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Famous Books Published Anonymously

Controversial, private, or calculated, some authors have their reasons for publishing anonymously. sometimes the book is too old, or the author simply unknown. many of the works below first were by an anonymous author, only to be claimed later on. browse below for the famous and influential books., primary colors, by anonymous and joe klein.

Primary Colors Book Cover Picture

Paperback $19.00

Buy from other retailers:, common sense, by thomas paine.

Common Sense Book Cover Picture

Paperback $13.00

Frankenstein, by mary shelley.

Frankenstein Book Cover Picture

Hardcover $25.00

The autobiography of an ex-colored man, by james weldon johnson.

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man Book Cover Picture

The Dream of the Red Chamber

By tsao hsueh-chin.

The Dream of the Red Chamber Book Cover Picture

Paperback $17.00

The life of lazarillo de tormes.

The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes Book Cover Picture

Paperback $14.95

The arabian nights.

The Arabian Nights Book Cover Picture

Hardcover $32.00

Sir gawain and the green knight, by anonymous.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Book Cover Picture

Paperback $12.00

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18 Bestselling Authors Who Do Not Use Profanity (And their Riveting Reads)

Published by Slanted Bookshelf Team on July 27, 2020 July 27, 2020

There is nothing worse than getting a book recommendation from a friend, only to find out it that it is laced with cursing, graphic sex, or gratuitous violence. Our culture already bombards us with enough crud in our daily lives. We don’t want to invite dirty stories into our recreation time. Despite this, it can be just plain difficult to find a good novel that isn’t loaded with F-bombs or graphic sex. It can be especially hard to find a suspense novels by authors who do not use profanity.

That’s why I compiled this list of obscenity free, sex free, and (mostly) uplifting novelists. The genres on this list ranges from thriller to mystery to action and adventure. For each author, I have also listed their top selling novels. I hope this list can provide a good recommendation for your next clean read. Please leave a comment if I missed any prominent authors or if an author should not be on this list.

So without further ado, let’s get on with the list.

Top Authors Who Do Not Use Profanity (and their bestselling novels)

Kathryn Stockett  The first on our list is Kathryn Stocket, the  #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Help. You may have seen this academy award winning film which follows a group of black housemaids during racial segregation. Kathryn is from Jackson, Mississippi and therefore paints a very realistic picture of the deep south during segregation. Aside from a handful of context-appropriate racial slurs, this book is clean. The Help was her first book, and an instant hit. Read the book and then watch the movie for comparison!

Recommended Book By Kathryn Stockett

Lee Child  Lee Child is another #1 New York Times bestseller. He is an action-thriller writer from Birmingham, Alabama who now resides in New York. Child is known for his Jack Reacher series, which have now been turned into blockbuster movies. Lee Child is a tough-guy author similar to Tom Clancy, but unlike Tom Clancy, he uses no profanity. His main character, Jack Reacher is an ex-army policeman who is 6 feet 6 inches of bad mamma-jamma. He helps the downtrodden and beats up the bad guys. Some of the books in this series are pure action-hero, while others are more mystery and detective themed. In any case, his stories rocket along at a blistering pace with plenty of action, twists and turns, satisfying adrenaline rushes.

Recommended Books By Lee Child Check out Killing Floor (the first book in the Jack Reacher Series) and A Wanted man 

Edie Claire  Edie Claire is a former veterinarian, turned best-selling novelist. She is a happily married mother of three who lives in Pennsylvania. Her books are characterized by captivating, warm, and witty personalities, with a genre that blends romance and mystery. In Claire’s writings you will find no sex, vulgarity, or swearing. 

Recommended Books by Edie Claire We recommend Long Time Coming (the first book in the Fated Loves series). This is a story about an unfulfilled teenage love. The main character is a young woman on a journey who has buried a traumatic event from her past. We also recommend the Pacific Horizons series – which adeptly provides captivating relationship stories in picturesque settings like Alaska.

Kate Morton Kate Morton is another New York Times bestselling author from Queensland, Australia. Her novels are great because they each have a mystery or two (or seven) within the pages. Her writing revolves around some touching themes like the cost of promises, the meaning of motherhood, and truth vs. perception. Her books will have you utterly captivated and hanging on every word. They tend to take place in a magical setting, like an old country house. The families in her stories are usually harboring more than one secret. Kate Morton’s mysteries are worth the read.

Recommended Books By Kate Morton

Karen McQuestion  Karen McQuestion is another clean author who writes without profanity and gratuitous violence or sex. Her stories are beautiful vignettes that pull at your heart and make you feel for the suffering of fellow human beings. Her books are great for adults as well as kids and teens. One of the books on our list, Hello Love, is an old fashioned love story about a dog. Half a heart is about a young boy that pursues lasting love with an unquenchable spirit, despite his past of abuse by his father.

Recommended Books By Karen McQuestion

Mary Higgins Clark Mary Higgins Clark has written many standalone mysteries and is one of top crime novelists of all time in America. Known as ‘the queen of suspense,’ Clark is also a New York Times bestseller. She describes herself as a “nice Irish Catholic girl from the Bronx.” Her novels are typically in the mystery genre. They have you trying to work out who the killer is (and it is not predictable). She writes in short, fast moving chapters. Expect to see family drama, rivalry, money, and deception. Mary Higgins Clark also has a great collection of short stories. The three books we recommend below are all part of the “Under Suspicion” series. 

Recommended Books By Mary Higgins Clark I’ve Got You Under My Skin, All Dressed in White, and The Cinderella Murder

Terri Blackstock Terri Blackstock is yet another New York Times bestseller, with over 7 million copies sold worldwide. She writes fast-paced thrillers that also have a faith element. In fact, all of her suspense novels have a Christian aspect to them. Expect strong feminine characters that are not helpless women. The characters are believable – real people with real struggles that have ‘God moments’ in their lives that give them the grace to change. Blackstock’s novels will keep you reading in the early morning hours and turning pages to see what will happen. We recommend checking out either the Restoration series or the If I Run Series.

Recommended Books By Terri Blackstock Last Light (Book 1 of 4) and If I Run (Book 1 of 3)

Ted Dekker  Ted Dekker is somewhat unique from the other authors on the list, because although his books are clean from profanity, they can still be violent and scary. Nevertheless, this New York Times bestselling author makes the list. He is a fantastic storyteller who combines adrenaline laced plots with epic battles between good and evil. The best way to describe his genre would be Christian fiction. Dekker is well informed on scripture and it shows in his writings. His books are raw and real. There is no sugar coating the evil, violent, grittiness to them. A.D. 30 is a historical novel set in the deserts of Arabia. The Circle series is an epic redemption story of good vs. evil with Christian motifs throughout.

Recommended Books by Ted Dekker A.D. 30, The Eyes Wide Open Series, and The Circle Series

DE Stevenson Dorothy Emily Peploe was the Scottish author of over 40 light romance novels. She passed away in 1973, but recently surged in popularity with the republishing of her books in 2009 and 2011. Her father was first cousins with Robert Lewis Stevenson. She writes funny, romantic novels that are great beach reads free of profanity. Her books are like lost literary treasures to enjoy. Stevenson’s characters are delightfully quaint.

Recommended Books by DE Stevenson Miss Buncle’s Book (Book 1 of 4) and Mrs. Tim of the Regiment

Lis Wiehl Lis Wiehl is an American trial lawyer who has also served as a legal analyst and reporter on Fox News for 15 years. Additionally, she is a professor of Law at NYU law school. With her free time, she writes psychological thriller novels. Wiehl puts a lot of detail into characters and their backstories, making them believable as real-life people. The triple threat series is about 3 friends (a reporter, an FBI agent, and a federal prosecutor) working together to solve murder cases. Her East Salem trilogy is a supernatural crime thriller. Her background in law and politics makes her a strong writer in this arena.

Recommended Books by Lis Wiehl Face of Betrayal (Triple Threat Series), Waking Hours (East Salem Trilogy), and A Matter of trust (Mia Quinn Series)

Anne Perry  Anne Perry is a British crime and detective novelist. She is the bestselling author of multiple mystery series, with a flare for Victorian England. As a word of caution, some of her stories involve violent murders, sometimes involving women. If you decide to read her books, you will not be disappointed. 

Recommended Books By Anne Perry The Cater Street Hangman (first book in Charlotte and Thomas Pitt 32-book series), Death in Focus (first book in Elena Standish series), Twenty-one Days (first book in Daniel Pitt series), The Face of a Stranger (first book in the 24-book William Monk Series)

Noah Boyd  Noah Boyd is the pen name for a former FBI agent whose real name is Paul Lindsey. His thriller books have a terrific pace, and are similar to the Jack Reacher series. We recommend his Steve Vail series. Boyd’s writing has no gratuitous violence or drama that will drag you down. His twists and turns in the storylines keep you thoroughly engrossed from start to finish.The main character, ex-FBI agent Steve Vail, is an interesting, compassionate, and intelligent man. * Updated Note :   The author uses the word “damn” and takes the Lord’s name in vain the The Bricklayer.

Recommended Books By Noah Boyd The Bricklayer, Agent X

Mary Stewart Mary Stewart is a romantic suspense novelist that has been acclaimed by the New York Times. Some say she has built the bridge between classic literature and modern pop fiction. Each of her books is a page turner that takes you away. Her novels take place in picturesque locations like Southern France, The Greek isles, and the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Recommended Books By Mary Stewart Nine Coaches Waiting, The Moon Spinners

Ann B. Ross Ross writes classic southern comic novels that are also mysterious and engaging. She writes mystery style books, but without the murders. Her main character, Miss Julia, is a newly wealthy widow with a slew of personal problems that will make you laugh and cry. The Miss Julia Series is a cozy mystery with fun characters and great villains.

Recommended Books By Ann B. Ross Miss Julia Takes over (first book in Miss Julia series)

Randy Singer  Randy Singer is a Christian writer and trial attorney who avoids profanity. He writes legal thrillers. His books all have a Christian worldview. However, his novels are not preachy. His writing style is a cross between Michael Connelly and John Grisham. He writes about murderers, liars, adulterers, terrorists. This is a master storyteller whose books read very smoothly. One of the books on our list, The Advocate, is a historical novel set during the early days of Christianity. It follows Theophilus, Pilate’s right hand man at the trial of Jesus Christ. 

Recommended Books By Randy Singer Dead Lawyers Tell No Tales, The Advocate, The Last Plea Bargain

Randy Alcorn 

Randy Alcorn is a well-known Christian author who does not use profanity. His novels are packed with themes from his Christian worldview. Despite this, his characters are real and believable, not holier-than-thou people. His novels have minimal violence and no explicit sexual content. They are hard to put down. The Ollie Chandler series is a heart-pounding murder mystery that follows a 1930s homicide detective in a true jack Bauer/Chuck Norris style. This Ollie Chandler is instantly likeable, and the dialogue between his characters is superb. 

Recommended Books by Randy Alcorn Ollie Chandler series (starts with Deadline)

books without authors

Sandra Dallas Sandra Dallas is an American author who writes historical fiction with themes of friendship, human dignity, and loyalty. She gravitates towards quintessential American stories. The Persian Pickle Club is a heartfelt tale of friendship between women in a small town in Kansas in the 1930s depression era. Another book, Prayers for Sale depicts the life and friendship of Colorado women in a mining town. Her books are trips down memory lane for old America.

Recommended Books by Sandra Dallas The Persian Pickle Club, Prayers for Sale, The Last Midwife, and The Diary of Mattie Spenser

Erin Healy Erin Healy is last (but certainly not least) on our list. She writes supernatural suspense novels with a Christian worldview that grapple in the battle between good and evil. Though her books may be categorized as horror, you will not feel dirty after reading them. There’s no nasty sex scenes or language. Some of her books were co-written with Ted Dekker (who appeared earlier on this list).

Recommended Books by Erin Healy Kiss, Burn, The Baker’s Wife

I Hope you enjoyed our list of modern fiction authors who do not use profanity. Drop a comment if you have some others to recommend! See Also : Classic American Authors Who Do Not Use Profanity . And : Classic English Authors Who Do Not Use Profanity

books without authors

Michael Maxwell · January 26, 2021 at 8:57 pm

I love the list! When you expand it to 20 I would love to be included. I now have 25 books all of which fir the criteria you laid out in you article! I just might be the best author you have never heard of! Here is my Amazon page: If you would like a sample of what I do, here is a copy on me! 1,895 reviews with 4.5 Stars! In any case I would love to chat sometime.

books without authors

Kelly · May 12, 2021 at 8:30 pm

Loved your list but was disappointed when I selected a Sandra Dallas novel and it had horrific violence and sexual violence scene in chapter 4. Not reading any more of it. Maybe she doesn’t use cuss words but I would rather read a cuss word than be exposed to that description.

books without authors

Rob · January 24, 2023 at 6:37 am

I appreciate this list and am going to start reading right away.

books without authors

Catherine MURPHY · June 22, 2021 at 11:06 pm

Search for profanity free thrillers.

books without authors

Jeff Friesen · August 6, 2021 at 5:20 pm

You are mistaken about Noah Boyd (whose real name is Paul Lindsay — ). He uses “damn” and takes the Lord’s name in vain the “The Bricklayer.”

books without authors

Thomas · December 23, 2021 at 3:39 pm

Thanks for the details in the list… However, I must say, I did try 1 novel by Terri B. and was disappointed… She writes well and, I must say, is a ‘page-turner’… however, she described a young girl being raped in rather horrific and gruesome detail.. something I believe a ‘christian’ author shouldn’t ever do. But that may have been just that 1 book of hers… maybe the rest are all okay… not sure about that… but the 1 I did read was disappointing enough to not want to try any more of hers….

And about Ted Dekker…. I did try one or two of his books…. To say the least, his books are rather disturbing…. along with Frank P. I think such men write ‘thrillers’ under the guise of a ‘christian’ book, but they seem to have all the ‘essentials’ of a secular horror. And really, should a ‘Christian’ write such stuff.

Any day, I’d sooner recommend Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist or Great Expectations (the original editions) than either of the above mentioned 2 men! And just for the record, Charles Dickens does not use profanity or any ‘vulgar’ scenes; and his writings are still a true ‘classic’.

But thank you so very much for taking time out to put down this list….really appreciate this very much. Thanks again.

books without authors

Joseph Robbins · February 9, 2023 at 4:04 pm

Lee Child The Killing Floor Jack Reacher novel 1 chapter two had a cuss word. stopped reading it. Well, it was a nice try.

books without authors

Crystal M · February 11, 2023 at 2:45 am

Thanksgiving for the suggestions! I loved The bakers wife!!!

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Can You Publish a Book Anonymously? A Succinct Guide to Anonymous Authorship

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on April 21, 2023

Categories Publishing , Writing

Have you ever dreamed of publishing a book without anyone knowing it were you? Imagine the thrill of keeping your identity a secret, leaving readers to wonder about the mysterious author behind the words. While it may seem daunting, publishing a book anonymously is not only possible but has been done successfully by countless writers throughout history. Authors can keep their personal information secure by using a pseudonym or signing an anonymity agreement with a publisher while still receiving payment for their work. But beware, anonymity in publishing also comes with challenges, such as limited marketing opportunities and author events. Is it worth the risk?

Why Publish Anonymously

There are various reasons an author may choose to publish a book anonymously. Here, we explore some common motivations behind this decision.

Author Privacy

Anonymity allows authors to maintain privacy and avoid personal scrutiny. This can be especially important for those who write about controversial topics or have a history of conflict with others.

Career Protection

Writing anonymously can help protect an author’s career, especially if their published work might generate backlash or conflict with their professional persona.

Artistic Freedom

By remaining anonymous, authors can explore different genres, styles, or viewpoints that they might otherwise avoid due to fear of judgment or reputation damage.

Avoiding Discrimination or Prejudice

Publishing anonymously can shield authors from unwarranted discrimination or prejudice, enabling their work to be judged solely on its merits rather than the author’s background or personal affiliations.

Experimentation and Reinvention

Anonymity allows established authors to experiment with new genres or writing styles, reinvent themselves, or even begin anew as emerging writers without the baggage of their previous works.

Separating Personal and Professional Life

Some authors may wish to keep their personal and professional lives separate, and writing anonymously can provide a clear boundary, preventing potential conflicts or distractions.

Methods of Anonymous Publishing

One standard method for anonymously publishing a book is to use a pseudonym or a pen name. This allows authors to create a separate identity to hide their true names from the public.

Many famous authors throughout history have utilized pseudonyms to maintain their privacy, including Mark Twain who wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer under his pseudonym, Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Using a pen name not only affords anonymity but also helps protect authors from potential negativity associated with their work.

Third-Party Publishing Services

Another option for publishing a book anonymously is to use third-party publishing services, such as Amazon KDP, Smashwords, or Draft2Digital. These platforms allow authors to create accounts and publish their work under a pen name while still receiving payment for their sales.

To maintain anonymity while using these services, authors must provide their details when creating an account, but their chosen pen name will be used for the public-facing aspects of their book. This enables authors to conceal their identity and still earn money from their writing.

Self-Publishing Anonymously

Self-publishing anonymously offers various advantages and drawbacks for authors. The anonymity can provide privacy and protection against criticism or judgment. However, it can also make building a following and generating sales more difficult, as readers may not be able to connect with the author as easily.

When choosing a platform to self-publish anonymously, finding one that allows authors to use pen names and offers privacy features is essential. Amazon KDP, Smashwords, and Draft2Digital are popular options, as they make it relatively easy to publish under a pseudonym and manage your royalties.

Regarding finances and royalties, you’ll need to create an account on your chosen platform and provide personal details to get paid. Nevertheless, your pen name can be used for the book’s public-facing information, and your real identity will remain concealed. Understanding the tax implications and legal requirements associated with publishing anonymously is essential, as they may vary by location.

Building a following and marketing your book while maintaining anonymity can be challenging. However, strategically using social media accounts, engaging with reader communities, and promoting your work through influencers or book blogs can be effective ways to raise awareness and build a readership while maintaining your anonymity.

Legal Considerations

Authors still maintain copyright protection for their work when publishing a book anonymously. According to international copyright law, the author owns the exclusive rights to their work, regardless of whether they use their real or pen names. In most cases, the copyright term lasts for the author’s lifetime, plus an additional 70 years after their death.

Protecting oneself from libel is essential when publishing anonymously, as any false statements that damage an individual’s reputation can lead to legal consequences. Defamation is a false statement of fact that injures a person’s reputation. It is crucial to ensure the content in the book is factual and accurate to avoid potential lawsuits.

Contracts with publishers and literary agents must clearly state the author’s intent to remain anonymous. It is crucial to underline this aspect, as sharing personal information or mistakenly revealing the author’s identity might nullify the whole purpose of anonymous publishing. It is vital to maintain confidentiality in agreements and ensure that the author’s identity remains undisclosed during the entire publishing process. In addition, authors should be aware of the terms in their contracts regarding fees, royalties, and advances.

In conclusion, authors need to consider several legal aspects while publishing anonymously. They must adhere to copyright laws and protect their work, avoid libelous content, and ensure their contracts respect their anonymity. Authors can ensure a smooth and successful publishing process by taking these precautions.

Publishing a book anonymously comes with its own set of challenges. These difficulties could affect the author’s ability to promote, gain recognition, and engage readers effectively.

Marketing Limitations

One of the most significant challenges of publishing a book anonymously is marketing it effectively. The author cannot leverage personal connections, events, and appearances to promote their work without a personal brand. Additionally, they may face a tough time engaging with readers on social media, which can limit the spread of word-of-mouth marketing. This can make it challenging to generate a buzz around the book or build a solid reader base.

Limited Recognition

An anonymous author may face limitations in terms of recognition and accolades. Awards, media interviews, and book signings usually require the presence or at least the author’s name. Anonymity can hinder opportunities for career advancement, such as public speaking or consultation offers since the author’s true identity is not disclosed. Ultimately, this can hurt an author’s potential for long-term success and impact in the literary world.

Balancing Anonymity and Reader Engagement

Engaging with readers and building a loyal fan base is essential to a successful author’s career. However, maintaining anonymity can be challenging when connecting and interacting with readers. An anonymous author must find creative ways to engage their audience without revealing their true identity. This could include using a pen name in online forums, maintaining a separate social media presence, or managing an anonymous blog discussing the book’s themes and inspirations. This delicate balance between anonymity and reader engagement can be challenging to achieve but is vital to the success of an anonymous author.

Successful Anonymous Authors

There have been several authors throughout history who have successfully published their works anonymously. Often using pen names, these authors managed to establish impressive literary careers.

One famous example is the Brontë sisters, who initially published their works under the pseudonyms Ellis, Currer, and Acton Bell. Their true identities as Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Brontë were revealed only later.

Anonymity is not just a thing of the past, as many modern authors have also chosen to write under pen names. For instance, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, wrote the crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Another example is the renowned Italian author Elena Ferrante, who remains anonymous despite her Neapolitan novels gaining international acclaim. Ferrante has always published under a pseudonym and has maintained her anonymity despite numerous attempts to unveil her true identity.

In today’s digital age, authors can still find success while maintaining their anonymity. Still, it should be noted that the chances of being outed are higher due to extensive online communication and social media.

Establishing a successful writing career while remaining anonymous might pose some challenges, but these examples show it is possible. Using pen names can help authors build and maintain a distinct persona, allowing their work to stand out amidst fierce competition even without a public face.

The History of Anonymity in Publishing

Anonymity in publishing has a long and storied history, often driven by the need for authors to protect their identity for various reasons.

Previously, authors sometimes chose to publish their works without being identified for fear of persecution or to maintain their privacy. For instance, between 1660 and 1750, approximately 50% of published prose fiction did not list an author on the title page, and 20% appeared under a pseudonym or tagline ( The British Library ).

This trend continued into the 18th and 19th centuries when authors like Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters published their works anonymously or under pseudonyms to avoid societal scrutiny and judgment based on gender.

Anonymity in publishing has significantly impacted society and the literary world. It has allowed authors to challenge social norms and share controversial ideas without fear of backlash.

Furthermore, this practice gave way to widespread speculation and debate about the authors’ true identities, engaging readers and scholars alike in attempts to uncover the mystery. Anonymous works have also encouraged the focus to shift from the author themselves to the text, allowing readers to appreciate and judge the work based solely on its merits rather than any preconceived notions about the author.

Over time, the practice of publishing anonymously has evolved. While it was once more common for authors to omit their names entirely or use pseudonyms, modern technology has provided additional options for preserving anonymity. Authors can now self-publish under pen names, use online platforms to distribute their work without revealing their identities and use advanced protection measures to safeguard their privacy.

Despite these new methods, the reasons for seeking anonymity in publishing remain similar – to protect oneself, challenge societal conventions, and allow the work to be judged without the influence of its creator’s identity.

Famous Authors Who Have Published Anonymously

Jane Austen, one of the most famous authors in the Western canon, initially published her novels anonymously. Her early works, such as “ Sense and Sensibility ” and “ Pride and Prejudice ” were published under the name “By a Lady” as it was common for female authors to conceal their identity during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Other examples of books published anonymously can be found on this Goodreads list , curated for a reading challenge. The list includes books from various genres and periods, showcasing the rich history of anonymous publishing.

Publishing a book anonymously is possible and offers several benefits, such as protecting your privacy and allowing more creative freedom. Many authors have chosen this route, using pen names or simply publishing their work without identifying information.

Platforms such as Amazon KDP, Smashwords, and Draft2digital make it relatively easy to self-publish anonymously, allowing you to focus on writing, marketing, and earning income.

However, anonymity presents its challenges. The author may need to sign a deal of anonymity with their publisher. Moreover, it is essential to consider potential legal or ethical issues that may arise when publishing anonymously, mainly when writing non-fiction or controversial material.

In summary, anonymous publishing can be an effective choice for authors who want to maintain privacy or explore new genres. By thoroughly researching and understanding the benefits and challenges of this approach, writers can make informed decisions about whether anonymous publishing is suitable for their goals.

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Once you type your references on the reference page, you will need to put in a hanging indent and double-space the entire reference list. In Microsoft Word, highlight the references from A to Z, then find the paragraph function in the Word ribbon. Select Hanging under Indentation and Double under spacing. See the Formatting your References tab for instructions on doing this on a Mac or in Google Docs.

Abbas, D. D. F. (2020). Manipulating of audio-visual aids in the educational processes in Al-Hilla University College. International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, 24 (3), 1248-1263.

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These 183,000 Books Are Fueling the Biggest Fight in Publishing and Tech

Use our new search tool to see which authors have been used to train the machines.

Editor’s note: This searchable database is part of The Atlantic ’s series on Books3. You can read about the origins of the database here , and an analysis of what’s in it here .

This summer, I acquired a data set of more than 191,000 books that were used without permission to train generative-AI systems by Meta, Bloomberg, and others. I wrote in The Atlantic about how the data set, known as “Books3,” was based on a collection of pirated ebooks, most of them published in the past 20 years. Since then, I’ve done a deep analysis of what’s actually in the data set, which is now at the center of several lawsuits brought against Meta by writers such as Sarah Silverman, Michael Chabon, and Paul Tremblay, who claim that its use in training generative AI amounts to copyright infringement.

Since my article appeared, I’ve heard from several authors wanting to know if their work is in Books3. In almost all cases, the answer has been yes. These authors spent years thinking, researching, imagining, and writing, and had no idea that their books were being used to train machines that could one day replace them. Meanwhile, the people building and training these machines stand to profit enormously.

Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Meta did not directly answer questions about the use of pirated books to train LLaMA, the company’s generative-AI product. Instead, she pointed me to a court filing from last week related to the Silverman lawsuit, in which lawyers for Meta argue that the case should be dismissed in part because neither the LLaMA model nor its outputs are “substantially similar” to the authors’ books.

It may be beyond the scope of copyright law to address the harms being done to authors by generative AI, and the point remains that AI-training practices are secretive and fundamentally nonconsensual. Very few people understand exactly how these programs are developed, even as such initiatives threaten to upend the world as we know it. Books are stored in Books3 as large, unlabeled blocks of text. To identify their authors and titles, I extracted ISBNs from these blocks of text and looked them up in a book database. Of the 191,000 titles I identified, 183,000 have associated author information. You can use the search tool below to look up authors in this subset and see which of their titles are included.

Before you begin, please note several caveats: Some books appear multiple times, reflecting different editions, translations, abridgments, or annotations. Because of inconsistencies in the spelling of author names, the search may not return books that are, in fact, in Books3. It may also deliver a jumble of odd formatting: A query for Agatha Christie will also return books labeled Agatha Christie and Christie Agatha , for example. And because of possible errors in the book-identification process, which involves detecting an ISBN within the text of the books and using a book database to find their author and title, there is a very small chance of false positives.

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Wordless Picture Books Worth “Reading”

books without authors

Do you like wordless picture books? I remember being so befuddled the first time I encountered one. Like how do I even read this? Impressively, some of the best wordless picture books are the most moving — I don’t know how they do it! The books on this list highlight the power of imagery and most resoundingly confirm that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Excellent Wordless Picture Books for Kids

Here are some of the best wordless picture books for kids:

I Walk with Vanessa

books without authors

Published: April 24, 2018

Inspired by real events,  I Walk with Vanessa  explores the feelings of helplessness and anger that arise in the wake of seeing a classmate treated badly, and shows how a single act of kindness can lead to an entire community joining in to help. By choosing only pictures to tell their story, the creators underscore the idea that someone can be an ally without having to say a word. With themes of acceptance, kindness, and strength in numbers, this timeless and profound feel-good story will resonate with readers young and old.

One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey

One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey

Published: April 7, 2020

From a tall tree growing in the forest–to the checkout counter at the grocery store–one little bag finds its way into the hands of a young boy on the eve of his first day of school.

And so begins an incredible journey of one little bag that is used and reused and reused again.

In a three-generation family, the bag is transporter of objects and keeper of memories. And when Grandfather comes to the end of his life, the family finds a meaningful new way for the battered, but much-loved little bag to continue its journey in the circle of life.

Wolf in the Snow

books without authors

Published: January 3, 2017

A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf cub is lost, too. How will they find their way home? Paintings rich with feeling tell this satisfying story of friendship and trust. Here is a book set on a wintry night that will spark imaginations and warm hearts, from Matthew Cordell, author of  Trouble Gum  and  Another Brother .

The Wanderer

The Wanderer

Published: October 6, 2020

Without a word, The Wanderer presents one little paper boat’s journey across the ocean, past reefs and between icebergs, through schools of fish, swaying water plants, and terrifying sea monsters. The little boat is all alone, and while its aloneness gives it the chance to wonder at the fairy-tale world above and below the waves, that also means it must save itself when it storms. And so it does.

Readers young and old will find the strength and inspiration in this quietly powerful story about growing, learning, and life’s ups and downs.

Small in the City

books without authors

Published: September 5, 2019

I know what it’s like to be small in the city…

Being small can be overwhelming in a city. People don’t see you. The loud sounds of the sirens and cyclists can be scary. And the streets are so busy it can make your brain feel like there’s too much stuff in it. But if you know where to find good hiding places, warm dryer vents that blow out hot steam that smells like summer, music to listen to or friends to say hi to, there can be comfort in the city, too.

We follow our little protagonist, who knows all about what its like to be small in the city, as he gives his best advice for surviving there. As we turn the pages, Sydney Smith’s masterful storytelling allows us to glimpse exactly who this advice is for, leading us to a powerful, heart-rending realization…

Field Trip to the Moon

Field Trip to the Moon

Published: May 14, 2019

Climb aboard the spaceship bus for a fantastic field trip adventure to the moon!

Once their bright yellow ship lands, students debark and set out with their teacher to explore. They jump over trenches and see craters and mountains on the moon’s surface and even Earth in the faraway distance.

But when one student takes a break to draw some pictures and falls asleep, they wake up to discover that the rest of the class and the spaceship are gone. How the student passes the time waiting to be rescued makes for a funny and unexpected adventure that will enchant children all over the galaxy.

With rich atmospheric art, John Hare’s wordless picture book invites children to imagine themselves in the story–a story full of surprises including some friendly space creatures. A perfect complement to discussions and lessons on the moon landing.

books without authors

Published: September 17, 2019

It’s a big day up in the tree that Mama bird shares with her baby. Mama bird thinks Baby bird is finally ready to leave the nest and learn to fly so he can migrate south with the rest of their flock. But Baby bird isn’t so sure. Can’t his mother keep bringing him worms in their nest? Can’t he migrate in a hot air balloon instead? Or perhaps a car?

This silly wordless picture book will keep young readers giggling as Baby bird figures out that he must flap his wings and learn to fly—whether he likes it or not!

Professional Crocodile

Professional Crocodile

Published: August 1, 2017

Mr. Crocodile loves his job. Every morning he gets up with an alarm. He brushes his teeth. He chooses the right tie to match his outfit, eats a quick slice of toast, and heads off to work on a crowded train. But what exactly is his job? The answer may surprise you! Readers will want to pore over this witty, wordless book again and again, finding new details and fresh stories with every reading.

Spencer’s New Pet

Spencer's New Pet - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: August 27, 2019

When Spencer gets a new pet, he’s excited to do all the things that pets do—taking walks in the park, going to the vet, and attending parties together. There’s just one hitch: Spencer’s new pet is a balloon. And that means No. Sharp. Objects. No drooling dogs at the park. No prickly porcupines at the vet. And absolutely  no  pinning tails on  any  donkeys!

Small Things

Small Things

Published: April 6, 2017

In this short, wordless graphic picture book, a young boy feels alone with his anxiety. He isn’t fitting in well at school. His grades are slipping. He’s even lashing out at those who love him. 

Sidewalk Flowers

Sidewalk Flowers - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: March 27, 2015

In this wordless picture book, a little girl collects wildflowers while her distracted father pays her little attention. Each flower becomes a gift, and whether the gift is noticed or ignored, both giver and recipient are transformed by their encounter.

“Written” by award-winning poet JonArno Lawson and brought to life by illustrator Sydney Smith,  Sidewalk Flowers  is an ode to the importance of small things, small people and small gestures.

Little Fox in the Forest

Little Fox in the Forest

Published: February 28, 2017

When a young girl brings her beloved stuffed fox to the playground, much to her astonishment, a real fox takes off with it! The girl chases the fox into the woods with her friend, the boy, following close behind, but soon the two children lose track of the fox. Wandering deeper and deeper into the forest, they come across a tall hedge with an archway. What do they find on the other side? A marvelous village of miniature stone cottages, tiny treehouses, and, most extraordinary of all, woodland creatures of every shape and size. But where is the little fox? And how will they find him?

books without authors

Published: April 15, 2018

New from the creator of  Skunk on a String  comes  Wallpaper , a wordless picture book in Thao Lam’s signature paper collage style. It tells the story of a young girl whose family moves into a new house. Outside, she can hear other kids playing, but she’s too shy to say hello. So she picks at the old wallpaper in her room―revealing an entryway to a fantastic imaginary adventure world behind the walls. There, she runs between the vibrant and varied environments―surrounded by birds, swimming in a frog pond, in a herd of art-deco sheep―as she finds herself chased by a monster. He is frightening at first, until it becomes clear he simply wants to be her friend. When it comes time to go back to reality, the girl feels inspired with the courage to approach the other kids and say hello.


Published: March 5, 2019

What if you… encountered  another  perspective? Discovered  another  world? Met  another  you? What might you do?

Rosie’s Glasses

books without authors

Published: September 4, 2018

In this wordless picture book, Rosie wakes up in a monochrome world, with a dark cloud over her head. As she plods through her miserable, gray day, the cloud follows. Mishaps and mayhem thwart her every move, irritating noises assault her — and the pouring rain makes everything worse. But then, on her way home from school, Rosie finds a pair of strange glasses. When she puts them on, her world transforms into vivid, joyful color. All of a sudden, she can see the beauty and fun in everything around her — and her dark cloud has disappeared. Are the glasses magic? Or could it be that changing how we look at the world can change the way we experience it?


Published: November 20, 2018

Jenn’s beloved dog was lost sometime ago. Long enough that she has given up the search. But she still misses her friend. One day she finds a lost dog. She takes him in and despite a rocky start, she grows to love him. Until she spots his picture on a missing poster. His name is Roscoe, and he’s someone else’s best friend. Jenn knows she should return Roscoe, but she really doesn’t want to. Will Jenn do the right thing? Or will she keep this new dog she’s grown to love so much?

Flora and the Flamingo

books without authors

Published: Flora and the Flamingo

In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more of this fun flamingo story!

Mr. Wuffles!

books without authors

Published: October 1, 2013

In a near wordless masterpiece that could only have been devised by David Wiesner, a cat named Mr. Wuffles doesn’t care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He’s  much  more interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens—but the ship wasn’t designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble.

When the space visitors dodge the cat and take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. The result? A humorous exploration of cooperation between aliens and insects, and of the universal nature of communication involving symbols, “cave” paintings, and gestures of friendship.


Published: August 6, 2013

A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart’s desire? With supple line, luminous color, and nimble flights of fancy, author-illustrator Aaron Becker launches an ordinary child on an extraordinary journey toward her greatest and most exciting adventure of all.

The Farmer and the Clown

books without authors

Published: September 23, 2014

A baby clown is separated from his family when he accidentally bounces off their circus train and lands in a lonely farmer’s vast, empty field. The farmer reluctantly rescues the little clown, and over the course of one day together, the two of them make some surprising discoveries about themselves—and about life! Sweet, funny, and moving, this wordless picture book from a master of the form and the creator of  The Boss Baby  speaks volumes and will delight story lovers of all ages.

A Ball for Daisy

books without authors

Published: May 10, 2011

This  New York Times  Bestseller and  New York Times  Best Illustrated Book relates a story about love and loss as only Chris Rashcka can tell it. Any child who has ever had a beloved toy break will relate to Daisy’s anguish when her favorite ball is destroyed by a bigger dog. In the tradition of his nearly wordless picture book  Yo! Yes?,  Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka explores in pictures the joy and sadness that having a special toy can bring. Raschka’s signature swirling, impressionistic illustrations and his affectionate story will particularly appeal to young dog lovers and teachers and parents who have children dealing with the loss of something special.


Published: April 16, 2008

In this evocative wordless book, internationally acclaimed artist Suzy Lee tells the story of a little girl’s day at the beach. Stunning in their simplicity, Lee’s illustrations, in just two shades of watercolor, create a vibrant story full of joy and laughter.

Lines - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: September 5, 2017

It starts with a line. Whether made by the tip of a pencil or the blade of a skate, the magic starts there. And magic once again flows from the pencil and imagination of internationally acclaimed artist Suzy Lee. With the lightest of touches, this masterwork blurs the lines between real and imagined, reminding us why Lee’s books have been lauded around the world, recognized on New York Times Best Illustrated Books lists and nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international honor given to children’s book creators. This seemingly simple story about a young skater on a frozen pond will charm the youngest of readers while simultaneously astounding book enthusiasts of any age.

Snowman’s Story

Snowman's Story

Published: November 18, 2014

One wintry day, a hat lands on the head of a newly made snowman and brings him to life. Hiding inside the hat is a rabbit, who listens to the snowman read a story to some animal friends. When the snowman falls asleep, the rabbit hops away with the book. But the snowman isn’t about to let his story―or the mischievous rabbit―get away. The chase is on!

books without authors

Published: November 9, 2010

Somewhere in Sydney, Australia, a boy and his family wake up, eat breakfast, and head out for a busy day of shopping. Meanwhile, in a small village in Morocco, a boy and his family go through their own morning routines and set out to a bustling market. In this ingenious, wordless picture book, readers are invited to compare, page by page, the activities and surroundings of children in two different cultures. Their lives may at first seem quite unalike, but a closer look reveals that there are many things, some unexpected, that connect them as well. Designed to be read side by side — one from the left and the other from the right — these intriguing stories are told entirely through richly detailed collage illustrations.

The Red Book

The Red Book - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: September 27, 2004

A red book is lying in the snow in the city. When you open it, you find a new kind of adventure. You will be taken across oceans and continents when you just flip the page. But this book-in-a-book holds even more secrets to discover.

Lehman’s simple story line and surprising illustrations create an unexpectedly enchanting story about friendship, connectedness, and how stories can bring us together . . . and even bring us inside their pages.

Waltz of the Snowflakes

Waltz of the Snowflakes

Published: October 17, 2017

It is a cold and rainy evening when Gran gives her granddaughter something special: tickets to the ballet. Her granddaughter is reluctant to go. The weather is terrible and they have to wear fancy, uncomfortable clothes. But as the curtains rise on  The Nutcracker , the girl’s eyes light up as she’s introduced to the magic of the theater. The bright costumes, the intricate dances, the magical music, and a new friend all combine to captivate the girl and to bring color to an otherwise dreary evening. Waltz of the Snowflakes  is Elly MacKay at her finest, mixing her acclaimed paper-cut artwork with vibrant colors in this whimsical, dreamlike, and inspiring wordless picture book. A must-have for any ballet- and theater-obsessed reader and the perfect gift to be shared during the holidays or any time of year when the world outside needs a little bit of color and vibrancy.

Float - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: June 1, 2015

A little boy takes a boat made of newspaper out for a rainy-day adventure. The boy and his boat dance in the downpour and play in the puddles, but when the boy sends his boat floating down a gutter stream, it quickly gets away from him.

So of course the little boy goes on the hunt for his beloved boat—and when the rain lets up, he finds himself on a new adventure altogether.

This seemingly simply story from Daniel Miyares is enriched with incredible depth and texture that transcend words.

Ball - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: April 2, 2013

A dog with a ball is one of the most relentlessly hopeful creatures on Earth. After his best little-girl pal leaves for school, this dog hits up yoga mom, baby, and even the angry cat for a quick throw. No luck. Forced to go solo, the dog begins a hilarious one-sided game of fetch until naptime’s wild, ball-centric dream sequence. The pictures speak a thousand words in this comic book-style ode to canine monomania. Ball? Ball.


Published: May 5, 2015

What happens when two shy children meet at a very crowded pool? Dive in to find out! Deceptively simple, this masterful book tells a story of quiet moments and surprising encounters, and reminds us that friendship and imagination have no bounds.

Chalk - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: March 1, 2010

A rainy day. Three kids in a park. A dinosaur spring rider. A bag of chalk. The kids begin to draw…and then…magic! The children draw the sun, butterflies, and a dinosaur that amazingly come to life. Children will never feel the same about the playground after they experience this astounding wordless picture book and the power of the imagination. Bill Thomson embraced traditional painting techniques and meticulously painted each illustration by hand, using acrylic paint and colored pencils.

The Umbrella

books without authors

Published: April 1, 2011

A little dog finds an umbrella in the garden on a windy day.  The moment the dog picks up the umbrella, it catches the wind and pulls the dog skywards.  This is the start to fantastic journey around the world.  The wind carries the umbrellas and the dog all over the world, from the desert to the sea, from the jungle to the north pole.

Flashlight - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: August 12, 2014

A charming story told solely through images: Through neatly drawn illustrations and a spare yet dramatic color palette, artist Lizi Boyd offers an enchanting exploration of night, nature, and art with  Flashlight . Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it. • A wordless storybook with stunning visuals that aims to lighten the fear of the dark and the noises that come with it • Book inspires the imagination and creativity in young minds • Lizi Boyd is the author and illustrator of many children’s books, including Inside  Outside  and  Flashlight , and also creates papers, ribbons, cards, and other works of delight

Lion and the Mouse

The Lion and the Mouse - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: September 1, 2009

In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney’s wordless adaptation of one of Aesop’s most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he’d planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher’s trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.

My Friend Rabbit

My Friend Rabbit - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: May 1, 2002

Rabbit saves the day in a most ingeneous way.

When Mouse lets his best friend, Rabbit, play with his brand-new airplane, trouble isn’t far behind. From Caldecott Honor award winner Eric Rohmann comes a brand-new picture book about friends and toys and trouble, illustrated in robust, expressive prints.

The Girl and the Bicycle

The Girl and the Bicycle

Published: April 29, 2014

A little girl sees a shiny new bicycle in the shop window. She hurries home to see if she has enough money in her piggy bank, but when she comes up short, she knocks on the doors of her neighbors, hoping to do their yardwork. They all turn her away except for a kindly old woman. The woman and the girl work through the seasons, side by side. They form a tender friendship. When the weather warms, the girl finally has enough money for the bicycle. She runs back to the store, but the bicycle is gone! What happens next shows the reward of hard work and the true meaning of generosity.

Brave Molly

books without authors

Published: April 30, 2019

What do you do when no one can see your monsters but you? At first, Molly runs from them. But they follow her down the sidewalk, getting in the way when she tries to make a new friend, popping up unexpectedly out of shadows, and multiplying. Until finally…Molly faces her fears. Author-illustrator Brooke Boynton-Hughes delivers a modern classic in this moving adventure that honors everyday acts of bravery and the power of friendship to banish the monsters that haunt us.

Flotsam - Wordless Picture Books Worth "Reading"

Published: September 4, 2006

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam–anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there’s no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep. In each of his amazing picture books, David Wiesner has revealed the magical possibilities of some ordinary thing or happening–a frog on a lily pad, a trip to the Empire State Building, a well-known nursery tale. This time, a day at the beach is the springboard into a wildly imaginative exploration of the mysteries of the deep, and of the qualities that enable us to witness these wonders and delight in them.

Shine: A Wordless Book about Love

Shine: A Wordless Book about Love

Published: March 3, 2020

Shine  is the charming, wordless story of eight-year-old Mia, whose love and joy flow from her in beautiful, swirling color. Each day she walks through the dreary, cheerless city, but as Mia shares her love with the people she encounters, the city slowly transforms until everything around her is glowing with vibrant color. Shine  is a testament to the power one person has to change the world and influence the people around them.

Penguin Sets Sail

books without authors

Published: March 1, 2020

Penguin dreams of being a sea captain, but the other penguins only think about fish. So penguin sets sail alone in search of friends and treasure galore. However, the ocean is big and dangerous, and Penguin may find himself wishing for home even in the middle of his great adventure. This wonderful story is told entirely through illustrations. Children must interpret the pictures and make connections to understand the plot, sequence and character development. Wordless books are a powerful tool for literacy development that helps strengthen comprehension and storytelling skills, making a great addition to your home or classroom library. 

Gopher Golf

books without authors

Published: February 5, 2021

(Sports humor) Two gophers feel the joy—and trials—of golfing (thanks to other critters). Children can find and name animals as they describe the action on the golf green.

There they are: 40 of the best wordless picture books you’ll find! Which of these have you read? I loved Rosie’s Glasses . Which ones did I miss?

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Afoma Umesi is the founder and editor of Reading Middle Grade where she curates book lists and writes book reviews for kids of all ages. Her favorite genre to read is contemporary realistic fiction and she'll never say no to a graphic novel.

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Best Books If You Like Clean / No Profanity

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Readers are always looking for recommendations for clean, non-swearing, profanity-free books to read.

There is no rating system on books so it can often be hard to find clean books to read. A lot of books use bad language and adult themes in the place of telling a cohesive story. It can be quite rewarding to read a book with an interesting plot that doesn’t fall back on bad language to create tension. It is possible to tell a good story without using bad words and the books on this list prove it!

When a lot of people think of “clean” books they think of cozy mysteries or even children’s books. While those do qualify, they are not the full scope of books that you can find that are clean with no swearing. You can also read legal thrillers, action, historical fiction, and fantasy. I tried to grab books from a wide variety of genres to make this list to show that books can be written in any genre while still remaining clean.

Of course, there are a ton of great books that are clean without swearing, and it was very difficult to keep this list to just this five books. So I just did my best to get a little something for everyone in here. If you’re interested in more of these recommendations, let me know in the comments below.

If You Like Clean / Non-Swearing Series…

Anna pigeon series by nevada barr.

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The first book in the series is called Track of the Cat and sees Anna working her first job as a national park ranger in the remote West Texas back country. It’s not long on the job until a fellow ranger is found brutally murdered. It is a tragedy, but when the cause of death is named as a mountain lion attack, Anna is sprung into action.

The decision to blame the mountain enrages her as she fears that it is up to her to save the protected cats from the locals who will want revenge on the animals. She sets out to prove the truth of the matter which is that the kill was actually done by a species far less rare: humans.

Marius’ Mules series by S.J.A. Turney

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The Marius’ Miles series begins with The Invasion of Gaul . The story begins with Caesar’s first campaign to seize Gaul. His pretense to do so was to end the threat against Rome, a threat that was non-existent as Gaul posed no threat. Turney tells thihs story through the eyes of Front, a Roman legate and friend of Caesar.

Marcus Falerius Fronto is a career soldier and the commander of the Tenth. He is a strong, silent type who wishes for simplicity in his military life, but often finds himself drawn into the world of intrigue and politics that surrounds Caesar. He will quickly learn just how dangerous politics can be and that being an ethical man doesn’t protect him from the risk of being burned.

The Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks

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Shea Ohmsford knows little of the outside world and the wars that have raged over the years. Shea lives in the peaceful Shady Vale where the trouble has stayed away. That all changes when the giant Allanon reveals to them that a supposedly dead Warlock Lord is plotting to destroy the world. The Warlock Lord has great power and the only weapon that can fight it is the Sword of Shannara. However, the sword can only be wielded by a true heir of Shannara which leave Shea, the last of the bloodline. The half-elfin Shea is the only thing standing between the Warlock Lord and all of the other races.

This classic series not only keeps it clean, but offers a wealth of reading material. If you are only interested in the original trilogy, you will be left satisfied. For those looking to go deeper, there is more than enough material to sink your teeth into.

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Thank you for these suggestions! Always looking for books of this sort; I often read children’s fantasy when I’ve had my fill of over-sexed, overly vulgar “literature.” The longer the list, the better!

I would love a nice long list of clean books, perhaps sorted by genre. I’m happy to look them up and do the research.

I enjoy the Andy Carpenter books but I would not say they have no profanity.

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Hey there! My name is Janise and I am a bookaholic! I read at least one book per day no matter the size as my job has a lot of downtime and I am a speed reader. This article and all articles on the site are written by me and these are just my opinions :)

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The Cozy Mystery List Blog

Cozy Mystery (and Other Favorite) Books, Movies, and TV

Mystery Books with No Profanity (Swearing) and/or Faith-Based Mystery Books

November 26, 2008

I just received this letter from a Cozy Mystery Site reader:

“Subject: Help with Author List Dear Danna: I mostly read Christian fiction because it is clean and glorifies Christ. I read your web page definition of a cozy mystery and it said  that “cozy mysteries are considered “gentle” books… no graphic violence, no profanity, and no explicit sex”. I tried a few books from your list and within the first chapter there was profanity. I guess not all authors follow the guidelines for a cozy mystery. If you know of any that are a good clean read please send me a list of the authors that do follow the guidelines. I appreciate any help you can give me. Thank you, Tina”

Here is my (+/-) answer:

I know exactly what you are talking about… I recently finished a book by one of my favorite cozy authors, and had that very same problem! I wonder if their publishers tell them to “spice things up” these days…

I just went through the site and found these authors who might be of interest to you. Also, since I initially posted this entry, I have received suggested authors (from Cozy Mystery readers just like you and me!) who I have also included to this entry. (*So, I have not read every book by every author on this list.*)

Hannah Alexander is a writing husband/wife team who write the Hideaway Mystery Series . This Christy award-winning team mixes medical suspence with romance.

Donald Bain & “Jessica Fletcher” write the Murder, She Wrote Mystery Series .

Christy Barritt writes the Squeaky Clean Mystery Series which features the owner of a very unusual business: a crime scene cleaning service. The amateur sleuth almost completed her college degree in forensic science, which comes in very handy while being able to get a first hand view of the evidence!

Ron & Janet Benrey : the Pippa Hunnechurch Mystery Series features an executive recruiter AND the Royal Tunbridge Wells Mystery Series which is set in England and, along with the “real” people features Lapsang & Souchong (2 British Shorthair cats), Cha-Cha (a Shiba Inu… dog) and Earl, an African Grey Parrot. The Benreys also write the Glory, North Carolina Mystery Series , which also belongs on this list.

Susan Bernhardt : Kay Driscoll Mystery Series

Laura Bradford :  Amish Mystery Series

Emily Brightwell : Mrs. Jeffries Mystery Series

Lynn Bulock pens the Steeple Hill Cafe Mystery Series . I have not read any of the books yet, but from what I could find, it is a mystery series with a Christian theme.

Anne Canadeo : Black Sheep Knitting Mystery Series (Also co-authors the fiction series “Cape Light” with Thomas Kinkade, as Katherine Spencer.)

JoAnna Carl : Chocoholic Mystery Series

Laurie Cass (aka Laura Alden) : Bookmobile Cat Mystery Series

Lynne E. Chandler : Mrs. Baul Investigates : Bishop Kidnapped in Egypt

G. K. Chesterton writes the Father Brown Mystery Series .

Agatha Christie (aka The Queen of Cozy Mysteries!):  Miss Marple Mystery Series and Hercule Poirot Mystery Series , Superintendent Battles , and Tommy & Tuppence Mystery Series .

Mary Higgins Clark has written many stand alone mysteries and is one of the authors on the  Mystery Writers of America – Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time .

Mindy Starns Clark : the Million Dollar Mystery Series AND the Smart Chick Mystery Series.

Christine E. Collier :  the Writer’s Club Mystery Series has four women who make up the club and not only write, but “right” mysteries.

Sheila Connolly : Orchard Mystery Series AND Museum Mystery Series

Alisa Craig (aka Charlotte MacLeod) : Inspector Madoc Rhys Mystery Series AND Grub-and-Stakers Mystery Series

Jeanne M. Dams : Dorothy Martin Mystery Series AND Hilda Johansson Mystery Series

Kathie Deviny : Grace Church Mystery Series

Elizabeth J. Duncan : Penny Brannigan Mystery Series

Sharon Dunn writes the Bargain Hunters Mystery Series , as well as the Ruby Taylor Mystery Series . Dunn describes herself as a “Christian author” who mixes the mystery genre with some of  the humor you find in “Chick-Lit”.

Monica Ferris : Needlecraft Shop Mystery Series

“ Jessica Fletcher ” & Donald Bain write the  Murder, She Wrote Mystery Series .

Amanda Flower : Appleseed Creek Mystery Series

Joanne Fluke writes the exceptionally popular Hannah Swenson/Cookie Jar Mystery Series . Hannah manages to sleuth while managing her Minnesota bakery, the Cookie Jar.

Dorothy Gilman writes the Mrs. Pollifax Mystery Series which features Emily Pollifax, a woman you would absolutely never think is a CIA agent. Emily is a senior citizen with a penchant for hats.

Sally Goldenbaum :  Seaside Knitters Mystery Series

Margaret Grace (aka Camille Minichino ): As Camille Minichino she writes the Periodic Table Mystery Series . As Margaret Grace she writes the Miniature Mystery Series . I am making my way (2009) through both of the series and enjoying them immensely.

Hazel Holt : Mrs.Malory Mystery Series

Jan Karon is on the Cozy Mystery Site even though she does not write mysteries. The Mitford Series AND the Father Tim’s Novels belong to her.

Josi S. Kilpack writes the Culinary Mystery Series , which features a stay-at-home mom/sleuth.

Charlotte MacLeod  (aka Alisa Craig) : Peter Shandy Mystery Series AND  Sarah Kelling & Max Bittersohn Mystery Series

Blanche Day Manos & Barbara Burgess write the Darcy/Flora Mystery Series which feature a mother and daughter sleuthing duo.

Blanche Day Manos   also writes the Ned McNeil Mystery Series, set in Oklahoma.

Edith Maxwell  (aka  Maddie Day  &  Tace Baker ) writes the Quaker Midwife Mystery Series, which features a Quaker wife in 1880s Massachusetts.

Lorena McCourtney , armed with a college degree in agriculture, is listed under “Christian Mysteries” on her site… She writes the Ivy Malone Mystery Series (which features senior citizen sleuths), the Andi McConnell Mystery Series , the Sparrow Island Mystery Series (which features a bird watcher) and the Julesburg Mystery Series …

K. D. McCrite : Eastgate Mystery Series : Carrie Jean Lockwood is an Assistant Pastor in Arkansas.

Camille Minichino   (aka  Margaret Grace ): As Camille Minichino she writes the  Periodic Table Mystery Series . As Margaret Grace she writes the  Miniature Mystery Series . I am making my way (2009) through both of the series and enjoying them immensely.

Tyora Moody : Eugeena Patterson Mystery Series – Eugeena is a recently widowed, Diabetic, retired social studies teacher in South Carolina.

Gilbert Morris was a pastor for ten years and has written many different novels, including three mystery series: the Jacques & Cleo, Cat Detective Mystery Series , the Lady Trent Mystery Series , and the Danielle Ross Mystery Series (which sometimes is refered to as the Dani Ross Mystery Series ).

Katherine Hall Page has a BA from Wellesley, an MA from Tufts, and a Doctorate from Harvard… She is the first person to ever receive Best First Novel, Best Novel, and Best Short Story Agatha Awards (Malice Domestic), and writes the Faith Fairchild Mystery Series , which features a caterer/sleuth who is married to a minister.

Dani Pettrey is a homeschool teacher from Maryland who writes the Alaskan Courage Mystery Series , starring a family living in small town Yancey, Alaska.

Cyndy Salzmann writes the Friday Afternoon Club Mystery Series which features a group of stay-at-home mothers who are good friends, and great sleuths! (Salzmann bases her novels on her Christian faith.)

Susan Sleeman pens the Garden Gate Mystery Series which features a landscaper in Oregon. (Sleeman is an advocate for Christian suspense.)

Alexander McCall Smith  writes  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Mystery Series .

Patricia Sprinkle has two established series: the Sheila Travis Mystery Series is set in Georgia, AND the MacLaren Yarbrough Thoroughly Southern Mystery Series . She is currently starting a new Family Tree Genealogy Mystery Series which her readers are sure to enjoy.

Jennifer Stanley (aka J.B. Stanley & Ellery Adams) writes the Hope Street Church Mystery Series.

Nancy Jill Thames writes the Jillian Bradley Mystery Series which features a gardening  columnist and her Yorkie.

Janice A. Thompson writes the Bridal Mayhem Mystery Series . She describes herself as a Christian author. She home-schooled her four daughters and has done her part in planning several weddings.

Debbie Viguié writes the Psalms 23 Mystery Series . The series features a church secretary and a Reformed Rabii as its sleuths.

Chris Well writes Christian crime thrillers with a lot of humor thrown into the mysteries. His Kentucky Geezers Trilogy will be hitting the bookstores soon. Well also includes both writing and/or editing for such publications as the Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

Patricia Wentworth : Miss Maude Silver Mystery Series

Valerie Wolzien : Susan Henshaw Mystery Series

Here are a few Series:

Annie’s Attic Mystery Series   : This series follows a woman who, upon cleaning out her grandmother’s attic, finds some very baffling items. These puzzling items are the starting points of the mysteries she and her friends solve.

Annie’s Mysteries Unraveled Mystery Series : This series is an Annie’s Crafts Company series. Each mystery book is written by a different author, and they star Kate Stevens, a single mom. She works as a crochet designer in Texas.

Annie’s Quilted Mystery Series : This is another Annie’s Crafts Company series. Like the other (currently three) series from this publisher, the books are written by different authors. They follow Emma Cotton and Kelly Grace, both members of the Nimble Thimbles quilting group in Mystic Harbor, Massachusetts.

Annie’s Secrets of the Quilt Mystery Series

I just found the  Church Choir Mysteries   which also include many different authors of mystery books.

Creative Woman Mystery Series is a series of mysteries that feature Shannon McClain, a crafter who makes one-of-a-kind beaded jewelry. Shannon is a Scottish widowed mother of twins who has moved to Apple Grove, Oregon. These mysteries are published by the same company that publishes the Annie’s Attic Mysteries.

Also,  Heartsong Presents Mystery Series  is a series which includes many authors who have mystery series of their own. I have a detailed list on their own page.

Hometown Mystery Series  is a series of mystery books that are put out by Barbour Publishing. Several of the (Christian) authors write more than one mystery book in the series, but the books are not meant to be read in any particular order.

Miss Read Mysteries   is a series which features a school teacher in very Cozy, British villages. They are not mysteries.

Mysteries of Sparrow Island Series   is a Guideposts mystery series which has several authors who contribute to the book list. They feature Abigail Stanton, an ornithologist (bird specialist) who moves to Sparrow Island in Washington. Mary (her sister) and Finnegan (her service dog) move with her.  This is a Christian theme mystery series.

Mystery and the Minister’s Wife  mysteries. This series is unique in that each book is written by different authors (some of the authors pen more than one book in the series.) I was told by one of the authors of the series that you can read the books out of order, but she did suggest reading the first one or two msyteries before reading the others… This is one time when chronological order is not important! It is an inspirational mystery series.

Patchwork Mystery Series  is a Guidepost series which will revolve around a very crafty quilter who solves mysteries.

Secrets of Mary’s Bookshop  is a Guidepost mystery series that takes place in Mary’s Mystery Bookshop.

Stories from Hope Haven  is another non-mystery series from Guidepost which takes place in a fictional hospital, and revolves around four nurses and their patients.

Tales from Grace Chapel Inn Series is a series of books which follow three sisters who inherit a Victorian style Bed and Breakfast from their father. The series is written by several Christian authors and is not a mystery series, but I think that it falls in well with the above-listed authors and series.

Texas K-9 Mystery Series features a Texas K-9 police dog and his/her police (person) handler. Each book in the series features a different K-9 dog, and is written by a different mystery author.

Vineyard Quilt Mystery Series

Between all of the above authors and series, you should be able to find a good starting point for your search… Hope that these help…

Here is a Previous Entry about this very same subject.

And, here’s a follow-up entry:

Cozy Mystery Authors with No Profanity/Swearing, Please…

If you have any authors who you think belong on this list… Please drop me a comment or contact me through the website.

***To access more   Cozy Mysteries by Theme  click on this link.***

Larry Hillhouse says

November 30, 2008 at 5:26 pm

I have written 3 mystery novels which pass the “no profanity” test. I try to write so that I won’t be ashamed for my mother to read my books!! Check out my website.

December 12, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Thank you Larry. I like your comment about your mother. My kind of conscience reading material. Know that I will check out your website. Keep writing 🙂 Again, thank you.

December 12, 2014 at 10:18 pm

I see I spelled conscientious wrong, sorry! Linda

July 16, 2023 at 1:39 pm

What about Anne Perry? Particularly her Christmas series. Christion tradition and principles, but no profanity. Her other series (Wm. Monk and Thomas Pitt) sometimes have mature subjects (i.e., incest…)

December 3, 2008 at 7:25 am

I also enjoy Lilian Jackson Braun’s CAT WHO … series, as well as Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone books and Ann B. Ross’ MISS JULIA series – they all provide enjoyment and great reading without the unnecessary profanity and explicit sex. Thanks, Danna, for a great website! Petie

Jeannine Scrip says

November 22, 2019 at 4:47 pm

The Leslie Myers I tried to read had bad language.

Danna - cozy mystery list says

December 3, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Thanks, Petie, for the author recommendations. I’m so glad you are enjoying the site!

Christine E. Collier says

December 5, 2008 at 3:18 pm

There’s no profanity in any of my books and some of the stories have a Christian theme. My series consist of The Writer’s Club, Mystery is our Shadow, Christmas at Cliffhanger Inn and Something Borrowed, Something Blue. My book of short holiday stories is titled A Holiday Sampler. There’s romance and mystery but no sexual content. Thank you. Mrs. Christine E. Collier

December 12, 2008 at 11:56 pm

Love Jan Karon. Have read all of her books. Would like to read more like Father Tim, but I did not like her Holly Springs books. I had expected the boy (Dooley) and girl to start a new series.

Love Pat Sprinkle, too.

Read the first Sue Grafton. I did not like the language. Wish someone would tell her to leave it out and then my hubby and I would read them. They are good, but Oh, that language.

Do you know an author who writes about an 80 year old woman who lives on a northeastern island? She is a writer for a small paper and does some sleuthing. The books usually have the name of a flower in the title. Any suggestions on other authors without the language.

Also love the 7 books that Anne George wrote before she passed away.

Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series, Earlene Fowler (Christian mystery author. Scripture is in a lot of her books. Started with first one and each one gets more scripture. Think she is growing spiritually.) Ginny

December 12, 2014 at 10:22 pm

I agree about Sue Grafton. I read one book and will not pick up another. Linda

December 30, 2016 at 9:36 pm

I like you enjoyed the Jan Karon books and especially the Father Tim books. I haven’t read any mysteries, they really have not peaked my interest. I love the idea of no profanity or sex in the ones I read. I like more wholesome books. Do you have any suggestions, and I do really enjoy the ones in series.

Martha says

May 4, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Love, love, love Ann B. Ross books..met her at a book signing in a little town in NC and loved her, too! Wish I hadn’t already read her “Miss Julia” series! Miss Julia is a hoot…

Ann Syjes says

September 10, 2018 at 7:58 am

I agree about the Miss Julia books. Just finished the series and have some favorites I want to keep to reread.

Myrna F says

October 16, 2017 at 12:59 pm

The 90 something that lives on Marthas Vineyard featuring Victoria Trumbull written by Cynthia Riggs. I Love her!!

I hope this helps. Her newest book, Trumpet of Death, just came out. I read it last week and it is, of course, perfect.

Love this place where readers can share favorite authors and find new favorites!

Kim Smith says

May 26, 2023 at 3:34 pm

One of the Audible reviewers said about book 1, “Unacceptable language. i hate it when authors use the “f” word in their writing. I won’t be listening to any more by this author.”

I haven’t read any of these books…just researching right now.

January 6, 2023 at 7:44 am

I believe the series you are looking for is the ‘Martha’s Vineyard’ series. The woman is actually in her nineties and named Victoria Trumbull. The author is Cynthia Riggs.

Konnie says

March 6, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Heartsong has a new mystery line. They are almost all cozies.

March 7, 2009 at 5:28 am

Thanks for reminding me… I have accumulated the entire list of the authors (I think it’s all of them!) and their books but still haven’t figured out how to post them. I am thinking that I might just post all of the authors on one main page instead of trying to do each author with an individual page. The books look really interesting, and I like the idea of getting a lot of authors together to make up a “sort of” series of books…

I’ll keep working on it, and hopefully come up with an idea of how to post them.

May 27, 2009 at 12:02 am

I happened upon the Dorothy Martin Mystery series by Jeanne M. Dams at my local library, and I enjoyed reading all of them. Dorothy is an older American widow transplanted to a quaint English village with a knack for nosiness and stumbling into murder cases. The stories are enjoyable, the characters are likeable, the plot is very clean, there’s no profanity that I recall, and Dorothy has a solid moral basis to her character. There’s a blossoming romance through the early books, but the mystery remains the main theme. The first book in the series, “The Body in the Transept”, won an Agatha Award.

As an aside, I would note that “Killing Cassady” had a noteable number of within-marriage sexual inuendoes scattered throughout. Certainly nothing explicit–more like the inuendoes on the old Cosby show between Bill Cosby and his wife. Completely appropriate for a married couple, and not in poor taste. Thankfully for me (since I’m single), that was the only book that has so many.

Michele says

August 8, 2016 at 8:12 am

I was just reading J. M Dams Murder at the Castle, loving Mrs. Martin and I got to page 158 where the F word is used. I put the book down and will return it to the library. I am so disappointed I thought I had found a wonderful new series and it is wonderful – if you don’t mind bad language. Just giving an alert so you don’t get half way through a good mystery that you can’t finish.

Larkin says

April 9, 2017 at 2:42 pm

I wanted to add to what Michele noted about the Jeanne M. Dams series and the F word. Up until “A Dark and Stormy Night”, there is only mild (or no) profanity. I really like her style, and was excited about reading all of her cozies. After finding the F word in this book, I thought perhaps it was an aberration, so started “The Evil That Men Do” — and saw more use of the F word. So sad that she had to follow the trend with doing this.

May 27, 2009 at 12:33 am

Since I’m always on the hunt for a clean mystery that I won’t regret having read, I wanted to mention a couple more clean mystery series that I have enjoyed:

1) “A Thyme Will Tell” mystery series by Audrey Stallsmith. These are set in a family-owned garden shop and would probably fall into the “cozy” category. All the main characters are flawed individuals, but it is satisfying to see them develop throughout the first book. I personally preferred the first book, “Rosemary for Remembrance”, over the rest, as the antagonism between the two main characters lingered too long for my taste. I don’t think this series was marketed very well, so they may be difficult to find.

2) Cindy McCormick Martinusen’s trilogy, “Winter Passing”, “Blue Night”, and “North of Tomorrow”. These mysteries harken back to events during WWII that are tied into the present day. The last two are a bit more dark, and the settings are far from “quaint”, so I don’t think these fit the “cozy” category exactly. However, they are very clean, no profanity, and the mystery element is very intriguing, particularly if you have any interest in WWII. The story lines between books seem somewhat unrelated, but all are neatly tied together in the last book.

October 28, 2009 at 9:21 am

This is in response to a question asked by Ginny. The author she is seeking is Cynthia Riggs. The character is Victoria Trumbull. And the book titles are: Indian Pipes, The Paperwhite Narcissis, and Shooting Star. There may be more, but those are the only ones I’ve read so far. The Heartsong mysteries were part of a “club.” You received four books about once a month. Unfortunately, after about two years, the program ceased. I LOVED the books – well, most of them, anyway. When about the cancellation, they said it was because they didn’t have the response they’d anticipated; meaning not enough members to make it worthwhile. Too bad. Am hoping some of the authors continue to find outlets for their work. Just discovered your website and love it! Thanks.

February 5, 2010 at 5:13 pm

I am so happy to find a cozy series list free from any profanity. I want to read a trailer park and also a country inn cozy, do you know of any? I do not care for the trailer park series by a writer named … I cannot recall the name, something like Jimmie Ruth Dean??? Something like it, I do not care for those. Do you know of any trailer or inn cozies that make a decent reading? Thank you, Nan

February 6, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Nan, When I first began this website, I was familiar with every single author who I included on the site. Thanks to many site readers’ recommendations, the site has grown WAY larger than I had ever anticipated. I love adding more authors to the site, but since I add more authors than I have time to read, I cannot vouch for all of them.

I hope that some of the readers can come up with ideas for you, but I can give you this list of Bed and Breakfast mystery series and hope that you are able to sift through them and find a few that you might be interested in.

Beckie Burks says

February 23, 2010 at 12:09 pm

I can send you a list of Christian authors who write mystery/suspense novels. They wouldn’t be classified as cozy I don’t think, but are very good reads. If you’re interested let me know. BTW LOVE THIS SITE you’ve made it so easy to find what I am looking for.

Thank you Beckie

September 13, 2019 at 6:55 am

I would sure like your list of Christian writers. I’m responsible for “weeding out” inappropriate books from a Christian mission store. Thank you.

Blanche Day Manos says

September 14, 2019 at 6:12 am

If it would help Becky, I’d like her to know that both of my cozy mystery series, the Darcy and Flora mother/daughter sleuth books and my Ned McNeil moonlight mysteries are clean with no profanity or sex scenes. The protagonists are Christians. They are not preachy, but faith is part of their everyday lives. If this sounds like it would fit the bill, I invite her to check them out on

February 24, 2010 at 8:11 am

Thank you, Beckie. That would be GREAT!

Jeannie says

April 11, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Wanted to also affirm how pleasant your mystery list is. I love the list of christian writers. And also how you keep up with the new books for the old reliable authors.

April 12, 2010 at 9:05 am

Thank you, Jeannie, for the kind words!

May 22, 2010 at 7:22 am

I’ve gotten many good reading ideas from your website. I wanted to mention that Barbour (publishers of the Heartsong Presents Mysteries which ended last year) will be publishing six new cozy titles this fall. They’re being presented as Hometown Mysteries and the descriptions sound very appealing. Nipped in the Bud by Susan Sleeman is one I’m especially anticipating, since Susan is the moderator of The Suspense Zone website, a useful source for finding great mysteries with a Christian viewpoint.

May 24, 2010 at 6:41 am

Hi Terri, I was going to post a page for Susan Sleeman last year because her Garden Gate Mystery Series was one of the Heartsong Presents Mysteries selections.

I just finished posting a page for Susan Sleeman on the Cozy Mystery site, and am so pleased that her first book in that series is going to be published in October of this year. (She’s already on my list of New Mystery Book Releases for October!)

Maria (BearMountainBooks) says

May 28, 2010 at 9:31 am

I’m pretty sure the Anne George series would qualify as no profanity/no sex scenes! The main protag is in her 50s and married. They are GREAT fun!!!

Sandra says

June 3, 2010 at 7:55 am

What a joy to find this website!!! I enjoy reading mystery and suspense books and when I do, everything else seems to get put on hold. However, I really hate getting into a book and finding profanity and sex. That’s when the book gets closed and isn’t opened again. Thank you for putting this website together. Now I can find books to really enjoy.

December 12, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Good for you Sandra. I have actually thrown “nasty” books in the trash.

I too am so glad that I have found this site. Thank you all.

June 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Again, thank you to all on this site, especially Danna. I found your site after finishing Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax series and was looking for something similar. Now, I have just completed Patricia Sprinkle’s Genealogy Series, and her Thoroughly Southern series. What a treat. I am already missing Maclaren, if though I just finished the last of this series yesterday.

Danna, you offer us such a huge help in finding really good authors.

June 5, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Sandra, I’m glad you found the site. I remember looking and looking for a site that “specialized” in Cozy Mysteries, and not being able to find one. So, I just felt I had to do something about that!

June 5, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Jo R, Thank you for the kind words about the site. When I first started it, I only listed authors with whom I was familiar. Fast-forward a few years, and there are lots of recommended authors who I have had the pleasure of finding out about from the site.

Meredith says

June 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Mindy Starns Clark is a wonderful author who writes mysteries with Christian characters. The books are not overtly religious, but they do not contain any cursing or pre-marital sex. Her books include the Million Dollar Mysteries and the Smart Chick Mysteries, along with several very good stand alones.

December 12, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Meredith, I agree whole-heartedly about Mindy Starns Clark. Have not read all of her books yet, but I am working on it.

June 30, 2010 at 11:36 am

Thanks, Meredith, for telling us about Mindy Starns Clark. I just added her to my list of authors to post…

Dianne says

July 1, 2010 at 11:30 am

Oh my goodness…I can’t believe this website, had no idea I would find it by searching under “authors who do not use profanity.” This website should certainly keep me hopping to my library. Thank you sooooo much!

July 1, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Welcome to the site, Dianne.

I hope you’re able to find an author or two to add to your current list of authors!

July 14, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Mystery series sans profanity I was going through some authors on this very site and came upon Ron and Janet Benrey. They are from a “Love Inspired series” and one bookstore shelved these type books in the Christian fiction section the last I knew. The cover pictures are the type of art work that you would expect on the pages of a childs picture book-very charming. I plan on looking to buy them. Hope this helps.

July 15, 2010 at 7:18 am

Cindy, I know that Ron and Janet Benrey have a big following….

August 3, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Has anybody mentioned Terri Blackstock? She’s got several great series.

August 3, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Thanks, Anne, for telling us about Terri Blackstock!

Susan* says

September 5, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Seconding Terri Blackstock. (Who seems to have sneaked out of the list. :)) I definitely enjoy her ‘faith-based’ Cape Refuge Mysteries.

September 6, 2017 at 1:01 am

Susan, I’ll take another look and probably re-add her, as I don’t remember why I would have taken her off. I’ll admit, this particular list is somewhat difficult to curate properly, as I don’t always remember if there was a small amount of swearing in a book. (Also as much as it pains me to admit this, I just don’t have time to read every Cozy!) She’s of the few authors a lot of people recommend for this list, so I really don’t know why I would have taken her off.

Lynette Sowell says

August 3, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Barbour has a whole set of mysteries…the first releasing this month. Look up “Hometown Mysteries” and you’ll see a full year of books in the lineup….

August 4, 2010 at 9:12 am

Thank you, Lynette, for telling us about the Barbour books.

I just posted the Hometown Mystery Series page , and see that the books are meant to be read independently.

August 4, 2010 at 9:19 am

A friend just told me about your website. I love it. I have read the Tales from Grace Chapel and highly recommend the series. The characters are three sisters who open a bed and breakfast in the house the grew up in. They really grow on you. I found a series by Robin Paige (Bill and Sue Albert) titled The Robin Paige Edwardian Mysteries. The fun thing about this series is that well known people from that era pop up in the books. In the several that I’ve read so far, I’ve encountered only one instance of profanity. And that was only on one page of the book.

August 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Welcome to the site, Linda. I always enjoy hearing from site readers who like it! Thank you…

And, thanks for telling us about Robin Paige.

August 13, 2010 at 10:58 am

I don’t think she’s been mentioned here yet, but may I suggest Patricia Wentworth? A contemporary of Agatha Christie, her Miss Silver books are set in rural, cozy settings, and many of her stand-alones are set against the tumult of WWII.

PS – I only recently stumbled onto this site after taking an internet/blogging break, and I’m thrilled and making lists of books to read…

August 17, 2010 at 8:18 am

I’m Joan Dahr Lambert and I would like to add my own mysteries to the no profanity list. I just published my first cozy, Walking into Murder. I think maybe there’s a “Damn!” from an eccentric Englishman, but other than that, squeaky clean. I dislike profanity and love unusual words. Some readers have said that they keep a dictionary handy!

Give it a try. Thanks, Joan Lambert

December 12, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Thank you Joan. I will be looking for your books. I love reading, second only to eating 🙂

August 17, 2010 at 5:55 pm

I think Valerie Wolzein’s stuff is cuss-free, too.

I’m not fond of coarseness, vulgarity, misogyny, general negativity and cynicism, but, especially, cussless writing is simply better writing, in my opinion. Many writers rely on it to establish character or mood, but it only does so at a superficial level, and then very preditably.

A story along this line — Mark Frost and David Lynch were forced to rewrite a scene in Twin Peaks that included the “B” word (Oh, for the days when it was not heard every two seconds…) Instead of, “Don’t take any bleep from that bleep,” the line they came up with was, “Don’t take any oink oink from that pretty pig!” It wound up becoming one of the fans’ favorite lines from the series, and set that character up to actually be much smarter than his tough-guy persona implied. So much better than the kneejerk cussing would have been…

Melissa says

August 24, 2010 at 6:36 pm

I want to suggest Fran Rizer. Sadly she only has three books but they are great. There is no cursing and are sooo funny they will make you laugh out loud. There might be some sexual comments but nothing out of the ordinary. But for all I can remember there is no cursing. The main character, Callie Parish, has her own version of “kindergarten cursing” which is hilarious. Enjoy!

August 27, 2010 at 11:13 am

This is exactly the kind of information I have been needing! While looking at thrift shops, yard sales, etc for books appropriate for our foreign mission library in the remote bush of Malawi Africa, I see books whose covers look good but I have no idea of the contents. Thanks for the help

August 27, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I am so glad that this list helps you. I have had many letters from people who really get a lot of use out of this particular list…

Mysteries with No Profanity are alive and well!

gad1n10 says

August 28, 2010 at 3:06 am

I haven’t read any in quite awhile, but I shouldn’t imagine the Mrs Jefferies series by Emily Brightwell has much in the way of language. At the most, it might have an occasional ‘Bloody ‘ell’ as exclamation/expression of surprise, but read it in a Victorian lower-class ‘help’ accent and it translates to an American ‘what the heck!’ or Australian ‘Crikey!’

Novella says

March 29, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Hi, glad to see this recommendation! I have read the first 2, so charming! the characters so likable how they work together. A good read for anyone wanting to relax and get away from your normality.

August 28, 2010 at 7:39 am

Thank you, gad1n10, for recommending Emily Brightwell’s Mrs. Jeffries Mystery Series.

August 28, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I’d like to add Joanne Fluke to your list of authors who do not use any profanity or have any sex in their books. Her Hannah Swenson series is squeaky clean.

Typically times when other authors might insert a curse word, Joanne fills in with something like, “Hannah then said something that would have been inappropriate if her niece had been in the room.”

Danna, thanks for putting this website together. I found it several years ago right after my mother-in-law introduced me to Joanne Fluke’s series. I enjoyed the Hannah Swenson books so much I wanted more and found several series that I have enjoyed since then here on your site. I constantly come back here when I am looking for something new to read.

Thanks for all you do!

alexis says

November 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Hi Kelly, Thanks for sharing — I just picked up Joanne Fluke’s first book in the Hannah Swenson series, “The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder”. I’m so glad to know it isn’t R-rated. I read the back cover and the first few pages and I think I’m going to enjoy it.

I’m always browsing the mystery section at the bookstore so I’m suprised I didn’t find her on my own. Or maybe I thought the titles were too cheesy. At any rate, I’m so happy with my purchase. I’m confident I’ll be buying the rest in the series. It’s almost impossible to find “clean” books.

I am so tired of buying books with bad content. Now, I can finally settle on an author.

The author, Victoria Thompson, is Ok but I have a feeling Joanne Fluke will suit me even better.

August 31, 2010 at 9:36 am

Thank you, Kelly, for recommending Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson Mystery Series to the Mysteries with No Profanity book list.!

Thanks for the very kind words about the Cozy Mystery site!

August 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm

The Miss Julia series by Ann B Ross is another clean series. There are a couple of curse words in one or two of the books, but nothing strong. Miss Julia is a CHARACTER !!, and so funny! I love her.

Danna, thank you for all your work in this website.

September 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Hi All! I’m an avid reader, and when I get my hands on a good book, I can’t put it down!

My favorite authors at the moment are Dee Henderson and Janet Oke. I don’t like ANY profanity at all (I quit reading Nicholas Sparks because his books were pushing it) I’ve read almost all of both of the author’s books that I’ve listed above, and I’m looking for more. I like books that have a lot of family interaction, along with mystery and maybe some romance. Dee Henderson is awesome because she writes suspense, romance, and family interaction all in one book! I highly recommend the O’Malley series to anyone looking for a good set of books!

On the other hand, I love Janet Oke also. I’m a BIG Love Comes Softly fan, and I wish she’d written more books with that family.

I’m fixing to pick up some Terri Blackstock books on my next trip to the library – I’ve heard they’re great!

Thanks for posting this site! Katie

Alta K says

December 16, 2021 at 1:04 am

I second Dee Henderson. I love the O’Malleys, but her stand-alones are also awesome.

September 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Thank you, Katie, for telling us about all of those authors!

October 27, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Love the site, and the particular topic of no profanity. Since this site concentrates on mysteries, I was wondering if there was a site listing whether a book has profanity. I can’t find anything thus far. It seems like there is everything else out there, but nothing for the question of profanity in literature. Again, I appreciate the cozy mysteries site.

October 28, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Hi Janet, I’m glad you’re enjoying the site. I am not aware of a site that lists all of the mysteries without profanity. I have been reading Cozy Mysteries for many years, and have noticed the slow acceptance of profanity in them. I know I have said this many times, but I can’t imagine Agatha Christie having to rely on “&$^!!” to get her ideas across. Even authors for whom Christie paved the way, mystery authors like Charlotte MacLeod (Alisa Craig)… I don’t remember the inclusion of “#*/!!!” in MacLeod’s/Craig’s mysteries. I do not consider myself a prude (of course, saying that might be a sure sign that I am!!!) but, a lot of our most popular current Cozy Mystery authors sprinkle profanity all through their books. I just don’t get it! But, no, I don’t know of such a site…

October 30, 2010 at 12:18 am

I just found this site tonight and am so thankful for all the great suggestions. I dearly loved the Mitford series, and am starting the Chapel Inn series. I have enjoyed the Miss Julia series, and loved the Dearest Dorothy Series, as well as the Mossy Creek series. Thank you everyone for the reading list, it is so nice to know there is still good literature out there with stories that encourage our efforts to be good caring people while providing a great read. Thanks again.

October 31, 2010 at 9:57 am

Ina, the Cozy Mystery readers have really been great sending in recommendations for the “Mysteries with No Profanity” theme. I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

November 1, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Thank you for your quick reply. I’m sorry there isn’t a website where the reader can choose their own filters. I.e., profanity, gore, or even age of characters, etc. It would be nice to have such a place where a reader could choose literature based on their own requirements. If I come up with anything, I’ll forward it to you. Thanks again. Janet

November 8, 2010 at 10:53 am

How about G. K. Chesterton’s Fr. Brown series? or Dorothy Sayers?

November 8, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Thank you, Jim, for adding Chesterton and Sayers to the list!

Lorena says

December 18, 2010 at 12:06 am

Some readers might be interested to know that the first book in my Ivy Malone Mysteries series, “Invisible,” is currently a free download on Kindle.

December 19, 2010 at 10:49 am

Thanks, Lorena! A free Kindle download of the first mystery ( Invisible ) in your Ivy Malone Mystery Series sounds like a phenomenal deal!

December 30, 2010 at 2:48 pm

I just happened across your website and am so happy to have found it!! It would be nice if publishers would put ratings on their books, just like producers do on movies. It would make it a lot easier to know immediately whether a book has profanity, sex, etc. in it and then I would save my money for a clean book instead.

January 24, 2011 at 9:56 am

I just discovered your site. Love it. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love Dorothy Gilman. Two things make her Mrs. Pollifax series so terrific: 1) She goes to many different areas of the world, always getting involved with the “locals”. It really gives the reader a flavor of what it is like to live in those places. 2) There is a bit more depth than in the usual cozy. As Mrs. Pollifax ponders her predicament, there is often a little gem of wisdom in her thoughts.

January 24, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Welcome to the site, Jane!

You’re reasons for liking the Mrs. Pollifax books are right on target. I love getting the feeling of the countries she visits. Also, love her interaction with the CIA agents.

September 7, 2012 at 9:53 am

Even when I first read her books as a teenager, I liked how Mrs. Pollifax could just adapt to a new situation. She loved being a wife and mother but when her husband died and her kids had families of their own, she reinvented herself as a spy. And in the course of her work she has to continually adapt, start over when the first plan goes awry and generally just keeps moving forward no matter what gets in her way. The books are not only great adventures but also wonderful stories about using changes, even unwelcome ones, to further your own momentum.

September 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Julia, I really enjoyed those Dorothy Gilman mysteries. I recently watched the Mrs. Pollifax – Spy movie a while ago and certainly enjoyed watching Rosalind Russell adapting to all of the obstacles she and her partner were thrown.

January 28, 2011 at 12:44 am

Danna – I have been looking for the last two years for mystery books without profanity, explicit sex and so on for my 81 year old mother to read. When I found Cozy Mysteries, I thought my search was over. Then I clicked on a page that listed Janet Evanovich, books. I had been told by others she was a good writer. I had not read any of her books. Last year while I was on vacation in Florida I found two new books she had written in the Dollar Tree. They were only a dollar each so I thought I would try them. Both books use the “f” word often. Once is too much as far as I’m concerned, my Mom is even more upset than me. I have spent the last several hours printing countless pages off your site with your different list. Then I saw Janet Evanovich name on one of your list and stopped everything. I sure hope I have not printed all these pages and the authors may use profanity. All the expense and hours I have spent for nothing. I want lists that are 100% profanity, sex, etc free. I know there is no way you can read all these books your self. The two book I read were published by St. Martin’s Press.

January 28, 2011 at 11:38 am

I am very sorry about your time and expense, Linda.

On August 14, 2010 I added an addendum to my Cozy Mystery definition . The reason I added this addendum is because I received a letter from a Cozy Mystery site reader who was quite upset to find that a book she got off of the site had both explicit language and adult situations.

As I see that you posted your comment on this particular page, I won’t steer you to it. I am hoping that all of the above authors will be good fits for your Cozy Mystery reading.

As I haven’t read every author on the Cozy Mystery site, nor every author on this list, I hope that anyone who has read one of the authors above and has found explicit situations, graphic violence, or profanity will write and let me know that I should take them off of the list.

Again, Linda, I am very sorry.

January 30, 2011 at 7:00 am

Thanks so much for the list of “cozy-mystery” friendly authors! Great resource for cozy fans.

February 1, 2011 at 8:19 am

I haven’t read all of the authors on the “No Profanity” list, so I am only able to go with what Cozy Mystery site readers have told me. Hopefully, if someone knows there is an author on the list who doesn’t belong there, then he/she will write and tell me…

February 11, 2011 at 7:53 am

This site is great, my first time on it . My daughter refered it to me. I have one suggestion to make it easier for us to remember the authors. I am on the Christian mystery site and there are many I want to write down to remember. A suggestion: a print option that would list the authors and series only, no description of books, that way we could just print off your suggestions and take it with us to the library or bookstore.

Jessica S. says

March 24, 2011 at 9:01 am

A great “cozy-mystery” Christian author would be Terri Blackstock. I’m currently reading her Cape Refuge series and they are just wonderful!! Check them out 🙂

March 25, 2011 at 11:53 am

Thank you, Jessica. I actually have her on my list of authors to post to the site. (I should get working on another batch!)

Lisa L. says

March 25, 2011 at 8:47 am

I just found your site and then saw that you were looking for cozy mysteries where there was little/no profanity, Christian, etc. I had JUST discovered Nancy Mehl. She writes a very good cozy, the Ivy Towers Mystery. A really good read.

March 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Lisa, Nancy Mehl is on my Heartsong Presents Mysteries page as well as the Hometown Mystery Series .

Terry S says

April 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Just found your site, and will be bookmarking it…

One thing that makes this kind of definition even harder is that many authors (including some on your list) will use an OCCASIONAL profanity–for extra “realism,” or because it allows them to establish that the character isn’t a “total prude,” or simply because they didn’t see a “nice” way of putting something that would have worked as well. And that goes back a long way.

For example (and as a warning): Dorothy Sayers’ LORD PETER WIMSEY mysteries, written in the 20’s and 30’s, are largely upstanding citizens. But Lord Peter and his acquaintance do occasionally use a word or two.

Sometimes it’s someone in the throes of strong emotion (the speech of the murderer at the end of BUSMAN’S HONEYMOON, for example). But sometimes it’s just a toss-off to give the flavor of the character. As in this, from the hero himself (from memory, so it may not be perfectly accurate–and with appropriate change in typology):

“D***!. Oh, sorry, Padre, und***! What I meant was, how very provokin’.”

April 3, 2011 at 10:41 am

You are so right, Terry S! A lot of authors occasionally use a word or two to indicate a “real” dilemma or emotion.

Recently, I have gotten several comments from Cozy Mystery site readers who really object to certain authors being on this list… for a word or two that they find objectionable. I have actually taken off a few of the authors who I thought belonged on list. I am sometimes stumped about taking an author off of this list who might have had a word or two in a particular book… an author who other than that one word or two does NOT use profanity. It’s a difficult call, and your example of Dorothy L. Sayers is a perfect of this!!!

April 7, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Hi! Yes, there are varying degrees of comfort. I don’t mind an occasional word to show strain or emotional stress. But when the main character makes the f word a part of his daily vocabulary, I avoid that author!

Maybe a second list would be in order? A medium degree list. I would certainly be interested. One of my favorites is Perry Mason. The characters will usually say “darn” but occasionally the other will come out. Yes, there is the tempting vixen, and the bad guys are not nice. But things are nicely vague, and Perry is always true to Della and never tempted.

I hope you’ll consider a second list for readers like myself!

April 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Polli, other people have recommended that I make new lists with “varying degrees of comfort”, but I would have a terrible time deciding what is passable for me VS what other people find appropriate.

May 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I can understand your dilemma. I wish the entire industry would develop a rating system for books as they have for movies and games. If I’m really enjoying a book and come across the rare “word” I’ll keep reading. But, if I’m not enjoying the book, it’s not worth reading “over” them. I dumped Evanovich after a few pages. I suggest testing the language of authors by using the library or the library book sales where you can get a book for $1.00 or less. Last weekend I bought about 25 books for $20.00. Some authors I know and like, others were trials. I’ve already gotten rid of Michelle Scott due to the “relationship” of key characters. So many to chose from, finds the ones you like then PAY for books by the authors you like. Support them.

Arnell says

June 24, 2011 at 10:26 pm

I’m so glad to have found this website! Yes there are many “clean” authors! Clair M. Poulson, Betsy Brannon Green, Jeffrey S Savage, Lynn Gardner, Josi Kilpack are a few more that I love. Please keep up the awesome work!

July 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Thank you, Arnell, for all of those authors who write books without profanity.

Jermaine says

July 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Very good suggestions, you just gained a brand new reader. I’m curious if you have any follow ups to this post?

Don Yarber says

July 28, 2011 at 4:47 am

I have recently created Airplane Books, a publishing outlet for my own series, the Kip Yardley mysteries. I do not use profanity or explicit sex scenes. There may be some inuendos in my books, and they are NOT squeaky clean, but I believe that I can tell a story without “spicing” it up. Please check out my webpage for a list of my books, or look up Airplane Books on Facebook.

Theresa says

August 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I want to add my thanks for the cozy mystery site, especially the “clean” list. It helps alot! Theresa

August 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

You’re welcome, Theresa. I know there are a lot of mystery readers who would prefer the superfluous language be kept out of their books…

August 15, 2011 at 11:35 pm

May I suggest Laura Childs books. I love the Tea Shop Mysteries and have read quite a few. I don’t ever recall reading a bad word or feeling uncomfortable with her story telling. She is fabulous!

When I read a book and finish it I feel like I have lost friends. That is why I love the cozy mysteries series. I can pick up an new edition and reunite with old friends such as Theodosia the main character in the Tea Shop Mystery Series. It also so happens to be situated in So. Carolina which is a favorite place I love to read about.

Thanks for this site. I have found other authors I am eager to learn about and read their works.

August 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Thanks, T.W., I just added Laura Childs’ Tea Shop Mystery Series to the list of Mysteries with No Profanity.

Marilynn J says

August 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I adore the Dorothy Martin series by Jeanne Dams. They are true Cozy’s by the ‘gentle’ standard. I think anyone would enjoy them as much as I do and there are two new entries in the series.

August 20, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Thanks for the reminder, Marilynn J… I am off to go add Jeanne M. Dams to the list of Mysteries with No Profanity… Thank you.

Kristine says

October 24, 2011 at 3:08 am

Thank you so much for your website and what you do! It is so wonderful to find someone who is interested in what I am and who takes the extra time to make a list such as this. I too can handle a word or two in the moment–such as Mrs. Weasley in Harry Potter–but don’t want the profanity to be over the top etc. Thank you for your dedication. I have been reading the Meg Langslow series. No, it is not totally profanity free–usually it is a bird who is spewing words–but very infrequently. No graphic sex scenes, etc and a fun, fun read. Thanks again for making this site. Finding a lot of authors I never knew about and enjoying so many of them too!

October 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Welcome to the site, Kristine! when I first started the site, I only had authors who I could vouch for. Since then, I have added many, many authors who have come recommended by site readers. Unfortunately, not having read them, I can’t vouch for them.

I, too, can take a few expletives here and there… but I certainly don’t need them all over the place! I am getting ready to write my next entry, which has to do with graphic sex scenes. Thanks, but I can definitely do without those!

December 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I like Amy Patricia Meade, she has the “Marjorie McClelland mystery series” She is a mystery writer in the med.30s. Her books are great ! I saw she as a new one out ” Well-Offed in Vermont” can’t wait to read it.

December 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Thanks, Ann. Here is Amy Patricia Meade ‘s page on the Cozy Mystery site.

JoyLynn says

March 6, 2012 at 10:49 am

I have been searching for good books that do not have profanity and sexual content. I have found some good authors. Here are a few. (They aren’t necessarily “christian authors”) Karen Young, Mary Higgins Clark, Mary Jane Clark, Sue Grafton, John Grisham. I hope to find more.

March 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Hmmm… JoyLynn… I agree with you on some of the authors you list…

March 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm

There seem to be more and more TV shows with the bad language and sexual scenes. Maybe that is one reason for so many of the major network stations having almost nothing decent to watch these days. I feel so sorry for writers and publishers having to resort to having this stuff in their books in order to sell them. I guess though all these people can think of is “a buck is a buck” huh?? Most of these books that have this kind of content aren’t really good reads.

April 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I have just started reading The Patchwork Mystery and Mystery and the Ministers Wife series. I am so thankful that I am not embarrased when I am asked what I am reading. II am really enjoying all of the diffrent authors. It’s like taking a mini vacation for free every time time i read these books. ~giggles I just wanted to say thank you for all that your doing. May God continue to bless you and all your readers.

May 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Welcome to the site, Cathy. It is nice that we can all enjoy different series, and no one “judges” us here, isn’t it? I’m glad you are enjoying the site, and hope to “hear” from you often!

June 4, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Even before I was a Christian living with atheist parents I didn’t like vulgarity or profanity. I’ve rediscoverd my love for reading & often go to the kid’s section to find books that won’t surprise me! Thanks so much for having this list. I’m going to share it on my FB page.

June 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Drema, I keep hearing about more and more people who simply don’t want to put up with profanity in their books. Agatha Christie was somehow able to write her mysteries without having to “spice them up” for her readers!

July 2, 2012 at 10:36 pm

I love mysteries and sci-fi. Had given up hope on mysteries due to language and sex. About the same with sci-fi now. I don’t need to know someone is sleeping with whomever, except as a fact (for detective thinking) and sci- fi has started to really get into same sex relationships. Gonna check out these authors, and hopefully find some people who are truly using their God given talent to motivate and get us thinking, NOT entertain (or try and fail) to get us to either ‘their view point’ or think we read the book due to the nasty things. Many of the authors filled with language and sexual situations I would not want to meet because I would be wondering what is going through their brain. In short, although too late, thank for this list. Let me know of any scifi too.

July 7, 2012 at 8:52 pm

thanks for this list I’m always checking out your list before going to the library. before I was always carrying back books unread it is so nice to have your list thanks again

July 8, 2012 at 9:43 am

I’m glad you are able to use the monthly lists, Betty.

July 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

The Recommended Books page on my website lists books I’ve read and reviewed for content, varying from four stars for no cussin’/objectionable material to one star for, well, downright embarrassing. It’s a small list right now but it’s a start! Also included are links to other sites that review clean books, including, of course. And the novels I write are totally clean, Mom won’t let me write anything else! 🙂

July 15, 2012 at 5:26 pm

This sounds great, Donna!

David Carner says

July 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm

My novels do not contain any profanity or sex scenes (frankly I can’t write them!). If you would like to read a couple of sample chapters feel free to go to . Thanks!

July 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Thank you, David, for telling us about your mystery books.

Jennifer says

July 27, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Alexander McCall Smith!! He is wonderful!! No.1 Ladies Detective Series is the BEST!!! Clean and extremly well written.

July 29, 2012 at 10:21 am

Thanks, Jennifer, I’ll go add Alexander McCall Smith to the list of Mystery Books with No Profanity .

Shenise says

August 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for the information! I’m an avid reader/listener of cozy mysteries. I, too, have been tirelessly looking for cozy mysteries and other fiction with no profanity and unnecessary sex. At first they seemed hard to come by but this site, which I’ve used in the past, has given me hope.

August 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Shenise, if you know of any other authors who fit this bill, please let me know! I get a lot of letters asking for this very same type of author.

marion says

September 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Hi, I just discovered your website a couple of weeks ago and I enjoy it and find it helpful in trying out new authors. These authors may have been already mentioned but I am trying out Donna Andrews ‘…with Peacocks” and Kate Collins ‘Mums the Word’ and find them quite clean. I am well into each one and I couldn’t say whether there are no swear words but they haven’t caught my attention. I can deal with an occasional profanity but some authors seem to use them a lot and that really bugs me so I am very pleased. Keep up the good work. I love your website and recommend it to all who will listen!

September 5, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Welcome to the site, Marion. Thanks for telling us about Donna Andrews and Kate Collins being profanity-free!

Sheryl says

September 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Just wanted to say “thank-you” for this website.Found your website today. I have a new big list of authors to check out. I love to read and appreciate good clean writing.

September 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Welcome to the Cozy Mystery site, Sheryl! I’m glad you’ve found some authors you might enjoy reading.

September 7, 2012 at 8:48 am

It’s funny but I was thinking about this subject myself just a few days ago. I am a big fan of audiobooks – I love to plug in my iPod on a drive, or take it along with me on my morning walk, and lose myself in another place and maybe time (especially if the fictional place is Italy in the springtime and reality is upstate New York in January). I was recently listening to a longtime favorite author on my morning walk, and almost stopped dead because I was so surprised to hear one of the characters swearing. A few minutes later another character swore, and then another.

I certainly don’t consider myself a prude, but I was really surprised – I just didn’t remember that kind of language in her books. I actually went back to the house, pulled the book out and checked to see if maybe they had ‘updated’ the book since it was published in the 90’s. They hadn’t – the words had always been there but they never registered before, at least not in the way they did when I heard someone read them out loud. That made all the unpleasant difference.

September 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Julia, you might have a point about profanity seeming to be worse when you hear it as opposed to reading it. I’m much more selective of the books I listen to, so I really don’t hear a lot of profanity. But, I do remember one author in particular, who I had on my “favorite authors” list years ago. I believe it wasn’t until I started listening to her books that I took her off that list.

September 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm

You know, I would be a liar if I said I don’t curse or talk about ‘sexy’ things but I don’t make a habit of it. It’s in private or if I feel very strongly about something. I can deal with curse words or sex in novels if it is occasional or truly relevant to the story. I do feel, however, that many authors seem to rely on such elements. That is tacky and unpleasant to me and is a sign of poor writing. I remember a really nice boy from high school who had every appearance of being from a nice family but whenever he spoke every other word seemed to be a curse word. I think perhaps he was trying to impress us as ‘manly’ and grownup but it was unpleasant. I hope he dropped the habit later. I can’t remember if they have NO cursing and what not but I enjoy Monica Ferris, Jill Churchill, and Leslie Meier and I wouldn’t be able to read them if there was much cursing. I also enjoy Earlene Fowler and Diane Mott Davidson but there is some cursing in them. Does not strike me as excessive though.

September 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Marion, I follow quite a few Cozy Mystery authors, and most of them have vocabularies that are big enough to not have to rely on profanity. There might be an occasional word here or there, but my “favorite authors” seem to not have to use profanity to express deep emotions. I read all of the authors who you mentioned (except for Earlene Fowler, but her first Benni Harper is in my TBR queue), and I agree about them not having to rely on expletives.

(I should note that I also follow some authors who are not Cozy in any sense of the word, and that includes the authors’ language.)

September 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Julia, I just finished a book yesterday that was a very good book that had no profanily at all. “Ellie’s Haven” by Sharlene MacLaren was set in Tennessee and Indiana during prohibition. I would say there were a lot of expressions used in the story that just might be kind of hard to believe that people really used back in those days. But then, I can remember my older family members from that time period saying and using those same expressions. The reason that I am skeptical about some of the expressions is because the villains used a lot of these expressions also. And I just can’t see someone who would smack his wife and children around, run a bootlegging business and kill people in cold blood being opposed to uttering some profanity. This was a good book, though. I hope I can find more in this series. The series of this book is from the “River of Hope Series.”

*****SPOILER***** *****SPOILER***** *****SPOILER***** *****SPOILER*****

There is a lot of what I would call “preaching” in this series and I thought the ending where everything worked out okay was a little far fetched. Things just don’t always work out how we want them too, I don’t care how hard a person prays!! But still a very good story.

October 1, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found this page! I’ve been looking all over the web for a listing of profanity-free and sexual-free reading. I bookmarked this page. I want to recommend Bodie & Brock Thoene – Christian writers whose books are fabulous! Very well researched, and very well-written. Laurie King wrote “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” about Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell – part of a series. I only read the first book, but there was no objectionable material. Beth Hoffman’s book – “Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” was very nice, too, but it was not a mystery.

October 2, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Thank you, Linda, for telling us about all of these authors!

Janice says

October 3, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I would like to recommend author Ronie Kendig. She is new -only has two books out that I can find, but both are extremely well written and exciting. No profanity, no sex, and a lot of morality. Both books are a series (and there may be more) about a group of search and rescue heros who will be denied by the goverment if caught. They have some romance in them which ties in well with the storyline.

October 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Thank you, Janice, for telling us about Ronie Kendig.

Tressa says

October 9, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Thank you for adding Lorena McCourtney. I was getting a little jaded in my efforts to find clean, cozy reads. I just read the 1st 2 “Ivy Malone” mysteries by this author…totally clean!! Fun, intelligent mystery! The first in series is free on the kindle and the 2nd is $5 Great, exciting reads!!

November 4, 2012 at 8:19 am

Peggy Darty wrote several really great christian mysteries. However, I do have trouble finding her books in stores. Google her name, and you can find a list of her books available online.

Johanna says

November 28, 2012 at 9:55 am

I love the books by Lorena McCourtney. Thank you for the list of authors.

November 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm

You’re very welcome, Johanna. I hear from a lot of Cozy Mystery readers who are tired of a lot of profanity sprinkled into their favorite mystery genre.)

Stephanie D says

December 4, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Hi- i am looking for a trilogy about a group of women that find records in the church attic indicating that the pastor that married most of the townspeople was not really a pastor – so therefore, the couples are not legally wed.

January 8, 2013 at 8:16 am

I was happy to find you, I really don’t mind terribly the language it’s a fact of life, I don’t use it but can deal with it in a good book, WHAT I DON’T LIKE IS IF THEY TAKE GODS NAME IN VAIN THAT’S WHAT I HATE.I literally tossed a book aside when it comes to that and have thrown away many a good story, couldn’t finish it once I see they use GOD’S name like that. I refuse to buy that author anymore, so was so glad to find you. I haven’t bought or read any of your books yet just found you, will keep in touch. thanks

January 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Welcome to the site, Penny!

February 4, 2013 at 5:26 am

My daughter is 12, and I would love to find some clean mysteries for her that don’t involve vampires, ghosts or any kind of supernatural stuff. Any suggestions? Sorry, this may be answered already, but I have not read through all of the comments. Thanks.

February 4, 2013 at 6:44 am

Linda, we made up a Mystery Books for Pre-Teens theme you might be interested in looking at. I hope this list helps you find some new mystery books for your twelve year old daughter.

February 4, 2013 at 11:00 am

Thanks! I’ll definitely be combing through that list!

Beth S says

March 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Kristen Heitzmann would fit the parameters of a good, clean mystery read.

March 18, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Thank you, Beth S, for telling us about Kristen Heitzmann’s Michelli Family Mystery Series.

March 22, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I just read Crewel World by Monica Ferris because it was suggested above. Although it is certainly a cozy, it does not fit the requirements of the letter that led to this post because there was quite a bit of profanity.

March 30, 2013 at 7:33 am

I came across a new-to-me series of Christian Mysteries, in a lot that I bought from a 2nd hand sale today. The “Massachusetts Mayhem” series by Elizabeth Ludwig and Janelle Mowery. There are apparently only two, so far… “Where the Truth Lies” (The one I found today) and “Died in the Wool”. So far quite good. Cheers, Susan.

March 30, 2013 at 12:13 pm

There’s also a third: Inn Plain Sight (The Massachusetts Mayhem Mystery Series).

BTW, all are 99¢ on Kindle.

March 31, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Thanks, Susan*, for telling us about Elizabeth Ludwig’s & Janelle Mowery’s Massachusetts Mayhem Mystery Series.

March 31, 2013 at 9:59 pm

As a mom of 3 boys (2 of which are special needs), I love to get lost in a good book. However, I don’t have the time to search tirelessly for a book that doesn’t offend. Your website is a breath of fresh air. Thanks for taking the time to look for quality writing for those of us who simply don’t have that time. You are a blessing! Any cozy books that involve cooking? A Happy Easter to you and thanks again!

April 1, 2013 at 11:36 am

Susan, I hope you’re able to find a few authors you enjoy reading from this list. I must warn you that I haven’t read all of these authors’ books, so I can’t personally vouch for all of them being “no profanity (swearing)”…

March 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Just looked at your Cozies by Theme and answered my own question about Cooking. Sorry about that! 🙂

Susan, I’m glad you’re exploring the site.

Rev. Sapp says

April 1, 2013 at 7:19 am

I wrote my first African American Christian Fiction Mystery because I am a huge mystery fan but am also not a fan of profanity or vulgarity. In my novel, “Pastor June and the Righteous” I am able to solve a murder without getting gory and still manage to have relevant, relatable content that address social concerns that plague today’s society.

April 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Thank you, Lee M. Sapp for telling us about your Pastor June Mystery Series.

Maggie K says

April 12, 2013 at 11:31 am

I would like to see the Secrets of Mary’s Bookstore series listed here from Guideposts. It’s a delightful series.

April 12, 2013 at 8:27 pm

That’s a great suggestion, Maggie K. I’ll work on getting the Guidepost at list together in the near future.

Blanche S. says

April 28, 2013 at 5:15 pm

The Jessica Fletcher Mysteries by Donald Bain are also very good. I have read all of Joanne Fluke’s mysteries and was glad to see she made the list. Both Donald Bain and Joanne Fluke have graciously responded to me when I have written to them praising their books.

May 2, 2013 at 10:12 am

Thank you, Blanche S, I’ll go add Donald Bain (& “Jessica Fletcher”!) to the list of Mysteries with No Swearing.

May 21, 2013 at 10:35 am

Dee Henderson ..start with Dangers in the Shadows & move into the O.Malley’s Series.

Irene Hannon is another great …She also has several series book. I like to read in order so make sure whichever you start with its book #1.

I promise these will not disappoint you.

May 22, 2013 at 10:19 am

Thanks, Debi, for telling us about Dee Henderson’s O’Malley Series and Irene Hannon’s Private Justice series.

June 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Thank you so much. It is discouraging to get into a good mystery and the swearing and other things start. I appreciate this clean list.

June 11, 2013 at 10:18 am

Dee, more than just a few people like their mystery books without profanity/swearing. I wonder why there aren’t more authors willing to write that way.

December 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I am thrilled to find this site! Now I can enjoy good mystery books without the vulgarity. I haven’t explored the complete site but is there a list of books on CD? I am in my car a lot and this is the only way I can “read”. Thanks! Sonny

December 30, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Welcome to the Cozy Mystery site, Sonny!

When I started this site years ago I could vouch for every author. (Actually I did include some authors who are not Cozy, but I added something like “Not Cozy” to their descriptions.) Since then I have posted many authors with whom I am not familiar, who have been recommended by other Cozy Mystery readers.

January 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm

I’m not sure I see any Emily Brightwell books. She writes the Mrs. Jeffries series, and they are all clean and just sweet little mysteries. They have a British slant, and I am enjoying them immensely.

January 27, 2014 at 11:36 am

Thank you, Liz, I added Emily Brightwell’s Mrs. Jeffries mysteries yesterday after I read your comment.

Hyacinth says

January 30, 2014 at 5:28 pm

I have been reading some Mary Higgins Clark. They are probably what you would call “murder mysteries” or suspense. So far, I have not encountered bad language, torrid love, or explicit sex scenes.

January 30, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Hyacinth, thank you. A while back I saw a clip with Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, talking about just that. I’ll go add her to the list.

February 7, 2014 at 10:21 am

I personally have read and own several of the Grace Chapel Inn series and Annie’s Attic and The Creative Woman series. All of the books in these series would be considered family friendly and clean. They are definitely based on their belief of God and His influence in their lives, but they also offer a good plot and ending. I’m finding it harder and harder to find any Grace Chapel books that I don’t already own being released any more. And, finding some of the older ones that don’t cost an arm and a leg because they are not being reprinted in paper back. It’s such a shame, that you get hooked on the characters and fall in love with them and then can’t find any more “new” books to keep in touch with them. Thanks Danna for all that you do to bring us up to date information on all these publications!

February 10, 2014 at 10:37 am

Carol, as you probably know, the companies that release these mysteries don’t make the chronological lists of their series available. I rely on people who are members of the mail-order clubs to let me know the titles. So in thanking me, you’re also thanking the people who take the time to write and let me know when they become aware of new titles.

February 25, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Waverly curtis barking detective mystery. The Big 1 is Dial C for chihuahua.. Only she can hear him talk.

April 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Does anyone know if the books written by Kylie Logan “button Box mystery series has any profanity in it. Thanks.

August 24, 2014 at 8:40 pm

The Benni Harper mysteries by Earlene Fowler should fit the request. Benni is a frequent church goer, occasionally quotes scripture and even the bad guys don’t curse. Consensual sex between the main character and her husband is hinted at and there is mild, social drinking. There is also murder, of course, and that’s worse than cursing in real life but ok in a book.

August 25, 2014 at 4:36 pm

BJG, thanks, again for the recommendation!

September 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Hello I would like to add Jennifer Stanley’s novels to this list. She is a cozy mystery writer and her Hope Street Church mysteries are christian-based and very good!

September 11, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Melissa, thank you! I’m going to go do that right now.

Donna McLean says

September 18, 2014 at 12:58 pm

The Butterfly Caper: a sparrow falls mystery #4 has just been released, and it fits this category perfectly. It can also be added to your “Mysteries without a Murder” list, something that quite a few readers requested!

September 20, 2014 at 11:15 am

Donna, thank you for letting us know about your 4th Sparrow Falls mystery ( The Butterfly Caper ). I am going to go add it to the Mystery Books without a Murder theme list.

Donna Mc says

September 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Thank you, Danna! Mom finished reading it last night and she says it is the best one yet and to stop murdering people in the books. LOL!

November 17, 2014 at 6:32 pm

So happy to find this website. Thanks! Glad to see Terri Blackstock’s name here. Her Christian mysteries captures your interest from the beginning and you just become a part of the story!

November 17, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Patti, welcome to the Cozy Mystery site!

Linda H says

January 1, 2015 at 12:27 pm

I appreciate so much your web site. I have been trying to find decent reads for sometime, and I really love mysteries. I have read a couple of listed cozy authors, but I had not thought of them as “cozy”. I think I am really going to enjoy your blog. Thank you for your time and effort.

January 1, 2015 at 11:37 pm

Linda H, I’m glad you’re enjoying the Cozy Mystery site. I hope you plan on joining us here in the Blog area!

January 28, 2015 at 10:26 am

A couple more mystery writers are Stephen James and Davis Bunn. So far in books I have read – no profanity.

January 28, 2015 at 11:50 am

Mary, thank you for telling us about both of them!

February 19, 2015 at 10:30 am

Mary Higgins Clark – an incredibly gifted and popular author, but not one I would recommend as an alternative to Christian literature. Actually, she writes plots dark enough that I very seldom read her anymore. Just a warning…

February 19, 2015 at 4:04 pm

Deb P, that’s a problem with this list. I have the no swearing mixed in with the faith-based books. I should go through and separate them. I put that list together for people who don’t want any strong language in their Cozies.

March 5, 2015 at 5:34 pm

What a wonderful site to stumble on – thank you for this great list of cozy mystery authors – I’ve read a good few of them including Lilian Jackson Braun, I was so sad to read of her passing what a wonderful storyteller she was. I too have tried to read Sue Grafton and agree they are great books but dislike the unnecessary language so I too will not read them. I’m looking forward to checking out some of these books at the library or on my ereader. David Rosenfelt is another great writer with humour and I have to I don’t remember now if there is any profanity – his Tara series is wonderful with his golden retriever Tara being the star.

March 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm

Diane, welcome to the Cozy Mystery site! Thanks for the David Rosenfelt shout-out!

April 12, 2017 at 2:59 pm

I just read a library sample of David Rosenfelt’s “Outfoxed” book, and there were 3 profanities, each different, just in that sample . . . .

Marlene says

April 16, 2015 at 12:41 pm

I too dislike excessive profanity and explicit sexual content in my fiction reading. I say that to qualify the rest of my statement. Although as a Christian I find much out there extremely offensive I have to defend what is a writer’s literary right and responsibility to be authentic. Realism is an issue that eludes a lot of the Christian literature. By that I mean, I have no issue with the rare use of a word of profanity for realistic depiction. Not literature peppered in it but let’s be honest, we do not live in a godly society where everyone is a Christ follower. People curse and unfortunately they seem to be cursing out in public a lot more these days. Foul language like so much other immorality is becoming common place. Little children are even cursing up a storm. So as a writer and in the interest of honest storytelling one may have to use some profanity to show the other side of this world. I don’t cotton to using profanity much but have a couple of times in a couple of novels to be authentic. Everybody is not saved and we who are of the family of faith hear profanity even if we don’t use it personally. Good storytelling doesn’t need a lot of foul language but my point is that one should not totally discount a novel because it has a couple of naughty words in it.

April 18, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Marlene, I remember getting a letter a few years ago from a Cozy Mystery reader who took exception to one of the Cozy Mystery authors I had on my “No Profanity” list. One of the criminals uttered a word she found unacceptable, and she wanted me to take the author off of the list. (The word rhymed with “fit”.) I didn’t take the author off of the list. The Cozy Mystery author had written more than a dozen Cozies by then, with absolutely no expletives in them.

I have quite a few Cozy Mystery authors who I follow, who somehow are able to get their point across without having to use expletives. However, I also am a fan of mystery authors (like Reginald Hill) who do use expletives. It would seem odd if Andrew Dalziel didn’t swear. I guess it’s all in the context.

May 13, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Thank you for this list! Also would recommend that you add the Glory, North Carolina series to Ron and Janet Benrey. Lots of fun! (though, I see the date on this list is from a few years ago, so maybe you already have. 🙂 )

May 13, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Sandy, thank you for the reminder. When I added the Glory, North Caroline Mystery Series to their page, I forgot to add it to this list. Thanks, again.

Blanche says

July 26, 2015 at 8:40 am

Thanks so much for including Barbara’s and my Darcy and Flora series in your list. It is an honor to be here.

July 28, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Blanche, and thank you for writing them!

Susan Bernhardt says

July 28, 2015 at 9:52 pm

Hello Danna. I thought I would add my two cents. The Kay Driscoll mysteries, i.e. The Ginseng Conspiracy, Murder Under the Tree, and Murder by Fireworks do not have swearing and the protagonist Kay Driscoll goes to church. Also there aren’t any sex scenes at all.

July 29, 2015 at 11:52 am

Susan, thank you so much for reminding me to add your Kay Driscoll Mystery Series to the No Profanity and/or Faith-Based list!

August 4, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Do you know how I can find out if The Mystery and the Minister’s wife series is still being written and published, and if so where do I find a listing of the newer books. The last book that I am aware of is Stranger’s in the Midst by Patricia Rushford which comes in at # 27 and that was dated as of 2/6/2013. I have checked your listing and haven’t found anything more current as of 08/04/2015.

August 7, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Rita, I believe I have the entire list of the Mystery and the Minister’s Wife series books, and that the one you mention is the last one in the series. I’d be happy to hear from others who know of any that have been published after Patricia Rushford’s Stranger’s in the Midst, though. If I hear of any more, I’ll post them.

Christy says

October 18, 2015 at 11:27 am

I was wondering if anyone could tell me whether or not Edith Maxwell’s new series is profanity free. Delivering the Truth comes out next year. I just wondered if she is known for writing clean books without the profanity. Thanks for any help!

Edith Maxwell says

March 5, 2018 at 10:04 am

All the Quaker Midwife Mysteries are profanity free, Christy. Sorry it took me so long to answers. My contemporary cozies are, too.

December 25, 2015 at 1:52 am

Just make the list totally “clean” and if someone runs across an author who is not on the list, let that person try that author out … if an author is ON the “clean” list, one should be able to depend on it. If someone doesn’t mind off color or explicit or vulgar stuff, let them go find their own mysteries. No need for YOU to have to sift and sort the degree of offensiveness — it’s either totally clean and inoffensive or not — nothing in between.

December 26, 2015 at 5:01 pm

Karen, everyone has different ideas of what is “clean” and what isn’t. I agree, everyone should make up their own mind about what they consider offensive.

Denise says

January 13, 2016 at 12:48 pm

I agree with this for sure. I am sure there are tons of good reads out there with language that some don’t find offensive at all;) I’m just searching for what I like:)

May 5, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Please consider “Mystery on Mirror Lake” and “Mystery of Spirit Spring” by Buck Million. Both are free of adult situations and adult language.

December 25, 2015 at 10:20 am

Ladies and gentlemen: What a response! OKay, Maggie Sefton, Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Beverly Lewis (Amish Mysteries), Krista Davis, M.C.Beaton, Rhys Bowen, Laura Childs, and for the non-mystery youngster age, Grace and Ruth Livingston Hill, and Betty Neels.

The lists that everyone contributed was great. Avery Aames and Ellery Adams, Lucy Burdette and Lucy Arlington also write “Clean mysteries” and Miranda James (Cat in the Stacks). for some suggestions expecially as the young lady reads above her age.

All my best to our readers, you all really are a lovely group of people, (even the men) that are Christian, decent and caring of others.

December 26, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Rob, thanks for all the recommendations.

January 13, 2016 at 12:46 pm

Thanks all of you ladies, especially Danna, I also picked up a few books and was sadly disappointed when in the first chapter or so, foul language. Ladies, I am no prude, but over the years I just changed into someone that cringes at those types of words, and can’t believe I ever used them.

Thing is, I do have something to add since I love the Lorena McCourtney series books, and, I found the series by guideposts on Mysteries of Sparrow Island. These can be really leaning towards church, and the bible, but I enjoy them because I know there won’t be any foul language.

I will read over all of your suggestions above to find more variety in my reading, so thank you much, Denise E

January 13, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Denise, you should take a look at the Annie’s Craft Company ‘s Cozy Mystery book series, along with the Guidepost Cozies…

January 18, 2016 at 11:11 am

I thought I had replied here but I wanted to thank you again Danna, for all your hard work on this site. You have helped me more than you will ever know. I come here exclusively for my reading needs now;)

I am familiar with Guideposts, as well as Annie’s, love them both!! I found many names on your list that are in the library so I checked them out to see if I could gather some “reads” there. The one I am in now I am loving, can’t put it down, and she has several others waiting for me(at the library) when I’m done;) Hannah Alexander, I was hooked from the first page!

Thanks so much, and I hope my list showed up here somewhere about who’s books I’ve found in my library2go;)

January 18, 2016 at 3:35 pm

Denise, it sounds like your library system is a great one! You have been lucky to find a lot of Guideposts and Annie’s books.

January 18, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Those you mentioned aren’t in my library, but the “below”

authors do have some there. Enough to help me fill in the spaces during the month when I can’t purchase books from B&N for my Nook:

Hannah Alexander X Ron & Janet Benrey x Lynn Bulock x Laura Childs x Mary Higgins Clark x Monica Ferris x

I am reading Safe Haven by Hannah Alexander, and I love it. A new “top of the heep” author in my opinion;)

Thank you for the response;) Denise:) PS I do get my library books from library2go as I mentioned, for digital copies to check out. Several of Lorena McCourtney books are there as well, and Terri Blackstock;)

Dottie says

March 5, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Hi. I’m new to this site. My question is.. I’m looking for some authors or books about mysteries that are clean ( no profa nity or sex) that aren’t about murder. Am I asking for the impossible? If anyone has suggestions that would be great. Thanks

March 5, 2016 at 2:42 pm

Dottie, welcome to the Cozy Mystery site! Boy, did you come to the right place to ask this question!

Here’s a theme for you to take a look at: Mystery Books with No Profanity (Swearing) and/or Faith-Based Mystery Books .

March 5, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Thanks. I’ll check it out!

March 5, 2016 at 4:24 pm

I welcome readers to check out my Darcy and Flora cozies and the first in a new series, Moonlight Can Be Murder. None of my books contain profanity or lewd scenes in any way. The Cemetery Club, Grave Shift, and Best Left Buried as well as MCBM are clean mysteries with an added helping of the shivers.

March 5, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Hi Blanche, I’m interested in your books. It’s hard to find “those” rare ones that you can’t put down, and I admit to being pickie, but I would love to read something of yours.

I will google your Darcy and Flora Cozies. As well as the other titles you added;) Copying them down now, thank you much, Denise:)

March 6, 2016 at 9:12 am

Denise, here is the Blanche Day Manos (& Barbara Burgess) page on my site.

March 6, 2016 at 9:53 am

Thank you, Denise. I sincerely hope you enjoy all of them! I appreciate your checking them out.

denise says

March 28, 2016 at 2:14 pm

I love the Guideposts series. But also, I love Hannah Alexander’s books. I use a Nook Reader, so that is the books I buy, digital. I know you can buy them as hardcopies etc. as well though.

I haven’t had any of her books that had but one, actual murder, the rest are about life in general. You might try Hideaway Home to start with. Hideaway is the first book in the series, but Hideaway Home was written later on, even though it was about the “history” of an old couple that appear in Hideaway.

Anyway, well worth checking out;) imo, Denise

March 5, 2016 at 2:45 pm

I do I do!! Most of these series do not have murders:

Hannah Alexander The Mysteries of Sparrow Island (Guideposts, lots of authors, same characters)

Lorena McCourtney (several series)

Sue Henry (I think there are more murders in hers, but it is not blood and guts)

March 28, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Thank you for this list, I have bookmarked it and plan on returning over and over.

March 28, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Jennifer, you’re welcome! I’m glad you found it…

April 2, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Delighted to find your list of cozy mysteries, clean, without profanity! Because I read them aloud, it’s particularly important to us. I’d like to add a new favorite author/series we found this year: Laurie Cass’s Bookmobile Cat Mysteries. We’re through the first 3 and in order they are: Lending a Paw, Tailing a Tabby, and Borrowed Crime. Many fun and memorable characters, some humor, some romance, and a librarian sleuth with a kind heart–someone you’d like to know.

April 2, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Jen, thanks, I’ll go add Laurie Cass to the list.

Richard says

April 3, 2016 at 7:36 am

Australian author Kel Richards has a short series set in 1930’s England with C.S. Lewis as an amateur sleuth. “C.S. Lewis And The Body In The Basement” is the first book. The religious content is very high. In fact, parts of the book read like a gospel tract. I enjoyed it just as a cozy mystery.

April 4, 2016 at 4:34 pm

Richard, thank you. I have added Kel Richards to the Religious Theme mysteries list.

December 11, 2016 at 2:57 am

Thank you for creating this list! I’m sure I’ll find a lot of nice stuff for my binge reading here 😉 I think profanities are useless in that kind of literature, and so is sex. The latter bothers me especially since the Cozy Mystery genre is supposed to be clean. Therefore, a reader like me has particular expectations. My favorite contemporary C.M. author is Nell Goddin as she keeps her stories neat and clean as well as thrilling. She is the proof that an author who can create a well developed plot, carried out by original, interesting characters, doesn’t need profanity or filth to keep the reader interested.

Heather says

March 9, 2017 at 9:44 pm

I have read Brandilynn Collins Hidden Faces series and love them. Clean Christian mystery suspense.

March 10, 2017 at 1:08 am

Heather, thanks for the suggestion! I’ll take a look at them some time.

July 1, 2017 at 12:00 am

Sorry if I’m a bit late in the game, but if your daughter likes historical mysteries, there is the Jane Austen series by Stephanie Barron (In it, Jane is kind of like Jessica Fletcher (but younger) in that wherever she is someone happens to get killed (no gory details are in the books) and she solves the mystery! It is fictional, but the author did A LOT of research and used locales Jane really was in!) I remember the s word in one book and that’s all. Not bad in a 14-book series. There is also the Carole Nelson Douglas Irene Adler series. (She is the only woman to outsmart Sherlock Holmes) That series has no swearing either-I remember the ba word used once, but someone was describing themselves as born out of wedlock (and that kind of thing is rarely mentioned in the book series) That one does kind of have a feminist leaning, but nothing too blatantly annoying. The Irene Adler series is Victorian (late 19th century), whilst the Jane Austen series is late Georgian/early Regency (early 19th century)

If more contemporary time periods are her thing, there’s the Three Investigators series. It was a YA mystery series like the Hardy Boys that started being written in the mid-60s and ended in the late ’80s. I have the whole set, but the books are kind of rare.

Hmm, what else? As said before, there’s Agatha Christie, and of course other female authors of her time like the Campion series by Margery Allegham (i might not have spelled that correctly) or the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L Sayers. Those all have murders, but they are not gory, there are no sex scenes, and maybe just d or h as far as cursing

She’s a bit older than these, but I still at 41 dust off my McGurk series by E W Hildick (they have no murders, or even serious crime usually-the detective organisation are all tweens. This series started in the early ’70s and ended in the mid-90s. Again, a rare series but I still have the set. As well as the Bobbsey Twins. Now with those, the original series ran from 1904-1979 and are not mysteries, but the 2nd series were Wanderer paperbacks from 1980-1986 and definitely are mysteries. The 3rd series is my favourite. It is called “The New Bobbsey Twins” It started in 1987 and ended in 1992. These are mysteries, and the first 17 especially are GREAT!

Now, let’s see, what other mysteries would I recommend? The Twin Connection by Adam Mills are a cool mystery series from 1989 to 1990. I have the set, but they are SUPER RARE to find

(I still have the books from my childhood, but many of these weren’t very popular, so they just kind of faded into obscurity)

I’m sure more adult and children’s books will come to me, but I think I’ve given you enough to start her off. Hopefully, my suggestions will catch her fancy!

Oh, and Terry-I DO remember the Happy Hollisters! But I wasn’t really a fan ? (Sorry)

P.S. I almost forgot-the Enola Holmes series! They are 6 books starring Sherlock’s younger sister (she’s 13) by Nancy Springer

Susan Wachtel says

July 24, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Thank you so much for this list. I like being able to read clean novel without any profanity and sexual immorality.

July 25, 2017 at 3:17 am

Susan, you’re welcome!

August 8, 2017 at 7:40 pm

These may not be considered “cozy” authors, but they write excellent Christian mysteries, very much like Mindy Starns Clark, Kristin Heitzmann and Terri Blackstock who are mentioned here: Vannetta Chapman, Kathy Herman, Colleen Coble, Rene Gutteridge.

Alyssa Maxwell is also good, very clean.

Charles Todd and Jacqueline Winspear and Victoria Thompson are not Christian authors but also write clean mysteries.

Thank you for this list.

August 9, 2017 at 1:03 am

Carol, you’re welcome and thank you for the suggestions!

Debbie C. says

October 28, 2017 at 12:28 am

Besides Guideposts’ Sparrow Island series, there are several other faith-based cozy mystery series published by Guideposts- the Secrets of the Blue Hill Library, Secrets from Mary’s Bookshop, Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries, Tearoom Mysteries, Mysteries of Silver Peak and Patchwork Mysteries- as well as the Miracles of Marble Cove series by Guideposts (they are marketed as mysteries, but I would not consider them as such) and three more Guideposts series definitely not mysteries- Stories from Hope Haven, Home to Heather Creek and Tales from Grace Chapel Inn.

October 28, 2017 at 2:46 am

Debbie, thanks for the suggestions!

Ann Dearden says

March 2, 2018 at 6:11 pm

I appreciate this list as well.

Authors that I enjoy include Dee Henderson, Lynette Eason and Irene Hannan. They are very clean (I am very picky) and all fit in the mystery suspense category.

March 3, 2018 at 4:47 am

Ann, thanks for the suggestions! I’ll have to give them a quick check some time to see if they fit on the list.

March 5, 2018 at 10:08 am

All my Quaker Midwife Mysteries are profanity free, Christian, and clean. Turning the Tide is the third one, and it releases April 8, 2018.

June 18, 2018 at 11:06 am

Love finding this site are wholesome mysteries as hard to find anymore. I’m almost finished with the Mitford series which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed so looking forward to start on your list. I have come across a seried and so far finding it’s a fun read. They are by Elizabeth Peters, called the Amelia Peabody series. Maybe the author has already been mentioned but I didn’t see her. It’s a Victorian age mystery about Egyptian archeology adventures with a women described as a female Indiana Jones.

June 18, 2018 at 11:24 am

Sonya, I’m glad you found us! Here’s Elizabeth Peters page on the site.

June 27, 2018 at 6:08 pm

So happy to find this site, which I found through “cozy mystery Christian”. I’m about 1/4 through “The Cat Who…” series which I am thoroughly enjoying. While not specifically Christian, the lead character shows kindness towards others and appreciates others who do the same. It got me wondering if there are any similar books, cozy mysteries, with Christian characters who grow in their experiences. I’m looking forward to checking out some of the recommendations here. Thank you for maintaining this site – it’s very helpful!

June 28, 2018 at 3:35 am

Jen, you’re welcome, and I’m glad that you’re finding the site helpful!

June 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm

This site was a life saver! I was about ready to quit reading with all the junk out there. Was over the moon when I came across this.

June 29, 2018 at 1:53 am

Sonya, I’m glad that the site is helpful and that you won’t be giving up reading!

joan brueggemann says

July 1, 2018 at 2:48 pm

I LOVE the 15 mystery novels by Dorothy Simpson…

If you are looking for sex and profanity.. you WILL NOT find it in her novels. They are extremely well written ( she was an English teacher ) and it is evident within the novels that she has a strong faith.. (( even though there is a murder to solve, of course !)) I have REREAD these books as I can’t find another author who holds my interest in such a way.. but I keep looking, as it looks like Dorothy has stopped writing.. ENJOY

July 18, 2018 at 1:45 pm

I was wondering if anyone could tell me if Peg Cochran’s Cranberry Cove series with the first book being Berried Secrets is without profanity? I’m new to the cozy mystery world.

July 20, 2018 at 12:18 am

Christy, unfortunately I’m not sure, though maybe someone else on the site can be more certain?

August 22, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Thank you – thank you – for this great list of suggestions and the many helpful comments that followed : )

August 23, 2018 at 1:02 am

Stacy, you’re welcome.

Florence says

September 9, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Squeallllll! This is my preferred genre of books and I am so delighted to see authors and series I have never seen before. I bookmarked this page. Your site is AWESOME.

September 10, 2018 at 5:01 am

Florence, I’m glad that the lists are helping you!

September 10, 2018 at 8:28 am

Please consider “Mystery on Mirror Lake” Buck Million. Interesting story lines and no adult language or situations. Fun read for young readers.

April 10, 2019 at 4:49 pm

Could anyone tell me if there is any profanity in the Krista Davis The Diva Series or her Paws and Claws series? Thanks.

February 29, 2020 at 8:18 pm

Julianna Deering writes a series titled Drew Farthering Mysteries set in 1930’s England. They are published by Bethany House, which is a Christian publisher. They could be worth a try.

Kevin McCarthy says

March 1, 2020 at 6:17 am

How come Terri Blackstock is not on the list?..a NYT (Christian) best seller. Start with the IF I RUN series, followed by THE MOONLIGHTER series, and you’ll be hooked

Linda M. says

June 6, 2020 at 10:20 am

For a clean read of a Christian-based series for tweens and teens, try The Fuller Creek Series, by author David C. Reyes. If your teen loves, action,adventure, mystery, school life drama, and coming of age romance, they will just love this series.

August 5, 2020 at 9:39 pm

Author Iona Whishaw’s, Lane Winslow & Inspector Darling mysteries are excellent!

Michaella says

August 8, 2020 at 6:52 pm

I am so thankful to have found this website.

August 10, 2020 at 12:22 am

Michaella, I’m always glad when people find the site as well!

August 10, 2020 at 1:43 pm

Hi, I am new to this blog and I would like to recommend the ” Port Danby Cozy Mystery Series” by London Lovett

Marvel L says

August 15, 2020 at 3:24 pm

My favorite author for cozy mysteries didn’t even make your list.. and that’s Hope Callaghan; she has many series out and I’ve read them all, they’re clean, fun, not graphic at all.. I love that she lets them be on Amazon Unlimited [cost effective]. I can’t praise her series enough, and her characters.. you never want the series to end and she lets her fans talk her into writing more.. which I love. She talks to us on FB. Probably my favorite series was Cruise Ship Cozy Mysteries and the Garden Girls, though Made In Savannah .. oh, they’re all great! LOL!

August 15, 2020 at 5:05 pm

Cozy Mysteries without a listing for Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes? He’s less risque than Agatha Christie. Just an oversight, I think, but you really ought to put him on the list.

andrea wilder says

January 23, 2021 at 9:38 am

You have left a great author off your lists. Robin Merrill writes Christian cozy mystery’s. One of my favorite characters is Gertrude Gumshoe. Love all her books. I have read them all. Some twice. Which is what brought me to your site. Looking for more books like hers.

Monique McCoy says

April 15, 2021 at 7:42 pm

One author I didn’t see on the list was Tonya Kappes and her Ghostly Southern Mystery Series. I read the first book “A Ghostly Undertaking” simple because the main character, Emma Lee Raines, was hit in the head by a 5ft Santa that fell off a roof. She and her sister run one of the funeral homes in town and now she can see the ghosts of people just just buried. I loved it and finished the whole series in a month. It’s not the normal books I go for but I loved watching the show “Father Dowling Mysteries” when I was a kid with my Grandma…. Maybe it’s fate I find it now lol

Margo B says

April 22, 2021 at 3:44 pm

I have just read the first three of the Eve Mallow Mysteries by Clare Chase. I have really enjoyed them and hope to read all the series. As yet I haven’t come across anything objectionable like bad language sex etc. I also really enjoy Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver series which to me is a cross between Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. Thank you for this website it is so helpful.

April 25, 2021 at 12:26 am

Janet Bolin and Lee Strauss don’t have profanity in their books. I’m glad I found your website. I like to read cozy mysteries, but so many of them have language I find offensive.

Diana Denham says

June 26, 2021 at 1:36 pm

Sara Rosett should be on this list. Her “On the Run” series is great as are her other series!

Karen Bergmann says

October 25, 2021 at 7:20 pm

I would add Sara Rosett’s other series, too: High Society Lady Detective, Ellie Avery, and Murder on Location.

February 6, 2022 at 4:47 pm

I recently discovered Hope Callahaghan’s books. She does several series, all very clean and even Christian based. Very cozy! One of her series is about a retiree who has taken a job as assistant cruise director on a cruise ship, another is Mafia widow and her daugher who move to Savannah, GA, to make a new start in life. Another is the Garden Girls, a group of women in a small town in Michigan, who solve mysteries in their small town. And she has more!

April 4, 2023 at 4:18 pm

Yes… Hope Callaghan for sure! She’s one of my favorite authors.

Her mysteries are very clean, also very fun to read. She’s got a lot of cozy mysteries in like 8 different series that I’m working my way through.

The other thing I really like about her books, is they are not cookie cutter plots.

February 28, 2023 at 9:42 am

The Cuck Winters Thrillers, Foreign Involvement, Ghost in the Night, Steps Ahead in Morocco, Zurich Contact and Gone to Goa, do not have swear words and hopefully you will enjoy these books. More to come.

Louis J Granoff says

April 12, 2023 at 10:01 pm

-Steven James

-Ted Dekker

-Frank Peretti

September 13, 2023 at 6:51 pm

I’ve been reading the Secrets of Wayfarer Inn published by Guidepost. Love them.

HanHue says

February 3, 2024 at 10:42 am

Just finished Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanna Fluke Long book and seemed clean. Near the end multiple uses if profanity were used. 😞It is disgusting that people do that. I have noticed that with shows too (supposedly clean and once you are 2-3 seasons in and do not want to stop the profanity begins and grows).

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Book Marketing for Self-Publishing Authors

Home / Book Publishing / 29 Book Publishing Companies For Authors Without Agents

29 Book Publishing Companies For Authors Without Agents

Ten years ago, you never would have dreamed of getting your book traditionally published without an agent. But these days, the sky's the limit for authors.

The pros and cons of traditional vs. self-publishing have been hashed out a number of times.

So you know even though there are plenty of pros to self-publishing a book , there’s something validating about writing a book that’s so good a publishing company wants to claim and sell it as one of their own. Maybe you’re one of the many writers who'd like to have a book published through the traditional route, or you're looking to branch out and try it alongside independent publishing.

You’re not alone.

If you’ve ever considered seeking publishing companies to take a look at one of your books, you could find a literary agent, or there are plenty of legitimate publishing companies that accept proposals from authors without agents too!

  • What the deal is with literary agents and why you might not need one
  • 30 of the best book publishing companies I found that accept proposals directly from new authors–no agent needed
  • How you can get noticed by publishers and editors
  • How to spot “vanity presses” and make smart publishing decisions

Table of contents

Traditional publishing & literary agents–what’s the deal.

  • The Cons of Using an Agent
  • How to Find Other Publishing Companies
  • 1. Self-Publishing School
  • 3. Chronicle Books
  • 5. Flashlight Press
  • 6. Skyhorse Publishing
  • 7. Free Spirit Publishing
  • 8. Five Star
  • 9. Kensington Publishing Corp.
  • 10. Beacon Press
  • 11. Black Inc.
  • 12. Persea Books
  • 13. BelleBooks/Bell Bridge
  • 14. Seven Stories Press
  • 15. Jollyfish Press
  • 16. Oneworld Publishing

17. Black & White Publishing

  • 18. Angry Robot
  • 19. Evernight Publishing

20. Felony & Mayhem

  • 21. Chicago Review Press

22. Albert Whitman & Company

  • 23. Charlesbridge
  • 24. Peachtree
  • 25. Turner Publishing
  • 26. Koehler Books
  • 27. TCK Publishing
  • 28. Graywolf Press

29. Union Square & Co. (Formerly Sterling Publishing)

  • Follow the Guidelines
  • Be Professional and Polite
  • Build Connections
  • Make It Your Best Work
  • Be Open to Feedback
  • Build Your Author Platform
  • An Important Note About Vanity Presses
  • Get After It

Caveat : As you all know, I've never traditionally published.  So I want to be upfront and let you know that the below is purely research-based and does not imply that I have used the below publishers. You can search for publishers and agents on websites like , , or .

Why Am I Qualified to Talk about Publishing Companies?

Let's face it, there are many people out there that write these kind of articles by just doing some research on what others say, and regurgitating it out without firsthand knowledge of the tools in question (or worse, have AI write it for them). That's not the case here.

As someone who's been publishing books for over 13 years, I've seen a lot companies come and go (most of them scams). There's always the big companies which everyone knows about, but those are hard to get your foot in the door, and there are a lot of smaller options as well.

However, choosing the right publishing company isn't just about picking the most popular one. It's about finding a good match.

So, in order to create a top-notch overview of the best publishing companies out there, I sent out surveys to my readers, and talked to some heavy-hitting authors in the industry – many of which I have been a consultant to as well.

Based on my observations, the results from those surveys, and talking with some of the most well-known authors out there, I feel very strongly that this is a subject I can truly tackle.

So, with that, let's jump into a list of what I think are the best proofreading tools for authors.

When you think of traditional publishers, the Big 5 might be your first thought:

  • Hachette Book Group
  • HarperCollins
  • Macmillan Publishers
  • Penguin Random House
  • Simon and Schuster

If youre shooting for the Big 5 publishers, I've learned they're the apex of publishing prestige, but incredibly selective. They only consider works submitted through agents. For writers like me and you, our writing must be exceptional and fit popular genres. Nonfiction authors need a unique angle, marketable ideas, and a solid platform.

I found the key step is finding an agent who's passionate about my book. A great agent not only improves the manuscript but also tirelessly hunts for the best deal. They act as a business manager, connecting with editors and handling contract negotiations. It's a tough journey, so brace yourself for hard work and dedication.

In my experience, finding the right agent involves extensive research to avoid scammers or amateurs. Once you find a legitimate agent who loves your book, remember, a publishing deal isn't guaranteed. Agents, like authors, face many rejections before landing a publisher.

Keep in mind, agents take a 15% cut from your book sales. If you're open to alternatives, consider publishing without an agent. Many reputable medium and small publishers now accept direct submissions, bypassing the need for an agent. This trend is growing, with even larger publishers occasionally opening direct submission periods to discover new authors.

Although small publishing houses don't have the same clout with retailers or the same resources for marketing and publicity , most still have talented  editors , designers, and passionate professionals for publishing great books.

One of the book publishing companies on my list is even an imprint of Penguin Random House, and yes, they accept contacts from authors directly. Plus, here's an example of a brand new author who got a contract with Baen Books, another publisher on my list, and his novel has great reviews on Amazon.

Publishers To Consider (Even If You're a New Author)

Below is a list of 19 book publishing companies that authors can contact directly. For each publishing house, you'll find:

  • A link to their website
  • What they publish
  • Any significant notes about their publishing history
  • A link to their submissions guidelines for authors
  • Whether they accept proposals via snail mail, electronically, or both
  • The estimated response time (if it was given on their site)
  • A link to their catalog of previously published books, and
  • Location of the publisher

When you find one that sounds interesting or like it might be a fit for your goals as an author, bookmark it. This could bring you one step closer to becoming a (traditionally) published author.

Note:  Be sure to check each of the publishing companies' websites and submission requirements carefully. You'll make a great first impression by applying only to those publishing houses that carry books like yours.

One of the best ways to find successful publishing companies is to analyze the genre for your book and see what other companies are publishing books in that genre.

If you're doing this manually, this can take a very long time, and you'll end up finding a lot of other companies that aren't really great.

Thankfully, there's a tool that makes it easy to see all of the major publishers for the bestsellers of any genre.

That tool is Publisher Rocket .

With Rocket's category analysis tool, you can easily find a list of publishers for any genre by doing the following:

  • Finding your desired category/genre through the Category Search
  • Clicking on the “Insights” link
  • Hover over the “i” icon under the Large Publisher tile
  • Find a list of large publishers in that genre

A lot of these publishing companies will be traditional publishers, so you can reach out to them if you want a traditional publishing deal. Or you might find some hidden gems, like lesser known but successful small publishers.

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Write and format professional books with ease.  Never before has creating formatted books been easier.

30 Book Publishing Companies That Accept Proposals Directly From Authors

  • They publish a massive variety of nonfiction, fiction, and children’s books
  • They have helped over 7,000 authors in just 7 years, so there’s proof their system works
  • They pride themselves on not just helping authors publish, but actually sell their books (and they don’t take a royalty cut from your sales)
  • They have additional training, support systems, community, and coaching for authors, which is included if you are accepted
  • Submission guidelines – NOTE: YOU MUST SCHEDULE A STRATEGY CALL so they can hear about your book idea and see if you’ll be a good fit with their organization
  • They can usually hop on the phone with you within 48 hours of applying
  • They will assign a 1-1 coach to you after you’re accepted and give you access to a lot of supplemental course and training materials
  • See Successful Students Here.
  • See Their Library Here.
  • Virtual, based mostly in US
  • Publish science fiction and fantasy
  • A respected and popular publishing company, and an imprint of Penguin.
  • Submission guidelines
  • They only accept snail mail submissions and full-length novels of at least 80,000 words . They do not accept short stories or novellas.
  • They require submissions to be exclusive to them, however, if they take longer than three months to review your manuscript, then you can submit elsewhere
  • New York, New York
  • Children’s books and Adult trade (not adult fiction)
  • Their books are everywhere as they even have international retail stores
  • Different guidelines if you’re submitting children’s or adult trade, so follow carefully
  • Will only respond if interested in publishing
  • Browse their books here
  • San Francisco, California
  • Science fiction and fantasy only
  • One of the most respected publishers of Science Fiction and Fantasy books, they are one of the few established publishers that will accept full-length manuscripts from authors without an agent
  • Submission guidelines here
  • Strongly prefer electronic submission through their submission form
  • Take longer than typical to hear back (9-12 months)
  • Wake Forest, North Carolina
  • Publish children’s fiction picture books targeted to 4-8-year-olds
  • Their books are beautifully illustrated and they only publish 2-4 each year. Their company and individual books have won many awards. They distribute internationally.
  • Please follow the guidelines exactly
  • Books should be less than 1,000 words with a universal theme dealing with family or social situations and fit within their catalog of books
  • If interested, they will contact you within 3 months.
  • Brooklyn, New York
  • One of the fastest-growing independent publishers in the U.S. with 15 imprints and a backlist of over 6,000 titles.
  • They publish pretty much everything, both fiction and nonfiction, adult, young adult, and children’s books.
  • They’ve had 43 titles on the New York Times bestseller list in the 10 years they’ve been publishing.
  • You’ll hear from them within 4-6 weeks if they are interested in seeing more of your manuscript.
  • You can browse their titles here
  • Publish nonfiction books and learning materials for children, teens, parents, educators, counselors, and others who interact with young people
  • They produce 20-25 new titles per year and have a strong distribution through major trade and library distributors, in bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, on, and their widely distributed mail order catalog.
  • They are looking for nonfiction proposals in these categories: Teaching Strategies & Professional Development, Early Childhood, Gifted & Special Education, Bullying Prevention & Conflict Resolution, Character Education, Leadership & Service Learning, Educational Games, Posters, & Jars, and Counseling & Social-Emotional Learning (at the time of this writing)
  • They only accept proposals through mail.
  • Their response time is usually 2-6 months
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Open to Mystery and Western fiction submissions
  • Connected to large academic companies Gale and Cengage Learning
  • Without an agent or previous book published, will need to query a general editor ( [email protected]) to get full submission guidelines. You should include your name, contact information, and genre. Submissions are accepted electronically only.
  • They will respond, but it may take some time
  • Their website was more difficult than most for authors seeking publishing companies, but they also have a Facebook page for more information
  • Waterville, Maine
  • Known as “America’s Independent Publisher,” they have a bunch of imprints
  • Publish over 600 fiction and nonfiction titles each year, including a range of popular genres such as romance, women’s fiction, African American, young adult and nonfiction, true-crime, western, and mystery titles
  • Published some New York Times bestselling authors
  • You should review their editors’ interests and submit to the one you think is the best fit for your book
  • They will only respond if they are interested.
  • You can browse their book categories and titles here
  • Publish serious nonfiction of deep fundamental issues, such as respect for diversity, religious pluralism, anti-racism, justice, equity, and compassion for all humans
  • At the time of this writing, they are not accepting self-help, new poetry, or fiction books
  • Submissions
  • They only accept electronic submissions.
  • They will contact you within 3 weeks if interested in seeing a full proposal after considering your query
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Publish a variety of fiction and nonfiction, but not poetry or children’s books
  • Open to submissions from Australian writers only and via email only
  • If they are interested in your manuscript, they will contact you within 8 weeks.
  • Explore their website
  • Carlton, Victoria, Australia
  • Fiction and nonfiction.
  • They accept literary novels, creative nonfiction, memoirs, essays, biographies, books on contemporary issues, anthologies, and limited poetry and young adult titles.
  • They do not publish genre fiction, self-help, textbooks, or children’s books
  • You should submit your submissions package through the mail
  • BelleBooks originated to publish Southern fiction before creating the substantial imprint Bell Bridge, which publishes a wide variety of genres
  • Publish everything from anthology to young adult, including children’s books, fantasy, nonfiction, romance, mystery, and women’s fiction.
  • Submission guidelines – CURRENTLY CLOSED TO SUBMISSIONS
  • This page includes to-the-point answers to questions like What do editors want? Why was your book rejected? And specific submission instructions, editor to contact, and word count by genre.
  • They do not accept simultaneous submissions unless you’re agented.
  • Typical response is 3-6 months
  • Browse their books
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Publish fiction and nonfiction, and the occasional book of poetry
  • Books are distributed by Random House
  • You should submit the requested materials through mail only.
  • Check out their titles . You’ll notice their subjects include feminism, LGBTQ, environmentalism, human rights, and journalism.
  • Publish a variety of commercial and literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, thrillers, young adult, humor, romance, and women’s fiction.
  • A newer publisher started in 2012, was acquired by North Star Editions, Inc. in October 2016
  • Should submit through email only
  • Their About Us page tells what their editors are looking for , which can be helpful for authors seeking publication
  • Book titles
  • Provo, Utah
  • Nonfiction and literary fiction. Categories include self-help, biographies, religion, history, business, and more.
  • Approximately 100 books per year internationally.
  • They have a submission form for authors to download and complete
  • Make sure your book fits in with their previously published titles
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Fiction and nonfiction, including women’s fiction (chick lit, saga, and romance), crime and psychological thrillers, contemporary YA and new adult crossovers, children’s fiction … and nonfiction: memoirs, sport (the UK and Ireland especially), humor, food and drink, and activity books
  • A leading independent Scottish publisher open to work by authors from UK, Ireland, and beyond
  • They prefer you use their online submission form, but they will accept mail
  • You should hear back within 3 months if they are interested
  • United Kingdom
  • A respected adult science fiction and fantasy publisher, who occasionally publishes horror too
  • British-based but has great distribution in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. Part of Watkins Media Ltd
  • They have “open door” periods periodically (like every 18 months or so) when they accept manuscripts from authors without agents. Check their website to find out if it’s currently an open door period
  • You can submit to them anytime if you have a literary agent or if you’ve been recommended to them by an author already on their list
  • Submissions are only accepted electronically
  • They prefer books targeted to adults rather than junior or young adults. You can browse their books here
  • They seek complete manuscripts between 10,000-100,000 words in sub-genres of romance and erotic romance.
  • Your submission should be exclusive to this publishing house
  • They will make a decision on your proposal within 12 weeks
  • Browse their website to see if yours fits
  • A print and digital literary mystery fiction book publisher
  • They only accept electronic submissions, preferably in Word docs
  • Word count must be at least 80,000 words. 85,000 is preferred.
  • They prefer mysteries with plots related to literature, philosophy, religion, academia, history, music, art, politics, food and wine, theatre, magic, anthropology, and settings outside the U.S.
  • Their book titles are here
  • A variety of both fiction and nonfiction. They have several imprints, including an award-winning line of children’s and young adult nonfiction books
  • Carefully review submission guidelines relevant for you
  • You can even learn more about the acquisition editors you’ll be contacting
  • Here are their book titles
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Children’s books from 0-15, from board books to young adult
  • Picture books, middle-grade fiction, and young adult fiction each have their own submission details to follow
  • You should hear from them within 6 months if they are interested
  • Browse their catalog
  • Park Ridge, Illinois
  • Publishes primarily books for children , but also adult nonfiction and puzzle books. Their submission guidelines also state they are accepting young-adult novels.
  • Submit through mail
  • They will respond if they are interested only.
  • Here are their children’s books
  • Watertown, Massachusetts
  • Specialize in children’s books, from board books to picture books to young adult fiction and nonfiction. They also maintain a line of adult backlist titles covering consumer references in health, education, and parenting; regional guide books about Southern US; adult fiction, biography, and memoirs with a focus on Southern authors.
  • Send through mail
  • Their review process typically takes 6-9 months
  • Check out their books
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Little bit of everything – children’s, health & fitness, cookbooks, literary fiction, thriller/suspense, family & relationships/religion, juvenile fiction, history, humor, science, sports, romance, and nonfiction
  • Their submissions don’t provide a lot of guidelines except where to email your materials
  • They will contact if interested
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Two publishing models : 1) Traditional model for experienced and agented authors with good sales. 2) Hybrid/co-publishing for new and emerging authors who need help and coaching.
  • A wide array of genres, including memoirs, military, Business, Fiction, self-help mystery, thriller young adult and women
  • They do not accept previously published books
  • Fill out their submissions form and expect to hear back within 1-2 weeks
  • View their home page
  • Virginia Beach, VA
  • They publish a wide range of nonfiction and fiction (but not poetry or children's picture books)
  • They only accept digital submissions of completed manuscripts or book proposals on their website or via email
  • Different guidelines if you're submitting fiction or nonfiction, so read carefully
  • They respond to all submissions with a yes or no within 21 days
  • Browse their titles here
  • Granger, Indiana
  • They publish poetry, memoirs, essays, fiction, and nonfiction
  • Submissions are opened and closed at different times
  • Publishes only about 30 books annually
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • They publish a massive variety of adult, young adult, and children’s books
  • They have over 60 years in business and over 5,000 titles in print
  • They have several imprints, including one for food, wine, and spirits; another for body, mind & spirit; another for crafting, decorating, and outdoor living; yet another for puzzles and games.
  • For children’s books, they publish both fiction and nonfiction. They even have an imprint that publishes workbooks and flashcards for students in preschool through middle school.
  • They accept submissions from authors through mail.
  • It sounds like they respond to all submissions via mail or phone within several months.
  • Browse their catalogs here

How To Get Noticed by Publishers

Once you've decided you want one of your books published, it's time to put in the work to get noticed and stay out of the slush pile.

Here are the strategies I'll take a look at:

  • Follow the guidelines
  • Be polite and professional
  • Build connections at conferences
  • Make it your best work
  • Be open to feedback
  • Build your author platform

Read and follow the stinkin’ guidelines.

Then read and follow them again.

Provide the publisher with exactly what they request in the method requested. If they say strongly prefer electronic submissions, give yourself a bonus point and submit your materials electronically.

Do not send your full manuscript unless they explicitly ask for it in their submission guidelines, or after they’ve expressed interested in your query letter.

Write an amazing query letter. This is like the cover letter you write when you’re applying for job, hoping for an interview. You need to write your best pitch to sell your book in a one-page letter, hoping the editor or agent picks your book to “interview” further.

Many publishers also request a synopsis or a brief summary of your entire story. Sample chapters are another common request for publishing companies. Most guidelines specify if they want one, two, or your first five. Give them what they ask for.

Nonfiction authors need to write a killer book proposal to show your book idea will sell, and that you have the credibility to give the advice. Among other things, your book proposal will include a detailed analysis of similar books already on the market, how your book is different, who will buy the book (your target audience), and why they need it, your author bio, a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline, and sample chapters. You’ll want to spend a fair amount of time researching and preparing your book proposal, which will probably end up being between 10 and 25 pages long.

Ultimately, send them quality work of what they ask for — nothing more, nothing less.

In all of your interactions as an author, you’ll be noticed for being polite and professional. In your letters, emails, social media, phone calls, and in-person conversations, show courtesy and professionalism and people will be more likely to want to do business with you.

If you come across as rude and unprofessional, people are not going to want to work with you. Editors receive an unbelievable number of submissions every month, so be patient and humble as you’re pursuing a publisher.

Good old fashioned one-on-one networking with people who work at publishing companies is another way to increase your chances of getting your foot in the door.

Publishers are more likely to at least carefully consider queries from someone they recognize, so bust out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to people at conferences and summits. You never know where a connection may lead.

This is another “should go without saying,” but before you start pitching editors or agents, make sure your work is your best work. This goes for your manuscript as well as all of your submission materials. Read them out loud. Have someone else edit them. This is part of being professional. Don’t waste the publisher's time or yours by submitting sloppy materials.

Another tough one for some authors is being open to feedback. If your editor, your agent, and your beta readers give you feedback, have an open mind to it. Consider their point of view and seek more opinions or information if you’re unsure.

You probably won’t follow every piece of advice given (sometimes they're contradictory), but often I and other authors are so blind to our passionate work that we miss the flashing red lights only outsiders can see. Tweak what’s necessary to create a more compelling book.

Finally, and this is especially important for nonfiction authors but doesn’t hurt for fiction authors either, build your author platform.

Design a professional author website that showcases your previous work if you have any and have your social media author accounts ready to go.

Showing the publishing companies that you have established a place in the world as an author by building a big email list will certainly help. This sends the message that you’ll be more like a partner to them in marketing your book — something they’ll love to see.

Apart from the 30 publishing companies on this list, not every company out there has your best interests at heart. Much like in the indie world, there are people out there who are more than happy to use you as a means of earning themselves money. Vanity presses are publishing companies that charge you a fee to publish your book, and do nothing to market it or professionally edit it. Be wary of any company that wants you to pay them to publish your story. If this happens, run for the hills.

If you're unsure of the difference between legitimate publishing houses and these ‘vanity presses,' check out this helpful guide that will clear things up for you.

If the prestige, validation, greater potential of having your very own book on bookstore shelves, and the potential for literary awards is exciting to you, then researching and contacting publishing houses that seem the best fit for your writing may now be on your to-do list.

If reading about these publishing companies is exciting to you, or you've always known getting a publishing contract would mean the world to you, then why not go after it?

One thing I do know is if you never try, you’ll never know.

Side note: if you're interested, I also have an article to help you find the best self-publishing company here .

And as you’ve learned, you don’t even have to have an agent. You'll probably get a rejection or five, but don't get discouraged. There are plenty of legitimate book publishing companies out there just waiting to find the next talented author.

Why not you?

Dave Chesson

When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.

  • Traditional Publishing & Literary Agents--What’s The Deal?
  • 17. Black & White Publishing
  • 20. Felony & Mayhem
  • 22. Albert Whitman & Company
  • 29. Union Square & Co. (Formerly Sterling Publishing)

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5 thoughts on “ 29 Book Publishing Companies For Authors Without Agents ”

I found your site terribly informative. As a rank amateur, many of my questions were answered. Permit me one dumb question – is it considered improper to submit a work to more than one publisher at a time? Told you i was an amateur.

Glad you’re liking it. As for your question, no, no it isn’t.

What about Bookouture, they accept manuscripts without an agent. They do not pay advances but pay higher royalties

Excellent, informative article. Thanks for sharing.

Glad you liked it.

Comments are closed.

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Jewish Identity with and Without Zionism

By Gideon Lewis-Kraus

Photo illustration of a door with two doormats on either side one of the Israeli flag and the other with the American flag.

Although the prospect seems scarcely imaginable now, there was a time, not very long ago, when American Jews were free to have no particular thoughts or feelings about Israel. This was true not only of run-of-the-mill Jews but of intellectuals and writers as well. And it wasn’t merely that assimilation—an act at once idealistic, pragmatic, and mortifying—was more pressing to a Philip Roth or a Saul Bellow than one’s relationship, one way or another, to the nascent Jewish state. It’s that Israel, and Zionism, didn’t seem like relevant objects of concern. This is no longer a tenable position. Joshua Cohen’s novel “ The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family ,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2022, is a revisionist history that needed little more than a year to lie in wait for its time. The book is premised on a counterfactual: What if the American Jewish intellectuals of the interwar period—that is, between the end of the Second World War and the Six-Day War—had been forced to wrestle with Zionism? And what if their Zionist challenger hadn’t represented the ostensibly liberal, humanist, kibbutznik wing of the movement that was then in ascendance, but the expansionist, chauvinistic, Messianic contingent then in retreat? These aren’t idle questions.

Cohen’s novel is narrated from the present but takes place in 1959, to coincide with the publication of Roth’s “ Goodbye, Columbus ,” a book with only a single glance over its shoulder at Israel—a reference to the fact that the American Jew, when he thought about Israel at all, then considered it a place that didn’t have enough trees. Very loosely based on a personal anecdote relayed to Cohen (who, I should probably note, is a friend of mine) by the late Harold Bloom, “The Netanyahus” tells the story of an encounter between Ruben Blum, a first-generation scholar of taxation—“I am a Jewish historian, but I am not an historian of the Jews,” he warns, defensively—and Benzion Netanyahu. At the time, Benzion was a largely unknown and quasi-mystical interpreter of the Iberian Inquisition—which, for him, represented the perennial efflorescence of antisemitism as a racialized (and hence ineradicable) phenomenon. Much later, he became known as the (spiritual and, incidentally, actual) father of Bibi, the current Israeli Prime Minister , and as, in Bibi’s retelling, the patriarch of American-Israeli relations. Blum, as the lone Jew on a rural campus that stands in for Cornell, is asked by his Waspy, alcoholic department head to host Benzion for a job talk. Benzion, who believes that the Jewish people can only be safeguarded in perpetuity by Jewish state power, has become persona non grata in Israel in part for the extremity of his views—the territorialist belief, for example, that Jewish sovereignty ought to extend over “Greater Israel.” He has been invited to interview for a joint appointment in the college’s history department and its seminary. The rationale is budgetary, but Benzion, despite his secularism, exploits the irony of the occasion to try out the kind of end-times ethnonationalism that will soon drive Religious Zionism and the settler movement.

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Blum, for his part, has done his best to leave seminarian attachments behind. His Bronx childhood straddled a yawning divide between his religious education—rabbis droning on about the Jew’s existence outside time, in an eternal recurrence of exile, persecution, and dispossession—and its American counterpart: destiny made manifest in ceaseless forward motion. He ultimately chooses to study history of not the Judeo-pessimistic but the Whiggish departmental variety. Benzion’s arrival heralds, for Blum, the return of the repressed. The sly patricidal joke of the book is that Roth was only half right to identify Jewish American repression as sexual. Although the novel culminates in a comic episode of priapism, the libidinal emancipation of the Netanyahu family owes less to Sigmund Freud than it does to Theodor Herzl. What has been repressed, for Blum, isn’t sex but Israel—both the actual state and its reconstituted form of muscular Jewish identity.

In the beginning of “The Netanyahus,” both Blum and Benzion feel as though they have at last entered history. For Blum, this has meant a self-conscious climb into American middle-class hide-a-bed comfort. (He has compromised with the rabbis of his youth by specializing in the subdiscipline of economic history, where Jews might not have been agents but were at least reliable subcontractors.) Benzion, however, is inflamed by the idea that it was only with the “ingathering of exiles to Zion” that Jews emerged as a proper people on the world stage. Benzion considers Blum a delusional fool for having bought the kind of “integration” America is selling him: extermination on the installment plan. (Blum’s daughter effectively risks her life for a nose job.) Blum, for his part, believes that what Benzion professes is not history but thinly veiled theology. He is nonetheless drawn in, to his surprise and discomfort, by Benzion’s provocation that American Jews have ransomed themselves for the fantasy of belonging.

What makes their overlap a “minor and ultimately negligible episode” for Benzion, if not for Blum, is that their encounter is one of ships in the night. The two figures—the uneasily Americanized Jew and the fervently ideological Zionist—glance off each other, bound in orthogonal directions. As Blum reflects:

Just about a decade prior to the autumn I’m recalling, the State of Israel was founded. In that minuscule country halfway across the globe, displaced and refugee Jews were busy reinventing themselves into a single people, united by the hatreds and subjugations of contrary regimes, in a mass-process of solidarity aroused by gross antagonism. Simultaneously, a kindred mass-process was occurring here in America, where Jews were busy being deinvented, or uninvented, or assimilated, by democracy and market-forces, intermarriage and miscegenation. Regardless of where they were and the specific nature and direction of the process, however, it remains an incontrovertible fact that nearly all of the world’s Jews were involved at mid-century in becoming something else; and that at this point of transformation, the old internal differences between them—of former citizenship and class, to say nothing of language and degree of religious observance—became for a brief moment more palpable than ever, giving one last death-rattle gasp.

We never learn much about Blum the contemporary narrator, the Blum who can recall this supposedly “negligible” episode in such agonizing detail, although we can infer from his stray comments about the contemporary campus atmosphere of “grievance” that he entertains some culturally reactionary sympathies. Part of this might be his sense that there is no place for Jews in the new landscape of competitive victimhood—that identity politics has become a militarized option for every minority aside from his own. And one can safely assume that Israel and Zionism are no longer things that Blum feels the desire or latitude to ignore. It’s clear, from his analysis of the “death-rattle gasp” of difference between his own attitude and Benzion’s, that the latter’s views are no longer as alien to him as they were in 1959. The twinned transformations might not have been quite so divergent after all. Like escaped prisoners in a screwball buddy comedy, they’re about to realize that they’re shackled together. Understanding the mechanisms—inevitable and otherwise—that effectuated that shift is an exercise Cohen leaves to the reader.

The problem, as Cohen is aware, is that most American Jews have forgotten, or perhaps never knew, how estranged a figure like Blum might have felt at mid-century from someone like Benzion, and thus have no real idea how we came to take for granted the troubled kinship between American Jews and Israel. How did American non-Zionist Jews become liberal Zionists or even right-wing Zionists? (And how, in turn, did their grandchildren become anti-Zionists?) When Cohen’s book first appeared, it was read as a comic allegory about identity politics. This is true, although it was at the same time a tragic allegory about identity politics. The present moment, when the boundary between identity politics and global realpolitik has become blurry, clarifies the novel’s stakes. Two new books—Shaul Magid’s “ The Necessity of Exile: Essays from a Distance ,” completed just before October 7th , and Noah Feldman’s “ To Be a Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People ,” written late enough to be updated—provide judicious, sober genealogies of the political and spiritual conflicts that have afflicted Jewish communities in light of their relationships to Israel. Taken together, they invite a more capacious understanding of Jewish lives and Jewish futures in the diaspora.

Magid, a professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth and an ordained rabbi with a pulpit on Fire Island, was raised in a New York suburb by secular Socialist parents with ties to the Workmen’s Circle, then a mutual-aid society devoted to the cultivation of Yiddish cultural autonomy. In 1978, as a hippie in his early twenties, he moved to Israel in an aimless search for spiritual communion. He had, by his own admission, no interest in Zionism or even Judaism, but he sought by instinct a sense of cosmic affinity in the sunlit uplands of the ancients. Over the years, he took up with like-minded counterculturalists in a Jerusalem yeshiva, fell in and out of various Haredi communities, and spent time among the early settlers. As he wandered in the desert, he was exposed to crosscurrents of Messianism. On the one hand, he was introduced to the dwindling strongholds of religious anti-Zionism, whose proponents maintained a “spiritual posture” against the establishment of a secular Jewish nation, which violated two thousand years of rabbinical teaching about exile; he eventually came to read Joel Teitelbaum, the Satmar rebbe and a lifelong opponent of the Jewish state, a homecoming that was supposed to occur only with the arrival of the Messiah. On the other hand, Magid was attracted to the then marginal rise of Religious Zionism, which married Romantic ideals about nation and land to a divine quest for the deliverance of the Jewish people. The Religious Zionists, who looked upon the settlement of their God-given enclave as a necessary precursor to the fulfillment of the covenant, “truly believed they were the vanguard, riding the wave of messianic time.” He writes, “To me, it appeared to be a Jewish spiritual path that had left Europe behind. Its center was not the nostalgia of the shtetl but the mysterious resonance of a more ancient landscape. I later came to see that while the former was quaint and outdated, the latter was powerful yet dangerous.”

He catches an early glimpse of disturbance on the horizon at a Shabbat service in Atzmona, a settlement in Gaza. He writes, “Gazing out at the village of Khan Yunis, seeing Palestinians riding their donkeys and carts home from the market, and hearing the call to prayer from the many mosques that dotted the landscape, I realized that the people in Atzmona did not really see the Palestinians as coinhabitants; they were not part of their project. The settlers viewed their neighbors as part of the background, like the flora and fauna.” Something, he says, “broke inside me in that beautiful spot by the sea.” At the time, as Religious Zionism was beginning to coalesce as a political movement, Magid observes that Palestinians were still not exactly seen as enemies; they were more like natural features of an Oriental panorama, obstructions to the Zionist project to be rearranged or removed by God’s will. By the time Magid served in the I.D.F., though, during the first intifada, the hostility had become explicit. The tensions between his apolitical spiritual yearning and the reality of the political project on the ground became too much for him to bear. Some of his fellow-travellers on the hippie path began to adopt the increasingly common position of “right on Israel, left on everything else,” but he found himself ultimately unable to reconcile “the counterculture’s commitment to the freedom, justice, civil rights, nonviolence, and equality in the context of Israel’s continued occupation that includes systematic discrimination against the Palestinian population.”

The book is a record of his painful surrendering of Zionism, an ideological project that he compares to Manifest Destiny. He advocates instead for what he gingerly calls “counter-Zionism,” a “new collective ideology that, if enacted, could serve Israel as a more liberal and democratic place for the next phase of its existence.” Zionism in its statist form was, in other words, an historically spent force, a nineteenth-century solution to the problem of antisemitism; it is past time, he thinks, to seek a new solution that allows for the self-determination of both Israelis and Palestinians. The state’s character, he writes, “would not be structured on the notion that this land ‘belongs’ to anyone, it would be a true democracy.”

The fact that these are not new ideas is exactly the point. Magid’s project—over the wide-ranging, moving, and learned essays that constitute the collection—is to do what Jews have always done when they want to mute or subdue the radicalism of a disruptive proposal: he locates the source of his authority in traditional antecedents. (The oldest rhetorical trick in the Jewish book is to recast one’s defiance of one’s parents as loyalty to one’s grandparents.) The tradition he delivers out of collective amnesia is the long, complicated, and often elided custom of Jewish alternatives to Zionism as a national project. Between the eighteen-eighties and the nineteen-forties, statist Zionism was a minority aspiration. This was true at virtually every point along the spectrum of Jewish observance. For religious Jews, the establishment of a state prior to the arrival of the Messiah was an apostasy. The statist project was avowedly secular—the endgame was the construction of a new Hebrew culture to supplant Judaism as a religion—and observant communities generally wanted no part of it. For many Socialist and communist Jews, nationalism of any stripe was a monstrous and decrepit ideology. They predicted, especially in the wake of the First World War, that it would inspire exactly the kind of exclusionist zealotry that had long been the bane of European Jewish existence. A Jewish nation-state would invariably squander the righteousness the Jewish people had cultivated on the civilizational margins: as it is written in scripture, “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” For American Jews, the prospect of nationhood elsewhere undermined their faith in Jewish assimilation. They feared that it would summon the spectre of dual loyalty. These various cohorts didn’t necessarily agree with one another about anything else—they were, after all, Jews—but they shared a deep suspicion of Zionism’s commitment to shlilat ha’golah , or the negation of exile. In other words, the creation of a Jewish state would necessarily debilitate and collapse all other forms of Jewish identity and Jewish observance in the gravitational vortex of nationhood. The Zionists did not mince words about this aspiration; they reached for every standard antisemitic trope—that Jews were sickly, flawed, rootless, desiccated—to demean the forms of Jewish life in the diaspora.

The Second World War and the Holocaust—and the urgent need to get refugees out of Europe—made all these alternative Zionisms and anti-Zionisms seem wishful and obsolete. With the backing of Western powers that felt at once guilty and disinclined to accept the boatloads themselves, the Zionism of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, presented itself as the only viable option. This did not come without serious misgivings, both on behalf of the displaced Palestinians—the “solution” of the “Jewish question” in Europe simply kicked the can down the road to become the “Arab question” in Israel—and on behalf of all Jews elsewhere. Hannah Arendt, the thinker to whom Magid returns most often, had worked for a Zionist agency in her youth but by 1948 had come to warn that “under present circumstances a Jewish state can only be erected at the price of the Jewish homeland.” Late in his life, Gershom Scholem, the greatest modern scholar of Jewish Messianism, allowed that these critics had had a point. “Zionism was a calculated risk in that it brought about the destruction of the reality of Exile,” he told an interviewer. “The foes of Zionism certainly saw the risk more clearly than we Zionists.” Ben-Gurion’s vision nonetheless prevailed for two reasons. Paramount was the matter of historical exigency: the Holocaust had proved that Jews were not, in fact, as safe in the diaspora as they might have thought, and the refugees were explicitly unwelcome anywhere else. But it also had, in Magid’s telling, just as much to do with a special offer extended to American Jews. In 1942, Ben-Gurion travelled to the Biltmore Hotel, in New York, to meet with American Jewish leaders, who until then had largely been indifferent or opposed to the creation of a Jewish state. The price of their investment, he learned, was to concede that American Jews would not be living in exile—a state of spiritual impoverishment and deracination—but in diaspora, a more neutral characterization of dispersion. The American Jewish project could proceed on its own parallel track. People like Ruben Blum were licensed to look away and do their own thing.

The problem is that most of these Jews soon discovered that doing their own thing was confusing and a lot of work. The outstanding question of American Jewish endurance and vitality—and the vexed relationship of that vitality to Israel—is at the center of Noah Feldman’s “To Be a Jew Today.” Feldman, a polymath and public intellectual at Harvard Law School, picks up more or less where Magid leaves off. Where Magid set out to work through, with lambent melancholy, his personal connection to Zionism and its discontents, Feldman seems to have wanted to write a book about anything but Zionism. The fact that he simply could not write about the condition of American Jewry without devoting more than a third of the book to Israel is exactly the crux of the issue—at one point, he pauses to assure an impatient reader that the Israel stuff is coming. For Feldman, Zionism has both shored up and constrained the American Jewish experience.

Feldman opens his book with two questions: “What’s the point of being a Jew? And, really, aside from Jews, who cares?” He hastens to note that he himself has no existential hangups in this department; he was raised in a Modern Orthodox home, educated at a Jewish day school, and finds meaning, joy, and intellectual stimulation in the tradition. That’s more than enough of a “point” for him. Why, then, if he has personally endured no dark night of the Jewish soul, did he bother to write a book about the attempts to place Jewish identity on a more secure footing? Part of it is that this is just how the tradition works: Jews are commanded to practice, not to believe, so each successive generation is required to gin up some plausible reasons why, exactly, the balls ought to be kept in the air. Modern Jews of a certain intellectual dispensation are quick to cite a Talmudic story about the oven of akhnai , in which a group of rabbis are debating an excruciatingly minor point of law; God steps in to make a clarifying intervention, and the rabbis tell God, in no uncertain terms, to stay in his lane. The interpretation of tradition becomes a tradition of interpretation, and it’s turtles all the way down.

If a sporting Talmudic fussiness were Feldman’s fundamental aim, however, he wouldn’t have written a patient book for a mainstream audience. His deeper goal is to take up, and with any luck do away with, the notion of the “bad Jew”—an epithet that almost all Jews, observant or otherwise, at some point apply to themselves. The question of Jewish legitimacy and authenticity can’t be answered once and for all. As he puts it, Jews should give the bad-Jew shtick a rest: “Nor should Jewish communities, however defined, define others as bad Jews. A bad Jew is just a Jew expressing irony and self-skepticism and maybe a little guilt. In other words, a Jew.”

Feldman spends the first third of the book reviewing the major strains of contemporary Jewish belief about God, ritual, and observance. He’s less interested, however, in how various communities express their Jewish commitments than in how they justify them. Traditionalists don’t bother; the study of Torah is self-justifying. Progressives look to the tradition for its ethical teachings—a lightly particularistic route to a universal liberal humanism. What Feldman calls “Godless Jews” are basically sports fans, who take pride in Jewish accomplishment and identification and kvetching without much else: Larry David, more or less. Feldman’s own heart seems to be with the community he calls the Evolutionists, who attempt to split the difference. Like activist Justices who advertise themselves as strict originalists in their interpretation of the Constitution, they find ways to wield the tradition against itself; they “combine belief in God’s authority handed down via rabbinic tradition with the belief that God wants us, human beings, to evolve the tradition consciously in the right direction as we see fit.”

For Feldman, what’s characteristically Jewish about all these camps is their ongoing struggle—with God, with Torah, with the rabbis, with one another—to determine for themselves the parameters of an authentically Jewish life. Jews are people who argue, ideally with quotes from sources, about what it could possibly mean to be “chosen.” The major predicament for contemporary Jews of all varieties, in his view, is not that the struggle for meaning and self-justification is too burdensome or intractable. It’s that this demand has become too minimally and easily met. And it’s become too easy because of Israel. Feldman’s argument is too sophisticated and manifold to summarize succinctly, but it amounts to the proposal that support for the Israeli state in the wake of the Holocaust has become not just the central political but the central theological underpinning of Jewish identity, at least for most non-Traditionalist American Jews. On the verge of destruction, we were redeemed by a miracle. This story became concrete and sacrosanct in the aftermath of the Six-Day War. The Holocaust itself was not enough—no people can build a sustainable and dignified self-image on the basis of victimhood alone—but Zionism transformed victimhood into triumph. This became the metanarrative that binds many contemporary Jews, from uneasy liberal Zionists to settler fanatics, to a tradition that can feel otherwise unmoored.

In 1959, Ruben Blum could look upon at Benzion Netanyahu as a yahoo, and take his diasporic leave. Over the following fifteen years, the “Zionization” of American Jewry was completed. This was as much a result of top-down planning—beginning in the aftermath of the 1967 war, religious schools rearranged their curricula around not religion but Israel—as a matter of organic demand for a new way not only to rationalize but to consecrate an otherwise assimilated life style. Zionism was, as Cohen insinuates, at the nervous vanguard of identity politics. It’s obvious enough that this has put liberal Zionists in an untenable position, as they’ve had to countenance—or not, as the case may be—an illiberal state. But to Feldman’s mind the issue is much deeper. Insofar as support for Israel has, since 1967, become perhaps the single most important pillar of Jewish identity, it has turned Jews away from struggle and toward dogmatism. The varieties of novelty and vigor on the margin were diminished. (It seems important to note that the dynamics he’s describing characterize American Jews; for Jews in other countries, where it’s more common even today to feel marked as “other,” the situation can be different.) On Passover, Jews celebrate our deliverance from Egypt—in Hebrew, “the narrow places”—but now it is an overweening attachment to the land of Canaan (which, even then, was already inhabited) that has rendered Jewish self-conception increasingly narrow. Like Magid, Feldman aspires to return the possibilities of diaspora to the center of the tradition—to propose that Jewish life can be more vigorous, more sustainable, and more Jewish when it pitches its tents on the periphery. When Roth finally directed his full attention to Israel, in the 1993 book “ Operation Shylock ,” he proposed “Diasporism” as something of an inside joke. A younger generation is calling his bluff.

By the end of “To Be a Jew Today,” the real “bad Jews” Feldman aimed to defend in his introduction aren’t really the bagels-lox-and-Israel Jews: they are progressive Jews who can no longer support the Zionist project, not merely because of Palestinian suffering and the Palestinian right to self-determination, but because it is a failure of the Jewish imagination to act as though Jewish identity is decisively attached to a fallible nation-state—one that, as Arendt and others predicted, was destined to act like any other nation-state. There is a tendency, with the conflation of anti-Zionism and antisemitism, to regard Peter Beinart, or the staff of Jewish Currents , or the organizers of Jewish Voice for Peace or IfNotNow, or even at this point the Satmars, as bad or self-hating Jews—as, in fact, Kapos, turncoats more interested in their status as progressives than they are in protecting their people. These important books are not for them; many of them don’t have to be reminded that the comprehensive identification of Jewishness and uncritical support for Israel is an artifact of living memory. But perhaps their self-appointed critics might be served by these reminders of alternate traditions, and Magid and Feldman are serious messengers who cannot be written off as know-nothing social-media sloganeers. As Magid has it, “These enforcers are guilty of flattening the Jewish tradition to serve their chauvinistic nationalist political agenda. To them, what a Jew believes, what she eats, if she davens, or how she keeps Shabbat doesn’t really matter. To be a Jew in good standing only means to support the Jewish national project.”

Feldman believes that it is possible, irrespective of one’s own personal position on Israel, to accept and even refine criticism of the country as a deep expression of one’s relationship to tradition, and perhaps even an inevitable one. Many of these progressive Jews have been told since birth that Israel is an inextricable component of their Jewish self-image; their activism ought best be understood as an articulation of their Jewishness rather than a repudiation of it. In some ways, this attitude has become more difficult since October 7th, and perhaps in some ways easier. There are multiple ways to read the central encounter of “The Netanyahus”: that had Blum paid greater heed to Benzion he might have been better able to anticipate what Israel, with his own complicity, would look like now; that Blum was wishfully naïve in his hope that his own assimilation would somehow prove a sustainable incarnation of Jewish identity; that Benzion was right, after all, in his certainty that enemies of the Jews would rise up in every generation, and that the diaspora provided insufficient protection; or that all these truths have become deeply intertwined in ways that do not, at the moment, permit easy resolution. Jews are still, as Feldman sees it, a family, whose “struggle is a covenant and a conflict and a concord all at the same time.” ♦

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Noida, Feb 18 (PTI) Writer Yashvardhan Shukla, among the 41 under-30 authors selected this year from across the country for the PM YUVA scheme, is happy that finally people are coming around the idea that writing has potential.

The 23-year-old Shukla, who lives in Greater Noida, has been selected among hundreds of applicants for this year’s ‘YUVA: Prime Minister’s Scheme for Mentoring Young Authors’, implemented by the National Book Trust, under the Ministry of Education.

Shukla, who has two published books to his credit, got selected for his proposal titled “Do Bigha Democracy: A Study of Democracy in Hindi Cinema”, that meanders his interests in the history of Hindi Cinema and the evolution of Indian Society since the early 20th century.

The proposal would now be developed into a full-fledged book under the PM YUVA mentorship programme, the NBT said.

However, with his selection for the scheme, which carries a monetary reward, he is also relieved that the idea of becoming a professional writer is finding favour among people and good writing is being valued now.

“I was really pleased with my selection and think it’s a nice opportunity. As a writer I’ve only dabbled with fiction as of yet. However, the entries this year had to be non-fiction, so that was a first for me. I’m really looking forward to delve deeper into my topic as I begin working on the first draft. It’s challenging, but I feel prepared,” he said.

“My mother (a school teacher) was really elated. She’s finally coming around the idea that writing as a field has a lot of potential and good writing is valued. That makes me happy,” Shukla told PTI.

As part of the mentorship programme, the select 41 authors from across the country were recently invited to Delhi where they also had an opportunity to interact with President Droupadi Murmu at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and attend the World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan during a three-day tour.

“On the second day of the tour, we had a brief interaction with President Droupadi Murmu at the Rastrapati Bhavan. She emphasized the role of writers in the country and encouraged us to keep at it. We even ended up getting a group picture afterwards,” Shukla said.

On his experiences with other young authors, Shukla said all of them had come from incredibly diverse backgrounds from all parts of the country.

“Some of them turned out to be really good friends in a very short span of time, and I hope to keep in touch with them in the future. Apart from the wonderful experience, the accommodation and travel was also taken care of by the National Book Trust. I’m really grateful to them for this opportunity,” he said.

Shukla, who is currently enrolled for cinema studies at FTII Pune, is now working on an idea related to Allahabad (Prayagraj), his ancestral hometown.

The idea is still nascent and under works to be discussed in detail, he added. PTI KIS ZMN

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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Migrant teen held without bail over concern he would try to flee after chaotic times square shooting that injured tourist.

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A 15-year-old migrant who allegedly shot a tourist while firing at a security guard and later aimed his gun at the NYPD in Times Square tried to flee the city with his mom – and was held without bail at his Saturday arraignment because he would likely flee again, prosecutors said.

Jesus Alejandro Rivas-Figueroa shot at the guard and struck the Brazilian tourist in the leg on Thursday night before shooting at cops who chased him as he fled to a subway station, cops said. 

“He then returned to his home, and he and his mother immediately began to flee,” prosecutors said Saturday. “They packed up all their belongings and by 6 a.m. the next morning had vacated their home and fled out of the city.”

The two were caught less than 24 hours later at a house in Yonkers, “where he was hiding behind a wardrobe in a further attempt to evade police,” authorities contended.

Jesus Alejandro Rivas-Figueroa appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court Saturday as he was set to be arraigned in the suspected robbery gone wrong, authorities said.

Prosecutors asked the judge to send the teen to jail without bail because “he has significant ties out of the United States” and has only been here “for a short time.”  The teen also admitted his involvement to police, prosecutors said.

“Much of the incident is captured on extremely clear surveillance video, from which he was easily identified,” the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office added. 

“Based on all of this, it’s clear that he is facing a significant sentence of incarceration on this serious case and can not be trusted to return to court,” prosecutors said.

The teen, who did not enter a plea, was charged as an adult, but will be sent to a juvenile facility because of his age, officials said.

Rivas-Figueroa was charged with two counts of attempted murder, assault, attempted assault, and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, cops said. 

He listened through a translator at his arraignment and didn’t say a word.

Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry said the teen “believed that he could find and carry an illegal firearm.”

“He believed he could fire that firearm into a crowd on the street,” Hendry continued. “He believed that he could try to kill a New York City police officer. That’s what he tried to do. He tried to kill a New York City police officer.”

Rivas-Figueroa, who was ushered to court by two detectives, wore the same dark T-shirt and jeans he was photographed in during his arrest walking into court with a scowl on his face and his hands cuffed behind his back.

He shook his head no when asked if he spoke English, and refused to answer when a Post reporter called his name and asked, “Porque?” or “why?”

The US Marshals Joint Regional Fugitive Task Force and the NYPD collared the “armed and dangerous” Venezuelan teen in Yonkers on Friday.

A woman can be heard wailing in a video that shows him being taken into custody at around 3:30 p.m. Friday at what sources said was the home of a relative on Saratoga Avenue. The teen also wept.

The arrest came moments after NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell, during a news conference, had identified Rivas-Figueroa as a person of interest in the shooting.

The teen arrived in September and had been staying at a temporary shelter at the Stratford Hotel on West 70th Street.

A man in a suit holding a young man's hand being brought to Criminal Court in Manhattan, NY.

He is also a suspect in a Jan. 25 incident in Midtown in which shots were fired at a park on 45th Street, and a Jan. 27 gunpoint robbery in the Bronx, police said.

Police said Rivas-Figueroa and two other teens — all migrants who attended school together —  were trying to shoplift from JD Sports , a sports-fashion retail store, on West 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue at around 7 p.m. Thursday when they were stopped by a security guard.

Here's the latest on the Times Square shooting

  • NYPD has identified Jesus Lejenadro Rivas-Figueroa , 15, as the suspect connected to the Thursday night shooting, Chief of Patrol John Chell said.
  • Prosecutors asked the judge to send the teen to jail without bail because “he has significant ties out of the United States” and has only been here “for a short time.”
  • The teen, who did not enter a plea, was charged as an adult, but will be sent to a juvenile facility because of his age, officials said.
  • A tourist was shot in the leg at a retail store in Times Square on Thursday night by a shoplifter. The shoplifter then opened fire at an NYPD officer in Midtown, according to police.
  • A security guard at JD Sports at West 42 Street and Broadway approached a group of young males to stop them from stealing when one pulled out a gun, fired it in her direction, and missed, hitting the nearby tourist.
  • Sources said Friday that the 15-year-old and a third person were taken into custody and later released.

Rivas-Figueroa allegedly pulled out a “very large” .45-caliber handgun and fired at the guard and “into a crowd,” Chell said.

While the guard wasn’t hit, Brazilian tourist, 38-year-old Tatiele Riberio,  who was in line waiting to buy sneakers  and texting her husband, was struck in the leg and dragged herself to the back of the store as pandemonium ensued.

The gunman and another 15-year-old boy bolted, with Rivas-Figueroa allegedly opening fire on a cop as he ran away toward West 46th Street, Chell said.

A person in a black shirt they're being escorted by police officers on a street in Manhattan, NY.

Video footage allegedly shows Rivas-Figueroa, who was in an all-white outfit, and the other teen bolting from the store, Chell said.

Cops patrolling the area began chasing them, with one of the officers snatching the unidentified teen and the other continuing to run after the gunman.

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“He turns once, he fires towards our officer,” Chell told reporters of Rivas-Figueroa. “Our officer takes his gun out and he cannot return fire, there are too many people in his way.

“Our suspect goes through the cut between the buildings. He’s running, he takes his gun out and under his armpit, he fires again at our officer,” Chell continued, as he demonstrated how the shooter reached behind his back with the gun.

Police officers arrested the 15-year-old in the Times Square shooting that left a tourist shot in the leg above the knee, cops said.

MTA video footage then showed the suspect bolting into the 47th–50th Streets–Rockefeller Center station at Sixth Avenue, where he went on the tracks before emerging and escaping onto the street, Chell said.

The innocent shopper who was shot got 13 stitches in her leg at Bellevue Hospital and was released. She was expected to head home to Brazil on Saturday.

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Jesus Alejandro Rivas-Figueroa appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court Saturday as he was set to be arraigned in the suspected robbery gone wrong, authorities said.


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70 Must-Read Books by Black Authors in 2023

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Blog – Posted on Tuesday, Sep 29

70 must-read books by black authors in 2023.

70 Must-Read Books by Black Authors in 2023

The re-energized efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 shone a light on many corners of Black culture. For lots of readers, this moment provided fresh inspiration to seek out new Black authors and to explore the rich variety of Black literature, whose stories span both borders and generations, illuminating a huge variety of experiences.

From 20th century classics that crystallized pivotal moments in the fight for civil rights, to hilarious novels, gripping fantasy, and 2020 bestsellers that continue to navigate complex social tensions — we’ve gathered together seventy of the best books by Black authors that belong on your ‘TBR’.

Our hand-picked list includes several famous black authors you might recognize — Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin — as well as some of the most promising up-and-coming names. Within our ‘Fiction’ section, you’ll find Black voices represented in a huge range of genres; and we’ve devoted additional sections to nonfiction , poetry , and Young Adult fiction (we know how important it is for young people to be represented in the books they read). So let’s dive in!

1. The Sellout by Paul Beatty

In The Sellout , Paul Beatty introduces us to a young, Black watermelon-and-weed grower, named Me. When Me’s father is gunned down by police, and his hometown Dickens is erased from the map, he decides to face one injustice by burying it beneath another. In one of the book’s many absurdist twists, Me hires a Black slave to serve as his footstool and lobbies in America’s highest court for the reinstatement of segregation. Powered by a wicked wit, this caustic but heartfelt satirical novel turns themes of racism and slavery inside out in service of a devastatingly clever message.

2. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Jemisin’s unmissable, triple Hugo-Award-winning trilogy, The Broken Earth , takes place in the Stillness — a world in which society is structured around surviving nuclear winters. The Orogenes, who wield the power of the earth, are the reason for life’s survival; yet, they are shunned and exploited by society. In The Fifth Season , a red rift tears through the land, spewing enough ash to darken the sky for years. Without the resources necessary to get through the long, dark night, there will be war all across the Stillness — and Essun must pursue her missing daughter through this deadly, dying land.

3. Beloved by Toni Morrison

The seminal work from a giant of modern literature, Beloved chronicles the experiences of Sethe, an ex-slave living with her daughter in a house haunted by secrets. Sethe is held captive by the memories of her plantation; and when a fellow slave’s arrival heralds the mysterious coming of a woman — who calls herself Beloved — Sethe’s hideous past explodes into the present. A landmark depiction of the legacy of slavery, an engrossing ghost-story, and a reflection on motherhood and family, Beloved is so much more than the sum of its parts.

4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Originally published in 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God was out of print for nearly 30 years, due to its readers’ initial rejection of its strong, Black, female protagonist. Janie Crawford is sixteen when her grandmother catches her kissing a shiftless boy and marries her off to an old man with sixty acres. The quest for independence which ensues sees Janie through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots. Rigorous, dazzling, and emotionally satisfying, when Hurston’s classic was reissued in 1978, it became one of the most highly acclaimed and widely read novels within African American literature .

5. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

On December 3rd, 1976, seven gunmen stormed Bob Marley’s house, machine guns blazing. Though the reggae star survived, the gunmen were never caught. A Brief History of Seven Killings is James’s fictional exploration of this event’s bloody aftermath, and of Jamaica, during one of its most unstable and violently defining moments. Spanning decades, leaping continents, and crowded with unforgettable voices, this ambitious and mesmerizing novel secures James’ place among the great literary talents of his generation  — and more importantly on our list of must-reads by Black authors.

6. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

Black Leopard, Red Wolf follows Tracker, renowned for (you guessed it) his ability to track people. Hired to find a missing boy, along with a motley crew of supernatural mercenaries, Tracker uncovers a conspiracy in the process. The first in a planned trilogy, this epic has been called the “ African Game of Thrones ”, because it honors African mythology with the same sense of adventure and mystery. Not to mention, it’s immensely violent. However, the fantasy plotline is transformed by James’ hallucinatory and confounding prose. Warning: it’s already optioned for film rights, so read it before it hits the silver screen!

7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah follows two Nigerian characters, Ifemelu and Obinze, teenagers in love who drift apart when Ifemelu moves to America. This novel wears its politics on its sleeve, acutely describing how it feels to try and navigate multiple cultures — a feeling that is endemic to being an immigrant — and openly debating the lived experiences of Black people, American or not. This discussion is at its most overt in Ifemelu’s blog posts, scattered throughout the novel. The overt nature of the politics does not come at the cost of plot of characterization, however, and Adichie writes with sagacious humor.

8. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Walker unapologetically writes Southern Black women into world literature in her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple . It tells the tale of Celie, a young African-American woman growing up in poverty in segregated Georgia. Raped by the man she calls “father”, Celie is separated from her children and her beloved sister Nettie, and trapped into an ugly marriage. Then, she meets Shug, a singer and magic-maker who helps her discover the power of her own spirit. Walker’s novel doesn’t soften its blows, but is courageous enough to hold on to its faith in forgiveness and hope.

9. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

It’s 2025 and the world is descending into anarchy. In America, violence rules and only the rich are safe. But one woman has the power to change everything. Lauren’s life is altered beyond recognition when a fire destroys her home and kills her family. Along with a handful of refugees, she is forced to go on a dangerous journey North — and on the way, she comes up with a revolutionary idea that might just save mankind. There’s nothing scarier than a dystopian novel that’s already coming true, and Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower ’s exploration of climate change, inequality, and racism is alarmingly prescient.

10. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward’s freighted novel is a portrait of a broken Mississippi family: a young mother, (Leonie) hooked on drugs, and a husband completing a jail sentence. Hearing he’s about to be released, Leonie takes her two children and her friend Misty on a road trip to meet him. In this amusingly banal odyssey full of gas station lethargy and dodgy drug deals, Ward transplants the road novel into twenty-first century America, imbuing it with ancestral voices, mythical tropes, and hypnotic lyricism. Sing, Unburied, Sing is a harrowing and majestic work from an extraordinary author.

11. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the Bones tells the story of a desperately poor family in the Mississippi backwoods, as hurricane Katrina approaches. 14-year-old Esch, her three wayward brothers, and their alcoholic father scrabble against the clock to prepare their rotting junkyard of land and stockpile food. But with Esch pregnant, and her brother sneaking scraps for his pit-bull’s litter, these motherless children must protect and nurture one another to survive. Hopefully, if you pick this book up, you’ll forgive us for including two Jesmyn Ward novels among our must-reads by Black authors — it’s hard not to read it in a greedy frenzy.

12. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Effia and Esi are half-sisters, born in 18th century Ghana. When one is sold into slavery and the other marries a slaver, their paths diverge. Homegoing follows their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the missionary schools of Ghana to Jazz Age Harlem. Gyasi shares Morrison’s ability to crystallize slavery’s fallout, yet she is unique in her ability to connect it to the present day, illustrating how racism has become institutionalized. Epic in its canvas, yet intimate in its portraits, Homegoing is a searing historical fiction debut from a masterly new Black author.

13. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Published in 1952, Invisible Man was immediately hailed as a seminal work of American fiction. From the Deep South, to the streets of Harlem; expulsion from college, to lightning success as the leader of a communist organization — Ellison's nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh relief. Journeying across the racial divide, he realizes that he’s an “invisible man”: people see only a reflection of their preconceived ideas, deny his individuality, and ultimately do not see him at all. Ellison’s theme reveals unparalleled truths about the nature and effects of bigotry.

14. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Whitehead’s bravura novel is based on the true story of a reform school, which operated for 111 years, committed devastating atrocities against boys of color, and warped the lives of thousands of children. This is where Elwood Curtis — a Black boy growing up in Jim Crow-era Florida — finds himself in The Nickel Boys . Elwood’s only salvation at the perilous Academy is Turner, a fellow ‘delinquent’ who challenges his ideals of how the world should work. Rising tension between the two friends leads to a decision with repercussions that will echo through the ages.

15. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a plantation in Georgia. An outcast among her fellow Africans and quickly approaching womanhood, she’s desperate for freedom. So, when Caesar tells her about an underground railroad, they decide to escape North, only to be pursued by a relentless slave-master. Whitehead’s novel is a pulsating story about a woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage. But, it’s also a powerful meditation on history, from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, The Underground Railroad is a tour de force.

16. Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

As one of the greatest Black authors, Baldwin published a slew of novels, biographies, and essays in his lifetime. But there’s no better place to start than his first book, Go Tell It on the Mountain . Drawing on his boyhood, Baldwin tells the story of Johnny Grimes growing up in 1930s Harlem, grappling with his religion, his sexuality, and his abusive minister father. Though this novel has a lot to say about race, religion, class, and sexuality, it does so in a way that acknowledges the nuance of the human experience. This is a blazing, enduring, hymn of a novel.

17. Swing Time by Zadie Smith

A “best friend bildungsroman” in the Elena Ferrante mould, Swing Time tells the story of two brown girls from neighbouring housing estates in London, who both dream of being dancers. It's a close but complicated friendship that ends abruptly in their twenties, never to be rekindled, but never quite forgotten. Beneath the virtuosic plot lies a keen social commentary on betterment: Smith asks us to consider whether the ability to change is really a form of power. With shifting identities, our narrator seeks, above all, a place where she belongs. Could that place be a best friend?

18. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

A morbidly funny mixture of family saga and slashfest set in Lagos, Nigeria, My Sister, the Serial Killer is a satirical thriller about how blood is thicker (and harder to get out of the carpet) than water. Korede's life is constantly upended as she's forced to clean up after her sister Ayoola, who has a tendency to kill her boyfriends. But things get complicated when Ayoola starts dating Korede’s colleague, with whom she’s long been in love. This debut novel from Black author Oyinkan Braithwaite is as smart and addictive as Killing Eve .

19. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vignes sisters will always be identical. But when they run away from the southern Black community where they were raised, they choose to live in very different worlds. One returns to her hometown with her Black daughter, while the other decides to live her life passing as a white woman. Though they're separated, their lives are still very much intertwined. Weaving together multiple generations and their stories, The Vanishing Half looks well beyond issues of race, to consider the lasting influence of our pasts, and to explore why people are compelled to live as someone other than themselves.

20. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Born on a Virginia plantation named “Lockless”, Hiram is the son of a slave master and a slave. When his mother is sold “down river” and he is left orphaned, he is robbed of his memories of her, but gifted with a mystical power. When this mysterious ability saves him from drowning, Hiram and fellow slave Sophia run away to freedom in the North. Though Coates illuminates the violent degradations heaped upon generations of runaways who waged war to make lives with the people they loved, he does so while ensuring they retain their dignity.

21. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

First published in 1958, Chinua Achebe's stark, coolly ironic masterpiece has sold over ten million copies in forty-five languages. It tells the story of Okonkwo: the greatest fighter alive, his fame is spreading like wildfire throughout West-Africa. But when he accidentally kills a clansman his life begins to fall apart. Often compared to the great Greek tragedies, Things Fall Apart is an arresting parable about a proud but helpless man witnessing the collapse of his village, as old ways come into contact with new. An eye-opening and compelling read, Achebe’s first novel is a must-read. 

22. Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Drawn from Taylor’s own experiences, the queer, Black protagonist of this campus novel, Wallace, struggles to navigate the prejudgments and biases of the white cohorts in his PhD program. As a form of self-preservation, Wallace enforces a wary distance within his circle of friends, neglecting even to tell them of his father’s recent death. But over the course of a blustery end-of-summer weekend, a series of confrontations expose hidden currents of hostility and desire, forcing him to grapple with the long shadows of his childhood. This quiet, intimate and queer novel , from an electric new Black author, strives to make Black readers feel seen.

23. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

Delving into relationships, identity politics, and one woman’s search for belonging, Queenie is a characterful, topical and bracingly real debut by Carty-Williams. Caught between a Jamaican-British family that doesn’t understand her, a job that isn’t all it was meant to be, and a messy break-up she can’t seem to get over, Queenie Jenkins seeks comfort in all the wrong places, including more-than-a-few problematic men. Her missteps and misadventures are snort-your-tea-out funny one moment and utterly heart-breaking the next.

24. Lot by Bryan Washington

Washington’s collection of short stories follows the son of a Black mother and a Latino father as he comes of age in an apartment block in Houston. As he explores his sexuality and tries to find a place among his family, the community swells around him, their stories woven into his: a young woman caught in an affair, a rag-tag baseball team, a drug-dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and a camera-shy mythical beast. Washington’s viscerally drawn Houston leaps off the page with energy, wit, and the infinite longing of people searching for home.

25. Erasure by Percival Everett

Everett’s Erasure is a watertight satire of the publishing industry and the issue of being “Black enough” in America. Monk Ellison is a novelist whose career has bottomed out. While his manuscript is rejected by publishers who say it “has nothing to do with the African-American experience”, We’s Lives in Da Ghetto — a novel by a Black author who "once visited some relatives in Harlem" — enjoys meteoric success. Enraged, and despairing at his personal life, Monk dashes off a novel he insists is “offensive, poorly written, racist and mindless”. But of course, it’s the Next Big Thing...

26. An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

Odd-mannered and obsessive, Aster lives a lonely life in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda , a generational starship ferrying the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. Its leaders — a white supremacy cult called the Sovereignty — run the ship on the labor and intimidation of dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. But, when the autopsy of Matilda 's sovereign reveals a link between his death and her mother's suicide, Aster discovers that there might be a way out — if she’s willing to take on her brutal overseer and sow the seeds of civil war.

27. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

From the National Book Award-winning author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming comes a striking new exploration of identity, class, race, and status. Taking sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming-of-age party as the jumping off point, Red at the Bone unfurls with verve and urgency the story of three generations, revealing their dreams, ambitions, and the tolls they’ve paid to escape the pull of history. Woodson deftly considers the ways in which young people are so often pushed into making life-changing decisions before they even know who they are.

28. The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Adunni’s mother told her that the only way to get a “louding voice” is to have an education. But at fourteen, Adunni’s father sells her to a local man desperate for an heir. Then, when tragedy strikes, she is sold again, trapped in subservience, this time to a wealthy household in Lagos, where no one speaks about the disappearance of her predecessor, Rebecca. Through it all, Adunni will not be silenced. In a whisper, in song, in broken English — she finds a way to speak for herself, for Rebecca, and for all those who struggle to be heard.

29. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

A page-turning debut about the messy dynamics of privilege, Such a Fun Age introduces us to cash-strapped babysitter Emira Tucker and her employer Alix Chamberlain. When Emira is racially profiled by a security guard and accused of kidnapping Alix’s daughter, Alix, with the best of intentions (and a ‘personal brand’ to protect), resolves to make things right. The two women could not be more different — one trying to figure out her next life move, the other a successful feminist blogger — but Alix’s efforts to right the situation reveal a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

30. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Rooted in Igbo cosmology, Freshwater charts the extraordinary journey of a broken, young Nigerian woman called Ada with and towards her many different, even divergent, selves. Told from a shape-shifting perspective — the mythic and assured ‘We’, the intimate and distinctively Nigerian Ashagura, and Ada’s own tortured, tentative voice — this surreal novel is innovative and daring, disorienting yet stunning. Gripping from the very first sentence, Amazi’s debut novel will forge a path to your very core.

31. It's Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan

At 68, Loretha Curry is far from thinking that her best days are behind her. She may be carrying a few more pounds than she’d like, but she has a booming business, ride-or-die friends, and a husband whose moves in the bedroom still surprise. But when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down, Loretha’s optimism begins to falter. With the help of her friends, she’ll have to gather all her strength to push through heartbreak and chart new paths. Bestselling author Terry McMillan brings her signature wit and wisdom to It’s Not All Downhill From Here .

32. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Weaving through time and space with crackling energy, Girl, Woman, Other tracks the lives of a dozen Black, British women, and the people they have loved and unloved, through generations and across social classes. However, with prose rhythms that feel like the wilful impulses of inner thought, Evaristo manages to make readers feel intimately connected to twelve different characters, each with a distinctive and vibrant voice. This 2019 Man Booker Prize-winner is a vibrantly contemporary kind of history — a love song to modern Britain and Black womanhood.

33. Closure: Contemporary Black British Short Stories

From a wide range of British Black authors — award-winning to previously unpublished — the stories in this stand-out anthology offer contemporary conversations around different experiences of being British. The breadth of this experience is evident in the rich variety of styles, forms and themes. Raw realism gives way to pure lyricism; tender unrequited yearnings rub shoulders with humorous moments of epiphany. The title Closure is a subversive one, for, much like life, the stories in this anthology rarely end the way we imagine they will.

34. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This is a love story. But one that centres on an appalling miscarriage of justice. Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of the American Dream, until Roy is wrongly accused of rape and sentenced to twelve years. Jones doesn’t elaborate; the reader simply understands that a Black man, in the wrong place at the wrong time, will find retribution meted out swiftly and unquestioningly. What follows is a tender, rousing account of three people who are at once bound together and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage probes important ideas with emotional intelligence and a colossal heart.

35. Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

Everything Inside is a short story collection set in the Caribbean, Miami, and Port-au-Prince. Danticat’s prose shines a light on the intricacies of human relationships, as she knowingly observes the balance of a family at a christening, the clash between ambition and survival, and the blossoming and withering of romantic relationships, among other things. Reading this collection, you’ll feel that you’ve laid yourself in the hands of a discerning, careful, and quiet force — and that’s exactly where you’ll want to stay.

36. Deacon King Kong by James McBride

James McBride’s novel Deacon King Kong begins with a shooting. This is 1969 Brooklyn, and a very drunk deacon ‘Sportcoat’ shoots a drug dealer. The rest of the novel examines the effects of this singular event on a number of characters: the church members, the neighbors, the mafia, the witnesses, and the police officers called to the scene. In an ambitious novel bursting with energy, McBride makes the case for the humanizing power of trust, love, and hope, all against the vibrant backdrop of 1960s New York.

37. Nudibranch by Irenosen Okojie

Irenosen Okojie’s Nudibranch is a collection of short stories that delves into the realm of the surreal. Though the stories are set in real places, includingLondon and Berlin, they chart a movement into the fantastic and peculiar. In these vividly imagined, somewhat abstract stories, bizarre, unexplained, and downright weird things begin to happen, as reality slowly metamorphoses into something new... This striking, original, and ever-unpredictable collection stands out for its poetic evocation of all things odd and beautiful. So take a dive into Okojie’s world — it’s nothing short of memorable.

38. Hold by Michael Donkor

Michael Donkor’s Hold is about three young girls: Belinda, Amma, and Mary. Belinda is a housegirl in Ghana, and is growing closer to 11-year-old Mary when she is suddenly summoned to live in London with Amma. Amma’s parents are hoping Belinda will be a positive influence on their rebellious daughter. The two teenagers are vastly different, but together, they grapple with shared questions about their identities, their sexualities, and the pressure of growing up. This refreshing coming-of-age novel is a touching tribute to the tentative reach for freedom of queer adolescence, rich with sensitive observations about the two girls.

39. Bone Readers by Jacob Ross

This breathtaking, Jhalak-prize-winning crime thriller , set in the Caribbean island of Camaho, follows Michael ‘Digger’ Digson as he enters the police force. Digger uses his skill for bone-reading (passed down by his grandmother), and for recognizing voices, to contribute to the missing person cases in Camaho. Face-to-face with the corrupt underbelly of the island, Digger and his intelligent colleague Kathleen Stanislaus pursue a cold case into the dark corners of the criminal world. This tightly-plotted and suspenseful literary novel is a masterclass in crime writing, and features powerful characters who will really get under your skin.

40. Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton

Long-listed for the 2019 Women’s Prize in Fiction, Remembered ventures into 1910 Philadelphia, amid flaring racial tensions. With her son on the brink of death, the narrator begins to tell a story about the past, travelling back in time to 1843. Charting the life of Ella from slavery to emancipation, narrator Spring also recalls the complicated narrative of her own life. In this parallel examination of slavery and its many ongoing and refracted legacies, freedom and motherhood lie quietly at the heart of the story.

41. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

This is New York during the 2008 financial crisis. Behold the Dreamers bears witness to the lives of two families: a Cameroonian family of immigrants and a wealthy family of Americans. Their distant worlds collide when Jende Jonga, of the former family, is employed as chauffeur by Edward Clark, of the latter. The book juggles sadness with hope, held in ambivalent balance as Mbue expertly breathes new life into the American Dream. Behold the Dreamers draws its characters with warmth and sensitivity, astutely capturing the friction between privilege and need.

42. Small Island by Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy’s classic is a polyphonic novel of compassion and tenderness. It reaches readers in the voices of four characters: Hortense Joseph, and her husband Gilbert, their white landlady, Queenie, and her husband Bernard. Hortense and Gilbert are part of the Windrush Generation, Caribbean immigrants who reached London aboard the ship HMT Empire Windrush in 1948. In their struggle to belong in London, the novel finds a rich trove of emotion, taking a sensitive and careful look at the implications of race, ethnicity, and social class. Levy’s masterpiece is an undisputed must-read.

43. Loving Day by Mat Johnson

TItled after the US Supreme Court ruling that legalized interracial marriage, Loving Day is a celebration of mixed-race identity. Warren Duffy finds himself in Philadelphia, where he meets his long-lost daughter Tal at a comic convention. Despite being mixed-race, Tal has been raised white. In this semi-autobiographical novel, which the author calls his own “coming out as a mulatto”, Tal’s struggle to reconcile herself to her identity becomes the focus of the narrative. This is a heartwarming, often funny, and always thought-provoking book to add to your list.

44. We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s dystopian novel We Cast a Shadow is a biting satire of the enduring racism in contemporary America. To help his biracial son access a new medical procedure that will save his life by turning him white, the novel’s unnamed narrator must pass a series of truly crazy tests and qualify as a partner at the law firm where he works. This darkly comic and thoroughly unsettling book will stay with you — surreal, clever, and tinged with horror throughout, We Cast a Shadow is a must-read.

45. That Reminds Me by Derek Owusu

Derek Owusu’s debut novel That Reminds Me is told in poetic fragments following a young British-Ghanaian man, elusively named K., as he journeys from birth to tentative adulthood. This lyrical, sensitive book explores the protagonist’s consciousness one memory at a time, taking readers from personal questions of belonging and family to wider social issues, like addiction and violence. Raw, honest, and original, this is a brilliant literary debut, from a voice to watch out for in the future. With its delicate descriptions of mental health, That Reminds Me is a truly remarkable feat.

46. Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird is an ambitious and loose retelling of the famous Snow White fairytale that boldly introduces a racial dimension. This is the 1950s and the protagonist, Boy Novak, moves to a small Massachusetts town, where she grows attached to a local named Arturo, and is introduced to his daughter, Snow. Unlike Arturo and the rest of his light-skinned African-American family, Snow cannot ‘pass’ for white, prompting a radical reevaluation of them all. Unique and compellingly told, Oyeyemi’s book shimmers with literary magic.

47. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The Black Flamingo tells the story of Michael, a mixed-race, half-Jamaican, half Greek-Cypriot boy living in the UK. Michael’s already working to come to terms with the fact that he’s gay, when he takes flight as a drag artist while attending university. He becomes the Black Flamingo, in a brilliant story about self-emancipation and self-acceptance, all told in verse. This fabulous, glamorous, and absolutely celebratory novel about finding and championing your real self at the intersection of multiple identities deserves a space on your shelf.

48. Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence

Set on an estate in Hackney, London, Patrice Lawrence’s Orangeboy follows Marlon, a 16-year-old who’s determined to resist his brother’s bad influence and make his widowed mum proud. But when Marlon goes on a date with Sonya, his life reaches a turning point: suddenly it’s impossible to stay away from his brother’s world of street gangs and drugs. In this action-packed, fast novel, you’ll watch Marlon adapt, changing completely while, in many ways, remaining the same. Don’t miss out on this grippingly modern novel!

49. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi’s debut fantasy novel features a set of richly drawn characters, and blends Nigerian Yoruba mythology with established tropes and elements of fantasy. The protagonist, Zélie Adebola, is fighting to restore magic to the land of Orïsha, after the king ordered all the magicians killed. Epic high fantasy worldbuilding (complete with snow leopards), meets intelligent analysis of social power, racial tensions, and prejudice, in a debut that grips readers from page one. The good news? This is the first in a fantasy series , so there’s plenty more to read...

50. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas’s wildly successful The Hate U Give (now adapted by Netflix!) begins with a shooting. Starr Carter’s best friend, Khalil, is killed by police. As Khalil’s death makes national news, and the public question who’s to blame, Starr must provide answers. In this poignant, thoughtful, and inspirational novel, Angie Thomas tells a tale of the Black Lives Matter age, but make no mistake: this is no temporary trend, but a literary masterpiece.

51. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

This breathtaking novel is told in 60 fragments of verse, each representing the passage of one second in the single minute  teenage Will has to decide whether he’s going to shoot his brother’s killer. This sparse, quick-paced book will have you on the edge of your seat, as it cleverly exposes the complexities of teenage violence. Long Way Down is YA genius — originally told and utterly heartbreaking, this narrative will stay with you despite the speed with which you’ll read it.

52. Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses imagines a world where Noughts, who are white, are enslaved by the Crosses, who are Black. In a deliberate reversal of our own society’s history and social dynamics, Blackman tells the story of Sephy, a Nought, and Callum, a Cross. The two have been friends for a long time, but their blossoming romance is absolutely forbidden. This beautiful, intelligent, and devastating book has earned its place as a Young Adult fiction classic, and it has never been more timely.

53. The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu

For Nnenna, growing up means reaching for her Igbo-Nigerian heritage, inherited from her father. The only problem is, she’s never met him. Nnenna is nearly seventeen and living in Manchester, with her white mother, who is resistant to questioning. This is a novel that’s easy to read, but that doesn’t mean that its subject matter is ‘light’. Despite its funny outlook, The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney is engaged in asking serious questions about race, growing up, sexuality, and personal heritage. This intelligent and moving book is sure to warm your heart!

54. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

12-year-old Sunny was born in New York, but when her parents move back to their native Nigeria, so does she. At school, her new classmates call her “akata”, a wild animal, because of her albino features and American childhood. But her friends also show her that she has greater powers than she realizes: the magical powers of the Leopard People. Alongside her friends, Sunny must find a way to stop Black Hat Otokoto, a child kidnapper and magician, before it’s too late. With brilliantly detailed worldbuilding that’s been compared to Harry Potter and a rich mythological background of West African mythology, Akata Witch is a truly spell-binding book.

55. Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Citizen is a book you’ll sometimes encounter on lists of essays, but its subtitle, ‘An American Lyric’, firmly sets it into the world of poetry. Rankine’s brilliant 2014 book takes a deeply incisive look at modern society’s racism by directing the reader’s attention to singular moments that add up to a breathtaking totality. Powerful and devastating, Citizen shines a light on daily microaggressions and wider social phenomena alike. It leaves readers with a new and unsettling clarity — the mark of a masterpiece.

56. Kumukanda by Kayo Chingonyi

‘Kumukanda’ is the name the Zambian tribe of Luvale gives to their coming-of-age ceremony, and so Chingonyi, who is himself of Zambian heritage, sets the scene for a collection of nostalgia, loss, and transition. This Dylan Thomas Prize-winning collection touches on subjects like family, negotiating belonging between countries, racism, and music. Chingonyi’s expertly-crafted verse echoes the cadences and rhythms of grime and rap music, and assumes a youthful velocity of a distinctly modern British association. This deeply affecting collection will move and affect you.

57. A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson

‘And if I speak of Paradise, / then I’m speaking of my grandmother’: so begins Roger Robinson’s poem ‘A Portable Paradise’, the work that gives its name to his T.S. Eliot Prize-winning collection. This moving and tender book looks at subjects as wide-ranging as family, the Windrush generation, slavery, racism, joy for life, heritage, and class. Robinson’s poems move carefully and powerfully, with the lyricism and emotional clarity of a talented writer. This is a book to hold close to your heart.

58. The Collected Poems by Langston Hughes

‘I’ve known rivers: / I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the / flow of human blood in human rivers’. From his most well-known poems, like ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’, to his lesser known poems for children, this comprehensive collection contains all of Langston Hughes’ brilliant published poetry, composed over fifty years. The Harlem Renaissance leader’s work has not aged one bit: it is just as fresh, modern, and arresting as it was when it was originally published. Reading Hughes’ poetry will leave you with a sense of awe and the knowledge that you’ve been blessed to know the work of a great mind.

59. Surge by Jay Bernard

Jay Bernard’s Surge asks crucial questions about personal memory and the way we choose to collectively remember historical events. For Bernard, these are issues integral to understanding their place in contemporary British society, as a queer Black person. Seeing a connection between Grenfell and the 1981 New Cross fire, Surge penetrates time to highlight the lack of progress made. Heartbreaking, poignant, and ambitiously conceived, this collection is an important addition to the British poetry scene.

60. The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus

Another brilliant poetry collection from modern Britain, Raymond Antrobus’s The Perseverance is an eye-opening book. The poet, who is deaf himself, writes elegantly and affectingly about the d/Deaf experience: “the raveled knot of tongues, / of blaring birds, consonant crumbs / of dull doorbells, sounds swamped / in my misty hearing aid tubes”. This incredible collection is a song to identity, to the poet’s own British-Jamaican heritage, to the world of noise that we all navigate in different ways. For a little while, let Antrobus guide you through it, and show you the world in a whole new way.

61. The Adoption Papers by Jackie Kay

A masterclass in writing from different perspectives, The Adoption Papers is about a Black girl adopted by a white Scottish couple. Juggling the points of view of the child, mother, and biological mother, this sensitive collection is able to capture the emotional intricacies and complexities of adoption in heartbreaking verse. This brave, witty, and honest book is an adoption literature classic, and a must-read literary achievement.

62. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Many saw the election of Barack Obama as reason to immediately proclaim America a ‘post-racial’ society. But the justice system has always had a different story to tell. In this searing account of structural racism in the justice system, legal scholar Michelle Alexander shows that preventing the mass incarceration of people of colour (especially Black men) should be an utmost priority. This is a book that calls the nation to come to terms with its own past of slavery, and to take action to recognize and battle its surviving legacies. Without a doubt, one of the most important nonfictional works of recent decades.

63. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns is a historical account of a large part of the 20th century. For decades, Black Americans left the south, searching for better prospects in the western and northern states. This epic tale of the Great Migration, exhaustively researched by its Pulitzer-winning author, is told through the life stories of three African Americans: Robert Foster, Ida Mae Gladney, and George Starling, who left Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida respectively, to pursue new lives. This major historical book is a beautifully-told, enlightening portrait of American history.

64. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s memoir became a literary sensation when it was published in 2018, and for good reason. The former First Lady’s incredible optimism, pragmatism, and tireless energy pour right out of the book and into the reader, with one central message: you matter, and you can accomplish anything. In sharing her own life story, Michelle Obama becomes both role model and champion — a force of inspiration for every woman and young people worldwide. Without a doubt, she’s the kind of person who comes along once in a generation.

65. Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

Renowned historian and broadcaster David Olusoga’s book delves deep into the historical connections between Britain and Africa. Black and British remembers the UK’s slave-trading past, as well as the forgotten Black Britons who fought alongside the British army in several wars. Beyond the past, Olusoga’s comprehensive work gives an insightful analysis of the enduring legacies of slavery in the present day. Above all, this book is a well-researched reminder that ‘Black’ and ‘British’ are not two contradictory terms.

66. How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

The opposite of “racist”, Ibram X Kendi explains, isn’t “not racist”, but “antiracist”. And the difference between the two is crucial. It isn’t enough to passively refrain from being racist  — anyone who wishes to be an ally to Black people (though this book is particularly focused on African Americans within American society) must actively seek to right the injustices of racism. How to Be an Antiracist argues this point with conviction and energy, and provides strategies of action for anyone wanting to progress from being ‘aware’ of racism, to being its active enemy.

67. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

This poetic classic of the autobiography genre is a testament to human strength and resilience. In I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , Maya Angelou tells the story of her earlier years, tracing her life from the age of three to sixteen, in a manner that some critics call “autobiographical fiction”, for the way it organizes personal experience through the narrative techniques of fiction. This deeply affecting coming-of-age book discusses subjects such as race, trauma, and sexual abuse with honesty and wisdom.

68. Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim

Glory Edim, founder of the book club ‘Well-Read Black Girl’ in Brooklyn, has gathered essays written by leading Black female authors into a collection that functions as a space of reflection and inspiration. Writers like Jesmyn Ward, N. K. Jemisin, Jacqueline Woodson, and Tayari Jones all weigh in on the subject of seeing yourself represented in literature. The result is a book that is a joy to read, and an inspiring and exciting ode to Black sisterhood.

69. Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

This stunning memoir by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith begins with her Californian upbringing, but quickly moves into her family’s past and her mother’s fight with cancer. Forced to reckon with her own conflicted sense of identity and shaken faith, Smith finds a whole new approach to selfhood and belonging. Delicately and honestly written, this memoir is filled with light that is anything but ordinary.

70. Hunger by Roxane Gay

Not just a writer but a spokesperson, Roxane Gay writes with sensitivity and intimacy about food and the body. In her deeply personal memoir Hunger, she uses her own struggles — her rape, her overeating, and the reality of living as a sizable woman — to explore our shared anxieties surrounding pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. Gay discusses with candor what it means to take care of yourself when you crave delicious and satisfying food, but live in a world where the open hatred of fat people is tolerated, even encouraged, and you yourself want a smaller, safer body.

Looking to diversify your bookshelf even more? Or simply want to read authors on the forefront of literary development? Check out our list of 20 Latinx authors with books that belong on your TBR list.

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Athens native Michael Thurmond writes book on Georgia's founder and his opposition to slavery

Michael Thurmond has written a book on James Oglethorpe, the man who founded the colony of Georgia and forbade slavery.

The written word can have a lasting impact.

That’s what happened in 1996 when Athens native Michael Thurmond joined a Georgia delegation to England to participate in the 300 th birthday celebration of James Oglethorpe, the founder of the Georgia colony in 1733.

Oglethorpe is buried beneath a floor in the Parrish Church of All Saints near London. A memorial plaque on a church wall outlines why he was an important figure in British history.

Those attributes include a sentence that became a red light for Thurmond: “He was the friend of the oppressed Negro.”

“I stood there. The other members of the delegation were ushered out of the sanctuary into an adjacent hall for a reception. I just stayed there. I couldn’t move. It was so riveting and surprising. It captured me in that moment in time,” Thurmond recalled.

More: UGA sports super fan who carried on a family tradition of painting his bald head dies at 46

Now 27 years later, the task that Thurmond would take to prove or disprove that statement has come to fulfilment.

The University of Georgia Press will release on Wednesday Thurmond’s book, “James Oglethorpe, Father of Georgia: A founder’s Journey from Slave Trader to Abolitionist.”

Thurmond will be at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta that day as the keynote speaker for an event at the college whose namesake is Georgia’s founder.

“If Oglethorpe was a friend of oppressed Black people, then it was revolutionary to me because throughout my education in public schools in Athens and in college, I had never heard of Oglethorpe described that way,” Thurmond said.

Thurmond is a lawyer who has built a political resume that includes the Georgia House of Representatives and for three terms he was elected in a statewide vote as the Georgia Labor Commissioner.

He has been superintendent of schools for DeKalb County and is currently the elected CEO for DeKalb. But he is quick to add that his heart remains in Athens, where he was raised in the modest home of a sharecropper.

In January, Thurmond was selected as the Georgia Public Library Champion of the Year for his support of the library.

And while law is a profession, history is a passion. He has authored two previous books of history.

But the book on Oglethorpe was an undertaking that took him back to England for research and had him pouring over documents at libraries at the University of Georgia and other locations.

“I approached the UGA Press and initially and they rejected my proposal. The person who continued to encourage me even when I gave up on the project was Peggy Galis. She is my enthusiastic supporter,” he said about the Athens woman, who is entrenched in UGA life and shepherds a love of history.

“Peggy wouldn’t allow me to walk away from it,” he said.

Several promotional blurbs for the book were provided including one by Andrew Young, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and civil rights worker.

And then there was John Inscoe, an historian at UGA, whom Thurmond said became an important resource.

“He’s a tough critic. He has a keen eye and he helped improve the manuscript,” Thurmond said.

Oglethorpe, when he founded Georgia in present day Savannah, did not want slavery established in the new colony.

Thurmond said a relationship that Oglethorpe formed with two Black men, who were formerly enslaved, helped change his view of Black people. Oglethorpe became friends with them before he established the new colony.

“In the early 1700s it was generally believed, particularly in Europe, that Black people were subhuman,” Thurmond said.

But when Oglethorpe became friends with these two men, the interaction changed his view of this race of people from Africa, according to Thurmond.

“Oglethorpe realized that Black people are human beings and that set him on his journey,” Thurmond said.

Developing this friendship was important.

“If I think someone is my friend, there is a mutual respect,” Thurmond said.

And Thurmond’s own journey to understand the man who founded Georgia now ends with the written word.

A book signing for Thurmond is planned in Athens from 3-4:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at the Athens-Clarke County Library. The program is hosted by the library and the Athens Historical Society.

Other book signings are already scheduled for dates in Savannah, Griffin, Lithonia and other cities.

Opinion Big-time sports has hardly been a sure bet for D.C.

books without authors

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and the D.C. Council have a laundry list of problems on their hands. But the decision of Monumental Sports & Entertainment owner Ted Leonsis to bug out of town with his Washington Wizards and Capitals is not one of them. Leonsis turned his back on a city that was there when his teams needed an urban showcase. What’s left to hold on to?

It’s sad to think. In a Post op-ed, Bowser (D) outlined the investment that the city has made since 1997 in what’s now called Capital One Arena, where the teams play. Millions of dollars in tax abatements, and $50 million for building upgrades in 2007. Also, $65 million to build and fund most of a practice facility and home court for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. The District even put $500 million in public financing on the table to keep the teams in town.

But Leonsis walked out the door anyway. He wanted something that is beyond the District’s capacity to give — a sports and entertainment juggernaut. Achieving that vision requires land. The kind of space found across the river in Potomac Yard in Alexandria that will yield not only an enlarged, glitzy new arena with practice facilities, but also hotels, entertainment and office spaces. D.C. couldn’t touch that.

If the Virginia legislature blesses the handshake agreement between Leonsis and Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), Leonsis and Monumental’s 5 percent investor — the Qatari sovereign wealth fund, controlled by the Hamas-backing Qatari royal family — will become the envy of the sports and entertainment world.

books without authors

All is not lost. Leonsis’s departure allows the city to keep that $500 million and turn its attention to exploring new ideas for building downtown D.C. into a great urban destination. Should Monumental be successful in ending its Capital One lease — the city says it requires the Wizards and Capitals to play through 2047; Monumental says it has an option to end by 2027 — the District will nonetheless own the land. Can it come up with something more enduring and better?

Chalk up the Leonsis experience to lessons learned. The city should have known better, it’s fair to say. Leonsis is not the first Washington sports owner to cut and run to greener pastures.

In 1961, Washington’s Major League Baseball team moved to fan-hungry Minneapolis-St. Paul. The Washington Senators expansion team showed up in 1961 but split town for deeper-pocketed Dallas in 1972.

The Washington football team, whose former name must go unspoken, played at RFK Stadium for 36 years before moving to a more promising Landover, Md., location in 1997.

Which gets us to the matter of that National Football League team.

Around this time last year, the NFL acknowledged that a move from the Commanders’ FedEx site was under consideration, although then-owner Daniel Snyder had not agreed to sell the team. An NFL spokesman said then , “The league and Mayor Bowser agree that Washington, D.C., should be at the table when a new site is considered. We will continue to work with the mayor’s office, the Commanders and Congress to that end — just like we are in contact with local officials in Maryland and Virginia as they review site and stadium options.”

Since then, Snyder, who bought the team for $800 million in 1999, sold to a group led by Josh Harris for $6.05 billion , reportedly a record sum for a U.S. sports franchise.

Harris says he is moving forward with plans for a new Commanders stadium and has identified possible sites in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

An equally important question, considering the Leonsis experience: Has D.C. decided whether it even wants the Commanders?

Bowser has made clear that she wants the team to return to D.C. She’s hardly alone. But does she speak for all?

The Washington professional football team has been gone from the city for nearly 30 years. Our books are balanced. By all measures, Washington has gotten along rather well without an NFL franchise.

What would a returned team bring? Certainly not pride or memories of past glories. A TV screen and sports pages deliver that.

There must be more.

Snyder wanted a new D.C.-financed RFK complex infrastructure on which he would build a moat-surrounded stadium and a sprawling commercial and entertainment district, fulfilling his dream of a cash cow on the banks of the Anacostia .

That’s fair. Bidness is bidness.

But besides the Commanders owners providing sky boxes, free tickets and parking privileges for city lawmakers and VIPs, and benevolent, tax-deductible projects and activities for youths and selected community groups, what’s in it for the hard-pressed D.C. taxpayer?

What does the District get in return — in terms of substantial public revenue — for having the Commanders play on D.C. turf?

That is the only pertinent question, whose burden of which it is Harris’s to answer.

Remember Ted Leonsis.

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books without authors

Watch CBS News

Hallmark's "When Calls the Heart" galvanized an online community of millions, called Hearties

By Faith Salie

February 11, 2024 / 10:20 AM EST / CBS News

Once a year, a lucky few get the chance to actually visit Hope Valley, an early 20th-century town on the Canadian frontier with a church, a school and a big heart. 

Most of the time, the only way folks get to visit is by watching the place on TV. Hope Valley is the set of the Hallmark Channel's "When Calls the Heart," a show that takes pride in the fact that it's something of a throwback.

"There's a real desire for heartwarming entertainment, stories about community and family and love," says Erin Krakow, the series' star. "It hearkens back to a simpler time and it's something that I think all of us really want in our lives."

Krakow plays a schoolteacher who 10 seasons ago came to a town that was recovering from a mine disaster. At the time it was named Coal Valley. Slowly, with twists and turns and loves gained and lost, the town and her grew up together, helping one another like a family.

Viewership grew, too, and while Krakow may be the show's star, that's not how she sees it.

"I am one piece of the heart of the show because we are a show about community," Krakow says. "And I think that we wouldn't be Hope Valley, we wouldn't be 'When Calls the Heart,' without all of the members of this community."

Members of the "When Calls the Heart" community call themselves Hearties, and they're some 2 million strong. Like Pat Conlee and Celia Sumrall, who became friends watching the show, they organize online and meet in person.

"It really helped me," says Sumrall. "I was kind of, just wasn't sure what I was going to do after retiring from teaching for so many years. You know, what was my purpose going to be? What was I going to be doing?"

Sumrall says joining the Hearties gave her an opportunity to meet lots of new people. She's emotional talking about it.

"I love the show, but just simply because I like the faith, I love the family atmosphere, I love the way the community comes together," she says. "Our world is very divided right now and that's hard. Hope Valley works through that and they talk to each other and they get over it."

When the beloved show character Rosemary struggled to finally have a baby at the same time she grieved her own mother, Conlee saw some of her own story on screen.

"That is me, so that hit me really hard," Conlee says. "It helps you see that other people have these situations in your life that affect you for life sometimes, but that you can get over them and make it through."

The show is based on the writing of Janette Oke, who herself grew up on western plains of Canada. Her Christian romances have sold more than 30 million books. 

Oke says what surprised her most about the Hearties was "where they all come from, and still understand one another."

"We come from different cultures and different areas of the world, and yet, we have that common human need to understanding, working together, feeling accepted," she adds. "That accepted is a pretty big word."

Hearties show up for each other in ways large and small. When Hurricane Maria devastated Jelsy Freytes' community in Puerto Rico, Hearties from all over the world stepped up.

"They just came together, created a website so everybody could see what was needed, and they just started mailing me things that I needed like canned food, batteries," Freytes shares. "I have never experienced something like this. This outpouring of love."

Although "When Calls the Heart" may be fictional, Oke says the effect the show has had is very real. 

"There's lots of places in our world, even in our busy cities and whatnot, where you don't know if you're accepted, you don't have a place to really fit, you don't have anyone to fill that spot in your heart," she says. "And I think that's why this show has touched so many hearts, because we need that. We have to be a part of the group. We were made to be, belong to one another, support one another."

Produced by Anthony Laudato. Edited by George Pozderec.

More from CBS News

American woman goes missing in Spain shortly after man disables cameras

This week on "Sunday Morning" (February 18)

Early detection may help Kentucky tamp down its lung cancer crisis

What happened to Floridalma Roque? N.Y. mom missing in Guatemala


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