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.

While most of the reviews I read indicated that people either loved it or hated it, I’m much more ambivalent about this book. I really didn’t like the main character or many of her choices (though I didn’t hate her, and in many cases I could understand those choices). I also could see why some […]

I associate Idaho with several of my cousins who grew up in Eureka, Montana–the “nearby” mid-sized towns included Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, in the panhandle. But Idaho also makes me think of Craters of the Moon National Monument, a volcanic site near the center of the state. And Picabo Street, the Olympic skier, who grew up […]

My dad is a history buff, and one of his areas of interest is the conflicts between Native Americans and the pioneers and settlers who took over their land. He always takes the side of the Native Americans. One of his heroes is the great Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph, who led the United States […]

This was a last minute addition, and I’m really glad I found it–Casanova does a really nice job with the northern Minnesota setting in her Young Adult novel Frozen. I am reading my way across the USA–5 or so books from each state, with an emphasis on setting–books where the setting is really tangible, and […]

One of the strengths of this book–at least for me in terms of our reading challenge–is the acknowledged contrast between Chicago and the small town of Cypress, north of Duluth, Minnesota. Several times it’s noted that Cathryn’s infidelity would hardly be noticed in Chicago, but in Cypress she, and even those who associate with her–like […]

Lake of the Woods is the perfect getaway. Tim O’Brien’s novel is set, in part, in that little bit of land, connected to Manitoba, and separated by the lake from the state of Minnesota of which it is actually a part. … an old yellow cottage in the timber at the edge of Lake of […]

I can see why this book won the 1963 National Book Award, and why it’s considered a classic for the disillusioned working class–think inept colleagues, vindictive superiors, and fruitless and boring busywork with Father Urban as a successful, charming, handsome traveling salesman. It is a slow build to its comic climax, and it is more […]

“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 […]