Dewey Mini-Challenge Hour 4: State Settings

Saturday, October 22, 2011


The official winner, chosen by, is Suey of It's All About Books. Congrats! You guys all had such amazing answers, I love it!

Welcome to the Dewey Read-a-Thon Hour Four mini-challenge! I hope you all are still going strong at this point.

Setting can be such an essential part of a book. Sometimes reading can give us a wonderful taste for a new location and almost make us feel like we've traveled there ourselves.

When I’m about to travel to a new place, I love reading books set there. It’s also a great way to supplement travel when money or vacation time is tight. Armchair travel can give you a little wanderlust fix until you can hit the road again.

To participate in this challenge, please name three books (fiction or nonfiction) that are good representations of the USA state in which they are set. You can pick three books set in one state or books set in different states, it doesn’t matter.

There are so many books set in Europe, India, etc. that evoke the atmosphere of that country, but for this challenge I’m only looking for books set in the US. For example, To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful representation of small town life in Alabama, John Steinbeck’s novels are the embodiment of depression-era California and Dave Egger’s Zeitoun is a powerful example of nonfiction set in Louisiana.

Each person who provides three examples will be entered to win a copy of “Novel Destinations: Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West.” I have my own copy of this book and I love it! I consult it every time I go on a trip to see if there are any fun literary places to stop along the way.

Just leave a comment with your three examples on this post. The only requirement is that you provide an e-mail address where I can reach you and that your three examples are set within the USA. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

This challenge is open internationally. It will remain open for three hours and then, at the beginning of hour seven, I will close it and select a winner at random. I'll e-mail the winner so they can send me their full name and address.


Anonymous said...

Jencey Gortney (Writer's Corner)

Nantucket Masschusetts
1. Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
2. The Beach House by Jane Green
3. Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand


nomadreader said...

William Kennedy's Albany cycle (starting with Legs) is a fantastic representation of Albany (and proof there is literature about New York outside of NYC).

Susanna Daniel's brilliant novel Stiltsville embodies Miami beautifully over the course of 25 years.

I think Chelsea Cain's Gretchen Lowell mysteries to an amazing job evoking Portland, Oregon too.

(side note--fantastic challenge!)

Allie said...

Oh, what a great challenge! :)

Okay, so three titles set in the U.S...

I have to go with Travels with Charley by Steinbeck. While it isn't necessarily set in one U.S. state, it is a great representation of what different areas of the country are like. It is moving, emotional, and representative of the diversity of Americans.

I'll also pick a recent read of mine...Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. It is a Native American based piece, and really touches on the differences between Native Americans and the rest of America. It captures a culture so distinctly and beautifully. I love the descriptions of the Southwest-an area I am unfamiliar with!

My last choice...I'm going to pick Their Eyes Were Watching God, set in Florida. There is a scene in the book with a hurricane, and with the description of the wind and the heat...well, it seems fitting. I don't think I could live somewhere so hot and susceptible to crazy weather patterns! (not that Michigan is any better).

My email is aliteraryodyssey (at) gmail (dot) com

Great challenge!

KatieF said...

1. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt - Savannah, Georgia
2. Swamplandia by Karen Russell - Florida
3. The Tea SHop Mystery Series by Laura Childs - Charleston, South Carolina

Lydia said...

Great challenge!

I'd choose the following:

1. Sweetie by Kathryn Magendie (West Virginia)
2. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman(Georgia)
3. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (South Carolina)

My email is benz1966 at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

Hi Melissa!! Of course you used To Kill a favorite book of all time!!

1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman is set in Savannah, and it's a lovely representation of a slower southern pace.
2. The Immproper Life of Bezelia Grove by Susan Gregg Gilmore set in Nashville TN,it also shows a life in the 1960's when all things that others could see were so important.
3. The Help, by Katheryn Stockett. Again set in the south, do you see a much loved theme starting here? I love her representation of the Mobile, it's ladies of leisure and their Junior League type activities. The maids and women who cares for their babies and how they were treated.
You can reach me at extexgirl2 at aol dot com.
Happy reading!!

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

1. New Orleans, Louisiana- The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
2. Ocean City, Maryland- The Ocean City series by Katherine Applegate
3. New Orleans (again!)- Ruined by Paula Morris

Great challenge!


Anonymous said...

1. "The A-List" by Zoey Dean. Perhaps not an accurate depiction of California, but definitely a description that any tourist will find accurate, because we don't know any better.

2. "Julie & Julia" by Julie Powell. I actually have been to New York a couple of times, and even though it's not the main purpose of her book, I think Julie does a wonderful job of describing it.

3. "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" - Rebecca Wells. Again working on stereotypes, but a heartwarming depiction of South Carolina.

kiwiria at livejournal dot com

Kristi said...

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Books for life in Illinois/Iowa

The Help - Mississippi

Bridges of Madison County - Iowa

kherbrand at comcast dot net

Nosilas said...

Above is a link to my post on my tumblr. =)
I chose:
The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

my email:
Thanks for hosting the minichallenge!

Tami said...

1. One of my favorite series of books is "The Cat Who..." series by Lilian Jackson Braun. The actual state where Pickax City is located is never mentioned, but it's known to be in the Northeast Central part of the country - Wisconsin?? Even though the state isn't specific, it's a great depiction of small town life and people.

2. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plus is the ultimate Jersey girl.

3. Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series gives me a wonderful picture of California - San Francisco, specifically.

Anonymous said...

(1) Catering to Noone by Diane Mott Davidson - Good example of Colorado.
(2) Twilight by Stephanie Meyer - The raininess and weather is just like Washington.
(3) Any book by Sarah Dessen - I lived in the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina for a while and it is so much like Dessen's created world in North Carolina.

shaunesay said...

Hello! Fun Challenge!

1. I just finished reading How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper, and it was set in Alaska. The setting definitely fed into the story, as how remote and harsh the weather was in that area was used in the plot of the story.

2. Anything in the Stephanie Plum series is a good example, so we'll just pick the first one, One for the Money by Janet Evanovich, set in New Jersey, the stores/restaurants and attitude of the area figure very prominently in the stories.

3. For my third choice I'll pick State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy, not a book I've read yet, but am looking forward to, a mystery series centered around the White House Chef, so that will have to use Washington DC as a big part of the story!

Thanks for an interesting challenge!

quirky girls said...

My picks are:

1. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. Actually all of Allen's books are very evocative of North Carolina. She is a master at creating setting.

2. The Nineteenth Wife by David Ebershoff is a thorough depiction of Utah.

3. The Castaways brings the little island of Nantucket off the coast of Rhode Island to life.


Lisa (Lisa's World of Books) said...

I posted mine here:

The Comforts of Home is set in Texas and everything about this books says Texas to me. The hometown feel. Community coming together. Horses and Rodeo and more.

The Next Always is set in Maryland and it is all about the small town. I love the descriptions of the the streetscapes and the small businesses in town and how everyone remembers how things used to be.

Something Borrowed is set in New York City and boy does it represent the fast moving pace and the lifestyle. That and people going to the Hamptons and the sights and smells of the City.

Chessie the Library Queen said...

Our books are all set in Texas the Lone Star State

1. Holes by, Louis Sachar
2. Inside the Alamo by, Jim Murphy
3. Living Dead in Dallas by, Charlaine Harris

Stacie said...

1. She's So Money by Cherry Cheva is a great depiction on Ann Arbor, Mi.
2. These is my Words by Nancy E. Turner is such a great depiction of the Arizona Territories back in the 1800s.
3. The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz is a great depiction of Pico Mundo, California.

Whew...that was rough!

Jemma! said...

Don't really know enough about the US to judge whether a book has been an accurate representation or not ^^ I'll just wait for the next challenge I guess ^^

KC said...

This is a great challenge!

1. The Help - Mississippi
2. Gone with the Wind - Georgia
3. The House of Mirth - New York

They're all set in the past however... so I guess these books allow you to travel in both location and time :)

katherinerovensky @ gmail . com

Bahnree said...

Fun challenge!

1. Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony (Portland, Oregon)
2. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (Nebraska)
3. The Rise of Silas Lapham (Boston)

christianchick52 at gmail dot com
bahnree dot blogspot dot com

Alysia said...

1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel by Beth Hoffman
2. Don't Let It Be True by Jo Barrett
3. The Devil Wears Prada: A Novel by Lauren Weisberger

Denise said...

There are so many!

I'm from Charleston, SC so I'm going to go with Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy. He does a nice job with the Low Country - many other authors do not.

I live in the Chicagoland suburbs right now, so I'm going to suggest Jen Lancaster's If You Were Here. I laughed my way through her descriptions of the 'burbs.

And, last but not least, Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neals Hurston's book, set in Florida (an area that I lived in before moving to Chicagoland) was fabulously set.

Mia said...

My co-blogger and I made our post about the matter here:

Thanks for the fun challenge!

e-mail figwiggin (at) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

1. Forever by Pete Hamill
2. Beach Music by Pat Conroy
3. The World According to Garp by John Irving

Also these three happen to be three of my favorites of all time. I think I might have a thing for evocative settings :).

Suey said...

1. Chesapeake by James Michner (for the Maryland Chesapeake Bay area)

2. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende (for California/San Fran)

3. Interview with the Vampire by Ann Rice (for New Orleans... well at least what I've read so far!)

Just a Lil Lost said...

That's a tough one as I'm not from the states, it's hard to know if that's a true representation or not! I'll try though!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Mississippi)
Any book by Stephen King (Bangor, Maine) --> Okay, maybe minus all the creepiness... it's more the actual setting rather than the circumstances!
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (New York)

My answer can also be found on my blog for the readathon, here! :)

Bonnie Jacobs said...

1) Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God, by Joe Coomer ~ New Hampshire

2) Forever, by Pete Hammil ~ New York

3) A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley ~ Iowa

See what I say about each book by clicking on the links I've posted at "Hour 4" on my blog:

My email: emerging DOT paradigm AT yahoo DOT com

Laura Massey said...

My choices were

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry
Shine by Lauren Myracle.

All great examples of the South, two of which are actually set in my home state.

Read more about them in my blog post, if you like State Settings.

Anonymous said...

When I think of awesome U.S. settings I immediately think of all things Sarah Addison Allen! So, I will start my list with her.

1. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen North Carolina

2. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver Tuscon, Arizona

3. Finally, as a shout-out to my home town, Les Roberts' Milan Jacovich takes place in good old Cleveland, Ohio!

Thanks for the fun mini-challenge.
My email is

Laurie said...

My three:

1. This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff- brilliantly describes the Cascade Mountains of Washington.

2. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver - deep in rural Virginia's Blue Ridge.

3. Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout, for evoking the character and ambiance of Maine.

lahochstetler at gmail dot com

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Awesome! A thinker..... hmmmm....

1. Shelter by Sarah Stonich (Minnesota author telling her true story of living in Northern Minnesota) its actually quite hilarious as I live in Minnesota too and I am reading this book during the read a thon)

2. Beloved by Toni Morrison (warning this book will tear you up about former slaves after the civil war years in a small town in Ohio)

3. Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt is a perfect Savanah life story...

Jex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

This was harder than it looks!

1. The Help-for Mississippi
2.Snow Falling on Cedars--for my home state of Wahington
3.The Violets of March--for Washington again!

Great fun, and thanks for hosting!

Anonymous said...

My picks:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (New York City)

Gone with the Wind (Atlanta, Georgia)

The Watery Part of the World (Coastal North & South Carolina)

thejoyofbooking at gmail dot com

Heather Leah said...

My three book choices that are set near me.

Stay by Deb Caletti--Whidbey Island, WA
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer-- Forks, WA
The Clearing by Heather Davis--the North Cascades, WA

Leahmcclung at gmail dot com

IngridLola said...

Here are my three:

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (New Mexico)
The Final Frontiersman by James Campbell (Alaska)
Walden by Henry David Thoreau (Massachusetts)


Kinna said...

Thanks for the mini-challenge:

Does Washington DC count? If so then:

1. Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones (Washington DC)
2. The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze by William Saroyan (1930s San Francisco, California)
3. The Known World by Edward P. Jones (Virginia)


Jex said...

Bloodshot by Cherie Priest - Seattle, WA (I love reading about where I'm from, fictional book or not)

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow - San Francisco, CA (They have blown up the bridge, but I still got a sense of the city)

Twilight by Stephanie Meyers - Forks, WA (Not a Twilight fan, but it's definitely Forks)


LL said...

My picks are:
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (Arizona)

A Spoonful of Olives by Lynn Johns (Idaho)

It Sure Ain't Like it Used to Be by Lynn Johns (Idaho)


Anonymous said...

Caribou Island by David Vann - Alaska

The Tortilla Curtain by T. C. Boyle - California

Duma Key by Stephen King - Florida

I hope they are good representations as I've never been to any of those states (I live in the Netherlands) but to me, they represent what I think it would be like there.

Joy Renee said...

Snow Falling on Ceders for Washington state I was raised
The River Why for Oregon state I now live
IT by Stephen King makes me believe I'd recognize small town Maine if somehow teleported there

joystory AT

Darcie said...

I love seeing all the responses!! Here are my 3

1. Wynette, Texas - Call Me Irresistable by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
2. New York - Summer in the City - Candace Bushnell (I love New York)
3. Kentucky - having lived there I have to give a shout out to this wonderful state - Kentucky Sunrise by Fern Michaels

I also like to read books about places that I am visiting!! When I travel I always try to have a book of that area with me. :)

Anonymous said...

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt - Savannah, GA.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - Post 9/11 New York City.

Open City by Teju Cole - New York City. I hated this book, but it did a pretty good job of describing NYC.

Laura said...

Oooh, this challenge is so much fun! Ok, I'm going to say:

1. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (New York)
2. Most things by Stephen King, but especially the later Dark Tower books (Maine)
And I have to say 3. The Grapes of Wrath (California) for that bit where they drive over the mountains and can see into the valley below? Amazing.

devouringtexts [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

1) Forever, by Pete Hamill - New York
2) A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley- Iowa
3) Duma Key By Stephan King- Florida!!!

Olivia said...

Palo Alto by James Franco (California)
Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris (Louisiana)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (partly New York)

cessie said...

I'm no US native and never lived there as an expat either so even if I read US lit I couldn't tell whether its representation is good. Interesting challenge though.

Amused said...

I loved reading everyone's comments!

I agree with Lucy because I am currently almost finished with A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley that is a wonderful book for Iowa. Farming has got to be one of the main characters in that book.

Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food for California. I know that its a cookbook but Alice and her restaurant so revolutionized the food movement here and for the rest of the world that I think this really meant something that I novel can't.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry for Texas. I know they go North but for me when I read that book it's about Texas and those cowboy's love for Texas!

Anonymous said...

Since I'm in Cleveland I have to say that Les Roberts's Milan Jacovich mystery series captures this blue collar city perfectly.
Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt put Savannah on my list of places I musst visit.
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Peck made me feel like I was on a Vermont farm.
stacybooks at yahoo

Lindsey said...

I just read Salvage the Bones, which really richly evokes rural Mississippi.

The Devil in the White City might teach you more about Chicago than any atlas or textbook.

A Good Hard Look - Flannery O'Conner and Georgia. That is a wonderful book.

Lindsey said...

Oops...My email address is

Kirsten said...

Thanks for the challenge!

1, I just finished The Day the Music Died by Ed Gorman - 1950's small town Iowa

2. Red Hook Road - Ayelet Waldman - coastal Maine

3. The Cypress House - Michael Koryta - Florida

Anonymous said...

neat idea!
I'm actually going to come back and answer this later in the week, after I've mulled it over. Right now I'm impatient to read my next book!
Happy Readathon

Unknown said...

Oh wow this is hard! So many of the books I read a fantasy and science fiction, I don't have many books that are sent in present USA. OK here's my go:

1. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohen and David Levithan - NYC (THE STRAND!)

2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen - I think it's a good representation of West Virginia and the mining community

3. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls - West Virginia (again) and Mojave Desert. This might be cheating because it's a memoir but I totally felt like I was in every place she described. The setting is beautifully done.

Booksnyc said...

Great challenge idea! I love reading books set in places I am about to visit!

1. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - Savannah, GA

2. Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand - Nantucket, MA

3. Forever by Pete Hamill - NYC in the 1800's

Have a great ' thon!

melissa @ 1lbr said...

Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock - pretty good feel for Wisconsin
White Fang by Jack London totally evokes Alaska
these is my words by Nancy Turner is early Arizona

Fun challenge!

Michelle @ Book Briefs said...


1. Abandon by Meg Cabot (key west florida)

2. The new england witch chronicles by chelsea bellingeri (North Carolina)

3. The princess Diaries (New York)

chelle2006 @

fakesteph said...

Ten Thousand Saints was an excellent representation of both New York City (especially St. Marks and Alphabet city) and the time period (1987).

The Stephanie Plum books definitely feel like Jersey (where I grew up... it is just as over the top as it is portrayed... which explains a lot about me).

The Eternal Ones did an amazing job of portraying life in small town Tennessee.

Mel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pabkins said...

1. Catch by Sean Quirk (california)
2. New Moon by Stephanie Meyeer (washington) (not forks - but actual La Push - been there beautiful - oddly enough I don't like this book.
3. Bloodsucking fiends by Christopher Moore (San Francisco California)

tlabunski ((**gmail**)
Pabkins @ Mission to Read

Mel said...

Oops Put the wrong place for one of the books. Here is the correct one.

Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger - New York City
Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson - New York City
Ruined by Paula Morris - New Orleans

Jesse said...

Gumbo Tales - New Orleans, Louisiana
The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry - Massachusetts
Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry - Alabama

jesse.nicole.paul (at) gmail (dot) com

Sarah said...

OK well I haven't traveled like at all, but I'll give this a try...

Stay by Allie Larkin - Rochester, NY (my hometown, so I know she did a good job!)

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen - Her books are set in North & South Carolina & always make me want to go there!

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn - NYC, which I actually did visit once ages ago and is just as busy and magical as it sounds in this book!

Great mini-challenge! Happy Readathon!

Elizabeth - said...

All of mine are for Oklahoma...

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Red Dirt Jessie by Anna Myers
Strange Business by Rilla Askew

liz AT

Allie said...

Congrats to the winner! I am going to have to check out all these titles!

Wendy said...

Posted about it here:

My three books are all set in New England:
New Hampshire – Down from Cascom Mountain by Ann Joslin Williams
Massachusetts – The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
Maine – Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

caribousmom (at) gmail (dot) com