The Lois Level Reads Ohio

I chose Ohio for this installment of The Lois Level Reads the States because I found that Ohioans are one of our most consistent readers! So let me start by saying “thank you” to the State of Ohio!

What I discovered is that Ohioans provide us all with a very nice range of fiction, but I didn’t find much in some other categories, so if you have some suggestions, let us know!

Considering Ohio is part of the American “Heartland”, where you think of everyone as being cheerful and friendly…open and up front…I found two things kind of surprising:

  1. There are a lot horror, mystery, and dystopian books set in Ohio.

  2. There are some really good young adult authors from Ohio…who also produce their share of horror, dystopian, and mystery.

Ohio, the country wants to know: What goes on there???

I’ve read (and taught) Beloved, so I know how messed up (in a good way…obviously it’s a masterpiece) that is, and why…what I didn’t know is that Beloved is only the tip of the iceberg…y’all have horror books set in Amish country as well as Ohio’s urban areas.

Of course, the men who literally taught us to fly (the Wright Brothers) came from Ohio, so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised!

You can find previous posts from this series by clicking on the Category “State Reads”.

Check the bottom of the column for our selection criteria, and please let us know what we missed.

As a rule, only one book by each author is listed (because some have produced dozens), so check the author’s bibliography if you see something interesting…very often there is more! We choose either the author’s most famous/recognized book or the bestseller.

Books Written by Ohioans and Set in Ohio


Toni Morrison

Morrison was born in Lohrain. Beloved is a masterpiece but tough to read because of the divergent points of view, shifts in time, and use of stream of consciousness. If it’s too much for you, try her earlier book, The Bluest Eye.

Sherwood Anderson

Anderson was born in Camden.

Jennifer Crusie

Crusie was born in Wapakoneta.

Celeste Ng

Ng grew up in Shaker Heights.

Read The Lois Level A Perfect Life with “Little Fires Everywhere”: the book by Celeste Ng

Helen Hooven Santmeyer

Santmeyer was born in Cinncinati.

Curtis Sittenfeld

Sittenfeld was born in Cincinnati.

Conrad Richter

Richter lived in Cleveland.

Robb Forman Dew

Dew is from Mount Vernon.

Andrew Welsh Huggins

Huggins lives in Columbus.

Donald Ray Pollock

Pollock was born in Ross County.

Zane Grey

Grey was born in Zanesville.

Les Roberts

Roberts lives in Stow.

Linda Castillo

Castillo is from Arcanum.

Emilie Richards

Richards has lived in numerous states, including Ohio.

Kristen Lepionka

Lepionka lives in Columbus.

Craig Holden

Holden is from Toledo.

William H. Gass

Gass grew up in Warren.

Mark Winegardner

Winegardner is from Bryan.

David Bell

Bell is from Cincinnati.

Shelley Shephard Gray

Gray lives in Southern Ohio.

Toni Blake

Toni Blake has lived in Cincinnati.

Tiffany McDaniel

Pittacus Lore

Lore is from Cleveland.




Louis Bromfield

Bromfield was born in Mansfield.

Selected Books Written for Older Children and Young Adults

Lois Lenski

Lois Lenski, author and illustrator, was born in Springfield. Her first book, Skipping Village, is about her childhood in Ohio, but she is famous for her picture books and most especially her Newbery Award and Honor Books.

She won the Newbery Award for Strawberry Girl, which is set in north Florida.

Read more about her on The Lois Level here: Lois Lenski’s exquisite portraits of 20th century America’s hidden children

Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton was born in Dayton. Her family came to Ohio through the Underground Railroad.

Margaret Peterson Haddix

Haddix grew up in between Washington City Court House and Sabina.

Angela Johnson

Johnson grew up in Windham.

Robert McCloskey

McCloskey was born in Hamilton. You might know him for his more famous picture books, including Make Way for Ducklings, but his Homer Price is set in Ohio.

Kristina McBride

McBride grew up in Dayton.


Books Written by Ohioans but not Set in Ohio


Sue Grafton

Grafton wrote A is for Alibi while living in Columbus.

Thank you to reader Paula Cotter for your letting us know! What an important author to miss!

Scott Smith

Smith is from Toledo.

Brand Whitlock

Whitlock was born in Urbana and was a four time mayor of Toledo.




Mark Dawidziak

Dawidziak has lived and worked in Akron.

Julie Zickefoose

Zickefoose lives in Whipple.

A mock up of a scheduled sign change for the Ohio-Indiana state line line found on Twitter.

A mock up of a scheduled sign change for the Ohio-Indiana state line line found on Twitter.

Books set in Ohio but written by Non-Ohioans


Stephen King

Kim Harrison

Philip Roth

Kurt Vonnegut

William Wells Brown

Brown was the first African American to publish a novel, which is based on the rumors (now proven true) that Thomas Jefferson fathered children with one of his slaves.

See The Lois Level Reads Virginia for biography and history about this topic.

Tracy Chevalier

Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Janet Dailey

Kim Harrison

Please let me know if you know where Kim Harrison is from because I couldn’t find out.

I know Kim Harrison is a pen name.


David McCullough

Selected Books Written for Older Children and Young Adults

Valerie Tripp

Jeannine Garsee

Linda Zinnen

I can’t find Linda Zinnen online; please let me know if she is from Ohio.

Neal Shusterman

Ohio state welcome sign, along US Route 30, entering from Indiana, 12 August 2006 ErgoSum88 / Public domain

Ohio state welcome sign, along US Route 30, entering from Indiana, 12 August 2006

ErgoSum88 / Public domain

How we picked these 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. Guidelines: 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.

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