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Mark Peterson's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Mark Peterson recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Mark Peterson's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The House of the Seven Gables

The sins of one generation are visited upon another in a haunted New England mansion until the arrival of a young woman from the country breathes new air into mouldering lives and rooms. Written shortly after The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables re-addresses the theme of human guilt in a style remarkable in both its descriptive virtuosity and its truly modern mix of fantasy and realism. less
Recommended by Mark Peterson, and 1 others.

Mark PetersonThe House of the Seven Gables is a deeply psychological novel set during the 1840s in Salem. Like much of Hawthorne’s work, it’s a meditation on the way in which the past and the present intertwine in New England, and I believe it’s Hawthorne at his best. (Source)

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Drawing on the diaries of a midwife and healer in eighteenth-century Maine, this intimate history illuminates the medical practices, household economies, religious rivalries, and sexual mores of the New England frontier. less
Recommended by Mark Peterson, and 1 others.

Mark PetersonLaurel, who taught at New Hampshire and then at Harvard, wrote this brilliant picture of rural New England life, set from the 1780s to the 1820 or so based on the diary of a midwife named Martha Ballard. It took virtuosic interpretive work to tease meaning out of the cryptic writings in this diary. She managed to assemble coastal Maine was like in this time period. You get a stunning portrait of... (Source)

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Complete Writings

The extraordinary writings of Phillis Wheatley, a slave girl turned published poet

In 1761, a young girl arrived in Boston on a slave ship, sold to the Wheatley family, and given the name Phillis Wheatley. Struck by Phillis' extraordinary precociousness, the Wheatleys provided her with an education that was unusual for a woman of the time and astonishing for a slave. After studying English and classical literature, geography, the Bible, and Latin, Phillis published her first poem in 1767 at the age of 14, winning much public attention and considerable fame. When Boston...
Recommended by Mark Peterson, and 1 others.

Mark PetersonTo read Wheatley is to understand the world she lived in. She wrote many odes, the great poetic genre of the period. She also wrote topical poems. Although young, she was an astute observer. (Source)

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2014 Reprint of 1954 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. Perry G. E. Miller was an American intellectual historian and Harvard University professor. He was an authority on American Puritanism, and a founder of this specialized area of American Studies. Alfred Kazin referred to him as "the master of American intellectual history". In his most famous book, "The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century," Miller adopted a cultural approach to illuminate the worldview of the Puritans. This distinguished him from most previous... more
Recommended by Mark Peterson, and 1 others.

Mark PetersonThe New England Mind is a sprawling two-volume work; no one is going to take it to the beach. But if anyone is interested in exploring the modern foundations of how we understand New England, it’s indispensable reading. (Source)

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At Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau reflected on simpler living in the natural world. By removing himself from the distractions of materialism, Thoreau hoped to not only improve his spiritual life but also gain a better understanding of society through solitary introspection.

In Walden, Thoreau condenses his two-year, two-month, two-day stay into a single year, using the four seasons to symbolize human development—a cycle of life shared by both nature and man. A celebration of personal renewal through self-reliance, independence, and simplicity, composed for all of us living...

Laura Dassow WallsThe book that we love as Walden began in the journal entries that he wrote starting with his first day at the pond. (Source)

Roman KrznaricIn 1845 the American naturalist went out to live in the woods of Western Massachusetts. Thoreau was one of the great masters of the art of simple living. (Source)

John KaagThere’s this idea that philosophy can blend into memoir and that, ideally, philosophy, at its best, is to help us through the business of living with people, within communities. This is a point that Thoreau’s Walden gave to me, as a writer, and why I consider it so valuable for today. (Source)

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