Appalachian Nature Fiction

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#Springathon involves nature writing. Nature fiction is not always as easy to find as nonfiction titles though. Here is a short list of some of the “nature novels” I’ve enjoyed. While the story itself is not necessarily about nature, the writing is vivid in bringing the nature surrounding people and events to life.


Map of Appalachia. Click for map credit.

The Books


Although a middle grades book, I highly recommend this story for the nature story within it–that of the herbs and medicinal plants the family collects and sells. Where the Lillies Bloom by Vera and Bill Cleaver.


This novel brings to life the migration of the monarch butterflies. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.


Marshes and wetlands can be beautiful. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.


While this book focuses on the family of a coal miner, the surrounding nature is an integral part of the story. This is “the” classic of Appalachian literature. River of Earth: A Novel by James Still.  


The Awakening Land trilogy covers the settling of Southeastern Ohio and include magnificent descriptions of the area. It is very good read as well. The Trees, The Forrest, and The Town all by Conrad Richter.


Like River of Earth, this book is not “about” nature, but due to work and way of life of the characters. a great deal of nature is included. Like Where the Lillies Bloom there is a good deal of discussion of medicinal plants, too. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and The Book Woman’s Daughter both by Kim Michelle Richardson.


I wanted to include the Mitford book that introduces Lace Harper, for she earned money selling the most valuable plants growing in the area. Sadly, I couldn’t recall which book it was and, surprisingly, the internet to not give me that information. So, I’m linking to the first book in the huge, but wonderful, series. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon.

Are you aware of other novels set in Appalachia with great nature writing in them? Leave me a comment or a link to your own post.

6 thoughts on “Appalachian Nature Fiction

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  1. Have you read any of Sharyn McCrumb’s series of mysteries set in Appalachia? They’re not specifically about nature, but she describes the mountain landscapes beautifully and weaves a lot of culture and folklore into the plots.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How about Jo Jo Moyes The Giver of Stars which is also about the horseback librarians like the Book woman titles and also captures much of the magnificent environment.


  3. I loved Where the Crawdads Sing and the description of nature especially, as you mentioned, the marshes and wetlands. So atmospheric!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great recs. I love Kingsolver and enjoyed the Crawdads, and thank you for the reminder of the lovely Mitford books – I found the second or third here and managed to collect and read the set – one I need to re-read!


    1. Not sure why, but wordpress is putting some quotes in an “unread” column now so I’ve been missing many! Mitford is so good–I love the Cookbook too. The vanilla muffins were an unexpected HUGE hit with my family years ago.


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