Emily Temple, an associate editor at Literary Hub, has created a reading list of 100 books that offer insight to every state in the country. She recommends two books per state—one fiction, the other nonfiction—and adds a famous book from each state for fun.

For Idaho, Temple has chosen Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, a novella chosen one of NPR’s ten novels of 2011. Here is the book’s description on Amazon.com:

               Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams is an epic in miniature, one of his most evocative and                poignant fictions.

               Robert Grainer is a day laborer in the American West at the start of the twentieth century—an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world. As his story unfolds, we witness both his shocking personal defeats and the radical changes that transform America in his lifetime.

               Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West—its otherworldly flora and fauna, its rugged loggers and bridge builders—the new novella by the National Book Award-winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.

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For Idaho nonfiction, Temple chose In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country by Kim Barnes, a memoir describing poet Barnes’ childhood in an Idaho logging camp.

The famous Idaho book: Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson.

Temple’s choices are meant to offer a way to get to know a state, either through a history of the area or by evoking a setting, a place. Planning a visit to a new state? Perhaps a book on this list will help you prepare.

About the author

Rebecca Wallick

Rebecca is a freelance writer and publisher living near McCall, Idaho. A Seattle native and recovering attorney, she much prefers the quiet, slow pace, and distinct seasons of the West Central Mountains, enjoying the skiing, hiking and running opportunities provided by the nearby Payette National Forest. Rebecca is a Contributing Editor with Bark magazine, and the author of Growing Up Boeing: The Early Jet Age Through the Eyes of a Test Pilot’s Daughter (Feb 2014).

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