Jun 6, 2023 - News

Books based in Colorado are plotted on national map

A person reads a book in a hammock while dogs play in Boulder Creek. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Through literature set in Colorado and beyond, a new project mapping 1,001 fiction books read by one novelist over five years aims to show that Americans aren't as divided as we think.

Driving the news: Susan Straight, an author and professor of creative writing at the University of California-Riverside, recently published her "library of America" in the Los Angeles Times.

  • As she read, she worked with mapping software company Esri to plot where each novel takes place. The final result includes 14 titles located in the Centennial State, including three in Denver and two in Leadville.

What they're saying: Arguments over what it means to be American ignore "our common dreams, fears, challenges, hopes and everyday experiences, which unite us, regardless of where we live," Straight writes.

  • "I wanted to show that the places of American fiction can't be divided into blue or red states."

Zoom in: Here are the books on Straight's map based in Denver:

  • "Little Miss Strange" by Joanna Rose
  • "The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller
  • And "Sabrina & Corina" by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Here are 11 other books mapped in Colorado. Place names listed in quotes are fictitious:

  • Leadville: "Among the Lesser Gods" by Margo Catts
  • Leadville: "Angle of Repose" by Wallace Stegner
  • Longmont: "Wyoming" by JP Gritton
  • Pueblo: "The Mineral Palace" by Heidi Julavits
  • "Antelope": "Happy Landing" by Lenora Mattingly Weber
  • Laporte: "Second Hoeing" by Hope Williams Sykes
  • "Holt": "Plainsong" by Kent Haruf
  • "Bear Mountain": "When the Legends Die" by Hal Borland
  • Rocky Mountains: "The Mountain Lion" by Jean Stafford
  • "Hell's Bottom": "Hell's Bottom, Colorado" by Laura Pritchett
  • "Plata": "Watershed" by Percival Everett

Go deeper: Explore the interactive map


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