The Reading List

After much deliberation we’ve narrowed our reading list to 15 works of fiction that take place in three cities. We wanted to select books that had a strong sense of setting and included scenes that take place in real physical locations such as Modern Pizza in New Haven, Duluth’s Areal Lift Bridge and Union Square in San Francisco.

The cities were chosen because they represent very distinct settings—each endowed with a very different sense of place. New Haven is a New England town, settled by Puritans and home to an Ivy League institution, and has recently undergone some revitalization. San Francisco is a large city with distinct neighborhoods and home to some of the social movements that have defined life in American culture. The Twin Ports of Duluth-Superior on the shores of Lake Superior has a history of mining, logging and shipping and is a region that lives very close to nature. Each city has its own history, physical features and vibrant arts community.

After these initial 15 books are added to the Placing Literature database we’ll open up data entry to the public, relying on crowdsourcing to build a powerful research tool for geographers, scholars and book lovers the world over.

How is our list? Did we miss an obvious choice?

New Haven Novels

  • Everything Looks Impressive, Hugh Kennedy
  • The Wedding of the Two-Headed Woman, Alice Mattison
  • Fountain of Death, Jane Haddam
  • True Confections, Katharine Weber
  • Joe College, Tom Perrotta
  • Alternates: Pages for You, Sylvia Brownrigg; On Borrowed Wings, Chandra Prasad; Secondhand Smoke, Karen Olson; Sacred Cows, Karen Olson; Wooster Square, Virginia Marangell; The Judges Cave, A Romance of the Regicides, Margaret Sidney; The Little Women, Katharine Weber; A Petition for More Space, John Hersey; Chloe Does Yale, Natalie Krinsky

Duluth/Superior Novels

  • Cold Comfort, Barton Sutter
  • Time Between Trains, Anthony Bukoski
  • Long Shining Waters, Danielle Sosin
  • Immoral, Brian Freeman
  • Safe from the Sea, Peter Geye
  • Alternate: Eye of the Wolf, Marie Zhuikov

San Francisco Novels

  • Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
  • A Dirty Job, Christopher Moore
  • The Joy Luck Club, Any Tan
  • The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
  • SoMa, Kemble Scott
  • Alternates: The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Amy Tan; Valencia, Michelle Tea; Going to See the Elephant, Rudes Fishburne; Sinner’s Paradise, Scott Lettieri; Divisadero, Michael Ondaatje; Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon; Body Blows, Steven Simmons
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