The most recommended books about North Carolina

Who picked these books? Meet our 172 experts.

172 authors created a book list connected to North Carolina, and here are their favorite North Carolina books.
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Book cover of North Carolina Ghosts and Legends

Jennifer Bean Bower Author Of Winston & Salem: Tales of Murder, Mystery and Mayhem

From my list on North Carolina murders, mysteries, and legends.

Why am I passionate about this?

Jennifer Bean Bower is an award-winning writer and native Tar Heel. A passionate student of North Carolina history, Bower seeks to document the lesser-known people, places, and events of her state's past. She is the author of four books: North Carolina Aviatrix Viola Gentry: The Flying Cashier; Animal Adventures in North Carolina; Winston & Salem: Tales of Murder, Mystery, and Mayhem; and Moravians in North Carolina.

Jennifer's book list on North Carolina murders, mysteries, and legends

Jennifer Bean Bower Why did Jennifer love this book?

Nancy Roberts, also known as the “First Lady of American Folklore,” inspired many children—including me—to read. North Carolina Ghosts & Legends recounts stories of “true” ghostly encounters and has sent many readers on ghost hunts of their own. I became fascinated with Roberts’ story of the Little Red Man—a ghost who is said to haunt a historic site in Winston-Salem—and while visiting the site (on a second-grade field trip), I interrupted a tour guide to inquire about his whereabouts. My classmates erupted in giggles and I was reprimanded for the disruption. Nevertheless, many years later, I had the pleasure of working at that historic site; but, I never had the pleasure of meeting the infamous ghost.

By Nancy Roberts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked North Carolina Ghosts and Legends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Nancy Roberts's Southern Ghost Lore Revival--Exhumed and Improved for Fearless Reader.

Nancy Roberts has often been described to as the "First Lady of American Folklore" and the Title is well deserved. Throughout her decades-long career, Roberts documented supernatural experiences and interviewed hundreds of people about their recollections of encounters with the supernatural.

This nationally renowned writer began her undertaking in this ghostly realm as a freelance writer for the Charlotte Observer. Encouraged by Carl Sandburg, who enjoyed her stories and articles, Roberts wrote her first book in 1958. Aptly called a "custodian of the twilight zone" by Southern Living magazine,…


Book cover of The Lost State of Franklin: America's First Secession

Lori Benton Author Of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

From my list on the Lost State of Franklin.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lori Benton is an award-winning, multi-published author of historical novels set during 18th century North America. Her literary passion is bringing little-known historical events to life through the eyes of those who lived it, particularly those set along the Appalachian frontier, where European and Native American cultural and world views collided. Her second published historical novel, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, is set against the backdrop of the State of Franklin conflict, in which a young woman and a frontiersman flee across the mountains of North Carolina to keep her free of an unwanted marriage, just as tensions over who is destined to govern the Overmountain settlers erupts into violence.

Lori's book list on the Lost State of Franklin

Lori Benton Why did Lori love this book?

It’s been a decade since I wrote my novel that featured as a backdrop the conflict over North Carolina’s western (Overmountain) counties’ attempt to form the controversial State of Franklin, but I remember how helpful Barksdale’s book was in forming my understanding of the era, the place, and the people involved. If I didn’t, the copious highlights and notes I left in my copy of this book would be enough to jog my memory. This book was highly readable and rich in detail.

By Kevin T. Barksdale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost State of Franklin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amid the economic turmoil, Native American warfare, and political unrest following the Revolutionary War, the leadership of the Tennessee Valley declared their region independent from North Carolina and formed the state of Franklin. In The Lost State of Franklin: America's First Secession, Kevin T. Barksdale chronicles the rise and fall of the ill-fated Franklin statehood movement. Barksdale describes the dramatic four years in which the Franklinites crafted a backcountry bureaucracy, expanded their regional market economy, and nearly eradicated the southwestern frontier's Native American population, all with the goal of becoming America's fourteenth state. Although the Franklin statehood movement collapsed in…


Book cover of The Prophet of Yonwood

S. Kirk Pierzchala Author Of Echoes Through Distant Glass

From my list on human determination to survive in the face of doom.

Why am I passionate about this?

My imagination has always been captivated and fired up by reading traditional myths and fairy tales, as well science fiction. Growing up in the ’80s, I was particularly steeped in cinematic masterpieces such as Bladerunner and The Road Warrior, but I also loved reading classic sci-fi, as well as British literature, particularly the Brontes and Jane Austen. I enjoy and write speculative fiction because I believe it offers some of the best, creative ways to explore the timeless, universal truths underlying the human experience. Whether that exploration happens in subtle scenes of interpersonal interactions, or in the epic events woven in threads of dark and light across the tapestry of history, it’s all valuable and relevant.

S.'s book list on human determination to survive in the face of doom

S. Kirk Pierzchala Why did S. love this book?

This YA story deals with the threat of apocalyptic destruction, and shows how easily a vulnerable population can be manipulated by fear and uncertainty with only a few rumors. These themes are just as valid today as ever. I like the way DePrau’s protagonist, Nickie, is a relatable character caught in a frightening situation, but trying to make the best of it by forming bonds in her community, as they all face a terrifying future. The haunting sense of dread that permeates this simple novel has stayed with me for years.

By Jeanne DuPrau,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Prophet of Yonwood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

A prequel to the modern-day classic The City of Ember. This highly acclaimed adventure series has captivated kids and teachers alike for almost fifteen years and has sold over 3.5 MILLION copies!
 
Nickie will grow up to be one of the first citizens of the city of Ember. But for now, she’s an eleven-year-old girl whose father was sent away on some mysterious government project.
 
So when the opportunity to move presents itself, Nickie seizes it. But her new town of Yonwood, North Carolina, isn’t what she’d anticipated. It’s a place full of suspicion and mistrust, where one person’s visions…


Book cover of Life Doesn't Frighten Me

Pierce Freelon Author Of Daddy & Me, Side by Side

From my list on children's reads by Black women from North Carolina.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina where I was loved, nurtured, and mentored by several brilliant, creative, and powerful Black women. One of those women was Dr. Maya Angelou, who was close with my Grandmother, Queen Mother Frances Pierce, and was my mom's God-Mother. She and the other authors on this list are all women who I respect professionally and love dearly. I am a picture book author, a Grammy-nominated children's musician, and a father of two. I have read these stories to my children and am so proud to live in the great state of North Carolina with so many talented, genuine, and inspirational Black women.

Pierce's book list on children's reads by Black women from North Carolina

Pierce Freelon Why did Pierce love this book?

The late Dr. Maya Angelou, or "Auntie Maya" as we called her in our household, is one of the most brilliant and iconic authors in American history.

One of her lesser-known publications is her 1993 picture book, Life Doesn't Frighten Me, illustrated by the legendary artist Jean Michel Basquiat. This book is a work of art for all ages! Dr. Angelou's bold and beautiful poetry paired with Basquiat's genius is a love letter to the human spirit.

By Maya Angelou, Jean-Michel Basquiat (illustrator), Sara Jane Boyers (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Doesn't Frighten Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shadows on the wallNoises down the hallLife doesn't frighten me at all Maya Angelou's brave, defiant poem celebrates the courage within each of us, young and old. From the scary thought of panthers in the park to the unsettling scene of a new classroom, fearsome images are summoned and dispelled by the power of faith in ourselves.Angelou's strong words are matched by the daring vision of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose childlike style reveals the powerful emotions and fanciful imaginings of childhood. Together, Angelou's words and Basquiat's paintings create a place where every child, indeed every person, may experience his or…


Book cover of The Noisy Classroom

Pierce Freelon Author Of Daddy & Me, Side by Side

From my list on children's reads by Black women from North Carolina.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina where I was loved, nurtured, and mentored by several brilliant, creative, and powerful Black women. One of those women was Dr. Maya Angelou, who was close with my Grandmother, Queen Mother Frances Pierce, and was my mom's God-Mother. She and the other authors on this list are all women who I respect professionally and love dearly. I am a picture book author, a Grammy-nominated children's musician, and a father of two. I have read these stories to my children and am so proud to live in the great state of North Carolina with so many talented, genuine, and inspirational Black women.

Pierce's book list on children's reads by Black women from North Carolina

Pierce Freelon Why did Pierce love this book?

I fell in love with Alison's work when I first saw her Instagram profile: "@bunny_fart". Not only did I laugh out loud at the name on her profile, I was also blown away by her wonderfully creative illustrations and animation.

I love her award-winning collabo with author Angela Shante: The Noisy Classroom which follows a young girl who is nervous on her first day of school and her fun-loving, sing-songy teacher. It’s a charming glimpse into a relatable subject: that awkward feeling you get adjusting to an unfamiliar environment. Perfect for any family struggling to embrace a new change. 

By Angela Shante, Alison Hawkins (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Noisy Classroom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Silver Medalist, 2020 Wishing Shelf Book Awards: Books for 6-8 Year Olds
Winner, 2020 American Fiction Awards for Best Cover Design: Children's Books
Finalist, 2020 American Fiction Awards for Children's Fiction

The first day of school is coming... and I'm going to be in the noisy class. Any class but the noisy class will do!

A young girl is about to enter the third grade, but this year she's put into Ms. Johnson's noisy class. Everything about the noisy class is odd. While all the other classes are quiet, Ms. Johnson sings and the kids chatter all day. The door…


Book cover of Book Lovers

Jason B. Dutton Author Of How To Dance

From my list on choosing joy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have cerebral palsy, but the list of things that I absolutely can’t do is surprisingly short: I can climb a flight of steps or walk the length of a football field, for example, but those tasks are going to take a lot more time and energy for me than they would an able-bodied person. We all choose where to invest in life, but cerebral palsy makes that process much more deliberate, and I’ve been fascinated by it for a long time. I’m always on the hunt for stories that demonstrate that our choices shape our life, not our limitations, and I’m determined to choose joy.

Jason's book list on choosing joy

Jason B. Dutton Why did Jason love this book?

I loved this book because it’s the only novel I’ve ever read during which I’ve said to myself, “I know these two are going to have a happy ending (the book is a romance, and the genre demands it), but I have absolutely no idea how they’re going to get there.”

I love Emily Henry’s prose, and the way it propels the story; I love the idea that the book is centered around the kind of woman who always gets left behind in Hallmark movies. And I love that the book is unapologetic when it asserts that the kind of life that brings you joy is not necessarily the life everyone else wants for themselves or for you.

By Emily Henry,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Book Lovers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“One of my favorite authors.”—Colleen Hoover

An insightful, delightful, instant #1 New York Times bestseller from the author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation.

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Oprah Daily ∙ Today ∙ Parade ∙ Marie Claire ∙ Bustle ∙ PopSugar ∙ Katie Couric Media ∙ Book Bub ∙ SheReads ∙ Medium ∙ The Washington Post ∙ and more!

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn't see coming...

Nora Stephens' life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream…


Book cover of The Sugar Queen

Jennifer Moorman Author Of The Baker's Man

From my list on magical realism to enchant you and lift your spirits.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with the extraordinary ever since I read Madeleine L ’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time in middle school. I was also enchanted by Dorothy’s trip from black-and-white Kansas into colorful Oz. I once heard Neil Gaiman mention the “hyperreality” of life, and I thought, Yes! That’s how I want to see the world—the magic everywhere. I voraciously read not only magical realism books but also fantasy. These stories heighten my awareness of the wonder in everything and in everyone, and they deepen the richness of the stories I tell and write.

Jennifer's book list on magical realism to enchant you and lift your spirits

Jennifer Moorman Why did Jennifer love this book?

From the first chapter, I was bewitched by the effortless overlay of the fantastical with the everyday.

This delightful sugary read showcases a heroine who craves sweets, connection, and acceptance—I can relate to all of that!

When she succeeds, I feel I do too. I love how this book creates a feeling of hope in a new day within me. 

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Sugar Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twenty-seven-year-old Josey is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season; she's a sorry excuse for a Southern belle; and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet.
For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother's house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night . . .
Until she finds her closet harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tender-hearted woman who is one part nemesis - and two parts fairy godmother .…


Book cover of The Hollow Places

Alison Ames Author Of To Break a Covenant

From my list on woman-led horror.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a horror writer based in Colorado, and I spent my childhood in a variety of wild, untamed places. Horror that uses location as its antagonist is one of my favorite things because I understand how quickly–and easily–a beautiful place can become sinister. It’s not enough to go to a scary place; these books are about what happens when the scary place starts to grow roots inside you, how it changes you. I have written two books that deal with this to some extent, the first about an abandoned coal mine, and the second about Antarctica, and if you like any of these, I hope you’ll consider trying one of mine! 

Alison's book list on woman-led horror

Alison Ames Why did Alison love this book?

The Hollow Places follows Kara, who has returned to her childhood home in North Carolina, as she takes over running her uncle’s museum of eccentricities after he’s injured. If you love nature-based horror as much as I do, this is a must-read–when a portal opens up in the museum, Kara goes through it into a willow-filled, marshy world of rivers and doors and terrifying, hungry creatures. She has to find a way to protect her home from this new world, which seems desperate to spill into hers and consume it, leaving it hollow. 

By T. Kingfisher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hollow Places as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recently divorced and staring down the barrel of moving back in with her parents, Carrot really needs a break. And a place to live. So when her Uncle Earl, owner of the eclectic Wonder Museum, asks her to stay with him in exchange for cataloguing the exhibits, of course she says yes.

The Wonder Museum is packed with taxidermy, shrunken heads, and an assortment of Mystery Junk. For Carrot, it's not creepy at all: she grew up with it. What's creepy is the hole that's been knocked in one of the museum walls, and the corridor behind it. There's just…


Book cover of Where the Watermelons Grow

Risa Nyman Author Of Swallowed by a Secret

From my list on kids caught in a family crisis.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I started reading, I gravitated to books with believable characters in real situations, because I could see myself in these stories. How would I cope in a family dealing with illness or death, breakups in relationships, money woes, and other crises that I read about? Realistic stories about family problems are relatable to everyone, and reading about them through the eyes of the children involved is so meaningful. That’s why when I started creative writing after I retired, I found my voice in the genre I loved to read as a kid. I write authentic stories about families presented with difficult issues for middle-grade readers (and adults).

Risa's book list on kids caught in a family crisis

Risa Nyman Why did Risa love this book?

One can’t read about families in crisis and not confront the devastation and stigma of mental illness. I think this theme resonates with many people, who are close to someone dealing with this illness, including me. In Where the Watermelons Grow, the consequences of mental illness in a family are stark as seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old Della, whose mother is on the verge of a serious breakdown. Della is thrust into new responsibilities for her baby sister and on the family farm. Despite this, Della is still a child who believes in magic and searches for a cure to heal her mother. Of course, there is no magical cure, but there is magic in understanding and acceptance.

By Cindy Baldwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where the Watermelons Grow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and A Snicker of Magic will be swept away by Cindy Baldwin's debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother's mental illness. An Oregon Spirit Award Honor book.

When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren't there, Della worries that it's happening again-that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.…


Book cover of The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball's Lost Triumph

Jonathan Weiler Author Of Prius or Pickup?: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America's Great Divide

From my list on basketball books with larger societal issues.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a professor of Global Studies at UNC Chapel Hill and I have written about the intersection of sports, media, and politics for many years. I am also the co-host of a podcast, Agony of Defeat, with Matt Andrews, that explores the connections between sports, politics, and history. Basketball is an especially rich topic for mining these intersections. And I’m also a lifelong sports fan.

Jonathan's book list on basketball books with larger societal issues

Jonathan Weiler Why did Jonathan love this book?

Scott Ellsworth's account of a legendary game that took place between the Eagles of North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) and Duke University on Duke's campus in Durham, in 1944 (the Duke team comprised medical students but included several former college stars). John McClendon, a protege of the game's founder, John Naismith and coach of the Eagles is widely credited with having transformed the sport, refashioning a slow, stolid affair into a fast-paced, exhilarating game. In the process, he turned the Eagles in mid-century into a juggernaut in the Carolina Intercollegiate Athletic Association, a conference of Black colleges and universities. Jim Crow made it illegal for the Eagles to compete publicly against their intracity rivals, but both programs relished the prospect of playing one another, and a secret game was organized, widely considered the first integrated collegiate game to be played in the south. Ellsworth paints…

By Scott Ellsworth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1943, at the North Carolina College for Negroes, Coach John McLendon was on the verge of changing basketball forever. His team was the highest-scoring team in America, and yet they faced danger whenever they traveled backcountry roads.

Across town, the best squad on Duke University's campus wasn't the Blue Devils, but an all-white team from the medical school. They were prepared to take on anyone -- until an audacious invitation arrived.

THE SECRET GAME is the story of a long-buried moment in the nation's sporting past. A riveting account of a barrier-shattering game, the evolution of modern basketball -…