The best books about North Carolina 📚

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

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Book cover of Mothers of the South: Portraiture of the White Tenant Farm Woman

Mothers of the South: Portraiture of the White Tenant Farm Woman

By Margaret Jarman Hagood

Why this book?

Strictly speaking, this is not a first-person account, but it includes dozens of detailed case studies drawn from interviews with white tenant farm women in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. It was written in the 1930s by the pioneering sociologist Margaret Jarman Hagood, one of a group of practitioners at University of North Carolina who sought to produce academic studies that advanced solutions to the socio-economic problems that plagued the rural South. Although Hagood feared that “it is impossible for me to do justice to it either in observing or recording,” her study paints a vivid picture of…

From the list:

The best books for first-person accounts of life in the twentieth century South

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Book cover of Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South

Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South

By Melton A. McLaurin

Why this book?

Separate Pasts is McLaurin’s account of his 1950s boyhood in the tiny hamlet of Wade, North Carolina, years when the Jim Crow system still reigned. He describes the complex, interconnected lives of the town’s white and black families, and his own confusion as he tried to make sense of the contradictions he observed in his world. A painfully honest account of a white boy’s reckoning with the legacies of segregation and oppression, McLaurin reveals how his own relationships with black neighbors undermined the racist beliefs he was taught.
From the list:

The best books for first-person accounts of life in the twentieth century South

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Book cover of Bootlegger's Daughter

Bootlegger's Daughter

By Margaret Maron

Why this book?

I love this book for many reasons—its rural Southern setting, its lawyer/judge protagonist Deborah Knott, its twisty mystery. But I was particularly intrigued when author Margaret Maron told me that the spark for the book was a real unsolved murder near her North Carolina home. I wrote about the real case when it was finally solved in Triangle True Crime, but Margaret’s version of what might have happened is so much more interesting.

From the list:

The best cozy mysteries for people who think they don’t like true crime

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Book cover of The Hollow Places

The Hollow Places

By T. Kingfisher

Why 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. 

From the list:

The best woman-led horror novels

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Book cover of History of the Lost State of Franklin

History of the Lost State of Franklin

By Samuel Cole Williams

Why this book?

For many years this was the most comprehensive examination of the ill-fated State of Franklin. The author goes into great detail presenting the factors that led to this secession of its western counties from the State of North Carolina, in 1784. Still a must-read for anyone exploring this subject.

From the list:

The best books on the Lost State of Franklin

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Book cover of Jubal Sackett: The Sacketts

Jubal Sackett: The Sacketts

By Louis L'Amour

Why this book?

My favorite novel from one of my favorite historical fiction writers. Louis L’Amour is best known for his many western novels, but his earlier Sackett tales harken back to the days when Europeans were first settling the edge of the great North American continent. No one writes swashbuckling, daring-do adventure stories better than L’Amour, but what makes this book really stand out is his hero, Jubal Sackett. Jubal, the youngest son of the adventurer Barnabas Sackett, has his father’s wanderlust and yearns to see new lands that lie to the west of his home in the mountains of North Carolina.…

From the list:

The best historical fiction books with compelling heroes

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