Best Books by State

Kelsie Foreman
Jul 31, 2020

While you may not be able to travel as you would like this summer thanks to re-emerging COVID restrictions, you can go on a roadtrip of your own with one of these amazing books for every state. Start in Alabama and work your way all the way down to Wyoming while indulging in incredible books that capture each state’s history, charm, and other unique accolades. These are the very best books to read by state.

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a beloved coming-of-age novel, To Kill A Mockingbird embodies Alabama in the 1930s. Follow Scout, a young girl as her father— a white lawyer—  defends a Black man after he was accused of a heinous crime.

Into The Wild, Jon Krakauer

Chris McCandless ran away from home looking for a life of freedom on the road. However, four months after vanishing into the Alaskan wilderness without much more than a bag of rice, McCandless’s body was found frozen in an abandoned bus. But how did he die?

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, Sherman Alexie

In my opinion, nothing describes life in the Wild West quite as it does in this novel, based on a radio show from the 1930s. This collection of short stories highlights life on a Native American reservation and what it’s like as one of the main characters moves away to live with his girlfriend in Seattle.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

This incredibly painful, yet equally empowering memoir tells the story of two sisters forced to live in a small “powhitetrash” town in the South where they cope with feelings of abandonment and prejudice.

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The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan

Immediately following her Mother’s death, Jing-mei has just found out that she is not an only child— as her mother had to leave her two twin sisters on the roadside while fleeing war-torn China during World War 2. She had always intended to go back for them, but now that she is dead Jing-mei must do it alone.

The Shining, Stephen King

Jack Torrance and his family have just moved into the Overlook Hotel on Mount Hood for the winter to take care of the massive property. And as the snow continues to fall, trapping the family inside, there is a deadly, paranormal force the family must learn to cope with.

The Stepford Wives, Ira Levin

Joanna and her husband, Walter cannot believe they can afford to move to the prestigious town of Stepford. But it only takes a few days of living in their new home when they discover the incredible secret that the town is harboring. And no one will be the same.

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Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk

To cope with the stress of living, Tyler Durden holds secret after-hours boxing matches in the basement of bars with his depressed friend. The club catches on and soon, disgruntled men throughout the city are showing up to fight one another.

Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies detail the marriage of two individuals— Mathilde and Lotto and their two very different perspectives regarding the success of their marriage. And when a deep secret tears the couple apart before an unfortunate death, will they ever recover?

Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann Burns

Grandma Blakeslee has only passed away three weeks ago, but Grandpa has already announced his plans to marry the young town milliner. As the scandal of his proposal makes its way through the small southern town, follow one boy as he has a front-row seat to the scandal sweeping the town.

Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers, Sara Ackerman

After her husband mysteriously vanishes from Hawaii just as the war is growing in 1941 Violet Iverson turns to her neighbors for comfort. Determined to stay busy, Violet and her friends open a pie stand for the soldiers and she is suddenly swept up in a whirlwind romance that leaves her feeling guilty.

Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech

Salamanca Hiddle’s mother has run off to Idaho, and despite promising a quick return, she has not come back yet. Follow along as she travels cross country with her grandparents, determined to bring her mother home.

The Devil In The White City, Erik Larson

While millions of guests flocked to Chicago in 1893 for the World’s Fair, one man, HH Holmes, who was running a hotel for fair guests was getting away with something truly terrible. Will he be caught with luring women to their deaths in his expansive hotel during Chicago’s busiest season?

The Fault In Our Stars, John Green

While Hazel is coping with the fact that her cancer is, indeed, terminal, she meets a gorgeous boy named Augustus Waters at a support group and she falls madly in love. But will her diagnosis ruin her dreams of a happy ending?

A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley

When a wealthy Iowa farmer decides to divide his large farm amongst his three daughters, and one refuses— causing her to set off an unforgettable chain of events. Will the family ever be the same after her truths are revealed?  

Little House On The Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder

One of the most iconic series of multi-generations, Little House on The Prairie is the tale of the Ingalls family— one of America’s most notorious pioneer families. Follow along as they travel by covered wagon across the mid-US in search of a place fit for homesteading.  

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe

In one of the most iconic anti-slavery novels of the 19th century, Uncle Tom’s Cabin focuses on a group of freed slaves who all are connected to Uncle Tom— another freed slave. Often named as one of the most impactful books in history, this book is a must-read.  

The Awakening, Kate Chopin

Often called an enlightening book rooted in feminism, The Awakening is a tale of a woman longing for self-discovery, so she turns away from everything that society has ingrained in her brain for a more “primal” way of living.  

Salem’s Lot, Stephen King

When Ben Mears heads to Salem’s Lot, a small town in Maine where he had spent some time during his childhood, he discovers that something is very off about the residents living in town. Will he figure it out before it’s too late?

Chesapeake, James Michener

Desperate to escape religious persecution in England in the 1800s, Edmund Steel decides to run away to America. Follow along as Steel attempts to make a life for himself in the new world.

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Follow along as four sisters grow up and find themselves during the Civil War— a most tumultuous time in America. This coming of age novel will leave everyone with a warm feeling inside!  

Station Eleven, Emily St. John

After a flu pandemic wipes out all of society in only a few weeks, Kirsten Raymond must pick herself up and figure out how to fend in a post-apocalyptic world. Jumping between weeks before the pandemic and twenty years after society has finally collapsed, Kirsten finds herself strangely connected to a group of traveling actors.

Mainstreet, Sinclair Lewis

One of America’s most famous playwrights and novelists, Sinclair Lewis, takes a hit at the stereotypical “American Dream” in this portrayal of what it is actually like living in an American small town.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

Skeeter is determined to write a book about what it is like working for a white family in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. However, doing so might be a little riskier than she had intended. Follow Skeeter and an incredible group of women as they attempt to alter racial stereotypes in a very volatile time.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

Forced to fake his death to escape an abusive father, Huck Finn has run away down the Mississippi River, watching as the locals search the waters for his body. After he meets Jin, a runaway slave, the pair embark on an epic adventure on the run.

A River Runs Through It And Other Stories, Norman Maclean

Discover the beauty of life in the wilderness with nothing to do but go fly fishing in this collection of three semi-autobiographical short stories by Normal Maclean. When you’re done reading, you can always watch the film adaptation starring Brad Pitt.

The Magician’s Assistant, Ann Pratchett

When Sabine’s magician husband dies suddenly, she is left feeling lost, for she had been his assistant for years. However, she needn’t feel lost for long, her husband, as it turns out, has a family he has kept secret.

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

Head through Nevada on a psychedelic drug-fuelled road trip with Raoul Durke and his attorney, Dr. Gonzo as they alter the notion of the American Dream. This book was also adapted into a film, starring Johnny Depp as Durke.

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The Pilot’s Wife, Anita Shreve

Kathryn has just found out that her husband has perished in a plane crash and now, because of media scrutiny, she finds that her husband may have been hiding an incredible secret. Read along as she finds proof.

One For The Money, Janet Evanovich

One For the Money is the first book in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. The series follows the bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum as she searches for criminals in this whitty read. After you finish the first in the series, you’ll be eager to continue reading.

Like Water, Rebecca Podos

Savannah is determined to break free from her small town just as soon as she graduates high school. However, when her father is diagnosed with a serious disease, she struggles with the fact that she must now stay and care for him instead.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Jay Gatsby is no stranger to incredible parties, for he throws them every weekend in order to impress his neighbor, Daisy Buchanan. But when Gatsby becomes fast friends with Nick Carraway, Daisy’s distant relative, no one is ever the same.

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Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen

Claire hasn’t seen her sister, Sydney, in over ten years. When she flees across the country and winds up on Claire’s porch, the pair must meet one another all over again.

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Prairie Silence: A Memoir, Melanie H. Hoffert

In this powerful memoir, Melanie Hoffert heads back to her childhood home nestled in the prairie to find that the decaying buildings replace many of the structures that she knows and loves. Determined to revitalize the small town, this is her story.

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Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng

After Lydia’s body is found at the bottom of a lake, the fragile web of her home life comes crashing down as her parents cope with losing their favorite child.

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Dark Places, Gillian Flynn

Libby Day’s family was brutally murdered when she was a young girl. She survived and gave the testimony that would put her fifteen year old brother behind bars for the crime. But when she revisits details of that night, she realizes that her brother might not have been the killer at all.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

Randle McMurphy was determined to take over the mental hospital from the reins of the Big Nurse— the rule-driven leader who allowed no fun. But when his rule-breaking antics starts an all out war, the Big Nurse is none too pleased.  

Oreo, Fran Ross

Head on a journey of self discovery based on the tale of Theseus, with Oreo as she explores the nooks and crannies of Pennsylvania.

Christmas Tree Farm, Sandra Jordan

Have you ever wondered what it is like to work on a Christmas tree farm around the holidays? This read will tell you everything you need to know in a magical, easy to read manner.

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The Coastwatcher, Elise Weston

Hugh and his family are spending the summer on the South Carolina coast— right as the United States is swept up in World War II. Using his binoculars to scout across the ocean for enemy soldiers, young Hugh finds himself intertwined with a fascinating mystery.

By The Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Another novel in the Little House on the Prairie series, Laura and her family have just moved to Silver Lake, South Dakota in the middle of a harsh winter. When they arrive, they become the first settlers in the town of De Smet.

Swamp Angel, Anne Isaacs

Angelica built her first log cabin when she was only two years old. Now older and calling the swamps of Tennessee home, she is forced to fight a loathsome bear whose never ending appetite keeps him lurking around her home.

Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, Buzz Bissinger

Follow a season in the life of the Panthers, the most-winningest high school football team in all of Texas. Living in a town plagued by racism, Friday nights are the one day a week where the town rallies together.

Between A Rock And A Hard Place, Aron Ralston

Out for a hike in the Utah wilderness, Aron Ralston finds himself deep from society in Blue John Canyon when a boulder comes loose and pins his arm to the wall, trapping him there. Stuck for six days awaiting rescue, Ralston finally decided to do the unthinkable and cut off his pinned limb to escape.

All The Best People, Sonja Yoerg

Carole Laport can feel her mind slipping— but she hides the symptoms in fear of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother.  Determined to cure it on her own, she and her eleven year old daughter are forced to find answers.

Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Patterson

Jess and Leslie become fast friends after Leslie moves down the street. The pair create an imaginary world, Terabithia, in the woods behind their homes and spend their days fighting giant trolls. But when an unfortunate accident alters Jess’ world, will he ever be able to recover?

Snow Falling On Cedar, David Guterson

On a remote island in the Puget sound, home to salmon fishing and strawberry picking, a Japenese man stands on trial for a cold-blooded murder that he may or may not have committed. And when the trial brings two old friends back together, nothing will ever be the same.

Shiloh, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

When Marty finds Shiloh, a beagle puppy, behind his home he immediately falls in love and wants to make the puppy his. But the puppy already has an owner— and an abusive one at that. Who will Shiloh end up with?  

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A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick

Ralph is looking for a good, honest, reliable wife, so he has put an ad in the local newspaper. It is answered by a mysterious woman, but when they meet and marry, Ralph is horrified to discover that his new wife is deceitful and money-hungry. But then again, he might not be who he seems either...

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Brokeback Mountain, Annie Proulx

Two cowboys are engaging in a forbidden affair and they will do anything they can to keep their relationship a secret from their wives and children.

If you’re traveling through these states, or looking for a reading getaway, we hope these reads become part of your journey.

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