10 books like The Not-Quite States of America

By Doug Mack,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Not-Quite States of America. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

American Nations

By Colin Woodard,

Book cover of American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

Some of our state lines were cultural borders. The Colony of Massachusetts was founded by and for Puritans; Maryland was created for Catholics; Pennsylvania for Quakers. That process continued after the Revolution, regardless of state (or later-to-become state) lines. Colin Woodard’s book explores the founding of such cultural regions and reveals how those not-on-the-map lines influence our differing views to this day.

American Nations

By Colin Woodard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Nations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* A New Republic Best Book of the Year * The Globalist Top Books of the Year * Winner of the Maine Literary Award for Non-fiction *

Particularly relevant in understanding who voted for who in this presidential election year, this is an endlessly fascinating look at American regionalism and the eleven "nations" that continue to shape North America

According to award-winning journalist and historian Colin Woodard, North America is made up of eleven distinct nations, each with its own unique historical roots. In American Nations he takes readers on a journey through the history of our fractured continent, offering…


Nature's Metropolis

By William Cronon,

Book cover of Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

This classic work on economic geography by William Cronon demonstrates how the city of Chicago and the American West developed together. It is a history of the relationship Chicago had with the rest of America in the nineteenth century by looking at the flow of grain, lumber, and meat. The key role of the railroads is also featured as well.

Nature's Metropolis

By William Cronon,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Nature's Metropolis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking work, William Cronon gives us an environmental perspective on the history of nineteenth-century America. By exploring the ecological and economic changes that made Chicago America's most dynamic city and the Great West its hinterland, Mr. Cronon opens a new window onto our national past. This is the story of city and country becoming ever more tightly bound in a system so powerful that it reshaped the American landscape and transformed American culture. The world that emerged is our own.

Winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize


Cessions of Land by Indian Tribes to the United States

By Charles C. Royce,

Book cover of Cessions of Land by Indian Tribes to the United States

This book is not so much one to read, being more of an atlas. And atlases are expensive. Except this one. It’s free! Published by the U.S. Government in 1899 but still available online, it’s an extraordinary collection of Native American borders that got changed...and changed...and changed. It is history in the raw, from back in that time. More importantly, it is history we all need to know, if we are to know who we are as a nation today.

Cessions of Land by Indian Tribes to the United States

By Charles C. Royce,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cessions of Land by Indian Tribes to the United States as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

HardPress Classic Books Series


Underland

By Robert MacFarlane,

Book cover of Underland: A Deep Time Journey

When we talk about nature, we think of trees, lakes, rivers, oceans, mountains. But there is a parallel world that exists right beneath our feet! 

MacFarlane’s narration flows in a dreamlike prose and moves in gentle and deep shifts. The book that describes itself as “A book about burial and unburial and deep time” is one of the most mesmerising books on natural history that I have read. The prose is as transcendental as the subject matter. Formidably and masterfully told.

Underland

By Robert MacFarlane,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Underland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Underland, Robert Macfarlane delivers an epic exploration of the Earth's underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself. Traveling through the dizzying expanse of geologic time-from prehistoric art in Norwegian sea caves, to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, to a deep-sunk "hiding place" where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come-Underland takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind.

Global in its geography and written with great lyricism, Underland speaks powerfully to our present…


The Rope of Tradition

By Lino M. Olopai,

Book cover of The Rope of Tradition: Reflections of a Saipan Carolinian

Lino Olopai is a Carolinian elder in the community and also a friend. In fact, I ran into him this morning (the very day I write this summary) at about 6:30 am while I was jogging on the beach. The beachfront land beneath Lino's simple home has been in his family for generations, and because of that, he has refused to sell despite offers from corporate concerns and developers. Lino is also of a lineage with privileged knowledge of celestial navigation. He could set sail on nothing but a raft and—using the stars, waves, and movement of sea creatures as signposts—navigate hundreds of miles over the vast Pacific ocean to other islands! The Rope of Tradition is an account and knowledge that must be shared and preserved.

The Rope of Tradition

By Lino M. Olopai,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rope of Tradition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From back cover of book: [Topic of book:] "Indigenous Micronesian cultures and the issues and challenges confronting cultural preservation in the face of rapid globalization.' . . . "Indigenous cultures throughout Micronesia have undergone major changes over the six decades since the end of World War II, a situation that has been particularly acute on Saipan, the capital island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. "The Rope of Tradition," written by Saipan Carolinian Lino M. Olopai with the assistance of cultural anthropologist Dr. Juliana Flinn, describes Mr. Olopai's longstanding efforts to document and better understand his rich cultural…


Saipan

By Don A. Farrell,

Book cover of Saipan: A Brief History

Don A. Farrell's name always comes up (as it has now) in any credible discussion of publications about Saipan's, Tinian's, and Rota's history—particularly as it relates to World War II. His meticulously researched books have set a standard unmatched for thoroughness and accuracy. Don flies around the world to personally conduct interviews, visit sites, and scour archives and collections to produce visually stunning and informationally satisfying work replete with previously-unseen photographs, declassified documents, and accounts that even the history books often get wrong! Here on Saipan, you'll find Saipan: A Brief History at the American Memorial Park Visitor Center, our local library and bookstore, but also at gift shops, car rental companies, and even the checkout counter of local supermarkets! You won't be disappointed!

Saipan

By Don A. Farrell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Saipan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This well-made 112-page booklet tells the history of Saipan, capitol island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, in both text and illustrations.
In a concise and accurate format, Marianas historian Don Farrell takes the reader from the roots of the indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians of Saipan, through their experiences with the Spanish, German and Japanese administrations to a graphic review of the island’s role during World War II. The last sections discuss the postwar Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, and the birth and growth of the Commonwealth. The last sixteen pages provide a full-color representation of Saipan…


Without a Penny in my Pocket

By Marie S.C. Castro,

Book cover of Without a Penny in my Pocket: My Bittersweet Memories Before and After World War II

Marie S.C. Castro knows. Here on Saipan, we tell a different story about aviator Amelia Earhart's and Fred Noonan's fate. The famed pilot and navigator did not "disappear." They crashed on Mili atoll in the Marshall Islands; were detained by the Japanese military;  brought to Saipan where Fred was beheaded and Amelia died of dysentery. Without a Penny in my Pocket includes rare photos and shares Marie's account of growing up and attending school during the Japanese occupation, moving stateside, and ultimately returning home. It helps us understand the lifestyle of the local people at the time of Amelia's presence. (Castro, founder of Saipan's Amelia Earhart Memorial Association, has a book with Earhart researcher, Mike Campbell, to further the mission of keeping the legacy alive. Start the adventure with Marie's story!)

Without a Penny in my Pocket

By Marie S.C. Castro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Without a Penny in my Pocket as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Some memories live in hearts and minds even though miles and years come between”—and for the author, she not only has memories to share, but a history to tell. Born and raised in the island of Saipan in Northern Marianas, Marie S. C. Castro (Miss Soledad) witnessed the transition of an idyllic community into a land of terror and poverty as the Japanese soldiers invaded her homeland. But rather than just tales of adversity in the hands of the Japanese invaders and the horrors of war, she showcases stories of bravery, faith, and hope as she, her people, and the…


Our Northern Islands

By Dennis Chan, Angelo O'Connor Villagomez (editor),

Book cover of Our Northern Islands: The first expedition to the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument

It is the dream of many indigenous residents of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota to visit—at least once during a lifetime—the remote "northern islands" of the 400-mile archipelago that comprises the Mariana Islands. High school student Dennis Chan fulfilled that dream as his prize for winning an essay contest. The contest—and the winner's participation in a week-long, first-of-its-kind ocean expedition—was timed to coincide with the Bush administration's designation of a 95,000sqare mile swath of the Western Pacific Ocean as an official Marine National Monument. Dennis, with the help of activist and blogger Angelo Villagomez, chronicled and published Our Northern Islands, an account (with photos) of the team's once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

Our Northern Islands

By Dennis Chan, Angelo O'Connor Villagomez (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Northern Islands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Our Northern Islands is a first person telling of the first expedition to the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument.


The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle

By Edgardo Vega Yunqué,

Book cover of The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle

In Vega’s third novel, the eponymous Omaha Bigelow falls for a young and gifted Puerto Rican Taina priestess, Maruquita Salsipuedes. Smitten by the “gringo whiteboy,” and driven by her desire to have a “gringorican baby,” Maruquita asks her mother to perform the bohango ceremony on Omaha to enlarge his small penis. Breaking his vow never to use this new bohango on another woman, Omaha pays the consequences for his betrayal. Full of metafictional intrusions, a subplot concerning a secret, subversive plot to liberate Puerto Rico, and rambling discursive rants, this maximalist novel is more than a parodic romantic story. Vega’s fictional world is often complex, imaginative, iconoclastic, and attuned to American culture and society as seen through the eyes of arguably the most accomplished, talented diasporican fiction writer to date. 

The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle

By Edgardo Vega Yunqué,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of the most powerful voices in contemporary fiction comes a fantastic adventure through the concrete jungle of New York City

Failed in all his career aspirations, recently laid off from Kinko's, and burdened with a frustrating anatomical shortcoming, Omaha Bigelow finds salvation on the streets of New York City's Lower East Side in the form of a Nuyorican homegirl equipped with an array of powers to cure his problems. Their misbegotten romance transforms him from a perpetual loser to an overnight success, but fame comes with a hefty price. Omaha must soon struggle to remain faithful as he…


The Taste of Sugar

By Marisel Vera,

Book cover of The Taste of Sugar

Through friendships with Borinqueñxs and interest in the island, I don’t consider myself wholly ignorant about Puerto Rico. Like the Philippines, Puerto Rico was claimed by the US following the Spanish American War, but once again, when I tried to learn more about that era, I ran into a brick wall. Marisel Vera recovers that history while offering all the pleasures of a traditional family saga. She brings the reader close to the daily lives and loves of a family of coffee farmers who struggle first under Spanish rule and then the system established by the US. Vera also taught me something I’d never heard of: the deceptive recruitment that carried newly impoverished but still hopeful Puerto Ricans off to Hawaii to labor in the sugar fields. 

The Taste of Sugar

By Marisel Vera,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Taste of Sugar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marisel Vera emerges as a major new voice in contemporary fiction with this "capacious" (The New Yorker) novel set in Puerto Rico on the eve of the Spanish-American War. Up in the mountainous region of Utuado, Vicente Vega and Valentina Sanchez labor to keep their coffee farm from the creditors. When the great San Ciriaco hurricane of 1899 brings devastating upheaval, the young couple is lured along with thousands of other puertorriquenos to the sugar plantations of Hawaii, where they are confronted by the hollowness of America's promises of prosperity. Depicting the roots of Puerto Rican alienation and exodus, which…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Puerto Rico, World War 2, and the Pacific Ocean?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Puerto Rico, World War 2, and the Pacific Ocean.

Puerto Rico Explore 16 books about Puerto Rico
World War 2 Explore 1142 books about World War 2
The Pacific Ocean Explore 30 books about the Pacific Ocean