The most recommended books on South Dakota

Who picked these books? Meet our 17 experts.

17 authors created a book list connected to South Dakota, and here are their favorite South Dakota books.
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What type of South Dakota book?


Book cover of Nearly Departed in Deadwood

JP McLean Author Of Blood Mark

From my list on urban fantasy with kickass heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been mesmerized by paranormal stories since grade school when I first read The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. Paranormal, supernatural, and magical books capture my imagination, probably because I’ve always wished I could fly like I can in my dreams. But since gravity is real, I make the magic happen in my writing. I especially enjoy when the magic takes place in a contemporary setting but is hidden to all but the reader and the ones who possess it. It feels like being in on a very big secret. The books I’ve recommended are a mix of secretive and outed magic. I hope you enjoy them.

JP's book list on urban fantasy with kickass heroines

JP McLean Why did JP love this book?

Ann Charles is someone I want to shoot tequila with, and I don’t shoot tequila. But I would with Ann. Her deadwood series had me laughing out loud. She writes characters so well that you’ll feel like you know them right down to their roots. You’ll be cheering on the good guys, hightailing it away from the scary ones, and cringing when you just know someone’s heading in the wrong direction. I’m immensely impressed that with each new book, Ann presents an original twisty mystery with a wicked sense of humour. And not only is she a talented, award-winning, and best-selling author, but she’s down-to-earth, and also organizes an annual fan party for her readers. I’m one of those fans and eagerly await her next book!

By Ann Charles, C.S. Kunkle (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nearly Departed in Deadwood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEARLY DEPARTED IN DEADWOOD, the Top-Rated #1 Kindle Bestseller in BOTH Women Sleuth and Ghost genres!

WINNER of the 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense
WINNER of the 2011 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart Award for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements

"Full of thrills and chills, a fun rollercoaster ride of a book!" ~Susan Andersen, New York Times Bestselling author of Burning Up

"Ann Charles has written an intriguing mystery laced with a wicked sense of humor. Watch out Stephanie Plum, because Violet Parker is coming your way." ~Deborah…

Book cover of Growing Up with the Town: Family and Community on the Great Plains

Patrick M. Garry Author Of The Power of Gratitude: Charting a Path Toward a Joyous and Faith-Filled Life

From my list on gratitude and how it can uplift your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have published more than twenty books and hundreds of articles. But not one of those books and articles inspired the kind of devotion I felt toward The Power of Gratitude. In a way, this book encapsulates a lifetime of writing. It is the book I believe I was called to write.

Patrick's book list on gratitude and how it can uplift your life

Patrick M. Garry Why did Patrick love this book?

This book is likewise a memoir that reveals the deeply engrained gratitude felt by the author. 

This gratitude is not a passing nostalgia but a fundamental pillar of the author’s life—a pillar that defines her entire life and injects it with an unchanging joy. Schwielder is an engaging writer who draws the reader into the circle of gratitude that encompasses Schwielder’s memories of her childhood in a small South Dakota town. 

Schwielder, along with Johnson, gives us tangible proof of the joys of gratitude.

By Dorothy Schwieder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Growing Up with the Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this unusual blend of chronological and personal history. Dorothy Hubbard Schwieder combines scholarly sources with family memories to create a loving and informed history of Presho, South Dakota, and her family's life there from the time of settlement in 1905 to the mid 1950s. Schwieder tells the story of this small town in the West River country, with its harsh and unpredictable physical environment, through the activities of her father, Walter Hubbard, and his family of ten children. Walter Hubbard's experiences as a business owner and town builder and his attitudes toward work, education, and family both reflected and…

Book cover of Winter Counts

Tori Eldridge Author Of The Ninja Daughter

From my list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a multicultural author, born in Honolulu of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent, I am drawn to mainstream thrillers that feature diverse characters and explore non-mainstream cultures. Since I also hold a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninja martial arts and have traveled the United States teaching martial arts and empowerment, authentic fight scenes in fiction are a must! Nothing turns me off quicker than a shallow representation of culturally diverse characters or mundane and improbable action. I strive for authenticity, emotion, and page-turning action in my Lily Wong ninja thrillers, so it’s probably no surprise that I value these elements in the novels I read.

Tori's book list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity

Tori Eldridge Why did Tori love this book?

Wanbli Weiden pulls no punches in his vivid, often brutal mystery thriller set on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation. His enforcer protagonist Virgil Wounded struggles with his own heritage and history while fighting to protect his nephew and Lakota community. I appreciated the stark brutality of the fight scenes. I was deeply moved by the raw emotion, depth of characters, and struggles that still exist for Indian Nations today.

By David Heska Wanbli Weiden,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?




“Winter Counts is a marvel. It’s a thriller with a beating heart and jagged teeth.”  —Tommy Orange, author of There There

A Best Book of 2020: NPR * Publishers Weekly * Library Journal * CrimeReads * Goodreads * Sun Sentinel * SheReads * MysteryPeople 

 A groundbreaking thriller about a vigilante on a Native American reservation who embarks on a dangerous mission to track down the source of a heroin influx. 

Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the…

Book cover of A Year of Playing Catch: What a Simple Daily Experiment Taught Me about Life

Susie Finkbeiner Author Of The All-American

From my list on making you fall in love with baseball.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m intrigued by baseball. The passion and drama of the games and the way the sport is nearly always linked to a meaningful relationship with someone dear. That curiosity has only been fueled by the books I’ve read over the years and inspired me to write a baseball story of my own. The All-American is my ninth novel and I couldn’t feel more privileged to have been able to write it.

Susie's book list on making you fall in love with baseball

Susie Finkbeiner Why did Susie love this book?

I love backyard games of catch, so when I heard the concept of this book I was sold!

Ethan D. Bryan, an avid baseball player and fan, set a goal to play a game of catch a day for an entire year. He met up with people across the United States for games, learning about their lives and witnessing the ways that tossing a ball around can transform a community.

I loved the heartwarming stories throughout the book and was deeply inspired to connect with people in unique ways. I’ve got to get outside and warm up my throwing arm. Ethan’s invited me to play a game of catch sometime. I want to be ready!

By Ethan D. Bryan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Year of Playing Catch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Journey with prolific author and avid baseball fan Ethan Bryan on an exciting quest to play catch every day for a year, and discover the lessons he learned about the sacredness of play, finding connections, and being fully present to the human experience. A Casey Award finalist!

Ethan Bryan played and wrote about baseball for years. Then his daughters challenged him to set out on a yearlong experiment: to play catch with someone every day. This experience led him across 10 states and 12,000 miles on a quest both quixotic and inspiring.

Taking you from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to…

Book cover of The Streel

Patricia Skalka Author Of Death Stalks Door County

From my list on protagonists who are haunted by the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up reading mysteries and quickly realized that, for me, the best stories were those that peered into the very heart and soul of the protagonist. I also favored books with deep roots; I wanted the present-day crime to be linked to the past. Through work and personal experience, I also understood the heavy toll of loss and grief and found myself drawn to writing a mystery series that related both in a way that was honest and real. When readers tell me that my protagonist’s pain is their pain, that his story is their story, I am both humbled and honored.   

Patricia's book list on protagonists who are haunted by the past

Patricia Skalka Why did Patricia love this book?

My late husband was a child immigrant, and for many years I listened as he and his family shared their experiences of balancing the opportunities this country offered with the deep and abiding loss they felt for the world they left behind.

Perhaps that’s why The Streel struck such a deep chord. It’s a mystery –and the first book in an enticing new series – but it’s also the story of young Bridget Reardon, an Irish immigrant who gives up all she holds dear to build a new life for herself in the tumultuous America of the 1880s.

I empathized with Bridget as she ached for the past, cheered her on as she outsmarted a clever killer, and look forward to her continuing saga in Mary Logue’s next volume, The Big Sugar 

By Mary Logue,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Women Writing the West WILLA Award Finalist

From "the reigning royalty of Minnesota murder mysteries" (The Rake) comes a striking new heroine: a young Irish immigrant caught up in a deadly plot in nineteenth-century Deadwood

When I was fifteen and my brother Seamus sixteen, we attended our own wake. Our family was in mourning, forced to send us off to America.

The year is 1880, and of all the places Brigid Reardon and her brother might have dreamed of when escaping Ireland's potato famine by moving to America, Deadwood, South Dakota, was not one of them. But Deadwood, in the…

Book cover of Lakota Dreaming

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy Author Of Tall, Dark, and Cherokee

From my list on Native American romantic suspense.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a lifelong history lover. I was the kid who hung around the feet of the elders, listening to their stories and learning about the past. That led to a deep interest in tracing family history, which has been a passion since about the age of ten. I still can get lost for hours finding ancestors or reading about their lives. That interest led me to a double major in college and I earned a Bachelor of Arts in both history and English with a two-year degree in journalism. I live a short distance from Oklahoma and one of my favorite pastimes is to go to powwows whenever possible.

Lee's book list on Native American romantic suspense

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy Why did Lee love this book?

This book blends the past with the present and takes the heroine Zora Hughes from New York City to South Dakota where she and John Iron Hawk. The story combines history with mystery and romance with suspense in an engaging way that kept me turning the pages to see what happened next.

By Constance Gillam,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Her visions brought her here. Her heart tells her to stay. But someone dangerous wants her gone…

Zora Hughes is haunted by someone else’s past. Plagued by dreams of her ancestor fleeing captivity, the former NYC fashion editor travels to South Dakota to uncover the truth. And until she can put her visions to rest, she won’t let anyone stand in her way… not even the handsome captain of the local tribal police.

John Iron Hawk is on a mission to clean up his reservation. Trying to raise a teenage daughter on his own while working to expose a corrupt…

Book cover of The Long Winter

Violet Plum Author Of Little Chicken Classic - Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er

From my list on for children which are also loved by adults.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love writing and illustrating all sorts of children's stories. The only thing my stories have in common is that none of their heroes eat meat, drink milk, or take part in the egg and spoon race. I write the kind of stories I want to read. I don't want to read about sex or violence. And I don't want to read foul language. I want something meaningful, something with a concluding note of optimism. Consequently, well-written children's stories often appeal to me. In fact, I've come to the conclusion that these are not just children's stories, they're good stories that anyone can enjoy.

Violet's book list on for children which are also loved by adults

Violet Plum Why did Violet love this book?

My favourite of all the Little House books - I can't tell you how many times I've read it. The Ingalls family have to move off their isolated homestead and into town to survive a freezing, seven-month winter. Their resourcefulness is hugely inspiring. Depleted of supplies, they make lamps out of buttons, string, and axle grease; they spend hours every day grinding wheat in a little coffee mill in order to have enough flour to make a small loaf of bread; and they get blisters twisting hay into sticks for the fire. The danger from sudden blizzards makes the short walk home from school potentially fatal. A perilous expedition for desperately needed supplies is too scary for most. And a hazardous, unnecessary journey undertaken by Laura, reveals just how much she misses her family.

By Laura Ingalls Wilder, Garth Williams (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Classic tales by Laura Ingalls Wilder about life on the frontier and America's best-loved pioneer family.

When a blizzard cuts the town of De Smet off from the railroad, the community is left for weeks without food or fuel deliveries and the Ingalls family are forced to eke out the last of their supplies.

As the terrible winter drags on, things begin to look desperate, until Almanzo Wilder and his friend brave the icy storms in search of help from another settlement.

The timeless stories that inspired a TV series can now be read by a new generation of children.…

Book cover of Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940

Farina King Author Of The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth Century

From my list on U.S. Indian boarding school experiences.

Why am I passionate about this?

My Diné (Navajo) family stories drew me into history including studies of Indigenous experiences in boarding schools. Two of my uncles were Navajo Code Talkers, and I loved asking them about their life stories. My uncle Albert Smith often spoke about his memories of the war. I was struck by the irony that he was sent to a boarding school as a child where the Navajo language was forbidden, and then he later relied on the language to protect his homelands. I then became interested in all my relatives' boarding school stories, including those of my father, which led me to write my first book The Earth Memory Compass about Diné school experiences. 

Farina's book list on U.S. Indian boarding school experiences

Farina King Why did Farina love this book?

Child draws strong connections between boarding schools and Native American communities and families through generations in ways that are accessible and clear-cut for every reader. Her work delves into sources that other scholars overlooked such as letters between boarding school students and families. One of the greatest takeaways from Child’s book and other related studies that I also recommend is how boarding school legacies and impacts continue into the present, affecting not only the boarding school students but also their posterity and American society at large.

By Brenda J. Child,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Boarding School Seasons offers a revealing look at the strong emotional history of Indian boarding school experiences in the first half of the twentieth century. At the heart of this book are the hundreds of letters written by parents, children, and school officials at Haskell Institute in Kansas and the Flandreau School in South Dakota. These revealing letters show how profoundly entire families were affected by their experiences.

Children, who often attended schools at great distances from their communities, suffered from homesickness, and their parents from loneliness. Parents worried continually about the emotional and physical health and the academic progress…

Book cover of Nowhere for Very Long: The Unexpected Road to an Unconventional Life

Angie Marie Author Of The Cycle Syncing Handbook: Identify Hormonal Patterns, Build Holistic Habits, and Embrace the Power of Your Menstrual Cycle

From my list on books for women who want to live more creatively/with more creativity.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my 20s, after always doing what I was “supposed” to, I found myself trapped in a relationship I wanted out of, in a job that barely paid the bills, and in a mindset of scarcity. After my birth control almost killed me, I dove into the mind-body connection that’s often stifled by sexism and societal expectations, becoming fascinated with pushing against the status quo and living more adventurously. I realized I needed to sincerely take my life decisions into my own hands. Since then, I’ve run ultramarathons, become an entrepreneur, and taught countless menstruators how to listen to their own bodies so they can build a life they love.

Angie's book list on books for women who want to live more creatively/with more creativity

Angie Marie Why did Angie love this book?

When I got divorced, I kept my ex-partner’s last name. It felt shameful in some ways, but it also felt like the best option financially and career-wise. I was so relieved to read a memoir of a woman who confidently and decisively kept her ex’s last name even as she blazed a brand-new path for herself while the relationships around her blew up.

From the outside, my life can look easy and happy. But, of course, I deal with challenges that feel unsurmountable at the time, with critics who make me second-guess my work and with the expectations of how a woman should look and speak. In this book Brianna breaks down her own journey of rebuilding a life that looked shiny on the outside but had major struggles that she could no longer ignore.

I’ve struggled at work, in marriage, and in my identity. To read a memoir from…

By Brianna Madia,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nowhere for Very Long as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


In this beautifully written, vividly detailed memoir, a young woman chronicles her adventures traveling across the deserts of the American West in an orange van named Bertha and reflects on an unconventional approach to life.

A woman defined by motion, Brianna Madia bought a beat-up bright orange van, filled it with her two dogs Bucket and Dagwood, and headed into the canyons of Utah with her husband. Nowhere for Very Long is her deeply felt, immaculately told story of exploration-of the world outside and the spirit within.…

Book cover of The Red Gods Call

Bernd Heinrich Author Of Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival

From my list on nature and the study of life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Biology is the study of life, and I cannot think of anything more important. It’s like being interested in what’s happening to the ball when you are playing the ball game. I was very fortunate to have grown up in close contact with nature and it led me down this path. I love discovering intricate mechanisms not by thoughts but with data. Those discoveries almost always turn out to be surprising and more than what had, or could be, imagined and assumed. 

Bernd's book list on nature and the study of life

Bernd Heinrich Why did Bernd love this book?

This book is less about Biology and more about becoming a biologist. Errington spent his youth outside, hunting, trapping, and fishing in the still largely pristine environment of South Dakota. Although hunting later "became ritualistic" he then continued the rest of his life feeling "called" into the wild and learning about nature there, leading him to go to graduate studies, but continuing all his life to long "for the authentic." It was a romantic activity to be close to nature, and a joy to learn that there are rules of order driving the complexity of "natural relationships." He validated for me loving the wild and wanting to be part of it all, noticing and savoring it, imprinting on it, being one with it. It made getting close to the land to feel the freedom of it in the wild outdoors, as from the 1893 Rudyard Kipling poem, "The Young…

By Paul L. Errington,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Book by Errington, Paul Lester