Good Minds Suggest: Annie Barrows's Favorite Books About Small TownsPosted by Goodreads on June 1, 2015
Need an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life? Annie Barrows understands—her fiction is focused on little towns with big heart and character. After graduating with a degree in Medieval History (a great era for the town and village), she worked as an editor at Chronicle Books before turning to writing full-time. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which she coauthored with her aunt, Mary Ann Shaffer, introduced an island full of eccentric characters, and Ivy and Bean, her children's book series, follows the gleeful adventures of two friends living and learning in Pancake Court. In her new book for adults, The Truth According to Us, she dives into another cozy setting, Macedonia, West Virginia, where the prominent Romeyn family struggles to keep their secrets safe from a nosy new arrival. Barrows shares her favorite books about life, love, and occasional lunacy in small towns around the world.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
"It almost goes without saying: This is THE great book about small-town America, in that the town of Maycomb is a central character in the story. Just like all the most interesting characters, Maycomb is history-haunted, conflicted, and deluded by love and hate. The book is such an icon that it seems to have always existed, whole and perfect, just the way it is. But of course it was made, and the town of Maycomb, as constructed by Harper Lee, embodies the wonderful way these places are both prisons and palaces for the people who live in them."
Middlemarch by George Eliot
"OK, so it's not America—it's still a small town where everyone knows your grandfather cheated his next-door neighbor on the sale of a cow and predicts that you'll display the same underhanded traits if you're not carefully watched. The parts about poor Dr. Lydgate are especially moving. He arrives in town an independent, proud, forward-thinking representative of science, but Middlemarch has the last laugh. It's tragic, really, but brilliant. George knows whereof she speaks, for sure."
Staggerford by Jon Hassler
"This unfairly neglected novel covers a week in the life of a high school teacher in the small town of Staggerford, Minnesota, in the 1970s. For six of the days not much happens, except that our hero lives in the town where he's lived all his life, among people he grasps so thoroughly, he can predict their every move. He teaches, his teeth hurt, he goes to a party and gets drunk, but running through the week like a vein is a story about betrayal, loss, love, cowardice, and bravery—the full gamut of virtue and sin."
Chronicle in Stone by Ismail Kadare
"This is sort of a weird one, since the author himself says it's about a city. But this city—on an unnamed mountain in Albania during the Second World War—is really the semimagical, semifarcical, semitragical small town of childhood, populated by the familiar and the utterly alien. In the course of this gorgeous, unsettling book, both the narrator and the place are inexorably dragged from illusion to reality. Plus, it's Albanian. How often do you read a great Albanian book?"
A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
"Let's lighten up a little bit here with a great kids' book. A Long Way from Chicago tells the story of a Depression-era teenager who's been sent from his home in Chicago to a small Illinois town to live with his irascible grandmother Dowdell, who knows everyone in town and doesn't think much of them. If gossip weren't entertaining, people wouldn't do it so much, and the author displays a keen understanding of how much fun it is to get the dirt on your neighbors."
Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Books About Small Towns