Books that meet high moral standards and contain limited foul language, sexual content, and descriptions of violence.

Austin, Lynn

Wonderland Creek (Christian historical, Evangelical)

“Longing to run from small-town gossip, Alice flees to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the tiny coal-mining town of Acorn, a place with no running water, no electricity, and where the librarians ride ornery horses up steep mountain passes to deliver books. When Alice is forced to stay in Acorn far longer than she planned, she discovers that real-life adventure, mystery— and especially romance—may be far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.”

von Arnim, Elizabeth

The Enchanted April (English classic)

“Drawn by a promise of ‘wisteria and sunshine,’ four English ladies exchange their damp and dreary surroundings for a month on the Italian Riviera. They’re different from each other in age and attitude, but all are bewitched by their rented medieval castle and the natural beauty of the Portofino peninsula. Their holiday not only refreshes their spirits but also reintroduces them to their true natures and reopens their hearts to love and friendship.”

Burns, Olive Ann

Cold Sassy Tree (historical fiction)

“On July 5, 1906, scandal breaks in the small town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, when the proprietor of the general store, E. Rucker Blakeslee, elopes with Miss Love Simpson. He is barely three weeks a widower, and she is only half his age and a Yankee to boot. As their marriage inspires a whirlwind of local gossip, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy suddenly finds himself eyewitness to a family scandal, and that’s where his adventures begin.”

Dallas, Sandra

A Quilt for Christmas (historical fiction)

“Eliza Spooner’s husband Will has joined the Kansas volunteers to fight the Confederates, leaving her with their two children and in charge of their home and land. Eliza is confident that he will return home, and she helps pass the months making a special quilt to keep Will warm during his winter in the army. When the unthinkable happens, she takes in a woman and child who have been left alone and made vulnerable by the war, and she finds solace and camaraderie amongst the women of her quilting group.”

Downing, Sharon Jarvis

The Healing Place (Christian fiction, Latter-day Saint)

“Elizabeth Ewell is driving alone across the desert, perhaps the longest drive of her life. She leaves behind the woman her ex-husband wanted her to be and hopes to find herself in a new, foreign place, a place to heal. Determined to isolate herself from relationships and practically the rest of the world, Liz settles in a small farming community south of Salt Lake City. She is gradually drawn into the lives of her neighbors, most of whom are LDS. She discovers wounds heal better in warmth and acceptance of friends.”

The Kaleidoscope Season (Christian fiction, Latter-day Saint)

“Set in a small town in southern Georgia 1948, the book centers around Emily Jean Knowles, a soon-to-be-twelve-year-old girl who lives with Granna. Granna is a staunch Southern Baptist who has raised her granddaughter to be a well-mannered young lady, but Emily has retained much of her childhood ‘activity’ and ‘inquisitiveness.’ . . . Uncle Bob comes home to live and work for the summer, and he and Emily Jean separately undertake journeys of religious discovery.”

Eliot, George (pen name of Mary Ann Evans)

Middlemarch (English classic)

“The very qualities that set Dorothea [Brooke] apart from the materialistic, mean-spirited society around her also lead her into a disastrous marriage with a man she mistakes for her soul mate. In a parallel story, young doctor Tertius Lydgate, who is equally idealistic, falls in love with the pretty but vain and superficial Rosamund Vincy.”

Silas Marner (English classic)

“A gentle linen weaver named Silas Marner is wrongly accused of [a] theft actually committed by his best friend. Exiling himself to the rustic village of Raveloe, he becomes a lonely recluse. Ultimately, Marner finds spiritual rebirth through his unselfish love of an abandoned child who mysteriously appears one day in his isolated cottage.”

Gaskell, Elizabeth

Cranford (English classic)

“The formidable Miss Deborah Jenkyns and the kindly Miss Matty live in a village where women rule and men usually tend to get in the way. Their days revolve around card games, tea, thriftiness, friendship and an endless appetite for scandal (from the alarming sight of a cow in flannel pajamas to the shocking news of the titled lady who marries a surgeon). But, like it or not, change is coming into their world.”

Hardy, Thomas

Under the Greenwood Tree (English classic)

“While the Reverend Maybold creates a furore among the village’s musicians with his decision to abolish the church’s traditional ‘string choir’ and replace it with a modern mechanical organ, the new schoolteacher, Fancy Day, causes an upheaval of a more romantic nature, winning the hearts of three very different men–a local farmer, a church musician and Maybold himself.”

Headly, Leslie Beaton

Twelve Sisters (Christian fiction, Latter-day Saint)

“On the surface, the fast and testimony meeting seems quite ordinary. Prelude music only slightly masks the noise as members of the ward fill up the pews and the bishop smiles benignly over the assembling Saints. But beneath their scrubbed and freshly pressed exteriors, each of the women in the Foothills Ward struggles with challenges and decisions that others in the congregation are not aware of.”

Zoe’s Gift (Christian fiction, Latter-day Saint)

“Struggling with profound personal grief, Connie Leavitt stumbles across an overgrown pioneer cemetery on the prairie outside her small town. She becomes fascinated by the names she reads on two of the tombstones. In her mind’s eye she pictures the friendship that might have formed between two young women who endured together the thousand-mile trek from Utah to southern Alberta in 1903. Connie discovers that the pioneer women have much in common with her and her friend Zoe Daykin.”

Kidd, Kathryn H.

Paradise Vue (Christian fiction, Latter-day Saint)

“Welcome to the Paradise Vue Ward, with stained glass windows so blindingly bright that the congregation has to wear shades.  Meet the strangest Relief Society presidency ever called—and watch as they discover why the ward needed them, and why they needed these callings.”

Lee, Harper

To Kill a Mockingbird (American classic)

“The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it.”

Liebenthal, Jean Z.

Cottonwood Summer (Christian fiction, Latter-day Saint)

“When Nola and Beverly are forbidden to participate in the lake excursion, they can’t guess that their selected alternative will provide the biggest adventure in their young lives. Nothing less than a reform school escapee, in fact!”

Feathers and Rings (Christian fiction, Latter-day Saint)

“Nola is in love with Kent—but he hardly seems to notice her. Although she manages to have an occasional good time at the Saturday-night dances with her longtime neighbor Norman, Nola fears she may become an ‘old maid.’”

Marshall, Catherine

Christy (Christian historical fiction)

“In the year 1912, nineteen-year-old Christy Huddleston leaves home to teach school in the Smoky Mountains—and comes to know and love the resilient people of the region, with their fierce pride, their dark superstitions, their terrible poverty, and their yearning for beauty and truth. But her faith will be severely challenged by trial and tragedy, by the needs and unique strengths of two remarkable young men, and by a heart torn between true love and unwavering devotion.”

Julie (Christian historical fiction)

Julie Wallace moves with her family to a flood-prone steel town during the Great Depression so that her father can become the new publisher of the town’s newspaper. Julie and her family work to keep the newspaper alive amid labor disputes and controversy over the stability of a nearby dam.

Trollope, Anthony

The Chronicles of Barsetshire (English classics)

1. The Warden

“The Warden centers on Mr. Harding, a clergyman of great personal integrity who is nevertheless in possession of an income from a charity far in excess of the sum devoted to the purposes of the foundation. On discovering this, young John Bold turns his reforming zeal to exposing what he regards as an abuse of privilege, despite the fact that he is in love with Mr. Harding’s daughter Eleanor.”

2. Barchester Towers

“Trollope’s comic masterpiece of plotting and backstabbing opens as the Bishop of Barchester lies on his deathbed. Soon a pitched battle breaks out over who will take power, involving, among others, the zealous reformer Dr Proudie, his fiendish wife and the unctuous schemer Obadiah Slope.”

3. Doctor Thorne

“The story of the son of a bankrupt landowner, Frank Gresham, who is intent on marrying his beloved Mary Thorne despite her illegitimacy and apparent poverty. Frank’s ambitious mother and haughty aunt are set against the match, however, and push him to make a good marriage to a wealthy heiress.”

4. Framley Parsonage

‘Mark Robarts is a clergyman with ambitions beyond his small country parish of Framley. In a naive attempt to mix in influential circles, he agrees to guarantee a bill for a large sum of money for the disreputable local Member of Parliament, while being helped in his career in the Church by the same hand. But the unscrupulous politician reneges on his financial obligations, and Mark must face the consequences this debt may bring to his family.”

5. The Small House at Allington

“Lily is engaged to the rising Adolphus Crosbie, who is smitten with Lady Alexandrina de Courcy. Meanwhile, John Eames has pined for Lily for years, but the young clerk seems helpless to wrench her away from her duplicitous beau.”

6. The Last Chronicle of Barset

“When Reverend Josiah Crawley, the impoverished curate of Hogglestock, is accused of theft it causes a public scandal, sending shockwaves through the world of Barsetshire. The Crawleys desperately try to remain dignified while they are shunned by society, but the scandal threatens to tear them, and the community, apart.”

Walker, Joseph

Christmas on Mill Street (nostalgia)

“It’s 1962, and young Sam Andrews just moved to Utah from Arizona. A tall, overweight, semi-clumsy outsider, he’s still trying to fit in with the neighborhood boys. When discussion about sledding down the infamous Mill Street begins, Sam pipes in and says he’ll do it. The problem is, Sam has seen snow only in pictures and has never actually ridden a sled. And to top it off, Mill Street is practically a vertical drop with two deadly curves. But there’s no turning back now.”

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The featured image “Sunset Reflected in Canal” is Copyright © 2022 by Katherine Padilla. All rights reserved.