The best books set in Idaho

9 authors have picked their favorite books about Idaho and why they recommend each book.

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By Tara Westover,

Book cover of Educated: A Memoir

Our circumstances were very different, but I feel a real kinship to her description of a childhood with oppressive/overwhelming parents and the ways in which they attempted to constrict and cripple her future simply by imposing their own world view as a matter of course on their children. Her need to break from them to find herself also echoes my own need to do the same, which I did at the same age, leaving home to go to college, in my case to work my way through college on my own despite coming from an affluent background. But as I write in my own book, living with my parents was crazy making, and my steps to assert reality simply grew over time until by late adolescence they became irresistable.

Who am I?

Quite young, I realized my life was based on the fantasies and wish-fulfillments of my parents. As a teenager I turned to science fiction and fantasy whose stories so often engaged imaginatively and decisively with fundamental issues of good and evil, truth and falsity, courage and deception, unlike my reality. In my struggle to portray that reality and its transformation something Freud wondered about proved helpful, whether our careful effort to reconstruct the past was wholly true or in part illusory. If it was effective as an explanation, then he felt it was valid, and I have written in the same spirit.

I wrote...

Family Matters

By Lance Lee,

Book cover of Family Matters

What is my book about?

Family Matters is a generations-long reckoning with family myth, loss, and transformation from 1865 to the 1970s, showing how family suffering metamorphosized into comedy on an abiding public, cultural scale in the original The Addams Family television series of 1964-1966 created by the author's father, David Levy, from the original Charles Addams New Yorker cartoons. It is also the story of how the author's parents though drawn from widely divergent backgrounds strove to realize the American Dream. Levy's ancestors derived from Jewish Eastern Europe, Lucille Wilds' from Anglo-Welsh aristocratic, and German roots. The breakdown of that effort both as a slow ebbing and with an abrupt jolt provides the narrative drive and climax of Family Matters.

Cloud Cuckoo Land

By Anthony Doerr,

Book cover of Cloud Cuckoo Land

This is a time-travelling collection of tales braided through fragments of a Greek work of speculative fiction contrived so very long ago. I identified with all the book-loving characters from Constantinople in 1453 to small-town Idaho in the late twentieth century, to those seeking a future in outer space. I loved the fantasy and the adventure as well as the character's commitments to the magic and wisdom of written words, as well as to the translators who expand them and the librarians who conserve them.

Who am I?

I am a bibliophile. I love words, books, librarians, and independent bookstores. Both my novels describe the reading life of my main characters. To hold a book in my own hands generates an excited anticipation that both challenges and comforts me. So when I am reading a novel with a book within it as a character I double my reading fun! Like many readers, I fell in love with reading when I was very young and remember the smell of the modest musty library that my father used to take me to when I was knee-high to a grasshopper.  So many little time!

I wrote...

Seven Locks

By Christine Wade,

Book cover of Seven Locks

What is my book about?

A farmer disappears without a trace, abandoning his wife and children in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains on the eve of the American war for independence. The local villagers believe that the farmer’s wife, who has the reputation of being a scold, has driven her husband away, but a darker version of an iconic American folktale unfolds. “The future is a book with seven locks,” a mother tells her daughter, quoting a Dutch Proverb, as she undertakes desperate journeys and ambitious explorations of secrets to ensure a family’s survival.  Kirkus review called Seven Locks...a spellbinding depiction of the hardships faced by a woman fighting her own war of independence.

Dies the Fire

By S.M. Stirling,

Book cover of Dies the Fire

Unlike the typical post-apocalyptic fare of nuclear war or other identifiable disasters, Dies the Fire posits an interesting question: What if everything just stops working? Everything we rely on to drive modern society, from combustion to electricity, fails. Against this backdrop, a cast of characters from varied backgrounds all must struggle to adapt to this new reality. Civilization falls apart, and new orders spring up in their place. What drew me most to this was the different ways in which the characters responded to this situation. Some seek simply to survive, while others seek to exploit this new reality for their own gains at the expense of others.

Who am I?

I lived in small towns with “ordinary” people most of my life, so books where people from small towns contend with situations beyond the ordinary fascinate me. I also served in the US Army as a nuclear, biological, and chemical operations specialist and am a military history buff, so anything with a military spin is all that more engaging for me and I developed a morbid fascination for just how easy it would be for us to end civilization as we know it. Therefore, military science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction are among my favorite genres. 

I wrote...

What Once Was Home

By B.K. Bass,

Book cover of What Once Was Home

What is my book about?

When his world is suddenly torn apart, one man must learn to survive in What Once Was Home.

Jace Cox’s life is changed when an overwhelming alien force invades the Earth with no warning or provocation. In the years that follow, he must not only fight to survive, but also learn what it means to be a man and a leader. As the situation grows more dire and the weight of loss bears down on Jace, he realizes his greatest challenge isn’t the alien invaders or even his fellow man. It is holding onto his own humanity despite living in a world gone mad.

What Beauty There Is

By Cory Anderson,

Book cover of What Beauty There Is

There is something very powerful about finding beauty in a dark and gritty situation, as Cory Anderson does in this novel. Told in a multi-person viewpoint, the language is powerful yet also poetic and shines a light into the dark, uncomfortable spaces of poverty and crime, and limited options, but still comes back to the hope, love, and friendship that can exist in-between those places.

There is cold, and then there is the unforgiving cold of an Idaho winter. The setting echoes the biting poverty that Jack and his younger brother are forced into by events out of their control. The crimes of his father drag Jack and his brother further into a desperate situation with no safe way out, even with the help of Ava, who has demons of her own. The despair of poverty, the desperation of trying to do the right thing and being forced not to,…

Who am I?

There is something about books set in the cold, you know immediately bad things are going to happen! It may be my early childhood in Scotland, or my English upbringing, but I have always been drawn to the dark side of stories, the things under the bed, the monsters in the closet. I still love to be scared by the twists and chills but also am a sucker for a happy ending. In my novels, I always strive to entertain, to scare, and surprise, but ultimately there needs to be an emotional truth beneath everything. And this is true of the books I read as well. 

I wrote...

Don't Let In the Cold

By Keely Parrack,

Book cover of Don't Let In the Cold

What is my book about?

It was supposed to be one night in the cabin, a chance for Lottie and her new stepsister, Jade, to try to get along. But after a solar flare causes a massive blackout―no power or cell signal―Alex shows up, claiming to be lost and seeking shelter from the storm. When Lottie spies him in the driveway talking to two men in a pickup truck, she’s sure Alex is lying about why he's there.

Before she can find out more, a fire forces Lottie, Jade, and Alex into the blizzard, where they must rely on one another to get to safety. In the remote, Tahoe wilderness, it’s clear that Alex's accomplices are hunting them all down, in a scheme that's taken a chilling, deadly turn.


By David E. Fisher, Marshall Jon Fisher,

Book cover of Tube

Most of those curious about the history of television have heard of the boy who invented it: Philo Farnsworth. He was just 14 years old when he conceived the idea that led to the first televised image less than a decade later. Farnsworth died penniless and unwell despite a life spent devoted to what became one of the most influential inventions of his lifetime and ours. That journey is a large part of the story the Tube authors unfold, but there are several additional key players who factor into the medium’s early years, and that, along with what will feel like some prescient thoughts about the current state of the television industry, make for an insightful, delightful read in this 1996 tome.

Who am I?

Kimberly Potts is a TV and pop culture journalist and author who believes television is not only the ultimate entertainment medium, but is also the ultimate cultural common denominator. She has written for The New York TimesEntertainment Weekly, VultureThe Hollywood ReporterTV GuideThe Los Angeles Times, Yahoo, Variety, People.comUS Weekly, E! Online, Thrillist,, AOL,, and The Wrap. Kimberly also co-hosts the Pop Literacy and #Authoring podcasts, and is a member of the Television Critics Association, Critics Choice Association, Authors Guild, and American Society of Journalist and Authors.

I wrote...

The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch: How the Canceled Sitcom Became the Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking about Today

By Kimberly Potts,

Book cover of The Way We All Became The Brady Bunch: How the Canceled Sitcom Became the Beloved Pop Culture Icon We Are Still Talking about Today

What is my book about?

In The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch, TV and pop culture writer Kimberly Potts draws upon her deep knowledge of and appreciation for The Brady Bunch and television and pop culture history to provide an industry insider narrative of the series. With fresh interviews, The Way We All Became the Brady Bunch will examine the show's lasting effects on its audience and take readers behind-the-scenes and into the lives of our most beloved characters, all to document why The Brady Bunch was one of the most groundbreaking shows of its time--and why it remains to this day, unforgettable.

A Glimpse of My Heart

By Delraya Anstine RN OCN,

Book cover of A Glimpse of My Heart: One Nurse's Story

Television has offered movies and series with nurses as the primary protagonists, but few books narrate the gritty lived experience of RNs. A Glimpse of My Heart is one that does, sharing her story in a light but informative tone that makes the book very readable despite the grim realities of cancer nursing. 

Who am I?

Juggling roles as a professor, nurse practitioner, author, mother, and grandmother would seem to limit my reading time but instead, I always have a book in my car, on my phone, or in my hands. I read broadly and enjoy all genres, from fiction to nonfiction, poetry to medical comics, as well as the creative essay columns nursing journals are beginning to embrace. In particular, I gravitate toward resources that help nurses create a positive relational workplace where their best efforts can be even more effective. Whether it’s ending the RN-RA (relational aggression) Rut, using poetry to express feelings about caregiving, or writing creatively about the many aspects of nursing, I am ready to read! And of course, the best part of reading is having a discussion with colleagues or friends about what exactly that book was about…

I wrote...

Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

By Cheryl Dellasega,

Book cover of Toxic Nursing: Managing Bullying, Bad Attitudes, and Total Turmoil

What is my book about?

Nurse-to-nurse incivility and relational aggression can poison the work environment of virtually any organization. My work shares practical solutions from real-life professional conflicts nurses face and offers suggestions for coping with and preventing relational aggression. 

The Deep Dark

By Gregg Olsen,

Book cover of The Deep Dark: Disaster and Redemption in America's Richest Silver Mine

My first Gregg Olsen book, Starvation Heights, told the story of a serial-killing “doctor” who operated in the area of my hometown in the early 1900s. The Deep Dark, tells the story of the 1972 northern Idaho silver-mine disaster that occurred not far from my current home. After exhaustive research and interviews with survivors, Olsen thoroughly conveys the lifestyle of a hard-rock miner, working under the constant threat of death thousands of feet underground. Along the way, Olsen lays out the chain of events that led to the worst disaster in Idaho’s history. 

Who am I?

Being a connoisseur of historical nonfiction and a survivor of the 1994 shooting spree and aviation disaster at Fairchild Air Force Base, allowed me to create a unique narrative of the two tragedies. I’ve been naturally curious since childhood and grew even more observant and detail-oriented during my career in law enforcement and criminal investigations. I appreciate books that delve into historical disasters and tragedies giving us the opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences. When I realized none of my favorite authors were writing about the Fairchild tragedies, I took up the challenge myself. Warnings Unheeded is the result of more than seven years of research, it is an incredible story and a timeless lesson from history.

I wrote...

Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base

By Andy Brown,

Book cover of Warnings Unheeded: Twin Tragedies at Fairchild Air Force Base

What is my book about?

On 20 June 1994, a former airman opened fire on the patrons and staff of the Fairchild Air Force Base hospital. The first of his many victims were the doctors who had warned of his descent into homicidal madness. Four days after the shooting spree, a B-52 bomber plunged to the ground during an airshow-practice flight. Some of Fairchild’s most veteran aviators were killed when the massive airplane crashed, including a reckless senior pilot and the young commander who had fought to have him grounded. 

This incredible narrative reveals the signs of impending violence and disaster as seen through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed the tragedies unfold. Written by the man who ended the killing spree, Andy Brown gives a firsthand account of his pistol-versus-rifle gunfight and offers a candid insight into the hidden cost of becoming a "hero."

Decade of the Wolf

By Douglas W. Smith, Gary Ferguson,

Book cover of Decade of the Wolf

Reflecting on the first decade with wolves back in Yellowstone National Park, this book highlights milestones in the reintroduction effort, takes you out in the field with a wildlife biologist, and shares compelling stories of individual Yellowstone wolves and their packs. With more than 25 years spent overseeing wolves and elk in the park, Doug Smith is a unique authority on wolves and wolf behavior. Around the time our wolf project was coming to an end in the mid-’90s, those first wolves were released into central Idaho and Yellowstone. When we read this book some ten years later, we heard the echoes of our own experience in the behavior and characteristics of the wolves in Yellowstone.

Who are we?

We were fascinated with animals and the natural world from an early age. As documentary filmmakers, our intent was to capture the social lives of wolves on film. We hoped to dispel long-perpetuated myths by showing a side of these animals that was too often overlooked. What began as a two-year film project turned into six years of close observation and interaction with a pack of wolves. The things we learned and experienced exceeded our wildest expectations and changed our lives forever. We were captivated by these incredible and inspiring animals and have continued to advocate for wolves for over 30 years.

We wrote...

The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack

By Jim Dutcher, Jamie Dutcher,

Book cover of The Wisdom of Wolves: Lessons from the Sawtooth Pack

What is our book about?

On the edge of the Idaho wilderness, we lived with a pack of gray wolves for six years in a tented camp. That setting granted us unparalleled access to the hidden social life of these family-oriented animals. In this book we have gathered favorite memories from our years with the Sawtooth Pack, stories of benevolent leaders, fierce mothers, nurturing fathers, hunters, adventurers, comedians, and caregivers. Our intention is not to imbue wolves with human morals; it is to celebrate their very wolflike qualities through the lens of our own humanity. As it happens, many of the qualities that make a wolf successful at being a wolf also represent the best in human nature.  

The Poker Bride

By Christopher Corbett,

Book cover of The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West

I find this book fascinating because, along with telling one individual's story, it discusses the experiences of thousands of Chinese women who were trafficked to America during the 1800s. This is not a subject many books discuss. Note: because of the subject matter, this book is not suitable for all ages.

Polly Bemis’s destitute peasant family in China sold her into slavery when she was a young teen. She was taken to America and sold as a concubine to a wealthy store owner. A few years later, her owner lost Polly in a poker game to a gambler named Charlie Bemis, who married her. Polly Bemis spent the rest of her life a free woman, working hard in the home she and her husband built in the wilderness.

Who am I?

I’ve loved learning about the Old West for as long as I can remember. Is this because I was born a few miles from the spot where Jesse James robbed his first train? Or is it because my family watched so many classic western movies and TV shows when I was a kid? Either way, writing books set in the Old West is a natural fit for me. I love researching the real history of that era just as much as I love making up stories set there. In fact, I write a column about the real history of the Wild West for a Colorado-based newspaper, The Prairie Times.

I wrote...

One Bad Apple

By Rachel Kovaciny,

Book cover of One Bad Apple

What is my book about?

When a wagon train of Black pioneers rescues the seven orphaned Dalton cousins from the side of the trail to Kansas, fourteen-year-old Levi Dalton is dazzled by the beautiful Mrs. Mallone. Her knowledge of medicines and herbs inspires Levi to want to become a doctor. Maybe then he can stop people from dying of fevers like his folks did.

Mrs. Mallone's stepdaughter, Hopeful, warns Levi not to become too attached to the healer. Levi dismisses her warnings and his own misgivings until the day he sees something dreadful. Levi knows he needs to tell someone what he’s seen before it’s too late. But will anyone believe the story of a fourteen-year-old orphan? Will anyone stand up to evil, no matter how beautifully it’s packaged?

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