The most recommended books about lighthouses

Who picked these books? Meet our 21 experts.

21 authors created a book list connected to lighthouses, and here are their favorite lighthouse books.
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Book cover of The Twisting Lane: Some Sex Offenders

Michael Tau Author Of Extreme Music: From Silence to Noise and Everything In Between

From my list on absolutely arcane corners of human existence.

Why am I passionate about this?

Following mysterious trails and uncovering esoteric stories: it’s what I love to do, and it’s also what I love to read about. Before I released Extreme Music, I wrote extensively about unusual music subcultures and audiological anomalies, for example artists who put out hourlong blocks of unchanging white noise. I’ve learned that the most interesting ideas – and tales – exist in these outer fringes.

Michael's book list on absolutely arcane corners of human existence

Michael Tau Why did Michael love this book?

Tony Parker was a British writer dedicated to telling the stories of marginalized members of society. Many of his books took the form of transcripts of interviews with murders, career criminals, lighthouse keepers, and occupants of social housing. This book was his most controversial: interviews with institutionalized sex offenders, who tell their stories in their own words. Parker was skilled at getting people to broach shameful topics and talk candidly about their lives, and this book is no exception. His transcripts capture each speaker’s unique parlance, as well as the offenders’ varying levels of self-reflection. Published in 1969, there is even the sad story of a man who was imprisoned for homosexuality.

By Tony Parker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Few crimes provoke such outrage and upset as the sex offence, making the subject - including the problems it poses to our society and criminal justice system - a natural one for sociologist Tony Parker, whose work consistently shed light into dark corners of human behaviour.

The Twisting Lane, first published in 1969, presents the testimonies of eight men aged between 20 and 70 who had been convicted - most of them repeatedly - for eight different types of offence, from assault or rape of adults or minors, to indecent exposure and 'living on immoral earnings'. Each man offers, in…


Book cover of Letters from the Lighthouse

Kate Albus Author Of A Place to Hang the Moon

From my list on England’s World War II evacuations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by England’s World War II evacuations since I was a child. Appropriately enough, I first learned of this extraordinary historical event in a story: it’s the reason the Pevensies are sent to the Professor’s house in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In the dark days of World War II, more than a million English children boarded trains, buses, and ships, to be picked up and cared for by strangers, in some cases for the duration of the war. It’s a historical event that is as astonishing to me now as it was when I first read of it all those years ago. 

Kate's book list on England’s World War II evacuations

Kate Albus Why did Kate love this book?

I adore all of Emma Carroll’s delicious historical fiction, but Letters from the Lighthouse is my favorite. After the Luftwaffe’s bombings separate them from their mother and older sister, Olive and Cliff are evacuated to Devonshire. There, they end up billeted with the shy and enigmatic young lighthouse keeper, Ephraim Pengilly, who is tasked with taking the children in “whether he likes it or not.” Gorgeously atmospheric (the lighthouse alone – “a beacon to guide the lost to safety” – would have been enough for me), Letters from the Lighthouse also features unexpected friendships, the glimmer of a love story, and a sister who may be a spy.

By Emma Carroll,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

We weren't supposed to be going to the pictures that night. We weren't even meant to be outside, not in a blackout, and definitely not when German bombs had been falling on London all month like pennies from a jar.

February, 1941. After months of bombing raids in London, twelve-year-old Olive Bradshaw and her little brother Cliff are evacuated to the Devon coast. The only person with two spare beds is Mr Ephraim, the local lighthouse keeper. But he's not used to company and he certainly doesn't want any evacuees.

Desperate to be helpful, Olive becomes his post-girl, carrying secret…


Book cover of The Light Between Oceans

Kendra Broekhuis Author Of Between You and Us

From my list on impossible choices that will rip your heart out.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom and author for the past decade, and during that time, I went through the stillbirth of my second baby. Grief taught me a lot about compassion, including the importance of being able to see the nuance of difficult subject matters. I learned it’s easy to theorize what to do in a situation until you're in that situation. For that reason, I love books in all sorts of genres that are layered with characters’ past griefs, impossible scenarios, and tensions regarding the choices they make. I picked five of my favorite books with a heart-ripping plot that sparks interesting discussion and leaves readers pondering, "What would I have done?"

Kendra's book list on impossible choices that will rip your heart out

Kendra Broekhuis Why did Kendra love this book?

This is one of those books that can set off a fire of controversy because of the choices made by its characters, and I love that about it.

The main couple’s marriage lies on a foundation of grief that includes war, extreme isolation, and multiple pregnancy losses. The story dives into the way grief shapes us, as well as the morality of how much we should let our grief shape our choices.

I loved the characters, the moving plot, and the moral conundrum of this book.

By M.L. Stedman,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Light Between Oceans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The years-long New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Best Historical Novel that is “irresistible…seductive…with a high concept plot that keeps you riveted from the first page” (O, The Oprah Magazine)—soon to be a major motion picture from Spielberg’s Dreamworks starring Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz, and Alicia Vikander, and directed by Derek Cianfrance.

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young,…


Book cover of Moominpappa at Sea

Martine Murray Author Of Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars

From my list on the natural world as the lifeblood of the story.

Why am I passionate about this?

I credit my overactive imagination to a childhood in which our parents left us to run wild. There I developed a very alive and personal relationship to the living world which I've continued to both plunder and nourish in order to write novels. In these times of ecological devastation, it’s telling that so many children’s lives have migrated towards the virtual. I believe it’s the interpenetration of our own imagination into what is mysterious, enduring and alive in the natural world that shows us why we must strive to hold it sacred. I encourage all kids to get off their screens and to go outside. There you will find life’s unbridled magic.

Martine's book list on the natural world as the lifeblood of the story

Martine Murray Why did Martine love this book?

To be truthful, I would list all the Moomin books as top of my list and am only choosing one because I can’t pick them all. In Moominvalley and its enduring characters, its seasons, snowstorms, comets, floods, and finally its absences, we find lifes’ psychological dramas, doubts, and triumphs perfectly embedded in and drawn from the tempestuous and consoling presence of the natural world. I read all these books to my daughter and relished the emergence of a conjured world that was deep and familiar, yet also distant and magical, as is whatever realm of nature you most find yourself close to. I remember Moompapa at sea for its particularly philosophical and slightly wistful tone and because who doesn’t wonder about the wildness and loneliness of life inside a lighthouse. 

By Tove Jansson, Kingsley Hart (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moominpappa at Sea 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?

Soon to be MOOMINVALLEY, a MAJOR ANIMATED SERIES on SKY ONE starring Taron Egerton and Rosamund Pike!

Moominpappa is feeling at a loss. He has no idea what to do with himself - it seems everything has already been done!

So he takes his family off to start a new life in a lighthouse on a tiny, rocky island far out to sea. It's rather lonely at first, but it isn't long before the Moomins discover some funny and surprising new things about themselves.


Book cover of America's Lighthouses: An Illustrated History

Eric Jay Dolin Author Of Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse

From my list on lighthouse history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up near the coasts of New York and Connecticut, and since an early age I was fascinated by the natural world, especially the ocean. I have held a variety of jobs, including stints as a fisheries policy analyst at the National Marine Fisheries Service, a program manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and an environmental consultant stateside and in London. Throughout my career, one thing remained constant: I enjoyed writing and telling stories. I am the author of 14 non-fiction books on American history, including Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates, and Leviathan: The History of American Whaling.

Eric's book list on lighthouse history

Eric Jay Dolin Why did Eric love this book?

Although a bit dated, Holland’s book offers a wonderful and wide-ranging tour of the general and often contentious history of America’s lighthouses. It also includes profiles of many of the nation’s most noteworthy and important lighthouses, broken down by region, and presented in a way that highlights the reasons why they are so memorable. Numerous historic images enliven the text.

By Francis Ross Holland Jr.,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"A detailed, scholarly, masterly book…and yet the romance is still there." — Chicago Tribune
Beacons of light along the shore have guided mariners for thousands of years — from the days when olive oil lamps burned on darkened hillsides to signal the location of ancient harbors, to modern times when automated stations sent out 350,000 candlepower beams that cut through darkness and fog.
The present volume, the first full-scale study of the United States Lighthouse Service, is a celebration of these vanishing symbols of security. Written by a historian of the National Park Service, this book describes the founding and…


Book cover of Michigan's Haunted Lighthouses

Amberrose Hammond Author Of Mysterious Michigan: The Lonely Ghost of Minnie Quay, the Marvelous Manifestations of Farmer Riley, the Devil in Detroit & More

From my list on the strange, unusual, and paranormal from Michigan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I got my start in paranormal investigation when it was a popular fad around 2000 and joined a ghost-hunting group. I became obsessed with the history behind hauntings and why ghost stories and legends persist over time. This love of the ghostly combined with my love of books and literature led me down the path of writing. I enjoy sharing strange and spooky history because it puts people in touch with their state's history in a fun and interesting way. So many people think history is boring facts and dates, but share a ghost story or a true crime mystery, and you have people’s attention. When that story happened close to home? Even better!

Amberrose's book list on the strange, unusual, and paranormal from Michigan

Amberrose Hammond Why did Amberrose love this book?

One of the most iconic paranormal things in Michigan is the haunted lighthouse…and we have plenty! A lighthouse isn’t complete without its resident ghostly lightkeeper. Dianna Higgs Stampfler collected the best stories about Michigan’s lighthouses in this must-have book for any Michigan paranormal enthusiast. The book doubles as a tour guide to take with you on the road as many of the lighthouses written about are historic locations open to the public. The perfect summer road trip! 

By Dianna Higgs Stampfler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Travel Michigan’s coast—and into the state’s history—with otherworldly tales of the spirits of those who sought to keep its waters safe. 
 
Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state, with more than 120 dotting its expansive Great Lakes shoreline. Many of these lighthouses lay claim to haunted happenings. Former keepers like the cigar-smoking Captain Townshend at Seul Choix Point and prankster John Herman at Waugoshance Shoal near Mackinaw City maintain their watch long after death ended their duties. At White River Light Station in Whitehall, Sarah Robinson still keeps a clean and tidy house, and a mysterious young girl at…


Book cover of The Ridge

Chris DiLeo Author Of Dead End

From my list on dread-inducing homes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a house filled with books as a son of educated, well-read parents. My mother was an English/French/Spanish teacher, and my father was an encyclopedia editor. Among all the books in our downstairs, there was a custom-built coffin bookcase my father kept stocked with his favorite horror novels. He died when I was eleven and in an effort to get to know him better, I started reading the books in that coffin. I was very quickly turned into a horror fan, and a few years later started writing horror stories myself. Every time I start writing another horror story, I know I’m my father’s son.

Chris' book list on dread-inducing homes

Chris DiLeo Why did Chris love this book?

Not a dread-inducing house this time but a lighthouse—in the middle of the woods. This book is so original in its elements—a haunted lighthouse, a sheriff in love with the woman who shot him, and a big-cat sanctuary—that it is completely awe-inspiring how Koryta is able to weave together a complex, creepy ghost narrative. Koryta (and his pseudonym, Scott Carson) is always a guaranteed purchase when a new book publishes.

By Michael Koryta,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discover a brilliant thriller set in a remote big-cat sanctuary: "one of the scariest and most touching horror tales in years" (James Patterson).

In an isolated stretch of eastern Kentucky, on a hilltop known as Blade Ridge, stands a lighthouse that illuminates nothing but the surrounding woods. For years the lighthouse has been considered no more than an eccentric local landmark -- until its builder is found dead at the top of the light, and his belongings reveal a troubling local history.

For deputy sheriff Kevin Kimble, the lighthouse-keeper's death is disturbing and personal. Years ago, Kimble was shot while…


Book cover of A Short Bright Flash: Augustin Fresnel and the Birth of the Modern Lighthouse

Eric Jay Dolin Author Of Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse

From my list on lighthouse history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up near the coasts of New York and Connecticut, and since an early age I was fascinated by the natural world, especially the ocean. I have held a variety of jobs, including stints as a fisheries policy analyst at the National Marine Fisheries Service, a program manager at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and an environmental consultant stateside and in London. Throughout my career, one thing remained constant: I enjoyed writing and telling stories. I am the author of 14 non-fiction books on American history, including Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates, and Leviathan: The History of American Whaling.

Eric's book list on lighthouse history

Eric Jay Dolin Why did Eric love this book?

Fresnel lenses, invented by Frenchman Augustin Fresnel, are the crown jewels of lighthouse illumination. They not only greatly increased the intensity of the light, as compared with earlier forms of lighting, but also became one of the most important and strikingly beautiful inventions of the nineteenth century. Levitt’s luminous prose and great skill at storytelling makes this a fascinating and compelling read. It will make you look at lighthouses and Fresnel lenses with a well-deserved measure of awe.

By Theresa Levitt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Short Bright Flash as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Augustin Fresnel (1788-1827) shocked the scientific elite with his view of the physics of light. The lens he invented was a feat of engineering that made lighthouses blaze many times brighter, further and more efficiently than they had before. As secretary of France's Lighthouse Commission, he planned and oversaw the lighting of the nation's coast. Although Fresnel died young, his brother Leonor presided over the spread of the new technology around the globe. The new lights were of strategic importance in navigation and the Fresnel legacy played an important role in geopolitical events. Levitt's scientific and historical account, rich in…


Book cover of Swan Light

Troon Harrison Author Of Red River Stallion

From Troon's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Companion of dogs and horses Grower of flowers Walker in the woods Freelance editor

Troon's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Troon Harrison Why did Troon love this book?

Having grown up in Cornwall, I love the sea, cliffs, and beaches. This book is set in my home country of Canada, along the rugged and atmospheric coast of Newfoundland.

The protagonist is an oceanographer and deep-sea diver; what a cool career! Like many who search for wrecks, she is obsessed with finding famous ones, and this leads her into the trajectory of unethical and equally obsessed treasure hunters.
I could not put down this imaginative book with its clever switching of timelines and complex layered plotting, its vivid and sensory details, cast of unusual characters (including the sea and the cliffs), the premise of treasure hunting/diving/wrecks and lighthouses, and the compelling mystery and danger at its heart. I loved all of it, not least the accomplished wordsmithing.

By Phoebe Rowe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A sweeping, emotional tale of hope and perseverance, Swan Light weaves together the stories of two people separated by a century but connected by family, purpose, and one extraordinary lighthouse.

1913. Eighty-three-year-old Silvestre Swan has dedicated his life to the care of his Newfoundland lighthouse. His petition to relocate Swan Light from its precarious cliff's edge is going unheard by town patriarch Cort Roland-that is, until a terrible storm brings an unlikely ally into Swan's life. But is it too late for the stone lighthouse?

2014. Marine archaeologist Mari Adams's attempts to fund her search for the notorious SS Californian…


Book cover of Darkhouse

Alice J. Black Author Of The Leak of Madness

From my list on horror with the most intriguing protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for supernatural horror, one that I’ve discovered over years of reading various horror novels, tropes, and themes. I found that the supernatural, the idea that something unbelievable or impossible, is haunting a person, is one that draws me in time and time again. Reading these sorts of books, embroiling myself in the world of ghosts and demons, is what drove me to want to create those worlds myself, surrounding myself in lore, mythology, and ghosts of my own... 

Alice's book list on horror with the most intriguing protagonists

Alice J. Black Why did Alice love this book?

Darkhouse is the first in the Experiment in Terror novels by Karina Halle. I absolutely fell in love with her writing style, the way that she builds the world of Dex and Perry, their complicated acquaintance, and the lighthouse in which they find themselves drawn back to. Complete with anti-hero and strong heroine, as soon as I read this first book, I devoured the series. Without saying too much to spoil the series, I have to say that this ghost story was one that has gotten under my skin and one that I know I’ll go back to in the future.

By Karina Halle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book one in a slow-burn psychologically thrilling romance series, from a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal best-selling author

Perry Palomino seems like your average twenty-something girl on the surface. She's had bad luck dating, her job sucks, and she's disillusioned by her place in life, not sure exactly what she wants or where she's even going.

She also sees ghosts, which makes things extra complicated, especially when she'd do anything to be normal.

But normal people don't go exploring an abandoned and supposedly haunted lighthouse on the Oregon coast, where she ends up getting the attention…