There's nothing like losing yourself in a good book, so emotionally connected to the characters that you feel like you've left your close friends when you finally turn the last page.
It's even more satisfying when that book is set in a place that's familiar to you, such as your own state. You can identify landmarks and details that might only exist in the imagination of others who haven't visited the locations.
And thankfully there are some pretty popular books set in all 50 states and complied into what is basically a literary map of the United States — and a map as to what to read next.
Alabama: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This novel captures childhood in a small town in Alabama and the crisis of conscience that rocked it.
It’s widely regarded as compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, with heightened focus on the roots of human behavior.
Innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, and many more parallels all come into play.
Alaska: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild follows the story of a young man from a well-to-do family who hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness.
He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.
Arizona: The Host by Stephenie Meyer
This intense story describes a world that has been invaded by an unseen enemy. It takes over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact.
But Wanderer, the invading “soul” who occupies Melanie’s body, finds its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.
Arkansas: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Although Maya Angelou’s classic novel takes place in many cities, it all stems from its beginnings in Arkansas.
It tells the tale of Maya and her brother, Bailey, whose grandmother sends them from their small southern town and forces them to endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.”
California: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
In the year following the sudden death of her husband, Joan Didion uses this memoir to describe her own grieving process.
Didion practically incorporates California as a character of her book, mingling rich details with her overwhelming whirl of emotions.