Best Books set in the Midwest

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    • #31414

      Hey there Midwest MMDBC Members. If you are in my neck of the woods (Upper Midwest) you are probably digging out from Mother Nature’s pummeling this past week.

      I always like to read books that have familiar settings to me and I thought it would be a great kickoff to this forum to discuss books you loved that are set in the Midwest.

      I recently read The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert. This has come up on the podcast a couple of times, but I really enjoyed this one. It takes place in Milwaukee and talks a lot about its food and festival scene. I grew up just north of Milwaukee, so it was fun to see them go to some iconic restaurants and festivals. I knew exactly what the food tasted like too!

      What do you recommend?

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    • #31421

      The Time Traveler’ss Wife by Audrey Niffenegger was fun to reread after I moved to the Chicago area.

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    • #31427

      A very recent release set in the Midwest is Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Although I grew up in central Illinois, I attended college in Ohio and have lots of friends in the Cleveland area. I got a real kick out of the fact that one of the characters attended my alma mater, Denison University. It is a tiny liberal arts school of only 2,100 students so most aren’t familiar with this school. In fact, readers of Little Fires Everywhere may have assumed it was a fictional university!

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      • #31810

        Yes, I loved this one, too! I live near Cleveland now and actually teach piano in Shaker Heights. It was very fun to read all the familiar streets and places. Celeste Ng nailed the “culture” of Shaker Heights, too.

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      • #32418

        Are you still in central Illinois? I live in Peoria. I read a series of books, probably 10-15 years ago, entitled the YaDa, Yada, Prayer Group. Set in Chicago, set near Lincoln Park area. I have always loved Chicago and used to visit often. It was a diverse group of ladies, who lived a city lifestyle of someone average, using public transportation. As I look at favorite books of mine, I like an interesting setting I can relate to.

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    • #32051

      I was born in KCMO and have lived in the area all of my life but have never found a book set in the area….well a good one anyway! Any suggestions?

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      • #34058

        To the question about books in Kansas City – I’ve lived here all my life too & the only books I know set here are Mr Bridge and Mrs Bridge (2 different books) by Evan S Connell. They’re fun to read if you grew up here. The movie – Mr & Mrs Bridge was filmed in KC.

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      • #39329

        For books set in Kansas City, check out Whitney Terell author of The Huntsman and the Kings of Kings County.
        Julie Mulhern also writes a series called The Country Club Murders. I have only read the first book in the series.
        Parts of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn are set in KC. She is also from KC.

        You can also check out these recommendations by KC Public Library:

        https://www.kclibrary.org/blog/book-reviews/read-locally-5-novels-every-kansas-citian-should-check-out

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    • #32076

      I don’t know if this counts, but I really enjoyed Tom Foreman’s My Year of Running Dangerously. It’s about his relationship with long distance running and how his daughter encouraged him to return to long distance running after many years off. He covers his early years of running in school and I know it was set in the Midwest and I believe it was central Illinois where I grew up, but can’t get my hands on the book right now to verify. The book also covers Washington DC, and Atlanta, GA (where I am now). It’s a great read if you like memoirs.

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    • #32289

      I would add a couple of books set in the post-apocalyptic Midwest: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (western Michigan, along with references to northern Indiana and Canada) and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Columbus, Ohio).

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    • #32290

      Another compelling read is Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves — Set in Duluth, MN.

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      • #39590

        I keep picking this one up at the store/library and putting it back down. Is it just as intense as it sounds? I grew up in Duluth and so want to read it but…

        Wendy Webb’s novels are usually Great Lakes area based. The Fate of Mercy Alban is suggested to be based on the Congdon Family of Duluth.

        I love anything Lorna Landvik. Most of her novels take place in Minnesota. A few favorites that do are:
        Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons
        Patty Jane’s House of Curl
        Tall Pine Polka

        The Great Kitchens of the Midwest also takes place in Minnesota. With some great midwestern recipes to boot!

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    • #32501

      I’m loving these replies! My TBR is growing…

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    • #34156

      I just scanned this so I’m not sure you have this title, but Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser is set in Yellow Springs, OH. I know you are upper midwest, but you can easily search Yellow Springs town online. Very artsy.

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    • #82358

      William Kent Krueger’s This Tender Land takes place in small town Minnesota, with the river having a huge presence. Orphans, American Indians, friendship, evil-doings, love and redemption…it’s all there.

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    • #86565

      Here are a few:
      Hardball (#13 of the V.I. Warshawski series set in Chicago)
      The Lager Queen of Minnesota
      Crossing to Safety (Madison, Wisconsin and New England)
      Iron Lake (#1 in the Cork O’Connor series in Minnesota)
      A Thousand Acres (Iowa)
      The Emigrants tetralogy (The Emigrants, Unto a Good Land, The Settlers, and The Last Letter Home) by Vilhelm Moberg; the first book takes place in Sweden, but the rest are in Minnesota

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    • #89205

      Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger takes place in small town Minnesota. I loved everything about this book: the unfolding mystery, characters that are so real, the time period of 1961, and the beautiful writing.

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