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 […]

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 […]

When I got to Nebraska, I was surprised at how many options there were for books that were set in the state and that looked interesting to me, and there were several that I just didn’t get to at the time. This post is a follow-up, to cover a couple that I have eventually gotten […]

As mentioned on my main California page, Walk On Earth a Stranger is the first in Rae Carson’s Gold Seer trilogy, and it mainly covers Leah’s journey from Georgia to California in 1849–and the historical information is fantastic! Because not much of it actually takes place in California, however, it’s not the best book for […]

BIRDS! Finally, after a bit of a drought, we have birds! The very first paragraphs of The Echo Maker by Richard Powers include some wonderful descriptions of the sandhill cranes that migrate through Nebraska each year, stopping along the Platte River, and feeding on the remains of the harvested field corn and soybeans. They float […]

Wow! Haven’s Wake by Ladette Randolph (2013) was phenomenal for my reading challenge. I’m reading my way across the USA, focusing on books with a strong sense of place that help me “get to know” each state–the landscape, the people, the culture, the history. Haven’s Wake was a perfect choice for Nebraska. That year the […]

As I worked my way through my picks for Kansas, I began to wonder about the differences between Kansas and its neighboring states, and I decided to stay in the area for a while longer. So I’m going to be reading Nebraska next. I was also interested in the “bleakness” and “mean spirit” I saw […]

When most people think of Kansas, we tend to think, “flat.” And, after all, in Dorothy Must Die, author Danielle Paige called the Kansas town Flat Hill. I’ve already talked a bit about the Wizard of Oz movie and book (mis)perceptions of Kansas (including that Baum’s original descriptions were based on his unhappy experiences of […]

First Dawn by Judith Miller is about the post-Civil War all-black pioneer settlement of Nicodemus, Kansas. It tells the story of a group of ill-prepared settlers who travel across the prairie from Topeka to Nicodemus, expecting to find a small, but somewhat established town, with at least a few amenities, only to arrive at a […]

As I was putting together the book map for Kansas, I came across an interesting conundrum: where in Kansas was Dorothy from? (Or, more to the point, Amy Gumm?) L. Frank Baum’s books don’t give the name of any towns near where Dorothy lived with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em on their farm. And […]