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Home > News and views > American books for armchair travel

American books for armchair travel

ESU US branch members recommend titles which capture a sense of their home states

To celebrate our American links in light of the ESU US centenary celebrations, we asked ESU US branch members for their recommendations of books which really capture a flavour and sense of their home state. From classic novels to sweeping histories and even highly acclaimed vampire stories, there’s something for every taste.

If you’d like to buy any of the books on Amazon, remember that there’s now an easy way to donate to the ESU every time you buy – at no extra cost to you. Simply sign in at and type in ‘English-Speaking Union’ to the ‘pick your charity’ search field and continue shopping as normal. Once this has been selected, Amazon will donate 0.5 per cent of the price of eligible purchases made through the site.

Washington State 

Recommended by ESU Past President Seattle Branch, William Maschmeier 

Sons of the Profits by Bill Speidel 

The Wet Side of the Mountains by Bill Speidel 

Books about New York City and New York State 

Recommended by ESU President Louisville Branch, Kate Nitzken 

Gotham by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace 

Here is New York by E.B. White 

Power and Society: Greater New York at the Turn of the Century by David C. Hammack 

Food City: Four Centuries of Food-Making in New York by Joy Santlofler 

Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theatre by Larry Stempel 

New York Art Deco: A Guide to Gotham’s Jazz Age by Anthony W. Robins 

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving 

Furs and Foes: Tales of the Early American Frontier by John Cahill 

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis 


Recommended by ESU President Nashville Branch, Dr. Susan Sinclair 

My Alabama: John Dersham Photographs a State  


Recommended by ESU President Nashville Branch, Dr. Susan Sinclair 

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America by John M. Barry  


Recommended by ESU President Nashville Branch, Dr. Susan Sinclair 

Legends & Lore of East Tennessee by Shane S Simmons 


Recommended by ESU Past President Charlottesville Branch, Dr. Julia Churchill Van de Water 

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed  


Recommended by ESU Secretary Kansas City Branch, Jeff Schnabel 

Missouri: An Illustrated Timeline 200 Years of Heroes and Rogues, Heartbreak and Triumph by John W. Brown 


Recommended by ESU President Greenwich Branch, Natalie Pray 

Creating Connecticut – critical moments that shaped the State – by Walter Woodward 

The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton 


Recommended by ESU President Atlanta Branch, Charles Maddrey 

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Recommended by President ESU Central Florida Branch, Barbara Hughes 

A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith  

Land of Sunshine by Gary Marino  


Recommended by former ESU National Board Member, Darrell Hill 

Illinois: A History of the Land and Its People by Roger Biles  


Recommended by President ESU Cleveland Branch, Bill Kennedy 

The Pioneers by David McCulloch 

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson 

Tar: A Midwest Childhood by Sherwood Anderson  


Recommended by President ESU Kentucky Branch, Kate Nitzken 

Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch and Irish by Fred Minnick 

Of Woods and Waters, A Kentucky Outdoor Reader Edited by Ron Ellis 

Beyond Mammoth Cave: A Tale of Obsession in the World’s Longest Cave by James D. Borden 

Joseph S. Blackburn, Soldier, Statesman and Friend of All by Elizabeth Rouse Fielder 

Seabiscuit, An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson 

Jaber Crow by Wendel Berry 


Recommended by President ESU New Orleans Branch, Dave Grissett 

Unfathomable City, A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedaker  

Louisiana Eats!: The People, the Food, and Their Stories by Poppy Tooker  

Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans by Lawrence Powell  

River Road Recipes (I, II, III, and IV.) by Junior League of Baton Rouge 

Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice 


Recommended by President ESU Boston Branch, Paul Boghosian 

Washington and Franklin by Edward Larson  

The Abandonment of The West by Michael Kimmage 


Recommended by President ESU Los Angeles Branch, Jason Hayes 

Ana of California, by Andi Teran 

Farm City, by Novella Carpenter 

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan 

North Carolina 

Recommended by Past National ESU Board Member, Christopher Hodgkins from North Carolina, Chapel Hill 

Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier 


General Books about the USA  

Recommended by ESU President Central Pennsylvania Branch, Dr. Karen Blair-Brand 

The Heart of Everything that is, the Untold Story of Red Cloud: An American Legend by Bob Drury & Tom Clavin 

Appetite for America: Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wildwest—One Meal at a Time by Stephen Fried 

I am the Grand Canyon: The Story of the Havasupai People by Stephen Hirst 

Mary Coulter, Builder Upon the Red Earth by Virginia L. Grattan 

Washington, D.C., The USA Nation’s Capital City 

Washington’s Myths, Legends and Tall Tales—Some of which are True, Sorting Fact from Fiction in the stories Washingtonians Love to Tell by Mollie Reilly 

Washington, D.C., Then and Now by Alexander D. Mitchell 


Exploring the Pennsylvania Colony, Smithsonian by John Joseph Micklos 

William Penn: Founder of Pennsylvania by Ryan Jacobson 

The Riddle of Amish Culture by Donald Kraybill 


History of the State of Delaware, 5th Ed. by John A. Munroe 

Letting Your Road Tell Its Story: A History of Delaware Roads by D Amott 


The Last Train to Paradise by Les Standiford 


The Illinois Chronicles:  The Story of the State of Illinois, From its birth to the Present Day by Mark Skipworth 


The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes by Bryan Burrough 


Photo by specphotops on Unsplash


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