The most recommended books about Louisiana

Who picked these books? Meet our 120 experts.

120 authors created a book list connected to Louisiana, and here are their favorite Louisiana books.
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Book cover of Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red-Light District

Peter B. Dedek Author Of The Cemeteries of New Orleans: A Cultural History

From my list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans.

Who am I?

Being from Upstate New York I went to college at Cornell University but headed off to New Orleans as soon as I could. By and by I became an instructor at Delgado Community College. Always a big fan of the city’s amazing historic cemeteries, when teaching a world architectural history class, I took the class to the Metairie Cemetery where I could show the students real examples of every style from Ancient Egyptian to Modern American. After coming to Texas State University, San Marcos (30 miles from Austin), I went back to New Orleans on sabbatical in 2013 and wrote The Cemeteries of New Orleans. 

Peter's book list on the history of life, death, and magic in New Orleans

Peter B. Dedek Why did Peter love this book?

This book provides an intimate look at Storyville, the legal New Orleans red-light district that operated in a grid of streets nestled between St. Louis Cemeteries no. 1 and 2 near the French Quarter from 1897 to 1917.

Although the book is a bit dated (it was published in 1974) and includes a few wild and unsubstantiated stories about certain historic New Orleans personalities, such as Marie Laveau, this mostly factual volume is a fascinating and detailed portrait of the "District," as Storyville was often called, and the colorful, sometimes tragic stories of the people who lived and worked there.

By Al Rose,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A true-to-life impression of Storyville, the only legally established red light district in the US

At the turn of the twentieth-century, there were hundreds of red-light districts in the United States, ranging in size from a discreet “house” or two in or near small towns and cities to block after bawdy block of brothels in larger cities such as Chicago and San Francisco. Storyville, New Orleans: Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red Light District seeks to offer the reader a reasonably true-to-life impression of Storyville, the most famous of the large districts and the only such district…

Book cover of Cane River

John Paul Godges Author Of Oh, Beautiful: An American Family in the 20th Century

From my list on multigenerational family sagas.

Who am I?

Ever since I was a kid, as the grandson of Italian immigrant farmers and the son of a Polish-immigrant father, I wondered how my family fit into the American story. As I grew older, I learned that the American story could not be limited to a single race, a single religion, or even a single generation. Rather, the essence of any culture lies in the story that gets passed down from one generation to the next. That is where my passion lies: tapping into the essence of multiple cultures by tracing the multigenerational family wisdom that is often imparted quietly, humbly, and painfully, which makes it durable, meaningful, and indelible.

John's book list on multigenerational family sagas

John Paul Godges Why did John love this book?

A chronicle of four generations of women descended from Louisiana slaves. Grapples honestly with the turmoil within America’s Black community over issues of skin color.

This saga shows that while families can be longtime sources of anguish in our communities, they can also be long-term resources—and as I have experienced, sometimes the best and most sustainable resources—for challenging common assumptions about one another and growing beyond them.

By Lalita Tademy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller and Oprah's Book Club Pick-the unique and deeply moving saga of four generations of African-American women whose journey from slavery to freedom begins on a Creole plantation in Louisiana.

Beginning with her great-great-great-great grandmother, a slave owned by a Creole family, Lalita Tademy chronicles four generations of strong, determined black women as they battle injustice to unite their family and forge success on their own terms. They are women whose lives begin in slavery, who weather the Civil War, and who grapple with contradictions of emancipation, Jim Crow, and the pre-Civil Rights South. As she…

Book cover of Remembrance

Elizabeth Sumner Wafler Author Of Topanga Canyon

From my list on that deep-dives into complex relationships, while tugging at every heartstring.

Who am I?

As you get to know the characters I create, you'll be imbued with a sense of hope and possibility–with the magic that can happen when someone pokes a toe out of her comfort zone and makes things happen. You'll relate to discrete characters, who like most women, desire and deserve true love, authentic relationships—whether they be friends, mothers, daughters, or loversand meaningful work. You'll care about their emotional hurts, the misunderstandings that cause them to stumble, and cheer them on as they make choices that ultimately lead them to create empowered, fulfilling lives. Hooking you from the first sentence, I'll ignite your brain's hardwired desire to learn what happens next. 

Elizabeth's book list on that deep-dives into complex relationships, while tugging at every heartstring

Elizabeth Sumner Wafler Why did Elizabeth love this book?

This masterpiece will compel anyone who's not yet a lover of historical fiction with elements of fantasy to jump the broom into Remembrance, a voodoo-induced world refuge for 18th and 19th century enslaved people. The lives of a trio of women separated by place and time are deftly braided by this debut author. Evocative escapism at its best.

By Rita Woods,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Stunning. ... Family is at the core of Remembrance, the breathtaking debut novel by Rita Woods." -- The Boston Globe. This breakout historical debut with modern resonance is perfect for the many fans of The Underground Railroad and Orphan Train.

Remembrance…It’s a rumor, a whisper passed in the fields and veiled behind sheets of laundry. A hidden stop on the underground road to freedom, a safe haven protected by more than secrecy…if you can make it there.

Ohio, present day. An elderly woman who is more than she seems warns against rising racism as a young nurse grapples with her…

Book cover of Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast

Toby LeBlanc Author Of Dark Roux

From my list on South Louisiana culture.

Who am I?

Growing up in Scott, Louisiana, I didn’t know that everyone else in the United States did not get Mardi Gras off from school and work. I thought everyone knew some French. Crawfish boils were a natural, expectable part of every spring. South Louisiana is a world unto itself. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate my heritage, my Cajun lineage, and the sometimes-befuddling ways we Louisianians look at that world. Between conversations with elders, reading historical documents, and even looking at land transfer maps, I’ve become even more grounded in what being from this little wet corner of the world means. 

Toby's book list on South Louisiana culture

Toby LeBlanc Why did Toby love this book?

South Louisianians are skeptical of anyone not from here who tries to write about us. We often end up as caricatures. But Mike Tidwell came from the outside and saw us anew.

In his book, he depicts the communities along our coastal areas and wetlands. I was shocked at how he could capture fishermen and traiteurs (faith healers) with such accuracy and respect.

And I can’t forget to mention how he bravely calls attention to one of America’s regions most endangered by climate change, which also happens to be the place I will always call home.

By Mike Tidwell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Cajun coast of Louisiana is home to a way of life as unique, complex, and beautiful as the terrain itself.  As award-winning travel writer Mike Tidwell journeys through the bayou, he introduces us to the food and the language, the shrimp fisherman, the Houma Indians, and the rich cultural history that makes it unlike any other place in the world. But seeing the skeletons of oak trees killed by the salinity of the groundwater, and whole cemeteries sinking into swampland and out of sight, Tidwell also explains why each introduction may be a farewell—as the storied Louisiana coast steadily…

Book cover of False Start

Ahren Sanders Author Of Pierced Hearts

From my list on romances with heat and heart leave you wanting more.

Who am I?

I have always loved getting lost in the literary world of romance and happily ever afters. Family, friends, large casts of characters, laugh-out-loud situations, and sexy thrills—the more the better. After years in the corporate world, I found my passion for writing romance. I have over 18 books published, several Best Seller banners, and am currently finishing the next book in the Men of Action series. 

Ahren's book list on romances with heat and heart leave you wanting more

Ahren Sanders Why did Ahren love this book?

I happened upon False Start late one afternoon and stayed up way into the night to finish. The prose has all my favorites—second chances, sports romance, and a narrative that took me back to the beginning of where the love story began. Bryant Hudson is 1000% swoon-worthy with a heart that belongs to only one woman. I fell hard and fast for his charm, and still get tingles thinking of his pursuit to win her back. Hudson + Zhanna = off the charts. 

By Sasha Marshall,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Football, a kitten, and 14 dates. Zhanna Hale THEN My father is a legend. Some call me football royalty, and in my hometown of Louisiana, I suppose I am. His legacy didn’t prepare me for Bryant Hudson. The quarterback. I swore I’d never date football players. Permanently. Yet Bryant had other plans.Three dates and a handful of conversations, I handed him my heart without realizing it. But, Bryant shatters my soul. I’m left picking up the pieces. If only erasing him from my heart was as easy. Bryant Hudson NOW I lost at the only game that matters. And it…

Book cover of Coming Through Slaughter

Philip Watson Author Of Bill Frisell, Beautiful Dreamer: The Guitarist Who Changed the Sound of American Music

From my list on jazz (and a whole lot more).

Who am I?

I've mostly made my living as a feature writer, covering a broad range of subjects—from 9/11 to the Poker Million tournament, Miles Davis to (a film version of) James Joyce’s Ulysses, British soldiers injured in Afghanistan to the Peace One Day campaign—for numerous UK and Irish newspapers and magazines, including GQ, where I was formerly deputy editor, and Esquire, where I was editor-at-large. I've also written extensively about music, jazz in particular; musicians I've interviewed include Nick Cave, Gil Scott-Heron, McCoy Tyner, Wynton Marsalis, and Maria Schneider. My first book, a biography of the American guitarist Bill Frisell, was published by Faber in the spring of 2022.

Philip's book list on jazz (and a whole lot more)

Philip Watson Why did Philip love this book?

Another work that is wonderfully and winningly hard to pin down, Coming Through Slaughter is an imaginative and fragmentary collage of monologue, memoir, interviews, lyrics, photographs, archival material, hospital files—and white space—that builds a novelistic portrait of the mythical dark life and hard times of cornet player Buddy Bolden, one of the originators of jazz in New Orleans at the turn of the twentieth century. From the little that is known about Bolden and his music, Ondaatje shapes an audacious story that is short, cinematic, dream-like, and devastating, a book that incontrovertibly proved once again to me that there are many, many ways to tell the story of a life. 

By Michael Ondaatje,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Coming Through Slaughter as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover Michael Ondaatje's debut novel, 'a beautifully detailed story, perhaps the finest jazz novel ever written' Sunday Times

Based on the life of cornet player Buddy Bolden, one of the legendary jazz pioneers of turn-of-the-twentieth-century New Orleans, Coming Through Slaughter is an extraordinary recreation of a remarkable musical life and a tragic conclusion. Through a collage of memoirs, interviews, imaginary conversations and monologues, Ondaatje builds a picture of a man who would work by day at a barber shop and by night unleash his talent to wild audiences who had never experienced such playing. But Buddy was also playing the…

Book cover of Lincoln and Black Freedom: A Study in Presidential Leadership

Michael Burlingame Author Of The Black Man's President: Abraham Lincoln, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Equality

From my list on Lincoln as an anti-racist.

Who am I?

As a college freshman, I was profoundly affected by a mesmerizing, Pulitzer-Prize-winning professor and Lincoln scholar, David Herbert Donald, who became an important mentor. I was drawn to Lincoln as source of personal inspiration, someone who triumphed over adversity, one who despite a childhood of emotional malnutrition and grinding poverty, despite a lack of formal education, despite a series of career failures, despite a woe-filled marriage, despite a tendency to depression, despite a painful midlife crisis, despite the early death of his mother and his siblings as well as of his sweetheart and two of his four children, became a model of psychological maturity, moral clarity, and unimpeachable integrity.

Michael's book list on Lincoln as an anti-racist

Michael Burlingame Why did Michael love this book?

This 1981 book influenced my decision to become a Lincoln scholar, for the author – a gifted historian of the Reconstruction era – effectively challenged the regnant notion that Lincoln was a “reluctant emancipator.”

So in my first book I devoted a chapter to the origins of Lincoln’s hatred of slavery, building on the foundation that Lawanda Cox had laid.

Examining closely the president’s dealings with racial politics in Louisiana, she traced his maneuvers behind the scenes in support of emancipation and Black suffrage and concluded that Lincoln was “a determined, though circumspect, emancipator and friend of black civil and political rights, consistently striving to obtain what was possible in the face of constitutional restraints, political realities, and white prejudice.”

By Lawanda Cox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Very slightest of wear to the dust jacket, pages nice and clean, no writing or highlighting. Spotting on top edge textblock. A very nice copy. All our books are individually inspected, rated and described. Never EX-LIB unless specifically listed as such.

Book cover of Those Kids from Fawn Creek

Bradley W. Wright Author Of Infinity Blast and the Space Weapon of Doom

From Bradley's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Teacher Technologist Owl enthusiast Reader

Bradley's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Bradley W. Wright Why did Bradley love this book?

I’m a 7th-grade advisor at my day job (teacher/tech director at a pre-K-8 school), so it was fun to read a book featuring this age group that I know so well.

I love all of Erin Entrada Kelly’s books. Per usual, this one nailed the psychology and struggles of kids on the cusp of young adulthood. The diverse cast of characters is excellent, and the setting is finely drawn.

The yearning of Dorothy and Greyson for something beyond their narrow-minded small town is palpable—so palpable that it makes their initial acceptance of Orchid’s obvious wish-fulfillment fantasy stories about her background believable.

By Erin Entrada Kelly,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Those Kids from Fawn Creek 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 powerful and thought-provoking story.”—Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“An emotionally resonant story about authenticity and belonging.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A raw, real exploration of belonging that’s also sweetly hopeful.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Every day in Fawn Creek, Louisiana, is exactly the same—until Orchid Mason arrives. From Erin Entrada Kelly, the winner of the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space, this contemporary school story set in small-town Louisiana is about friendship, family, deception, and being true to yourself and your dreams.

There are twelve kids in the seventh grade at Fawn Creek Middle…

Book cover of The Neon Rain

Kate Watterson Author Of The Lake House

From my list on steep cliff page-turners.

Who am I?

Kate Watterson is the author of thriller novels for various publishers, and has always been a fan of the suspense genre. Good tension and a bit of danger balanced by an investigator who is on the trail, and she turns pages into the night. It is all about the hunt and the solution in her opinion, and of course, being perched on the edge of your seat.

Kate's book list on steep cliff page-turners

Kate Watterson Why did Kate love this book?

The first in the series of Dave Robicheaux novels, this is handled quite well. The main character is very human, flawed by his own admission by a battle with an addiction to alcohol, but nonetheless is a tough and competent cop who definitely sees—and knows well—the seedier side. Set in the deep south, Burke takes you there with description that is so evocative that you can feel it with every sense, and the danger as the story unravels into a tale of corruption and bloody violence. I really wanted the main character to win this battle and it was one almost literally to the death. If you like great writing and to sit on the edge of your seat (near the bayou, so be careful), this is a must-read.

By James Lee Burke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The outstanding first book in the ever-popular Dave Robicheaux series.

Introducing the New Orleans detective Dave Robicheaux.

Johnny Massina, a convicted murderer bound for the electric chair, has warned Dave Robicheaux that he's on somebody's hit list, and now the homicide detective is trying to discover just who that is before he ends up dead.

Meanwhile he has taken on the murder investigation of a young black girl found dead in the Bayou Swamp - a case no one seems keen for him to investigate. But Robicheaux persists and uncovers a web of corruption that some would kill to protect,…

Book cover of Solitary

Abigail Leslie Andrews Author Of Banished Men: How Migrants Endure the Violence of Deportation

From my list on the criminalization of immigrant men.

Who am I?

I’m a scholar of gender and state violence, and I live and work at the US-Mexico border. For the past several years, I’ve worked collaboratively with large teams of Latinx-identified students to study the impacts of US immigration policies on migrants from Mexico and Central America. We realized that even though about half of immigrants are women, around 95% of deportees are men. So, we started to think about how US policies criminalize immigrant men. I became especially interested in how immigration enforcement (at the border and beyond) intersects with mass incarceration. In the list, I pick up books that trace the multinational reach of the carceral apparatus that comes to treat migrants as criminals.

Abigail's book list on the criminalization of immigrant men

Abigail Leslie Andrews Why did Abigail love this book?

This is Albert Woodfox’s shocking and amazing life history of spending most of his life in Angola, the most brutal prison in Louisiana.

It’s an exposé of prison brutality and dehumanization. But it’s also a stunning account of his own courage and spirit. On top, the writing is sparse, stark, and beautiful. 

By Albert Woodfox,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Praise for Solitary:

Named One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2019
Winner of the Stowe Prize
Named the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Book of the Year
Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, Publishers Weekly, BookBrowse, and Literary Hub
Winner of the BookBrowse Award for Best Debut of 2019
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

“An uncommonly powerful memoir about four decades in confinement . . . A profound book about…