The State of Books: A Top Five List

This blog… I’m still here. I swear. And I’m still sick, amazingly enough. I rarely get sick, but when I do, it seemingly lasts FOREVER. As I missed last week’s Top Ten Tuesday and I don’t plan to participate in next week’s (I’m not a series reader), I decided to find a middle ground, of a sort. Instead of listing places that books have made me want to visit, I’m going to list books that represent places I love. Five places, specifically.

(I also read this and disagreed with several, but I thought it was interesting in its own right.)

Books by State

Vermont: The Secret History by Donna Tartt. “Richard Papen arrived at Hampden College in New England and was quickly seduced by an elite group of five students, all Greek scholars, all worldly, self-assured, and, at first glance, all highly unapproachable. As Richard is drawn into their inner circle, he learns a terrifying secret that binds them to one another…a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brought to brutal life…and led to a gruesome death. And that was just the beginning…”

New Hampshire:  A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. “John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany is the inspiring modern classic that introduced two of the author’s most unforgettable characters, boys bonded forever in childhood: the stunted Owen Meany, whose life is touched by God, and the orphaned Johnny Wheelwright, whose life is touched by Owen. From the accident that links them to the mystery that follows them–and the martyrdom that parts them–the events of their lives form a tapestry of fate and faith in a novel that is Irving at his irresistible best.”

Maine: IT by Stephen King. “The story follows the exploits of seven children as they are terrorized by an eponymous being, which exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. “It” primarily appears in the form of a clown in order to attract its preferred prey of young children. The novel is told through narratives alternating between two time periods, and is largely told in the third-person omniscient mode. It deals with themes which would eventually become King staples: the power of memory, childhood trauma, and the ugliness lurking behind a façade of traditional small-town values”. (My review)

Colorado: Cry Father by Benjamin Whitmer. “Upon a return trip to Colorado, Patterson stops to go fishing with an old acquaintance, only to find him in a meth-induced delirium and keeping a woman tied up in the bathtub. In the ensuing chain of events, which will test not only his future but his past, Patterson tries to do the right thing. Still, in the lives of those he knows, violence and justice have made of each other strange, intoxicating bedfellows.” (My review)

Oregon: Hard Rain Falling by Don Carpenter. “Don Carpenter’s Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good—a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption. The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teenager living off his wits in the fleabag hotels and seedy pool halls of Portland, Oregon. Jack befriends Billy Lancing, a young black runaway and pool hustler extraordinaire. A heist gone wrong gets Jack sent to reform school, from which he emerges embittered by abuse and solitary confinement. In the meantime Billy has joined the middle class—married, fathered a son, acquired a business and a mistress. But neither Jack nor Billy can escape their troubled pasts, and they will meet again in San Quentin before their strange double drama comes to a violent and revelatory end.”

Do you have a book that represents your favorite state (or place)?

17 thoughts on “The State of Books: A Top Five List

  1. It cracks me up that they separated New York State and New York City on that map/list. I didn’t look through their whole list, but did they do that for other states and their major cities? Weird.

    Love your list.


    1. That was the only major city/state they did that for. It annoyed me. I was particularly discouraged by the choices for Maine (yes for Stephen King, no for Carrie) and Colorado – especially Colorado.


    1. Late summer or fall are pretty much the only times to go. Spring has a lot of bugs (but can be nice) and winter might traumatize anyone from southern California. 🙂


  2. This is a fun idea. I have been thinking about doing something similar for Canada as a reading challenge after the one I am doing now. But, that seems to still be far in the future. Here’s one for the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia (which is beautiful): The Mountain and the Valley by Ernest Buckler.


  3. I can think of a few books that made me want to travel. John Irving made me want to visit Vienna (Hotel New Hampshire.) Burial Rites made me want to visit Iceland (just finished it today.)

    I like your list too. I would do one for Canada. Maybe Naomi and I can work together 🙂


  4. Ugh! How are so many of us so sick this week? Just found out I’ve had strep all weekend! So, of course, the one thing I saw here is that you’re not a series reader? That interests me. Why not?


    1. I do read a few series, but not enough to come up with a list of ten released in the last few years. There are a few reasons (I don’t really include trilogies in the series category)… I’m not fond of cliffhangers (I have too little patience), I don’t like the initial recap at the beginning of each new series entry, and I don’t like when authors clearly can’t end a series even though they should.

      I am finally feeling a little better, I hope you are too!


  5. Love this approach to a book list (and some excellent choices, and some new-to-me titles, which is ALWAYS fun).

    I clicked through to that literary map and… well, suffice it to say I agree with you that it is interesting, if a tad bit strange and confusing in its choices. I haven’t read the pick for my homestate (Maryland / Jacob I Have Loved), but the picks for Maine, New York, Mass, and a few others at a glance just looked questionable.


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