May 17, 2021 | AmyJo
Books Set in North America
Many people are excited to think about future trips this year. You can also travel the world while sitting in your favorite comfy chair by choosing books from this list. Enjoy your adventure!
Tochtli lives in a palace. He loves hats, samurai, guillotines, and dictionaries, and what he wants more than anything right now is a new pet for his private zoo: a pygmy hippopotamus from Liberia. But Tochtli is a child whose father is a drug baron on the verge of taking over a powerful cartel, and Tochtli is growing up in a luxury hideout that he shares with hit men, prostitutes, dealers, servants, and the odd corrupt politician or two. Long-listed for The Guardian First Book Award, Down the Rabbit Hole, a masterful and darkly comic first novel, is the chronicle of a delirious journey to grant a child's wish.
The long-awaited novel from this prize- winning author: an epic mystical drama of a young woman's sudden sainthood in late-19th century Mexico. It is 1889 and civil war is brewing in Mexico. A 16 year old girl, Teresita, illegitimate but beloved daughter of the wealthy and powerful rancher Don Tomas Urrea, wakes from the strangest dream. This passionate and rebellious young woman has arisen from death with a power to heal - but it will take all her faith to endure the trials that await her now that she has become the 'Saint of Cabora.'
Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit. The classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef. She shares special points of her favorite preparations with listeners throughout the story.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team are called to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods on Thanksgiving morning. The locals are certain it's a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season.
E. Annie Proulx focuses on a Newfoundland fishing town in a tale about a third-rate newspaperman and the women in his life-- his elderly aunt and two young daughters-- who decide to resettle in their ancestral seaside home. The transformation each of the character undergoes following move is profound. A vigorous, darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary American family, The Shipping News enlightens readers to the powers of E. Annie Proulx's storytelling genius and her expert evocation of time and place.
Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. Known affectionately as the AT, it offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes. But for Bryson it also offered an opportunity for humor and irony as he learned the trail's hard lessons about self-reliance. He persuaded his friend Stephen Katz to join him for weeks and months on the trail.
Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.
A rich historical novel, set in the slave-owning period in the US. Liz, a young runaway with odd dreams, accidentally inspires a breakout from the prison of a notorious slaver, Patty Cannon. As Cannon stalks revenge, Liz flees into the nefarious world of the underground railroad with its unspoken clues to freedom known as The Code'. Denwood Long, a troubled slave catcher, is coaxed out of retirement to break 'The Code' and track Liz down. A story of tragic triumph, violent decisions and unexpected kindness.'
Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee. When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.
James Goodenough, whose family had originally settled in Connecticut from England brings his family to Ohio to carve out a new life for them in the Black Swamp in 1838. As swamp fever gradually picks off their children and they wrestle daily with survival. This course will see their family engulfed in tragedy and fifteen years later we pick up with their youngest son, Robert who has been running west since the trying to escape his memories of what happened, taking solace in a very different kind of tree-- the redwoods and sequoias of California. But Robert's past catches up with him and he's forced to confront what he's running from and work out for himself that you can't run for ever.
Presents a true account of the early twentieth-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.
All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood. Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.
The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice, in this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic that has been translated into more than 40 languages.
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. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition.
We all came to the powwow for different reasons. The messy, dangling threads of our lives got pulled into a braid-- tied to the back of everything we'd been doing all along to get us here. There will be death and playing dead, there will be screams and unbearable silences, forever-silences, and a kind of time-travel, at the moment the gunshots start, when we look around and see ourselves as we are, in our regalia, and something in our blood will recoil then boil hot enough to burn through time and place and memory. We'll go back to where we came from, when we were people running from bullets at the end of that old world. The tragedy of it all will be unspeakable, that we've been fighting for decades to be recognized as a present-tense people, modern and relevant, only to die in the grass wearing feathers.
When Taylor Greer hits the road she has no real destination, only to get as far from Kentucky as possible. By the time she ends up in Arizona, she has inherited a three-year-old Cherokee girl from an Indian woman she met in a bar.
Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
When Bee aces her report card she claims her reward, which is a trip to Antarctica, but her mother, Bernadette, disappears due to her intensifying allergy to Seattle and people in general, which has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands and Bee uses emails, invoices, school memos, private correspondence, and other evidence to try and understand why her mother has left.
Alaska, 1974. Ernt Allbright came home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes the impulsive decision to move his wife and daughter north where they will live off the grid in America's last true frontier.
Cora will do anything for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. Thirteen-year-old Leni, caught in the riptide of her parents' passionate, stormy relationship, has little choice but to go along, daring to hope this new land promises her family a better future.
In a wild, remote corner of Alaska, the Allbrights find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the newcomers' lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
But as winter approaches and darkness descends, Ernt's fragile mental state deteriorates. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own.
Young Rachel Kalama, growing up in idyllic Honolulu in the 1890s, is part of a big, loving Hawaiian family, and dreams of seeing the far-off lands that her father, a merchant seaman, often visits. But at the age of seven, Rachel and her dreams are shattered by the discovery that she has leprosy. Forcibly removed from her family, she is sent to Kalaupapa, the isolated leper colony on the island of Moloka'i.
In her exile she finds a family of friends to replace the family she's lost: a native healer, Haleola, who becomes her adopted "auntie" and makes Rachel aware of the rich culture and mythology of her people; Sister Mary Catherine Voorhies, one of the Franciscan sisters who care for young girls at Kalaupapa; and the beautiful, worldly Leilani, who harbors a surprising secret. At Kalaupapa she also meets the man she will one day marry.
True to historical accounts, "Moloka'i" is the story of an extraordinary human drama, the full scope and pathos of which has never been told before in fiction. But Rachel's life, though shadowed by disease, isolation, and tragedy, is also one of joy, courage, and dignity. This is a story about life, not death; hope, not despair. It is not about the failings of flesh, but the strength of the human spirit.