Books about Vermont
February 25, 2013 5:08 PM   Subscribe

We just got back from a lovely weekend in Vermont. I like reading about places I visit. Your favorite non-fiction books about Vermont, please!
posted by ocherdraco to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Oddly, one of my favourite books meets this criteria: The Maple Sugar Book, by the pioneering Nearings. It's a wonderful historical glimpse at a way of Vermont life so progressive you completely lose track of the fact it's 65 years old now.

On the other end of the spectrum, Hay Fever is a wholly modern tale of moving from New York to make goat cheese in Vermont. (Disclaimer: I vaguely know the author.)
posted by DarlingBri at 5:21 PM on February 25, 2013

Shirley Jackson, Life Among the Savages, talks about moving from NYC and buying an old farm in Vermont; a classic.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:24 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have mixed feelings about the Nearings. I am partial to Let Me Show You Vermont (possibly checkoutable if I can figure out how to make that thingie work) which is a dated find look at the state. I'd also suggest Noel Perrin's books: First, Second, and Third Person Rural. The Vermont Monster Guide will give you a good idea about cryptozoology myths here. Not entirely non-fiction but mostly. Everything Joe Citro writes is grand. In a creepier direction, there's stuff like Breeding Better Vermonters: The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State which talks about some less savory aspects of this place's history. Here are two small-town doctor/vet books: Bag Balm and Duct Tape, tales of a Vermont Country Doctor and A Friend of the Flock: Tales of a Country Veterinarian. I'd also recommend local historian Frank Bryan who has written about many local civic traditions as well as some humor books.

That Shirley Jackson books is also one of my absolute favorites.
posted by jessamyn at 5:31 PM on February 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: All of these sound awesome. Any books on Vermont history that cover the period of the Vermont Republic?

Also, why mixed feelings about the Nearings? (I know nothing about them; just curious.)
posted by ocherdraco at 5:39 PM on February 25, 2013

The reasons behind my own mixed feelings are summed up in the Wikipedia article - basically, all was not what they presented it to be, plus in making the lifestyle they espoused sustainable, they had a lot of financial advantages they glossed over.

So, like The Great Gatsby, the narrators may be unreliable but I still think it's a marvellous tale.

(I'm sure Jessamyn knows much more about them than I do and maybe I'm about to have this book knocked off my list. Exciting!)
posted by DarlingBri at 6:11 PM on February 25, 2013

Not to be missed: Hands on the Land: A History of the Vermont Landscape by Jan Albers.

This is a good history of Vermont covering the Vermont Republic period but it's not where it should be on my shelves. Let me have another look.
posted by beagle at 6:24 PM on February 25, 2013

Aha. The Reluctant Republic: Vermont 1724-1791 by Frederic F. Van DeWater
posted by beagle at 6:28 PM on February 25, 2013

Response by poster: Eeeeeeeeexcellent. *tents hands* My reading list grows ever larger!
posted by ocherdraco at 6:40 PM on February 25, 2013

Vermont has a unique history with eugenics. I think this is the book I've been recommended on it: Nancy Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters.

EDIT: oops sorry Jessamyn!
posted by grobstein at 6:43 PM on February 25, 2013

Not "non-fiction," but Donna Tartt's The Secret History is's about Bennington students, apparently.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:41 PM on February 25, 2013

I came in to recommend the Nearings and Noel Perrin as well. Didn't know about the possible misrepresentation, that's really interesting.

Not specifically Vermont, but rural NH in the 30s - String Too Short To Be Saved, by Donald Hall. I got this and First Person Rural at the same time, and thought they went well together.
posted by dubold at 12:46 AM on February 26, 2013

I'm a huge fan of Noel Perrin's books. They are just great in content and tone.
posted by OmieWise at 5:35 AM on February 26, 2013

Hayden Carruth's books of poetry, particularly those from the 70s; also, much of David Budbill's poetry.
posted by aught at 6:56 AM on February 26, 2013

Weird New England has a section on Vermont. It's a fun book to browse and learn about both local lore (If I recall correctly it was in Vermont that there was a story about a family that buried their elders in the snow during the winter and woke them back up in the spring) and "world's biggest ball of twine" type attractions.
posted by usonian at 8:13 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know it has its detractors but I not only liked Ben Hewitt's The Town that Food Saved, it also became the reason why Shepherd and I go to Hardwick a few times a year.
posted by Kitteh at 8:29 AM on February 26, 2013

Where the Rivers Flow North - or anything by Howard Frank Mosher
posted by alfanut at 9:49 AM on February 26, 2013

In Good Hands: The Keeping of a Family Farm, by Charles Fish. It's a splendid work, very much of and about the land, but also a real philosophical inquiry.
I can also recommend: In the Land of the Wild Onion: Travels Along Vermont's Winooski River, by the same author.
posted by jcrcarter at 12:59 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding In the Land of the Wild Onion.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 9:34 PM on February 26, 2013

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