Thursday 10 November 2011

My American states challenge - post 2

I had an excellent response to my request for books for my new, open-ended, challenge to read my way around the United States. With all the books I have lined up I could be doing this for a lot longer than two or three years: think ten!!! LOL. Several people thought that such a challenge would also apply very nicely to this country, the UK, and I was delighted to hear that Margaret at BooksPlease has actually decided to try it. Do check out her post, here.

I thought I'd use this post to list a few of the suggestions I've had and to stick up a few photos of the books I own that I think might be suitable to read. I tried to take one of all of them on the shelf first:

Not all that successful but it gives an idea of how many I already own - almost forty - that I can make a start on. Add to that around a dozen sundry titles downloaded to my Kindle and I'm starting with fifty it seems.

Anyway, photographing them in two piles seemed to be the way to go so this the non-fiction:

Quite a mixed bag there: Dickens, Mark Twain, Steinbeck, travel narratives, maps, essays and so on. Most of these are multi-stated but a few are specific such as This House of Sky by Ivan Doig (Montana) and True North by George Erickson which I think is mainly Alaska but may include some of the Yukon in Canada as well. Audubon might seem like an odd choice but this gorgeous little book is full of his paintings of North American birds with little accompanying essays and poems. Just beautiful.

Next up, the fiction. How many of these will turn out to be suitable, I don't know. The thing is, I want to read fiction that actually tells me something about the state it's set in, that furthers my knowledge. If it's set somewhere that could be anywhere, then it's no good. So we shall see.

States I have covered here include Arizona, Montana, Texas, New York state, Pennsylvania, California, Wyoming, Georgia, and several are multi-stated again. Authors I have downloaded to my Kindle include, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, Nevada Barr.

And here is a list of titles that people have come up with:

From a friend in Ohio:

Allan Eckert's series including Tecumseh
My Antonia and O'Pioneers – Willa Cather
Centennial - James Mitchener
Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass
Thoreau's Walden
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Glass Menagerie by Tenneesse Williams
The Little House series – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Harlem - Jonathan Gill
Go Tell It on the Mountain - James Baldwin
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Jack London - The Call of the Wild
Profiles in Courage - John F Kennedy
Winesburg, OH - Sherwood Anderson
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Plainsong by Kent Haruf
Cloudsplitter - Russell Banks
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
Dream West by David Nevin
The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
Early August - Louis Bromfield
Carl Sandburg - Lincoln the War Years
The Jungle - Upton Sinclair The Jungle
All the President's Men - Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
My Generation - Tom Brokaw
Once Upon a Town - the Story of the North Platte Canteen - Bob Greene
On the Road - Charles Kurault (or Charles Kurault's America)
Thomas Payne - Common Sense
the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution
The Federalist Papers - Alexander Hamilton
The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Mississippi)
The Alex McKnight books by Steve Hamilton (Michigan)

From Carl (Blogger):

On the Way to Other Country – C.W. Gusewelle (Missouri)

From LizF (Blogger):

The Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr (multi-state)

From Yvonne at Fiction Books(Blogger):

The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd (South Carolina?)

From Thomas at My Porch (Blogger):

Mainstreet – Sinclair Lewis (Minnesota)
Echo House – Ward Just (Washington DC)
O Pioneers – Willa Cather (Nebraska)
My Antonia – Willa Cather (Nebraska)
Patron Saint of Liars – Ann Patchett (Kentucky)
Death Comes for the Archbishop – Willa Cather (New Mexico)
Bill Bryson’s non-fiction about the USA

From Lifeonthecutoff (Blogger):

The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Wisconsin, Kansas and more)
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (Chicago, Ill.)

From Nicola at Vintage Reads (Blogger):

My Antonia by Willa Cather (Nebraska)

From Val at Erasmus Cat and Lifeonthecutoff (Blogger):

Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart

From Pat at Here There and Everywhere (Blogger):

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America by Bill Bryson

From Carol (Blogger):

The Deborah Knott series by Margaret Maron

From Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm (Blogger):

Murder Casts a Shadow by Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl. (Hawaii)

From Kay at My Random Acts of Reading (Blogger):

The Deborah Knott series by Margaret Maron (North Carolina)
The Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow (Alaska)
The Lena Jones series by Betty Webb (Arizona)
The Anna Pigeon books by Nevada Barr (multi-state)
The Alafair Tucker series by Donis Casey (Oklahoma)
The Coffeehouse series by Cleo Coyle (NYC)
The John Creepak series by Chris Grabenstein (New Jersey)
The V.I. Warshawski series by Sara Paretsky (Chicago)
Sandra Dallas for books set in Colorado esp. Tallgrass.
The Joanna Brady series by J.A. Jance (Arizona)

From Margaret at BooksPlease:

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

From Nulaanne (Blogger) - all Washington State:

Starvation Heights by Gregg Olsen (history)
The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald (biography)
Moon Called by Patrica Briggs (fantasy)
Greywalker by Kat Richardson (fantasy)
The Highest Tide By Jim Lynch (fiction)
Crimson Vengeance by Sheri Lewis Wohl (Vampire fiction)

From Margot at Joyfully Retired:

Falling to Pieces – Vannetta Chapman (Indiana & Amish mystery)

LJ suggestions:

Anything by Louis L’Amour.
Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Moosepath League books by Van Reid (Maine)
Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith (Virginia)
The Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett (Maine)
The Anna Pigeon books by Nevada Barr


The Hum and the Shiver – Alex Bledsoe (fantasy, Great Smoky Mountains)
Bill Bryson's autobiography

So there we go. I hope I didn't miss anyone! But an excellent choice of all kinds of books to be going on with. But... I suspect there are many states not spoken for here and even those that are I still welcome more suggestions. So if you have any, please leave them in the comments. And thanks to everyone who has already done so.


DesLily said...

Not that you need another suggestion but I found another Bryson book (I even sent for a used copy myself!) The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America by Bill Bryson.. check it out in amazon this one he's searching for "small town America"... :o) I knew you wanted yet another book suggestion LOL LOL

Carol said...

Margaret Maron writes a nice mystery series set in eastern North Carolina.

Anonymous said...

Cath, I can recommend THESE IS MY WORDS and the Craig Johnson books especially from your pictures. Lovely books.

Margaret Maron is a wonderful choice and her Deborah Knott series takes you all over North Carolina. Also, Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak mystery series does the same for Alaska. Oh, and Betty Webb's Lena Jones mysteries - wonderful! Especially DESERT WIVES about polygamy. Nevada Barr is a good choice for various locations. Donis Casey for historical Oklahoma - love those books. Cleo Coyle's coffee mysteries are in New York City - you get some sense of the city. Chris Grabenstein's Ceepak/Boyle series is set at the Jersey shore. Sara Paretsky's Warshawski books definitely have Chicago down. Sandra Dallas writes a lot of books set in Colorado. Not a mystery, but I can recommend TALLGRASS, which involves a Japanese internment camp in the WWII time period. That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fun challenge. Your sure have a lot of choices!

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Cath,

I had no idea that you were quite THIS serious about the challenge, will we ever see you again once you get buried in that pile of books.

I am sure that I have a few more suggestions, but can't think of anything right now.

Are you planning on reading just the one book per state?

Looking forward to the reviews.


Nan said...

I can highly, highly recommend one set in Hawaii. Murder Casts a Shadow by Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl. The sequel has just come out.
Published in 2008, and very evocative of 1935 Hawaii.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

I recommend Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (can't see that anyone else mentioned it). It's a novel based on the letters of Mary Hallock Foote about opening up America’s western frontier. I learnt so much about the period and place from this book.

Cath said...

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions, I'll be updating the list as soon as I have a moment.

Pat: Yeah, that Bill Bryson was on my radar and also possibly his autobiography which I imagine to be excellent - him being such a witty writer.

Carol: Thank you! I'd not heard of those.

Kay: Brilliant list!!! Thank you so much. I'll go through those when I have a quiet moment and add them to my list.

I started These is my Words yesterday. Oh my gosh....

reviewsbylola: *Hopefully* I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. LOL. As I have no deadline I think it'll be fine. I can take two years or ten.

Yvonne: Oh, deadly serious. Yes, I might just disappear completely under this huge pile of books. LOL. I can't think of better way to go though. ;-)

When I first thought about it I was going to do just one book per state and then I wondered how I would choose between fiction, non-fiction, something historical, a crime series and so on. Then I realised I didn't *have* to choose, I could cover it all. So I suspect I'll be reading three or four from each state.

Nan: Thanks for that suggestion. That one's new to me and I had nothing for Hawaii, so that's very welcome.

Margaret: Many thanks for that recommendation. I think I may be developing a taste for these frontier type narratives and that one sounds particularly good.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful list of books you, and now we, have, Cath, and a great way to start.

If you don't have anything Illiniois, or Chicago, which is almost a different state anyways, you might want to try The Devil and The White City. It's a bit long and non-fiction, but, much of it reads like a mystery and is one of the best reads there is about Chicago and the Columbian Exposition.


DesLily said...

oh my... don't forget to come up for air now and then! lol

I think the most I ever get on England is "underground" in London.. with the exception of that one Laurie King book,Touchstone, which was at least partly in Cornwall. but I have to admit I love the time period of Dickens and Wilke and Wilde

Jo said...

I am going to popping in to see how you get on with this and Margaret's as well.

No doubt I will pick up some more books for my TBR pile.

Cath said...

Lifeonthecutoff: I've just looked at that on Amazon and like the sound of it so will add it to my list in a moment. While I was there I also checked out the author's In the Garden of Beasts about Nazi Germany and *of course* added that to my general 'look out for' list. The perils of wandering around Amazon. LOL.

Pat: Yeah, you do seem to have a taste for seedy Victorian London. LOL. Not that I blame you as it is fascinating. The Flavia de Luce books you're reading are actually a good flavour of English village life in the 50s though.

Jo: Hope you find something new to tempt you as I go along. :-)

Nulaanne said...

I know I am a little late on this I need a break from the world. So these are books that are about or take place in Washington State.

Starvation Heights by Gregg Olsen (history)

The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald (biography, this one was made into a movie)

Moon Called by Patrica Briggs (fantasy)

Greywalker by Kat Richardson (fantasy)

The Highest Tide By Jim Lynch (fiction this one is set in the town I live in)

Crimson Vengeance by Sheri Lewis Wohl (Vampire fiction, also takes place in two towns that I lived in)

Cath said...

Thank you so much, Nulaanne! I've added those to my post, all but Moon Called are new to me.