48 books directly related to New England 📚

All 48 New England books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

By John Putnam Demos,

Why this book?

While researching and writing My Enemy’s Tears, I found Entertaining Satan on the shelves of a bookstore in New York City. Sure enough, there was a chapter on Mary Bliss Parsons titled Hard Thoughts and Jealousies. A prominent historian studied my 8th great-grandmother’s case and wrote about it. Local gossip was the author’s first subject for exploration—right on, because gossip is what led to Mary’s imprisonment and trial. Demos explores the lives of many accused of witchcraft and the culture that accused them. Anyone interested in the history of women’s lives and the reasons behind the centuries-long belief…

From the list:

The best books about 17th century America

Book cover of The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

By Carol F Karlsen,

Why this book?

A ground-breaking work, which demonstrates how the theoretical witch was embodied by real women, and how a seemingly bizarre fantasy was plausible in among the shapes and rhythms of daily life. This influential study is as much a social, economic and cultural history of seventeenth-century New England as it is strictly speaking a history of witchcraft – indeed, Karlsen demonstrates clearly that the latter cannot be assimilated with an appreciation of the former. Context is everything, and without it we just fall back on stereotypes and tired assumptions.

Witches and neighbours were two-sides of the same coin, the former a…

From the list:

The best books on witch hunting in Colonial America

Book cover of Clueless in New England: The Unsolved Disappearances of Paula Welden, Connie Smith and Katherine Hull

Clueless in New England: The Unsolved Disappearances of Paula Welden, Connie Smith and Katherine Hull

By Michael C. Dooling,

Why this book?

Dooling's nonfiction account of the searches for a girl and two women who disappeared in New England in the 1940s and 1950s is another good example of weaving together true crime and historic context. Only one of the victims' remains have been found, but all of the victims may have met up with the still-unknown killer. In addition to covering the missing person searches as they were conducted in their times, Dooling provides new hope by looking back on these cases with twenty-first-century eyes.  

From the list:

The best historical true crime & mystery books

Book cover of Float: A Novel

Float: A Novel

By JoeAnn Hart,

Why this book?

A wry tale of financial desperation, conceptual art, insanity, infertility, seagulls, marital crisis, jellyfish, organized crime, and the plight of a plastic-filled ocean, JoeAnn Hart’s novel takes a smart, satirical look at family, the environment, and life in a hardscrabble seaside town in Maine. I am proud that Ashland Creek Press (which Midge Raymond and I founded in 2011) published this amazing novel.

From the list:

The best books about saving the oceans

Book cover of Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750

Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750

By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich,

Why this book?

Ulrich, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for A Midwife's Tale, first wrote this ground-breaking study of women in early New England. With her characteristically elegant prose and inspired organization, she details the varied roles women played in family, community, and religious life. An illuminating work, and a page-turner.

From the list:

The best books on seventeenth-century America

Book cover of Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England

Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England

By William Cronon,

Why this book?

When European colonists settled North America, they began to significantly alter the landscape in ways that were deeply ignorant of ecological health. Now, over 400 years later, that impact has not lessened. However, over that time, there have been significant ebbs and flows in the landscape relative to how it’s used (or not used). This fascinating book follows that trajectory as it explores the environmental history of New England. Even for those not familiar with this particular region, this book offers a unique window into how dynamic and fluid landscapes and ecosystems can be over the course of time.  

From the list:

The best books about regeneration, our relationship with the landscape, and restoring ecological health

Book cover of Harvest Home

Harvest Home

By Thomas Tryon,

Why this book?

Sure, most people might like to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and move to a quaint village in the countryside where folkloric tradition is woven into modern life and the locals wax poetic about corn and harvest festivals. But if you do, don’t ignore the foreshadowing.

This book is an old-fashioned traditional horror story with a slow build and a New England cadence to its voice. It’s widely credited with inspiring Stephen King’s Children of the Corn and was adapted into a miniseries starring Bette Davis. I love its timeless style and milieu, with shades of The…

From the list:

The best horror books about bad moving decisions

Book cover of Ghosts of the Northeast

Ghosts of the Northeast

By David J. Pitkin,

Why this book?

Pitkin writes in a very accessible style. What drew me into this book, in particular, is that he starts the book off with a personal experience. He writes of the incident that turned him from a skeptic into a believer in the paranormal. Intriguing stuff, to be sure ... but this revelation also changed his attitude towards teaching, making him more tolerant of other cultures, and more open to sharing different worldviews with his students. Whereas prior to this experience, he had been dismissive of what he saw as "primitive" beliefs (regarding African belief in witchcraft and the afterlife), he…

From the list:

The best books for paranormal enthusiasts

Book cover of Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip's War

Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip's War

By Lisa Brooks,

Why this book?

Our Beloved Kin is a unique account of King Philip’s War that centers on the history of Native resistance and their experience of the conflict. Drawing on early documents and information often overlooked in previous studies, the author, a member of the Missisquoi Band of Abenaki, presents an in-depth chronicle of the war and the events leading up to it. I wish this book had been in print when I was researching my book. While it wouldn’t have changed the basic arc of the novel, it would have given me a more complete understanding of James Printer’s perspective.

From the list:

The best books on New England’s forgotten conflict

Book cover of Jackaby

Jackaby

By William Ritter,

Why this book?

This book has all my favorite detective fiction elements: a beautiful cover, an independent heroine, Abigail Rook, crime-solving alongside an elusive detective, R.F. Jackaby, and a solid plot that kept me guessing until the end. Set in late nineteenth-century New England, Rook teams up with Jackaby in a parallel to a Watson-Holmes relationship except this detective novel features the supernatural. Rook learns quickly that Jackaby stands out among detectives as he can see supernatural creatures. I love so much about this book, particularly the chemistry between Rook and Jackaby as co-investigators. This is a must-read not only for detective fiction…

From the list:

The best books to get your Sherlock Holmes fix

Book cover of Amy and Isabelle

Amy and Isabelle

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why this book?

Elizabeth Strout’s debut novel is a dual coming-of-age novel, at least in my view. Single mother Isabelle and her sixteen-year-old daughter Amy live in the small, gossipy New England mill town of Shirley Falls. It’s the late ‘60s, and Isabelle is determined to raise her daughter right and live a proper life. But Amy falls in love with the wrong guy. As teenage Amy rebels against Isabelle’s strictures, and as Isabelle tries to ferret out what Amy’s been up to, they move through a rough summer, and both are changed as they begin to understand themselves, and one another, differently.…

From the list:

The best midlife (yes, midlife!) coming-of-age novels

Book cover of The Lottery

The Lottery

By Shirley Jackson,

Why this book?

Shirley Jackson is a master of the short story. My favorite is The Lottery. The build-up to the main event is spectacular. The reader thinks the village is getting ready for a normal event. As time passes, we realize what is to come. The themes of tradition and mob mentality are still relevant as we read about current events. 

I paid homage to this story in my own tale which is included in my book

From the list:

The best short stories that land a big punch

Book cover of The Wendy Project

The Wendy Project

By Melissa Jane Osborne, Veronica Fish (illustrator),

Why this book?

Although shorter than the other books on my list, I think the story and art is none the less impactful. The Wendy Project deals with grief, especially grief in younger readers with a gentle understanding. I loved the unique approach to the whole book as well. The book is the journal of the main character Wendy, who receives it and starts to draw in it during the events of the story. I found The Wendy Project in my hands at a time when I was struggling to acknowledge my own grief, and it certainly nudged me to face it.  

From the list:

The best books to help process big emotions

Book cover of The Condition

The Condition

By Jennifer Haigh,

Why this book?

Jennifer Haigh's novel is a family saga that reads like a post-mortem. With alternating narration, each of the five family members gives their perspective on what led to the family's demise and current state. The novel's title, The Condition, seems to refer specifically to one child in the family who has been diagnosed with a rare medical condition called Turner's Syndrome. But throughout the book, it becomes clear that each family member has developed their own "condition" or way of existing that is just as much a part of their identity.

From the list:

The best books about deeply lovable dysfunctional families

Book cover of Seating Arrangements

Seating Arrangements

By Maggie Shipstead,

Why this book?

Seating Arrangements is a smart, summery romp of a read set on the fictional island of Waskeke off of New England. The novel takes place in the days building up to Winn Van Meter’s eldest daughter’s wedding and takes a satirical look at the habits of a certain social class – the drinking, clubbing, and ancient social conflicts. Like a frothy cocktail, it goes down easy and packs a wallop.

From the list:

The best books that capture Cape Cod and the islands

Book cover of Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery

Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery

By Margaret Ellen Newell,

Why this book?

This title caught my attention because we usually associate slavery with the American south. But the Puritans brought many indentured laborers from England to help build their settlements and operate their farms and businesses. When these white men worked their way to freedom, the settlers turned to indenturing Native Americans, and enslaving captives of warfare, selling some of them for goods and African slaves from the Caribbean. (I found a reference in this book that my ancestor, Dr. Mathew Fuller, participated in this trade during King Philip’s War.) Newell’s book, full of primary sources, gives excellent background on, and understanding…

From the list:

The best books to understand the true founding of America

Book cover of The Old American

The Old American

By Ernest Hebert,

Why this book?

This novel, published in 2000 by the University Press of New England, has in my opinion never gained the readership it deserves. It’s a rich, funny, deeply humane captivity tale based on the true story of Nathan Blake, who was taken by Algonkian-speaking people from his home in Keene, New Hampshire, in 1746, and brought up to Canada, where he was held for three years as a slave. The novel weaves a defamiliarized but extremely plausible-feeling tapestry of early colonial America that complicates the stereotypes established by Cooper’s influential novel set in the same period, and Hebert’s main character, Caucus-Meteor—an…

From the list:

The best historical novels of Early Colonial New England

Book cover of Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

By Mary Rowlandson,

Why this book?

Ok, this isn’t actually a historical novel, but it was a bestseller when it came out back in 1682 and in some ways it does read like fiction. The story of a Puritan settler and her three children who were captured by Narragansett Indians during King Phillip’s War, Rowlandson’s account, judged by contemporary mores, is both racist and religiously bigoted. Still, it provides a rare first-hand rendering of the Puritan experience of a central truth of 17th century America: the collision of two radically distinct societies and the personal fallout resulting from that collision. As such it’s an invaluable…

From the list:

The best historical novels of Early Colonial New England

Book cover of The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night

The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night

By Peter Spier,

Why this book?

This old classic still holds its charm. Sing along all the way and enjoy the autumn farmland illustrations as a fox runs through a tobacco barn and across the moonlit countryside bringing the farmer’s grey goose back to his young ones for dinner. Spoiler alert, they do pick the bones clean.  

From the list:

The best singing picture books

Book cover of The Unsung Hero

The Unsung Hero

By Suzanne Brockmann,

Why this book?

Suzanne was one of the early military romance superstars, at least for me. Her books aren’t always just a simple chronological storyline. Here we meet a few couples or couples-to-be, plus there’s a flashback story as well. This is the first of the Troubleshooters series, and it was great to see how it started with a SEAL hero whose sighting of a terrorist in his hometown wasn’t believed because he’d had a head injury in combat. Tracking him down, while finding himself around a lost love, makes for a satisfying read.

From the list:

The best action/suspense romance books with hot heroes and heart

Book cover of Tell Me How the Wind Sounds

Tell Me How the Wind Sounds

By Leslie Davis Guccione,

Why this book?

This is another one that I read years ago that has stayed lodged in my brain. I enjoy a young romance that is handled complexly, instead of following typical trope guidelines. In this case, two teens meet on an island in New England, one is deaf and one is not. It is very rare to find disabilities represented in Young Adult Literature, despite the genre usually striving for diversity. And this is a very cute story. I love the idea that the girl, Amanda, has to break out of her comfort zone and learn how to connect with someone vastly…

From the list:

The best books if you seek a peculiar romance

Book cover of The Patina of Place: The Cultural Weathering of a New England Industrial Landscape

The Patina of Place: The Cultural Weathering of a New England Industrial Landscape

By Kingston Wm Heath,

Why this book?

Kingston Heath’s captivating book Patina of Place investigates human relationships with working-class living spaces so powerfully. Sometimes I think parts of my book would have been better as a film for capturing what it feels like to move through a neighborhood and into a house. But Heath has managed to do it on static printed paper by combining historic photographs, first-hand accounts, childhood memories, and—most importantly, his gorgeous drawings!—to convey everyday experiences in New England’s three-decker housing units. What sets this book apart are Heath’s textured stories of women rearranging their furniture to make room for another family member; a…

From the list:

The best books about architecture and the visceral experience of social identity in industrial America

Book cover of In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life

In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life

By James Deetz,

Why this book?

Originally published in 1977, this book has inspired four, maybe five, generations of archaeologists and enthusiasts of early American history. It is a model for how to write elegant stories based on groundbreaking research. And it has yet to be surpassed. I count myself a "granddaughter" of Jim Deetz, a founding figure of historical archaeology – that hybrid of history and archaeology focused on the "modern" world, from the invention of the printing press to the present. If you are curious about what everyday life was like in colonial America for regular people, start here. In Small Things offers a…

From the list:

The best (and most surprising) books by archaeologists for people who don't dig

Book cover of The Sea-Hunters: New England Whalemen during Two Centuries 1635 – 1835

The Sea-Hunters: New England Whalemen during Two Centuries 1635 – 1835

By Edouard A. Stackpole,

Why this book?

Stackpole’s remarkable history of the men of whaling from its inception to its glorified height included the only mention of one Captain in my book—Peter Green—and why a Black man achieved the rank of captain, a role fundamentally omniscient as management ranks go. As historically significant is that his son, Matthew Stackpole—an adviser and personal friend—is credited with the restoration of America’s second oldest ship (after the U.S.S. Constitution), the Mystic Seaport Museum’s Charles W. MorganAmerica’s last whaleship whose last voyage’s Captain and entire crew were men of color.

From the list:

The best books on whaling from an expert on whaling captains of color

Book cover of The Journals of Louisa May Alcott

The Journals of Louisa May Alcott

By Louisa May Alcott,

Why this book?

This book opened up Louisa, and who she was to me. We can see her cheery optimism when she is younger, as well as the many inner battles she has with herself. We see her wit and humor, her desire to care for those she loves. As she ages and struggles with health issues, the reader feels her pain. Not a light-hearted book, but an extremely insightful one for those who want to gain a true glimpse into the character of this remarkable woman.

From the list:

The best books about Louisa May Alcott and her life

Book cover of Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South

Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South

By Elizabeth Fox-Genovese,

Why this book?

This extensive and prize-winning narrative of Southern women’s daily existence in the antebellum era covers all the bases on this subject. With the following chapter titles, how could it not? Southern Women, Southern Households; The View from the Big House; Between Big House and Slave Community; Gender Conventions; Women Who Opposed Slavery; And Women Who Did Not. A must-read for anyone wishing to delve into the subject of women’s lives in the antebellum south.

From the list:

The best books on plantation life in the Antebellum South (Colonial and early federal America)

Book cover of Narratives Of The Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706

Narratives Of The Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706

By George Lincoln Burr,

Why this book?

This collection of contemporary 17th century works covering (mostly New England) witch-related cases before, during and after the 1692 trials was one of the earliest sources I discovered at my local public library back in the early 1960s. It provides a window into the varying reactions people had to the uncanny and what they did about it.

From the list:

The best books to understand why the Salem Witch Trials occurred

Book cover of Prospero's America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676

Prospero's America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676

By Walter W. Woodward,

Why this book?

Woodward's biographical approach, and his good fortune in finding a subject who left so much material to peruse, allows readers to come to know early New England in rich detail. Winthrop was a man of wide interests, including alchemy, religion, and medicine, and he used his knowledge to contribute to the physical well being of his neighbors (Native and colonist alike), to steer the Connecticut Colony through political challenges, and to participate in trans-Atlantic scientific exploration. A fascinating read.

From the list:

The best books on seventeenth-century America

Book cover of The Other

The Other

By Thomas Tryon,

Why this book?

Hugely influential since its publication in the 1970s, Tryon’s deliciously twisted book about a pair of identical twins who happen to have different birthdays and are left to their own (unusual) devices after their father dies, has often been imitated, but never equaled. Shocking upon its initial release, jaded readers may see the ending coming now, but that doesn’t detract from the sheer ingenuity of the horror leading up to it. A masterpiece of psychological terror.
From the list:

The best horror books to make you reconsider having kids

Book cover of A Song of Years

A Song of Years

By Bess Streeter Aldrich, Anne Reeve Aldrich,

Why this book?

Song of Years captures all of the struggle and angst of carving out a home from pure, unspoiled Iowa prairie by those bold pioneers who risked everything to do so. While reading, I became the heroine, Abby Deal, as she sacrificed and struggled to wrest a life and create a home from the frontier that challenged her and her family at every turn. Realistic, even epic, this 1939 novel is on my keeper shelf. 

From the list:

The best novels about home

Book cover of Witchcraft in Old and New England

Witchcraft in Old and New England

By George Lyman Kittredge,

Why this book?

Nearly a century old now, this was one of the first books to open up this subject for me, and to connect witch-beliefs (and trials) in England and colonial America. It’s more of a collection of essays than a coherent monograph, but they’re thoughtful essays, and, crucially, not excessively lofty. Kittredge was at pains to understand witchcraft in the past rather than judging it from the vantage point of an enlightened present.

They are chapters on image magic, shape-shifting, diagnostic tests, witches’ sabbats, and many other subjects – all discursive explorations, drawing in examples from here and there, and presented…

From the list:

The best books on witch hunting in Colonial America

Book cover of Caleb's Crossing

Caleb's Crossing

By Geraldine Brooks,

Why this book?

When Caleb’s Crossing came out I couldn’t wait to read it. Not only was it written by one of my favorite authors, it was inspired by a true story and set in the same place and time period as the novel I was working on. Brooks’ depiction of the love between a Puritan minister’s daughter and the son of a Wampanoag leader is fraught with tension as two very different cultures collide. The novel brings to life the forces driving the conflict through the characters of Bethia and Caleb as they struggle to navigate a perilous time and the looming…

From the list:

The best books on New England’s forgotten conflict

Book cover of Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer's Historic Boston Marathon

Her Fearless Run: Kathrine Switzer's Historic Boston Marathon

By Kim Chaffee, Ellen Rooney (illustrator),

Why this book?

Running was magic to Kathrine Switzer. But she grew up in a time when most people thought women were too fragile to run a race, especially a 26.2-mile marathon. The illustrations are vibrant and the text well-written, with a “Pat, Pat, Pat” refrain which expands as Kathrine runs faster and faster. The story revolves around how Kathrine entered the Boston Marathon in 1967 when it was a race for men only. She was almost stopped during the race by an angry Race Director, who also believed women should not run a marathon. Kathrine persevered and finished! Since 2008, more than…

From the list:

The best children’s books about running

Book cover of Sex in Middlesex: Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County, 1649-1699

Sex in Middlesex: Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County, 1649-1699

By Roger Thompson,

Why this book?

Well, the title was amusing. The rest of the book was fascinating, alarming, and totally surprising for an author who was researching the lives of Puritans in early New England. The public records, Puritan laws, along with Thompson’s analysis opened up a world of new information and removed every myth I’d heard about these staunchly religious people.

From the list:

The best books about 17th century America

Book cover of The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

By Mary Rowlandson,

Why this book?

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative of her captivity experience with Native Americans during King Philip’s War was one of the first bestsellers in the English colonies. And it’s the first published “captivity narrative” in what was to become a popular American literary genre. Rowlandson’s book is a fast-moving and dramatic account that describes in detail the attack that destroyed her home and culminated in her capture. She includes a harrowing account of carrying her fatally wounded daughter on an arduous journey, her despair when her daughter dies, her struggles to survive among people she’s been taught to revile, and her eventual ransom…

From the list:

The best books on New England’s forgotten conflict

Book cover of The Electric Kingdom

The Electric Kingdom

By David Arnold,

Why this book?

David Arnold's The Electric Kingdom is a beautifully written narrative imbued with love, tragedy, fear, and hope. It is a brilliant love letter to storytelling – a novel that cleverly subverts dystopian conventions and instead paints a wholly original painting of something deeply affecting and inspiring.

I don't want to mention any plot points at all for fear of giving too much away (the official synopsis should be more than enough to hook you). I will say this: I read the entire second half of the book in one sitting. His characters are fully realized—the secrets and tension always growing…

From the list:

The best sci-fi (and one non sci-fi) books for young adults

Book cover of Winter: From the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

Winter: From the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau

By Henry David Thoreau,

Why this book?

Modern living requires that we move, consume, absorb, and process quickly—and our bodies can’t always keep up. Thoreau’s journals transport us back to Massachusetts between 1837 and 1860, where his recordings of seeds and birds and worms, his philosophies on man and mankind, and his personal struggles against all else are set against the hush of frozen rivers, crackling fires, and ringing telegraph wires. Especially when read daily, this most prolific botanist, transcendentalist, and introvert of New England history reminds us to value the comfort of contemporary living, but never to forget the value of moving, observing, and living a…

From the list:

The best nature books to help us disconnect from modern life

Book cover of The Dying of the Trees by Charles E. Little (1997-04-01)

The Dying of the Trees by Charles E. Little (1997-04-01)

By Charles E. Little,

Why this book?

Hauntingly prescient, The Dying of the Trees mounted an investigation into mysterious tree deaths and forest decline that are still spreading today across the United States today. Charles E. Little interviews scientists, government officials, and citizen leaders to investigate a wide range of human-caused impacts. His sobering analysis reveals there isn’t just one cause but many.

From the list:

The best books on the environment and the crisis we face

Book cover of The Surgeon of Crowthorne : A Tale of Murder, Madness and Love of Words

The Surgeon of Crowthorne : A Tale of Murder, Madness and Love of Words

By Simon Winchester,

Why this book?

This is another Victorian Broadmoor book and also one that lives well beyond the walls. William Chester Minor, a wealthy and educated New Englander, was a Broadmoor patient who dedicated his hospital life to assisting with the first Oxford English Dictionary. Simon Winchester weaves together Minor’s story with that of James Murray: two eccentric obsessives who bond over common labour. The book puts the idea of criminal lunacy into a wider perspective and also succeeds in making a potentially dry, academic topic into a page-turning read.
From the list:

The best books on the history of English mental health

Book cover of The Last American Puritan: The Life of Increase Mather

The Last American Puritan: The Life of Increase Mather

By Michael G. Hall,

Why this book?

Hall's biography of one of the most influential Puritans in colonial New England offers a rich reading experience. Mather had a finger in everything, and seeing New England through his eyes helps the reader make sense of the political and religious factions, doctrinal struggles, the relationship between lay people and ministers (always less conservative than their followers), and the sweetness and suffering inherent in family life.

From the list:

The best books on seventeenth-century America

Book cover of God, War, and Providence: The Epic Struggle of Roger Williams and the Narragansett Indians Against the Puritans of New England

God, War, and Providence: The Epic Struggle of Roger Williams and the Narragansett Indians Against the Puritans of New England

By James A. Warren,

Why this book?

Reverend Roger Williams learned the local Algonquin language and wrote a book about it to teach Puritan settlers to respect the natives and their culture. The authorities threatened to ship him back to England, but he escaped south to the land of the Narragansetts, where he set up the colony that became Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. There he allowed religious freedom—even the despised Quakers and Catholics. He attempted a complete separation of church and state and preached on respecting native land rights. He sided with the Narragansetts when King Philip’s War broke out in 1675, a long and bloody…

From the list:

The best books to understand the true founding of America

Book cover of Testimony

Testimony

By Anita Shreve,

Why this book?

One of Anita Shreve’s lesser-known novels, I love Testimony for the contemporary conundrum it introduces. No more sweeping things under the rug; administrations must deal with transgressions in a public manner. In Testimony, students at another New England boarding school behave badly, capturing a lewd act on film. No matter how you code it, a crime has been committed, and the school must deal with it.

While the novel explores multiple points of view, the perspective of the accused student’s mother had the greatest effect on me: “You stand up… You get into your car and back out of…

From the list:

The best campus novels for the 21st century

Book cover of Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship

By Gail Caldwell,

Why this book?

The memoir helped me come to terms with the loss of three of my closest friends. Let’s Take the Long Way Home is an elegy to a beloved friend. It’s a book about grieving, of course, but also about recapturing loving memories of an intense relationship. The title, however, doesn’t hint at the story’s unusual major theme: the two women, both writers, meet over their love of and care for dogs! I confess that am not a dog lover, but I ended up captivated by the women’s passionate devotion to their animals and by seeing how this attachment strengthened their…

From the list:

The best books to read about how women's friendships shape the stories of their lives

Book cover of 'Salem's Lot

'Salem's Lot

By Stephen King,

Why this book?

I read this years ago, and I was terrified throughout the entire book. If I heard a noise in the house while I was reading it, I’d have to go investigate it! I have never had a book scare me as much since. As a child, Ben Mears witnessed something terrible at the Marsten House. He returns home at the same time a new owner moves into the house. After the new arrival, tragedies begin to strike. Gothic-like in nature, 'Salem’s Lot is so beautifully descriptive. King is a master at writing about small-town terror. Evil from the house…

From the list:

The best vampire novels that swept me away

Book cover of Books Can Be Deceiving

Books Can Be Deceiving

By Jenn McKinlay, Jenn McKinlay,

Why this book?

The first Library Lover’s Mystery, Books Can Be Deceiving is set in a small New England town where the main character, Lindsey, has recently taken over as director of the public library. She takes on the role of amateur sleuth to help her friend and co-worker, a children’s librarian, who has been accused of killing her boyfriend after they broke up. Clues lead Lindsey to discover some secrets in the murdered man’s past that now pose a threat to her safety. I liked the way the suspense was built and how the characters were portrayed. As a librarian at…

From the list:

The best first books of cozy mystery series that feature libraries and librarians

Book cover of Out Front the Following Sea

Out Front the Following Sea

By Leah Angstman,

Why this book?

Pre-revolution America is not usually my era for historical fiction but when I tell you that this novel grabs you with visceral detail, I mean it. Smells, textures, glares—everything is so vividly told! The resistance in this novel is really simple survival, as the whole New England village seems to have it in for our heroine Ruth. But she stubbornly holds out, trying to forge a path forward for herself. We get treated to some local politics, some ship lore, run-ins with Indigenous Nations (some good, some bad) and local brigands, and always anchored in Ruth’s evolving notions of right…

From the list:

The best historical fiction to hear forgotten voices of resistance

Book cover of Ghosts

Ghosts

By Ed McBain,

Why this book?

Ghosts was the first book of Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series that I read, primarily because I was interested in the paranormal aspect—I’ve always been a sucker for ghost stories. This was the first true police procedural I’d read, and I was most impressed with McBain’s mastery of writing dialogue. I was hooked and I’ve read most of the series since. As I wrote my own debut novel I referred to McBain’s novels many times to see how he handled dialogue tags and beats throughout his books. His dialogue is almost seamless. I’d recommend the 87th Precinct series…

From the list:

The best novels in police procedural series