To give credit where credit is due — the Literary Map of the United States was part of the celebration of Independent Bookstore Day. It’s an incredible map with one book chosen for each state — there are two for California and Texas. Each book was set within the state and captures some salient aspects of its place on the map. Reading them over the course of the year, we have decided that some of the books meet that expectation better than others but they have all been good to great reads. In our case, I adapted the map to show our journey — and I also moved Alaska north from where they had it as an inset on top of Mexico to the spot where our trek across country would begin. Some of my critics were amused that while most people look at a map and think of movement from east to west, I decided to go the other direction — because that is, after all, how we read! Our journey started in the far northwest and will end (we’re not finished at the time that I write this) on the east coast in New Hampshire. I divided the US into regions and the girls voted for one book in each region. Because of the big difference in state size east vs west, we ended up with a lot of stops bunched up in the east. There was probably a better way to divide that states into groups than the way I did it!
The upper right corner tells us to “Read the USA in our Chevrolet.” As explanation, I have to say that music is so prominent in my brain, I think in lyrics. When I first wrote Read the USA, it was impossible not to rhyme it with Chevrolet thanks to Dinah Shore. (I’ve mentioned that I’m old.) And below that, we get in the fictional reference — Fictional Cartography. The column going down the right side indicates which book we’ll be reading and in what hotel we’ll be staying (who will be hosting) with the months just represented as 1-12. On the back of the map I added lists of books for all the states we’re missing as well as the “hotel” addresses and phone numbers — the part you can’t see.
Some of the books included on the state lists above are middle grade reads. I couldn’t stop myself from including a few books from authors such as Kate di Camillo, Richard Peck (who we sadly just lost earlier this year, 2018,) Claire Vanderpool, Sharon Creech and Ellen Klages.
For anyone offended by the note in the Wyoming block that there is no Wyoming, it’s just a movie set, I apologize if this goes against what you believe. My brother, Paul told me this, swore that it was true, and as the baby of the family I am obliged to believe him. He lived in Nevada most of his adult life, so it seems like he would know.
January: Alaska, To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
February: Idaho, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
March: Arizona, Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
April: Texas, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
May: Michigan, True North by Jim Harrison
June: Indiana, The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
July: Tennessee, A Death in the Family by James Agee
August: North Carolina, A Short History of a Small Place by T.R. Pearson
September: West Virginia, John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead
October: Maryland, The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
November: New York, The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
December: New Hampshire, The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving