Sunday, February 16, 2020

50 US States Challenge: update

Off and on, since October 2013, I have been working on a challenge to read books set in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. In July 2016, I wrote a post specifying which books I had read (and reviewed). At the time I had covered 17 states. Since then I have only added books for 6 more states. For this update, I also added some books for states I had read (and blogged about) in 2012 and 2013.

As I reviewed my books read on the blog, I found the same as before. The great majority of books are set in the UK. I also read a good number of books set in Canada. Plus a lot of European countries, some Asian countries,and some Central and South American countries. And even when I read books set in the US, a large number are set in California or New York or Texas.

Below is the list of states and the books I have read so far.

ALABAMA:  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

ALASKA: White Sky, Black Ice by Stan Jones



CALIFORNIA: Jasmine Trade by Denise Hamilton




DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Cast a Yellow Shadow by Ross Thomas

FLORIDA: Don’t Lose Her by Jonathan King


HAWAII:  The House Without a Key by Earl Derr Biggers


ILLINOIS:  Sleeping Dogs by Ed Gorman


IOWA:   Eleven Days by Donald Harstad

KANSAS:  The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips

KENTUCKY:   Beyond a Reasonable Doubt by C. W. Grafton

LOUISIANA:   The Indigo Necklace by Frances Crane



MASSACHUSETTS:   The Hanging Judge by Michael Ponsor

MICHIGAN:   Motor City Blue by Loren D. Estelman

MINNESOTA:  Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger

MISSISSIPPI:   The Last Clinic by Gary Cusick




NEVADA:  The Case of the Rolling Bones by Erle Stanley Gardner
Also:   Diamonds are Forever by Ian Fleming


NEW JERSEY:  Black-Headed Pins by Constance and Gwyneth Little

NEW MEXICO: Ride the Pink Horse by Dorothy B. Hughes
Also: Wall of Glass by Walter Satterthwait
         Heartshot by Steven F. Havill

NEW YORK: Death of a Butterfly by Margaret Maron

NORTH CAROLINA: Time’s Witness by Michael Malone

NORTH DAKOTA: See Also Murder by Larry D. Sweazy


OKLAHOMA: A Killing in Quail County by Jameson Cole


PENNSYLVANIA:  Concrete Angel by Patricia Abbott


SOUTH CAROLINA:   In the Heat of the Night by John Ball



TEXAS:   Too Late to Die by Bill Crider


VERMONT:  Open Season by Archer Mayor





WYOMING:  The Mountain Cat Murders by Rex Stout


I initially decided to stick with crime fiction novels that are set in the state. If I have trouble getting all the states, I may eventually start adding novels from outside the crime fiction genre.

I am now also adding more than one book for a state if the books are good examples of the setting.

I decided to include To Kill a Mockingbird for Alabama. It is definitely a good read for Alabama, and there are those who consider it to be crime fiction.


Cath said...

I've bookmarked this post so that I can check from time to time when I'm stuck on a state. I haven't compared them precisely but suspect you have states that I don't. I started a book for Virginia but am not really enjoying it so have put it to one side and will look for something else or go back to it. Win some, lose some.

TracyK said...

Cath, I am running into similar problems. I was checking for series for Arkansas and I found I had read a few years ago but wasn't thrilled with them or don't want to reread them. And nothing else I could find appealed. But over time I hope something will show up. Or I will add True Grit for Arkansas as you have, because it is related to a crime. I may have to give up on everything being related to crime fiction. I will keep checking your list too.

Judith said...

Hi Tracy,
I can see how finding crime novels for some states might be tricky. Connecticut, for example. My mind draws an absolute blank. But I think there's quite a number of possibilities for Maine, absolutely. You may already have some in mind.
One idea for tricky states: Bookstores tend to stock mysteries by local authors. If you get hard up, you could go online there and even phone them. I'm thinking of New Hampshire. A number of good bookstores, especially the one in Hanover, New Hampshire, which is where one of the Ivies (Dartmouth College) is located. Very popular, partly because it is a touristy town, just south of the White Mountains.

TracyK said...

That is a great idea to get in touch with local bookstores, Judith. I think I had a series in mind for New Hampshire, but even so would not mind finding out about more books set there.

Margot Kinberg said...

I always think it's interesting how our tastes/habits/whatever lead us to read books set in certain places, Tracy. I do the same thing. That's one of the good things about challenges like this: they encourage the reader to 'stretch.' You've covered a range of different states, and I look forward to where you go next with this.

Katrina said...

This is a great idea for a challenge although I can imagine it's going to be very difficult to find books for some of the states. I intend to do a reading Europe challenge - just on my own, but that should be a lot easier.

TracyK said...

Margot, that is so true. I have a few series that I have put off reading that fit some of the states I am missing, so I will be trying those for the first time.

TracyK said...

Katrina, I do expect to have some states that are hard to cover for this challenge. But if you plan to try to cover all the European countries, that could take some effort too.

Rick Robinson said...

I suggest:
Arizona: Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman
Washington: Old Bones by Aaron Elkins, Decoys by Richard Hoyt
Oregon: one of the Conan Flagg mysteries by M.K. Wren

TracyK said...

Rick, Thanks for the suggestions.

I don't know why the Tony Hillerman books did not occur to me. I did read Dance Hall of the Dead in July last year but I never reviewed it. I may have enough notes to write a late review on that.

The Richard Hoyt series sounds good, I had not heard of that. Same for the M.K. Wren series. I will have to look for the first one in that series.

col2910 said...

Ha, thanks for the reminder Tracy. I don't think I've updated my 50 States challenge in over 5 years. I must make an effort to tick them off as I go through this year.

TracyK said...

Col, I bet you have read a lot of books for different states in the last 5 years. You read more fiction set in the US than I do. Although, a lot of them are probably set in New York or California or Texas, like mine.

Bill Selnes said...

Tracy K: I am not part of the Challenge. I did go through my memory looking at the list of states and think I hae read crime fiction, including legal mysteries, set in 25 different states. Good luck on adding to your "states".

TracyK said...

Bill, I am envious that your memory is good enough to recall those books. My memory used to be so sharp, but it is not anymore. I have recently found at least 6 books on my TBR shelves that can fill in some of the states, and I am going to be focusing more on reading in the US in the future.

Clothes in Books said...

I'm trying to think if I can remember any books/series set in the states with blanks! If I come up with anything I will tell you. I did live in Washington State, and used to read local novels if I could, and I have also read a number of books set in Utah - another of my favourite places.

TracyK said...

Moira, I would appreciate any suggestions you have. Especially Utah. That one really eludes me.

deadhead76 said...

I would suggest James Mitchner's Chesapeake for your Maryland book!

TracyK said...

deadhead, that is a great idea. The only drawback is the length but if I can actually track down a copy, I may give it a try anyway.