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Books That Take Me To…North America

July 14, 2018

OK, I live in North America, so I get here a lot. But North America is a big, diverse place. Below is just a sampling of books that make me want to visit (or revisit) parts of this continent that have been brought to life by books I’ve read.

This is not a list of travel books. Instead, I’m looking back on my reading list over the past eight or nine years to recall books I’ve read that bring the North American continent and people to life in a way that makes me want to visit. I hope you enjoy this North America-themed reading list and are inspired to try a few of these books out!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

 

Book Formats

I am including three different formats for each book:

Kindle e-books

I love reading my Kindle on vacation. At home I often find my attention span too short for digging into a book, so the Kindle is my go-to vacation book source. (See my link for the Kindle Unlimited free trial membership at the bottom of my post, if you are interested.)

Audible Audiobooks

If you haven’t caught on to the audiobook craze yet, I encourage you to hop on board! I have been a serious audiobook listener since 2010. Since then I’ve read over 600 audiobooks. Now that I have noise-canceling headphones, I can listen on the plane with an immersive experience, rather than trying to hear it over the hum of the engine and the screams of the children. A few things about audiobooks:

  • You can use your smartphone, MP3 player, tablet or laptop as your listening device (though I highly recommend one of the first two more portable methods).
  • The best part about audiobooks is that you can listen while doing other things, like driving, walking, or doing chores.
  • AND, since Audible is owned by Amazon, they have an awesome Whispersync option for many of their books, so if you want to pick up where you left off on your e-book, your audiobook will sync with the Kindle e-book. I have found this a great option for longer books that I’d probably never finish on e-book alone.

Paperbacks

This is the old school book, made with paper pages and a cover. I have included paperbacks, as they’re lighter and more economical.

 

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Books that Make Me Want to Go To North America

I unfortunately don’t have any good recommendations yet for Mexico. Feel free to send any my way!

Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery (Prince Edward Island, Canada)

I will confess not having read this book as a child, and reading it pretty quickly as an adult. The story itself didn’t grab me nearly as much as the idyllic descriptions of Prince Edward Island in Canada, both the landscape and the culture.

Kindle e-book (FREE!)

Audible audiobook

Paperback

 

The Shipping News, E. Annie Proulx (Newfoundland)

This book won a Pulitzer Prize. Proulx has a distinctive writing style that I can only describe as “staccato.” But it’s a fantastic description of the narrator’s journey to Newfoundland with his daughters.

Kindle e-book

Audible audiobook

Paperback

 

 

Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides (Detroit)

This book may have some of the most poignant descriptions of a city that I’ve ever read. Descriptions that only a native son like Eugenides can capture. Obviously this books is about a lot more than Detroit, but the descriptions of the city are vivid and beautiful.

Kindle e-book

Audible audiobook

Paperback

 

East of Eden, John Steinbeck (California)

This  is one of my all-time favorite books. Happy feel-good? Definitely not. But his writing is second to none, in my opinion. And that includes his luscious descriptions of California. I could have included The Grapes of Wrath or Cannery Row here as well. Enjoy! 

Kindle e-book

Audible audiobook

Paperback

 

Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner (western US)

Another one of my all-time favorite books, from one of my all-time favorite authors. There were several books of his I could have chosen for their descriptions, but Stegner’s descriptions of the main character’s grandparents and their journeys across primitive western states was fascinating.

Kindle e-book

Audible audiobook

Paperback

 

English Creek, Ivan Doig (Montana)

This is actually one of a trilogy of books. It was written first, but chronologically it takes place after the 2nd book. Set in Montana in the 1930’s, you get a clear image of the culture and landscape of Montana ranchers. If you like Doig’s fiction, read his fantastic memoir, This House of Sky.

Kindle e-book

Audible audiobook

Paperback

 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt (Savannah)

This is a non-fiction book, though some doubt its authenticity. It absolutely reads like a novel full of colorful characters from a charming, isolated Georgia city. This book brings to life more about the culture than the attractions of the city, but it is a delightful ride.

Kindle e-book

Audible audiobook

Paperback

 

The final two books are a nod to my my lifelong home…Minnesota.

Ordinary Grace, William Kent Krueger (Minnesota)

Krueger mostly writes a series of mysteries based in northern Minnesota that weave in a lot of American Indian culture. This book is a departure for him, focusing on a fictional town in southern Minnesota in the early 1960’s where a series of tragedies have occurred. His writing and his descriptions of the area were well crafted.

Kindle e-book

Audible audiobook

Paperback

 

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

This book focuses more energy on its spot-on descriptions of the Twin Cities. This story of a young foodie’s upbringing and development capture the reality of many of the Twin Cities’ young adults, especially those heavy into the foodie scene.

Kindle e-book

Audible audiobook

Paperback

 

 

 

Kindle Unlimited

For a monthly fee you can get access to an unlimited amount of participating Kindle e-books (over 1 million to choose from), audiobooks, and magazines via any device with the Kindle app. You can sign up here for a free trial.

 

32 Comments

  • Reply
    A Joyful Chaos
    July 16, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    The only book on your list that I have read is Anne of Green Gables. I absolutely loved the entire series. Each book seemed to get better than the previous one. I still want to visit Prince Edward Island someday … because of the series.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 16, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      Yes, PEI sounds amazing! The books do a good job of pulling you into the beauty and culture there. 🙂

  • Reply
    Marcie
    July 16, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    The Anne of Green Gables series has had me yearning to explore Prince Edward Island since I was a little girl! I recently listened to most of the series on audiobook and fell in love with them all over again!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 16, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      Right?! PEI sounds amazing! So idyllic…

  • Reply
    Luci
    July 16, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    I’m going to have to read Anne of Green Gables and The Shipping News. Me traveling throughout Canada is on my bucket list.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 17, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      Enjoy Canada! I haven’t seen enough of it. Those books will inspire you!

  • Reply
    Followingtherivera
    July 17, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    I’m embarrassed to say I’ve only heard of one of these books, how bad! I’m a real book nerd, so will be checking out a few of these. I’d like to read Middlesex, it sounds like something I’d enjoy.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 17, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      Middlesex is a fantastic book. Enjoy!

  • Reply
    Priya Florence Shah
    July 17, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    I love Steinbeck’s storytelling, but I would definitely put PEI on the bucket list so I can go whale watching.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 17, 2018 at 9:16 pm

      It’s hard to beat Steinbeck. Whale watching would be amazing!

  • Reply
    amy
    July 17, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    Interesting! I’m going to have to check some of these out for me! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 18, 2018 at 7:11 am

      I’ll be curious what you think of them. 🙂

  • Reply
    Medha Verma
    July 18, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Audio books? Wow, I feel so outdated, I have not heard of audiobooks and didn’t know they were a thing. I am embarrassed to confess that I haven’t been reading a lot lately, at least not as much as I would like to. However, sometimes I face issues with keeping my attention on the book while reading so maybe the audio book is a good solution for me. I haven’t read any of these books you’ve listed here, but I guess it would interesting to read books related to North America or those that want to make you travel there!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 18, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      Audiobooks are perfect. You can multitask while listening, and they really bring the story to life. 🙂

  • Reply
    Retha
    July 18, 2018 at 8:14 am

    I’ll be honest, I’ve never read any of these, but will be adding a few to my ever growing book list. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 18, 2018 at 3:08 pm

      Book lists have a way of growing, don’t they?

  • Reply
    Adrenaline Romance
    July 18, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Haha! I don’t need books to encourage me to go to North America. Most of my relatives live in California, and I get really jealous of them when they go on road trips to Oregon, Washington, and other northern states. Another cousin of mine lives in Vancouver, Canada, and the colors of autumn there are amazing!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 18, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      Beautiful places to live and visit!

  • Reply
    Kellee @ LifeAdventurers
    July 18, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    How interesting! So nice to be teleported to another place between the pages of a book. At least it’s cheaper than travelling there 😀

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 18, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      True. 🙂 Though it does inspire me to see the real thing…

  • Reply
    Nives
    July 19, 2018 at 5:59 am

    Lately I’m stuck with reading and I don’t have so much time. But I love to read a lot. Nice recommendations, I’m going to save your post and I need to put them on my list to read 🙂

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 19, 2018 at 6:30 am

      Happy reading!

  • Reply
    Patti
    July 19, 2018 at 10:27 am

    That’s a very interesting list! I got caught by “East of Eden”… Maybe I should start soon? Thanks for the post ?

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 19, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      East of Eden might not be for everyone, but I loved it. Happy reading. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jas
    July 20, 2018 at 1:41 am

    Definitely adding The Shipping News to my reading list! I’m a Canadian gal myself and haven’t really visited much of the east coast yet so it’d be nice to hear about someone else’s journey and experience.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 20, 2018 at 6:31 am

      I hope you get a chance to do so! It sounds beautiful.

  • Reply
    Alexander Popkov
    July 20, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Oh nice. Good to see suggestions for audio format. I am too busy to read books, but listening is exactly what I do.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 20, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Audiobooks are the best! You can listen while driving, walking, doing household chores… I don’t know about you, but I find the quality of narration so good in most cases that I think it actually improves the reading experience.

  • Reply
    Samantha
    July 20, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    I grew up reading the Anne of Green Gables series, not only because I was Canadian but also because I had red hair. Maybe I should re listen on audio books!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 20, 2018 at 2:46 pm

      I think the one I listened to was narrated by Rachel McAdams. I wasn’t sure at first, but it grew on me.

  • Reply
    Jess
    July 23, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Great list! I love ‘traveling’ through reading!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      July 23, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Thanks! Me too. 🙂

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