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Reading around the USA in books- please help me (or even join in!).

(125 Posts)
mignonette Sat 02-Aug-14 22:42:11

I have been inspired by the 'reading around Europe' thread to do the same for the USA.

I am totally hooked on fiction and non fiction that is set in the Deep South or by Southern writers but I so so need to broaden my horizons. I do have quite a few books with connections to other states/by local authors BUT it's be lovely to gather suggestions from all of you which will have the added bonus of lifting me out of my pleasant little self imposed reading rut. The quirkier the better- fiction or non fiction.

I am particularly excited about Hawaii and for extra oomph, will include the US Virgin Islands and Guam too as connected territories (I need the correct term for what these places are to the USA!).

The only genres I really don't like are SciFi and erotica- Fifty Shades type stuff. BUT if you think you have the book to change my mind (maybe erotic S&M on Mars?) then go for it- convince me.


GalaxyInMyPants Sat 02-Aug-14 22:49:35

Great gatsby?

BeeBawBabbity Sat 02-Aug-14 22:51:48

The Descendants is a good read, set in Hawaii.

BinarySolo Sat 02-Aug-14 22:54:50

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?

In Search of Captain Zero is partly set in Hawaii but I think it's mainly South America.

KeatsiePie Sat 02-Aug-14 22:55:48

So you want the books not to just be by American authors, but to have a regional feel and/or a lot of emphasis on setting?

Assuming so, here are some of my favorite books that also do that:

For Maine, Elizabeth Strout's novel Amy and Isabelle.

For New York, Kate Christensen's novels Jeremy Thrane and In The Drink, and Jonathan Dee's novel The Privileges. Oh, and Sarah Schulman's novel Shimmer (NY in the late 1940s, amazing).

TheWholeOfTheSpoon Sat 02-Aug-14 22:57:46

So, is this like you read a book written by an author from each state? That sounds a really great idea. Can I join in?! Will have to come back for recommendations though. The only problem I can see with this is that a lot of writers are based in either NY or Cali, as that's where they went to to make money in the first place. Can you choose an author from where they were born and raised as opposed to where they live now?

TheWholeOfTheSpoon Sat 02-Aug-14 22:58:34

Oh, hang on, reading other replies, I may have got the wrong end of the stick! So, they need to be based in each state?

Cies Sat 02-Aug-14 22:58:54

I love all of Annie Proulx's books. Brokeback mountain is the most famous, but her short story collection called Close Range is so atmospheric.

EBearhug Sat 02-Aug-14 23:00:39

Wasn't there a thread on this about... a year ago? There were lots of books listed then.

Some day, I want to do a tour of the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites.

Kimaroo Sat 02-Aug-14 23:04:03

John Sandford writes crime novels set around the back woods of St Paul/Minneapolis.

joanofarchitrave Sat 02-Aug-14 23:08:41

Philip Roth for New Jersey. I'd recommend The Plot Against America, partly because it's awesome, but also because the first chapters in particular are so lyrical about the state and the barely fictionalised community he grew up in.

What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge for Ohio. It's such a great read. Not masses of state-specific information but the passages about the unbearable heat of the summers, both for Katy and Elsie, are quite telling.

PatsysPyjamas Sat 02-Aug-14 23:19:45

Ooh, I like this idea too. How about...

Anne Tyler - Baltimore, Maryland - almost all of her books are set there

Sisterland, Curtis Sittenfeld - St Louis (Missouri?).

Twelve Bar Blues, Patrick Neate - Louisiana

New Jersey, hmm, must be loads but I think Judy Blume is one?

Tales of the city series, Armistead Maupin - San Francisco

mignonette Sat 02-Aug-14 23:20:31

Oh wow- so many already. thank you!

Keats - they can be one of those, some of those or all of those. I am prepared to be flexible wink.


Yes, it can be by an author that sets a book in a place far from where they live or where raised. Or it can be by an author from a state where they are very associated with that state so Steinbeck and Oklahoma or California (or re Travels with Charley- the whole of the USA!).

But yes, at least one book from each state and I will attempt to collate them into some sort of order so anybody who wants to join in, can.

Ebear I missed that sad. I love the Ingalls Wilder idea and there is a non fiction book where a woman visits all the sites associated with them including trying to find the burial site of their little brother.

Soooo We have so far-

Hawaii- The Descendants / Kaui Hemmings / In Search of Captain Zero
Maine- Elizabeth Strout / Amy & Isabelle
Minnesota - John Sandford
Nevada - Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas / Hunter S Thompson
New Jersey - The Plot Against America / Phillip Roth / Great Gatsby
New York State - Kate Christansen / Jonathon Dee / Sarah Schulman
Ohio - What Katy Did / Susan Coolidge
Wyoming (Annie Proulx)

mignonette Sat 02-Aug-14 23:23:16

California - Armistead Maupin / Tales of the City (San Fran)
Hawaii- The Descendants / Kaui Hemmings / In Search of Captain Zero
Louisiana - Twelve Bar Blues
Maine- Elizabeth Strout / Amy & Isabelle

Maryland - Anne Tyler
Minnesota - John Sandford
Missouri- Curtis Settenfield
Nevada - Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas / Hunter S Thompson
New Jersey - The Plot Against America / Phillip Roth / Great Gatsby / Judy Blume

New York State - Kate Christansen / Jonathon Dee / Sarah Schulman
Ohio - What Katy Did / Susan Coolidge
Wyoming (Annie Proulx)

LauraPashley Sat 02-Aug-14 23:35:28

I love the John Irving books, Garp, Cider House Rules etc, they are set in New England/NE states, I think mostly Massachusetts, Connecticut etc? Would need to double check.
Also lots of New England locations in Anita Shreve
And where is Carol Shields Unless set?

If you get stuck, try Bill Bryson!

LauraPashley Sat 02-Aug-14 23:37:30

Gone with the Wind grin
To kill a mockingbird
Or would you like things to be more modern?!

joanofarchitrave Sat 02-Aug-14 23:48:32

Washington State - Betty MacDonald; I think the best is The Plague and I, her second book, although The Egg and I has more about the state.

KeatsiePie Sat 02-Aug-14 23:48:50

mignonette ah I see thanks. What a neat project!

For Wisconsin, I like Ann Packer's book The Dive From Clausen's Pier.

LeBearPolar Sat 02-Aug-14 23:51:43

New York: Linda Fairstein's crime novels featuring ADA Alexandra Cooper. She sets the scene incredibly vividly, with a lot of historical/geographical detail about NY.

OhOneOhTwoOhThree Sat 02-Aug-14 23:53:56

How about The Corrections, which IIRC moves Between the Midwest, New York and Philadelphia. It did take me a few goes to get into it, but once I did I loved it.

WallyBantersJunkBox Sun 03-Aug-14 00:00:48

Aw you can't do Maine without reading Stephen King - he IS Maine. grin

If you read The Stand you cover Vegas, Boulder Colorado and quite a few other states.

Brett Easton Ellis for LA - Less than Zero and Imperial Bedrooms just sum LA up for me. I think The Informers is based there too.

American Psycho for NYC, but I would also read Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolf.

wafflyversatile Sun 03-Aug-14 00:11:58

Midnight in the garden of good and evil set in savannah.

PatsysPyjamas Sun 03-Aug-14 00:26:25

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? for Seattle.

This Book Will Change Your Life is another option for LA.

Maybe it's an idea to do cities rather than states, so you can do the different cities in California?

PatsysPyjamas Sun 03-Aug-14 00:28:32

LauraPashley, I also thought of Carol Shields as her books are very 'rooted', but I think they might all be set in Canada.

TheWholeOfTheSpoon Sun 03-Aug-14 00:29:47

The Great Gatsby is set on Long Island, NY, not NJ. He did go to Princeton though.

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