20 Jul

Map of the Week: A Library of America

By Sara Ryan

CALLING ALL BOOKWORMS: by diving into the paper version of American life, prepare to embark on a literary road trip across the US! This interactive map, “A Library of America,” created by Susan Straight, allows users to choose their next read based on locations within the US. All of the points on the map depict where over 1,000 American life novels from all eras of history were based. Clicking on the points reveals further information about the books.

While most novels within this database are anchored in real life locations, some of the novels are set in fictional places or locations that no longer exist. In these cases, Straight’s dedication to her work led her to contacting several authors and getting their input on what place they had in mind at the time of writing their stories. She then used their descriptions to pinpoint a home for their novel on the map. 

Growing up surrounded by maps and working as a professor of creative writing at UC Riverside, Straight had been inspired to spend the last five years compiling this mammoth database. This map visualization is encouraging to readers all across the country and in all age groups to pick up a new book. Her work also highlights how tales of the past can hold keys to better understanding the history and environment of the US, and enables these literary works to be fully appreciated when idealized through a visual map.