2023 Great Reads from Great Places

Every year since 2002, the Ohio Center for the Book has had the honor of selecting a book to represent our state in the national Great Reads from Great Places initiative. Those titles are highlighted at the annual National Book Festival in Washington, DC, as well as being placed on the permanent list of honoree titles.

Each state selects a book written for children or young adults and a book written for an adult audience. We are proud to announce the following titles chosen to represent Ohio for the 2023 Great Reads from Great Places.

This year, the Ohio Center for the Book’s selections highlight an often overlooked and misunderstood region of our state with two books focusing on Appalachian Ohio. Our two books provide perspectives that celebrate the unique character and culture of this region. See below for additional resources and reading on Appalachian Ohio.

2023 Selection for Youth

When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike written by Michelle Houts and illustrated by Erica Magnus

(Ohio University Press, 2016)

Houts’ and Magnus’ book tells the story of 67-year-old Emma “Grandma” Gatewood who became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. The book is inspirational for both children and adults, ending with Houts encouraging readers to “think of Grandma Gatewood as you set your sights on your own goals. No matter what mountains might stand in your way.” The book was named School Library Journal‘s Best Nonfiction Picture Book of 2016.

Michelle Houts lives in northwest Ohio and is the award-winning author of numerous books for young readers. Her website is michellehouts.com.

Erica Magnus lives in Athens County, Ohio, and has been an author and illustrator as well as a teacher and concept and creature design artist for film and television. She can be found online at ericamagnus.wordpress.com.

Find When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike at a library near you by clicking here.

2023 Selection for Adults

Stay and Fight by Madeline ffitch

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019)

“Set in a region known for its independent spirit, Stay and Fight shakes up what it means to be a family, to live well, to make peace with nature and make deals with the system. It is a protest novel that challenges our notions of effective action. It is a family novel that refuses to limit the term. And it is a marvel of storytelling that both breaks with tradition and celebrates it. Best of all, it is full of flawed, cantankerous, flesh-and-blood characters who remind us that conflict isn’t the end of love, but the real beginning.” (from the book jacket)

Stay and Fight is the debut novel from Madeline ffitch who “writes and organizes in Appalachian Ohio.” She is also the author of the short story collection Valparaiso, Round the Horn. Her website is madelineffitch.com.

Selected Praise for Stay and Fight

  • Finalist, PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel
  • Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction
  • Finalist, Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction
  • Finalist, Washington State Book Awards
  • Named one of “10 July (2019) Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down” by Oprah Magazine

Find Stay and Fight in a library near you by clicking here.

Other Appalachian Ohio Resources and Reading