Sacramento Public Library

Inspired by Literary Hub: A Book for Every State

    (Alabama) South to a Very Old Place

    (Alabama) South to a Very Old Place - Albert Murray

    The highly acclaimed novelist and biographer Albert Murray tells his classic memoir of growing up in Alabama during the 1920s and 1930s in South to a Very Old Place. Intermingling remembrances of youth with engaging conversation, African-American folklore, and astute cultural criticism, it is at once an intimate personal journey and an incisive social history.
    (Alaska) The Snow Child

    (Alaska) The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

    A childless couple working a farm in the brutal landscape of 1920 Alaska discover a little girl living in the wilderness, with a red fox as a companion, and begin to love the strange, almost-supernatural child as their own. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.
    (Arizona) Animal Dreams

    (Arizona) Animal Dreams - Barbara Kingsolver

    Hallie Nodine fights for justice in Nicaragua while her sister, Codi, returns to Arizona to confront her dying father, as myths, dreams, and flashbacks blend to examine life's commitments.
    (Arkansas) Mourner's Bench

    (Arkansas) Mourner's Bench - Sanderia Faye

    At the First Baptist Church of Maeby, Arkansas, the sins of the child belonged to the parents until the child turned thirteen. Sarah Jones was only eight years old in the summer of 1964, but with her mother Esther Mae on eight prayer lists and flipping around town with the generally mistrusted civil rights organizers, Sarah believed it was time to get baptized and take responsibility for her own sins. That would mean sitting on the mourner’s bench come revival, waiting for her sign, and then testifying in front of the whole church. With characters as vibrant and evocative as their setting, Mourner’s Bench is the story of a young girl coming to terms with religion, racism, and feminism while also navigating the terrain of early adolescence and trying to settle into her place in her family and community.
    (California) Slouching Towards Bethlehem

    (California) Slouching Towards Bethlehem - Joan Didion

    More than perhaps any other book, this collection by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era captures the unique time and place of Joan Didion’s focus, exploring subjects such as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up in California and the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture.
    (Colorado) Plainsong

    (Colorado) Plainsong - Kent Haruf

    In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl - her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house - is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known.
    From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together - their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant.
    (Connecticut) The Children

    (Connecticut) The Children - Ann Leary

    A wealthy but unconventional New England family of four stepsiblings struggles to come to terms with their legacy and the myths they have built their lives upon during a lavish family wedding that exposes long-standing resentments and unfortunate truths.
    (Delaware) The Book of Unknown Americans

    (Delaware) The Book of Unknown Americans - Cristina Henriquez

    Moving from Mexico to the United States when their daughter suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras confront cultural barriers, their daughter's difficult recovery, and her developing relationship with a Panamanian boy.
    (Florida) Sunshine State: Essays

    (Florida) Sunshine State: Essays - Sarah Gerard

    Sarah Gerard follows her breakout novel, Binary Star, with the dynamic essay collection Sunshine State, which explores Florida as a microcosm of the most pressing economic and environmental perils haunting our society.

    (Georgia) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

    (Georgia) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers

    At its center is the deaf-mute John Singer, who becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s. Each one yearns for escape from small town life. When Singer's mute companion goes insane, Singer moves into the Kelly house, where Mick Kelly, the book's heroine (and loosely based on McCullers), finds solace in her music. Wonderfully attuned to the spiritual isolation that underlies the human condition, and with a deft sense for racial tensions in the South, McCullers spins a haunting, unforgettable story that gives voice to the rejected, the forgotten, and the mistreated—and, through Mick Kelly, gives voice to the quiet, intensely personal search for beauty.
    (Hawaii) Light Years: A Girlhood in Hawaii

    (Hawaii) Light Years: A Girlhood in Hawaii - Susanna Moore

    A memoir by the author of In the Cut and The Big Girls describes growing up in the tropical paradise of Hawai'i, interweaving her memories of childhood and adolescence with excerpts from some of her favorites pieces of literature, including Moby Dick, Robinson Crusoe, and Treasure Island, among others.
    (Idaho) Idaho

    (Idaho) Idaho - Emily Ruskovitch

    Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho, where they are bound together by more than love. With her husband’s memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade’s first wife, Jenny, and to their daughters. In a story written in exquisite prose and told from multiple perspectives—including Ann, Wade, and Jenny, now in prison—we gradually learn of the mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny's lives, of the love and compassion that brought Ann and Wade together, and of the memories that reverberate through the lives of every character in Idaho.
    (Illinois) Negroland: A Memoir

    (Illinois) Negroland: A Memoir - Margo Jefferson

    A highly personal meditation on race, sex, and American culture traces the author's upbringing and education in upper-class African-American circles against a backdrop of the Civil Rights era and its contradictory aftermath.
    (Indiana) Tornado Weather

    (Indiana) Tornado Weather - Deborah E. Kennedy

    When a disabled five-year-old goes missing while wheeling herself the short distance between her school bus and home, small-town secrets and suspicions collide as the pieces of what is known are put together.
    (Iowa) Gilead

    (Iowa) Gilead - Marilynne Robinson

    As the Reverend John Ames approaches the hour of his own death, he writes a letter to his son chronicling three previous generations of his family, a story that stretches back to the Civil War and reveals uncomfortable family secrets.
    (Kansas) In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences

    (Kansas) In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences - Truman Capote

    Presents Capote's masterful account of the senseless 1959 murders of four members of a farm family in Holcomb, Kansas, and the search for the killers, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith.
    (Kentucky) The Sport of Kings

    (Kentucky) The Sport of Kings - C.E. Morgan

    The trailblazing patriarch of a proud Kentucky clan, his daughter and a black ex-prisoner embark on an effort to reclaim the family's near-mythic legacy by breeding champion horses, an endeavor that is challenged by divided ambitions, the farm's ugly past and a willful thoroughbred filly.
    (Louisiana) The World That Made New Orleans

    (Louisiana) The World That Made New Orleans - Ned Sublette

    Tells the story of one of America's most complex cities, with an emphasis on New Orleans's musical heritage and its first century filled with war, religious conflicts, slavery, and its struggles with France, Spain, and England.
    (Maine) Olive Kitteridge

    (Maine) Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout

    The world of Olive Kitteridge, a retired school teacher in a small coastal town in Maine, is revealed in stories that explore her diverse roles in many lives, including a lounge singer haunted by a past love, her stoic husband, and her own resentful son.
    (Maryland) Searching For Caleb

    (Maryland) Searching For Caleb - Anne Tyler

    The lives and secrets of four generations of the Peck family of Roland Park intertwine as forty-year-old fortune teller Justine accompanies her deaf, ex-judge grandfather in search of his maverick half-brother Caleb, who vanished in the spring of 1912.
    (Massachusetts) The Stories of John Cheever

    (Massachusetts) The Stories of John Cheever - John Cheever

    Here are sixty-one stories that chronicle the lives of what has been called "the greatest generation." From the early wonder and disillusionment of city life in "The Enormous Radio" to the surprising discoveries and common mysteries of suburbia in "The Housebreaker of Shady Hill" and "The Swimmer," Cheever tells us everything we need to know about "the pain and sweetness of life."
    (Michigan) The Turner House

    (Michigan) The Turner House - Angela Flournoy

    A novel centered on the journey of the Turner family and its thirteen siblings, particularly the eldest and youngest, as they face the ghosts of their pasts—both an actual haint and the specter of addiction—the imminent loss of their mother, and the necessary abandonment of their family home in struggling Detroit.
    (Minnesota) Kitchens of the Great Midwest

    (Minnesota) Kitchens of the Great Midwest - J. Ryan Stradal

    Raised with a sophisticated palate by her single father, Eva learns the culturally rich stories behind a series of Midwestern dishes while becoming the star chef at a legendary restaurant.
    (Mississippi) Sing, Unburied, Sing

    (Mississippi) Sing, Unburied, Sing - Jesymn Ward

    Living with his grandparents and toddler sister on a Gulf Coast farm, Jojo navigates the challenges of his tormented mother's addictions and his grandmother's terminal cancer before the release of his father from prison prompts a road trip of danger and hope.
    (Missouri) Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker

    (Missouri) Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker - Stanley Crouch

    The first of two volumes tracing the life of one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century draws on interviews with family, peers, and collaborators to reveal Charlie Parker's Depression-era childhood and his early career in Kansas City and New York.
    (Montana) Fools Crow

    (Montana) Fools Crow - James Welch

    In the Two Medicine Territory of Montana, the Lone Eaters, a small band of Blackfeet Indians, are living their immemorial life. The men hunt and mount the occasional horse-taking raid or war party against the enemy Crow. The women tan the hides, sew the beadwork, and raise the children. But the year is 1870, and the whites are moving into their land. Fools Crow, a young warrior and medicine man, has seen the future and knows that the newcomers will punish resistance with swift retribution. First published to broad acclaim in 1986, Fools Crow is James Welch's stunningly evocative portrait of his people's bygone way of life.
    (Nebraska) My Antonia

    (Nebraska) My Antonia - Willa Cather

    The reminiscences of a New York lawyer, Jim Burden, about his boyhood in Nebraska, particularly a young Bohemian girl named Antonia Shimerda, are set against the backdrop of the American assimilation immigrants.
    (Nevada) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

    (Nevada) Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream - Hunter S. Thompson

    First published in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is Hunter S. Thompson's savagely comic account of what happened to this country in the 1960s. It is told through the writer's account of an assignment he undertook with his attorney to visit Las Vegas and "check it out." The book stands as the final word on the highs and lows of that decade, one of the defining works of our time, and a stylistic and journalistic tour de force.
    (New Hampshire) A Prayer for Owen Meany

    (New Hampshire) A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving

    In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys—best friends—are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul ball is extraordinary.
    (New Jersey) 4 3 2 1

    (New Jersey) 4 3 2 1 - Paul Auster

    A single child born in 1947 experiences four parallel lifetimes poignantly marked by shifting family fortunes, athletic pursuits, friendships, sex, intellectual passions, and the same intriguing woman.
    (New Mexico) The Milagro Beanfield War

    (New Mexico) The Milagro Beanfield War - John Nichols

    Joe Mondragon, a feisty hustler with a talent for trouble, slammed his battered pickup to a stop, tugged on his gumboots, and marched into the arid patch of ground. Carefully (and also illegally), he tapped into the main irrigation channel. And so began-though few knew it at the time-the Milagro beanfield war.
    (New York) Just Kids

    (New York) Just Kids - Patti Smith

    In this memoir, singer-songwriter Patti Smith shares tales of New York City : the denizens of Max's Kansas City, the Hotel Chelsea, Scribner's, Brentano's and Strand bookstores and her new life in Brooklyn with a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe--the man who changed her life with his love, friendship, and genius.
    (North Carolina) Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay: Reflections on Art, Family, and Survival

    (North Carolina) Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay: Reflections on Art, Family, and Survival - Christopher Benfey

    A history of American art from the colonial period to the twentieth century draws on the author's family story as the descendant of colonial craftsmen through his mother's line, and as the son and nephew of exiled artists from Berlins' Bauhaus school.
    (North Dakota) Love Medicine

    (North Dakota) Love Medicine - Louise Erdrich

    The lives and destinies of the Kashpaws and the Lamartines intertwine on and around a North Dakota Indian reservation from 1934 to 1984, in an authentic tale of survival, tenacity, tradition, injustice, and love.
    (Ohio) Everything I Never Told You

    (Ohio) Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng

    A story of the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family explores the fallout of the drowning death of Lydia Lee, the favorite daughter of a Chinese-American family in 1970s Ohio.
    (Oklahoma) The Grapes of Wrath

    (Oklahoma) The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

    Depicts the hardships and suffering endured by the Joads as they journey from Oklahoma to California during the Depression.
    (Oregon) My Abandonment

    (Oregon) My Abandonment - Peter Rock

    Living with her father in an enormous nature preserve in Portland, Oregon, thirteen-year-old Caroline only merges with the civilized world once a week, when they venture into the city to buy groceries and attend church, but an encounter with a backcountry jogger derails their entire existence.
    (Pennsylvania) 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas

    (Pennsylvania) 2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas - Marie-Helene Bertino

    A first novel by a Pushcart Prize-winning writer traces the unlikely bond between a precocious 9-year-old jazz singer, a divorcée teacher who would reunite with her high-school sweetheart and a club owner facing the imminent loss of his Philadelphia business.
    (Rhode Island) A Hundred Summers

    (Rhode Island) A Hundred Summers - Beatriz Williams

    Returning to an idyllic Rhode Island oceanfront community for the summer of 1938, New York socialite Lily Dane is devastated by the appearances of her newly married ex-fiancé and former best friend, who reintroduce her to an alluring acquaintance from her college years at the same time she realizes that her ties to her ex remain impossible to ignore.
    (South Carolina) Bastard Out of Carolina

    (South Carolina) Bastard Out of Carolina - Dorothy Allison

    Ruth Anne "Bone" Boatwright, an illegitimate young girl, dreams of escaping her Greenville County, South Carolina, home, her notorious, hard-living family, and the unwanted attentions of her abusive stepfather, Daddy Glen.
    (South Dakota) Shadowbahn

    (South Dakota) Shadowbahn - Steve Erickson

    The Twin Towers reappear in the Badlands of South Dakota twenty years after their fall, and Parker and Zema along with thousands of others are drawn to the "American Stonehenge."
    (Tennessee) The Lost Saints of Tennessee

    (Tennessee) The Lost Saints of Tennessee - Amy Franklin-Willis

    After losing his twin to a drowning accident and his wife to divorce, Zeke Cooper leaves his mother and two daughters behind in Tennessee and travels to Virginia horse country, where he considers his responsibility to repair his fractured family.
    (Texas) Woman Hollering Creek, and Other Stories

    (Texas) Woman Hollering Creek, and Other Stories - Sandra Cisneros

    The author of The House on Mango Street gives voice to characters on both sides of the Mexican border, from a young girl harboring special secrets to a witch woman circling above her village.
    (Utah) Mormon Country

    (Utah) Mormon Country - Wallace Stegner

    Where others saw only sage, a salt lake, and a great desert, the Mormons saw their “lovely Deseret,” a land of lilacs, honeycombs, poplars, and fruit trees. Unwelcome in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois, they migrated to the dry lands between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada to establish Mormon country, a wasteland made green. The story of Mormon country is one of self-sacrifice and labor spent in the search for an ideal in the most forbidding territory of the American West.
    (Vermont) The Secret History

    (Vermont) The Secret History - Donna Tartt

    Richard Papen, a relatively impoverished student at a New England college, falls in with an exclusive clique of rich, worldly Greek scholars and soon learns the dreadful secret that keeps them together.
    (Virginia) Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

    (Virginia) Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs - Sally Mann

    A renowned photographer tells her family's history in photos and words, after sorting through a box of old papers that revealed scandals, alcohol and domestic abuse, affairs, family land ownership, large amounts of money earned and lost and racial complications
    (Washington) You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir

    (Washington) You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir - Sherman Alexie

    The National Book Award-winning author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian presents a literary memoir of poems, essays and intimate family photos that reflect his complicated feelings about his disadvantaged childhood on a Native American reservation with his siblings and alcoholic parents.
    (West Virginia) John Henry Days

    (West Virginia) John Henry Days - Colson Whitehead

    On assignment for a travel Web site, J. Sutter, a young African-American freelance journalist, heads for West Virginia to cover the "John Henry Days" festival in honor of the new U.S. postage stamp honoring John Henry and discovers the real-life story of John Henry and its relevance to his own life and times.
    (Wisconsin) Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography

    (Wisconsin) Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography - Laura Ingalls Wilder

    Presents Laura Ingalls Wilder's unedited, and unpublished, draft of her autobiography that was written for an adult audience and eventually served as the foundation for her popular Little House on the Prairie series.
    (Wyoming) Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas

    (Wyoming) Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas - Mari Sandoz

    Crazy Horse, the legendary military leader of the Oglala Sioux whose personal power and social nonconformity contributed to his reputation as being “strange,” fought in many famous battles, including the Little Bighorn, and held out tirelessly against the U.S. government’s efforts to confine the Lakotas to reservations. Finally, in the spring of 1877 he surrendered, only to meet a violent death. More than a century later Crazy Horse continues to hold a special place in the hearts and minds of his people. Mari Sandoz offers a powerful evocation of the long-ago world and enduring spirit of Crazy Horse.
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