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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

In my country, there is an old belief that if a bird flies into your home it is an angel who has come to guide you and you must look at its presence as a blessing from God. —House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III I’m not doing a full review of House […]

Georgia’s on my mind. We spent so much time in California, with 13 books read (!), that I knew I had to head somewhere completely different–and soon! So I decided to head to the Deep South. But what to do when I’ve already read most of the books that top everyone’s list for Georgia? Gone […]

This was an unexpected addition to my list, and it was a great one! I read this snippet from an interview with the author and just had to add it: One journalist kindly alerted me to the fact that there was a hoax in my Wikipedia entry, a claim that I was writing about “the […]