New Feature: States Series

Friday, September 9, 2011


I decided I’m going to start a new weekly feature soon. I’m going to highlight one state each week and talk about good books to read that are set in that state or are a good representation of the culture there. I’m also going to list well-known authors from that state.

For years I’ve compiled lists of books from each state because I love reading about the places I’m traveling to. Before I go to a new country or city in the states, I try to find books that give me a taste of the atmosphere there. So I thought that might be something you guys would appreciate too.

So here’s my question for all of you…

What are some books that you think are great representations of a state? For example, I think there’s no better book to get a feel of small town Alabama than, To Kill a Mockingbird. What books come to mind for you guys?

Also, are there any authors that you associate with a specific state?

I’d love to hear what you think before I start this project.

Map from here.

18 comments:

Mariul said...

What a wonderful idea! I'll send you my list via LT or email.
Regards from Germany, Ulla

Jeanne said...

Way before I moved to Ohio I read Goodbye, Columbus and we quote that title a lot now.

I associate Flannery O'Connor with Georgia and William Faulkner with Mississippi. I tend to associate Reynolds Price with Arkansas, but that's wrong--it's just because that's where I first read him. For the same reason, I associate Tom Clancy with suburban Maryland, and that's actually not wrong.

This is an interesting idea!

Jillian said...

Very interesting! :) Looking forward to reading more from this 'series.'

I don't really have anything that I associate with California, actually! Hmm..

I do associate Foer with NYC though!

Trisha said...

This is such a neat idea. I love it that you've been taking notes on settings while reading!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Mariul - Thanks! I can't wait to get it.

Jeanne - It's funny, there are so many books I connect with certain places just because I read them there.

Jillian - I connect Foer with NYC too. That's a great one.

Trisha - Some books give such a great feel for a certain culture. It's almost like traveling there for a short time.

Brenna said...

I really like this idea! I'm going to be thinking about authors and states more, but for now the one that comes to mind is Eugenides for Michigan/Detroit area and Maya Angelou for Missouri/St. Louis. Foer for New York definitely, but also Edith Wharton and Paul Auster.

Allie said...

This is a great idea! I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Bybee said...

Missouri = Mark Twain. I love your idea!

Julia said...

Excellent theme! New Hampshire: Russell Banks, Robert Frost, Donald Hall, John Irving.

nomadreader said...

What fun! If you want a very different view of typical literary New York (it is a very big state), William Kennedy's novels set in Albany are fascinating. I'm really excited for his new one, Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, to come out in September. I've heard Jean Thompson's The Year We Left Home is a quintessential Iowa and even Midwestern novel, so I'm eager to read it soon. I'll look forward to following your project!

Mumsy said...

Oh, Truman Capote's soul is definitely Louisiana. But when I think of a book that FEELS Louisiana, I think of Ernest Gaines's A Gathering of Old Men. And, a little more cheerfully, Rebecca Wells's The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere. I like this idea!

BookQuoter said...

Well, the HP series for London/Hogwarts, which is so real for me,Just kidding!
That book we both like about Savannah;Stieg Larson's book for Stockholm;Down the Nile is a good one for Egypt;Virgin Suicides and Middlesex for Detroit; Cutting for Stone for Ethiopia; Shadow of the Wind for old Barcelona;Time Traveler's Wife for Chicago!! Too many for a comment:)
Great idea!!! Find me books set in South Africa. That's my next destination:)

carolsnotebook said...

What a neat idea. I live in Ohio, but I can't come up with a book that really "represents" Ohio for me.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

You guys are awesome! I love your suggestions and I'm adding them all to my master list. I can't wait to start this series.

Jenners said...

What a super cool idea!! Of course, I immediately draw a blank but if I come up with something, I'll let you know. Can't wait to read this series!!

Christina said...

The best fictional book I've found for my state (Montana)is Montana 1948. The best nonfiction book is Mass Destruction, which is also set in Utah.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - I don't think I paid too much attention to what state a book was set in until I started keeping a list a year or two ago.

Christina - Great additions, thanks! I've read Montana 1948, but not the other one.

Suey said...

Awesome project! As you may remember when I traveled through many states this summer (20 of them!) I was wishing for ideas for each of them. Not that I have time to read them or anything! :) I will look forward to your posts. Wallace Stegner is often connected to Utah had has some fantastic books. I'll have to ponder some more ideas and send an email or something...