When I think of books set in my home state of Colorado, this is the one that springs immediately to mind. Plainsong, set in the High Plains east of Denver, embraces the tough and resilient character of the land and its people through a set of interconnected characters at pivotal moments in their lives. Orange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice: After finishing grad school, Shay experiences a vision of her idol, Nina Simone, advising her to return home to Denver and her estranged mother.
The Narrows is set in her home state in the sleepy town of Monmouth, where the peace is disrupted when a year-old African American man falls for a married white woman. Martin: Stoneybrook might be a fictional town, but as a huge fan of Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Dawn, Stacey, and friends, having my favorite books set in my state made the series even more enjoyable. Martin nails the overall vibe of Fairfield County, Connecticut, where I grew up and currently live.
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin: This satirical thriller has inspired two movies and three made-for-television sequels. Photographer Joanna and her family are new to the idyllic town of Stepford, Connecticut. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez: Set in a two-story cinder block apartment complex off a Delaware highway, this book tells the story of two immigrant families, one from Mexico and one from Panama, grappling with what it means to seek the American Dream. West of Rehoboth by Alexs D. The Saint of Lost Things by Christopher Castellani: This is a quietly beautiful novel of hope for a new life coexisting with grief for a life left behind.
Self-made African American protagonist Janie challenges every preconception and continues to rise in the face of seemingly overwhelming adversity. Not unsurprisingly, this now-classic novel was panned when it was originally published. Florida by Lauren Groff: This short story collection brings the landscape, climate, history, and attitude of Florida to life for readers. The loosely connected stories each offer an intimate look into the lives of Floridians, and all involve a sense of danger and threat, be it from gators, snakes, panthers, or people. While Nick strives to rebuild his life after Caitlyn files a restraining order against him, Caitlyn aims to move forward by transferring to an arts school that is totally not New World School of the Performing Arts.
These books capture the atmosphere of Miami, my hometown, with its art, culture, heat, and the need to have a car to get anywhere because public transit is still a work in progress. The setting is rural Georgia, which is a very different setting from the urban areas like Atlanta, but the themes and ideas this novel presents about feminism, religion, and race are timeless and relatable to anyone living anywhere. Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones: Tayari Jones has several excellent books to choose from, all set in and around Atlanta.
But my favorite is her first book, Leaving Atlanta, which is based on the true story of a string of murders targeting Black children that occurred in s Georgia.
Jones does such an amazing job of capturing the terror of that moment, but also makes real the experiences of children living through it. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt: This book tells the true story of a mysterious death and the eccentric personalities surrounding it in s Savannah, Georgia. That changes when his wife is in a terrible boating accident and he must bring his family together to say goodbye.
With Hawaiian landscapes and royal history as a backdrop, this is a memorable tale of unconventional family and legacy.
Rather than the glamorous beach life, Lovey is struggling to survive in a world of class warfare and stolen cultural heritage. William Woodbury Watkins, husband of Caroline Woodhouse, was a prominent citizen of Moscow, Idaho, in the late 19th Century and one of the few doctors in town. Buffalo Coat follows three doctors who come to a small prosperous Idaho town in the s, and who each meet with tragedy.
Brink is certainly not an author who writes Native characters well, but she thoughtfully shows the way that an Idaho frontier town was turned into a place with a state university, a Carnegie library, and a beautiful theater. Educated by Tara Westover: This memoir generated a lot of buzz when it was released in early This harrowing book tells the story of her struggle to grow from barely surviving in an off-the-grid town in the mountains of Idaho to earning a PhD from Cambridge University.
All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki: After running away at age 15, Yumi returns to her hometown in Liberty Falls, the heart of the potato farming industry, to find it overrun by agribusiness corporations. This funny and thought provoking novel explores themes of environmentalism, globalization, and political resistance. But it would be a mistake to skip over the surging poetry and rap movement currently flowing out of Chicago like wildfire.
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The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry In the Age of Hip-Hop solidified the emerging players of this movement that brings together all the verse and rhythm into one twisting form. Not all of the poets are from Chicago, but the poetry scene and its main players, including Jamila Woods, are.
Bradbury wrote this book inspired by his hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. The world of Green Town is representative of many small towns in the American Midwest, as framed by the wistful heart of a young boy. Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? The Jungle by Upton Sinclair: Many crew teams in the Chicago area row on Bubbly Creek, which was once part of the sprawling, violence-filled, bloody meat industry on the South Side of Chicago in the early s.
Sinclair wanted to expose the horrors that working-class immigrants faced in those neighborhoods, the lack of support systems for them, and the helplessness and depression that resulted. It caused a scandal when first published, partially due to the sanitary concerns it raised by painting the meat industry in all its grime and violence.
A classic novel that pushes towards socialism, The Jungle is hard to read but a necessary volume in the history of industrialization and the sweat and tears of immigrants who came to Chicago for a better life. The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guinn: This novel follows the life of Jim Jones, the self-proclaimed preacher who eventually led over people to death by suicide. In fact, it is where he began his ministry. Counter to what one might expect, he did a lot of good for the city: opening a soup kitchen, organizing employment assistance, and leading the movement for local businesses to be inclusive of all races.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: This memorable and emotional novel tells the love story of two bright teens who meet in a cancer support group. The Fault in Our Stars book and movie adaptation are well known for making readers and viewers sob uncontrollably.
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Gilead by Marilynne Robinson: In this beautiful epistolary novel, the fictional town of Gilead, Iowa, serves as the heart of America as a family explores spiritual and moral questions lingering since the Civil War. The narrator, John Ames, is an elderly pastor who is writing a letter to his seven-year-old son after learning he is dying from a heart condition. Somebody had to.
Though Des Moines itself has changed significantly since then, Bryson captures both a place and time in history that still feels somewhat reminiscent of my experience growing up there forty years later. Sheth was inspired by her own move from Mumbai to Ames, Iowa. This beautiful novel explores family, home, and identity in the immigrant experience.
Her latest, Hearts Unbroken, follows Louise as she pushed back against the rampant racism at her high school in a suburban, mostly white Kansas town. After hearing of the murders, Capote immediately traveled to Kansas to investigate with fellow author Harper Lee, where they held interviews and took thousands of pages of notes.
Chilling, dark, and suspenseful, this one will keep you on the edge of your seat. When a million dollar bottle of bourbon goes missing, the heiress of a distillery empire reveals the dark family secrets that led to their own destruction.
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My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga: The tale of Aysel, a brilliant, snarky, science loving teen struggling with clinical depression, is difficult to read but also captures the lived experiences of depressed and suicidal young people so well. This emotional and moving story is set in a small Kentucky town. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice: Louisiana stories and legends are frequently filled with supernatural creatures.
Gaines: Based on a true story, this book explores the final days for Jefferson, a young man sentenced to death for being in the wrong place at the wrong time in a small Cajun community in the s. When a new teacher moves to town, he attempts to teach Jefferson and help bring dignity to his death. His first published novel, Carrie , takes place at a high school in the fictional town of Chamberlain, where misfit Carrie is mercilessly bullied.
When she discovers she has telekinetic powers, she uses them to seek her bloody revenge. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout: This Pulitzer Prize winning collection of short stories explores the human condition through a cast of characters in Crosby, Maine. The stories are tied together by Olive, a retired school teacher who offers insights on the change and conflict she sees in her hometown.
Andrew has a little bit of everything—paranormal mystery, romance, historical fiction, and more. Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman: As a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, Laura Lippman found the perfect inspiration for her murder mystery series starring Tess Monaghan, a journalist turned accidental private investigator. The series brings Charm City to life and is sure to keep you guessing. Chesapeake by James Michener: This sweeping generational novel follows four families through years of history on Chesapeake Bay.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler: This time traveling science fiction novel is considered a cornerstone of black American literature. It follows Dana, a black woman living in California in , who is inexplicably transported to a plantation in antebellum Maryland, where she must save the life of one of her ancestors. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri: After moving from Calcutta to Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Ganguli family struggles with culture clash and assimilation. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: This beloved book has left its mark on many readers, young and old, since its publication in Set in Concord, it tells of the four March sisters as they pass from childhood to adulthood and balance personal ambition with family responsibility, loosely based on Alcott and her sisters.
It tells the story of the shocking marriage of Shelby, the daughter of a prominent black bourgeoisie family, to a white jazz musician from New York. Perfectly crafted motifs and beautiful prose make this coming of age story absolutely unforgettable. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: This poignant Pulitzer Prize winning novel serves as both a family saga of three generations of a Greek family living in Michigan and a coming of age story for Cal, an intersex man raised as a girl.
Eugenides, born and raised in Michigan, has cited the state as a major influence on his writing. This honest and raw book from Michigan born author Terry McMillan brings the struggles of single parents to life. As a baby, Omakayas was the only member of her family to survive a smallpox epidemic, and now she must help her adopted family survive the disease as well. The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang: This generational memoir tells the story of one Hmong refugee family that escaped war-torn Laos, spent years in a refugee camp in Thailand, and eventually made their home in St.
Kao Kalia Yang was six when the family moved to Minnesota and shares both her experience growing up in the U. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis: Considered to be an essential text of small town America, this satirical novel is set in the fictional town of Gopher Prairie. An idealistic young woman attempts to make over the town and its conservative citizens after taking a sociology class on village improvement.
Her most recent centers around the haunting nature of grief, biracial identity, and the painful legacy of racism in the South. When Dart was accused of murdering Rash, he took refuge inside his friend's cabin and waited for the rumors to cool down. The assassin was said to have set up a sniping position under the cover of a pine tree, overlooking the cabin from a hill. As Dart and his friends came out of the cabin, Horn shot him in the chest from a distance.
Prior to the assassination, Horn had instructed a rancher named Robert Hudler to ready a horse miles from the murder scene for his getaway. The news of Rash and Dart's deaths spread throughout the territory, and as such the other rustlers scattered in fear.