America… in Books

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One of the reasons I’ve always loved to read is that a good book can transport you to a whole new life, whether it’s a new planet or a new small town. I love novels that spend time building up the setting so that you really get a solid idea of where the story is taking place. I’ve never had the finances to travel, so I travel through books.

For the next 56 days (not including weekends), I’ll be sharing books that will introduce you to each state and U.S. territory. I hope you enjoy! As we proceed each day, I’ll add links to each state here.


U.S. States

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
  • District of Columbia (Washington, DC)

U.S. Territories

  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • Virgin Islands



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5 Books I Would Love to See Turned Into a Movie

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It seems like books are getting so many film and television adaptations recently, which is great for those of us who love seeing our favorite books brought to life. The Witcher and Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse books are being made into Netflix series, Marvel is releasing a crazy amount of films and shows based on their iconic comic books, and every time you turn around there’s a new adaptation being announced.

Here are five of the books that I would most love to see turned into a movie!


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Read my review

For The Night Circus to be made into a good movie, this is a book that would require just the right director, someone who can translate the atmospheric whimsy of the novel onto the screen. Done right, though, I think this could be an incredible and beautiful magical realism movie. I also think the black, white, and gray color scheme of the circus would translate well to film.


The Last by Hanna Jameson

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Read my review

Just the other day I was telling my boyfriend that I was surprised that more post-apocalyptic films featuring nuclear war hadn’t been made in the past decade or so. The Last would be a perfect novel to turn into such a film. This book combines both the post-apocalyptic world that we expect with a murder mystery. It’s set in a hotel in a remote part of Switzerland, which would make for a great backdrop for a film.


The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

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Read my review

This novel would be a perfect option for an engaging chick lit film. It’s a hate-to-love romance set in rural Alaska. Our two main characters, Calla and Jonah, are immensely likable and could be portrayed perfectly on the screen if the right actors are chosen.


One Second After by William R. Forstchen

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Is anyone surprised that I’m adding a second post-apocalyptic story to this list? Because you really shouldn’t be.

One Second After follows the survivors of a community near Black Mountain, NC, after an EMP attack that wipes out everything electronic. The reason I would love to see a film adaptation of this novel (aside from the post-apocalyptic part) is that Black Mountain is just minutes away from Asheville, NC, where I lived for all of my twenties. I would love to see a film based there, and this story would be an engaging one.


A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

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Read my review

This was a wonderful book that dealt with racism in a powerful way, and for that reason alone I think this would be a great novel to be made into a movie. It’s very real, which obviously would translate well to film. Shirin is a strong character who isn’t afraid to also be vulnerable, which I think is important to portray.


What books would you like to see made into movies? Let me know in the comments!




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Roadtrip Books to Satisfy Your Summer Wanderlust

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It’s July, which means that summer is in full swing here in the Northern Hemisphere.

Summer is a time when most people start to feel at least a bit of wanderlust. Road trips, vacations, summer break – it’s all about getting away, relaxing, and living your best life.

Today, we’re focusing on road trips.

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Road trips have always been a part of the American landscape. There are countless books, television shows, and movies about jumping into a car with your friends and driving to the other end of the country.

Taking a road trip has always been on my bucket list, although it hasn’t happened yet. For myself, as well as many others, taking a road trip can be cost-prohibitive. Most of us would also need an insane amount of vacation time to take so the time needed off from our jobs.

Thankfully, when you can’t take a road trip yourself, we can live precariously through the following novels.

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On the Road and The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

I felt like starting this list off with my two favorites. I’m a huge fan of Jack Kerouac’s writing and have always been intrigued with the Beat Generation. I first read these books back around 2011-ish and fell in absolute love with both novels.

On the Road is the novel Kerouac is most well-known for, and it can be argued that it is the quintessential American road trip novel. The novel is a fictionalized account of his own travels across America.

The Dharma Bums is about two men who search for Zen while traveling from San Francisco to the mountains of Washington state.


Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

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I want to read this book so bad. I love two of Steinbeck’s other novels dearly (Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath). Travels with Charley is a non-fiction account of John Steinbeck’s own road trip with his poodle, Charley.


The Cruise of the Rolling Junk by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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If you’re a fan of life in the 1920s, this book is for you. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda took a road trip from Connecticut to Alabama, and this is his account of that trip.


Mosquitoland by David Arnold

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Aside from the exquisite cover, this book should definitely be on your TBR. It follows the story of Mim Malone who takes off on a Greyhound bus after her family collapses. On the way, Mim meets a cast of interesting characters while also dealing with her own struggles.


The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe

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In the 1960s, writer Tom Wolfe joined Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters for a cross-country road trip in their bus. LSD, adventure, colorful characters, and more, make this one of the most influential road trip books in American history.


Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon

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This is one of the books that I’m most intrigued by on this list. I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to drive around on back roads and discover new places and scenes. When I was in college, a friend and I would drive around for hours and found so many amazing places (and a few terrifying ones too!). In this memoir, William Least Heat-Moon writes about his journey on those backroads, going to small towns that most people pass over.


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

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While most people think of the film adaptation when they hear this title, the novel is definitely worth your time. A road trip to Las Vegas fueled by copious drug use, this book details a different side of the American road trip.


Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

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This contemporary young adult road trip novel is one that will pull on your heartstrings. Amy and her mother are moving across the country, and Amy has to drive their car. However, she’s reluctant and terrified, as her father died in a car crash. Amy enlists the help of a family friend named Roger, and they take this journey together.


Going Bovine by Libba Bray

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Let’s end the list on a slightly absurd note. I recently purchased this book after becoming obsessed with the premise. A 16-year-old boy is told that he is going to die, and he sets off on a cross-country road trip with a death-obsessed dwarf and a garden gnome to try to find a cure.


What are your favorite road trip books? Let me know in the comments!




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End of the Year Book Tag

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I saw this book tag over at Reading Under the Blankie. I’m not sure who created this tag, so if you know please leave that information in the comments below!


Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

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I’m still only on volume one of Outlaws of the Marsh. I had started it for the #readtheworldchina challenge, but it’s absolutely massive. I’m determined to finish it by the end of the year.

Though very dense, it’s actually turning out to be an enjoyable book. I was hesitant when my boyfriend, who read it in college and loved it, recommended it to me because it was written in the early 1300s and is over 1600 pages. I can’t wait to review this book, which will definitely happen before the end of the year.


Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

I actually don’t. There are definitely some books I want to read this month, and I plan on finishing everything I’m reading by New Year’s Eve so I can start fresh on January 1st, but I don’t have a transitional book in mind.


Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

 

There are a couple. I’ve been hearing good things about The Disasters by M. K. England. It’s an LGBTQ-friendly young adult sci-fi novel about space terrorism. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River sounds really interesting as well. On Goodreads, it’s described as historical fiction with magical and fantastical elements, which is right up my alley.


What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

 

I’ve never read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and I would love to read it during the holidays this year. I love other books I’ve read by Dickens, such as Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities

I also want to finish Erin Morgenstern’s The Night CircusLast month I had gotten a copy from my local library but had to return it when I was only sixty pages in because it wasn’t eligible for renewal. I ended up buying a copy because I’d loved what I’d read so far.

Finally, I received an ARC of Brian Hart’s Trouble No Man, and I’m going to be reading it as soon as I finish rereading Cormac McCarthy’s The RoadI had requested the ARC from Harper Perennial because the author was being compared to McCarthy, and the post-apocalyptic setting attracted me. It’s my most anticipated book of January 2019.


Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

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Although it definitely won’t be a shock, I’m going to read Eric Idle’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography sometime in the next couple of weeks. I’ve already listened to most of the audiobook through Scribd and it’s hilarious. I basically grew up watching Monty Python and I can’t wait to read this entire book.

Side note: I bought a signed edition from Barnes & Noble right after black Friday and I’m super-duper stoked to have it!


Have you already started making reading plans for 2019?

I have! I don’t want to give too much away yet, but 2019 will include a lot of reading challenges and books that have been on my Book Bucket List.


What are your reading plans for the rest of the year?

GUEST POST: 7 Chinese Books in the Last 70 Years from Meonicorn

For the #readtheworldchina challenge, the amazing Meonicorn of The Bookish Land has written a guest post about 7 Chinese Books of the past 70 years. I love Meonicorn’s blog and Youtube channel, so definitely go check her out for some amazing content and book recommendations. 

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7 Chinese Books in Recent 70 Years

By Meonicorn ( The Bookish Land)

Hi, I am Meonicorn from the BookTube channel: The Bookish Land. Thanks a lot to Penny for inviting me to talk about books from China (since I was born and raised in China, I love talking about them). China has a long history of literature but I feel it’s very difficult to find Chinese books that have been translated into English, especially the recent publishes. So I’ve selected 7 Chinese books from the recent 70 years, maybe you’ll find them interesting, and hope we will have more good Chinese books translated into English in the future!


2010 – NOW: FOLDING BEIJING by Hao Jingfang, 2012, Genre: Science Fiction

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This Hugo Award-winning novelette was set in an unspecified future when people have been divided into three classes and lived in Beijing accordingly. Beijing cycles every 48 hours, where the first 24 hours belong to the highest class, the next 16 hours belong to the second class and the last 8 hours belong to the rest of the population. The living space for each class was folded when they were not using it and the people were put to asleep, and the space would be unfolded when people could use it. People were forbidden to travel across different space. However, a worker called Lao Dao decided to do so because of his daughter and started his space traveling journey.

This novelette was translated by Ken Liu, who also translated the Hugo Award-winning novel The Three-Body Problem.


2000 – 2009: THE LAST QUARTER OF THE MOON by Chi Zijian, 2005, Genre: Historical Fiction

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This was a beautiful family saga about an ethnic group called Evenki, it is told from the perspective of the wife of the last chief in their tribe, following her story for almost 100 years. Their tribe experienced changes from traditional hunting lifestyle to modern culture lifestyle, accepted opportunities and losses, as well as glories and declines. The narrator was also changed by time and generations. The book was beautifully written, the language was poetic, the story was atmospheric and the culture was mysterious.

This novel won the Maodun Literary Prize in 2008. (One of the most important literary prizes in China)

 


1990 – 1999: TO LIVE by Yu Hua, 1993. Genre: Literary Fiction

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To Live discussed the meaning of life with the story of Fugui. Fugui was born in a wealthy family but lost all his fortune by gambling. After that, his life seemed to be a tragedy, his family suffered from the consequences of poverty, he himself had a difficult time living. Whenever there was a warm moment in life, it would be destroyed in the next second.

This book was written when the author was facing some life difficulties, it was a reflection of the author’s life and his attitude towards life.

 

 

 


1980 – 1989 RED SORGHUM by Mo Yan, 1986, Genre: Historical Fiction

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Red Sorghum was a multi-generation novel. The story happened in 1930 when World War II happened and China was fighting with Japan. The protagonists were heroes who fought with Japan but knew little about why they fight, who loved deeply but didn’t know what’s love, who contributed to the country but also did illegal business. This book shows the complexities of human nature and the unclearness of moral truth.

This book was one of the most famous books by the Nobel Prize in Literature winner Mo Yan.

 

 

 


1970 – 1979 THE ANSWER by Bei Dao, 1976. Genre: Poetry

The Answer was a poetry collection by Chinese poet Bei Dao, it was also the title of one of his most famous poems. The poem was written after The Cultural Revolution in China ended and people were struggling between confusion and development. It shouted out the question the poet had “The Ice Age is over now/ Why is there ice everywhere? The Cape of Good Hope has been discovered/ Why do a thousand sails contest the Dead Sea?”


1960 – 1969 HALF A LIFELONG ROMANCE by Eileen Chang (Zhang Ailing), 1966. Genre: Literary Fiction

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Half a Lifelong Romance is set in Shanghai in the 1930s. It was a love story between engineer Shijun and his colleague Manzhen, where they fall in love but had to separate because of their families. While they are facing their fate, Chinese society was also changing because of World War II. The hope that they may meet again was getting smaller and smaller, but yet they didn’t give up. This was a book about the suffering and sorrows of love, but also about the life in 1930s Shanghai, and how people were played by societal expectations.

This book was originally written in 1948 with the name of The Eighteen Spring, but was edited by the author and re-published as Half a Lifelong Romance in 1966.


1950 – 1959 LEGENDS OF THE CONDOR HEROES by Jin Yong, 1957 – 1959. Genre: Wuxia (Chinese Fantasy).

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Legends of the Condor Heroes was a classic Wuxia novel, and it was also a historical fiction. Set between 1199 – 1227, this book followed Guojing’s journey from being a boy who knew nothing about himself and his country to a hero who protected his country and his lover. It has a well-rounded character development and is complex but does not have excess historical background. It was one of the most classic Wuxia fictions, and has been translated into English for the first time in 2018.

Tom Baker has written a new Doctor Who novel!

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Are you a Doctor Who fan? Are you ready for some very exciting news?

Tom Baker, aka the Fourth Doctor, has written a new Doctor Who novel based on an idea he’s had since the 1970s! It’s called Scratchman and it’s due to be released on January 24, 2019. You best believe I already have this thing pre-ordered!

After coming up with the story, Tom Baker tried multiple times to present the story as a script, but it was never accepted and made into an episode. I’m happy that he finally decided to make a novel out of it.

The story follows the Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith, and Harry to a remote Scottish island where they encounter strange scarecrows feeding off the local population. As you’d expect, the Doctor attempts to save the islanders, but things don’t go quite as planned. They have to battle a being from another dimension who calls himself the Devil.

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I’m so freaking stoked to read this in January!

If you need something to hold you over until then, here are five other awesome Doctor Who novels:

Doctor Who and the City of Death by Douglas Adams and James Goss

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Yes, that Douglas Adams! This is my favorite Doctor Who novel, probably because of my intense adoration of everything Douglas Adams ever wrote. It’s the original story for what ended up being the television episode of the same name. It’s a fun story involving the Fourth Doctor, Paris, the Mona Lisa, and aliens.

A Brief History of Time Lords by Steve Tribe

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Want to know more about the ancient Time Lords? This book might be a good bet as it contains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about their history, culture, technology and more.

Doctor Who: Plague City by Jonathan Morris

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I loved Bill and Nardole as companions and wish we would have gotten more than a single season with them. This story follows this fun team as they walk the streets of Edinburgh in the late 1600s during a plague.

Doctor Who: The Legends of River Song 

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This book has too many authors for me to list them in the title: Jenny T Colgan, Jacqueline Rayner, Steve Lyons, Guy Adams, and Andrew Lane. River Song has long been one of my favorite characters, and her introductory episode, “The Silence in the Library,” I’ve watched so many times. This book is told in the style of River Song’s diaries. Hello, sweetie!

Doctor Who: Shada – The Lost Adventures by Douglas Adams

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This novel is based on a script that was never produced for television. One of the Doctor’s friends has a copy of a dangerous book, The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey, and the Doctor has to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.


Have you read any Doctor Who novels? What were your favorites?

2018 National Book Awards Longlist for Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction

The National Book Foundation has released more longlists for their 2018 National Book Awards! I’ve already shared their lists for translated literature and young people’s literature. Here are their newest lists:

Poetry

National Book Foundation's Longlist for Poetry

Wobble by Rae Armantrout

feeld by Jos Charles

Be With by Forrest Gander

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes

Museum of the Americas by J. Michael Martinez

Ghost of by Diana Khoi Nguyen 

Indecency by Justin Phillip Reed

lo terciario/the tertiary by Raquel Salas Rivera

Monument: Poems New and Selected by Natasha Trethewey

Eye Level by Jenny Xie

Nonfiction

National Book Awards Longlist for Nonfiction

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson

The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, The First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation by Colin G. Calloway

Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Steve Coll

Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War by Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple

American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic by Victoria Johnson

The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays) by Rebecca Solnit

The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart

We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights by Adam Winkler

Fiction

National Book Awards Longlist for Fiction

A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley

Gun Love by Jennifer Clement

Florida by Lauren Groff

The Boatbuilder by Daniel Gumbiner

Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

There There by Tommy Orange

Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires