Back Roads, Christine, Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Alex Pettyfer, The Lovely Bones, Pennsylvania

5 Books to Celebrate National Pennsylvania Day

Happy Pennsylvania Day! We have Pennsylvania to thank for many things: cheese steaks, Hershey’s, and America’s first baseball stadium, to name a few. What you may not know, however, is how many great books are set there! 


We’ve put together a list of the top five novels that take place in Pennsylvania to help you celebrate.


1. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon


Myseries of Pittsburgh book cover

Image Courtesy of Amazon 


Michael Chabon’s debut novel, which he wrote as his graduate thesis while at Penn State, follows student Art Bechstein and explores themes of sexuality, father-son relationships, and friendship. Specific settings include Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham College, Hillman Library, Lake Erie, Presbyterian University Hospital, Schenley Park, and Schenley Bridge.


This book sparked Chabon’s stellar writing career. He has gone on to publish over twenty novels and short story collections. He has also won a Pulitzer Prize for his book ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.’ 


2. Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell


Cover for Tawni O'Dell's Back Roads

Image Courtesy of Goodreads


Set in the backwoods of Pennsylvania, this dark tale follows Harley Altmyer, a teenager left to care for his three sisters while their mother serves time for the murder of their abusive father. Harley develops an obsession with a local mother of two, unearthing dark secrets.


Alex Pettyfer will make his directorial debut with an adaptation starring Juliette Lewis and Nicola Peltz later this year!


3. Christine by Stephen King


Cover of Christine by Stephen King

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia 


While most of King’s creepy tales take place in the mists of Maine, this 1983 offering is set in Pennsylvania and tells the story of a vintage car possessed by the supernatural which falls into the hands of teenagers Arnie and Dennis.


A movie version directed by John Carpenter came out the same year it was published, starring Keith Gordon and John Stockwell. 


4. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold


The Lovely Bones book cover

Image Courtesy of Goodreads 


A teenage girl watches from Heaven as her family and friends struggle to come to terms with her murder in her hometown of Norristown, Pennsylvania. Sebold’s novel became an instant bestseller and was made into a film by ‘Lord of the Rings’ director Peter Jackson in 2009.


The book drew attention for its depiction of Heaven as something peculiar to the individual, and its sensitive handling of the difficult subject matter. 


5. Rabbit, Run by John Updike


Cover of Rabbit, Run by John Updike: a basket ball over text on striped background

Image Courtesy of Goodreads 


This 1960 novel from the author of ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ follows Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, a former high school basketball star whose life has become monotonous and dull, and his attempts to escape it.


Published when Updike was just twenty-eight, The New York Times called it a “shabby domestic tragedy,” but also “a notable triumph of intelligence and compassion.”


Featured Image Courtesy of Tumblr, Horror Novel Reviews, Alchetron, Wikipedia, Variety, Amazon, and Emaze