Back to the Land: Tales of Rural Life

Books for those who want to live off the land, for those who've always lived in the country or the woods, for those who just want to read about someone else doing it! This list includes novels as well as memoirs and other non-fiction titles.

Find these titles at your local library or through ABEbooks, AddALL, and other used and out-of-print book dealers.

Compiled in November and December 2001 with help from members of the FICTION-L and MELIBS discussion lists; thanks to everyone for their suggestions and comments! Updated as relevant books surface.


Rural Fiction

Nicholson Baker

A Box of Matches (2003): Likely set in Maine (author lives in South Berwick). Thinly veiled non-fiction. During one January in rural New England, the 44-year old narrator Emmett rises early, lights a fire, and writes what comes to mind, generally about the minutiae of life. When he finishes the box of matches, the book is done. Meditative.

Gladys Hasty Carroll

As the Earth Turns (1933/1961/1995): Portrayal of Southern Maine rural life in the 1920s.

Mavis Cheek

Mrs. Fytton's Country Life (2001) Angela Fytton's move to the country is actually part of her plan to sabotage her husband's second marriage and win him back. Wry, outrageous, literately told.

William M. Clark

Tales of Cedar River (1960) and More Tales of Cedar River (1961): Fictional works in which Maine events are chronicled with great wit and affection.

Elizabeth Coatsworth

Rachel Cusk

The Country Life (1997): Stella, in Sussex as an au pair to a difficult son in an eccentric family, seems to have no aptitude for country life.

Meghan Daum

The Quality of Life Report (2003): Burned-out urbanite Lucinda Trout leaves Manhattan for Prairie City, an old farmhouse and 'simplicity.' Humourous.

Margaret Flint

The Old Ashburn Place (1936): Novel of bucolic Maine life. Also other novels of hers.

Stella Gibbons

Cold Comfort Farm (1932): Comic novel, a successful parody of regional and rural fiction. When Flora Poste visits her relatives in Sussex, she encounters a collection of rustic eccentrics enmeshed in a web of violent emotions, despair, and scheming.

Sarah Orne Jewett

Barbara Kingsolver

The Prodigal Summer (2000): Features three intertwined stories of a zoologist living an isolated life in the woods, a young widow trying to keep a farm going, and an elderly farm woman defending her organic orchard from a crotchety neighbor. Set in southern Appalachia.

Karen Kringle

Vital Ties (1992): In her rural Wisconsin community in the 1950s, 20-year-old Clare Lewis's determination to own her own farm is ridiculed as beyond a woman's abilities. Lesbian coming-of-age novel.

Elizabeth Jordan Moore

Cold Times (1992): Fiction. Follows the fates of two poor rural Maine families whose lives are intertwined, from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Laurie Bogart Morrow

The Hardscrabble Chronicles (2002): The foundation for this pseudobiographical fiction is a monthly Field & Stream column Corey Ford wrote in the 1950s and '60s about life in the pseudonymous town of Hardscrabble (somewhere in New England). Morrow, a resident of the same town, picks up Ford's idea where he left off. The result is a warm, sentimental portrait of a pastoral New England village and its eccentric citizens. Founded in 1630, the hamlet of Hardscrabble is home to 623 law-abiding, church-going folk. Morrow recounts her and husband Kip's move from Long Island to Hardscrabble after Kip inherits a centuries-old house complete with drafty windows, a leaky ceiling and nosy (but helpful) neighbors. Readers looking for an exhilarating plot should look elsewhere.

Virginia Chase Perkins

Jane Smiley

A Thousand Acres (1991): When the aging patriarch of a rich, thriving farm in Iowa decides to retire, he offers his land to his 3 daughters.

Elizabeth George Speare

Sign of the Beaver (1983): Children's book. Story of a boy who is rescued by an Indian Chief and his grandson in the 1700s.

Wallace Stegner

Remembering Laughter (1937/1996): Novella that relates how the loneliness and beauty of a remote Iowa farm affect a young woman who has come to live with her older married sister. She becomes attracted to her sister's husband, who drinks too much, but treats her very kindly, and the story grows out of these circumstances.

C.A. Stephens

Jesse Stuart

Save Every Lamb: Rich and Memorable Tales of a Lifetime with the Animals of the Hills and Farms of Kentucky (1964): A wonderful set of stories about animals; great taste of rural Kentucky life. And others by this author (many for children).

Gladys Taber

Stillmeadow Seasons (1950) and others in the Stillmeadow series of novels: The author muses on that she experiences her Stillmeadow Farm in Connecticut, both in her 1690 pre-Revolutionary house and on the forty acres: The delight in everyday tasks; the companionship with dogs and cats; the pleasure of nature; the appreciation of books and music; the friendship of people. Her writing is serene, reflective.

Robert Traver (aka John Donaldson Voelker)

Danny and the Boys; Being Some Legends of Hungry Hollow (1951): The main activities of Danny and his cronies center on fishing and hunting, tale spinning, and moonshining on Michigan's Upper Peninsula during the Depression; the author has caught the genuine flavor of a backwoods life.

Mildred Walker

Fireweed (1934): Portrays the coming of age of a young woman in a small lumbering town in the woods of northern Michigan.


Rural Non-Fiction

Faith Addis

Year of the Cornflake (1999): Brian and Faith Addis finance their move from London to the farmlands of Devon by taking in children for 'unescorted holidays' during summer and winter and spring school breaks, at the same time as they renovate the house and add farm animals (pigs, sheep, horses, etc.)

Max Alexander

Man Bites Log: The Unlikely Adventures of a City Guy in the Woods (2004): Fast-track editor Alexander downshifts to the back-road life of a Maine farmer (in a town near Union), though he keeps his journalist's pen busy. Originally published as a series of essays in the Portland Phoenix alternative weekly newspaper.

William Alexander

The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost his Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden (2006): Problems ensue when Bill Alexander, his wife, and kids buy a place in the Hudson Valley of New York and grow a large vegetable garden and a small orchard. The sources of these problems, humourously told, include landscaping contractors, herds of deer, a groundhog, beetles, worms, maggots, and grubs.

Richard T. Antony

Gerald Averill

Ridge-Runner: The Story of a Maine Woodsman (1948): Account of Averill who spent his life in the backwoods of Maine. Working in lumber camps and later as a game warden, author has written wonderful account of the woods, lakes, streams, wildlife of Maine, filled with Maine vernacular.

Lawrence and Marion Averill

Pie for Breakfast (1953): About a couple who retire to their ancestral home in Maine.

Margaret Anne Barnes

A Buzzard Is My Best Friend (1981): A hilariously funny recounting of a city-gentlewoman's family's attempt to 'live the simple life' by managing a 112-acre Virginia farm. Or as one reviewer put it, 'This is a marvelous account of how a working farm tried to destroy Margaret Anne Barnes and her nice suburban family.'

Roy Barrette

A Countryman's Journal: Views of Life and Nature from a Maine Coastal Farm (1981): Barrette and his wife moved to their bucolic farm in a small Maine town to rediscover some of the virtues of a more stable, simpler society. Their new world was a world of clamming, jam-making, coon-hunting, well-drilling, cows and sheep with personalities, fierce winter snowstorms, peaceful fields and forests, assorted wild animals, and neighbors who really do care.

Lura Beam

A Maine Hamlet (1957/2000): Describes rural life in the village of Marshfield, near Machias, Maine, at the turn of the century. Memoir of old time Maine.

Henry Beston

Northern Farm: A Chronicle of Maine (1948): About life at Chimney Farm, near Damariscotta Pond.

Anthony Betts

Green Wood and Chloroform: How A Young English Doctor Settled in Rural Maine (1998): Humorous reminiscences of rural medicine.

Hal Borland

David Brill

A Separate Place: A Family, a Cabin in the Woods, and a Journey of Love and Spirit (2000): Confronted with a disintegrating marriage and a deep well of unhappiness, Brill decided to make go back to the land, buying some woodland in the Tennessee hills and building a 3-room cabin on the edge of the wild. This book recounts his adventures and occasional misadventures in self-transformation.

Louis Bromfield

Malabar Farm series (1940s): In the spirit of Thoreau, the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist wrote on agriculture and environment from his Ohio farm.

Joyce Butler

Pages from a Journal (1976): Begins with Butler's experiences in rehabilitating an old house in Maine, and continues with her life in a small town with a family, a culture, a garden and all of the things that are looked upon as the American tradition.

A. Carman Clark

From the Orange Mailbox: Notes from A Few Country Acres (1985): Collected essays, covering topics ranging from the history of her 170-year-old farm on Sennebec Pond to the use of narcissus bulbs in ancient Rome to the proper care of an asparagus bed.

Elizabeth Coatsworth

Robert P. Tristram Coffin

David Colfax

Hard Times in Paradise: An American Family's Struggle to Carve Out a Homestead in California's Redwood Mountains (1992): 'When antiwar activism impeded David Colfax's university teaching career in the early 1970s, he, his wife, Micki, and their young sons moved from the midwest to Boonville, Calif., to start a new life. On 47 uncleared acres of a roadless mountaintop, without running water, phone service or electricity, they built a house and learned to live off the land. Their engaging story of modern pioneering is made all the more remarkable by the self-sufficiency and resourcefulness of the children (one raised sheep; another built up a successful dairy goat herd) who were educated at home' (source: Publisher's Weekly)

Crossland, Lloyd, and Gail Parent, Fern Stearns, Joyce Morgan

Once Upon a Farm: Stories about the Farm on Thompson Hill in Mexico, Maine (1993): The Crosslands raised five children on their rocky hillside farm in western Maine. They write about growing up on the farm in the 1930s and 1940s, and about the farm's influence on their adult lives.

Marnie Reed Crowell

Greener Pastures: Life in the North Country (1973): Farm life in upstate, northern New York.

Laura Shaine Cunningham

A Place in the Country (2000): An urban childhood was the germ of the author's dream of having a country home. She acquires one after a ten year search, and begins life there a rural innocent.

Grace Butterfield Dow

Grace Butterfield Dow's Diary of a Week at the Lake (2001): A small treasure about a Depression-era adventure at Wytopitlock Lake in the wilds of northern Maine. Charming engravings by Siri Beckman.

Barbara Drake

Peace at Heart: An Oregon Country Life (1998): In 1987, Barbara Drake and her husband sold their home in Portland, Oregon, and moved to a farm in western Oregon's Yamhill Valley. Here she reflects on 10 years of country living.

Fanny Pearson Eckstorm

Tales of the Maine Woods: Two Forest and Stream Essays (1891) (published in 1999)

Catherine Friend

Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn (2006): Two Minneapolis women, Catherine Friend, a children's book author, and her partner, Melissa, set out to fulfill Melissa's dream of operating a small farm -- 53 barren acres with a scraggly creek in southeastern Minnesota. A truthful, funny, and heartfelt story of a couple learning how to farm.

Edmund Fuller

Successful Calamity: A Writer's Follies on a Vermont Farm (1966): In 1948 Edmund Fuller bought himself a farm on Lake Champlain, pretty much sight unseen, in mid-January, when all 264 acres were buried under four feet of snow. He lasted four years, and this is the story of it.

Lewis Gannett

Cream Hill: Discoveries of a Weekend Countryman (1949): The author's tales of life on the weekend farm in Connecticut.

Catherine Goldhammer

Still Life with Chickens: Starting Over in a House by the Sea (2006): Goldhammer -- middle-aged, newly separated, with downsized finances -- is forced to make some extreme changes, including moving herself and her 12-year-old daughter from an affluent suburb to a seaside house in a more rustic New England setting, where she purchases six baby chickens. A memoir about starting over.

Franklin F. Gould

A Maine Man in the Making (1950): The story of growing up in Maine with a father who was a farmer and a Civil War veteran.

John Gould

R.E. Gould

Elinor Graham

Our Way Down East (1943): Two young city people come to Maine determined to make a good home at Flying Point on Casco Bay of the Freeport area. Historical facts and incidents.

John Graves

Helen Hamlin

Nine Mile Bridge (1945): Story of a young woman schoolteacher in the remote wilderness of Maine.

Curtis Harnack

We Have All Gone Away (1973): An affectionate look at life on an Iowa farm in the 1930s and 1940s.

Nathaniel J. Hasenfus

We Summer in Maine (1946): From southern Kittery to Eastport, explores local legends and characters from early Colonial Maine through author's vivid recollections and maturity. Wonderful and nostalgic look at Maine. Black-and-white photos.

Bernd Heinrich

A Year in the Maine Woods (1996): Naturalist Bernd Heinrich sets out for a year in the wilds of Maine accompanied only by his pet raven, Jack.

Nicole Helget

The Summer of Ordinary Ways (2005): Memoir of growing up on a Minnesota dairy farm.

Lewis Hill

Fetched-Up Yankee: A New England Boyhood Remembered (2001): A boy's adventures growing up in the 1930s in Northern New England [Vermont]. By focusing on his neighbors, his family, and the small details of everyday life, Hill shows how the twentieth century came thirty years late to the backwoods of his boyhood. This was a simpler time of square dances and school pageants, when women spent much of their free time listening in on the new-fangled party lines and men drove their first cars as if they were horses, stopping often to let them rest.

G.W. Hinckley

Letters from Applehurst (1923): An editor leaves his office to come to a little farm he calls Applehurst, first to build up his nervous system, and second to do his bit toward preventing a food shortage later in the year.

John S. Hooper

Hooper's Pasture from Maine to Vermont (1982): Glimpse of small-town life in Maine and Vermont. Pleasures and excitement of rural life. Trolley cars, New England boiled dinners, old-fashioned remedies, etc.

Helen and Adrian Hoover

Lois Phillips Hudson

The Bones of Plenty (1962): A vivid and absorbing novel of a proud, independent North Dakota wheat-farming family and their struggles against the relentless depression years

Graham R. Irwin and Ken Ashton

A Farm of Our Own: A Spiritual Journey Running a Smallholding (1998): An honest and intimate account of the attempts of a city-boy and his partner at running a small farm as a hobby. As its subtitle suggests, it also describes some of the lessons learned during that ten-year once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is a journey that takes the author through some of the most harrowing experiences of his life -- such as when his pet house cow is diagnosed as having mad cow disease; some of the most amusing -- like the antics of a sex-mad drake and ram; some of the most frustrating -- such as having to burn two acres of soggy grass that should have been hay; and some of the most satisfying and rewarding. In its own way, the book aims to build bridges and promote understanding between city dwellers and country folk. North Bedfordshire, England.

John Jackson

A Bucket of Nuts and a Herring Net (1979): The author's account of his family's move from London to Kent, and how they coped with country and farm life.

Sylvia Jorrin

Sylvia's Farm: The Journal of an Improbable Shepherd (2004): When Sylvia Jorrin first moved to the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, in upstate New York, 'she had no intention of becoming a farmer. Raised to fear animals of all shapes and sizes, she only wanted to create a life for herself and her friends and family in her 25-room shingle-style house. After a neighboring dairy farmer suggested they use her 85-acres of hay fields and woodland to start a farm together, she contacted the South Central New York Resource and Development Center, and they applied for and received a grant of nine free sheep. They soon bought ten more. Then her partner quit....' (from book description).

Stanley Joseph and Lynn Karlin

Maine Farm: A Year of Country Life (1991): The authors record the rhythms of their work and days on their mid-coast saltwater farm (part of the Nearings' parcel), along the way providing advice and instruction on dozens of traditional country arts and crafts. With photos.

Jon Katz

Dorothy Boone Kidney

Wilderness Journey: Life, Living, Contentment in the Allagash Woods of Maine (1980): From her 24 years of living the good life in the wilderness, Kidney spins yards of adventure about rescues on windswept lakes and lost campers, and tales of people and animals that have visited her wilderness cabin.

Josh Kilmer-Purcell

The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir (2010). Memoir. A gay Manhattan couple buys an old mansion in upstate New York and starts to experiment with a life as gentleman farmers by raising goats and making artisan cheese.

Kristin Kimball

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love (2010): When journalist Kimball falls in love with the man she's gone to interview -- 'a determined Pennsylvania farmer who runs a community farm supplying subscribers with beef, chicken, pork, vegetables, and grains -- they soon launch a dream farm in the Adirondacks. She proves an eager, but inept, partner who must quickly shed her urban inhibitions and learn to slop pigs and slaughter chickens' (summary from Booklist).

Robert Kimber

Upcountry: Reflections from a Rural Life (1991/2005): Farming and nature in Maine.

Barbara Kingsolver

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007): Author Barbara Kingsolver, and her husband and daughters, move to a family farm in Virginia to homestead, determined to become locavores. They grow their own food, raise chickens, make cheese at home, and generally eat whatever is in season and little else. Also discussed are problems with veganism, switching from vegetarianism to eating meat, the evils of industrial agriculture, etc.

Michael Korda

Country Matters: The Pleasures and Tribulations of Moving from a Big City to an Old Country Farmhouse (2002): Michael Korda, editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster and bestselling author, and his wife Margaret decided to buy a 200-year-old farmhouse -- with 2 barns, 20 acres, an assortment of farming implements, and a caretaker named Harold Roe -- in Pleasant Valley, two hours north of New York City. Buying pigs is what finally bonded the Kordas with the people in their working community.

Natalie Kusz

Road Song: A Memoir (1991): In 1969, when she was six years old, Natalie Kusz, with her parents and three siblings, left Los Angeles and headed north to Alaska on a classic quest for freedom, a house on the land, and a more wholesome way of living.

Anne LaBastille

Woodswoman (1991): After her divorce and her triumphs trying to make it on her own, LaBastille moves from a condo to a plot of land in the Adirondacks, where she designs, builds, and maintains a log cabin by herself. This is the story of her life in the Adirondack mountains. Followed by Woodswoman II: Beyond Black Bear Lake and Woodswoman III: Book Three of the Woodswoman's Adventures.

Jeanne Marie Laskas

Fifty Acres and a Poodle: A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm (2000): Jeanne Marie Laskas is 37, with a house, garden, dog, cat, flourishing writing career -- all of the perfect ingredients, in fact, of a happy city-person's life -- when a childhood dream resurfaces. It is a farm dream. One summer afternoon, the perfect place appears, and it's very real: fifty acres, a pond, an Amish barn, and a magnificent view out over the rolling hills of Pennsylvania's Washington County. She and her boyfriend buy it and the misadventures begin as they try to adapt to farm living and the rural western Pennsylvania lifestyle.

David Loxterkamp, M.D.

A Measure of My Days (1997): From a year's journal kept by Dr. Loxterkamp in Belfast, Maine. He tells of his work, the people and his perspective on life through it all.

Dudley Cammett Lunt

Betty MacDonald

Mary MacNeill

The Widow Down by the Brook: A Memoir of a Time Gone By (1999): In the early 1950s, MacNeill and her husband, Wilmot, moved to rural Connecticut. After developing cancer, he spent his waning time and strength on remodeling a barn for them to live in. Widowed at age 44, MacNeill learns to live independently.

Jim May

Farm on Nippersink Creek: A Midwestern Boyhood (1995): Midwest storyteller Jim May has collected some of his best stories of his growing up on a farm, in a devoutly Catholic family, in rural Spring Grove, IL.

Brenda Weisberg Meckler

Papa was a Farmer (1988): Jewish immigrants from Russia settled on a 60-acre farm in southern Ohio in 1904. A bucolic childhood is recalled: one-room schoolhouse, chores, annual fish fry, Sunday school picnics church box suppers, the selling of butter and eggs in the city, etc.

Elliott Merrick

Green Mountain Farm (1948/1978): During the depths of the Great Depression, a city family buys an old, ramshackled farm in Vermont and the fun begins. The people, his neighbors, his family, the snows and mud of Vermont winters and springs, sailing Lake Champlain in summer, skiing in moonlight -- the author beautifully captures the essence of Vermont and how to live and what to live for.

Edwin D. Merry (1904 - )

Neighborly Relations: And Other Stories of Bygone Times on a Saltwater Farm (1980): Chapter titles are Bicycles for the boys, Crane chowder and the fixin's, The fox and the pup, Head Hochum, Soft tires on country roads, Neighborly relations, The way we beat the Yap, Extra help for haying, A date with Emily, Fishing, shacked-up and otherwise, Scowing on the sheepscot, The race Dodge place.

Judith Moffett

Homestead Year (1995): Documenting a year of dedication to a one-acre plot of land, a writer tells the story of homesteading in the Philadelphia suburbs, maintaining and learning from a bee hive, a full-scale vegetable garden, a fish pond, and ducklings.

Ralph Moody

Fields of Home (1953): Part of a series of memoirs. This volume covers the period during which 14-year-old Ralph Moody joined his maternal grandfather on his farm in Maine, near the start of the 20th century. Others in series are Little Britches, Man in the Family, and Mary Emma & Company.

William S. Morse

A Country Life (1995): Ninety-year-old author reminisces about country life on a North Country farm in the early years of the 20th century. As a boy he was responsible keeping the woodbox stocked, feeding the livestock, milking cows, etc.

Jim Mullen

It Takes A Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life (2001): An urban humor columnist and his wife buy an upstate New York getaway (in the Catskills), which leads to their reluctant transformation from city slickers to country bumpkins, and their eventual permanent move to the country. Chronicled with stinging wit, hilarious anecdotes, and an amusing fondness for their farming neighbours.

Sallyann Murphey

Bean Blossom Dreams: A City Family's Search for a Simple Country Life (1994): Details the accomplishments and day-to-day life of a family that decided to chuck the city life for the simpler, slower pace of the country. Former BBC producer Murphey, her photographer husband, and their small daughter moved to a tumbledown 42-acre farm in Brown County, Ind., in 1990. Also includes a lengthy set of appendices at the back of the book with recipes, garden tips, etc.

Helen Nearing

Loving and Leaving the Good Life (1992): Memoir of Scott and Helen Nearing's life together. In 1932 they decided it would be better to be poor in the country than in the city and moved from New York City to Vermont, where they established their first homestead and wrote LIVING THE GOOD LIFE. They moved to Maine in 1953, where they continued their writing and their hard physical work as homesteaders.

Dan Needles

Letters from Wingfield Farm (1990): Walt Wingfield, chairman of the board of a Toronto brokerage house, yearned for a simpler life. So he bought a hundred-acre farm in southern Ontario. Like Thoreau, he would be a gentleman farmer, rich in barnyard philosophy. He would use only horse-drawn equipment so he could listen to the music of the land. But did Thoreau have to contend with a dour, sour, grouchy farmer next door, whose constant advice was to bulldoze the place? Or a stuttering auctioneer? Or ...

Mary Rose O'Reilley

The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd (2000): A Minnesota college English professor, now Quaker but raised Roman Catholic and wanting to ground her spirituality in reality and deliberate living, seeks out a sheep barn and learns to tend sheep. She also spends time studying Mahayana Buddhism at Plum Village, the Buddhist monastery in France founded by Thich N'hat Hanh.

E.W. Paisley

Sanctuary: A Finding of Life (1940): A woman's notes on removing herself from civilization as most knew it, and taking refuge in very rural Maine.

Alice Beal Parsons

Robert Newton Peck

A Day No Pigs Would Die (1972/1994): Young adult book set on the farm of a Vermont Shaker family in the 1920s. True story of Peck's adolescence.

Will and Minnie Penney

Eighty-Eight Years on a Maine Farm (1973): Recollections and activities of the Penney farm in Belgrade, Maine, and the changes over the last 150 years.

S.J. Perelman

Acres and Pains, a Guide to Country Loafing (1947/1999): Details the adventures of a New Yorker who suddenly finds himself the owner of a farm in Bucks County, PA.

Noel Perrin

First Person Rural, Essays of a Sometime Farmer (1978): The first of Perrin's four books on country living, each containing essays concerning Vermont country life and ranging from the intensely practical to the mildly literary. Also: Second Person Rural, More Essays of a Sometime Farmer (1980), Third Person Rural, Further Essays of a Sometime Farmer (1983), and Last Person Rural (1992).

Michael Perry

Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg aka Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting (2009): Perry's memoir of life (with his wife and daughters) in a ramshackle Wisconsin farmhouse on 37 acres of overgrown fields, with reflections on his unorthodox childhood (his city-bred fundamentalist Christian parents took in sixty or so foster children while running a sheep and dairy farm) and on life with the animals (chickens, pigs) on his farm.

Sanford Phippen

Cheap Gossip (The Letters from Liverpool) (1989): Series of essays on growing up in Hancock, Maine, in the post-war years.

Lucy Pinney

A Country Wife Farms Families and Other Foolhardy Adventures: Memoir. Pig keeping, cake baking and lamb rearing in the lush Dorset countryside, where Lucy settled as a newlywed 30 years ago.

Trudy Chambers Price

The Cows are Out! Two Decades on a Maine Dairy Farm (2004): Price writes about her twenty-three years at Craneland Farm in Knox, Maine and wonderfully captures the simple pleasures, the never-ending work and the financial uncertainty that go hand-in-hand with the life of a dairy farmer.

Janisse Ray

Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home (2003): When she was 35, Janisse Ray left Montana, heading toward her grandmother's house in the small Georgia town where she was born. Rediscovering the nearly lost pleasures of country life, she wonders if real connections can be built between herself and her neighbors, whether she can build a sustainable life for herself and her son.

Louise Dickinson Rich

Bernice Richmond

Right as Rain (1946): Reminisciences about a grandmother in Maine at the turn of the 20th century; sensitive portrayal of small town life.

Margaret Roach

And I Shall Have Some Peace There (2011): Roach left her job as Editorial Director of Martha Stewart at the end of 2007 to move to a very small rural town in NY, seeking "solitude, a return to the personal creativity of writing, and a closer connection to nature and my first passion, the garden."

Mrs. H.G. Rowe

Re-Told Tales of the Hills and Shores of Maine (1892): Articles on Thanksgiving dinner, sugaring off, other domestic observations. Scarce.

John J. Rowlands

Cache Lake Country (1959/1999): Over half a century ago, John Rowlands set out by canoe into the wilds of Maine to survey land for a timber company. After paddling alone for several days he came upon the lake of his boyhood dreams. He never left. He named the place Cache Lake because there was stored the best that the north had to offer: timber for a cabin; fish, game and berries to live on; and the peace and contentment he felt he could not live without. This book exemplifies the American notion that what is most worth finding lies far from the tracks of civilization, and that what is most worth doing demands resourcefulness and wit. The author explains how to make moccasins, barrel stoves, lean-to-shelters, outdoor bake ovens, sailing canoes, and other useful gadgets. 280 pp.

Kathy Scott

Moose in the Water, Bamboo on the Bench: A Journal and a Journey (2001): Journal of a year living at the edge of the North Maine Woods, integrating nature and the change of the seasons with the handcrafting of a bamboo fly rod.

Brenda Shaw

The Dark Well: Coming of Age on a Maine Farm (1997): Lively account of growing up on an isolated Maine farm during the Great Depression, in which Shaw uses her memoir to uncover the mysteries of her origins. Also provides verbal pictures of horse-haying, hand-milking, and joys and sorrows of the transition from a simpler way of life. Highly literate, humorous.

Wayne Short

The Cheechakoes: The True Story of the Remarkable Adventures of an American Family Who Moved to Alaska and Lived Like Pioneers (1964): The author, born in the Arizona desert, was moved with the rest of the family to Alaska by his father who was, like his family before him, looking for the last frontier. They were all cheechakoes -- Indian for greenhorns -- but the challenge of the wilderness only served to make their life more exciting, especially for young boys.

Terry Silber

A Small Farm in Maine: How One Couple Built a Self-Sustaining Life in the Country (1988): Describes how one couple managed to accomplish making a living off the land.

Robert Smith

My Life in the North Woods (1986): Wonderful non-fiction short stories of the author's life, mostly in the early part of the century in the woods of Maine.

Keith Stewart

It's a Long Road to a Tomato: Tales of an Organic Farmer Who Quit the Big City for the (Not-So) Simple Life (2006): 'Already in his early forties and not entirely content with his lot, Keith Stewart traded life in New York's corporate grind for an upstate farm. Starting as a one-man operation, short on experience and with modest expectations, Stewart soon found that the agrarian life, despite its numerous challenges, suited him well.' The book is comprised of 'interlocking, complementary essays, addressing his mid-life development as a farmer; some of the nuts and bolts and how-tos of organic vegetable growing and selling in an urban market; humorous and philosophical stories about domestic and wild farm animals; and insights into the political, social, and environmental issues surrounding agriculture today and why they matter to all of us' (from publisher's book description).

Bob Tarte

Enslaved by Ducks: How One Man Went from Head of the Household to Bottom of the Pecking Order (2003): 'Tarte, a city boy at heart, chronicles how his blissful, animal-free life took an unexpectedly raucous turn when his nature-loving wife decided to share their spacious, early 20th-century Michigan farmhouse with a menagerie of furry and feathery friends: a malicious bunny with an appetite for live wires, a homicidal turkey, a horny ring-necked dove, a trash-talking African grey parrot, and more than a dozen other quirky creatures' (from Entertainment Weekly).

Linda Tatelbaum

Carrying Water as a Way of Life: A Homesteader's History (1997): Describes author's two decades of experience as a homesteader in rural Maine

Alice Taylor

To School Through the Fields (1992): Charming memoir of a childhood in rural Ireland, detailing the delights of growing up on a farm in a large family. going to school and the strand, haying, dealing with animals, and coping with the death of her brother.

Helen V. Taylor

A Time to Recall: The Delights of a Maine Childhood (1963): Book of childhood memories, of summers on her grandfather's farm in Waterboro Center in York County, Maine.

Sherry Thomas

We Didn't Have Much, But We Sure Had Plenty: Rural Women in Their Own Words (1981): The strong voices of rural women from a variety of perspectives speak about their lives.

Henry David Thoreau

The Maine Woods (1864/1992)

Nan Turner Waldron

North Woods Walkabout (1998): Loving memoir of one woman's quest for quiet insights from many seasons spent in the woods and bogs of northern Maine.

Logan Ward

See You in a Hundred Years: Four Seasons in Forgotten America (2007): Manhattan freelance writer Ward and his wife 'faced a steep learning curve when they abandoned harried, technology-driven lives for a year not just in the country but in the country as it was a century ago. Their mantra was, If it didn't exist in 1900, we will do without, and they did: no electricity, no telephone, no computer. This breezy account of their stubbornly quixotic odyssey begins in June 2000, with Logan exhausted pumping water from a well, ineptly milking cantankerous goats and confronting his fear of a 2,000-pound Percheron' (from Publishers Weekly review). Set in Shenandoah County, Virginia.

W. D. Wetherell

North of Now: A Celebration of Country and the Soon to Be Gone (1998): Author has lived for many years in mountainous western New Hampshire, in Thoreauvian simplicity, with wood stove and manual typewriter, without television or computer. The book is a collection of little essays on simple things and on low-maintenance pleasures.

E.B. White

One Man's Meat (1982): Essays and observations on daily life at White's Maine saltwater farm.

Dorothy Clarke Wilson

The Big-Little World of Doc Pritham (1971): Biography of a country doctor, still active at 92 (in 1971), who would go anywhere at any time to be of service in a frontier town in Maine.

William Paul Winchester

A Very Small Farm (1995): 'After graduating from college with a botany degree, Winchester wondered what to do for a living. So he bought 20 acres of land in Oklahoma, built himself a house and barn, started a garden, and acquired a few animals. This memoir of his past 13 years as a homesteader focuses on the various activities that occupy his days' (source: Library Journal)