The most recommended books about Wisconsin

Who picked these books? Meet our 65 experts.

65 authors created a book list connected to Wisconsin, and here are their favorite Wisconsin books.
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Book cover of The Murder Before Christmas

K.E. O'Connor Author Of Cream Caramel and Murder

From my list on involving muffins and murder.

Who am I?

My degree in archaeology taught me life is a giant puzzle. People leave behind fragments, giving hints but never definitive answers. My deductive skills when piecing together broken pottery or looking at renderings of hominid skulls to determine how they lived, evolved my desire to write mysteries. One of the many things I love about cozy mysteries is that everything looks peaceful on the outside, but like real life, you barely need to scratch the surface before you discover dark deeds and secrets. And who doesn’t enjoy that?

K.E.'s book list on involving muffins and murder

K.E. O'Connor Why did K.E. love this book?

Cupcakes are nothing without the perfect drink, which is why this book is an ideal accompaniment to the cake cozies – and it’s set in the 1980s, so is chocked full of nostalgia for people of a certain age.

The setting may be festive but the mystery will leave you pondering whodunit until the end. And there are lots of lovely easter eggs (or should that be festive treats) hinting at more puzzles in future books.

By Michele Pariza Wacek,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

If you've got a problem, Charlie Kingsley probably has a tea that’ll help make it right.

EXCEPT when it comes to love. She does NOT do love potions.

Not even for Courtney, her pregnant new client who showed up three weeks before Christmas seeking a love potion because her husband was cheating on her.

So, Courtney asked about poison, instead.

She said she was joking. That's what happens between wives and husbands. They get angry and talk about killing each other. They don't really mean it.

It seems to make sense ... until Courtney’s husband turns up dead on Christmas…


Book cover of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Johannes Lenhard Author Of Making Better Lives: Hope, Freedom and Home-Making among People Sleeping Rough in Paris

From my list on understanding poverty today, from the bottom up.

Who am I?

I am an anthropologist and studied homelessness in Paris and London for the last decade. I was drawn into the world of people on the streets when I moved to London and started observing their parallel world. I spent almost a year with people on the street in London and two years in Paris. I volunteered in day centers, safe injection facilities, and soup kitchens and slept in a homeless shelter. Since I finished my first book on my observations in Paris, I have advised both policymakers on homelessness and written countless journalistic articles. My goal is always to provide a clearer picture of homelessness through the eyes of the people themselves. 

Johannes' book list on understanding poverty today, from the bottom up

Johannes Lenhard Why did Johannes love this book?

I met Matthew Desmond before he became one of the youngest Professors with his own center at Princeton University. He was visiting London, had just published his first book, and was still finishing the research for this book.

Desmond did an enormous amount of field research; he spent months living in a trailer park, on top of thousands of hours in archives and courtrooms where eviction cases are decided. The result is the best book I have ever read about poverty.

What happens when ‘normal people’ get evicted? Desmond’s story is rich and personal, and that is what we need: we need to understand the lives of poor people better in order to finally decide that we must change the systems that put them there. 

By Matthew Desmond,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION*
'Beautifully written, thought-provoking, and unforgettable ... If you want a good understanding of how the issues that cause poverty are intertwined, you should read this book' Bill Gates, Best Books of 2017

Arleen spends nearly all her money on rent but is kicked out with her kids in Milwaukee's coldest winter for years. Doreen's home is so filthy her family call it 'the rat hole'. Lamar, a wheelchair-bound ex-soldier, tries to work his way out of debt for his boys. Scott, a nurse turned addict, lives in a gutted-out trailer. This is…


Book cover of Figure Eight: A Northern Lakes Mystery

Margaret Mizushima Author Of Standing Dead

From my list on mysteries transporting you into the great outdoors.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated by the mountain wilderness and national parks of my home state, Colorado. In my younger days, I hiked to the mountain lakes of the Sangre de Cristo range near my hometown and then later the high-country trails of northern Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. When I began writing the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, I combined my experience as a veterinarian’s wife with my love of the great outdoors and dogs to create Killing Trail, book one of eight in my series that features Deputy Mattie Cobb, her K-9 partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker. Together they solve mysteries in the fictional mountain community of Timber Creek, Colorado.

Margaret's book list on mysteries transporting you into the great outdoors

Margaret Mizushima Why did Margaret love this book?

Figure Eight whisks you into the Northern Lakes region of Wisconsin, offering backwoods snapshots of landscapes rarely traveled by humans.

As an avid outdoorsman, Jeff Nania knows the Northern backwoods like a beloved family member, and he has created a novel that captured and held my attention with its vivid outdoor descriptions and engaging characters. I loved John Cabrelli and rooted for him as he begins this tale from his hospital bed and takes us into his story of murder and family relationships.

This is book one in the Northern Lakes Mysteries, and I’ve enjoyed the rest of Nania’s mysteries through his fourth and latest episode, Musky Run.

By Jeff Nania,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A shattered career. A crooked lawyer. An unsolved murder. Seeking peace in the Northwoods is fraught with danger.
Every night John Cabrelli relives the tragic events that ended his career. While struggling to find himself again, John inherits his uncle's cabin and returns to the lake where he spent much of his youth. Little does John know that danger waits for him when he uncovers suspicious circumstances of his uncle's death. Few people will talk about it as John unravels a mystery that could forever change the landscape.

Award-winning author, conservationist, and retired decorated law enforcement officer Jeff Nania weaves…


Book cover of The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond

Mae Clair Author Of The Price of Atonement

From Mae's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Author Cryptozoology fan Victorian-at-heart Bibliophile Curiosity geek

Mae's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Mae Clair Why did Mae love this book?

I love mysteries that twine two time periods, and I’m especially fond of the early twentieth century.

The mystery set in 1907 is wonderfully creepy. I enjoyed how the author brought the setting so vividly to life. Her inclusion of twin revivalists—who could be poster-children for the word “odd”—was brilliant.

I couldn’t make up my mind about them. And obituaries appearing in a newspaper prior to the death of the subjects is just plain freaky. Both female leads are strong, and the story corkscrews enough for misdirection in more than one place. Deftly plotted with detailed genealogies. History, mystery, and secrets add up to a bubbling cauldron of suspense!

By Jaime Jo Wright,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For over a century, the town of Gossamer Grove has thrived on its charm and midwestern values, but Annalise Forsythe knows painful secrets, including her own, hover just beneath the pleasant fa ade. When a man is found dead in his run-down trailer home, Annalise inherits the trailer, along with the pictures, vintage obituaries, and old revival posters covering its walls. As she sorts through the collection, she's wholly unprepared for the ramifications of the dark and deadly secrets she'll uncover.

A century earlier, Gossamer Grove has been stirred into chaos by the arrival of controversial and charismatic twin revivalists.…


Book cover of Stalag Wisconsin: Inside WWII Prisoner of War Camps

Robert C. Daniels Author Of 1220 Days: The Story of U.S. Marine Edmond Babler and His Experiences in Japanese Prisoner of War Camps During World War II

From my list on World War II POWs.

Who am I?

History has always been a strong part of me since I can remember. My heart has always laid in reading, studying, researching, and writing about it, and World War II history is a large part of that. When writing about World War II, I like to visit topics that relate to the everyday person, not well-known generals and admirals. I like to interview people about their experiences and write their stories, what they saw, lived through, witnessed. Both of my books are based upon this concept, how everyday people lived their lives during World War II.

Robert's book list on World War II POWs

Robert C. Daniels Why did Robert love this book?

Stalag Wisconsin is an excellent account of World War II POWs housed in Wisconsin. Growing up in Wisconsin, including in a town that had actually contained one of these POW camps, I had never heard of such a thing happening. My parents, aunts, uncles, and even teachers never mentioned the subject. Most interesting, at least to me, is that, as the book states, the local peoples treated the POWs with respect and kindness. This, I found most interesting as a juxtaposition to how both the Japanese and to an extent the Germans were at that very same time treating U.S. POWs held in their ‘care’.

By Betty Cowley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

STALAG WISCONSIN: Inside WW II prisoner-of-war camps is a comprehensive look inside Wisconsin's 38 branch camps that held 20,000 Nazi and Japanese prisoners of war during World War II. Many of these prisoners blended with the local community, drinking at taverns and even dating local girls. Some returned and settled in Wisconsin after their release. Their familiarity with local residents caused resentment by returning soliders who had battled them in Europe and Asia.


Book cover of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Rick Woodford Author Of Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Dogs

From my list on our deep bond with dogs.

Who am I?

When I adopted my first dog, Jackson, I felt a little intimidated by his exuberance. By reading books about animals (and human behavior) along with stories that showed the deep connection possible between humans and dogs, I was encouraged to dig deeper, try different techniques, and appreciate all aspects of Jackson’s personality. As we added more dogs to the pack and discover new challenges, I continued to seek out experts to help develop my relationship with my dogs and help them to live happier lives.  As somebody who does a great deal of research about dogs, I appreciate and share well-researched and well-presented materials from both non-fiction and fiction.

Rick's book list on our deep bond with dogs

Rick Woodford Why did Rick love this book?

This is my favorite dog novel that I’ve ever read. I keep buying new copies and lending them to friends who apparently enjoy the book as well, since the books continue to circulate around. The story is a simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking tale about a family who breeds their own unique mélange of dogs and strives to keep them alive through a son who is mute but has a special method of communicating with dogs. 

By David Wroblewski,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Story of Edgar Sawtelle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A literary debut of stark and striking brilliance - a coming-of-age story, set in the remote wilderness of northern Wisconsin.

Born mute and able to communicate only by sign, the brilliant Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents Gar and Trudy. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomised by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong companion. But when his beloved father mysteriously dies, Edgar blames himself, if only because his muteness left him unable to summon help. Grief-stricken and bewildered by his mother's desperate affair with her dead husband's brother, Edgar's…


Book cover of Population: 485

Dave Horowitz Author Of Emergency Monster Squad

From my list on for and about emergency medicine.

Who am I?

I am a paramedic. I like being a medic. Not so much because of the science and medicine related to the job, but I like connecting with people. People from every walk of life. I like the chaos and unpredictability of the streets. The books on my list portray what it’s like to be out there. Not just war stories. But stories of humility and grace.  

Dave's book list on for and about emergency medicine

Dave Horowitz Why did Dave love this book?

Population 485 was the first book about EMS I ever read. I was just starting out as a volunteer in a rural area, so this book really resonated with me. The author, in moving back to his rural hometown in Wisconsin, joins the local fire department and shares with his readers the funny, crazy, and tragic stories that haunt his small town.

Perry’s writing is full of humility and wit. Population 485 is a portrait of “small-town America” but also serves as a peek behind the curtain at the education of a first responder.

By Michael Perry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Part portrait of a place, part rescue manual, part rumination of life and death, Population: 485 is a beautiful meditation on the things that matter.”  — Seattle Times

Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin (population: 485) where the local vigilante is a farmer’s wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Michael Perry loves this place. He grew…


Book cover of Shoulder Season

J. Ryan Stradal Author Of Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club

From my list on new reads that absolutely nail a sense of place.

Who am I?

I was born and raised in Minnesota, and attended college in Illinois, and even though I’ve spent the last two decades in California, I feel like a Midwesterner to my core, and it will always be my home. As a teenager, I was a voracious reader, and while I especially craved novels set in my home state, I had a difficult time finding ones that described the settings I knew and the kinds of people I recognized and loved. I write for that reader now, and I adore any novel that has an unmistakable sense of place.

J.'s book list on new reads that absolutely nail a sense of place

J. Ryan Stradal Why did J. love this book?

Growing up five hours away in Minnesota, I had no idea that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin – a small Midwest town surrounded by farmland – was home to a Playboy Club for over a decade. Clancy, a born-and-bred Wisconsinite, did her research, dramatizing the lives of local women before, during, and after their stints in the club with ample heart and heartbreak. Capturing the dreams, complexity, and contradictions of rural Midwestern women as well as anyone this side of Bonnie Jo Campbell, it’s become one of the books I recommend to anyone who wants to understand my home region.

By Christina Clancy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The small town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is an unlikely location for a Playboy Resort, and nineteen-year old Sherri Taylor is an unlikely bunny. Growing up in neighbouring East Troy, Sherri plays the organ at the local church and has never felt comfortable in her own skin. But when her parents die in quick succession, she leaves the only home she's ever known for the chance to be part of a glamorous slice of history. In the winter of 1981, in a costume two sizes too small, her toes pinched by stilettos, Sherri joins the daughters of dairy farmers and…


Book cover of Time for Cranberries

Roxanne Troup Author Of My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me

From my list on farm-to-table for kids.

Who am I?

I grew up in a farming community where everyone understood where our food comes from; we were all either farmers or related to farmers. I’ve since discovered that is not the case everywhere. Many kids honestly believe our food comes from grocery stores. Those that have been told our food is grown, are still unfamiliar with the extent of our reliance on agriculture—not just for food, but clothing; building and cleaning supplies; sports equipment; fuel; and so much more! They also don’t understand the amount of time and hard work (even technology) required to grow, harvest, and process the plants used to create their favorite foods. Hopefully these books—mine included—will help. 

Roxanne's book list on farm-to-table for kids

Roxanne Troup Why did Roxanne love this book?

I first discovered Time for Cranberries when looking for comparative titles for my own book.

But where mine follows the growth and harvest cycle of pecans, Lisl’s follows the harvest process for cranberries—from field to Thanksgiving table (though like my book, hers is not a holiday title). Like me, Lisl, wrote her story from personal experience, and includes all the sights and sounds of the cranberry harvest.

I love that she includes the child narrator in the process in a way that is both authentic and safe, and uses a refrain to tie the narrative together—boy, I didn’t realize just how comparative our stories were until just this moment! Maybe, someday the two of us can meet in person.

By Lisl H Detlefsen, Jed Henry (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Time for Cranberries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

From the cranberry bog to the Thanksgiving table, join Sam and his family as they harvest a classic American fruit.

When the vines hang heavy with berries that the autumn winds have turned deep red, it's time for cranberries, and Sam is finally old enough to help with the harvest! This charming, lyrical picture book follows Sam and his family as they raise the water in the bog, pick the cranberries, and gather the fruit for processing. It's a story of modern family farming in action, showing readers where their food comes from but mostly delighting them along the way.


Book cover of Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life

Colin Mustful Author Of Resisting Removal: The Sandy Lake Tragedy of 1850

From my list on Minnesota’s Native American history.

Who am I?

I was attending graduate school in Mankato, Minnesota when I first discovered that 38 Dakota men were hanged there on December 26, 1862. I was shocked to find out that the largest simultaneous mass execution in United States history happened right where I lived and I knew nothing about it. Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to learning, understanding, and sharing the history of the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862. Over the years, I’ve discovered not just the history, but the legacy of that history for us today. Someday, I hope we all come to understand, and eventually break down, that legacy.  

Colin's book list on Minnesota’s Native American history

Colin Mustful Why did Colin love this book?

In Rez Life, David Treuer, an Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation, shows us the real-life consequences of historical events and policy. Through scholarship and anecdote, Treuer teaches readers what it really means to be Native American in a country that has tried, time and again, to erase them. Rez Life is not the history book rendition of past wrongs and tragic events. Instead, it is an articulate, expressive look at the people who live with the legacy of those past wrongs and tragic events. It shows readers the Native Americans they won’t see in history books—the ones that exist today, fighting to overcome the trauma thrust upon them.

By David Treuer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A prize-winning writer offers “an affecting portrait of his childhood home, Leech Lake Indian Reservation, and his people, the Ojibwe” (The New York Times).
 
A member of the Ojibwe of northern Minnesota, David Treuer grew up on Leech Lake Reservation, but was educated in mainstream America. Exploring crime and poverty, casinos and wealth, and the preservation of native language and culture, Rez Life is a strikingly original blend of history, memoir, and journalism, a must read for anyone interested in the Native American story. With authoritative research and reportage, he illuminates issues of sovereignty, treaty rights, and natural-resource conservation. He…