Do you have a favorite book set in your home state? Do you recall a work that captures the essence of a particular state, that made you feel like you know that place better for having read the book?  Please feed me your titles in the comments – I’d much prefer to follow your recommendations than choose based on book reviews and marketing blurbs.

My biggest challenge is finding authors of color from each state who set their work in that state. If you read diversely, please check my post, Authors of color from each US state – will you help me fill the gaps?, and let me know you have any titles you can suggest. Thank you.

29 thoughts on “Suggest a title

  1. James McBride: The Color of Water (Virginia / New York / Delaware) – one of my favourite books of all time. I’d love to know what you think about it. Good luck with the new blog!!

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  2. I just finished “The Obituary Writer” by Ann Hood. She is a long time Rhode Island resident and part of the story is set in Rhode Island. I really liked the book.

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  3. Just came across your blog today and I love this idea! I just finished reading “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” by Maria Semple. It wasn’t a hugly thought-provoking story, but I enjoyed the non-traditional writing formate that Semple used to construct how she told it. It’s set in Seattle, WA.

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  4. I have just finished reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver (I stayed up late last night to finish it!) and it was a wonderful read. Set in a poor area of rural Tennessee in the Appalachian mountains, Dellarobia is a young wife and mother who, feeling trapped by her marriage, runs up the hills and into the mountains one day in a bid to find some respite from her stifled feelings. What she discovers in the valley changes her life and the community around her.

    It is a very well-written novel and it gives a very real flavour of what life might be like in a small, economically struggling community in rural Tennessee. Kingsolver grew up in rural Appalachia (Kentucky) and so she writes with great knowledge and understanding. It was the first of her novels that I’ve read but I will definitely seek out more of her work.

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    1. Yes! I love Barbara Kingsolver. I read a wonderful interview with her recently – maybe in The Sun? – and it made me want to read Flight Behavior. If you like the Appalachian setting, you might like her Prodigal Summer. It’s one of my favorite books – lush and earthy and lusty. Thank you for the personal recommendation for Flight Behavior – I didn’t know anyone who had read it yet.

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  5. One of my favorite books is Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard. It’s set in Virginia, so chances are, you may have already read it, but I thought I’d highlight it just in case you haven’t. It’s really a wonderful book that I think also fulfills your requirements very well. In terms of place being so important it becomes a character, it doesn’t get much more detailed than this. At the same time, it is beautifully written. For non-Caucasian authors you might be interested in works by John Edgar Wideman. He is also a beautiful and insightful writer. I hope you enjoy them and I really like your idea!

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    1. Thank you so much for these suggestions! I have not read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek yet but it has been on my TBR list forever, and I am thrilled that this project will finally bring me to it. As for Barbara Kingsolver, I read an interview with her recently in which she talked about Flight Behavior, and now I really want to read it. My favorite title of hers is Prodigal Summer, which is set in Appalachia and features luna moths, one of my favorite animals. You might like that one if you like Barbara Kingsolver. Thanks again for taking the time to leave your suggestions – I appreciate it.

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  6. What a great project for a blog! Wendell Berry has written remarkable fiction set in his home state of Kentucky. I’ve read Jayber Crow, Hannah Coulter, and Fidelity (a book of short stories). I highly recommend any of these titles. Enjoy your cross-country literary adventure! I look forward to following it here.

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    1. I can’t wait to read Wendell Berry! I keep hearing about him and I’ve never read him. Thanks so much for the specific titles. Let’s see, only ten more states till I get to Kentucky 😉

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  7. I have lived in Orlando for thirty-five years and here’s some Florida titles you might want to try: two novels Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, The Deep Good-by by John D. MacDonald and a non-fiction The Everglades: River of Grass by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. These are all classics and by three great Florida writers. Here are a couple of other titles by more contemporary writers you might want to try: Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen and Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen.

    And here’s one I enjoyed set in Washington State: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. It is a wonderful read.

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  8. Lake Country and Letters from the Leelanau by Kathleen Stocking: Gorgeous literary essays about rural Michigan and its many islands. An excellent introduction to the state.

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  9. I just clicked through to your authors of color list to make sure you had Sherman Alexie on there, because…well, Sherman Alexie!!
    I’m from Oklahoma and one of my favorite books written by an Oklahoma author is The Outsiders. It never explicitly tells you where it’s set, but it is set in 1950s Tulsa and my parents and grandparents both tell me it really captures something about the time and the place, the loss of innocence, the humanity…very moving YA book that, to my mind, never gets dated.

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  10. Not sure if you’ve finished your list for California, but I would highly recommend Mary Austin’s Land of Little Rain. For Iowa, Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres. For Indiana, something by Scott Russell Sanders.

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    1. Thank you J.D. – I’ve got Jane Smiley’s book on my list for Iowa, and I’ll give it another vote from you. I’ve already finished California, but I will add Scott Russell Sanders for Indiana. Do you have a favorite from him?

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  11. Terrific project, Andrea. I just submitted a vignette (essay) about Washington State. Here are some creative nonfiction titles.

    For Indiana I was thinking of Scott Russell Sanders, too, and suggest Writing from the Center (from the blurb – “The center he… describes is geographical, emotional, artistic, and spiritual – and it is rooted in place.”

    Utah – Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
    Nebraska – Hawk Flies Above – Journey to the Heart of the Sandhills by Lisa Dale Norton

    For my home state of Washington (yep, we’ve got lots of great writers here):
    Potluck – Community on the Edge of Wilderness by Ana Maria Spagna
    The Good Rain – Across Time and Terrain in the Pacific Northwest by Timothy Egan
    The Circumference of Home by Kurt Hoelting

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  12. The Shape of the Sky is a great book by Vermont author Shelagh Shapiro, set in Vermont and published here too! Doesn’t get more local than that. Shape of the Sky is about a Vermont farming village that decides to host a rock festival because farming revenues just aren’t enough anymore. What we get is a collection of memorable Vermont characters intertwined with rock stars and festival groupies from far and wide and a murder to boot. if you are curious about life in Bernie Sander’s state, this is the book to pick up and enjoy this summmer.

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  13. For Ohio, you could try The Changelings, Winesburg, OH and Beloved. (Most likely you’ve already read Beloved though! That’s a very popular university selection.)

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