Books (especially fiction) are often viewed as an escape from our surroundings into another world. However, sometimes the books that you read are set in your city, your neighborhood, your familiarity. These can be fun reads as well – allowing you to look at something familiar through a new light. I’m currently reading a book that is set in my neighborhood – it got me thinking about some of of the other neighborhood reads that I’ve enjoyed throughout the years. Let’s take a stroll through the neighborhoods…
(Mural Photo from here)
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – I read this my freshman year of high school when we still lived in Kansas. Not too long afterwards Mom & Dad took us to a special showing of the film adaptation in the movie theater. Within 2 months Dad came home from work one evening and announced that we would be moving to Georgia – at which point he started humming the Tara theme from the movie. It turns out that we moved right to heart of GWTW country when we moved to the ‘Ville. We were right around the corner from Lovejoy & the mythical Tara was practically in our back yard. This story came full circle in high school when our marching band show my senior year included Tara’s Theme as a selection.
Whisper of the River by Ferrol Sams – As a freshman preparing to start at Mercer Univeristy this was required reading. This is the 2nd in a trilogy of books about a small town Georgia boy and his adventures through college and medical school. The school is a fictional representation of Mercer University – so reading about the exploits of Porter Osborne is like being on the campus decades ago. As I became involved on campus I learned more & more about which fictional item corresponded to which reality of campus. It was a rite of passage to climb the rickety ladder in the attic of the administration building to view the city from the tall spires. My sophomore and junior years I was an orientation assistant and always enjoyed the book discussions with the new students. The main character, Porter Osborne, is based on the author – who actually is from the ‘Ville – in fact, the high school auditorium was the Ferrol Sams auditorium and his wife was my doctor in high school.
Many books are set in Chicago. Among the recent (last couple of years) Chicago reads that were very familiar: Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is filled with the sites and sounds of Chicago that I encounter on a regular basis. Early in the book the main characters eat at their favorite sushi restaurant which is practially around the corner from my house – one of these days I will check it out. Set in the late 70s into the 80s, Crossing California by Adam Langer sheds some light on what my neighborhood was like years ago – many of the frequently visited locations in the book are still here – the high school, the hot dog stand, etc. The Yada Yada Prayer Group series by Neta Jackson is set here on the Northside of Chicago within the last couple of years so the referenced restaurants, shops, etc. are places that I have been to or driven by often and the characters in the stories seem like women I could meet at my church.
What in the neighborhood books have you read?