on creativity, self-discovery, and (re)invention.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by our creative urges and ambitions, and by what makes us who we are and why we make the choices we do. While I’m interested in many aspects of human experience and psychology, from the mundane to the murderous, I’m especially drawn to narratives that probe our deeper psyches and look, particularly with a grain of humor, at our efforts to expand our understanding and create great works—or simply to become wiser and more enlightened beings. What is our place in the universe? Why are we here? Who are we? The books I’ve listed explore some of these matters in ways both heartfelt and humorous.

Karla's book list on creativity, self-discovery, and (re)invention

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

Why did Karla love this book?

Pastoral is one of my favorite recent discoveries. It’s one of a quincunx of novels linked by exploration of five classic literary genres—in this case the currently unfashionable pastoral. Newly ordained priest Christopher Pennant isn’t greatly pleased that his first parish assignment is to a rural town where sheep are numerous. He assumes he’ll be a suitable shepherd to the humans, people he expects to be simple and straightforward. Of course, they aren’t. They’re not only as complex as people anywhere else, but very unexpected. Father Pennant not only finds he has a self-appointed cello-playing chef as rectory caretaker, but he witnesses three possible miracles. Or are they trickery? I love the depth and gentle humor in the priest’s attempts to understand his parishioners and himself. And nature, too.

By André Alexis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There were plans for an official welcome. It was to take place the following Sunday. But those who came to the rectory on Father Pennant's second day were the ones who could not resist seeing him sooner. Here was the man to whom they would confess the darkest things. It was important to feel him out. Mrs Young, for instance, after she had seen him eat a piece of her macaroni pie, quietly asked what he thought of adultery. Andre Alexis brings a modern sensibility and a new liveliness to an age-old genre, the pastoral. For his very first parish,…

A Gift from Brittany

By Marjorie Price,

Book cover of A Gift from Brittany: A Memoir of Love and Loss in the French Countryside

Mark Greenside Author Of (Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living

From the list on the magic of Brittany France.

Who am I?

Mark Greenside has been a civil rights activist, Vietnam War protestor, anti-draft counselor, Vista Volunteer, union leader, and college professor. He holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin and his stories have appeared in numerous journals and magazines. He presently lives in Alameda, California, where he continues to teach and be politically active, and Brittany, France, where he still can’t do anything without asking for help.

Mark's book list on the magic of Brittany France

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

Why did Mark love this book?

A twenty year old American woman goes to Paris to paint, meets a French artist, marries, has a child, and together buy a farmhouse and make a summer home and art studios in rural Brittany: that story. A memoir. 

The book was published in 2008, but the story takes place in the early 1960s when rural Brittany was closer to the 19th century than the 21st. I was in Paris in 1967, and it was still possible to rent a hotel room for under five dollars a night, to travel in Europe for ten dollars a day. In 1967, you could not safely drink the water in France, including in Paris, and you had to have proof of a typhus vaccine to return to the U.S. It was still more Henry Miller’s Paris than Macron’s.

This was the time of the last of every day berets, blue…

By Marjorie Price,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The enchanting memoir of an artist?s liberating sojourn in France during the sixties?and the friendship that transformed her life

While in her late twenties, Marjorie Price leaves the comfort of her Chicago suburb to strike out on her own in Paris and hone her artistic talents. Dazzled by everything French, she falls in love with a volatile French painter and they purchase an old farmhouse in the Breton countryside. When Marjorie?s seemingly idyllic marriage begins to unravel, she forms a friendship with an elderly peasant woman, Jeanne, who is illiterate, has three cows to her name, and has never left…

Book cover of The Return of the Native

Tariq Goddard Author Of High John the Conqueror

From the list on combining the known with the unknown.

Who am I?

I have spent my entire working life tied to the virtuous cycle of reading, writing, and (I hope) thinking. Since my own first novel came out over twenty years ago, I have never lost my passion for reading, as I suspect that if I did, I would also lose my passion to write, and the fascination with other people and the world that fuels it. All these books have informed, gently or severely, my new novel, High John The Conqueror, encapsulating the incongruous mix between the given and the unbelievable that I find in life, and try to employ in my own work. 

Tariq's book list on combining the known with the unknown

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

Why did Tariq love this book?

I hesitate to choose Hardy, not just because he is well known enough not to need my endorsement, but because he comes close to misanthropy, practices a fatalistic belief in destiny, and punishes his characters often needlessly, to satiate his enormous anger at the unfairness of the world. All this turned me off him. But on coming to live in the country I finally clicked with aspects of his vision, and was inspired by his sensuous and near-religious immersion in nature to endow my own book with a natural vividity and realism, that I hope grounds the more fanciful and inventive elements in the story.    

By Thomas Hardy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Return of the Native as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Thomas Hardy's most powerful works, The Return of the Native centers famously on Egdon Heath, the wild, haunted Wessex moor that D. H. Lawrence called "the real stuff of tragedy." The heath's changing face mirrors the fortunes of the farmers, inn-keepers, sons, mothers, and lovers who populate the novel. The "native" is Clym Yeobright, who comes home from a cosmopolitan life in Paris. He; his cousin Thomasin; her fiancé, Damon Wildeve; and the willful Eustacia Vye are the protagonists in a tale of doomed love, passion, alienation, and melancholy as Hardy brilliantly explores that theme so familiar throughout…

Out of Africa

By Isak Dinesen,

Book cover of Out of Africa

B.W. Powe Author Of These Shadows Remain: A Fable

From the list on vistas and fantasias of the subconscious.

Who am I?

My name is B.W. Powe—and I’m a writer, poet, teacher, mentor, and musician. I’ve written since I was a boy, when I began to dream of beautiful sentences, and finding a way to turn music into literary expression. I live in Stouffville, a small edge town near Toronto, Canada—and a portion of the year in Cordoba, Spain, where my wife is from. I was encouraged by my mother, an amateur pianist, and my father, a politician, and novelist. We lived in Toronto through the 60s-90s and witnessed how the city sprawled. I’ve written about the Genesis Overdrive that informs culture and lives. My latest book, Ladders Made of Water, will be available on February 14th, 2023.

B.W.'s book list on vistas and fantasias of the subconscious

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

Why did B.W. love this book?

A poignant, perceptive memoir of the author’s time in Africa—and her experiences there, her discovery of love and the loss of that love; evocations of people and sky, contemplations of weather and landscape unlike any other I’ve read.

It should be read (and always honoured) because it’s as close to a reverie on sorrow and wonder, the mystery of stark wildernesses and solitudes, as I’ve found. It’s the book I wish I’d written, above so many others.

By Isak Dinesen,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Out of Africa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1914 Karen Blixen arrived in Kenya with her husband to run a coffee-farm. Drawn to the exquisite beauty of Africa, she spent her happiest years there until the plantation failed. A poignant farewell to her beloved farm, "Out of Africa" describes her friendships with the local people, her dedication for the landscape and wildlife, and great love for the adventurer Denys Finch-Hatton.

Give Us a Kiss

By Daniel Woodrell,

Book cover of Give Us a Kiss

Brooks Blevins Author Of A History of the Ozarks, Vol. 1: The Old Ozarks

From the list on the Ozarks.

Who am I?

I can’t say that I was even conscious of having grown up in the Ozarks until stumbling upon a regional geography book in college. Once I learned that the rural community of my childhood was part of a hill country stretching from the outskirts of St. Louis into the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, I dedicated my life’s work to explaining (and demystifying) the Ozarkers – a people not quite southern, not quite midwestern, and not quite western.

Brooks' book list on the Ozarks

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

Why did Brooks love this book?

Woodrell is best known for the ominous, lyrical Winter’s Bone, but I’m such a fan that my favorite Woodrell novel is always the most recent one I’ve re-read. So here’s Give Us a Kiss, his first foray into the wild and rural Ozarks of West Table and Howl County. The novel is also a hard-charging, nuanced look into the life of a mostly unsuccessful writer facing an inner struggle over just how far, if at all, he should get above his raising. It’s a concern for anyone caught between different worlds, and we are fortunate that the autobiographical sinews between author and protagonist were severed before Doyle Redmond spun out of control.

By Daniel Woodrell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Give Us a Kiss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"My imagination is always skulking about in a wrong place." And now Doyle Redmond, thirty-five-year-old nowhere writer, has crossed the line between imagination and real live trouble. On the lam in his soon-to-be ex-wife's Volvo, he's running a family errand back in his boyhood home of West Table, Missouri -- the heart of the red-dirt Ozarks. The law wants his big brother, Smoke, on a felony warrant, and Doyle's supposed to talk him into giving up. But Smoke is hunkered down in the hills with his partner, Big Annie, and her nineteen-year-old daughter, Niagra, making other plans: they're about to…

The Perfect Golden Circle

By Benjamin Myers,

Book cover of The Perfect Golden Circle

Oliver Maclennan Author Of Living Wild: New Beginnings in the Great Outdoors

From the list on the weirdness and wildness of nature.

Who am I?

My choice of books reflects a lifelong passion for literature and the natural world. I’ve always enjoyed travelling, to cities or more remote locations, learning as much as I can about the people that live there, and my first published article was about a hotel in Mali, photographed by my sister. Ten years later we published our first book, The Foraged Home. With Living Wild we wanted to look more deeply at how people lived, not just where, focussing not only on day-to-day life and their work, but their relationship with the surrounding landscape, asking big questions about our place in the world.

Oliver's book list on the weirdness and wildness of nature

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

Why did Oliver love this book?

A gorgeous meditation on friendship, the English countryside, art, and beauty.

Two men spend the spring and summer of 1989 creating crop circles in Wiltshire, working during the ‘arcane mystery of the humming night’ to ‘fuel the myth and strive for beauty, yes, but never the reveal the truth’ of their identities. It’s lyrical and life-affirming, yes, but also a warning.

As Calvert, an ex-soldier, remarks: ‘it’s about the land...getting people to learn to love it so that they don’t take it for granted, and then feel compelled to protect it.'

By Benjamin Myers,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Summer 1989, deep in the English countryside — during a time of mass unemployment, class war, and rebellion . . . .
Over the course of a burning hot summer, two very different men — Calvert, an ex-soldier traumatized by his experience in the Falklands War, and his affable freind Redbone — set out nightly in a decrepit camper van to undertake an extraordinary project. 
Under cover of darkness, they traverse the fields of rural England in secret, forming crop circles in elaborate and mysterious patterns, painstakingly avoiding damaging the wheat to yield designs so intricate that their overnight appearances…

Cold Sassy Tree

By Olive Ann Burns,

Book cover of Cold Sassy Tree

Jeffrey Dale Lofton Author Of Red Clay Suzie

From the list on the unique life of outsider children in the South.

Who am I?

I am a child of the South, hailing as I do from Warm Springs, Georgia, best known for Roosevelt’s Little White House. My family, indeed the entire community as far as I can tell, were in the thrall of conservative Christian values that had no room for people like me—gay (although I had no word for it for a long time) and physically misshapen (something to be hidden under layers of clothing). I was a boy and then teenager living on the fringes, always on the outside looking in, seeking approval or defiantly hiding to process the uniquely Southern dysfunction around me. I know these protagonists. They’re my people.

Jeffrey's book list on the unique life of outsider children in the South

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

Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Cold Sassy Tree is unabashedly naughty and funny and innocent all at the same time. Will comes of age in the early 1900s, and along the way we’re introduced to his family and friends who see him through exploits that rival anything Mark Twain ever cooked up for Tom Sawyer. It’s cooky, crazy, and completely enchanting. This is the spot-on antidote to a crummy week. We all have ‘em, so keep this special novel handy and pick it up when you most need to smile. It will bring you happiness as it does me.

By Olive Ann Burns,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cold Sassy Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The one thing you can depend on in Cold Sassy, Georgia, is that word gets around—fast. When Grandpa E. Rucker Blakeslee announces one July morning in 1906 that he's aiming to marry the young and freckledy milliner, Miss Love Simpson—a bare three weeks after Granny Blakeslee has gone to her reward—the news is served up all over town with that afternoon's dinner. And young Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a major scandal. Boggled by the sheer audacity of it all, and not a little jealous of his grandpa's new wife, Will nevertheless approves of this May-December match and…

The Greatcoat

By Helen Dunmore,

Book cover of The Greatcoat

Chris Turnbull Author Of The Planting of the Penny Hedge

From the list on fiction with an historical twist.

Who am I?

I am a Yorkshire writer with a passion for historical fiction. My love of history came as a surprise to me in my late teens, as I had originally thought history was not my thing. However, I soon discovered the incredible stories throughout history, and how many authors carve fictional stories around these time periods or historical events. I love researching for my own historical writing, whether it be to find out what kind of jobs people did, or what they ate for breakfast. I love reading and writing historical fiction in multiple eras, such as WW2, Victorian times, and further back to the Romans and ancient Egyptians. 

Chris' book list on fiction with an historical twist

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

Why did Chris love this book?

This was a book I just could not put down. Originally I was interested in this book because it was set in Yorkshire, but it quickly became one of my favourite reads of all time. Set in 1952 it tells the story of a young lady named Isobel, who moves to the East Riding of Yorkshire with her husband. There is an innocent romance to this book, with an ending I didn’t see coming at all  

By Helen Dunmore,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the winter of 1952, Isabel Carey moves to the East Riding of Yorkshire with her husband Philip, a GP. With Philip spending long hours on call, Isabel finds herself isolated and lonely as she strives to adjust to the realities of married life.

Woken by intense cold one night, she discovers an old RAF greatcoat hidden in the back of a cupboard. Sleeping under it for warmth, she starts to dream. And not long afterwards, while her husband is out, she is startled by a knock at her window.

Outside is a young RAF pilot, waiting to come in.…

Dispatches from Pluto

By Richard Grant,

Book cover of Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta

Jim Carrier Author Of A Traveler’s Guide to the Civil Rights Movement

From the list on understanding the South’s Civil Rights Movement.

Who am I?

As a journalist who learned his craft on the job in the tumultuous 1960s, I happened to find myself living in states where racial history was being written. Reporting that story required me to understand why discrimination, poverty, and violence remained so deeply rooted in modern America. I wrote Ten Ways to Fight Hate, I made a movie about civil rights martyrs, and, after seeing people from around the world making a pilgrimage to the sites of the civil rights struggle, published my guidebook. Over the course of a 50-year career, I have written a million words. I am proudest of those that tried to right wrongs, and sometimes did.

Jim's book list on understanding the South’s Civil Rights Movement

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

Why did Jim love this book?

English journalist Richard Grant, known for adventure travelogues into Mexican deserts and African rivers, enters one of the most myth-laden spots in the U.S. – the Mississippi Delta. With his girlfriend, Grant moves into an old plantation house outside the village of Pluto, Miss. and begins a remarkable exploration of southern culture, with deep, honest, and revealing conversations and interactions about race. Three hundred years after the arrival of African-Caribbean slaves, Grant finds that racial bias remains deeply rooted in the Delta soil, but remarkably, produces not only cotton but generosity, grace, kindness, and tolerance. This author’s experience, like mine, living as a Yankee in the South, proves that nothing about race is black and white.

By Richard Grant,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dispatches from Pluto as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Adventure writer Richard Grant takes on "the most American place on Earth" the enigmatic, beautiful, often derided Mississippi Delta.
Richard Grant and his girlfriend were living in a shoebox apartment in New York City when they decided on a whim to buy an old plantation house in the Mississippi Delta. This is their journey of discovery into this strange and wonderful American place. Imagine A Year In Provence with alligators and assassins, or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil with hunting scenes and swamp-to-table dining.
On a remote, isolated strip of land, three miles beyond the tiny community…

All the Places to Love

By Patricia MacLachlan, Michael Wimmer (illustrator),

Book cover of All the Places to Love

PeggySue Wells Author Of The 10 Best Decisions a Single Mom Can Make: A Biblical Guide for Navigating Family Life on Your Own

From the list on being a single mom and staying sane.

Who am I?

“Eminently quotable, PeggySue Wells is a tonic — warm like your favorite blanket, bracing like a stiff drink.”

History buff and tropical island votary, PeggySue parasails, skydives, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. The bestselling author of 30 books including the What To Do series, The Slave Across the Street, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, Chasing Sunrise, and The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make, PeggySue’s most challenging and rewarding adventure was solo parenting seven children. With one in four homes single mom-led, PeggySue teamed with Pam Farrel to offer practical help and tangible tips to moms navigating parenting solo.

PeggySue's book list on being a single mom and staying sane

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

Why did PeggySue love this book?

No matter how young or old, everyone needs a timeless picture book about the best of hearth and home. The illustrations by Mike Wimmer are breathtaking and inviting. Patricia MacLachlan’s carefully chosen words reflect the relationship glue that creates connecting and belonging within families. No matter how old you are, All the Places to Love is a touch point for the heart.

By Patricia MacLachlan, Michael Wimmer (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Places to Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A young boy describes the favorite places that he shares with his family on his grandparents' farm and in the nearby countryside