The most recommended homesteading books

Who picked these books? Meet our 44 experts.

44 authors created a book list connected to homesteading, and here are their favorite homesteading books.
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Book cover of The West of Billy the Kid

Mark Warren Author Of A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney

From my list on America’s most famous young outlaw, Billy the Kid.

Who am I?

Because I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, my supply of heroes was liberally doled out by the 130+ Western series that dominated nighttime televisions. My parents allowed me one program per week. It was a Western. I was soon interested in history, to know what really happened in the American West, and so I came to understand the great discrepancies between fact and TV. The truth, for me, is much more interesting than the myth. But that truth carries some heavy weight, which informs us of our national foibles, crimes, and embarrassments. As a Western historian, I've done my share of historical research, but I still gravitate toward historical fiction as a writer.

Mark's book list on America’s most famous young outlaw, Billy the Kid

Mark Warren Why did Mark love this book?

Nolan, an Englishman who researched from his home country, has long been considered the world authority on Billy the Kid.

It can still be said that all research on Billy begins with Nolan, who died in 2022. His book undertakes the massive quest to explain the Lincoln County War in detail and to reveal the endless cast of characters interwoven throughout the struggle.

Nolan’s supple mind has delivered unto us provocative motives for Billy’s actions and thereby expanded our understanding of the Kid’s mind. Without Nolan, historians would be left with mere nuggets of information and not necessarily hold the larger story in perspective.

By Frederick W. Nolan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The West of Billy the Kid, renowned authority Frederick Nolan has assembled a comprehensive photo gallery of the life and times of Billy the Kid. In text and in more than 250 images-many of them published here for the first time-Nolan recreates the life Billy lived and the places and people he knew. This unique assemblage is complemented by maps and a full biography that incorporates Nolan's original research, adding fresh depth and detail to the Kid's story and to the lives and backgrounds of those who witnessed the events of his life and death.Here are the faces of…


Book cover of To the Bright Edge of the World

Peggy O'Donnell Heffington Author Of Without Children: The Long History of Not Being a Mother

From my list on women without kids (that aren’t sad).

Who am I?

I’m a historian who knows women have long lived not-sad lives without children. I’ve spent years researching the full and vibrant lives women without children lived throughout history—lives that often were only possible because they didn’t have the responsibilities of motherhood. I’m also a woman living a decidedly not-sad life without kids. And yet, in popular imagination, a woman without kids must be longing to be a mother or grieving the fact that she isn’t. I know firsthand that it can be isolating not to have kids. But in writing about the sheer variety of lives non-mothers lived in the past, I’m trying to show that we’re not alone.

Peggy's book list on women without kids (that aren’t sad)

Peggy O'Donnell Heffington Why did Peggy love this book?

Unlike Ivey’s other book The Snow Child, which grapples with the grief of infertility (a book I also love!), this book considers the opportunities a life without children allows for.

It opens with Lieutenant Colonel Allan Forrester as he prepares to lead an expedition into Alaska in 1885. His wife, Sophie, is an explorer in her own right and plans to accompany him—until they realize she’s pregnant and decide she has to stay behind.

Spoiler: Sophie miscarries and learns she will likely never be able to carry a baby to term. But this isn’t an endpoint for Sophie: instead, it sets her on a path toward professional and creative success, as well as love and happiness in her marriage.

We’re used to reading about how motherhood gives life meaning—I loved Ivey’s portrait of how not having kids can do the same.

By Eowyn Ivey,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked To the Bright Edge of the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE EDWARD STANFORD TRAVEL WRITING AWARDS 2016.

Set in the Alaskan landscape that she brought to stunningly vivid life in THE SNOW CHILD (a Sunday Times bestseller, Richard and Judy pick and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), Eowyn Ivey's TO THE BRIGHT EDGE OF THE WORLD is a breathtaking story of discovery set at the end of the nineteenth century, sure to appeal to fans of A PLACE CALLED WINTER.

'A clever, ambitious novel' The Sunday Times

'Persuasive and vivid... what could be a better beach read than an Arctic adventure?' Guardian


'Stunning and intriguing... the reader finishes…


Book cover of Billy the Kid: El Bandido Simpatico

Mark Warren Author Of A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney

From my list on America’s most famous young outlaw, Billy the Kid.

Who am I?

Because I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, my supply of heroes was liberally doled out by the 130+ Western series that dominated nighttime televisions. My parents allowed me one program per week. It was a Western. I was soon interested in history, to know what really happened in the American West, and so I came to understand the great discrepancies between fact and TV. The truth, for me, is much more interesting than the myth. But that truth carries some heavy weight, which informs us of our national foibles, crimes, and embarrassments. As a Western historian, I've done my share of historical research, but I still gravitate toward historical fiction as a writer.

Mark's book list on America’s most famous young outlaw, Billy the Kid

Mark Warren Why did Mark love this book?

As it is often said, “history is written by the winners.”

The Hispanic population had very little voice in the outcome of the Lincoln County War, but it is they who had the deepest insight into who Billy was, for they were his friends and he their champion. Mills has mined that forgotten voice to publish a more thorough understanding of who the Kid was.

The result is a greater appreciation for Billy as a human being. This is a long overdue perspective that better defines Billy Bonney’s admirable traits.

By James B. Mills,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the annals of American western history, few people have left behind such lasting and far-reaching fame as Billy the Kid. Some have suggested that his legend began with his death at the end of Pat Garrett's revolver on the night of July 14, 1881, in Fort Sumner. Others believe that the legend began with his unforgettable jailbreak in Lincoln, New Mexico, several months prior on April 28, 1881. Others still insist his legend began with the publication in 1926 of Walter Noble Burns's book, The Saga of Billy the Kid.

James B. Mills has left no stone unturned in…


Book cover of Traces

Tara Lynn Masih Author Of My Real Name Is Hanna

From Tara's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Editor Nature lover Imaginative Bookworm

Tara's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Tara Lynn Masih Why did Tara love this book?

I love historical fiction. If the history is set within the wilderness, you grab my attention even more. I admired this book from the first poetic sentence to the last.

It’s one of the best historical fiction books I’ve read. Hudson’s research is impeccable, as is her ability to create different, believable characters. I also need a book to have depth and to keep moving. I stayed up late wanting to know the fate of these pioneers in their latest quest.

While the book is complicated by increased awareness of how land was stolen from indigenous tribes, I admired Hudson’s walking a fine, nuanced line. Acknowledging the wrong, while educating readers about what pioneer women were made to endure by their men.

By Patricia L. Hudson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An early American adage proclaimed: "The frontier was heaven for men and dogs- hell for women and mules." Since the 1700s, when his name first appeared in print, Daniel Boone has been synonymous with America's westward expansion and life on the frontier. Traces is a retelling of Boone's saga through the eyes of his wife, Rebecca, and her two oldest daughters, Susannah and Jemima.

Daniel became a mythic figure during his lifetime, but his fame fueled backwoods gossip that bedeviled the Boone women throughout their lives, most notably the widespread suspicion that one of Rebecca's children was fathered by Daniel's…


Book cover of Dragon Teeth

Carol Potenza Author Of Sting of Lies

From Carol's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Scientist Author Learner for life Intensely curious Wife, mother, and gamma

Carol's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Carol Potenza Why did Carol love this book?

I find myself reading more authors who are so passionate about the underlying non-fiction their stories are built upon, especially science, that it shines through in their fiction. I emulate it in my writing. It incites my enthusiasm to learn and teach through stories.

Michael Crichton’s ingenious use of a fictional protagonist to tell the incredible story of the Great Dinosaur Bone Wars between O.C. Marsh and E.D. Cope creates a rollicking tale of the American West during the Gilded Age.

Most of the time, the reader doesn’t even realize how much they are learning about this amazing history.

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From Michael Crichton, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Jurassic Park, comes a thrilling adventure set in the Wild West that will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page to the last!

If you thought Jurassic Park was an adventure, you should try the Wild West!

1876. In the lawless territories of the Wild West, two teams of explorers are pitted against one another. Their quarry? Dinosaur bones. But in a land filled with hostile Indian tribes and towns where pistol fights are a daily occurrence, every exploit puts their lives in danger...…


Book cover of Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride

Mark Warren Author Of A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney

From my list on America’s most famous young outlaw, Billy the Kid.

Who am I?

Because I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, my supply of heroes was liberally doled out by the 130+ Western series that dominated nighttime televisions. My parents allowed me one program per week. It was a Western. I was soon interested in history, to know what really happened in the American West, and so I came to understand the great discrepancies between fact and TV. The truth, for me, is much more interesting than the myth. But that truth carries some heavy weight, which informs us of our national foibles, crimes, and embarrassments. As a Western historian, I've done my share of historical research, but I still gravitate toward historical fiction as a writer.

Mark's book list on America’s most famous young outlaw, Billy the Kid

Mark Warren Why did Mark love this book?

This book does a fine job of laying out the complex plots and cross-plots of a most complicated New Mexico Territory of the 1870s.

The full spectrum of politics, murders, and factions can be overwhelming to a first-time student. There are clearly too many players in the story for a reader to grasp the overarching drama. Mr. Wallis found a way to guide the reader across this challenging terrain without shortcuts. 

By Michael Wallis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Award-winning historian Michael Wallis has spent several years re-creating the rich, anecdotal saga of Billy the Kid (1859-1881), a deeply mythologized young man who became a legend in his own time and yet remains an enigma to this day. With the Gilded Age in full swing and the Industrial Revolution reshaping the American landscape, "the Kid," who was gunned down by Sheriff Pat Garrett in the New Mexico Territory at the age of twenty-one, became a new breed of celebrity outlaw. He arose amid the mystery and myth of the swiftly vanishing frontier and, sensationalized beyond recognition by the tabloids…


Book cover of Killing Mister Watson

R.H. Emmers Author Of The Secret History

From R.H.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Investigator Shooter Guerilla Dog soldier

R.H.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

R.H. Emmers Why did R.H. love this book?

It should come as no surprise, in this novel by Peter Matthiessen, that the main character, Mister Watson, dies. And in fact, he is indeed gunned down by a mob in the first chapter.

The mystery, however, is only starting. Set in the 10,000 Islands of the southwest Florida frontier around the turn of the 20th century, the novel wonders if Mister Watson – a historical figure – is really the cold-blooded killer so many neighbors think him to be.

Based on a “few hard facts” and interviews by Mr. Matthiessen, the story is told by those who knew him; his voice never appears. And the conclusion: a mystery – Watson remains opaque.

This is the kind of story I love and the kind of story I try to tell.

By Peter Matthiessen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drawn from fragments of historical fact, Matthiessen's masterpiece brilliantly depicts the fortunes and misfortunes of Edgar J. Watson, a real-life entrepreneur and outlaw who appeared in the lawless Florida Everglades around the turn of the century.


Book cover of The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Martha W. Murphy Author Of CRU Oyster Bar Nantucket Cookbook: Savoring Four Seasons of the Good Life

From my list on the eclectic reader of nonfiction.

Who am I?

I’m a narrative nonfiction writer interested in a broad range of topics, including but not limited to: food and the people who bring it to us; travel and life in faraway places; human health and the role of medicine; memoir as one person’s story yet illustrative of the human spirit; and the unique and remarkable role dogs play in our lives. I am the same kind of reader: I read across a range of topics, mostly nonfiction. The bookshelves in my house and the record of titles I’ve checked out from my local library show an eclectic taste, as do the books I’m recommending here. I hope you’ll enjoy them!

Martha's book list on the eclectic reader of nonfiction

Martha W. Murphy Why did Martha love this book?

I had never heard of Rinker Buck—nor of C-Span Book TV, for that matter—when one day, flipping through channels, I landed on him giving a talk about his then-new book, The Oregon Trail. I was smitten. As soon as his talk ended, I rushed to my local library to check out a copy.

Part travelogue, part memoir, part history lesson, The Oregon Trail had me mesmerized from the first page. “Exceptional” is not too strong a word to describe Buck’s skill as a writer and his extraordinary 2000-mile journey in a real covered wagon pulled by mules, tracing the pioneers’ arduous trek.

His insights, humor, and a personality that “doesn’t suffer fools gladly” provide a true understanding of the difficulty such a journey posed 150 years ago.

By Rinker Buck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • #1 Indie Next Pick • Winner of the PEN New England Award

“Enchanting…A book filled with so much love…Long before Oregon, Rinker Buck has convinced us that the best way to see America is from the seat of a covered wagon.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Amazing…A real nonfiction thriller.” —Ian Frazier, The New York Review of Books

“Absorbing…Winning…The many layers in The Oregon Trail are linked by Mr. Buck’s voice, which is alert and unpretentious in a manner that put me in mind of Bill Bryson’s comic tone in A Walk in the Woods.”…


Book cover of One Came Home

Tricia Springstubb Author Of The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe

From my list on middle grade fiction about The Thing with Feathers.

Who am I?

I’ve written books for kids of all ages, and always there were birds. Sparrows singing on windowsills, cardinals arrowing across yards, cormorants diving into Lake Erie, pigeons poking beneath park benches. Those things with feathers make my own heart sing!  Slowly it dawned on me that I wanted to write a book where birds didn’t just flit across the pages but nested at the story’s heart. I had to do a lot of bird research for Perfect. What I learned about the precious, fragile bonds among all Earth’s creatures became one of the book’s themes: big and small, bound by gravity or able to defy it, we are all deeply connected. 

Tricia's book list on middle grade fiction about The Thing with Feathers

Tricia Springstubb Why did Tricia love this book?

Because…I love language, and Timberlake spins out one gorgeous sentence after another.

Set in 1871, the story follows Georgie Burkhardt as she tracks her big sister, who’s run away with “pigeoners”, a seedy bunch who follow the migration of passenger pigeons (which once existed in the millions but were hunted to extinction). Georgie’s voice is tough, funny, and wildly original, just like the West itself.

There’s plenty of mystery and suspense, but for me, it’s about the language! Here’s the glorious ending: “I say let all the world be alive and overwhelmingly so. Let the sky be pressed to bursting with wings, beaks, pumping hearts and driving muscles. Let it be noisy. Let it be a mess. Then let me find my allotted space. Let me feel how I bump up against every other living thing on this earth.”

By Amy Timberlake,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked One Came Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A Newbery Honor Book

An ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book

Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Novel

“An adventure, a mystery, and a love song to the natural world. . . . Run out and read it. Right now.”—Newbery Medalist Karen Cushman

In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly.

But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn't, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of "pigeoners" trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And…


Book cover of Epitaph

Venetia Hobson Lewis Author Of Changing Woman: A Novel of the Camp Grant Massacre

From my list on the old west with in-depth characters.

Who am I?

I’m an amalgam of all of my varied interests and varied employments from actress and singer to corporate paralegal at a movie studio. Since my teenage years, I’ve loved to research. That joy leads into writing factually-accurate historical fiction set in the West. Delving into the private lives of both the fictional and the real people gives the reader a better understanding of the characters’ designated paths leading to the events upon which my novel is based. My recommendations for the best books set in the West with in-depth characters have qualities I’ve employed in my novel. Some of these books also delve into characters from differing races, reflecting most towns in the Old West.

Venetia's book list on the old west with in-depth characters

Venetia Hobson Lewis Why did Venetia love this book?

Perhaps Arizona’s most widely recognized event, the thirty seconds of gunfight at O.K. Corral in Tombstone isn’t the main emphasis in Epitaph. That belongs to Russell’s engrossing depictions of the intensely personal relationships between the Earp brothers, their girlfriends and wives, their routines, and addictions.

As I found out in researching for my novel, if you get the accurate facts about the personalities and actions of the good and the bad people, who actually lived in the Old West, you’re well on the way to writing a novel.  

John Philip Clum started the newspaper in Tombstone and called it Epitaph, because “No tombstone is complete without its epitaph.” To complete your reading about the Old West, include Epitaph.

By Mary Doria Russell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mary Doria Russell, the bestselling, award-winning author of The Sparrow, returns with Epitaph. An American Iliad, this richly detailed and meticulously researched historical novel continues the story she began in Doc, following Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday to Tombstone, Arizona, and to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president loathed by half the populace. Smuggling and gang warfare along the Mexican border. Armed citizens willing to stand their ground and take law into their own hands. . . . 

That was America in 1881.

All those forces came to…