In my head, I have three Americas: Commercial America made up of the big cities on the east and west coasts that I visit on business; Recreational America made up of the deserts and mountains, the wild coasts and the empty plains that go on forever that I travel to for fun; and Fictional America that I visit only through the imaginations of others.
I plan my trips to the first two with care. My trips to the third have usually been opportunistic and impulsive, following no route other than the book’s narrative.
Today, as I looked through my ever-growing TBR pile, it occurred to me that, with a little planning, I could take a more extended visit to Fictional America. I decided to find a route across America, from coast to coast, using only the books in my TBR pile.
I’ve already taken my first step, I started with the Farallon Islands, thirty miles off the coast of California but officially part of San Francisco. I’m reading “The Lightkeepers” a bleak but beautiful novel about a nature photographer spending a year on one the islands with only a handful of biologists for company.
From there, I’ll travel to the South Western states that I know reasonably well and am fond of, starting in Arizona with “Bad Country” where I’ll spend time with a former rodeo cowboy turned detective. Next I’ll move to the New Mexico desert for some magical realism in “Hour Of The Bees” . I’ll bring myself back to reality in the Eastern Plains of Colorado for a, slightly depressing, slice of small town life in “Plainsong”
Then it’s a run towards the coast through states I’ve never visited in real life, starting with Missouri and “Gone Girl” which has been on my TBR pile since it was published. I’ll spend a summer in Kentucky in the Appalachian mountains with some troubled folks in Barbara Kingsolver’s “Prodigal Summer”. My journey ends one state to the west and a hundred years back in time in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with the epistolary novel, “Fair And Tender Ladies”
I’ll keep you posted on my journey.
I’m interested in suggestions on how I could take the journey from East to West without repeating any states.