10 Must-Read Books Set In Ohio

10 Must-Read Books Set In Ohio

These 10 must-read books set in Ohio prove that the Midwest, otherwise known as America’s Heartland, is home to great fiction.

1. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

“In this moving collection of interrelated stories, Ohio-born Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) illuminates the loneliness and frustration — spiritual, emotional and artistic — of life in a small American town. Winesburg, Ohio subtly portrays as well a young writer’s coming of age, searching for love, yearning for a less stifling world.”

2. Indignation by Phillip Roth

“During the second year of the Korean War in 1951, studious, law-abiding Marcus Messner is beginning his sophomore year on the conservative campus of Ohio’s Winesburg College. Marcus has fled from his hometown of Newark, New jersey, trying to escape his father’s oppressive lovea love that is also a mad fear of the dangers of adult life soon to face his son. Whilst at college, Marcus has to traverse an American world that isn’t his own: facing off against ardent Christian, Dean Cauldwell, and falling in love with the beautiful Olivia Hutton. Indignation gleams with narrative muscle, as it twists and turns unpredictably, and extends – shockingly – beyond the confines of natural life.”

3. Reading Blue Devils: A Novel by Jon Bennett

“To Hell with high school! The American education system is turned inside out when a frustrated teacher incites his students to stage an uprising. In a poor suburban community in Ohio, Dieter Vogel is a failing English teacher at a high school populated predominately by minority students. He is bullied by the basketball coach, neglected by the principal, ignored by his crush, Esther, and pressured to workout with Jose, the art teacher. At the end of the first day back after summer break, Dieter is visited by Satan, who takes the initial form of a Twinkie. Satan convinces Dieter to overthrow the school mascot, Gretel the Pretzel, so that the Devil can take its place. Dieter is promised Esther’s love and the role of Principal in return. All Dieter has to do is follow the Devil’s advice and use classic literature to manipulate the students into a racially charged frenzy against the mostly white staff.”

4. Beloved by Toni Morrison

“Set after the American Civil War (1861–65), Beloved inspired by the story of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who escaped slavery in Kentucky late January 1856 by fleeing to Ohio.”

5. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

“The story centers around a young African American girl named Pecola who grows up during the years following the Great Depression in Lorain, Ohio. Because of her dark skin color and harsh characteristics, Pecola is constantly called ‘ugly’. As a result, she develops an inferiority complex, which fuels her desire for the blue eyes she equates with ‘whiteness;.”

6. The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace

“The year is 1990 and the place is a slightly altered Cleveland, Ohio. Lenore’s great-grandmother has disappeared with twenty-five other inmates of the Shaker Heights Nursing Home. Her beau, and boss, Rick Vigorous, is insanely jealous, and her cockatiel, Vlad the Impaler, has suddenly started spouting a mixture of psycho-babble, Auden, and the King James Bible.”

7. Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut

“Set mostly within fictional Midland City, Ohio. Deadeye Dick is Kurt Vonnegut’s funny, chillingly satirical look at the death of innocence. Amid a true Vonnegutian host of horrors—a double murder, a fatal dose of radioactivity, a decapitation, an annihilation of a city by a neutron bomb—Rudy Waltz, aka Deadeye Dick, takes us along on a zany search for absolution and happiness. Here is a tale of crime and punishment that makes us rethink what we believe…and who we say we are.”

8. The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollack

via amazon.com

“This follow-up to 2008’s Knockemstiff is set in the Midwest during the mid-century, but reads more like a gothic Western. Lawlessness roams the rural, god-fearing landscape of Ohio and West Virginia, inhabitated by the likes of Pollock’s deranged-yet-compelling cast of characters–a husband and wife who take vacations to murder hitchhikers, a faux preacher and his crippled accomplice on the lam for manslaughter, and an orphan with a penchant for exacting violent justice.”

9. Wench: A Novel by Dolen-Perkins Valdez

“Situated in Ohio, a free territory before the Civil War, Tawawa House is an idyllic retreat for Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their enslaved black mistresses. It’s their open secret. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at the resort, building strong friendships over the years. But when Mawu, as fearless as she is assured, comes along and starts talking of running away, things change. To run is to leave everything behind, and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances—all while they bear witness to the end of an era.”

10. The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

“When local prosecutor Autopsy Bliss publishes an invitation to the devil to come to the country town of Breathed, Ohio, nobody quite expects that he will turn up. They especially don’t expect him to turn up as a tattered and bruised thirteen-year-old boy.”

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