There's nothing better than curling up in your favorite spot with a new book or bringing one along to read while you travel. Regardless of why you're reading, we put together our own Laurel Highlands Book Club full of local authors who are writing about the area's amazing people, places and other topics sure to pique your interest.
Special thanks to Second Chapter Books in Ligonier, PA, for providing the books and photos in this article. Make sure to stop by their shop and pick up all of the books mentioned here!
Read Up On Local Legends
Growing Up in the Real Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood - Chris Rodell
As a Latrobe native himself, author Chris Rodell offers a unique perspective on Latrobe legends like Fred Rogers and Arnold Palmer and how they have shaped the towns they grew up in. Growing Up in the REAL Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is the only book about Mister Rogers' Neighborhood by an author who actually calls the place home. This humorous, joyful book also contains previously untold stories of Rogers being a life-saving superhero and of him being perfectly human, making it a must-read for Latrobe (pronounced Lay-Trobe) natives or anyone interested in the life of Fred Rogers.
Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of the King - Chris Rodell
Golf fan? Get an inside look behind the legend of Arnold Palmer in Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of the King, also by Chris Rodell. Come to know the funnier and saltier side of The King with stories showing much more of his personality than you'll get from the Golf channel. Rodell draws upon over 100 interviews with the golf great conducted over 20 years, providing an intimate, charming, and at times irreverent glimpse at the icon outside the spotlight.
Dive into Local History
Coyotes in the Pasture & Wolves at the Door - John & Sukey Jamison
Trailblazers in the local, sustainable farming movement, Coyotes in the Pasture & Wolves at the Door takes you on John and Sukey Jamison's remarkable journey from starting a farm to raising lambs that have become a staple at the best restaurants in the country. Also included in the book are Sukey's own recipes including her famous lamb stew and award-winning lamb pie. Make your own farm-to-table dinner by supporting Jamison Farms and making the recipes yourself!
Idlewild History and Memories of Pennsylvania’s Oldest Amusement Park - Jennifer Sopko
Idlewild and SoakZone has charmed people across Western Pennsylvania and beyond since the late 1800s. Initially developed by the influential Mellon family as a picnic grove to boost traffic on the Ligonier Valley Rail Road, Idlewild soon blossomed as rides, entertainment and other attractions, slowly turning it into the park we know and love today. In Idlewild: History and Memories of Pennsylvania’s Oldest Amusement Park, author Jennifer Sopko tells the heartwarming history of the Laurel Highlands amusement park that has delighted generations of visitors.
Delve into the Supernatural
Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History & Lore - Thomas White
Did you know that William Penn himself presided over the state's only official witch trial in 1684? Delve into this fascinating history in Witches of Pennsylvania: Occult History & Lore by folklorist Thomas White as he traces the history and lore of witchcraft and the occult that quietly live on in Pennsylvania even today. A professor at La Roche College, White has written about a variety of topics sure to pique your interest in western PA lore, including Forgotten Tales of Pittsburgh and Gangs and Outlaws of Western Pennsylvania.
Astonishing Tales of Pennsylvania: Curiosities, Curses and Creatures - Tony Lavorgne
Also in the occult vein, Astonishing Tales of Pennsylvania: Curiosities, Curses, and Creatures explains how the supernatural thrives in the Laurel Highlands and beyond. The perfect book to read at a campfire, Astonishing Tales is filled with stories of properties haunted by specters whose demeanor is unknown, small towns plagued with misfortunes and sightings of strange creatures from beyond. Join Tony Lavorgne as he goes in search of the truths behind these Astonishing Tales.
Enjoy Great Works of Fiction
The Woman in the Yellow Dress - Robert Forte
Robert Forte's The Woman in the Yellow Dress starts with the simple premise of a private eye falling for a beautiful woman in need, but soon spins off into a grand adventure that now spans a trilogy of books that will keep you guessing every time you turn the page. Will this femme fatale be the end of our hero?
Tom Stone: Day of the Dead - Don Simkovich & Lon Casler Bixby
Continuing down our crime fiction rabbit hole, Tom Stone: Day of the Dead is book three of a five book series exploring Detective Tom Stone's latest adventures. In this book, multiple murders with one grisly connection, cartels, criminal empires and a Halloween celebration keep our heroes on their toes in this pageturner!
The Shadow Beyond - Daniel Reiner
Fast-paced, suspenseful and satisfying is how one reviewer best put Shadow Beyond by Daniel Reiner! This plot-driven thriller is big on mystery as it explores our hero's journey into an alien and dangerous world after the fiery demise of his fiance. But once these mysteries are uncovered, can his life ever be the same again?
Special thanks to Second Chapter Books for all of the recommendations and photos in this article! Be sure to support them the next time you need to pick up a great book from a Laurel Highlands author.