The most recommended desert books

Who picked these books? Meet our 84 experts.

84 authors created a book list connected to deserts, and here are their favorite desert books.
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What type of desert book?


The Man From the Cave

By Colin Fletcher,

Book cover of The Man From the Cave

Silvia Pettem Author Of Cold Case Chronicles: Mysteries, Murders & the Missing

From the list on historical true crime books.

Who am I?

Years ago, I stumbled upon the gravestone of an unidentified murder victim from 1954. Then I entered into a partnership with my local sheriff and with forensic experts to successfully determine the young woman's identity. At the time, I was (and still am) a historical researcher, newspaper columnist, and author. The Jane Doe case, however, gave me the opportunity and insight to investigate and research the young woman's murder, allowing me to dig into the context of the times. Now, as a researcher and writer of historical true crime, I've found a niche, allowing me to combine my investigative skills and interests with a deep passion for the past.

Silvia's book list on historical true crime books

Why did Silvia love this book?

Mysteries also are a part of historical true crime, including people who were (or still are) missing and/or those who lived under changed identities. In the Nevada desert in 1968, Fletcher literally bumped into a trunk filled with decades-old possessions. Whose were they? Fletcher then documented his own investigation as he managed to find newspaper articles and National Archive records to piece together an old prospector's life. Armchair sleuths and others who are proficient in searching the internet today will find this book is a real eye-opener, as it shows what it was like to reconstruct a person's hidden life, without even getting online. For Fletcher, the process evolved a bonus –– a spiritual adventure of his own.

By Colin Fletcher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The discovery in a Nevada desert cave of what appeared to be a man's total belongings inspired this carefully researched account of a man who was a soldier, a prospector, and a wanderer

The Umbrella

By Ingrid Schubert, Dieter Schubert,

Book cover of The Umbrella

Yoeri Slegers Author Of Crocodile's Crossing: A Search for Home

From the list on travelling in different or strange circumstances.

Who am I?

I'm a Belgian illustrator and author of children's books. My mother works in a library so I was constantly in contact with books, especially children's books. Stories with beautiful pictures were always a big fascination of mine. Drawing keeps me looking for stories and stories keep me drawing. Everything is an inspiration: a funny moment, a good conversation, or just life. In my university, I renewed my passion for children's books thanks to my teacher Kris, also a children's book illustrator. In my final school years I got the chance to work with one of the best publishers in Belgium: De Eenhoorn (the unicorn) they gave me the chance to grow and...tell stories. 

Yoeri's book list on travelling in different or strange circumstances

Why did Yoeri love this book?

I'm always attracted to drawings first. So a book with only drawings and your imagination is a plus for me. It's about a little black dog that finds a red umbrella that takes it around the world. With enough drawings designed to reel you in.

By Ingrid Schubert, Dieter Schubert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A little dog finds an umbrella in the garden on a windy day.  The moment the dog picks up the umbrella, it catches the wind and pulls the dog skywards.  This is the start to fantastic journey around the world.  The wind carries the umbrellas and the dog all over the world, from the desert to the sea, from the jungle to the north pole.

The Lies of the Ajungo

By Moses Ose Utomi,

Book cover of The Lies of the Ajungo

Suyi Davies Author Of Son of the Storm

From the list on fantasy inspired by African empires.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Benin City, Nigeria, surrounded by storytellers who offered me a healthy diet of oral, written, and visual tales. I grew up fascinated with stories of all kinds, especially the fantastic. When I began to tell my own stories, I gravitated toward the speculative, returning to where I first learned about stories. My novels David Mogo, Godhunter and Son of the Storm offer glimpses into the way I braid history and speculation. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona, and am currently a professor of the same at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, where I live.

Suyi's book list on fantasy inspired by African empires

Why did Suyi love this book?

If you seek more quests, you will find another exciting one in Utomi’s Forever Desert series, beginning with the novella about the Ajungo Empire.

However, to describe this story simply as a quest (for water, no less) would do no justice to the complex, exciting work Utomi does in borrowing not only from desert empires of the Sahara, but also from popular media (as the Mad Max-esque romp through the desertscape and anime-inspired battles demonstrate).

This novella is a testament to the breadth of manner and shape that Africa-inspired epic fantasy tales can take. Long may it continue.

By Moses Ose Utomi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

They say there is no water in the City of Lies. They say there are no heroes in the City of Lies. They say there are no friends beyond the City of Lies. But would you believe what they say in the City of Lies?

In the City of Lies, they cut out your tongue when you turn thirteen, to appease the terrifying Ajungo Empire and make sure it continues sending water. Tutu will be thirteen in three days, but his parched mother won't last that long. So Tutu goes to his oba and makes a deal: she provides water…

Desert Cabal

By Amy Irvine,

Book cover of Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness

Tim Hauserman Author Of Going It Alone: Ramblings and Reflections from the Trail

From the list on Americans going out to discover themselves.

Who am I?

I’ve been writing about my explorations in the wilderness for over 20 years starting with the first edition of my Tahoe Rim Trail guidebook. I’ve always been fascinated by writers who embark on solo journeys into nature, or just traveling in general, and in so doing discover themselves and what they really want from their lives. While I’ve read my share (and written a few) stories about super feats of human endurance, I find the most satisfaction from reading about ordinary people experiencing life at a scale that makes sense to all of us. 

Tim's book list on Americans going out to discover themselves

Why did Tim love this book?

Published 50 years after Desert Solitaire, seventh-generation Utah resident Amy Irvine talks about her respect for Abbey’s impact on her life and writing, while also not holding back on lambasting Abbey for his behavior and hypocrisy. Irvine told Orion magazine, “My goal was not to take Abbey down, but rather to make space for other voices and relationships to the natural world.” While Abbey might be the context for the book, Irvine goes on to deliver a fascinating exploration into her own take on the wonders of wilderness. She can be as hard on herself as she is on Abbey. This book is a great contemporary look at a key question for those of us who explore the wilds: How do we keep from loving it to death? 

By Amy Irvine,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A grief–stricken, heart–hopeful, soul song to the American Desert."

—PAM HOUSTON, author of Deep Creek

As Ed Abbey’s Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness turns fifty, its iconic author, who has inspired generations of rebel–rousing advocacy on behalf of the American West, is due for a tribute as well as a talking to. In Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness, Amy Irvine admires the man who influenced her life and work while challenging all that is dated—offensive, even—between the covers of Abbey's environmental classic. Irvine names and questions the "lone male" narrative—white and privileged as it is—that…

Across the Empty Quarter

By Wilfrid Thesiger,

Book cover of Across the Empty Quarter

Clemens P. Suter Author Of Rebound

From the list on people with guts.

Who am I?

Clemens P. Suter is an author of adventure novels. His books deal with people that overcome impossible, life-changing situations. These are entertaining adventure books, with dystopian, post-apocalyptic, and Scifi elements.

Clemens' book list on people with guts

Why did Clemens love this book?

Thesiger was a British military officer, explorer, and writer, who, in the second half of the 20th century, traveled on foot, horse, and by camel across Arabia, the Middle East, and Africa. Rub' al Khali, the Empty Quarter, is the largest sand desert in the world, a desolate, dangerous plane of rolling dunes, with a very limited number of waterholes. At the time of Thesiger’s travels in the late 1940s, this desert had been traveled exclusively by the local Bedu. What makes this book intriguing is the description of the harsh landscape and the people that live in it. Thesiger traveled the desert with a purpose (he wanted to find out more about a locust with some ecological relevance), so he and his guides voyaged huge distances. As the reader turns the pages, the overwhelming sense of adventure and Thesiger’s lust for the unknown become contagious. Many books have…

By Wilfrid Thesiger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Across the Empty Quarter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Restless, gripped by an overwhelming wish to make a name for himself in a world ever more hemmed in by progress and 'civilization', Thesiger (1910-2003) embarked on his amazing journeys across Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter to test himself and to show what could still be done. The result was a monument both to his resilience and to the Bedu who guided him and who emerge as the book's real heroes. "Great Journeys" allows readers to travel both around the planet and back through the centuries - but also back into ideas and worlds frightening, ruthless and cruel in different ways…


By Clive Cussler,

Book cover of Sahara

Graham Smith Author Of The Flood

From the list on where the weather is a character and a foe.

Who am I?

I am a novelist with a passion for reading and it is this which I feel qualifies me to speak on this topic. My reading is eclectic across the crime/mystery genre and there’s nothing I love more than a book that sucks me right into the same world its characters inhabit, something all five of my choices did. As a novelist I appreciate the way these novels all use the weather conditions to add an extra layer of threat to the protagonists and it’s something I’ve always wanted to emulate.

Graham's book list on where the weather is a character and a foe

Why did Graham love this book?

One of Cussler’s earlier novels featuring Dirk Pitt, Cussler sends his erstwhile hero deep into a desert landscape where he throws all manner of problems at them.

As Pitt and co battle to survive the harsh conditions, they are tested to the limit as they must not only escape the arid landscape, but do in time to foil a dastardly plot. While perhaps not as much of a literary heavyweight as some of the other authors mentioned on this list, Cussler is brilliant at writing a rollicking good yarn.

By Clive Cussler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The eleventh classic Dirk Pitt novel, where the adventurer is drawn to a secret in the burning African desert, which could destroy all life in the world's seas.


Deep in the African desert, Dirk Pitt discovers that a top secret scientific installation is leaking a lethal chemical into the rivers, threatening to kill thousands of people - and to destroy all life in the world's seas.

To warn the world of the catastrophe, Pitt must escape capture and death at the hands of a ruthless West African dictator and French industrialist, and undertake a…


By Frank Herbert,

Book cover of Dune

Kim Alexander Author Of The Sand Prince

From the list on fantasy that make you feel like you’ve been there.

Who am I?

I’m a writer of epic fantasy and paranormal romance, and my obsession is writing about the fashion, food, language, and social politics of the worlds I create. World building is vital if you intend to create a lived-in backdrop for your story, but intricate, elaborate world building will only take you so far. You (the author) must have a cast of characters equally well developed. I’ve tried to take lessons away from every book I’ve read and every author I’ve interviewed and worked to balance characters to fall in love with against places that feel absolutely alive. Their joy/terror/love/hate/experience becomes the readers. It’s that combination that makes a book unforgettable.

Kim's book list on fantasy that make you feel like you’ve been there

Why did Kim love this book?

Well, I suppose a few words have been devoted to Dune already, but I’m going to chime in!

I read Dune the first time as a teenager, and found some of it (Paul’s adventures, everything to do with Jessica) exciting and engrossing. On the other hand, some of it I couldn’t puzzle out—mostly politics. Now, that’s my favorite part! Honestly, I got my first and most vital lesson in world building from Dune, and it remains a huge influence on my writing.

What does it smell like, this new world? What happens if you get caught outside in a storm? What do your clothes look like and do they mark you as an outsider? What do you eat and when? And so on, ad infinitum. And I loved the quotes that open the chapters, so much that I created my own book-within-a-book just so I could similarly quote it.

By Frank Herbert,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Before The Matrix, before Star Wars, before Ender's Game and Neuromancer, there was Dune: winner of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, and widely considered one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

Melange, or 'spice', is the most valuable - and rarest - element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person's lifespan to making interstellar travel possible. And it can only be found on a single planet: the inhospitable desert world of Arrakis.

Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of…

The Lonesome Gods

By Louis L'Amour,

Book cover of The Lonesome Gods: An Epic Novel of the California Desert

Rebecca Tope Author Of A Discovery in the Cotswolds

From Rebecca's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Hoarder/collector Traveller Hermit Correspondent Tactless truth-teller

Rebecca's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Rebecca love this book?

I bought this book in Arizona during a recent road trip. I’ve read several Louis L’Amour stories, because I love Westerns.

This is one of his longest – a real epic. It is set in the deserts of California and Arizona, with a map and totally authentic history. The characters are strong and consistent, the situations exciting. L’Amour employs all the usual stereotypes (strong goodie, terrifying baddie, feisty females) and makes them real.

He is the forerunner of the Jack Reacher books which use many of the same features in an updated setting. 

By Louis L'Amour,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“I am Johannes Verne, and I am not afraid.”
This was the boy’s mantra as he plodded through the desert alone, left to die by his vengeful grandfather. Johannes Verne was soon to be rescued by outlaws, but no one could save him from the lasting memory of his grandfather’s eyes, full of impenetrable hatred. Raised in part by Indians, then befriended by a mysterious woman, Johannes grew up to become a rugged adventurer and an educated man. But even now, strengthened by the love of a golden-haired girl and well on his way to making a fortune in bustling…

Shielding Sierra

By Susan Stoker,

Book cover of Shielding Sierra

Mignon Mykel Author Of Butterfly Save

From the list on to get lost in a romance series binge.

Who am I?

I hate saying goodbye. Picking up a book and being introduced to an entire group of people—family, friends, teammates—and knowing you get to continue to watch these relationships bloom over a course of books is part of the reason I pick up a book in the first place. I want to see these characters pop in twenty books down the road. I absolutely love cameos of old characters! Because of this, I write in a singular world as well. My Prescotts may be the base of the world at the moment, but it’s also their friends at O’Gallaghers and their teammates with the Enforcers hockey team that keep the world growing—and it’s not ending anytime soon.

Mignon's book list on to get lost in a romance series binge

Why did Mignon love this book?

Stoker is the queen of military/former-military “families.” You pick up a book and instantly fall in love with that team of men. Shielding Sierra is her latest (as of January 2022) and it happens to be at the end of a series. Stoker writes in a single universe, so while we know this team, we also see previous teams she’s written, and the family unit that they all build with one another really shines in Sierra, when one of their own purposely becomes a POW in order to save the heroine.

By Susan Stoker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a civilian contractor, Sierra Clarkson thought she’d found the perfect way to serve her country, short of joining the military…until she was kidnapped from a base in Afghanistan. Turns out terrorists don’t care if you’re a soldier or not; everyone bleeds the same. Even worse, no one knows she’s been taken. Her missing belongings point to desertion—which means no one is looking for her, either

But someone is.

Fred “Grover” Groves never forgot the redheaded spitfire working the chow line on a base in the Afghani desert. He’d felt an instant attraction to the petite woman, a connection deep…

Into a Desert Place

By Graham Mackintosh,

Book cover of Into a Desert Place: A 3000 Mile Walk around the Coast of Baja California

Jennifer Silva Redmond Author Of Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself Living on a Small Boat

From the list on nonfiction Baja that can transport you there.

Who am I?

I grew up on Southern California beaches—Manhattan Beach, Venice Beach, Ocean Beach, La Jolla—but first experienced Baja as an adult. It was like a different world. Returning repeatedly over the next decade, I came to know the stunning shorelines and quiet bays of the peninsula’s midriff as intimately as my home state’s beaches. Swimming and diving Baja’s clear blue waters and hiking its dusty trails and palm-studded mountains, I have admired the many moods of this unique desert peninsula. A writer and editor, I have read extensively from the vast selection of books about Baja, both new and classic works.

Jennifer's book list on nonfiction Baja that can transport you there

Why did Jennifer love this book?

A formerly comfort-seeking Brit takes a very difficult walk around Baja and learns a lot about himself, and of course, about this “desert place.”

What’s not for me to like in a story like that? There is adventure and struggle, but also plenty of humor, and the thread that binds it all together is the author’s dawning love for a land that became his special place.

Mackintosh is still living much of the time in Mexico and has written five more books about Baja, burros, beer, and even dogs, but this adventurous paean to the peninsula will always have a special place in my heart, because I read it when I was newly in love with Baja myself.

By Graham Mackintosh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Into a Desert Place as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I had never been particularly good at anything except catering to my own comfort and safety," begins Graham Mackintosh with cheerful frankness in this engaging, suspenseful, and finally stirring travel adventure.

An Englishman, Mackintosh fell in love with Baja California on a visit and, despite a glaring shortage of both experience and money, determined to walk its entire coast. Into a Desert Place is his account of how he equipped himself, what he saw and learned, and how he survived on this harsh and beautiful journey. The book was first published in England and then by Mackintosh himself in the…

G. Patrol

By Michael Crichton- Stuart,

Book cover of G. Patrol

John Sadler Author Of Blitzing Rommel

From the list on the War in the Desert 1940 – 1943.

Who am I?

I am a successful published author of military history nonfiction and fiction with 44 titles in print and have been a lifelong obsessive on the subject of WWII which was my parents’ war. I started on a diet of black & white war movies, then epics such as Tobruk, Raid on Rommel et al. I have been lecturing on the subject at the former Centre for Lifelong Learning at Newcastle University (Now the ‘Explore’ Programme) for 25 years. I am also an experienced and much travelled WWII Battlefield tour guide, with experience of guiding all the major Western Front campaigns. I’m a lifelong historical interpreter and re-enactor.

John's book list on the War in the Desert 1940 – 1943

Why did John love this book?

One aspect of this book which appeals is that whilst most of the LRDG Patrols were drawn from the New Zealanders, South Africans & Rhodesians, whose civvy lives in the outdoors naturally fitted them for the rigours of desert warfare and who embodied a fair level of independence of spirt, the Guards represent the very epitome of elitism, spit & polish and rigid hierarchies that you’d expect of the most conventional of conventional forces. Yet they achieved great success within the altogether unconventional ranks of LRDG.

By Michael Crichton- Stuart,

Why should I read it?

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

All the Gear, No Idea

By Michèle Harrison,

Book cover of All the Gear, No Idea: A woman's solo motorcycle journey around the Indian subcontinent

Susie Kelly Author Of The Valley of Heaven and Hell: Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette

From the list on travel adventures on two wheels.

Who am I?

I’m a writer, living in southwest France since 1995, and previously in Kenya for 20 years. Travel has always been my passion. I’ve written about hiking across France in Best Foot Forward, touring the perimeter by camping car in Travels with Tinkerbelle, cycling through the Marne Valley in The Valley of Heaven and Hell, and a Kenyan safari in Safari Ants, Baggy Pants and ElephantsRecently, due to COVID and with an elderly dog that suffers from separation anxiety, I couldn't leave for any length of time; I satisfy my wanderlust by reading other people’s adventures. My taste is for tales that include plenty of humour, and I’ve selected five which I have particularly enjoyed.

Susie's book list on travel adventures on two wheels

Why did Susie love this book?

India has always fascinated me, so I was intrigued to read this account of a 30-year-old woman riding 17,000 miles through the sub-continent, alone, on a motorbike. Never having previously ridden a motorbike, she takes a 3-day crash course on how to do so. What could possibly go wrong?

Nonchalantly tackling muddy jungles, deserts, and virtually impassable terrain, frequently breaking down, she muddles through with a mixture of ingenuity, optimism, and the never-failing help of the local people. 

A satisfyingly honest and self-deprecating account of a remarkable achievement by a woman who believed she could, and so she did.

By Michèle Harrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Gear, No Idea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author quits her high-flying job in London, orders a classic Indian Enfield Bullet motorbike and goes off for a year on a 17,000 mile circuit of India. She wants adventures, and as a solo traveller, has plenty of them. Follow her on her travels discovering an unknown world of motorbiking, wanderlust and Indian life. Humorous and well-written, this refreshingly honest book recounts her numerous mishaps, both on and off the bike. This story shows how a can-do attitude can compensate for inexperience and will appeal to those with a « just do it » attitude to life. And for…

The Night Flower

By Lara Hawthorne,

Book cover of The Night Flower: The Blooming of the Saguaro Cactus

Anita Sanchez Author Of Wait Till It Gets Dark: A Kid's Guide to Exploring the Night

From the list on for exploring nature at night with kids.

Who am I?

As a writer, I’m especially fascinated by plants and animals that no one loves. My books are intended to get kids excited about science and help them appreciate the wonders of the natural world. Many years of fieldwork, leading children on nature walks, have given me firsthand experience in introducing students to the terrors and joys of nature. I especially enjoy the beauties of the night, from fireflies to coyote howls to star-gazing!

Anita's book list on for exploring nature at night with kids

Why did Anita love this book?

I once was lucky enough to spend a night camping in the desert under a saguaro cactus. These big, human-looking cacti are magnificent, and this book really captures how important they are to the desert and all the animals that live there. Beautiful illustrations really make me remember that night under the stars and how impressive the giant saguaros are. I’ve learned that when kids feel a sense of awe toward nature, that’s the first step in becoming an environmentalist.

By Lara Hawthorne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the summer sun sets over the Arizonan desert, wildlife gathers to witness a very special annual event. The night flower is about to bloom. This celebration transforms the quiet desert for just a short few hours into a riot of colour and sound, as mammals and insects congregate from miles away to take part in this miracle of nature. From pollinating fruit bats to howling mice and reptilian monsters, explore the unusual wildlife the desert has to offer in this beautiful rhyming non-fiction picture book.

Connect the Stars

By Marisa De Los Santos, David Teague,

Book cover of Connect the Stars

Joni Sensel Author Of The Farwalker's Quest

From the list on girls on epic outdoor adventures.

Who am I?

I grew up playing in the woods near my home and as an adult I enjoy backpacking, scuba diving, biking, snow-shoeing, and solo travel. When I was young, most books with exciting adventure stories in nature were about boys, but I know from experience that girls can do all the same things. And whether it’s set in a fantasy world or our own, I think adventures in nature help us learn who we are and how we connect to all that’s around us. That’s why my Farwalker trilogy features a strong, resourceful girl on a walking adventure, and it’s why I love to find and share other outdoorsy heroines with young readers. 

Joni's book list on girls on epic outdoor adventures

Why did Joni love this book?

This fun book includes plenty of humor and kooky characters as well as desert disasters to be overcome. I love deserts, have traveled as far as the Namib and the Sahara to enjoy them, and included a desert in my own book, so the atmosphere of this story resonated with me. And I’ve been a camp counselor, too—though not in any camp as extreme as the one in this book! The dual narratives, one by 13-year-old Audrey and one by Aaron, coordinate well together and help the reader better feel their shared experience—as well as what they learn from each other. Readers who, like me, enjoyed Holes by Louis Sachar would probably also enjoy this one.

By Marisa De Los Santos, David Teague,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Saving Lucas Biggs authors Marisa de los Santos and David Teague comes a heartwarming middle grade adventure about two misfits discovering the importance of just being themselves. When thirteen-year-olds Aaron and Audrey meet at a wilderness camp in the desert, they think their quirks are enough to prevent them from ever having friends. But as they trek through the challenging and unforgiving landscape, they learn that they each have what it takes to make the other whole. Luminous and clever, Connect the Stars takes on some hefty topics of the day-bullying, understanding where you fit in, and learning to…

Marwan's Journey

By Patricia De Arias, Laura Borràs (illustrator),

Book cover of Marwan's Journey

Alda P. Dobbs Author Of Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna

From the list on kids in war.

Who am I?

I’m passionate about this topic because my own great-grandmother escaped a war, the Mexican Revolution of 1913, at the age of nine years old. Family stories described her journey of marching across the desert, almost dying, determined to reach the United States. I am also an immigrant myself and I enjoy relating to stories that depict the immigrant experience. 

Alda's book list on kids in war

Why did Alda love this book?

I connected with this book because of the determination exhibited by the young protagonist, Marwan.

His journey is one that would challenge any adult. Arias’ text is powerful and the illustrations by Laura Borras are so compelling,  you feel you’re walking along with Marwan. I also appreciate that it’s the words of Marwan’s mother that motivate him each step. 

By Patricia De Arias, Laura Borràs (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marwan's Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 2018 Kirkus Best Book * A National Council of Social Studies * CBC Notable Trade Book * An Outstanding International Trade Book (USBBY) * A Bank Street Children's Book Committee Best Book of the Year

One night they came... The darkness grew colder, deeper, darker, and swallowed up everything... Marwan is a young boy on a journey he never intended to take, bound for a place he doesn't know. On his journey, he relies on courage and memories of his faraway homeland to buoy him. With him are hundreds and thousands of other human beings, crossing the deserts and…

To Die in Spring

By Ralf Rothmann,

Book cover of To Die in Spring

Matthew Parker Author Of Monte Cassino: The Hardest Fought Battle of World War II

From the list on less-well-known books about World War 2.

Who am I?

As a Brit growing up in the 1970s, I was obsessed with the Second World War as a heroic narrative and my country’s ‘Finest Hour’. Then I went out on the road and interviewed hundreds of veterans of the Battle of Monte Cassino and learned a somewhat different story…

Matthew's book list on less-well-known books about World War 2

Why did Matthew love this book?

German novelist Rothman tells the story of two young friends caught up in the death spiral of Nazism at the end of the war when they are forced to ‘volunteer’ for the Waffen-SS. Only recently translated into English, it is a masterpiece of precision and unsentimentality that packs a punch as brutal as almost any other war novel I know.

By Ralf Rothmann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Die in Spring as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The lunacy of the final months of World War II, as experienced by a young German soldier

Distant, silent, often drunk, Walter Urban is a difficult man to have as a father. But his son―the narrator of this slim, harrowing novel―is curious about Walter’s experiences during World War II, and so makes him a present of a blank notebook in which to write down his memories. Walter dies, however, leaving nothing but the barest skeleton of a story on those pages, leading his son to fill in the gaps himself, rightly or wrongly, with what he can piece together of…

Rebel of the Sands

By Alwyn Hamilton,

Book cover of Rebel of the Sands

Lin Senchaid Author Of Force of Chaos: The Coming of Age of the Antichrist

From the list on fast action stories to break a reading slump.

Who am I?

I read broadly across many genres and know what it's like to get stuck in a rut and need to find something different to keep my interest. The books I've suggested all have a broad appeal and any one of them could break the dreaded slump. Even those that fall into a genre you don't normally read are likely to draw you into their own special magic.

Lin's book list on fast action stories to break a reading slump

Why did Lin love this book?

We've all heard of the Arabian Nights, whether we've read the book or not. This one takes you into the exotic and magical world of a mock-Arabic land where Djinnis and other magical beings are accepted as real. Amani is a character you just have to love! She is thrown into an adventure that takes her far from her remote desert home and relies on her wits and special skills with forbidden weapons to stay one step ahead of capture by the sultan's men or worse, the magical forces that seem to surround her!

By Alwyn Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first in the highly acclaimed trilogy packed with shooting contests, train robberies, festivals under the stars, powerful Djinni magic and an electrifying love story. WINNER of the 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Debut Author.

"Tell me that and we'll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. Tell me that's how you want your story to go and we'll write it straight across the sand."

Dustwalk is Amani's home. The desert sand is in her bones. But she wants to escape. More than a want. A need.

Then a foreigner with no name turns up…

Book cover of The Never-Open Desert Diner

Rick Bleiweiss Author Of Pignon Scorbion & the Barbershop Detectives

From the list on fun mysteries you may never have read.

Who am I?

I have been a mystery reader my entire life, starting with the Hardy Boys series as a child and then progressing to authors like Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Chester Himes, Ellery Queen, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and many, many others. I love trying to figure out the crime or mystery before the reveal, but usually don’t. And, I have always truly enjoyed mystery books which have humor and quirky characters in them. More recently, I have become an award-winning mystery novelist myself, having published both a historical fiction mystery series and stories set in contemporary times in an ongoing anthology series that combines murder, mystery, and music.

Rick's book list on fun mysteries you may never have read

Why did Rick love this book?

This book grabbed me so much that I constantly remember the joy I had in reading it over five years ago.

It is an offbeat, but very well-crafted mystery featuring quirky, but unforgettable, characters in an unusual setting in rural, off-the-beaten-path Utah – and its mystery is perfectly crafted. It is literate, funny, challenging, compelling, and powerful. It’s not often that you find a book in which one of the characters is a cellist.

I could not put this book down once I started reading it.

By James Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Never-Open Desert Diner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A singularly compelling debut novel, about a desert where people go to escape their past, and a truck driver who finds himself at risk when he falls in love with a mysterious woman.

Ben Jones lives a quiet, hardscrabble life, working as a trucker on Route 117, a little-travelled road in a remote region of the Utah desert which serves as a haven for fugitives and others looking to hide from the world. For many of the desert’s inhabitants, Ben's visits are their only contact with the outside world, and the only landmark worth noting is a once-famous roadside diner…

The Queen's Executioner

By Christopher Mitchell,

Book cover of The Queen's Executioner

Sally Altass Author Of The Witch Laws: Book One of The Moon Magic Chronicles

From the list on fantasy sweeping you into a beautiful, scary world.

Who am I?

When I read, I’m not just seeing the words on a page; I’m escaping into the world crafted by the author. Since I was a child, I’ve always been a lover of fantasy – it was an escape for me to slip between the pages and be a part of the world inside them. Especially if they were beautiful and filled with hidden danger. I wanted to have my heart pound out of my chest, to have the thrill of magic, wonder, and fear. Now, I try to write those types of worlds; because of the books which inspired me. I only hope you love them as much as I do. 

Sally's book list on fantasy sweeping you into a beautiful, scary world

Why did Sally love this book?

The first book in an ever-growing world, The Queen’s Executioner introduces us to Daphne Holdfast. 

An immensely talented vision mage, Daphne is able to use her powers to speak to others, to manipulate others, and is unmatched when in combat. And she’s about to find out that her government and religion have been lying to her and the occupants of the Star Continent. Now, she’ll do whatever she can to save the people she loves. 

I fell in love with Daphne from the first introduction of her, and the Star Continent completely and utterly captivated me – from the tip of Kell to the deserts of the Holdings. Both beautiful and deadly in equal parts, depending on who you happened to bump into while roaming the lands. 

By Christopher Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Rahain - a land where the mage-born rule and everyone else is expendable.

A slave, a politician and an assassin find themselves the unlikely heroes that could bring the republic to its knees.

Killop is a slave with a secret: his sister is a renegade Fire Mage. Hunted by the Rahain, her capture could lead to the death of thousands.

Laodoc is a politician who loves his country but has grown to hate many of its ancient traditions. He risks losing his family, his career and his liberty to fight for what he believes in.

Battle Mage Daphne Holdfast is…

Odd Thomas

By Dean Koontz,

Book cover of Odd Thomas

Jeffrey Jay Levin Author Of Watching: Volume 1, The Garden Museum Heist

From the list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations.

Who am I?

I’ve narrowed down my fascination with time travel to an event that occurred in my late teens. Hitchhiking in California with a friend, we accepted a ride in a Volkswagen Beetle. My friend and I silently acknowledged a strange energy from the driver. Serial killer energy. After a few miles, we told the driver to let us out, which, thankfully, he did. Over the years I’ve wished I could travel back in time to discover if he was in fact a serial killer.  If you read my novel, Watching, A Different Type of Time Travel, Volume 1: The Garden Museum Heist, you'll find aspects of my reading (sci-fi), movie (Hitchcock), and life experiences reflected in the story.

Jeffrey's book list on ordinary people in extraordinary situations

Why did Jeffrey love this book?

In this debut novel Odd Thomas, the title character is an engaging 20-year-old fry cook living in the small town of Pico Mundo, CA. 
Odd Thomas is an ordinary guy, except that he sees dead people. They seek him out. They do not speak, but they communicate with Odd telepathically, frequently leading him to their killers. He is a reluctant hero determined to do the right thing in a world full of wrongs. He’s a character that you wish good things for. Guided by love for his soul-mate girlfriend and dead souls, he fights evil, against all odds.

This book imbues the reader with hope that, no matter the evil or how seemingly insurmountable the odds (pun intended), a good heart can triumph. It’s a great series.

By Dean Koontz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Meet Odd Thomas, the unassuming young hero of Dean Koontz’s dazzling New York Times bestseller, a gallant sentinel at the crossroads of life and death who offers up his heart in these pages and will forever capture yours.

“The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Sometimes the silent souls who seek out Odd want justice. Occasionally their otherworldly tips help him prevent a crime. But this time it’s different.

A stranger comes to Pico Mundo, accompanied by a horde…