Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Booklover's Guide to the Midwest: A Literary Tour by Greg Holden

While in Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City over Labor Day Weekend, Bonnie and I found The Booklover's Guide to the Midwest: A Literary Tour by Greg Holden, just our kind of book. While we do not take as many long weekend trips as we would like, we still enjoy dreaming of them. Holden's 2010 book was already on the sale table, so we bought it.

Definitions of the Midwest differ. When Joyce Saricks asked me, "What's it say about Kansas?", I had to tell her that the state was not included. Holden holds the Midwest to be Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota, all of which he has toured extensively. In his book, he suggests tours that run along major roads or rivers, but the town entries are not always in a logical order. Readers have to plot their own routes on maps that they will have to buy separately.

I found while reading that I needed to make two lists - places to go and books to read. While I have already stood outside houses of Sinclair Lewis and F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are many places I still want to visit, including the Carl Sandburg birthplace in Galesburg, Illinois, and the Robert Ridgewood Memorial Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary in Olney, Illinois. In Iowa, I'd like to visit the Mark Twain Center in the Keokuk Public Library in Keokuk and the Japanese Garden on the grounds of the Muscatine Art Center in, of course, Muscatine.

Many of the authors and books highlighted by Holden are unfamiliar to me, especially many from the 19th and early 20th centuries. I think I might especially like to read Iowa Interiors by Ruth Suckow from this group. I was also reminded that I have never gotten around to You Know Me Al by Ring Lardner. Holden also recommends the novels of Jane Hamilton from Rochester, Minnesota.

Time to get out the road atlas.

Holden, Greg. The Booklover's Guide to the Midwest: A Literary Tour. Clerisy Press, 2010. 308p. ISBN 9781578603145.

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