Because I’m a typical “type A” kind of girl, I love setting goals. I recently watched a TED talk about a blogger who read a book from every country in the world in one year. ONE YEAR, people. That’s almost 200 books. Color me impressed. And also inspired. How can a self-proclaimed travel addict and bibliophile like myself have lived nearly three decades without reading or visiting the majority of the world?!? Unacceptable.
Now, due to my current full-time work schedule (ugh, cavities, what a drag) and life, reading that many books in a year is more than a little overwhelming. Besides, I have a hard time limiting myself to a specific list of books and not having room for new release titles or advanced copies I’m given from publishers that I want to binge on immediately.
So instead, I decided to go all patriotic on y’all and limit my list to America the Beautiful.
50 states (plus DC and Puerto Rico because I was feeling ambitious), 52 books, 52 weeks. Challenge. Accepted.
Now, I’ve started a draft of my list of possible choices. A couple of rules I made for myself:
1) Avoid any books that I’ve already read (that’s why “To Kill a Mockingbird” isn’t on my list for Alabama, for example, or “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” for Georgia. Already got those covered in my Deep South education). I did make an exception for Mississippi with Absalom, Absalom! because that book is incredible and I missed a lot of its import the first time I read it, back in college.
2) Try to pick books that are not only set in the state, but actually describe the state’s culture or evoke the attitudes and perceptions of that state.
There are still a few states in which I’m gonna need your help to find a good selection (see the bolded or blank states in the list), and some states I listed a few choices to give myself some leeway depending on my reading mood.
I’ll be starting this project this week, so wish me luck! Anyone want to join in? Anyone have suggestions? Please? (Esp. the Midwest, Indiana has become a real thorn in my side while making this list).
Vote on your favorite pick from each state in the comments below, too! I want to hear your recommendations!
Without further ado…
Meg’s “Make America Read Again” List
Alabama – All Over but the Shoutin’/ The Watson’s Go To Birmingham
Alaska – The Snow Child, Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
Arizona – (Blood Meridian? Cormac McCarthy)
Arkansas – I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
California – The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Gold Fame Citrus, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore, Big Sur by Jack Kerouac
Colorado – The Hous I First Believed, Orange Mint and Honey, Plainsong
Connecticut – The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Delaware – The Book of Unknown Americans?? The Good Lord Bird?
Florida – Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Yearling, Swamplandia!
Georgia – Cold Sassy Tree, Cane by Jean Toomer
Hawaii – Democracy by Joan Didion, Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama, Moloka’i, Hawaii: A Novel by James A. Michener, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Idaho – Idaho, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
Illinois – Then We Came to the End, Native Son, The House on Mango Street, American Gods by Neil Gaiman (partially), the Nix by Nathan Hill
Indiana – The Magnificent Ambersons
Iowa – Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Kansas – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Kentucky – The Sport of Kings
Louisiana – A Confederacy of Dunces , All The King’s Men
Maine – The Cider House Rules, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,
Maryland – Jacob Have I loved
Massachusetts – Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead, Practical Magic, The House of the Seven Gables, Infinite Jest, the Bostonians
Michigan – Middlesex
Minnesota – Freedom by Jonathan Franzen , The History Of Wolves
Mississippi – Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner, The Little Friend by Donna Tartt, Salvage the Bones
Missouri – Stoner by John Williams
Montana – A River Runs Through It , the horse whisperer
Nebraska – My Antonia, Eleanor and Park
Nevada – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
New Hampshire – A Prayer for Owen Meaney
New Jersey – Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret, American Pastoral
New York – The Age of Innocence, The Custom of the Country, A Little Life, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Goldfinch, The Diviners, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sweetbitter
North Carolina – The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead?
North Dakota – La Rose , The Round House
Ohio – Winesburg, Ohio; The Bluest Eye
Oregon – Wild
Pennsylvania – The Hired Girl
Rhode Island – The Witches of Eastwick
South Carolina – Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodsen, Anything by Pat Conroy, Bastard Out of Carolina
Tennessee – The Girls of Atomic City, American Gods by Neil Gaiman (partially)
Texas – Lonesome Dove, All the Pretty Horses, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Utah – The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer
Vermont – Pollyanna
Virginia – hidden figures, Cold Mountain
Washington – Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
West Virginia – The Glass Castle
Wisconsin – The Art of Fielding
Wyoming – my friend flicka, miss Wyoming, Shane
Washington, D.C. – Dark Money,
Puerto Rico – The Rum Diary
3 thoughts on “Make America Read Again”
I don’t know most of the books you’ve listed, but I’ll vote for two that I loved – Their Eyes Were Watching God, which I think is a great choice for Florida, and American Pastoral, which I unanimously voted as THE Great American Novel quite recently – a fantastic book! Enjoy your challenge – sounds like great fun! 😀
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I can’t wait to read both of these books! I have heard such incredible things about American Pastoral, though I’m definitely also a bit intimidated by Roth. Here’s hoping I’m up to the task!!
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