Lists, Reviews

Ten Reasons Why New England Is Better Than Everywhere Else: The Definitive List

Full disclosure, there’s nothing new on this list. If you’re not a Irving-King-Russo fan, you’re welcome to quickly move on – no hard feelings.

I’ve moved around quite a bit. I’ve lived in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Virginia, Florida, and have finally settled in Colorado. My family has continued to move around since I’ve left home and I think it’s truly a pity they didn’t decide to stay in Hawaii, Jamaica, or Seattle. I might have visited more often.

Despite the frequent moves, I consider my hometown to be a little city just over the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border (it’s essentially a Boston suburb these days). A considerable portion of my life was spent within the confines of those city limits (or on the train to Boston) and I generally have fond memories. There are several regional distinctions within the US and New England is definitely…distinct. However, the sense of humor can’t be beat. To quote someone who says it better: “Our humor can be very disarming, if you’re not from New England.   We use everything; the oxymoron, puns (very disposable humor, but I love ‘em), exaggerations, understatement, subtle references to Greek mythology… everything.   You name it; we use it.” Where do you think my love of puns comes from? So it’s not that New Englanders don’t have a sense of humor, it’s just that 44 of the 50 states don’t get their humor. Urban Dictionary has some good New England definitions for those of you who didn’t have the privilege of growing up the right way, with the best pizza, the best duck boats, New Kids on the Block, and the understanding of the proper use of ‘wicked’.

This week’s top ten list is favorite books set in “place of your choice” (as hosted by The Broke and the Bookish). I’m choosing New England. It’s still one of my favorite places to visit and, thank god, no one tries to hug me. They know how weird that it.


That’s my hometown, yo.

Frankly, I’m amazed that this list isn’t entirely made up of Stephen King and John Irving. Because it could’ve been and quite possibly should’ve been… In no particular order:

10. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I should love this book; I want to love this book. I don’t always. However, I do recognize its greatness and you’ll get quite the tour of Boston while reading it.

9. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Every list needs one outlier.

8. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. My hometown plays a small role in this novel. I’ve pushed this novel quite a bit this year. Even if you think horror isn’t your thing, I would advise giving this one a chance.

7. The Bostonians by Henry James. I’m really branching out this week: John Irving, Stephen King, Richard Russo, Joe Hill, and Henry James. Something new and different for me…

6. Empire Falls by Richard Russo. As you may have read in my Book Q&A, this is possibly the book I push most on people. It’s been nearly universally loved.

5. A Separate Peace by John Knowles. This novel actually determined a significant part of my personal life.

4. The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving. It has a little bit of everything in it. In New Hampshire (and Vienna).

3. Bag of Bones by Stephen King. One of my all-time favorite novels…

2. Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving. New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado. The last sentence was inspired by Bob Dylan’s Tangled Up in Blue. My world is a small, small place sometimes.

1. The Stand by Stephen King. Always a classic choice, a large part of the novel occurred in Maine and Vermont. The most horrifying scene (the tunnel) occurred in New York, as it should. And all of the best people ended up in Boulder, which is essentially where I went after leaving New England. I’ll leave it to you to make all the proper inferences.

So which setting did you choose? Or, if you didn’t write a list, which setting is your favorite? Please realize that most of this post was written tongue-in-cheek. Although I was serious about the pizza. And New Kids on the Block.


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