The Lois Level Reads North Carolina

Books written by North Carolinians and set in North Carolina


Thomas Wolfe was from Asheville, and Look Homeward, Angel is a classic must read.

Reynolds Price was from Macon, and A Long and Happy Life is also a classic.

Ron Rash grew up in Boiling Springs. His novel Serena is well known because it was made into a film (which is not very good), but I’ve heard from Rash fans that it’s not his best book, so try a range.

Charles Frazier is from Asheville.

Jill McCorkle is from Lumberton.

Free Read

Quick Read

“Cuss Time”

Nicholas Sparks currently lives in New Bern. I had to choose A Walk to Remember because it is set near my mother-in-law’s hometown, but if you like sentimental novels set in North Carolina, Sparks’ prolific output will keep you busy.

Allan Gurganus is from Rocky Mount.

Josephine Humphreys graduated from Duke.

Gail Godwin grew up in Durham, Weaverville, and Asheville.

Sharyn McCrumb was born in Durham.

Charles F. Price was born in Clyde.

Kristy Woodson Harvey lives in Beaufort

Delia Owens is from Georgia, but she spent her childhood summers in the mountains of North Carolina. As a zoologist, Owens is known for her attention to the natural world in her writing.

Clyde Edgerton is from Durham and currently lives in Wilmington.

Jan Karon is from Lenoir.

These look fun…and they are written by a highly qualified medical examiner in NC, so authenticity should not be a problem!

Margaret Marion is from Greensboro.

Doug Marlette was born in Durham and raised in Greensboro.

Ellen Foster was born in Nash County.

Michael Malone was born in Durham, and he won an Emmy for his writing on the daytime soap opera, One Life to Live.

Wilton Barnhardt lives in Raleigh. Southerners (if they are a little old school) might recognize the title Lookaway, Lookaway from the song “Dixie”.

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Tony Earley grew up in North Carolina.

Free Read

“Backpack”, a short story by Tony Earely

Wiley Cash lives on the coast.

John Hart is from Durham.

John Ehle was from Asheville.

Daphne Athas is from Carrboro, and of this writing is 96 years old!

Fred Chappell was born in Canton and taught at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro for many years.

Randall Kenan grew up in Duplin.

Ruth Moose lives in Pittsboro.

Lawrence Naumoff was born in Charlotte and lives in Carrboro.

Kim Church was born in Lexington.

William R. Trotter was born in Charlotte.


Timothy B. Tyson grew up in Oxford

David Cunningham earned his Master’s Degree at UNC Chapel Hill.

Andrew Lawler lives in Asheville. This book is highly recommended, especially if you are interested in coastal NC.

Jerry Bledsoe lives in Randolph and has worked for newspapers around the state.

David Sedaris grew up in Raleigh

Bland Simpson is from Elizabeth City.

Nell Cropsy is set in Elizabeth City

Judy Goldman lives in Charlotte.

Philp Gerard lives in Wilmington.

Selected Older Children/Young Adults

Sheila Turnage lives in Eastern North Carolina.

Sheila P. Moses is from Rich Hill.

Books written by North Carolinians

O. Henry was from Greensboro. You might know his most famous story, “The Gift of the Magi” about the young couple who each sell their biggest asset to buy Christmas gifts for each other.

Anne Tyler grew up in Raleigh

Doris Betts was from Statesville.

Megan Mayhew Bergman is from Rocky Mount. Her short stories are absolutely outstanding.

Amy Sedaris is from Raleigh.

Orson Scott Card is from Greensboro.

Doug Marlette was born in Greensboro and lived in Hillsboro.


Other books set in North Carolina


Free Read

Quick Read

Parts of The Outlander series are set in North Carolina.

In case you want to visit:

Where is Fraser’s Ridge, North Carolina?

Smith is a Virginian who writes books usually set in the mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Inglis Fletcher became interested in North Carolina while researching her family history in Tyrell County. She led a VERY interesting life, but ironically, apparently none of it in North Carolina. Many of her books sell for more than $100, according to Amazon, and some for nearly $1000. If you keep a close eye, there seem to be some bargains…these look like very entertaining reads!


Selected Older Children/Young Adults

Vera and Bill Cleaver lived in Boone, North Carolina to research this book about a family who takes up traditional “wildcrafting” to survive.

This book looks like a hoot. I know North Carolina is not the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Laura Ingalls”, but the story is definitely set there.

It’s about a family who goes on a reality show set in the North Carolina backwoods, and it sounds like a lot of fun on several levels.

Lois Lenski spent time in the mountains of North Carolina to authentically represent the people she wrote about. You can find many more similar titles, including her Newbery Award winning book, Strawberry Girl, in her “Regional Series”.

Most of this book is set in Florida, but the migrant family depicted in Judy’s Journey follows Route 17 (which also goes right by my Virginia home) and spends some time harvesting in North Carolina.

Want more?

Reading North Carolina Novels Blog from UNC Chapel Hill

How we pick the books:

Please comment at the bottom or on Facebook with suggestions. The idea is to make each state’s page as complete as possible but focused enough so that the page gives the reader an overall sense of place.


In the case where the author has written several books set in the state, the most famous or recently published one will be selected. Multiple books will be shown only if there is a reason to do so (e.g. significant topics, different genres, etc.).

The author may be listed in more than one category, usually because the author’s most famous book is not set in the state. The famous book is listed to help readers recognize the author, but additional, less well known books, will be listed for those who want to read more about the state.

The intended audience for the The Lois Level is adult general readers, so books considered primarily for academic use will not be listed. For the same reason, authors who are completely out of print will usually not be included.

Children’s books are limited to those that have adult appeal. Normally picture books are not included.

Recent and significant biographies of state notables are included with priority given to those written by state natives/residents or to individuals whose major contributions were state related.

Biographical Information

Wikipedia and author web pages are the primary sources for author information. If the author has several connections, usually the earliest one (birth, childhood) is used.

Photo credit: Washuotaku [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Photo credit: Washuotaku [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]