Books About Simpler Times

shelved under Americana


Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression

by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

Eric Mueller from Los Angeles, CA says:

What an incredible snapshot of life on a farm during the Great Depression! This is simple Mildred Kalish's story — the story of growing up on the farm, of running through the fields, of how to skin a rabbit and prepare apple cream pie, and especially of the morals and values of a strong Methodist family. Kalish's memories are striking and her gift for capturing the honest beauty of her childhood is terrific. It's no surprise the New York Times named this one of the five best books of 2007.


Jim the Boy

by Tony Earley

Eric Mueller from Los Angeles, CA says:

This is an interesting little novel. It's the story of a boy, Jim, growing up with his three uncles and mother in a remote part of North Carolina during the Great Depression. It's a simple book: simple words, simple story, simple chapters. And I'll admit that at first, though I was charmed by the fantastic descriptions of day-to-day rural life in the 1930s (I was reminded of Little Heathens), I thought it was too simple. It wasn't until I got a little further along that I realized the book was about much more than a simple portrait of the '30s, it's a whole coming-of-age story that ran much deeper than its simple trappings. So much for my simple analysis! :-)


The Little House Collection Box Set

by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated by Garth Williams

Susan Mulder says:

These books were my childhood — I lived to read and re-read these. I can remember heading to the library on foot hoping they had any, or all, of them on the shelf. I could always find at least one and, partnered with whatever other books caught my eye, I would head home to disappear into them. Should you read them? A resounding yes — better yet, read them with your children!


Run with the Horsemen

by Ferrol Sams

This book, and the second in the trilogy, tell the story of a very, very bright boy growing up on a family farm in rural Georgia during the Great Depression.

While it started a little slow — I recall questioning the book for about 50 pages — it soon picked up and then held my attention straight through for all 1,000+ pages of the trilogy. As an added bonus, it's not only one of my favorite books of all time, it's also one of the funniest books I've ever read.


The Circus in Winter

by Cathy Day

Eric Mueller from Los Angeles, CA says:

This is a lovely collection of essays about a down-and-out circus, set in the late 1800s/early 1900s (and in one essay, advancing all the way to the current day). The stories include different characters who weave their way in and out of each stories; while each essay stands alone, you can see how they all tie together to paint an interesting, spanning picture of the circus, its people and surroundings. The author evokes a melancholy, almost wistful tone that made me savor each of the brief chapters.

This book also appears on Great Books About Magicians or Circuses