This is it – the last week of Adult Summer Reading :(. Don’t forget to get your reviews in. You can write them by hand, on the comments page of our Summer Reading blog, or on our Goodreads Group page. Make sure you get the entries in by the end of the day on July 30th!
The last stop on our tour of the continents is the U.S. (Yes, we know we’re cheating, but this subject is so large, we felt it deserved it’s own category). Finish off your summer with a book closer to home.
1. Again, take a look at the Armchair Travel booklist for travelogues by Americans seeking new adventures and even a few foreigners learning about the diversity of the American people and land.
2. Pick up a Classic American Novel:
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- My Antonia by Willa Cather
- The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass
- Sister Carrie by Theodore Drieser
- As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- On the Road by Jack Kerouac
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
- Native Son by Richard Wright
3. There are so many American History books, so instead of providing an exhaustive list, I’ll just provide a few of the best written in the past couple of years:
- The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan
- This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War by Drew Gilpin Faust
- The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral and How It Changed the American West by Jeff Guinn
- The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed
- Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, 1920-1933 by Daniel Okrent
- The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of Little Bighorn by Nathaniel Philbrick
- Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America by Richard White
- The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
- Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 by Gordon S. Wood
- The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States by Gordon S. Wood
4. Some of my personal recommendations set in the U.S.:
- The Abandoned Outlaw by Max Brand – A trio of western stories that go beyond the stereotypes and actually bring to life the old west.
- Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks – Although the title refers to the first Native American student to graduate from Harvard, the story revolves around a young woman he befriends.
- Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier – Inman, a young Rebel soldier, goes AWOL to journey home to Ada, his love, who is trying to manage her farm on her own during the Civil War.
- Sweetsmoke by David Fuller – Cassius, a slave on a southern plantation, works within the constraints of his circumstances to solve the murder of the free black woman who once saved his life.
- Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse – Though written for children, this book, told through poetry, tells the story of a young girl coming to terms with how the Great Depression is affecting her life.
- Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson – Hattie gets the chance to “prove-up” her own homestead in Montana in the late 1800s.
- Shannon: A Poem of the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Campbell McGrath – Written as a narrative poem, this book tells the story of George Shannon, one of the expedition’s youngest members, who was separated from the group for several days.
- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout – A novel, told in short story format, about irascible Olive and the people around her.
- The Great Starvation Experiment: The Heroic Men Who Starved so that Millions Could Live by Todd Tucker – Illuminating a part of WWII history I knew little about, Tucker talks about the experiment run by Dr. Ancel Keys and the young men, who for reasons of their own, chose not to fight during the war, but wanted to be a part of the war effort.
- Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace – Ruby can pitch like a major leaguer, but is prevented by her gender, and her era (the 1920s) from being a star, so she finds another way to provide for her family.
5. About the states…
- Weird U.S.: Your Travel Guide to America’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Mark Moran
- How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein
- How the States Got Their Shapes, Too: The People Behind the Borderlines by Mark Stein
- Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States that Never Made It by Michael Trinklein
- State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America
- These United States: Original Essays by Leading American Writers on Their State Within the Union