Friday, December 8, 2023


Our readers’ favorite books, part two

We recently asked our readers to share their favorite book or books. I so enjoyed reading through your responses and am so excited to read some of these books and hope you are too!

Here is part two of our “Readers’ favorite books” (and boy, it’s quite a variety again!). Happy reading!

Make sure you read part one here for more favorite books!

*Please note, these are in a random order of how they were submitted.


“Wonderful read about living in RVs. My parents lived in one for 30 years. Explained a lot more about them!” —Patty Ashworth

Amazon summary:
From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon’s CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. Finding that social security comes up short, often underwater on mortgages, these invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads.

On frequently traveled routes between seasonal jobs, Jessica Bruder meets people from all walks of life. In a secondhand vehicle she christens “Van Halen,” Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more intimately. Accompanying Linda May and others from campground toilet cleaning to warehouse product scanning to desert reunions, then moving on to the dangerous work of beet harvesting, Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy—one that foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, she celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these quintessential Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive.

Editor’s note: All of us here at highly recommend this wonderful book (and movie!). 

Find it here.

“Stranger in a Strange Land”

This was submitted by Jerry Glazman, who simply just commented that this is his favorite. It sounds interesting!

Amazon summary:
Raised by Martians on Mars, Valentine Michael Smith is a human who has never seen another member of his species. Sent to Earth, he is a stranger who must learn what it is to be a man. But his own beliefs and his powers far exceed the limits of humankind, and as he teaches them about grokking and water-sharing, he also inspires a transformation that will alter Earth’s inhabitants forever…

Find it here.

“The Shepherd of the Hills”

Just like Jerry, above, reader David Laton sent just the title of his favorite book.

Amazon summary:
First published in 1907, “The Shepherd of the Hills” is Harold Bell Wright’s mostly fictional tale of people living in the foothills of the Ozarks. The story is principally concerned with the relationship of Grant Matthews, Sr., affectionately known in his community as “Old Matt”, and “The Shepherd of the Hills”, a wise old man who has chosen the peace of the backwoods over the hustle and bustle of the city. The Shepherd is a quiet and mysterious character who is trying to recover from a tragic and troubled past. While his reclusiveness has left him largely isolated from others in the settlement, he earns the love and trust of the Matthews clan, which is one of the most respected families in the community. Set against The Shepherd’s story is also the touching and romantic love affair between the pretty young Samantha Lane and Grant “Young Matt” Matthews, Jr. “The Shepherd of the Hills” has become an enduring and often adapted classic of American literature. It is beloved for its portrayal of the life and death concerns of ordinary people and for its commentary on human weaknesses, the strength of community, and the redemptive power of forgiveness and kindness.

Find it here.

“In Search of Ancient North America: An Archaeological Journey to Forgotten Cultures”

“In Search of Ancient North America” got me started visiting the Indian ruins and Indian museums. Lot’s to learn not in history books.” —Donald N. Wright

Amazon summary:
Almost unimaginably immense, North America stretches from a few degrees short of the North Pole to a few degrees shy of the equator. Archaeologists are now racing to unravel the mysterious past of the forgotten peoples who once inhabited this sprawling land. In Search of Ancient North America explores many of these scientists’ most fascinating findings as Heather Pringle chronicles her journeys among the ancient sites of Canada and the United States. Her enthralling voyage of discovery uncovers the richness of now-vanished cultures and illuminates the intriguing world of archaeology itself.

Find it here.

“Loving Frank”

“My favorite book is ‘Loving Frank’ by Nancy Horan. It is a novel based on a real-life long-term relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and a society lady from Oak Park, IL. It was a very controversial love story at the time (early 19th century). The author is able to immerse the reader in the characters’ emotions and in the culture of the era.” —Robin Deane

Amazon summary:
I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current. So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives.

In this ambitious debut novel, fact and fiction blend together brilliantly. While scholars have largely relegated Mamah to a footnote in the life of America’s greatest architect, author Nancy Horan gives full weight to their dramatic love story and illuminates Cheney’s profound influence on Wright.

Find it here.

“Fahrenheit 451”

“Written in 1953, it is so prescient about so many things that are happening today. A visionary warning for us all.” —Doug Fox

Amazon summary:
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But when he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.

Editor’s note: I agree with you, Doug. A must-read for all.

Find it here.

“Rocket Boys”

“If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘October Sky,’ or for that matter, even if you have not, you would enjoy ‘Rocket Boys.’ Homer Hickam grew up in a small coal-mining town in West Virginia. He went on to become a NASA trainer, engineer and scientist. He is also a Vietnam war veteran. His writing is excellent. The movie ‘October Sky’ was based on the ‘Rocket Boys,’ but all of his books are so good.” —Maria Schulz

Amazon summary:
Rocket Boys is a uniquely American memoir—a powerful, luminous story of coming of age at the dawn of the 1960s, of a mother’s love and a father’s fears, of a group of young men who dreamed of launching rockets into outer space . . . and who made those dreams come true.

With the grace of a natural storyteller, NASA engineer Homer Hickam paints a warm, vivid portrait of the harsh West Virginia mining town of his youth, evoking a time of innocence and promise, when anything was possible, even in a company town that swallowed its men alive. A story of romance and loss, of growing up and getting out, Homer Hickam’s lush, lyrical memoir is a chronicle of triumph—at once exquisitely written and marvelously entertaining.

Find it here.

“A Simple Plan”

Larry Siebrands says this is his favorite book.

Amazon summary:
Two brothers and their friend stumble upon the wreckage of a plane–the pilot is dead and his duffle bag contains four million dollars in cash. In order to hide, keep, and share the fortune, these ordinary men all agree to a simple plan.

Find it here.

“The Count of Monte Cristo”

Reader Betty Dagle says this “is my all-time go-to book.”

Amazon summary:
Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantes is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialized in the 1840s.

Find it here.

“A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II”

“This book is non-fiction about a woman with a prosthetic leg who is credited with helping to liberate France. The Gestapo actively hunted her as the most dangerous Allied spy who must be found and destroyed. Interesting how she was treated after the war given her accomplishments. Well researched.” —Tana Shively

Amazon summary:
In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.”

The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill’s “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.” She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and–despite her prosthetic leg–helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it.

Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day.

Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall–an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spycraft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity.

Find it here.

And that’s a wrap on part two, folks. For more book recommendations, read last week’s part one. More later! And remember, it’s not too late to tell us about your favorite book. You can do so here.


Emily Woodbury
Emily Woodbury
Emily Woodbury is the editor here at She was lucky enough to grow up alongside two traveling parents, one domestically by RV (yep, Chuck Woodbury) and the other for international adventures, and has been lucky to see a great deal of our world (and counting!). She lives near Seattle with her dog and chickens. When she's not cranking out 700+ newsletters for she's hiking, cooking or, well, probably traveling.



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Janet (@guest_157209)
1 year ago

Thanks for these recommendations. Please continue to add to them. Best loved books don’t fall off the list.

I am just beginning to read The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe. It is a novel based on Anita Hemmings experiences as the first African American woman to attend prestigious Vasser College in the late 1800s. If I enjoy it (as I think I will) I’ll let you know.

Last edited 1 year ago by Janet
Dennis (@guest_157178)
1 year ago

if you’re looking for a truly riveting summary of the situation we are in today, buy the #1 selling book, The Real Anthony Fauci by Robert Kennedy. You may have to wait a while to get it as I believe it is currently sold out.

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