Delbanco, Andrew. Writing New England: An Anthology from the Puritans to the Present. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2001. From John Winthrop to John Updike, all the great writers who have called New England home are gathered in one place. Through thoughtful subject arrangements, the editor tries to answer the question, what is the common spirit of New England?
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave: Written By Himself. 1845, Signet Classics, 2005. The quintessential slave narrative includes details of Douglass’s life as an abolitionist in Boston .
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The House of Seven Gables. 1851, Signet Classics, 2001. The tragic story of several interlocking families is set in a house that still exists in Salem .
James, Henry. The Bostonians. 1886, Modern Library Classics, 2003. Beacon Hill  comes alive in this evocation of 19th-century Boston.
Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. 1851, Penguin Classics, 2002. Captain Ahab, the White Whale, and Ishmael along for the ride… what more could you ask for? Look for opening scenes set in New Bedford, Massachusetts .
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. 1854, Modern Library Classics, 2000. The classic account of Thoreau’s two years living a hermit’s life on Walden Pond  is a philosophical treatise, a timeless glimpse into 19th-century rural New England, and inspiration for the modern-day environmental movement. Look for an edition that includes The Maine Woods and Cape Cod, travelogues that blend the author’s sharp eye and wry sense of humor.