Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company
Diana Davies/Courtesy of the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution

Author and activist Bill McKibben paddles toward Follensby Pond in New York's Adirondack Mountains, along the route followed by Ralph Waldo Emerson in the summer of 1858. Julia Ferguson/NCPR hide caption

itoggle caption Julia Ferguson/NCPR

Author Curtis Sittenfeld Josephine Sittenfeld/Josephine Sittenfeld hide caption

itoggle caption Josephine Sittenfeld/Josephine Sittenfeld

The way E.L. Doctorow told it, the phrase "historical novel" is something of a misnomer when it comes to his writing. "I think really of myself as a national novelist; I am an American novelist writing about my country." Mary Altaffer/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Mary Altaffer/AP