The editors of Missouri Life reviewed nine books that we recommend you check out. From the weird and wonderful, to the struggle for the right to vote, to a charming children’s book, there is something for everyone to read.

Photo courtesy of Freepik

Where We Belong

The authors of these books explore the poignant connections and odd quirks that define us.

BIRTH MOTHER, Judith Bock, 286 pages, memoir, self-published, paperback (6 by 9 inches), $12. The author from Columbia unflinchingly bares her soul in this memoir of giving up her infant daughter for adoption when she was just 22 years old in 1969. In “doing the right thing,” she remained haunted by grief. Her memoir will fascinate anyone who has given a child up for adoption, anyone who has been adopted, and their friends and families. A “relinquishment memorial” is just one of the many ideas and insights that may be new to many readers, and the book includes an appendix with resources.

CRAZY BUT TRUE, ST. LOUIS HISTORY, Dan O’Neill, 48 pages, nonfiction, Reedy Press, hardcover (9 3⁄8 by 12 3⁄8 inches), $22.50. Trivia lovers will enjoy this coffee-table book stuffed with fun facts and figures from St. Louis history.

EVICTED! THE STRUGGLE FOR THE RIGHT TO VOTE, Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by Charly Palmer, 64 pages, nonfiction, Calkins Creek, an imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers, hardcover (8 1⁄4 by 10 1⁄2 inches), $18.99. This book describes the tent cities that sprang up in Tennessee in 1959 when white farmers evicted Black sharecroppers who attempted to register to vote. Burton Dodson, the man at the center of the grassroots voting movement, settled in East St. Louis before eventually returning to Tennessee for his historic trial.

HOW MR. SILVER STOLE THE SHOW, Kate Klise and illustrated by M. Sarah Klise, 34 pages, children’s book, Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, hardcover (8 3⁄4 by 10 3⁄4 inches), $18.99. The St. Louis author based this fun tale on an actual stray cat that wandered into the Hamilton Hotel in St. Louis, two days before the Greater St. Louis Cat Club Show.

LOST TREASURES OF ST. LOUIS, Cameron Collins and Dennis Dillon, 224 pages, nonfiction, Reedy Press, hardcover (9 3⁄8 by 12 3⁄8 inches), $42. This is a second edition, but it has been revised and updated and includes more than 130 new treasures, in such categories as food and drink, entertainment, retail, media, industry and products made in Missouri, and community. A helpful index will help you find your favorites over and over in this coffee-table book.

MISSOURI WEIRD & WONDERFUL, Amanda E. Doyle and illustrated by Dan Zettwoch, 48 pages, nonfiction, Reedy Press, paperback (9 3⁄8 by 12 3⁄8 inches), $22.50. While the editors of Missouri Life may know most of the trivia presented in this book, many readers may not, and the illustrations give a fun touch and flair that enhance this coffee-table book.

THE WAY WE WERE, Lonnie Whitaker, 264 pages, memoir, Scrivener Oak Press, paperback (5 1⁄2 by 8 1⁄2 inches), $19.99. This book’s subhead is “Personal Reflections on Life in the Ozarks,” which are presented by the author, a former attorney, publisher of several award-winning books, and newspaper columnist, in the form of 50 essays. The easy-to-read remembrances will delight not only other Ozarkers but also others interested in Missouri in the 1950s and ’60s.


DAUGHTER OF SHILOH, Ilene Shepard Smiddy, 297 pages, historical fiction, self-published, paperback, (6 by 9 inches), $18.67. The author, who lives in De Soto, is part Cherokee, and she published this tale in 2000 after a long career with Trans World Airlines. This fascinating book is based on the true story of a young woman taken captive from Kentucky in 1793 and kept by the Cherokee for 12 years. Many documented facts about Clarinda Allington are included, and the book gives insight into the conflicts between frontier settlers and Indian nations from 1790 to 1806. While this novel ends in 1806, after Clarinda had escaped and married, in real life, Clarinda faced a life of poverty, prejudice, and bigotry because of her three Indian children.

SHOW-ME A BICENTENNIAL, Beth Pike, 118 pages, nonfiction, The State Historical Society of Missouri, hardcover (9 1/4 by 10 1/4 inches), $20. If you missed a memento from Missouri’s bicentennial because we were still in COVID, you can pick up this commemorative book at the State Historical Society and Museum in Columbia or order online at

Images of the covers supplied by the Publishers

Feature image from Freepik

See all the Missouri-related books we have in our Missouri Life Mercantile online store here.

Read another book review here.

Article originally published in the January/February 2024 issue of Missouri Life.