The best Puritans books 📚

Browse the best books on the Puritans as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

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

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

By Elizabeth George Speare

Why this book?

My last recommendation veers from adult fiction into children’s. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, a Newbery Award-winning novel set in early colonial America, is a personal favorite and, with regards to its depiction of Puritanism, surprisingly nuanced. After the loss of her grandfather, Kit Tyler sails from Barbados to Connecticut to live with her aunt and quickly finds herself an object of suspicion. The love story between Kit and sailor Nat Eaton is intrinsic to the main story, with Nat acting as a bridge between Kit’s old life and her new one, helping her understand New Englanders’ unfamiliar beliefs…

From the list:

The best historical romances for armchair theologians

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Why this book?

The Scarlet Letter is dripping with diction. Nathaniel Hawthorne chooses his words so carefully during certain descriptions that my language-loving self feels jealous about his precision. This classic explores sin, as well as the dark side of the soul. A vengeful old scholar is an unusual villain, but Roger Chillingworth in The Scarlet Letter is so smart and evil. 

From the list:

The best books with intelligent, demented characters

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia

Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia

By E. Digby Baltzell

Why this book?

Everyone knows that the Puritans settled in Boston and the Quakers settled in Philadelphia. What I found surprising is Baltzell’s argument that the two cities’ founding religions shaped their respective character for hundreds of years afterward. And, he says, the difference between Puritanism and Quakerism explains why Boston and Philadelphia played such different roles in American history.

From the list:

The best books on economics, religion, and society

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of One Small Candle: The Plymouth Puritans and the Beginning of English New England

One Small Candle: The Plymouth Puritans and the Beginning of English New England

By Francis J. Bremer

Why this book?

Most people knows that the Pilgrims were religious, but most Americans today know very little about the beliefs and practices that animated the separatists who chose to leave England and the Dutch Republic and cross the ocean. Francis Bremer is the best possible guide to this essential part of the Pilgrim story. Bremer knows puritanism better than anyone, and he knows how to fit the Pilgrims into that larger framework. In One Small Candle (the title comes from William Bradford’s history), Bremer explains how the lay leadership of men and women was central to separatism and to the religious organization…

From the list:

The best books on the Mayflower Pilgrims and their beliefs, practices, and habits

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Or, view all 22 books about the Puritans

New book lists about the Puritans

All book lists about the Puritans

Bookshelves related to the Puritans

Browse books by…