Big list of Homesteading Books or Books About Homesteading and Written By Homesteaders for encouragement and ideas for your own homesteading journey!
Have some extra time on your hands this winter with the days being shorter and the inability to work outdoors? (I almost never find time for “extras” but there is the occasional day!) A while ago on our facebook page we had an excellent question posted by a Little House Living reader….
And oh my did you all have some excellent suggestions of homesteading books! With so many answers I was afraid the books might get lost on our page so I took the most suggested books and made this post. Some of these books are fiction, some are non-fiction, some are letters, and more!
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*Note, I have not read all of these books so I can’t give an accurate description of them all so descriptions provided are from other sources.
Letters of a Woman Homesteader – Elinore Stewart
As a young widow with a small child, Elinore Pruitt left Denver in 1909 and set out for Wyoming, where she hoped to buy a ranch. Determined to prove that a lone woman could survive the hardships of homesteading, she initially worked as a housekeeper and hired hand for a neighbor — a kind but taciturn Scottish bachelor whom she eventually married.
Spring and summers were hard, she concedes and were taken up with branding, farming, doctoring cattle, and other chores. But with the arrival of fall, Pruitt found time to take her young daughter on camping trips and serve her neighbors as a midwife, doctor, teacher, Santa Claus, and friend. She provides a candid portrait of these and other experiences in twenty-six letters written to a friend back in Denver.
Letters on an Elk Hunt – Elinore Stewart
A follow-up book to Letters of a Woman Homesteader posted above. This book is in the public domain so it’s free to read online or on Kindle.
Love Comes Softly Series – Janette Oke
Love Comes Softly introduced the characters of Marty and Clark Davis, whose tragic circumstances brought them to a “marriage of convenience” on the frontier prairies during the mid 1800s. The story of how Clark’s patient, caring love mirrored that of the heavenly Father, drawing Marty to faith and to love, has captured the hearts and imaginations of over one million readers on Book One alone!
These is My Words – Nancy Turner
A moving, exciting, and heartfelt American saga inspired by the author’s own family memoirs, these words belong to Sarah Prine, a woman of spirit and fire who forges a full and remarkable existence in a harsh, unfamiliar frontier. Scrupulously recording her steps down the path Providence has set her upon—from child to determined young adult to loving mother—she shares the turbulent events, both joyous and tragic, that molded her, and recalls the enduring love with cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot that gave her strength and purpose.
Sarah Plain and Tall – Patricia McLaughlin
Set in the late nineteenth century and told from young Anna’s point of view, Sarah, Plain and Tall tells the story of how Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton comes from Maine to the prairie to answer Papa’s advertisement for a wife and mother. Before Sarah arrives, Anna and her younger brother Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she sing? Will she stay? This children’s literature classic is perfect for fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books, historical fiction, and timeless stories using rich and beautiful language
O Pioneers! tells the story of the Bergsons, a family of Swedish immigrants in the farm country near the fictional town of Hanover, Nebraska, at the turn of the 20th century. Alexandra, inherits the family farm when her father dies, and she devotes her life to making the farm a viable enterprise at a time when other immigrant families are giving up and leaving the prairie.
Set in rural Nebraska, Willa Cather’s My Ántonia is both the story of an enduring friendship and a brilliant portrayal of the lives of rural pioneers in the late-nineteenth century. Ántonia and her family are from Bohemia and they must endure real hardship and loss to establish a new home in America. But Ántonia is never broken by adversity, and her strength and love of life stays with her childhood friend Jim for years to come, even as he leaves home to study and pursue his career. Told through Jim’s eyes, My Ántonia is a rich and beautiful novel about childhood and growing up, different cultures and the lure of home.
A Lantern in Her Hand – Bess Aldrich
The classic story of Abbie and Will Deal—pioneers who left everything behind for a new life on America’s frontier. Abbie Mackenzie dreamed of becoming a fine lady like her aristocratic grandmother, devoting herself to music and art. But at eighteen Abbie found a different dream, turning away from the promise of a comfortable life as a doctor’s wife to marry handsome, quiet Will Deal. Together, they eagerly accepted the challenge of homesteading in Nebraska territory, where the prairies stretched as far as the eye could see, and only the strongest survived for long.
Ruffles on my Longjohns – Isabel Edwards
An autobiographical account of a young couple’s adventures homesteading in the Canadian wilderness.
Look to the Mountain – LeGrand Cannon, Jr.
Look to the Mountain is one of the most popular and enduring American novels of the past century. Published first in 1942, it has remained in print―appearing in seven different editions with two dozen reprints―and has sold over a million copies. The book’s history testifies to the continuing appeal of the novel. It is an enthralling epic of the men and women who settled the New England wilderness.
The Diary of Mattie Spencer – Sandra Dallas
Dramatic and suspenseful, joyful and heartbreaking The Diary of Mattie Spenser is the story of an unforgettable American Woman. No one is more surprised than Mattie Spenser herself when Luke Spenser, considered the great catch of their small Iowa town, asks her to marry him. Less than a month later, they are off in a covered wagon to build a home on the Colorado frontier. Mattie’s only company is a slightly mysterious husband and her private journal, where she records the joys and frustrations not just of frontier life, but also of a new marriage to a handsome but distant stranger. As she and Luke make life together on the harsh and beautiful plains, Mattie learns some bitter truths about her husband and the girl he left behind and finds love where she least expects it. This is an unforgettable story of hardship, friendship, and survival.
Magic of Ordinary Days – Ann Creel
Olivia Dunne, a studious minister’s daughter who dreams of being an archaeologist, never thought that the drama of World War II would affect her quiet life in Denver. An exhilarating flirtation reshapes her life, though, and she finds herself banished to a rural Colorado outpost, married to a man she hardly knows. Overwhelmed by loneliness, Olivia tentatively tries to establish a new life, finding much-needed friendship and solace in two Japanese American sisters who are living at a nearby internment camp. When Olivia unwittingly becomes an accomplice to a crime and is faced with betrayal, she finally confronts her own desires. Beautifully written and filled with memorable characters, Creel’s novel is a powerful exploration of the nature of trust and love.
Wilderness Wife – Bradford and Vena Angier
A former city dweller describes her difficult, sometimes dangerous, yet satisfying life with her husband in the British Columbia wilderness
A Place of Interest – Carolyn Van Loh
Seventy-five years after the Ingalls family of Little House on the Prairie fame moved to Walnut Grove, Minnesota, John and Betty Van Loh settled down on a farm near neighboring Westbrook. Like the Ingalls family, the Van Lohs wanted a place to put down roots. Unlike the Ingalls clan, who stayed in the area only a few years, the Van Loh roots began to grow in 1948 and have sunk deeply into the soil of southwestern Minnesota for more than sixty years. This book tells the story of a Minnesota farm family, as recalled through Betty Van Loh’s diaries and her children’s memories. Betty and John set an example of a strong faith and work ethic for their children. The four children learned through experience how to grow crops, drive a tractor, take care of animals, clean the house, cook meals, tend a garden, preserve food for the winter months, and lend a hand to anyone in need. The Golden Rule was not just taught in the Van Loh household; it was lived out every day. Overarching everything John and Betty did was their strong faith in God-a faith that carried them through times both happy and sad.
Pioneer Women: The Lives of the Women on the Frontier – Linda Peavy & Ursula Smith
Pioneer Women provides a rare look at frontier life through the eyes of the pioneer women who settled the American West. Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith vividly describe the hardships such women endured journeying west and making homes and communities on the frontier. Their hopes and fears and, most of all, their courage in the face of adversity are revealed in excerpts from journals, letters, and oral histories. Illustrated with a fascinating collection of seldom-seen photographs, Pioneer Women reveals the faces as well as the voices of women who lived on the frontier.
Across the Plains in 1844 – Catherine Sager
Catherine Sager’s story is among the most gripping firsthand accounts of life in the American west ever written. This enhanced version of her original manuscript adds explanatory notes, photos, maps, drawings, and 3d visualizations. The bonus material adds a layer of context to make Sager’s fascinating account even more vivid.
Hearts West: True Stories of Mail Order Brides – Chris Enss
Complete with actual advertisements from both women seeking husbands and males seeking brides, New York Times bestselling book Hearts West includes twelve stories of courageous mail order brides and their exploits. Some were fortunate enough to marry good men and live happily ever after; still others found themselves in desperate situations that robbed them of their youth and sometimes their lives.
Household Discoveries – Sidney Morse
Household Discoveries is an encyclopedia of practical recipes and processes.
The Brides of Culdee Creek Series – Kathleen Morgan
These classic historical romance novels are getting a new look for the next generation of readers. But the wonderful stories remain the same, as touching and fresh as they were when first published.
Covered Wagon Women – Kenneth L. Holmes
The women who traveled west in covered wagons during the 1840s speak through these letters and diaries. Here are the voices of Tamsen Donner and young Virginia Reed, members of the ill-fated Donner party; Patty Sessions, the Mormon midwife who delivered five babies on the trail between Omaha and Salt Lake City; Rachel Fisher, who buried both her husband and her little girl before reaching Oregon. Still others make themselves heard, starting out from different places and recording details along the way, from the mundane to the soul-shattering and spirit-lifting.
Like the Beatons of this novel, Rose Wilder Lane’s parents homesteaded in Dakota. Lane was a successful novelist and journalist when, in the 1930s, she encouraged and helped her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, to write the Little House on the Prairie books that were later dramatized for television.
A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska – Jane Jacobs
When Hannah Breece came to Alaska in 1904, it was a remote lawless wilderness of prospectors, murderous bootleggers, tribal chiefs, and Russian priests. She spent fourteen years educating Athabascans, Aleuts, Inuits, and Russians with the stubborn generosity of a born teacher and the clarity of an original and independent mind. Jane Jacobs, Hannah’s great-niece, here offers an historical context to Breece’s remarkable eyewitness account, filling in the narrative gaps, but always allowing the original words to ring clearly. It is more than an adventure story: it is a powerful work of women’s history that provides important–and, at times, unsettling–insights into the unexamined assumptions and attitudes that governed white settler’s behavior toward native communities at the turn of the century.
The Red River of the North Series – Lauraine Snelling
The dream of their own farmstead and a good life in America brought Roald and Ingeborg Bjorklund across the Atlantic to pioneer the virgin prairie of Dakota Territory. But Roald’s tragic disappearance in a winter storm had turned Ingeborg’s dreams into a living nightmare. Against nearly impossible circumstances and overwhelming grief, she struggles to keep the farm and her family together. When spring appears, Roald’s distant cousin Haaken arrives to help with the heavy field work, and Ingeborg is able to once again concentrate her efforts on home and children. After the bleak winter, she cannot ignore the joy that Haaken brings to their lives or the attraction she begins to feel toward him. When Roald’s brother from Norway also arrives to help the family, things become very complicated around the simple prairie dwelling…
A Very Small Farm – William Winchester
In the tradition of Thoreau’s Walden, William Paul Winchester offers a chronicle of everyday life on Southwind, his farm of twenty acres. As a subsistence farmer, he builds his own house and barn, puts in a garden and an orchard, acquires a milk cow, and takes up beekeeping. In these pages, we hear his thoughts on such subjects as the weather, seasonal changes, machinery repair, the flora and fauna of the region, and vegetarian cooking. His philosophy, like his lifestyle, is simple, yet profoundly wise.
The Egg and I – Betty MacDonald
When Betty MacDonald married a marine and moved to a small chicken farm on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, she was largely unprepared for the rigors of life in the wild. With no running water, no electricity, a house in need of constant repair, and days that ran from four in the morning to nine at night, the MacDonalds had barely a moment to put their feet up and relax. And then came the children. Yet through every trial and pitfall—through chaos and catastrophe—this indomitable family somehow, mercifully, never lost its sense of humor. A beloved literary treasure for more than half a century, Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I is a heartwarming and uproarious account of adventure and survival on an American frontier.
Sod and Stubble – John Ise
Ushering us through a dynamic period of pioneering history, from the 1870s to the turn of the century, Sod and Stubble abound with the events and issues—fires and droughts, parties and picnics, insect infestations and bumper crops, prosperity and poverty, divisiveness and generosity, births and deaths—that shaped the lives and destinies of Henry and Rosa Ise, their family, and their community.
The account of Kajsa Svensson Runeberg, an emigrant wife who recounts, through her diary, how she and her family built up a farm on the unsettled Kansas prairie. This historical fiction is based on the Swedish woman who homesteaded the author’s childhood home.
Letters From the Dust Bowl – Caroline Henderson
In May 1936 Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace wrote to Caroline Henderson to praise her contributions to American “understanding of some of our farm problems.” His comments reflected the national attention aroused by Henderson’s articles, which had been published in Atlantic Monthly since 1931. Even today, Henderson’s articles are frequently cited for her vivid descriptions of the dust storms that ravaged the Plains.
The Trees, The Fields, The Town – Conrad Richter
The Trees began the story of Worth and Jary, a wild and woods faring family who lived a roaming life, pushing ever westward as the frontier advanced and as new settlements threatened their isolation. How young Sayward and her family, facing the realization that the forests had become fields and settlements, took up the arduous task of tilling the Ohio soil was the story continued in The Fields. But The Town is a much bigger book in every way than its predecessors; it is in fact a major literary event and with them comprises a great American epic.
Newspaper articles written between 1911 and 1925 describe the author’s life in the years following those covered in her series of eight children’s books.
Giants in the Earth – Ole Rolvaag
Giants in the Earth follows a Norwegian pioneer family’s struggles with the land and the elements of the Dakota Territory as they try to make a new life in America. The book is based partly on Rølvaag’s personal experiences as a settler, and on the experiences of his wife’s family who had been immigrant homesteaders. The novel depicts snow storms, locusts, poverty, hunger, loneliness, homesickness, the difficulty of fitting into a new culture, and the estrangement of immigrant children who grow up in a new land.
40 Acres and No Mule – Janice Holt Giles
In the late 1940s, Janice and Henry Giles moved from Louisville, Kentucky, back to the Appalachian hill country where Henry had grown up and where his family had lived since the time of the Revolution. With their savings, the couple bought a ramshackle house and forty acres of land on a ridge top and set out to be farmers like Henry’s forebears. To this personal account of the trials of a city woman trying to learn the ways of the country and of her neighbors, Janice Holt Giles brings the same warmth, humor, and powers of observation that characterize her novels. Enlightening and evocative, personal and universally pertinent, this description of a year of “backaches, fun, low ebbs, and high tides, and above all a year of eminent satisfaction” will be welcomed by Janice Holt Giles’s many readers, old and new.
Of course, there are many more homesteading books out there written through the eyes of a homesteader…share your favorites in the comments section!
Have you read any of these books? What’s your favorite Homesteading Book?
This post on Homesteading Books was originally published on Little House Living in April 2014. It has been updated as of March 2020.