The best books about New Jersey 📚

Browse the best books on New Jersey as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of This is New Jersey from High Point to Cape May

This is New Jersey from High Point to Cape May

By John T. Cunningham

Why this book?

John Cunningham Was a journalist who became a historian -- and a great one. The World War II veteran and Newark Evening News columnist wrote innumerable books about his native state, and they were all great. Perhaps his most significant contribution to the state’s story was This is New Jersey, a classic which has remained in print since its initial publication in 1953.
From the list:

The best books on New Jersey history

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of New Jersey and the Rebellion: A History of the Services of the Troops and People of New Jersey in Aid of the Union Cause

New Jersey and the Rebellion: A History of the Services of the Troops and People of New Jersey in Aid of the Union Cause

By John Young Foster

Why this book?

There are a lot of legends regarding New Jersey and its role in the Civil War, including bogus stories that the state was considering joining the Confederacy. This book was the first attempt at relating the actual story of the state and the war. While it can be criticized in some respects, it is largely correct, and details the history of each of New Jersey’s units in the conflict. It is an invaluable starting point and a resource for anyone writing about the state and its role in the Civil War.
From the list:

The best books on New Jersey history

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Encyclopedia of New Jersey

Encyclopedia of New Jersey

By Maxine N. Lurie, Marc Mappen

Why this book?

The ultimate New Jersey reference book. This publication is, without doubt, an essential title on the bookshelf of any New Jersey oriented author. With over 3,000 articles by experts in their fields of study, supplemented by illustrations and maps, it tells a comprehensive story of the state, including that it was the site of the first intercollegiate football game, and the first vote cast by an African American. If you have a question on New Jersey, you need this book, which has been cited as an outstanding reference work by the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance.
From the list:

The best books on New Jersey history

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Blue Highways: A Journey into America

Blue Highways: A Journey into America

By William Least Heat-Moon

Why this book?

Considered a travel writing classic, this book derived from a series of major changes to William Least Heat-Moon. After separating from his wife and losing his job as an English professor, he decided to drive alone in 1978 along the back roads of America, the roadways that are usually marked in blue on maps. He met an array of characters that could fill a novel, from an evangelical hitchhiker to a rural Nevada call girl. And it was all true, unlike novelized classics such as Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

From the list:

The best books on road trips in the USA and beyond

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey

Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey

By Henry Charlton Beck

Why this book?

Folklore is not history, nor is history folklore, but they often intersect. Henry Charlton Beck, a journalist who became an Episcopal priest and who wrote a series of New Jersey folklife classics, began his career with this volume, stories of abandoned iron forges, villages, and forgotten legends in the state’s iconic Pinelands. Rutgers University Press reprinted Beck’s books, beginning with this book in 1961.
From the list:

The best books on New Jersey history

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Book cover of Jernigan

Jernigan

By David Gates

Why this book?

Being lured into another world by a strong first-person voice turns a book into a wide-open door, and I love going through strange doors. This one opens onto a richly detailed middle-class mess who’s also an exceptional host, recently widowed alcoholic single-parent Peter Jernigan. He takes us on a ride through suburban New Jersey as passengers in his mind, narrating his life’s unravelling with brutal whimsy and humour. This was one of the most helpless relationships I’ve had with a character in a book. A privilege and a reminder of the balancing act we all face.

From the list:

The best books about misfits and wretched excess

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Or, view all 20 books about New Jersey

New book lists about New Jersey

All book lists about New Jersey

Bookshelves related to New Jersey

Browse books by…