The most recommended books about farmers

Who picked these books? Meet our 23 experts.

23 authors created a book list connected to farmers, and here are their favorite farmer books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of farmer book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life--and Saved an American Farm

JQ Rose Author Of Arranging A Dream

From my list on extraordinary life stories about ordinary people.

Why am I passionate about this?

My author friend, Mary, brought her great, great, great + grandfather’s journal to our writers' group and shared excerpts from the pages written in the 1800s. When her grandfather was window shopping in downtown London, he peered into the bookstore window. He yearned to own the books on display, but he couldn’t afford them on a minister’s income. Only the rich could purchase books. The journal excerpts brought the 1800s to life. I decided then to begin recording my life experiences to make our lives today real for the generations of tomorrow. I share my enthusiasm for telling life stories by presenting workshops on how to write life stories. 

JQ's book list on extraordinary life stories about ordinary people

JQ Rose Why did JQ love this book?

My husband, Ted, is a gardening fanatic, so we listened to The Growing Season audiobook together to find out more about vegetable gardening. Instead, we happily discovered the story was about Sarah Frey’s business growing commercial crops rather than a backyard garden. She grew up in Illinois helping her mother deliver cantaloupe to local grocery stores. At 15 years old, when her mother could no longer make the deliveries, Sarah took on the route. I cheered her on as she lived her life with determination and purpose to grow that business for her family. The small route developed into a well-respected family-owned multi-state produce business.

By Sarah Frey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A gutsy success story” (The New York Times Book Review) about one tenacious woman’s journey to escape rural poverty and create a billion-dollar farming business—without ever leaving the land she loves

The youngest of her parents’ combined twenty-one children, Sarah Frey grew up on a struggling farm in southern Illinois, often having to grow, catch, or hunt her own dinner alongside her brothers. She spent much of her early childhood dreaming of running away to the big city—or really anywhere with central heating. At fifteen, she moved out of her family home and started her own fresh produce delivery business…


Book cover of Bringing It to the Table: On Farming and Food

Kenden Alfond Author Of Kosher Macros: 63 Recipes for Eating Everything (Kosher) for Physical Health and Emotional Balance

From my list on reset your mindset and enjoy eating in balance.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Kenden, I’m a psychotherapist and executive coach who focuses on Enneagram personality assessment and financial psychology and behavior. I have a side passion for writing Jewish cookbooks and creating modern minimalist Judica. I grew up in Maine, USA, and have since lived and worked in Afghanistan, India, DR Congo, Switzerland, and Cambodia. Nowadays I live in Paris. 

Kenden's book list on reset your mindset and enjoy eating in balance

Kenden Alfond Why did Kenden love this book?

I first read Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture (published in 1977) in high school.

In Bringing It to the Table, Berry shares excerpts of his essays exploring what has shaped farming and food in the last four decades: the declining state of American agriculture, the dangers of industrialized food farming, and the importance of farming to the human community – for body, mind, and soul.

This book cuts deep into food, one of the most important issues of our century because it impacts climate change, resource depletion, financial insecurity, and health issues created by poor food choices. 

By Wendell Berry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bringing It to the Table as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Only a farmer could delve so deeply into the origins of food, and only a writer of Wendell Berry’s caliber could convey it with such conviction and eloquence. A progenitor of the slow food movement, Wendell Berry reminds us all to take the time to understand the basics of what we ingest. “Eating is an agriculture act,” he writes. Indeed, we are all players in the food economy. For the last five decades, Berry has embodied mindful eating through his land practices and his writing. In recognition of that influence, Michael Pollan here offers an introduction to this wonderful collection…


Book cover of The Farmer and the Clown

Cheryl Lawton Malone Author Of Dario and the Whale

From my list on children’s books about kindness and friendship.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fairy tales were my first love but I didn’t discover the true magic of children’s picture books until I left my 25-year career as an attorney to enter an MFA program. Wow, was I amazed. Picture books—books in which pictures tell an integral part of the story—not only create an instant connection between reader and little listener but stay with us into adulthood as memories. With this insight, I dove into the genre to discover what distinguishes picture books that are read and reread from those that fade. The answer turns out to be—tales that engender awe and wonder, yarns with heart, and narratives about friendship and kindness. Those are the stories that stay with us forever.

Cheryl's book list on children’s books about kindness and friendship

Cheryl Lawton Malone Why did Cheryl love this book?

The Farmer and the Clown is my personal candidate for “best” wordless picture book. Author and two-time Caldecott Honor medalist Marla Frazee tells the story of a reluctant farmer who rescues a frightened baby clown separated from his circus family. With zero words and perfect pacing, Frazee steals our hearts as the farmer and the clown overcome their fears and learn to love each other. A testament to kindness and friendship, this book will appeal to grandparents, parents, and young readers alike. Once you read The Farmer and the Clown, you’ll want to acquire the other two books in this amazing trilogy: The Farmer and the Monkey and The Farmer and the Circus.

By Marla Frazee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A baby clown is separated from his family when he accidentally bounces off their circus train and lands in a lonely farmer's vast, empty field. The farmer reluctantly rescues the little clown, and over the course of one day together, the two of them make some surprising discoveries about themselves-and about life!

Sweet, funny, and moving, this wordless picture book from a master of the form and the creator of The Boss Baby speaks volumes and will delight story lovers of all ages.


Book cover of Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa: Stories

Jeff Fleischer Author Of Animal Husbandry (and Other Fictions)

From my list on collections that show what great modern novelists can do with short fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love short-story collections. I’ve read dozens to hundreds of them, starting as a child reading Richard Scarry, and I still make them a regular part of my reading diet. I started trying my own hand at short fiction in 2012 and have since finished more than one hundred stories, including the ones in Animal Husbandry. I’m now working on my first novel after years as a short-story writer, and it gives me additional admiration for how many outstanding novelists are also able to master short fiction. It’s two different skill sets, and the five authors I mentioned here (among many others) excel at both.

Jeff's book list on collections that show what great modern novelists can do with short fiction

Jeff Fleischer Why did Jeff love this book?

Kinsella was a master at blending two of my favorite things—fiction with supernatural elements in a realistic setting, and also baseball.

The title story was expanded into the novel Shoeless Joe, which later became the movie Field of Dreams, and I was fascinated by how the story changed in those three formats. Plus, the collection is packed with cool historical Americana fiction laced with uncanny happenings.

By W. P. Kinsella,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ten stories deal with a farmer who loves baseball, a carpenter repairing a broken doll, a clever prostitute, and a wandering salesman


Book cover of The Auctioneer

Clay McLeod Chapman Author Of Whisper Down the Lane

From my list on bad neighbors.

Why am I passionate about this?

Neighbors. We’ve all got ‘em, right? We believe we’re the good ones, and we pray we don’t live next door to the bad ones… but sometimes it’s inevitable that we share our property lines with those ill-suited for neighborly behavior. Horror books about bad neighbors are the perfect window into our own communities. We can peer into the lives of others without worry of getting caught. We can tiptoe through their rooms and rummage through their drawers… Who knows what we might find. Are they witches? Serial killers? Devil worshippers? Only their dirty laundry will tell. 

Clay's book list on bad neighbors

Clay McLeod Chapman Why did Clay love this book?

Samson’s one and only novel, The Auctioneer is a wonderfully unnerving tale of how a community can find itself completely hollowed out in a matter of a single devil’s bargain. Predating Stephen King’s Needful Things, this book is a literary garotte that slowly closes around the reader’s throat. The paranoia is palpable in these pages, believe me. 

By Joan Samson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the finest and best-selling horror novels of the 1970s returns at last to chill a new generation of readers

In the isolated farming community of Harlowe, New Hampshire, where life has changed little over the past several decades, John Moore and his wife Mim work the land that has been in his family for generations. But from the moment the charismatic Perly Dunsmore arrives in town and starts soliciting donations for his auctions, things begin slowly and insidiously to change in Harlowe. As the auctioneer carries out his terrible, inscrutable plan, the Moores and their neighbors will find…


Book cover of Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia

Chris Smaje Author Of Saying NO to a Farm-Free Future: The Case For an Ecological Food System and Against Manufactured Foods

From my list on why we must adopt low-impact local food systems.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my career as an academic social scientist and seem set to end it as a gardener, small-scale farmer, and accidental ecological activist. I’ve learned a lot of things along the way from these different parts of my life that I channel in my writing. I don’t claim much expertise. In fact, I think claims to expert knowledge that can ‘solve’ modern problems are a big part of our modern problems. I’ve always been interested in how people and communities try to figure things out for themselves, often by picking up the pieces when big ideas have failed them. My writing arises out of that.

Chris' book list on why we must adopt low-impact local food systems

Chris Smaje Why did Chris love this book?

Almost everywhere, there’s a local agrarian tradition in which people ingeniously figured out how to build autonomous livelihoods on their local ecological base. And almost everywhere it’s been destroyed by modern economic forces, which not only import energy and capital non-resiliently from elsewhere, but also import scorn for older rural ways once admired for their tenacity.

With a historian’s eye for detail, a storyteller’s gift for narrative, and an intensely human empathy for ordinary lives, Steven Stoll tells this story in the case of Appalachia in the United States. But the implications go much wider, and are endlessly informative for thinking through the basis of local agrarian societies worldwide today.     

By Steven Stoll,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Short-listed for the Phi Beta Kappa Ralph Waldo Emerson Book Award

In Ramp Hollow, Steven Stoll offers a fresh, provocative account of Appalachia, and why it matters. He begins with the earliest European settlers, whose desire for vast forests to hunt in was frustrated by absentee owners―including George Washington and other founders―who laid claim to the region. Even as Daniel Boone became famous as a backwoods hunter and guide, the economy he represented was already in peril. Within just a few decades, Appalachian hunters and farmers went from pioneers to pariahs, from heroes to hillbillies, in the national imagination, and…


Book cover of Dreamland

Judy Prescott Marshall Author Of Still Crazy

From my list on later in life romance.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an avid reader. I still love to hold them in my hands. Not long ago I went dumpster diving for an entire set of encyclopedias. To say I love books is an understatement. Books have always been my passion, destination, and my closest friend.

Judy's book list on later in life romance

Judy Prescott Marshall Why did Judy love this book?

Nicholas Sparks has always been high on my list of authors to read. Once again, he reminds me why I love reading his stories. Dreamland takes you on an emotional ride. First, we learn the meaning of young love—then our eyes are opened by the often pain afflicted by falling in love with the wrong person. But, in the end it all comes together in a surprising way.

By Nicholas Sparks,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A twist you won’t see coming. A love story you’ll never forget.
 
From the acclaimed author of The Wish comes a powerful novel about risking everything for a dream—and whether it’s possible to leave the past behind.
 
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: PopSugar

Colby Mills once felt destined for a musical career, until tragedy grounded his aspirations. Now the head of a small family farm in North Carolina, he spontaneously takes a gig playing at a bar in St. Pete Beach, Florida, seeking a rare break from his duties at home.…


Book cover of Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm

JQ Rose Author Of Arranging A Dream

From my list on extraordinary life stories about ordinary people.

Why am I passionate about this?

My author friend, Mary, brought her great, great, great + grandfather’s journal to our writers' group and shared excerpts from the pages written in the 1800s. When her grandfather was window shopping in downtown London, he peered into the bookstore window. He yearned to own the books on display, but he couldn’t afford them on a minister’s income. Only the rich could purchase books. The journal excerpts brought the 1800s to life. I decided then to begin recording my life experiences to make our lives today real for the generations of tomorrow. I share my enthusiasm for telling life stories by presenting workshops on how to write life stories. 

JQ's book list on extraordinary life stories about ordinary people

JQ Rose Why did JQ love this book?

When my friend recommended Bootstrapper, I wanted to read it because the author’s life paralleled the struggles my daughter experienced with the mean divorce from her husband. Divorce can bring you to your knees or build your strength and character. Divorce developed strength in my daughter and in Mardi. Mardi found a way to save her farm, deal with her young sons and begin a new chapter in her life filled with love and meaning. I recommend this feel-good story to inspire hope when one is completely lost.

By Mardi Jo Link,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Poignant, irreverent, and hilarious: a memoir about survival and self-discovery, by an indomitable woman who never loses sight of what matters most. 

It’s the summer of 2005, and Mardi Jo Link’s dream of living the simple life has unraveled into debt, heartbreak, and perpetually ragged cuticles. She and her husband of nineteen years have just called it quits, leaving her with serious cash-flow problems and a looming divorce. More broke than ever, Link makes a seemingly impossible resolution: to hang on to her century-old farmhouse in northern Michigan and continue to raise her three boys on well water and wood…


Book cover of The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape

Susan Cole Author Of Holding Fast: A Memoir of Sailing, Love, and Loss

From my list on huge life changes and the stories behind them.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have lived on or around sailboats for over thirty years. I had never sailed before meeting my husband. Many people dream of sailing off but few actually go. In 1996, we sailed away to the Caribbean with our seven-year-old daughter. Although I didn’t want to go, by the end of the voyage I found an inner strength that has stayed with me. The books I chose are all about making huge changes, taking leaps of faith. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Susan's book list on huge life changes and the stories behind them

Susan Cole Why did Susan love this book?

James Rebanks was born in England’s Lake District into a family who valued the hard work and ancient traditions of shepherding in the high hills. Later, he winds up at Oxford, seemingly headed for a life of financial success in the city, and realizes that while the world at large may value such success, he values the quiet, steady, solitary shepherd’s life and chooses that instead. He beautifully depicts a life steeped in tradition, honoring the seasons, and filled with characters. I loved learning about a slice of life that I knew little about.

By James Rebanks,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Shepherd's Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE SUNDAY TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER

'Affectionate, evocative, illuminating. A story of survival - of a flock, a landscape and a disappearing way of life. I love this book' Nigel Slater

'Triumphant, a pastoral for the 21st century' Helen Davies, Sunday Times, Books of the Year

'The nature publishing sensation of the year, unsentimental yet luminous' Melissa Harrison, The Times, Books of the Year

Some people's lives are entirely their own creations. James Rebanks' isn't. The first son of a shepherd, who was the first son of a shepherd himself, he and his family have lived and worked in and…


Book cover of Farmer Joe's Hot Day: A Scholastic Canada Reader

Kate Lum Author Of What! Cried Granny: An Almost Bedtime Story

From my list on kids' stories for bedtime, travel-time, and fireside.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a New Englander by birth, a Canadian by circumstance, and a Nova Scotian by choice. For as long as I can remember, I’ve told stories, first to my little sister—a captive audience—then to my children, then at my book readings, and now on my podcast, Kate and Friends, which I’m lucky enough to record with two professional musicians. For me, the ultimate test of a story is whether it can be told without visual aids. While I love picture books, and the way an artist can deepen a child’s experience of a story, I gravitate to satisfying, stand-alone tales with a good twist. They’re difficult to write, easy to remember, and great fun to tell! 

Kate's book list on kids' stories for bedtime, travel-time, and fireside

Kate Lum Why did Kate love this book?

As a kids’ storyteller, I’ve often used this book, and it bears telling even without its gently comic pictures. When Farmer Joe complains of his daily toil, his clever wife tricks him into becoming so uncomfortable that, once returned to normal conditions, he will never complain again! The story carries a message about positive attitude, without being didactic. Best of all, kids can chuckle along with Farmer Joe’s wife, understanding her trick while hapless Joe does not. Kids, in my experience, love to be smarter than at least one grownup in a story, and this book delivers that in spades! 

By Nancy Wilcox Richards, Werner Zimmerman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Farmer Joe's Hot Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Farmer Joe returns in a colourful reader!

Farmer Joe has a problem: he works so hard that by the end of the day he is very hot and tired.

"What can I do?" he asks his wife.

You'll laugh at the clever way Farmer Joe's wife helps him keep his cool. Or does she?

Farmer Joe's Hot Day was both the author and illustrator's debut book, and the trilogy became a favourite with kids and teachers alike. Now the classic series returns in a bright levelled reader format for a new generation of book lovers!