50 books, 50 states — here’s what to read in California, Arizona…

When Bryan Starchman set out to visit all 50 states on a four-month, book lover’s odyssey, inspired by John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley,” one of the first things the Mariposa English teacher did was to load up on books for the journey. You can find the complete “50 States, 50 Books” list on his blog at http://bryanstarchman.com/50-states-50-books.

Here’s just a sampling — which starts with four books for California, because he couldn’t choose just one — for your Audible play list or armchair reading.


“Big Sur” by Jack Kerouac: This 1962 novel tells the tale of Kerouac’s visits to Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin in Bixby Canyon.

“I am Brian Wilson” by Brian Wilson: A memoir by one of the co-founders of the Beach Boys.

“Noir” by Christopher Moore: Christopher Moore gives 1940s San Francisco the genre-tribute treatment in this witty and hilarious novel.

“There, There” by Tommy Orange: This award-winning novel about 12 people attending the Big Oakland Powwow was a Pulitzer finalist.


“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” by Hunter S. Thompson: A maverick writer and journalist takes a deep and drugged-out dive into 1960s Las Vegas in this gonzo classic.


“The Devil’s Highway” by Luis Alberto Urrea: The true story of what unfolded in 2001, when a group of men tried to cross the Mexican border into the lethal southern Arizona desert, was a Pulitzer finalist.

New Mexico

“Fire on the Mountain” by Edward Abbey: A novel about an old New Mexico rancher, as the U.S. Air Force attempts to take over his land.

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Author: Jackie Burrell