New England is one of the most interesting regions in the United States, home to a ton of history, unpredictable weather patterns, and the national treasure that is Dunkin’ Donuts. Many of the best-known American authors grew up in New England and feature the area prominently in their work. If you’re looking for the New England experience without traveling, these books are the next best thing:
1. The Cider House Rules by John Irving
The Cider House Rules takes place in Maine and tells the story of an orphanage, its founder Dr. Wilbur Larch, and his favorite orphan, Homer Wells. Homer is never adopted, and he grows up to become Larch’s assistant, helping the doctor deliver the town’s unwanted babies but refusing to assist with the abortions he performs. When a new patient comes to Larch for help, Homer beginst to consider the possibility of a life beyond the orphanage. The intimacy of a small town in Maine makes the perfect backdrop for this dramatic, romantic story.
2. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Most people know Practical Magic as the film starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock, but Alice Hoffman’s book truly transports readers to Massachusetts, the perfect setting for a story about witchcraft. The small town where rumors run wild, the mysterious aunts who mystify their neighbors, and the old, eerie house where Sally and Gillian Owens grow up combine for the perfect New England aesthetic—especially if you read this book in October.
3. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
The Salem Witch Trials are a dark and fascinating aspect of New England’s history, and the subject of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. When a group of young girls in Salem, Massachusetts begin accusing townspeople of performing witchcraft, an intense panic and hysteria grips the entire town and causes neighbors to turn on each other in fear. The Crucible will give you serious second-hand paranoia and make you feel like you’re living among the Puritans.
4. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
New England colleges are some of the best in the world, and this book will make you feel like a student roaming the ancient halls of an elite university. In The Secret History, a group of students at a college in Vermont, along with their Classics professor, form a group and decide on a new and interesting way of living their lives. But they soon get carried away, and their sense of morality and loyalty is challenged when they must protect themselves and keep a huge secret. If you’re looking for the New England college experience, this book delivers it with a dark twist.
5. IT by Stephen King
If anyone knows how to write about New England, it’s Stephen King. IT takes place in the fictional town of Derry, Maine and focuses on seven children who are terrorized by a being that encompasses each child’s worst fear. Though Derry is King’s creation, the dark, isolated nature of the place rings true to those who grew up in small-town New England and makes the story all the more frightening.
6. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
For more of that trapped, creeping feeling It will give you, with a dash of insane asylums thrown in, look no further than Shutter Island. On a fictional island in Boston Harbor, U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels and Chick Aule search for a patient who has gone missing from Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. A hurricane strands them there, and the more the partners learn about Ashecliffe, the more danger they realize they’re in. This book offers an inside look at terrifying New England weather and the specific, inimitable aesthetic of Boston-area Law Enforcement.
7. Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
When you inevitably need a pick-me-up after the darkness of the last few books, Make Way For Ducklings will be there for you. Every child in New England grew up reading this picture book about a mama Mallard who has to maneuver her ducklings through the streets of Boston to get to the pond in the Public Garden. This story will make you look at Boston in a new, sweet light. And next time you find yourself there, you can check out the duckling statues in the Garden.
Even if you’ve never eaten lobster or experienced a harsh winter, these books are sure to make you feel like a born-and-bred New Englander.
YouTube Channel: BuzzFeedYellow
Featured image via Pexels