The best books about Vermont

14 authors have picked their favorite books about Vermont and why they recommend each book.

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Crossing to Safety

By Wallace Stegner,

Book cover of Crossing to Safety

The retrospective gaze in this semiautobiographical novel zeroes in on friendship rather than family or romantic love. The friendship between the struggling-to-rise Morgans and the blue-blooded Langs, nearly academic royalty, is instantaneous and deep, with an imbalance that creates a delicious sense of precariousness. Stegner is a master of low-key suspense, gently stoking our curiosity about what comes next and what makes these people tick. Known for his California-based masterpiece Angle of Repose, here Stegner ventures into the Midwest, New England, and Italy, into academia, into aspiration and longing, and the forces that can alter a friendship. I love that he sets part of the book in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, my spiritual home. With his customary vividness, Stegner lets me see the mountains and smell the pines.


Who am I?

As a second-generation Italian American, I’ve always had one foot in the past, fascinated by the way a family history can shape who we are and deepen our understanding of our place in the world. The characters I love are searching for that kind of connection. As a writer, I’ve always thought nothing deepens a story more than a glance into the past, and now, living and writing in a medieval hill town in Italy, surrounded by the remnants of history, I believe it more than ever. I step outside and the past roars in, reminding me how it shapes the present—and each one of us.


I wrote...

The Wild Impossibility

By Cheryl A. Ossola,

Book cover of The Wild Impossibility

What is my book about?

Can a person live someone else’s memories? That’s what Kira, a neonatal ICU nurse, is asking herself. Wracked by grief, she’s having what she thinks are vivid, disturbing dreams—until they start happening while she’s awake. Not dreams but memories, she decides. And not hers. Questioning her mental state, driven to discover what these fragments of someone’s life mean, Kira digs obsessively into the past, putting her marriage at risk.

Meanwhile, her grandmother Maddalena’s tale unfurls, a tragic love story set at Manzanar, a World War II Japanese American internment camp. As Kira discovers that her life is intertwined with Maddalena’s in ways she could never have imagined, she comes face-to-face with her grief and her self-doubt—and her future.

The Old Man

By Thomas Perry,

Book cover of The Old Man

I love a good chase element in my crime stories, and no one does them better than Thomas Perry. There’s a reason this guy co-wrote thrillers with Clive Cussler for so many years, he knows how the keep the story moving just as fast as a bullet. For my money, The Old Man is Perry’s best book. First of all, the main character is literally named Chase, Dan Chase. And the action kicks in within the first few pages and never really slows down. Perry doles out the character details on a need-to-know basis in between breathless escapes as we follow the not so innocent Dan from his home in New England, to a Pacific Northwest island that is very close to my heart.


Who am I?

I have loved mysteries and crime thrillers since I worked at the legendary R.J. Julia Booksellers in high school. A lifelong love of books and movies led me to pursue a career in screenwriting and later in indie publishing. My most popular books, including Seattle On Ice, Chokecherry Canyon, and The Grimwood Trilogy all mix fast-paced action with film references and plenty of humor.


I wrote...

Firepower

By Mike Attebery,

Book cover of Firepower

What is my book about?

Firepower is the second book in my Four Corners thriller series, it tells the story of a small-town newspaper reporter investigating a series of fiery murders linked to the New Mexico energy market. This book is the best example of what I aim for in all of my crime novels, specifically, a lightning-quick pace, good characters, a sense of place, and touches of humor. The last element is the key. I don’t enjoy books (or authors) that take themselves too seriously, so I’m always looking for novels with a sense of humor. With Firepower, I think I struck the balance I’ve always been aiming for. In movie terms, I’d say it rests somewhere between Chinatown and Sneakers. 

A Borrowing of Bones

By Paula Munier,

Book cover of A Borrowing of Bones: A Mystery

This series is interesting due to the complexity of the characters. Mercy, the main character, an ex-military police officer, and her dog Elvis, also ex-military and suffering from canine PTSD are sent home from action. Both of the characters are wounded and grieving the loss of one man-Mercy’s fiance and Elvis’s handler. Along with a compelling mystery the two stumble upon, the readers also get an understanding of the incredible power dogs have to help humans heal.

We often reveal much more of ourselves to our canine companions and the reader is able to learn more about the human characters from their interactions with dogs. I love including dogs in my books because of that special connection and relationship and this one is very powerful. 


Who am I?

I’ve always loved mysteries and puzzles and have been an avid mystery reader since devouring all the Nancy Drew books at our library. There’s such satisfaction that comes from solving a mystery. When I started writing, my faithful golden retriever was always resting at my feet. She was the inspiration and the reason I chose to include dogs in all my books. Having a dog alongside my character allows me to show more depth in the humans in my stories and reveal weaknesses and vulnerabilities they may not be able to show others. I hope you enjoy my top picks as much as I have.


I wrote...

Cold Killer: A Cooper Harrington Detective Novel

By Tammy L. Grace,

Book cover of Cold Killer: A Cooper Harrington Detective Novel

What is my book about?

Coop’s new client has been dead for the last twenty-five years. Twenty-five years ago, two horrific accidents threatened to ruin the Covington family’s successful business. This, followed by two deaths in the family, forever change them. Now, the patriarch of the family is dying, and the son everyone thought died so long ago, returns.

Dax, presumed dead, ran away all those years ago, convinced he knew who the killer was and the motive, but was he right? He needs Coop’s help getting to the truth, even if it means the worst—someone he loves is the killer. Will Coop be able to unearth old evidence and solve the case before it’s too late?

Pioneer Species

By Ross Thurber,

Book cover of Pioneer Species

Pioneer Species is a book of poems by friend and farmer-poet Ross Thurber. A small vineyard I work with in southern Vermont, my own agricultural essay and investigation on a sense of place different than my own, is part of Ross’s Lilac Ridge Farm. Like Mary Oliver, Ross is intensely bound to the natural and cultivated world of his farm in which he lives and his poems capture a language that brings forward the light, the shadow, the fog, the till, the butterfly, the flower, the cow. I am constantly inspired by his poems to be out in my own fields and to contemplate and communicate my own place in them. A delicious collection about a deeply personal and lyrical view of farm life.

Who am I?

I am a winegrower, farmer, writer, photographer, and pop-upeuse. I fell in love with food and wine while living and working in Italy, then returned stateside to create an homage to the people and place that embraced us and taught us so much. That endeavor--the restaurant osteria pane e salute opened with my chef husband Caleb Barber—was where I curated the wine program and became passionate about wines farmed artfully. I began working as a winegrower in 2007, a personal landscape experiment that led me down the rabbit hole of growing and making wine from hybrid varieties focused on regenerative viticulture and low intervention winemaking.


I wrote...

An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

By Deirdre Heekin,

Book cover of An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir

What is my book about?

Against all odds, I planted vines on my hillside farm in Vermont believing that what I was embarking on was a small experimental and personal project about growing natural wine in the fringe wine region of Vermont. What happened instead was the blossoming of a vineyard that has become one of the most creative projects in American wine. An Unlikely Vineyard tells the story of our farm and winery, our kitchen and table, from overgrown fields to a fertile, productive, and beautiful landscape that melds with its natural environment.

We wanted to create, or rediscover, a true sense of place using the philosophy and techniques gleaned from organic gardening, permaculture, and regenerative farming. Written as a joyful and inspiring narrative that celebrates wine, food, farms, and connecting with the landscape.

The Secret History

By Donna Tartt,

Book cover of The Secret History

You wouldn’t normally think of the college campus as an ideal setting for a riveting psychological murder mystery thriller, until of course you read The Secret History and then can’t imagine the campus as being anything but. Creator (or at least popularizer) of the “dark academia” literary sub-genre, Tartt gets inside the ideas-filled heads of a group of classics students at a small liberal arts college and shows how a little wisdom can take you to some strange and disturbing places. You’ll want to start studying some of those really deep ideas on your own even as she spells out the steps from studying classics to committing murder. Definitely must read before sending your child off to a liberal arts college…   


Who am I?

I’m a professor myself who writes novels, so am especially drawn to novels about campus life! I really do value the life of the mind, but am also aware of just how strange a life that is within contemporary culture. At the same time, campuses are hotbeds of ideas, ranging from the deep and the true to the shallow and the crazy, and young passionate impressionable students simmer in those ideas for several years and then go on to shape our future. What could be more important than novels which bring all that to light? 


I wrote...

Nevergreen

By Andrew Pessin,

Book cover of Nevergreen

What is my book about?

A chance encounter—if it is by chance—gives J. the opportunity of a lifetime. A physician in a midlife funk, he is invited to speak at a small college. But when he arrives at the secluded island campus of Nevergreen College he gets a lot more than he bargained for. No one actually shows up for his talk, but that doesn’t stop it from becoming the center of a firestorm of controversy—with potentially fatal consequences. Nevergreen—a smart, fast, funny, and incisive portrait of today’s liberal arts college scene, cancel culture, and more.

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

By Ben Falk,

Book cover of The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach

This book has all of the same selling points as Carol Deppe's but is geared a bit more toward those with larger homesteads rather than a simple backyard plot. Even if you're an urban homesteader, though, the title is well worth a read to drum up outside-the-box ideas.


Who am I?

If I'm honest, I became a gardener because I like getting dirty. Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Tom Kitten is the story of my childhood (and my adulthood too, only now I don't have to pretend I'm going to stay clean). Of course, high-quality soil leads to high-quality produce, and I deeply adore the flavors of strawberries growing in deep, dark soil. Biting into a juicy, homegrown tomato still warm from the summer sun is bliss.


I wrote...

The Ultimate Guide to Soil: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

By Anna Hess,

Book cover of The Ultimate Guide to Soil: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

What is my book about?

Grow twice the fruits and vegetables in half the space on the farm, in the backyard, or in your window. Using simple techniques like soil testing, remineralization, no-till gardening, and soil amendments, The Ultimate Guide to Soil gives you the real dirt on good soil. Maybe next year your neighbor will be envious of you!

A Beautiful Truth

By Colin McAdam,

Book cover of A Beautiful Truth

A childless couple adopts a chimpanzee named Looee, and you already know from reading that sentence that it will lead to trouble and heartbreak. After a few pages, I didn’t care. In McAdam’s skilled hands, the inevitable sadness doesn’t matter, because the delicately handled point of view perfectly captures a doomed creature trapped between two opposing identities. In contrast, we also meet Podo, an alpha chimp at a research facility seeking to test the intelligence of primates. Podo is fully ape, but he is turning into something more. Their paths soon join, taking them deeper into a gray area between human and animal that I had never seen rendered on the page so vividly before. 


Who am I?

In addition to writing novels, I’m a humanities editor for Oxford University Press. So, I’m interested in the political and theological implications of non-human intelligence. I wonder how people would react to such a revelation. Some would be fascinated by this radical new perspective. Others would be horrified at what they perceive as a transgression against nature. I’m also drawn to this topic because I still vividly recall the entertainment of my youth, which regularly featured anthropomorphic animals. Sometimes they’re just cool or funny. But on occasion—like with The Secret of NIMH—they raise profound questions of identity and rebellion, even for an audience that is too young to understand.


I wrote...

Morte

By Robert Repino,

Book cover of Morte

What is my book about?

The “war with no name” has begun. The instigator is the Colony, a race of intelligent ants who have raised an army that will wipe out the humans and build a new utopia. As a final step in the war effort, the Colony uses its strange technology to transform the surface animals into high-functioning two-legged beings who rise up to kill their masters.

Former housecat turned war hero, Mort(e) is famous for taking on the most dangerous missions. But his true motivation is his search for a pre-transformation friend—a dog named Sheba. When he receives a mysterious message claiming Sheba is alive, he begins a journey that will lead to the heart of the Colony, where he will discover the ultimate fate of all the earth's creatures.

The Taming of the Drew

By Stephanie Kate Strohm,

Book cover of The Taming of the Drew

Many YA novels set in a theatrical environment are heavily romance-focused. This book is the best I’ve found in that category. The hero, recent high school graduate Cass, has a super-strong voice that made me laugh out loud. She’s snarky, off-color, bold, and impatient. The theater plotline weaves throughout the story as Cass and cohorts perform The Taming of the Shrew at a summer theater. She steals ideas from Shakespeare’s play to torment her costar and nemesis, Drew. 

Theater Quotient: High. Much of the plot revolves around rehearsals and elements of the play trickle into real life.


Who am I?

As a teenager, I didn’t have the lack of inhibition or abundant self-confidence to excel in high school drama. Like Sadie in Bit Players, I finally wowed the directors at my senior year audition, only to learn the lead was promised in advance to someone else. I recovered and stayed involved in theater: cast, crew, and front-of-house jobs for a summer theater program; the box office for Cornell’s MFA program; and supporting my kids’ drama activities. Performing in a show is different from any other experience. If you’ve been in a show, you know this. If you haven’t, read on to enter the magical world of theatre.


I wrote...

Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers: A must-read for fans of Glee, High School Musical and Twilight

By S.M. Stevens,

Book cover of Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers: A must-read for fans of Glee, High School Musical and Twilight

What is my book about?

In Bit Players, Has-Been Actors and Other Posers, a group of high school students create an original musical based on the Twilight book and movie. They write the script, and lyrics set to popular songs—which are provided in the book so readers can sing along. Romance and intrigue also abound.


Theater Quotient: High. The focal point of the story is the teens’ creation, production, and performance of Twilight: The Musical. Why I wrote it: It’s hard to find fiction that truly puts theater front and center. I wrote the Bit Players series for teens, tweens, and young adult musical theatre-lovers who know that world or want to know why it’s so special.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

By Alix E. Harrow,

Book cover of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Alix Harrow’s writing in The Ten Thousand Doors of January is as beautiful as the cover. This book was a finalist for several awards, including the Hugo and Nebula, and for good reason. The main character’s name is January–hence the title. January struggles against an antagonist who wants to prevent her from opening the magical doors she finds, undermines her confidence, and eventually has her committed to an institution. This will resonate with many young readers struggling to find their identity and take control of their own powers–and lives. The different worlds beyond January’s doors will delight the imagination and the resolution is satisfying. 


Who am I?

I’m a history instructor and often think about alternate historical outcomes, but you don’t get to choose those. Wish the Spanish Armada hadn’t sunk? Tough luck. But you can take a novel in any direction—kill a character, bring them back, let them fall in love, make them eat an egg salad sandwich… When the book itself is about parallel worlds, it increases those possibilities exponentially. In What Goes Up, Rosa and Eddie have very different backgrounds—Earth is two different worlds for them. What happens when there’s another world out there and they meet themselves in a different place? As one character asks, how much do you trust yourself?


I wrote...

What Goes Up

By Katie Kennedy,

Book cover of What Goes Up

What is my book about?

Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA's mysterious Interworlds Agency. They're not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents' legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to gohe's certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first, they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing.

And then something happens that even NASA's scientists couldn't predict...

The Starless Sea

By Erin Morgenstern,

Book cover of The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern is one of those authors who borrows words to create Art. Yes, that’s capitalized for a reason. She doesn’t so much construct prose as assemble a silent symphony that plays privately in the head of anyone who graces their eyes with her words. So, if you’re scrolling this list looking for the point where rainbow fantasy meets literature, congrats, you’ve found it. At some points, the story feels like it’s trying to be a bit too clever for its own good, but it does it so gracefully you might not mind. If you have a penchant for things as elegant and mysterious as a starless sea, grab a copy and find out why it made the list for yourself.


Who am I?

I am a rainbow fantasy author who has been writing and studying LBGTQIA+ fantasy for over a decade, most well known for being the author of YA fantasy epic The War of the North Saga. I have an absolute passion for healthy and positive queer representation in fiction, and even though I was only able to pick a mere 5 books I hope I have offered up a teeny varied buffet of options to get readers started in the #1 genre that makes my heart sing.


I wrote...

Welcome to the Inbetween

By Kate Haley,

Book cover of Welcome to the Inbetween

What is my book about?

Welcome to the Inbetween is an LGBTQIA+ fantasy adventure that takes you on a ride of inspiring hopefulness. Genderfluid protagonist Chris Arrow falls into a brand new world where they discover that what makes them feel like an outsider back home is what makes them magical in the Inbetween. Chris’ coming of age journey is a satisfying dive into the joy of new-age queer YA fiction.

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