Kristen Carrico
May 23, 2019

Top Ten Idaho Books


12 min read


Fact: people love Idaho. For outsiders, the state holds a certain mystery and awe that spans far beyond potatoes. Idaho’s rugged and wild terrain attracts adventurers and wanderers from around the country.

Insiders love Idaho even more. Spend time in any Idaho town and you’ll see Idaho shaped stickers proudly displayed in car windows and Idaho shaped signs adorning the walls of homes and businesses. Much to the chagrin of locals, Idaho cities keep popping up on “Best places to move” lists. Most Idahoans would prefer to keep the state a secret to the rest of the world.

Whether you’re a resident, a visitor, or an admirer from afar, the truth remains that Idaho is amazing. There is endless country to explore–Idaho boasts 107,651 miles of river and The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is the largest US wilderness outside of Alaska with 2.3 million acres of back country. The state is also chalked full of insanely talented people and decades of fascinating history.

Hidden Shelf’s newest book, Wildflower Girl by Dana Stewart Quinney (set to release on 6/4/19), holds deep Idaho roots. Dana grew up in Ketchum, Idaho amidst the inception of the famous Sun Valley resort. Although Ernest Hemmingway frequently tipped his hat to her on the streets and her father was a fishing and hunting guide for celebrities, Dana’s passion was the outdoors. She was enchanted by Idaho’s wilderness. Her book is comprised of stories that beautifully depict the role of “the wilds” in her life. Dana went on to hold a distinguished career in field biology.

Here is the Hidden Shelf round up of top ten books about Idaho (Idaho authors, Idaho History, Exploring Idaho):

Idaho Authors:

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Idaho Author, biologist)

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. In late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

  1. Educated by Tara Westover (Idaho Author)

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

  1. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (Idaho Author)

Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho, where they are bound together by more than love. With her husband’s memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade’s first wife, Jenny, and to their daughters. In a story written in exquisite prose and told from multiple perspectives—including Ann, Wade, and Jenny, now in prison—we gradually learn of the mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny’s lives, of the love and compassion that brought Ann and Wade together, and of the memories that reverberate through the lives of every character in Idaho.

Idaho History:

  1. Ernest Hemingway & Gary Cooper in Idaho: An Enduring Friendship by Larry E. Morris

In the autumn of 1940, two icons of American culture met in Sun Valley, Idaho–writer Ernest Hemingway and actor Gary Cooper. Although “Hem” was known as brash, larger-than-life and hard-drinking and “Coop” as courteous, non-confrontational and taciturn, the two became good friends. And though they would see each other over the years in Hollywood, Cuba, New York and Paris, it was to Idaho they always returned. Here they hunted together, waded through marshes and hiked sagebrush-covered hills, sometimes talking and sometimes not but continually forging a close comradeship. That bond sustained them through the highs and lows of stardom, through personal trials and triumphs and from their first conversation to their deaths seven weeks apart in 1961. Author Larry Morris celebrates the story of that unforgettable friendship.

  1. Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus

How did Idaho get this way? There’s no one reason, and historical trends have swept across Idaho like everywhere else, but the details easily might have been different. This book is about 100 people who, for better or worse, made Idaho much of what it is today. In Idaho 100, Martin Peterson and Randy Stapilus, who between them have been studying Idaho history for close to a century, unearth the sometimes famous, sometimes infamous and often obscure people who most transformed Idaho, in ways large and small, to create what many people now take for granted.

Exploring Idaho:

  1. Backpacking Idaho: From Alpine Peaks to Desert Canyons

A virtually undiscovered backpacking paradise, Idaho has numerous wilderness areas of mind-boggling size. Backpackers can find complete solitude, wildlife, and some of North America’s most outstanding scenery. Idaho’s mountains also boast great weather — fewer thunderstorms than the central Rockies, less rain than Oregon and Washington, and cooler summer temperatures than California.Backpacking Idaho takes you to what author Doug Lorain calls a “Shangri-la” for backpackers. In the craggy Selkirk Mountains you’ll find lush forests, small cirque lakes, and jagged granite peaks. Watch for ospreys, river otters, and belted kingfishers in the swift Selway River. Explore hundreds of miles of trails in the gently rolling forested hills in north-central Idaho, or head to Hell’s Canyon, the deepest gorge in North America, where you’ll find both alpine tundra and cactus-studded desert.

  1. Complete Guide to Idaho Hot Springs by Doug Roloff

Hot springs in Idaho. 324 pages. Over 120 hot springs identified in 13 Idaho regions, GPS coordinates for each and every hot springs listed including some “hidden tracks” springs, comprehensive directions, and descriptions. Fun facts about geology, geography, and history for each region. Great guide for planning family outings.

  1. Backcountry Roads Idaho by Leland Howard & Lynna Howard

Idaho’s backcountry wilderness is renowned for its stark beauty. Remarkably, some of the state’s most beautiful sites are easily accessible for the road traveler who is willing to drive the backcountry logging and forest service roads that few have cataloged. Brother and sister team Lynna and Leland Howard have spent years doing just that. With more than 114 photographs, 33 color maps, 31 detailed expeditions complete with GPS coordinates, Backcountry Roads—Idaho is an indispensable companion for the road explorer.

  1. Idaho Road & Recreation Atlas

All New Landscape MapsTM National Forest land ownership (private in-holdings) are shown in addition to forest boundaries Updated road conditions compiled from annual Motor-Vehicle Use (MVU) data by US Forest Service BLM/State land ownership Page to page map overlap, clear legibility Recreation Guide Public Lands maps are completely updated with recreation access and point-to-point mileages Recreation listings are current and fact-checked Categorized listings include: Parks, Monuments, Natural Wonders Campgrounds & RV Parks Boating & Fishing Access Forest & Wildlife Areas Hunting Unit Map with Info Resources Idaho s boundless recreational opportunities and beautifully varied scenery comes into precise focus on every page of the Idaho Road & Recreation Atlas.

  1. Fly Fishing Idaho’s Secret Water by Chris Hunt

Idaho’s clear flowing rivers are world famous for fly fishing, but finding that elusive perfect spot to land a trophy in the vast wilderness requires a lot of time and knowledge. Fortunately, writer, angler and conservationist Chris Hunt has traveled to some of the state’s most idyllic areas to find the best fishing the Gem State has to offer. Adventurous anglers can follow his directions off the beaten path to enjoy excellent scenery and even better fishing. Brimming with expert tips and seasonal strategies for each location, this handy guide will find its place in a dry pocket for every successful excursion.



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