August 3, 2017

Poorly composed headline, but I know what they mean, and it's an interesting idea.

"The most famous book that takes place in every state."

(Books are collected on one page. It's not a slide show.)

42 comments:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I like how Stephen King gets both Maine and Colorado.

ddh said...

With some exceptions, a list that demonstrates that "most famous" does not mean "best."

Bay Area Guy said...

Not a bad list. Would have done:

New York - The Bonfire of the Vanities

Louisiana - A Confederacy of Dunces

Paul said...

Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (1915) shows up on best English-language books of the 20th century lists, but is less famous than DFW's obscure first novel?

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

My bad. I thought to qualify for consideration a book must relate at least one event in each of the 50 states.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

My bad again. Alternatively, I thought to qualify for consideration the book must relate events which take place entirely within the boundaries of one State. "Hotel New Hampshire" does not.

Virgil Hilts said...

For Arizona a chick lit book like Bean Trees is completely wrong (plus, I've never read it, ergo. . .). Even though it's a short story, 3:10 to Yuma is much better choice. How many times has Bean Trees been made into a movie? That's what I thought. Looking at list, overwhelming majority were made into movies or TV series.

jwl said...

Prayer for Owen Meany is John Irving's best book and it takes place in New Hampshire as well, so the list is wrong for at least one state.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

jwl: "Prayer for Ownen Meany"

yep.

Fernandinande said...

The state level is too imprecise; I await a more detailed list of books binned by county.

What a dumb listicle.

Greg Voigt said...

Louisiana: The Moviegoer and All the King's Men (in addition to Confederacy)
Two King novels, two Grisham novels and a Brokaw memoir: this is not a serious list.

Some Seppo said...

3:10 to Yuma is a short story.

There was some non-fiction on the list, so why isn't "Inherit the Wind" Tennessee's book instead of more Grisham fluff?

Dude1394 said...

A nice idea.

Not having Lonesome Dove for Texas is a travesty. I was going to go through it, but now I will have to relook at it. Tom Brokaw for goodness sakes???

RBB said...

No "True Grit"?!?! Seriously flawed list. That book could count for Arkansas or Oklahoma.

Bay Area Guy said...

Yes - Texas has to Lonesome Dove. That is a must.

iowan2 said...

Bridges of Madison County? Must be more famous, no?

Third Coast said...

For Michigan the reporter list the rather artsy "The Virgin Suicides" which takes place in the Detroit area. WTH? A glance at the "Business Insider" reporter's resume indicates that she's probably a urban located lib feminist, hence her off-key choice.
Since most people in Michigan hate Detroit, better examples would be "True North" by Jim Harrison or "Anatomy of a Murder" by Johnny Voelker.

Rex said...

Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel" is just a little bit more famous than Nicholas Sparks's "A Walk to Remember," and though "Bridge to Terebithia" is a respectable work of juvenile fiction, it's not quite as famous as Stephen Crane's "The Red Badge of Courage," which takes place during the Battle of Chancellorsville.

PackerBronco said...

"The most famous book that takes place in every state."
=========

Uh, Rand McNally's road atlas?

Michael K said...

"Anatomy of a Murder"is set in the Upper Peninsula so maybe it should be in Wisconsin's spot :)

Paul Zrimsek said...

"It looks like you're using an ad-blocker!" Yep, I sure am.

Sebastian said...

Anybody read all 57?

Henry said...

Funny, it could be a list of famous books that each have scenes in every state. Is there such a book. What book has scenes in the most states?

I can think of On the Road as a contender.

Moby Dick is a famous book that takes place in every ocean, almost.

Henry said...

The Utah selection is ridiculous. It sounds like the listmaker wasn't sure if anything had ever been set in Utah. Except polygamy! Brigham Young!

If you want to go serious, try The Executioner's Song.

If you're going to accept books for all ages, I would say The Great Brain might be a candidate.*

But by far the most famous literary character to be associated with a book largely set in Utah is Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet. Much of the book is the narrative of Jefferson Hope, former resident of Utah, guilty of murder in London.

*If you include books for all ages, the most famous book from Maine should be Charlotte's Web -- though the state is never mentioned in the book, I believe. Or, Robert McCloskey's One Morning in Maine, which is Maine as Maine can be.

dustbunny said...

The designation of famous is kind of weird as it produces a fair amount of best seller crap on the list. People like thinking about the best or most favorite books about a state rather than simply famous.
I live part time in North Carolina andI agree with Rex about Look Homeward Angel. Also Cold Mountain was both popular and good. David Seders is very funny about the state in a number of his books even though or because he hated the place. Reynolds Price wrote beautifully about rural NC in A Long and happy Life.
There must be a better choice for Washington DC than Dan Brown or maybe the place just inspires crap.

Althouse needs to stop posting such interesting stuff this morning as I have got nothing else done.

Michael K said...

" Much of the book is the narrative of Jefferson Hope, former resident of Utah, guilty of murder in London."

Good observation but I'm not sure he was guilty. I confess it's been a few years since I read it last.

Henry said...

It was a justified killing. The killing was by trial by chance, with Hope forcing the real villain to pick a pill from a pair with Hope taking the other. One was poison, the other harmless.

The Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock series makes references to this in it's first episode, A Study in Pink.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I would peg Lolita for New Hampshire. But did the book place Ramsdale in New Hampshire (as opposed to a generic New England) or was that done only in the movie?

I wish Iowa could shake Jane Smiley. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson deserves at least honorable mention.

I see that Laura Ingalls Wilder was pegged to Wisconsin so that Tom Brokaw could have South Dakota. But what book would be Wisconsin's runner up?

Big Mike said...

Towards the end of the list he just phones it in. "The Virginian" for Wyoming. Dozens of books ahead of "No Country for Old Men" for Texas (I agree with other commenters upthread that "Lonesome Dove" is probably the best choice. Any of a number of books written about the gunfight that took place in the alley behind the O. K. Corral for Arizona. How could you no put "Advise and Consent" for Washington, DC?

I was surprised to discover that "A Bridge to Terabitha" is set in rural Virginia. Wife and I met Katherine Paterson around the time she wrote the book (like her we were residents of Silver Spring, MD) so I knew that she had been inspired by a ramshackle bridge in Sligo Creek Park.

Robert said...

Dan Brown, is this a joke?

Bad Lieutenant said...


Third Coast said...
For Michigan the reporter list the rather artsy "The Virgin Suicides" which takes place in the Detroit area. WTH? A glance at the "Business Insider" reporter's resume indicates that she's probably a urban located lib feminist, hence her off-key choice.
Since most people in Michigan hate Detroit, better examples would be "True North" by Jim Harrison or "Anatomy of a Murder" by Johnny Voelker.

8/3/17, 9:37 AM


Michigan - how about freaking Hemingway? The Nick Adams Stories? Up In Michigan?!
THAT was special.

Sebastian said...

Y'all realize this list is an exercise in white supremacy, don't you? Like Toni Morrison is the only colored writer in the United States?

readering said...

As famous as Gatsby is I'd give the NY nod to Catcher in the Rye.

California? Mark of Zorro over East of Eden.

Ann Althouse said...

"I can think of On the Road as a contender."

I thought of "On the Road" too, but that doesn't go to every state. Here are maps showing the route.

Big Mike said...

Correction: Paterson lived in the nearby Peoples Republic of Takoma Park at the time.

Kep Hartman said...

North Carolina -- A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks. (Really?!) Basing books on sales figures is at least an objective measure. But in terms of influence and impact, othewrs would have to be considered. Especially WRT comparing contemporary books with older books.

Four other books set in NC that ought to be considered:
"Camping and Woodcraft" by (1917) Horace Kephart---Still published in reprints.

"Look Homeward Angel" (1929) by Thomas Wolfe---mentioned by several other commenters

"Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" (1964) by Radford, Ahles, and Bell---hugely influential for Southern gardeners and conservationists

"Cold Mountain" (1997) by Charles Frazier---about which the epic movie was made.

Joe said...

I agree with Henry about "The Great Brain", by John D. Fitzgerald, for Utah; marvelous book.

Joe said...

How about a similar list, but with the caveat that the books don't take place in the stereotypical location of the state (i.e. New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, etc.)

Bad Lieutenant said...

LOVED The Great Brain!

Unknown said...

Virginia -- Confessions of Nat Turner

William Chadwick said...

For Texas I would suggest "The Gates of the Alamo," by Stephen Harrigan.

Unknown said...

How about The Scarlet Letter for Massachusetts. And I'd give The Firm the nod over The Client for Tennessee-- both by Grisham.