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Join the 50 States Reading Challenge here. Read books set in each of the United States of America. It’s the perfect reading challenge idea for avid readers looking to expand their horizons and track the states about which they read at the same time. Let’s get literary!

globe showing USA with stack of books.

Why You Should Take the 50 States Reading Challenge

Reading books set in a variety of states expands your point of view, knowledge, and empathy. You can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes somewhere else all within the pages of a book. It can also provide a great escape or teach you about a place you are visiting.

Note: This is the type of challenge that you can easily do concurrently with another one. For example, I am hosting a Reading Challenge for the Rory Gilmore book list, in which you can participate! And I also have an Around the World Reading Challenge and share POPSUGAR reading challenge book recommendations.

Printable PDF Tracker

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50 States Reading Challenge Recommendations

Based on my own experience taking the 50 States Reading Challenge, below is a list of each state and the top book I recommend for each state in the challenge. I tried to select books that really say something about life or history in that particular location so that you have at least one great option to read for each state.

Alabama: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Alaska: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Arizona: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Arkansas: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

California: East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Colorado: Foreign Faction by A. James Kolar

Connecticut: The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin

Delaware: Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden

Florida: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleton

Georgia: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Hawaii: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Idaho: Educated by Tara Westover

Illinois: Becoming by Michelle Obama

Indiana: You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Iowa: The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

Kansas: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Kentucky: The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes

Louisiana: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Maine: Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Maryland: Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Massachusetts: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Michigan: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Minnesota: This Tender Land by William Krueger Kent

Mississippi: The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Missouri: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Montana: Lone Women by Victor Lavalle

Nebraska: The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Nevada: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

New Hampshire: A Separate Peace by John Knowles

New Jersey: Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

New Mexico: Meet Josefina: An American Girl by Valerie Tripp

New York: The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett M. Graff

North Carolina: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

North Dakota: Peace Like A River by Leif Enger

Ohio: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Oklahoma: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Oregon: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Pennsylvania: Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Rhode Island: A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

South Carolina: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

South Dakota: Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Tennessee: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Texas: Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger

Utah: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Vermont: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Virginia: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Washington: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

West Virginia: The Buffalo Creek Disaster by Gerald M. Stern

Wisconsin: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wyoming: Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx


This 50 States Reading Challenge helps you expand your horizons and track the countries about which you read at the same time. Use our free printable PDF to track your books as you walk a literary mile in someone else’s shoes.

Check out more Reading Challenges next.

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One Comment

  1. Each state has a “Center for the Book” This might fill in some of the holes you have for suggesting books about the states that you don’t have titles for.