As I tried to decide how to handle the multiple bird sightings in the books, I chuckled to myself that I could compile a “life list.” And then I stopped chuckling and realized that was actually ideal. Birding life lists are often broken down by geographic regions such as state. The table below can be […]

I’ve decided – I’m reading my way across the United States. Three to five books set in each state of the US – especially books where the setting becomes another character, and those which deal with some aspect of the people, geography, or history of the state.

“You know, my grandmother was a very wise woman and well respected in the tribe. She used to tell me that even when life gives you shit, you can use it for fuel.” —The Wild Birds by Emily Strelow

As I mentioned on the main Minnesota page, this book didn’t seem like a great choice for my reading challenge, although it was an interesting read. For at least 80% of the book, the setting was mostly ignored–even though in the very beginning of the book the main character visits the reservation where her birth […]

This was a great peek into one of the historical labor union strikes of the early 1900s that helped make factory work more bearable. And the timing of this read is appropriate since the teachers of Los Angeles Unified School District just finished a labor strike, and Denver Public School teachers have also voted to […]

When I think of Minnesota, I think of Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” I loved Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, and I think any contemplation of Minnesota must include some sort of reference to it, despite the allegations of […]

This one was set on Cape Cod, and Hoffman did a wonderful job with the setting! This is the Cape Cod of the locals–fishermen and cranberry bogs and wild blueberries. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I’m glad I added it to my list. I am reading my way across the USA–5 or so […]

Hmmm. I’m torn about this one. It has some great things to say about race but I don’t think the target audience is going to sit still long enough to get the message. One of my concerns since my son was born is that so many fantastic new books for young people have strong female […]

Wow! If Run by Ann Patchett was the best pick for (somewhat) contemporary Boston (1990s), then Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks was the clear winner for historical Massachusetts, covering Martha’s Vineyard and Cambridge. I am reading my way across the USA–5 or so books from each state, with an emphasis on those where the setting […]

New Hampshire? Weren’t we just in Massachusetts? If you’re confused as to how we got here, I can’t blame you–I haven’t gotten to New Hampshire officially yet. But a couple of recent books have taken place, at least in part, in New Hampshire and have had some great descriptions of the Granite State. It’s one […]

After spending so much time in California the first time around (13 books!), I feel a little abashed to be revisiting the state so soon. However, I’ve recently read two books that I really want to highlight here. I am reading my way across the USA–5 or so books set in each state, where the […]

This was a pretty good book, introducing a historical figure (Nathaniel Bowditch) that I wasn’t familiar with, and some great information about navigation. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham (1955) was also a decent choice for my Massachusetts list of books–not quite so much for the setting itself, as for the history. I […]