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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:
There are a lot horror, mystery, and dystopian books set in Ohio.
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
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.
Anderson was born in Camden.
Crusie was born in Wapakoneta.
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.
Sittenfeld was born in Cincinnati.
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.
Grey was born in Zanesville.
Roberts lives in Stow.
Castillo is from Arcanum.
Richards has lived in numerous states, including Ohio.
Lepionka lives in Columbus.
Holden is from Toledo.
William H. Gass
Gass grew up in Warren.
Winegardner is from Bryan.
Bell is from Cincinnati.
Shelley Shephard Gray
Gray lives in Southern Ohio.
Toni Blake has lived in Cincinnati.
Lore is from Cleveland.
Bromfield was born in Mansfield.
Selected Books Written for Older Children and Young Adults
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 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.
Johnson grew up in Windham.
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.
McBride grew up in Dayton.
Books Written by Ohioans but not Set in Ohio
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!
Smith is from Toledo.
Whitlock was born in Urbana and was a four time mayor of Toledo.
Dawidziak has lived and worked in Akron.
Zickefoose lives in Whipple.
Books set in Ohio but written by Non-Ohioans
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.
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.
Selected Books Written for Older Children and Young Adults
I can’t find Linda Zinnen online; please let me know if she is from Ohio.
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.
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.