Celebrating Read, White & Blue: 50 Favorite Books for 50 States

american flag booksOhhhhh say can you read, by the dawn’s early light? It’s the Fourth of July, and it’s a long weekend this year, which means that amidst the barbecues, fireworks, and other fun in the sun, you’ll be able to squeeze in plenty of reading time!

To celebrate Independence Day in true book nerd form, we’re rounding up our favorite books set in each of the fifty states in the U.S. of A. We’ve got some classics, some contemporary, some fiction, some nonfiction, some books for young and old alike, some sidesplitters, and some tearjerkers. It’s a melting pot of a reading list, just like our country!

Alabama: To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee

Alaska: Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer

Arizona: The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver

Arkansas: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

California: House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III

Colorado: The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller

Connecticut: The Ice Storm, by Rick Moody

Delaware: Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk

Florida: Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell

Georgia: Paris Trout, by Pete Dexter

Hawaii: Blu’s Hanging, by Lois Ann Yamanaka

Idaho: The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon, by Tom Spanbauer

Illinois: Native Son, by Richard Wright

Indiana: Alive and Dead in Indiana, by Michael Martone

Iowa: A Thousand Acres, by Jane Smiley

Kansas: In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

Kentucky: Beloved, by Toni Morrison

Louisiana: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

Maine: Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout

Maryland: Kindred, by Octavia Butler

Massachusetts: Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri

Michigan: Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

Minnesota: In the Lake of the Woods, by Tim O’Brien

Mississippi: Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan

Missouri: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

Montana: Fool’s Crow, by James Welch

Nebraska: My Antonia, by Willa Cather

Nevada: Beautiful Children, by Charles Bock

New Hampshire: A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving

New Jersey: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz

New Mexico: The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey

New York: Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Lethem

North Carolina: A Land More Kind Than Home, by Wiley Cash

North Dakota: Love Medicine, by Louise Erdich

Ohio: Winesburg Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson

Oklahoma: Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls

Oregon: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey

Pennsylvania: Baker Towers, by Jennifer Haigh

Rhode Island: She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb

South Carolina: Bastard out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison

South Dakota: By the Shores of Silver Lake, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Tennessee: Child of God, by Cormac McCarthy

Texas: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain

Utah: When the Emperor was Divine, by Julie Otsuka

Vermont: Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian

Virginia: The Known World, by Edward P. Jones

Washington: The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

West Virginia: Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen

Wisconsin: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, by David Wroblewski

Wyoming: Close Range: Wyoming Stories, by Annie Proulx

What’s your favorite book set in your home state? We’d love to know!

  • Heather Scott-Penselin

    I like the lathe of heaven by Ursula Le Guin and the postman by David Brin. The Ramona series is a great kid’s series. However out of Ken Kesey’s books I do like one flew over the cuckoo’s nest best.

  • http://www.goodreads.com/joeleoj Joel Cunningham

    Illinois: Crossing California by Adam Langer.

  • Michelle Mekkes Keyes

    Much of Hemingway’s Nick Adam’s Stories takes place in Northern Michigan. Hemingway has a great way of describing exactly why so many people love this area.

  • crunchycon

    A Death in the Family by James Agee, for Tennessee. Not the most uplifting book ever, but you can’t beat the writing.

  • Cassie Lynn

    Reading this blog always makes me want to immediately drop all other activities and snuggle up with a book! Great job!


  • Charles Clayton

    I love the Monkey Wrench Gang, as well as my home state of New Mexico, but the book takes place in Utah and Arizona, with only a few pages dedicated to NM. There are tons of good books about the Land of Enchantment, so I hope you can addend this article.

  • Emily

    What? No Steinbeck for California!? I was sure that either The Grapes of Wrath or East of Eden would be on this list!