It is always fun to read a book and recognize the landmarks and locations discussed on the pages. Even if the exact locations are not ones I pass by everyday, or even actually exist, often the feel of the state is still strongly felt. This might not be the case for larger states, but we Connecticut residents can often recognize the inspiration of our state in writing. Here are some books that make me smile because of the familiar settings in Connecticut.
In Pursuit of the Common Good: Twenty-Five Years of Repairing the World, One Bottle of Salad Dressing at a Time by A. E. Hotchner and Paul Newman is a perfect non-management book. The late Paul Newman is a hometown hero for most Connecticut residents. He used his fame and wealth to do as much good as he could. This book gives readers a glimpse into his compassion and style as well the partnership that built Newman’s Own, an all natural food company. The book is a fun, playful read that informs and inspires.
The Sleeping Father by Matthew Sharpe is full of acidic humor and tragedy. Sharpe tells the story of a family trying to deal with betrayal and the father’s stroke, which was pharmacologically induced. There is fear induced humor and satire in this character driven novel which keeps the sadness and humor of the story perfectly balanced. The story is set in a fictional town in Connecticut.
Summer Light by Luanne Rice illustrates the bonds of family you might expect to be shattered and the joy of finding the person you are meant to be with forever. The story is complete with struggles, tragedy and triumph not just a love story that follow the expected path. Set in a Connecticut shoreline town the book makes a great summer or beach read and captures the atmosphere of New London County perfectly.
The Barbarians Are Coming was the first novel by David Wong Louie. We see the details of family dynamics for a Chinese-American family in Connecticut, particularly the son’s struggle to be American and ignore most of his heritage. Instead, he buries himself in his chosen career, denying what connections that could be made through cooking. This is a deeply affecting novel about fathers and sons, and the struggle to be true to yourself and your family or culture.
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy is an unexpected treasure. A story of two women that connect over the phone at just the right moment in their turmoil filled lives leads to the unique opportunity to trade homes for the summer, one in Connecticut and on in Dublin. We see the reality of life, relationships and hope. This is an original and well-crafted tale that entertains and moves the reader.
We’ll Meet Again by Mary Higgins Clark is a murder mystery as well as a drama about best friends. One is convicted of murdering her husband and the other is a true crime reporter. A Connecticut socialite is the main character. She is released on parole and spends her free time trying to solve her husband’s murder while readjusting to life.
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb is not a light read, not fun or fluffy like most of my favorite and most recommended reads. It is a multi-generational story that is heartbreaking. It is full of family secrets and mental illness and the struggles that come from them. Locations from upstate Connecticut are as much a character of the book as any of the family members.
Explore these fantastic reads and get a little feel for the state of Connecticut, or if you are a fellow resident enjoy the feel of home. Nothing is better than reading a great book, except one that makes you feel at home in its settings.