This was a fun, light read that brought to life a bit of history I was unfamiliar with–the Miss Subway promotional beauty contests that ran from 1941 to 1976. It will probably not go down as the best of our books for New York, but it got us off to a good start. I am […]

I’ve been putting off New York for a while now, but as I finished Hawaii, I decided to come back to the opposite end of the country–and to my roots. I was born and raised in a small town in upstate New York. I have family in the urban areas of upstate–Binghamton, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, […]

This was an excellent, thought-provoking look at a little-known historical event which had far-reaching consequences that continue to ripple through today’s headlines. The Ni’ihau Incident was used as a justification for the US government’s policy of imprisoning Japanese-Americans during World War II. Historians today recommend the usage of the phrase “concentration camps” for these places […]

Wow! This book has it all when it comes to setting and our reading challenge–geography, history, all the different people who make up Hawaii–and the setting is so integral to the story! So many aspects of the story are uniquely Hawaiian, there’s nowhere else it could be set. I am reading my way across the […]

This was a really nice book, and a great opening for Hawaii! It’s not only the story of Spencer taking care of his dying mother, it also tells the story of how he unexpectedly went from being the middle son to being the only son. The childhood flashbacks take place in the 1950s and 1960s, […]

This was the one I was waiting for! This has been the best one by far for Idaho. The characters are real–and not just because many of them are historical figures–multi-faceted, flawed, real human beings. Yes, there is racism and discrimination, but there are also people who connect on a personal level with the main […]

Idaho has been full of odd contrasts. Ruth Ozeki’s All Over Creation was preachy and full of shallow stereotypes of Idaho and its people. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson was a depressing, maddening, but lovely bit of prose that (hopefully) is not terribly revealing about the people of Idaho while being full of gorgeous descriptions of […]

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 […]

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 […]