A couple of days ago I came across a book challenge that I thought would suit me down to the ground. The idea is to read 50 books, one for each of the 50 American states, in a year, and you can read about it here. My first thought was to go ahead and do it and then I had a second one (I do occasionally). How on earth was I really going to devote about two thirds of my reading space next year to just one challenge? Even in a perfect world that's just not going to happen. A third thought was obviously required...
The third thought went like this: why don't I do this challenge on my own? Make it last over several years, maybe even five, and really explore the topic properly. It's no secret that I love the USA. We've been three times and hope to go again within the next couple of years (real life keeps getting in the way though). And there's *so* much of the country that I'm longing to see. So far we've stayed mainly to the east, only getting as far west as Memphis. It's not far enough, I truly want to see The Rockies before I pop my clogs... and many other places as well: too many to mention and the sad truth is that I likely will not get to them all - this could be a good way of 'seeing' some of these places while still sitting comfortably in my armchair.
I think doing a personal challenge like this would really inspire me for our next trip. Plus *educate* me. There's much to learn about this wonderful country and, for me, books are the way to do it (although TV docs are fantastic too.) I plan, not just to read one book for each state, but several. Fiction will hopefully include something historical and something modern. Non-fiction might be history, travel, or something modern. I honestly don't know for sure... I suspect I'll go where my nose takes me and what an adventure!!! I thought I 'should' start in January 2012, but phooey to that! It's a personal thing so I'm going to start right away, in fact have already started with a children's book, The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder of course.
This belonged to my eldest daughter, she had four or five in the series which she read and read and read and are still here now on the bookshelf in our grand-daughter's room. I read The Little House in the Big Woods a couple of years ago and have been wanting to read the rest for ages. Here's my opportunity. In The Little House, Ma and Pa and the three girls up sticks and move to Kansas from Wisconsin. I'm already fascinated by this amazing trip they undertook *without* the safty nets which we're used to in the modern age. So Kansas will be my first stop on this epic literary travel around the United States.
I will also probably read a few 'general' books about all of the states. On my shelves I have Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, my beautiful Atlas of North American Exploration, Colonial American Travel Narratives, Roughing It by Mark Twain, River Horse by William Least Heat-Moon, American Nomads by Richard Grant, and Stephen Fry's America. The possiblities are endless (and it's seems I already have half of them on my bookshelves, LOL.)
Here's a final map, my favourite as it happens as I'm keen on physical maps that show the lie of the land, the obstacles that people faced when exploring, and that make me wonder at their sheer audacity and bravery. (I don't think this can really be understated.)
The last thing to add is that I would love some help with titles. If you have a favourite book set in a particular state, or several, to recommend, please do. If you know which is the best book about Lewis and Clark, please say. *Or* if you just want to say that you think I'm completely barmy to take this on, feel welcome to say that too. Except that I already know it... and for some reason I'm not put off... just really, really excited.