American History in Books

Last year I set out to read 52 books.  One book for each week of the year.  I was so proud to accomplish my goal! You can see my list of books here.

But now it is time to reveal my theme for 2013!

American History in Books

At first glance this may sound incredibly boring, especially if you are not a history buff. Hear me out though because I am actually really excited about this challenge which will actually be a two year challenge.

For 2013 I plan to read a non-fiction (or select historical fiction) book about each state EAST of the Mississippi! (I’ll read the west in 2014!)

I have already made several selections so far and am open to suggestions for the ones I have yet to choose.  So without further ado, here is my working book list for 2013.

Maine – Shouting Into the Fog:Growing Up on Maine’s Ragged Edge – Thomas Hanna

Vermont – A View from Vermont – Helen Husher

New Hampshire – Our Little Secret: The True Story of a Teenage Killer and the Silence of a Small New England Town – Kevin Flynn and Rebecca Lavoie

Massachusetts– A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials – Ann Rinaldi

Connecticut– Hidden History of Connecticut – Wilson Faude

New York – Up in the Old Hotel – Joseph Mitchell

Michigan – Bath Massacre – Arnie Bernstein

Rhode Island
Pennsylvania – Redfield Farm: A Novel of the Underground Railroad- Judith Redline Coopey
New Jersey
North Carolina
South Carolina
West Virginia


  1. Dana says

    If you have the time for a really special historical novel, try Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. We choose a book to read in the car for each summer vacation. We read Johnny Tremain several years ago while traveling through New England. The novel is set in Boston just prior to and during the American Revolution. Wonderful!

  2. Dana says

    For Illinois, an historical narrative titled Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America by Allen Guelzo might make an interesting choice. Also, you might try Carl Sandburg’s (yes, the poet) Pulitzer Prize winning second volume of Linclon biography titled Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.

  3. Dana says

    For Indiana, you might try an historical novel by Jessamyn West titled The Friendly Persuasion about a farming Quaker family in southern Indiana. The novel is set in the fictional town of “Vernon” Indiana, however there is an actual Mount “Vernon” in southern Indiana. Also, there is a wonderful community not far from Mount Vernon called New Harmony, Indiana. From reading your website/blog, I believe that you would be fascinated with New Harmony. It began as Robert Owens’ “seedbed for Utopia” and has a rich spiritual and artistic heritage over these past 200 years. Try reading New Harmony, Indiana by Connie Weinzapfel, Susan Branigin, and Darrel Bigham. New Harmony has a special place in Indiana history as well as its present.

  4. Dana says

    How could I forget The Magnificent Ambersons? Set in Indianapolis, Indiana it is the second in Booth Tarkington’s Growth trilogy that traces the growth of the United States through the declining fortunes of a single aristocratic family. The other volumes are The Turmoil (first) and The Midlander (third). You might be able to catch Orson Welles’ version of The Magnificent Ambersons on TCM as well. The Magnificent Ambersons was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

  5. Dana says

    For Kentucky, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine by John Fox, Jr. might be a good choice. It’s a particular story of a particular area–Appalachia. Almost anything by Janice Holt Giles is good historical fiction beginning with The Enduring Hills (1950) and The Kentuckians (1953). Mrs. Holt was born in Arkansas and grew up in Oklahoma, moving to Louisville, Kentucky with her daughter in adulthood. The man she married, Henry Giles, was a farmer who also began writing during their marriage.

  6. Dana says

    Ooh, also for Illinois, Bloody Williamson: A Chapter in American Lawlessness by Paul Angle. This book chronicles the reign of terror by a trio of brothers, the Sheltons, who “ran” southern Illinois during the 30s and 40s. Even Al Capone kept his distance–or so the story goes….

  7. Dana says

    I cannot believe how many books your 2014 goal has inspired me to remember and/or pledge to re-read. I’d just like to mention that there is a Steinbeck book titled Travels With Charley that is non-fiction and covers quite a lot of territory. Steinbeck and Charley begin in New York and take a northerly route out to the west coast, then travel back again along a southerly route. This was one of Steinbeck’s last works, set, as I remember it, in the early to mid-sixties…lots of interesting things going on then in this country. One of the most perfect descriptive verbs I ever learned came from that book, MULSED. Look it up. Bet you’ll find lots of opportunities to use it on your farm. :)

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