11 Delightfully Delicious Book-Themed Restaurants

If you’ve ever wanted to try Butterbeer or meet a friend for a Jane Austen–inspired high tea, we recommend checking out these delightfully delicious book themed restaurants. Each place on this list features bookish elements in both design and menu, from dishes named after characters to foods actually described in your favorite books. These dining establishments are perfect for readers who have been tempted by literary cookbooks in the past, but aren’t quite confident enough to make these dishes themselves!

1. The Jane Austen Tea Room in Essendon, Melbourne, Australia

As one of the world’s most beloved authors, it’s no wonder that Jane Austen has an entire restaurant dedicated to her novels. This tea room, situated in Melbourne, Australia, offers an elegant high tea with sandwiches and sweets as well as dishes like “Mrs. Bennet’s Raisin Toast,” named for Elizabeth’s meddling mother in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Just looking to grab dessert? No problem! The menu also offers a nice little selection for Emma fans with “Lady Emma Woodhouse’s Desserts and Treats.” Charming and sophisticated, you’ll feel like you’re having tea with Mr. Darcy!

2. Hogsmeade in Orlando, Florida, USA

This one is a little tricky as you can only get access with a ticket to Universal Studios’s Islands of Adventure, but if you’re headed to the theme park anyway, then Hogsmeade is definitely worth your time! Detailed and elaborate, Universal’s Hogsmeade is designed to look like the village in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. It includes all kinds of treats sure to please the wizard in your life. You can swing by Hog’s Head for a Butterbeer or stop at the Three Broomsticks for a feast. (There’s also a Three Broomsticks at Universal Studios’s Hollywood location.)

3. The Lovecraft Bar in Portland, Oregon, USA

The Lovecraft Bar might be named after famed science fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft, but general horror fans will also get a kick out of this spooky spot! The bar and nightclub embraces the macabre, drawing inspiration from classic books and movies. It’s definitely not a sit-down place, but the bar’s got a great bizarre-o vibe. It also features some fun cocktails like “Los Vampiros” and the “Sleepy Hollow” (named after Washington Irving‘s iconic short story of the same name).

4. Alice in a Labyrinth in Tokyo, Japan

This restaurant, inspired by Lewis Caroll‘s Alice in Wonderland, is perhaps one of the most visually stunning places on our list. The decor is incredibly lush, complete with teacup booths and playing card tables. The hostess is even dressed like the Mad Hatter! While Alice in a Labyrinth does charge an entry fee just for going inside, we think it’s worth it for the decor alone!

5. Wilde Bar & Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, USA

If you’re looking for more of a library feel, we recommend this Irish pub. Not only is the restaurant named after Oscar Wilde, but the layout is also designed to give guests the sense of sitting by the fireplace in a comfortable library. The menus feature select quotes from the maestro himself and there is a portrait of Wilde framed above the fireplace.

6. KonyvBar & Restaurant in Budapest, Hungary

The KonvyBar & Restaurant boasts some lovely bookshelves, but stopping in for a bite does require some planning ahead of time. The menu here is designed around a different book each week. Previous themes include Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireThe Pillars of the Earth, and The Jungle Book. To find out the title of the book currently featured, visit the restaurant’s website.

7. Action Burger in Brooklyn, New York, USA

There’s plenty to do at Brooklyn’s comic book-themed restaurant and bar, where you can eat like a “hero” or a “villain.” Board games are available for visitors to rent, plus the bar has videogames set up near the tables and a number of impressive pinball machines.

8. Gulliver’s Restaurant in Irvine, California, USA

Established in 1970, Gulliver’s Restaurant is set up to feel much older. The interior is styled to mirror 18th-century England, the time period in which Jonathan Swift first published Gulliver’s Travels. The dishes are quintessentially British too, with “Gulliver’s Prime Cut” slow-roasted beef, Yorkshire Pudding, and a scrumptious English trifle complete with berries and Devonshire cream. Cozy and classic, Gulliver’s is definitely one to check out if you’re in the area!

9. Onegin Restaurant in New York, New York, USA

Decorated in the spirit of 19th-century elegance, Onegin is a culinary tribute to Alexander Pushkin. In fact, the name of the restaurant comes from the novel, Eugene Onegin. The Russian cuisine here is served in a setting reminiscent of old St. Petersburg. With such a rich design and decadent menus, Onegin is perhaps the fanciest establishment on our list.

10. The Shire in Killarney, Ireland

The Shire is a cool visit for anyone who loves J.R.R. Tolkein. This Lord of the Ringsinspired pub features live music every Sunday and drinks named after some of Tolkein’s most popular characters. The Shire has a fun Middle Earth vibe — the passageway to the bar area is even a hobbit hole!  If you need a place to stay nearby, you can check into The Sugan Hostel located within the pub.

11. The Westeros in New Dehli, India

Ever since HBO adapted George R.R. Martin‘s Song of Ice and Fire series for the small screen, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t obsessed with Game of Thrones. Finding a Game of Thrones eatery, however, is another matter. Fortunately, there’s The Westeros in New Dehli. The walls are adorned with all kinds of Game of Thrones paraphernalia, including the Iron Throne, and the bar even hosts viewing parties!

By Emily Verona
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4 TIPS ON HOW TO PACK BOOKS FOR VACATION

I’m a mood reader. What this means is that I read whatever my heart desires at that moment. It could mean running to the library to pick up the next book in a series or reading something that’s been sitting on my shelf for years. It’s very whimsical in my mind, but it does have its drawbacks. One in particular is choosing what to read on vacation.

4 Tips on How to Pack Books for VacationI could be going on vacation for two days or two weeks, but every time I do I always tend to overpack my books. Sometimes it looks like I have more books than pairs of underwear! But after years of packing books for every mood I’m in, I’ve finally put together some tips you can use to pack all your favorite reads and still have room for your shoes.

USE THAT CARRY-ON OR PERSONAL ITEM SPACE
Whenever I travel, I always pack both a carry-on and a personal item. My carry-on is usually a duffle if I don’t plan on checking luggage and my personal item is always my backpack. With those two, you’re able to fit more books without having to sacrifice the space in your suitcase. I also like to pack a couple of tote bags in my suitcase in case I buy more books on vacation. It’s happened a few times and the tote bags have been a life saver.

PACK WITH INTENTION
If you’re like me, then your vacations may be a lot more fun-packed adventures than just sitting around the pool all day. I know that I want to spend all afternoon sunning on a beach, but my husband loves to walk and explore a new city. If you and your family love to be out and about all day long, then your time with books may be cut shorter. If that’s the case, pack with intention.

Think about whether or not the books you want to bring are actually going to get read. This is a tough one for any reader because we have all the best intentions when packing those books. But sometimes it just takes a little honesty with the way you like to read. You may see that one book is enough to get you through that slog on the plane, but perhaps you will sit by the pool all day.

KNOW YOUR GENRES
This is probably the most important tip for packing. While you may be into a ton of different genres, know which ones you typically find yourself reading on vacation. For me, I can only read contemporary romance. I’ve tried reading epic fantasies and thrillers, but I’m never fully invested in those stories. However, I think it’s the vibe of contemporary romances that make me feel like my brain is taking a vacation.

But knowing what genres you tend to lean towards while on vacay will help to make the choices on what to pack easier. After all, there’s no bigger guilt than the guilt of bringing a Stephen King novel and not reading it.

INVEST IN AN EREADER
After the many years of traveling I’ve done for work, I invested in a Kindle. A Kindle or ereader is probably the easiest way to keep a library of books on you while you’re on the go. You can also download different apps to your phone with minimal monthly fees to get whatever books you need right to your device.

And if you’re a traveler for work or you go on a ton of fabulous vacations, then this might be the best option for you. The best part is that it may connect with your local library so you can download more books without having to pay extra. So whether I’m in the mood for a little romance or stressed enough to read a thriller, I’ll always have something on me no matter where I am.

By , September 

Libraries are beautiful! Well, these libraries are at least.

Planning your holiday or maybe even spring vacations? Don’t forget to check out the local libraries. You never know what you’ll find.


The 20 most beautiful libraries in the U.S.

Stunning buildings designed for architecture-loving bibliophiles

Geisel Library on the campus of the University of California-San Diego.
 Nagel Photography / Shutterstock

From museums to churches, architecture in U.S. cities ranges from jaw-dropping modernist masterpieces to historic gems hidden on side streets. But an oft-overlooked category of Instagram-worthy architecture is our country’s libraries.

Although the first function of a library is to house books and manuscripts, they also serve as places to study, research, and contemplate. Historic libraries from New York to California feature massive reading halls—many with coffered ceilings, chandeliers, and the warm glow of reading lights.

More modern buildings—like the Seattle Central Library or the Billings Public Library—are not only architectural marvels, but also function as community gathering spaces and technology hubs. Today’s libraries don’t just stop at books; new designs include recording studios, computer labs, and even art exhibition spaces.

In honor of their beauty, and to underscore their continued relevance in an increasingly digital world, we’ve rounded up 20 architecturally significant libraries throughout the United States.

The Seattle Central Library in Seattle, Washington

The Seattle Public Library in downtown Seattle. 
Shutterstock

After a landmark bond measure in 1998 that proposed a $196.4 million makeover of the Seattle Public Library system, the original downtown library was redesigned by Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture in partnership with the Seattle firm of LMN Architects.

The Pritzker Prize-winning architect designed an 11-floor, 362,987-square-foot library that features a diamond-shaped exterior skin of glass and steel. The new Central Library—which opened in 2004—also features a “Books Spiral” that displays the entire nonfiction collection in a continuous run, a towering “living room” that reaches 50 feet in height, and a brightly lit “Red Room” on the 4th floor that uses deep crimson and red lights.

Boston Central Library in Boston, Massachusetts

Bates Hall in the Boston Public Library on July 27, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. 
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock

The crown jewel of the Boston Public Library system, the Central Library is made up of two buildings by Charles Follen McKim and Philip Johnson. The McKim Building in Copley Square was constructed in 1895 and houses a massive reading room—called Bates Hall—that’s full of green lamps and classic wooden tables.

Bates Hall also features a barrel vault and coiffured ceiling, all surrounded by 15 arched and grilled windows. A $50 million restoration of the reading room that began in 1996 recently added new woodwork.

The Fisher Fine Arts Library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Image result for the fisher fine arts libraryDesigned by American architect Frank Furness in 1888, the library at the University of Pennsylvania rejected the popular marble or granite designs of the late nineteenth century in favor of fiery red brick. The building contains a mix of towers, chimneys, and sky-lighted rooms that mimic the factories of downtown Philadelphia.

The library experienced several additions and alterations over the years, and went through a major restoration in the late 1980s and early 1990s before taking on the name of the Fisher Fine Arts Library.

Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.. 
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

No round up of the most stunning libraries in the United States would be complete without the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. The largest library in the world, the Library of Congress is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill.

The most famous structure is the Thomas Jefferson Building, which opened in 1897 and houses the iconic Main Reading Room. Inspired by the reading room at the British Museum Library, the domed Main Reading Room is the central access point for the Library’s collections and is open to any researcher 16 and older. Interested in seeing more of Washington D.C.’s beautiful libraries? Head over here.

Phillips Exeter Academy Library in Exter, New Hampshire

New Hampshire — Phillips Exeter Academy Library

Image Source: Flickr user gnrklk

Phillips Exeter Academy may be a boarding school, but it has an oversized library; its shelf capacity of 250,000 volumes makes it the largest secondary school library in the world.

The library is also famous thanks to its design by celebrated American architect Louis Kahn. Commissioned in 1965, Kahn structured the library in three concentric square rings. While the brick outer rings hold the exterior walls, middle rings made of concrete house the heavy book stacks, and an inner ring creates an Instagram-worthy atrium.

New York Public Library in New York City, New York

Photo by Jonathan Blanc and courtesy of NYPL

The reading room of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in the New York Public Library. 
Photo by Jonathan Blanc and courtesy of NYPL

The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library system is a masterpiece of Beaux-Arts architecture, centrally located next to Bryant Park on Fifth Avenue and 42nd street in Manhattan.

Construction began in 1902 and was eventually completed for $9 million in 1911. Today, it houses some 15 million items, including medieval manuscripts, ancient Japanese scrolls, and contemporary novels.

The library’s Rose Reading Room—with its iconic 52-foot-tall ceilings and vibrant cloud murals—recently reopened after a renovation that required the entire room to be sheathed in scaffolding. Read more about the renovation and see a time lapse of the incredible project, over here.

Arabian Library in Scottsdale, Arizona

The exterior of the Arabian Library in Scottsdale. 
Courtesy of the Arabian Library

Designed by richärd+bauer architects and opened in 2007, this modern library pays homage to Arizona’s desert environment. The sloping angle of the roof line and the earthen and stone roof echo the stone walls of the state’s desert slot canyons. The library’s exterior—made up of weather steel plates—also mimic the color of the terra-cotta walls of stone.

State Library of Iowa’s Law Library in Des Moines, Iowa

The State Library of Iowa’s Law Library in the Capitol building.
 Shutterstock

This library in Des Moines, Iowa, provides Iowa lawmakers, government employees, the Iowa legal community, and the general public access to 105,000 volumes of legal treatises on state, federal, regulatory, and case law.

Originally created thanks to an act of Congress in 1838, the law library’s collection moved from location to location until 1886 when it settled on the second floor of the State Capitol Building in Des Moines. The library’s grand hall is intricately decorated in the Victorian style, boasting painted ceilings, stained glass inserts, and book-lined alcoves forty-five feet in height.

Billings Public Library in Billings, Montana

An exterior shot of the Billings Public Library in Montana. 
Via Will Bruder Architects

Recently completed in 2015, the architecture team at Will Bruder Architects designed this building to be a sustainable, transparent, and dynamic gathering space for the community. Sitting along Billings’ busy 6th Avenue, the light-filled library cost $20 million to build.

According to the architect, “The library’s architecture is thus a hybrid of both the handsome and beautifully restored 19th century main train depot on Montana Street and the powerful block long warehouse buildings of brick masonry and metal that serve to shelter the transfer of resources at this point of commerce.”

George Peabody Library in Baltimore, Maryland

The interior of the Peabody Library, a research library at John Hopkins University. 
Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock

Housed in the Peabody Institute of Music, the George Peabody Library has often been described as a “cathedral of books” and it’s easy to see why. Constructed in 1878 and designed by Baltimore architect Edmund D. Lind, the library contains a huge open air atrium in the center that allows each level of the library a view down below.

Huge skylights allow natural light to filter in, and the library’s iconic marble floors and ornate railings make it a popular wedding venue. Although you won’t see many students perusing the stacks, the George Peabody Library remains a non-circulation library open to the general public.

Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago, Illinois

The Harold Washington Library Center in downtown Chicago. 
Shutterstock

As the Chicago Public Library’s main branch, the Harold Washington Library Center broke ground in 1988 after a competition to design a new central library in the South Loop. An 11-member citizen jury selected the design by Thomas Beeby from Hammond, Beeby & Babka, Inc., and the building opened in 1991.

The building’s design has always been controversial, with some deriding the classical facade and the rooftop ornaments. But many love the postmodern structure, saying it celebrates iconic Chicago architecture and blends in well with its nineteenth-century neighbors.

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library in New Haven, Connecticut

The interior book tower at the Beinecke Library. 
Beinecke Digital Studio

One of the world’s largest libraries devoted entirely to rare books and manuscripts, the Beinecke Library sits on the Yale University campus. The building—made of Vermont marble and granite, bronze and glass—was designed by Gordon Bunshaft, of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Work began on the building in 1960 and was completed in 1963.

While the white and gray exterior of the building looks intimidating, the interior is simply stunning. A huge glass tower of books rises through the core of the building while two stairways ascend on either side to the mezzanine level. The Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed from movable type, and Audubon’s Birds of America are on permanent exhibition.

Geisel Library in San Diego, California

Geisel Library on Gilman Drive on the campus of the University of California-San Diego.
 Nagel Photography / Shutterstock

Located at UC San Diego, the Geisel Library was designed in the late 1960s by William Pereira as an eight-story, Brutalist concrete structure. It sits at the head of a canyon near the center of the campus, and the lower two stories form a pedestal for the six-story, stepped tower.

It is named in honor of Audrey and Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. The building houses seven million volumes, including the Dr. Seuss Collection—an extensive portfolio of original drawings, sketches, proofs, notebooks, manuscript drafts, books, photos, and memorabilia.

William W. Cook Legal Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan

The reading room of the Legal Research Library at the University of Michigan. 
wsifrancis/flickr

Located on the University of Michigan campus, the William W. Cook Legal Research Library was built in 1930 and looks a bit like a modern-day Harry Potter library.

The grand building has large spires, stained glass windows, and metal work by the best metal worker of the time, Samuel Yellin. But the most stunning aspect of the library is likely its huge reading room, where large desks, wooden paneling, and elegant chandeliers create a peaceful and elegant hall.

Lawrence Public Library in Lawrence, Kansas

Photo courtesy of Gould Evans

Set in downtown Lawrence, Kansas, the Lawrence Public Library—originally constructed in 1974—had struggled with poor attendance before the community rallied to expand and renovate the building. A $19 million expansion added a 250-space parking garage and opened in 2014.

The new design—from the firm Gould Evans—uses glass and terra-cotta to create a welcoming space that’s bright and airy. A wraparound reading room was a major addition, and the renovation also included new communal meeting spaces, a music recording studio, and teen gaming zones. Outside the library, locals can enjoy a butterfly garden in the summer and an ice skating rink in the winter.

San Francisco Public Library in San Francisco, California

The central atrium at the Main Library building of the San Francisco Public Library. 
Thomas Hawk/Flickr

The Main Library of the San Francisco Public Library system opened at its current site in 1996 and features seven floors with two million items. The building was designed by James Ingo Freed of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (New York) and Cathy Simon of Simon Martin-Vegue Winkelstein & Moris (San Francisco) and represents the largest public/private partnership in the history of San Francisco at a cost of more than $122 million.

The most recognizable feature of the library is a dramatic skylight in the building’s five-story central atrium. Bridges connect the floors across lightwells, and the design includes a grand staircase that rises four stories.

The Doe Library in Berkeley, California

The Doe Library on the campus of UC Berkeley. 
Shutterstock

Set on the UC Berkeley campus, the Doe Library—which sits adjacent to the Bancroft Library—features a Neoclassical-style building completed in 1911. Named after its benefactor, Charles Franklin Doe, the structure’s iconic columns and grand scale make it one of the most recognizable buildings on campus.

Sawyer Library in Williamstown, Massachusetts

Related image

Photo courtesy BBL Construction Services

Williams College demolished a 1970s-era library building to make room for the new Sawyer Library, but the architects of the project—Bohlin Cywinski Jackson—also had to incorporate the classical styling of the historic Stetson Hall, built in 1921.

The result cost $66.8 million and is a blend of old and new, with a modern five-story facility housing the new Sawyer Library, the Chapin Library of Rare Books, and the Center for Education Technology. The new section features a central atrium that prioritizes natural light and offers beautiful views of campus.

Los Angeles Central Library in Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles Public Library in downtown Los Angeles, California. 
Shutterstock

As the largest public library in the west, the Los Angeles Central Library has been captivating book and architecture lovers since its construction in 1926. The building’s architect—Bertram Goodhue—drew upon design elements from ancient Egypt to create a geometric facade that is an early example of Art Deco.

The library’s most recognizable feature is the tiled pyramid at the top that has a golden hand holding a torch. A 1993 addition added 330,000 square feet of space—called the Tom Bradley wing—and helped to restore the original Goodhue building as well.

Suzzallo Library in Seattle, Washington

The reading hall of Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington. 
Shutterstock

Designed in the early 1920s by Seattle architects Carl F. Gould, Sr. and Charles H. Bebb, the Suzzallo Library boasts a facade made with sandstone, precast stone, terra-cotta, and brick. Reminiscent of a large European cathedral, the library’s Collegiate Gothic style makes it one of the best-known buildings on campus.

While the exterior is impressive, the 65-foot high and 250-foot long reading room is simply awe-inspiring. A vaulted ceiling with bright colors and gilded details is accented by oak bookcases and hard-carved friezes. Large leaded-glass windows let in natural light and long desks provide plenty of study room.

What are your favorite libraries in the United States? Let us know in the comments!

By 

Take a Literary Tour of the U.S. with These 50 State-Set Books

Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

We live in a particularly diverse and fascinating country. It can be easy to forget that, especially in the current divisive political climate. The United States, however, is home to an extraordinary literary tradition – one as expansive and diverse as the country itself. Thus, a literary tour of the U.S. seems in order.

From classics to memoirs to thrillers, a literary masterpiece can be found lingering in every state –  a book that gives us a view into another part of the country is always a worthwhile exercise. The books below represent some of the best and most iconic reads from each of the fifty states, and are both fiction and nonfiction. Don’t worry if your particular favorite didn’t make the cut – we’d love to hear about it in the comments. And you can always dive a little deeper with these curated book lists for each of the fifty states.

Alabama

The cover of the book To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

This Pulitzer Prize winner from Harper Lee is one of the great American novels. Fifty years after its publication, its ruminations on race, injustice, and morality remain as relevant as ever, and crusading attorney Atticus Finch is one of literature’s finest characters.

 

Alaska

The cover of the book The Call of the Wild and Selected StoriesThe Call of the Wild and Selected Stories

Jack London

The Call of the Wild, originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post, made Jack London a household name. This tale of adventure, survival and companionship in the wilds of Alaska is as gripping today as on its original publication in 1903.

 

Arizona

The cover of the book Blood MeridianBlood Meridian

Cormac McCarthy

Few writers have Cormac McCarthy’s gift for haunting, terse, and elegiac prose. Blood Meridian is among McCarthy’s finest work, and also his most brutal. It follows the story of a young man caught up with a gang of ruthless outlaws in along the U.S./Mexico border – it is a challenging and pitiless read. It is also modern mythmaking at its very best.

 

Arkansas

The cover of the book I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was one of the most inspiring voices of her generation. Her debut memoir became an instant classic and recounts a life that is, at turns, joyous and painful. Filled with Angelou’s frank and powerful ruminations on sexuality, race, and love, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings remains among the author’s best.

 

California

The cover of the book East of EdenEast of Eden

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck is a towering figure in American literature, and with good reason. Steinbeck considered East of Eden his magnum opus. This sprawling examination of two families living in California’s Salinas Valley is built around allusions to the Book of Genesis, as well as Steinbeck’s extraordinary descriptions of the region that makes up the novel’s setting.

 

Colorado

The cover of the book The ShiningThe Shining

Stephen King

Stephen King’s first bestseller is still one of the prolific author’s greatest. The novel established King as a household name. It’s chilling (literally) tale of a man slowly losing his mind while serving as an off-season caretaker at a remote resort hotel in the Colorado Rockies is haunting.

 

Connecticut

The cover of the book Revolutionary RoadRevolutionary Road

Richard Yates

This searing deconstruction of the ideal of American suburbia in the 1950’s is a devastating view into the disintegrating lives of a young couple struggling to conform to life in a Connecticut suburb. Yates writes with a startling clarity that exposes the inner machinations of a generation.

 

Delaware

The cover of the book The Book of Unknown AmericansThe Book of Unknown Americans

Cristina Henríquez

Told from multiple points of view, The Book of Unknown Americans chronicles the lives and interwoven stories of a group of recent immigrants – and first generation Americans – living in a neighborhood in Western Delaware. It is a book that feels particularly relevant today.

 

Florida

The cover of the book The Orchid ThiefThe Orchid Thief

Susan Orlean

In this beguiling, strange, and wickedly funny book, Susan Orlean takes the reader deep inside the eccentric world of orchid enthusiasts. It’s a bizarre and too-strange-for-fiction account of a truly fascinating subculture that is equal parts vivid and hilarious.

 

Georgia

The cover of the book The Color PurpleThe Color Purple

Alice Walker

Alice Walker’s Pulitzer winner is a powerful examination of race, misogyny, and class. The Color Purple recounts the harrowing life of Celie, who endures decades of abuse and rape first at the hands of her father, and then her husband, before ultimately building a life of her own with devastating power.

 

Hawaii

The cover of the book HawaiiHawaii

James A. Michener

James A. Michener’s expansive and meticulously researched recounting of the history of Hawaii is a stunning piece of historical fiction. Hawaii is a fascinating and thrilling chronicle of the birth of modern Hawaii and the people who populate it.

 

Idaho

The cover of the book HousekeepingHousekeeping

Marilynne Robinson

With Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson creates a poetic portrait of two orphaned girls coming of age in the fictional town of Fingerbone, Idaho. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1980, and is a haunting tale of familial strife and redemption.

 

Illinois

The cover of the book The JungleThe Jungle

Upton Sinclair

This quintessential work of muckraking fiction is built around Upton Sinclair’s own investigations into the meatpacking industry in early 20th century Chicago. The novel follows a Lithuanian immigrant forced into backbreaking menial labor in the Chicago stockyards. Sinclair intended to turn America’s attention to the plight of impoverished working class, but instead shed a harsh light on disturbingly unsanitary practices of the meatpacking industry.

 

Indiana

The cover of the book The Magnificent AmbersonsThe Magnificent Ambersons

Booth Tarkington

The Magnificent Ambersons is a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic that focuses on the changing fortunes of three generations of a once-powerful American family. It is a study of the economic turmoil that resulted from the swift industrial expansion that took place in the U.S following the Civil War.

 

Iowa

The cover of the book A Thousand AcresA Thousand Acres

Jane Smiley

This tale of an Iowa farmer seeking to divide his one thousand acre plot of land between his three daughters reads like a Shakespearean tragedy. The objections of the youngest daughter open the flood gates on startling series of suppressed emotions and long-held family secrets.

 

Kansas

The cover of the book In Cold BloodIn Cold Blood

Truman Capote

Truman Capote’s classic more or less created the true crime genre. His account of the murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas in 1959 is a meticulously researched, atmospheric masterpiece and represents Capote at the zenith of his narrative skill.

 

Kentucky

The cover of the book The Sport of KingsThe Sport of Kings

C.E. Morgan

The Sport of Kings, a sweeping novel on race in America, is the best horse racing novel in recent memory, and is told through the lens of multi-generational epic. It is a story steeped in dark and complex history, and serves as a reminder of our darker impulses and our better angels.

 

Louisiana

The cover of the book A Confederacy of DuncesA Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces is an absurd, picaresque novel centering on an eccentric, delusional, and slovenly man stumbling through a series of increasingly bizarre misadventures in a brilliantly drawn New Orleans. It also earned John Kennedy Toole a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

 

Maine

The cover of the book Olive KitteridgeOlive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout

Another Pulitzer Prize winner, Olive Kitteridge is told through a series of interwoven narratives all taking place in Crosby, Maine. It centers around the cynical and abrasive titular character. Tinged with joy, pain, and ruthless honesty, Olive Kitteridge is Elizabeth Strout’s best work.

 

Maryland

The cover of the book Dinner at the Homesick RestaurantDinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Anne Tyler

This Baltimore based novel centers on three siblings grappling with the impending death of their perfectionist mother. It’s an emotionally wrought examination of recollection and the complexities of family that is equal parts poignant and humorous.

 

Massachusetts

The cover of the book WaldenWalden

Henry David Thoreau

Walden is an undisputed classic in American literature. Working in a small cottage in 1845 on Walden Pond in Concord Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau laid down a series of startling ruminations on life, nature, and contentment.

 

Michigan

The cover of the book MiddlesexMiddlesex

Jeffrey Eugenides

Jeffrey Eugenides’ controversial examination of an intersex Greek man named Cal Stephanides is a thought provoking exploration of gender identity, sexuality, race relations, and the immigrant experience. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2002.

 

Minnesota

The cover of the book Main StreetMain Street

Sinclair Lewis

Main Street tells the story of Carol Milford, who moves to the small community of Gopher Prairie, Minnesota after college. Her efforts to bring culture and reform to the town are met with disdain and bigotry. Published in 1920, Lewis’s novel shattered the literary myth of happy small-town life with satirical precision.

 

Mississippi

The cover of the book The Sound and the FuryThe Sound and the Fury

William Faulkner

In The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner chronicles the decline of the American South through the lens of the Compson family. The Compsons were once Southern aristocracy, but fell to financial ruin throughout the 1920’s. It is arguably Faulkner’s finest novel.

 

Missouri

The cover of the book BettyvilleBettyville

George Hodgman

This remarkable memoir from George Hodgman reads like the most absurd fiction. Hodgman leaves his life in Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri to care for the ailing mother who has never fully accepted his sexuality. It is disarmingly honest, moving, and laugh-out-loud funny.

 

Montana

The cover of the book A River Runs Through ItA River Runs Through It

Norman Maclean

This semi-autobiographical collection of short stories explores Norman Maclean’s childhood in Montana. It is a coming-of-age tale set against the beautiful landscape of Montana, and centers on a father’s reverence for fly-fishing.

 

Nebraska

The cover of the book Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park

Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell’s debut novel was an instant classic tale of star-crossed misfit teens. Set over the course of a school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is a knowing look at the power and pitfalls of first love in all its painful glory.

 

Nevada

The cover of the book Fear and Loathing in Las VegasFear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Hunter S. Thompson

There really is nothing quite like Hunter S. Thompson’s drug soaked, surreal, and chaotic chronicle of a long-weekend roadtrip to Vegas. It’s incredibly bizarre and incredibly fun. Thompson’s inimitable prose is just icing on the cake.

 

New Hampshire

The cover of the book The Hotel New HampshireThe Hotel New Hampshire

John Irving

The Hotel New Hampshire is, in many ways, quintessential John Irving – quirky, evocative, and thought-provoking. It centers on the Berry family and the various ordeals they stumble into while opening a series of hotels.

 

New Jersey

The cover of the book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Junot Díaz

Diaz’s stunning debut novel became an instant literary classic. Another Pulitzer Prize winner, the novel pulls together pop culture references, a coming-of-age tale, and bits of magical realism to tell the story of Oscar – a chubby Dominican adolescent who may be victim of a curse that has plagued his family for generations.

 

New Mexico

The cover of the book Death Comes for the ArchbishopDeath Comes for the Archbishop

Willa Cather

Willa Cather’s novel unfolds with a kind of mythic intensity. The narrative centers on Father Jean Marie Latour, a devout priest sent to serve as the Apostolic Vicar to New Mexico in 1851.  The novel unfolds over the course of forty years, and charts Latour’s life against the unforgiving landscape and his own loneliness.

 

New York

The cover of the book UP IN THE OLD HOTELUP IN THE OLD HOTEL

Joseph Mitchell

Few works capture the allure of New York City like this collection of Joseph Mitchell’s iconic reporting for The New Yorker. His precise observations and his humor chronicle the bizarre lives of street preachers, freaks, saloon-keepers, and gypsies – it’s a cross-section of New York unlike any other.

 

North Carolina

The cover of the book Cold MountainCold Mountain

Charles Frazier

Charles Frazier’s debut novel is a stirring historical epic. The narrative centers on W.P. Inman, a wounded Confederate deserter who makes the arduous journey back to his home in Cold Mountain, North Carolina, and to the love of his life.

 

North Dakota

The cover of the book The Round HouseThe Round House

Louise Erdrich

This coming-of-age tale centers on a thirteen year old Native American boy seeking revenge after the brutal rape of his mother.  The story is set on an unnamed fictional Ojibwe Indian reservation in North Dakota and is a haunting examination of the effects of oppression, isolation, and violence on a community.

 

Ohio

The cover of the book Winesburg, OhioWinesburg, Ohio

Sherwood Anderson

Winesburg, Ohio was ahead of its time. It presents a series of interconnected narratives of life in a small Ohio town. At the time of its publication, it was startling for its frank and, at times, shocking depictions of everyday life in all its complexities. Writers like Faulkner and Fitzgerald owe a debt to Anderson’s work here.

 

Oklahoma

The cover of the book ParadiseParadise

Toni Morrison

In her inimitable style, Toni Morrison chronicles the tensions and tragedies of a rural, all-black town in Oklahoma. The novel opens with a scene of shocking violence and then unfolds with the sort of grandeur and portent that makes Morrison’s writing so compelling.

 

Oregon

The cover of the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Ken Kesey

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an American classic. Randall Patrick McMurphy is one of modern literature’s most boisterous and enduring characters. It is a ribald and insightful commentary, a parable of good and evil unfolding in the confines of a psychiatric ward, and is as powerful today as on its original publication.

 

Pennsylvania

The cover of the book Rabbit, RunRabbit, Run

John Updike

John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom cycle is among the author’s most celebrated works. Rabbit, Run, the first in the series, follows Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, a one-time high school basketball star crushed under the weight of his middle class life, flailing for some deeper purpose.

 

Rhode Island

The cover of the book My Sister's KeeperMy Sister’s Keeper

Jodi Picoult

Told with Picoult’s trademark flair for emotional turmoil, My Sister’s Keeper is a coming-of-age saga centering on a thirteen year old girl who sues her parents for medical emancipation after her parents attempt to force her to donate a kidney to her dying sister. It is an emotionally complex and thought-provoking read.

 

South Carolina

The cover of the book Bastard out of CarolinaBastard out of Carolina

Dorothy Allison

The publication of Dorothy Alison’s Bastard out of Carolina drew comparisons to Harper Lee and launched Alison into the literary spotlight. This now-classic of rural southern literature centers on Ruth Anne Boatwright, known as Bone, who finds herself on a collision course with her increasingly violent and abusive stepfather.

 

South Dakota

The cover of the book The Personal History of Rachel DuPreeThe Personal History of Rachel DuPree

Ann Weisgarber

Ann Weisgarber’s debut novel offers an insightful and harrowing view into the harsh life of homesteaders at the turn of the century. The novel follows Rachel and Isaac, an African-American couple, struggling to make a life for themselves after claiming a parcel of land in the South Dakota Badlands.

 

Tennessee

The cover of the book A Death in the FamilyA Death in the Family

James Agee

A Death in the Family is a nearly flawless narrative, and possibly James Agee’s finest work. It is an autobiographical novel centering on the tragic death that threatens to consume an entire family. A Death in the Family is among the most powerful examinations of grief in American literature.

 

Texas

The cover of the book Lonesome DoveLonesome Dove

Larry McMurtry

Lonesome Dove is a true Western epic and cemented McMurtry’s literary legacy. The first published novel in the Lonesome Dove series earned a Pulitzer and focuses largely on a group of retired Texas Rangers driving a herd of cattle from Texas to Montana.

 

Utah

The cover of the book The Executioner's SongThe Executioner’s Song

Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer won a Pulitzer Prize for this sprawling depiction of the events surrounding the execution of Gary Gilmore by the state of Utah. Based almost entirely on interviews with family and friends of both Gilmore and his victims, The Executioner’s Song is an exhaustive examination of the case and its fallout, all told with Mailer’s clear-eyed prose.

 

Vermont

The cover of the book The Secret HistoryThe Secret History

Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt’s debut novel focuses on a group of classics students at fictional Hampden College in Vermont. Under the sway of a charismatic professor, the students begin to push the boundaries of morality – until tragedy strikes and their lives change forever.

 

Virginia

The cover of the book The Known WorldThe Known World

Edward P. Jones

Set in Virginia during the Antebellum era, The Known World is a potent examination of race and legacy. It tells the story of a young slave who becomes a slave owner, but dies young, leaving his wife to come to terms with the aftermath. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

 

Washington

The cover of the book Snow Falling on CedarsSnow Falling on Cedars

David Guterson

Snow Falling on Cedars is a compelling read – one part whodunit and one part courtroom thriller. It follows the mysterious death of a fisherman on San Piedro Island in Washington. A Japanese American man is charged with the murder, and the ensuing trial unearths both the man’s own haunted past as well as the past sins of the entire community on San Piedro.

 

West Virginia

The cover of the book The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle

Jeannette Walls

This beloved memoir from Jeannette Walls recounts her tumultuous childhood – a large part of which was spent in Welch, WV. Born to an alcoholic, hopelessly optimistic father and an erratic mother, Walls childhood was one of disappointment, tragedy, and joy in near equal measure.

 

Wisconsin

The cover of the book The Deep End Of The OceanThe Deep End Of The Ocean

Jacquelyn Mitchard

Mitchard’s debut novel imagines an ordinary family ripped apart when their youngest son is kidnapped, only to mysteriously return nine years later. The novel charts the mother’s struggles against her own grief and the lengths she goes to hold her tattered family together.

 

Wyoming

The cover of the book Close Range: Wyoming StoriesClose Range: Wyoming Stories

Annie Proulx

This collection of short stories is best known for Prouix’s Brokeback Mountain, but each of the tales – all set against a desolate Wyoming backdrop – are as well drawn and emotionally resonant.

10 Traveler’s Tales of Magic, Terror, and Adventure

Will you be taking a vacation this summer? No? Well, we’ve got the next best thing. Enjoy these ten traveler’s tales of magic, terror, and adventure.

The cover of the book Moontide and Magic RiseMoontide and Magic Rise

SEAN RUSSELL

Magic is very nearly a thing of the past, and what is left of it is being rapidly replaced by science. Tristram Flattery is a naturalist, a practitioner of this new and modern discipline. When the ailing king summons Flattery to his court to nurse a dying plant to health — a plant with what appears to be magical properties — Flattery sets out on a grand voyage of discovery: one that will usher him into a conflict that will determine the course of civilization.

 

The cover of the book The Grand EllipseThe Grand Ellipse

PAULA VOLSKY

The republic of Vonahr is locked into a bitter battle to the death with a fanatical invading army, and their only hope of survival lies with Sentient Fire: a fire that follows the commands of its wielder. Unfortunately, the invention is in the hands of the king of Low Hetz: an eccentric leader intent on keeping his nation out of the conflict. Desperate, Vonahr sends an agent to change his mind. First she’ll have to gain an audience with him, though, and the only way to do that will be to win the Grand Ellipse: a grand journey that will test her strength, endurance, and ability to think on her feet.

 

The cover of the book The OdysseyThe Odyssey

HOMER

The story of a warrior’s long journey home, The Odyssey is the world’s greatest tale of travel and adventure. Follow Odysseus as he bests witches, gods, and magical monsters alike on an epic quest to find his way home and into the arms of the wife he left behind.

 

The cover of the book The RoadThe Road

CORMAC MCCARTHY

The Earth is dying, burned to cinders and plunged into perpetual winter by an unknown catastrophic event. With nothing but a pistol and a little food, a father and son set out on a journey to the coast. Cannibals and thieves, choking ash, and aching cold stand in their way, but the light of civilization must be maintained.

 

The cover of the book Invisible CitiesInvisible Cities

ITALO CALVINO

Marco Polo regales the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan with the tale of his travels to the great cities of the Khan’s empire. These are more than simple urban centers, though: The cities of Polo’s stories are tied inextricably to life’s greatest mysteries: death, desire, memory, and more.

 

The cover of the book A Natural History of DragonsA Natural History of Dragons

MARIE BRENNAN

Isabella, Lady Trent, the world’s preeminent dragon scholar, set out on an epic journey to the mountains of Vystrana to learn all she could about these magnificent creatures. This is her journal. Follow Isabella as she risks life and limb on a journey into dangerous dragon territory.

 

The cover of the book The Land AcrossThe Land Across

GENE WOLFE

A visit to a small Eastern European country turns into an absurdist nightmare for an American travel writer named Grafton. His passport confiscated, Grafton becomes a prisoner of bureaucratic, corrupt, and possibly supernatural forces. Is Grafton simply an innocent victim of a Kafkaesque conspiracy, or is there a very good reason for his detainment?

 

The cover of the book Move Under GroundMove Under Ground

NICK MAMATAS

Jack Kerouac is at the very tail-end of his career, washed-up and drunk in Big Sur when he learns that the city of R’lyeh is rising from the sea, and with it the ancient god Cthulhu. Shaken, Kerouac and his crew of writers and poets set out on a cross-country trip to stave off the Old Ones and save humanity — at least for a little while.

 

The cover of the book InfernoInferno

LARRY NIVEN AND JERRY POURNELLE

Newly deceased science fiction author Allen Carpentier has been sentenced to Hell, but he’s determined not to stay there. With the help of a mysterious guide named Bennie, Carpentier sets out on a journey into the underworld to meet Satan himself. Along the way, they’ll meet some of history’s greatest sinners and witness the tortures devised for them. If he’s lucky, Carpentier won’t join their ranks.

 

The cover of the book American GodsAmerican Gods

NEIL GAIMAN

A newly released con named Shadow accepts a job with a mysterious trickster named Mr. Wednesday. Now his bodyguard and driver, Shadow learns that a war is underway between the old gods of myth and the new ones of the modern era.