The Lois Level Reads Utah

Utah is a relatively young state and part of what I think of as the wild west. I’ve just barely been in the state…my family visited the “four corners” monument when we went to visit family in Arizona when I was 9. Utah is one of the four states, also including Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado meet; it’s the only place in the U.S. where one can (supposedly) be in four states at once.

It’s always interesting to learn about states by exploring the books written by residents and natives along with the books set in the state but written by outsiders. I learn something I didn’t know or realize about each one.

I expected a lot of books about the Latter Day Saints/Mormon church because Utah was founded specifically to be a safe place for Mormons to practice their religion.

Mormonism might seem strange to a lot of people, especially for those familiar with their historical practice of polygamy, which titillates a lot of people (come on, you know it does), but let me point out that mainline Mormons live a lifestyle that isn’t that different from Christians in many parts of the country, especially the Southeast, except that they are actually stricter about some substances such as tobacco and caffeine.

Yup, no coffee…to me, that’s the real story. Polygamy…that means they have help with the cooking. Which might be needed if there is no coffee.

Anyway, my point is that non Utahns might identify with more in the lifestyle there than they might expect.

And also, Mormons do consider themselves Christians.

I’m also not surprised by the books about Utah’s beautiful scenery, and I encourage you to explore some of those.

The biggest surprise to me is the number of very popular fantasy and science fiction writers who hail from Utah. It really makes me wonder what exactly people see in the desert out there late at night.

If you are into chick lit, romance or mystery, you will find some good Utahn options, and there is a great selection for you lovers of westerns.

As always, see our selection criteria at the bottom of the column, and let us know if there are any books or authors we missed. We normally only feature one book by each author, so if you find one you like, explore more to see if the author has written more books set in Utah.

Books Written by Utahns and set in Utah


Maurine Whipple

Maurine Whipple was from St. George.

Jack Weyland

Weyland has lived in Salt Lake City.

Nephi Anderson

Anderson was born in Salt Lake City.

Jeff Call

Call lives in Deseret.

Paige Shelton

Shelton has lived in Salt Lake City.

Levi S. Peterson

Peterson is from Snowflake.

Rich Curtin

Curtin lives in the Four Corners area.


Leonard J. Arrington

Arrington lived in Salt Lake City.

Edward Abbey

Abbey lived seasonally in Moab.

Linda Stillitoe

Stillitoe grew up in Salt Lake City.

Leonard J. Arrington

Arrington lived in Logan and Salt Lake City.

Fawn M. Brodie

Brodie was born in Ogden. I’ve included her book about Joseph Smith here, but her book on Thomas Jefferson was the first to conclude that Jefferson fathered children with his slave, Sally Hemings, which was proven 25 years later with DNA evidence.

See Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate Portrait

Edward Tullidge

Tullidge emigrated to Utah Territory.

Ellen Meloy

Meloy lived in Bluff.

Her most popular book about Utah is shown here, but also don’t miss The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky

Juanita Brooks

Brooks lived in St. George.

Dale Morgan

Dale Morgan, neé Lowell Dale Morgan, was born in Salt Lake City.

Will Bagley

Bagley was born in Salt Lake City.

B. H. Roberts

Roberts lived in Salt Lake City.

Tom Smart

T. Smart is from Oakley. He is Elizabeth Smart’s uncle.


Josh Hanagarne

Hanagarne lives in Salt Lake City.

Betsy Burton

Burton lives in Salt Lake City.

Ann Elizabeth Young

Young lived in Salt Lake City.

Terry Tempest Williams

Williams grew up in Salt Lake City.

Martha Beck

George B. Handley

Elizabeth Smart

Smart is from Salt Lake City.


May Swenson

Swenson was born in Logan.

Katharine Coles

Coles lives in Salt Lake City.

Selected Books Written for Teenagers and Older Children

John D. Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald grew up in Price.

The Great Brain series was one of Lois’ childhood favorites!


Books Written by Utahns That Are Set Outside of Utah


Richard Paul Evans

Richard Paul Evans is from Salt Lake City.

Amy Harmon

Harmon is from Levan.

Orson Scott Card

Card lived in Salt Lake City as a child.

Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson lives in American Fork.

Chris Stewart

Stewart was born in Logan.

Anita Stansfield

Stansfield lives in Alpine.


Stephen Covey

Covey was born in Salt Lake City.

Brigham Young

Young founded Salt Lake City.

Mitt Romney

Romney lives in Salt Lake City.

Ann Romney

A.Romney lives in Salt Lake City.

Selected Books Written for Teenagers and Older Children

Ally Condie

Condie was born in Cedar City.

Brandon Mull

Mull lives in Alpine.

James Dashner

Dashner has lived in Provo.

Sara Zarr

Zarr lives in Salt Lake City.

Books Set in Utah that are Written by Non-Utahns


Louis L’Amour

L’Amour set several books in Utah.

Zane Grey

David Ebershoff

Also see Wife No. 19 under Memoirs by Utahns.

Latayne C. Scott

Ann Valente

James Anderson

Julia Otsuka

Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

Jacquelyn Mitchard

Sandra Dallas

Nevada Barr

Janet Dailey

Brady Udall


Jon Krakauer

David Roberts

W. L. Rusho

Norman Mailer

Wallace Stegner

Aron Ralston

Jared Farmer

Selected Books Written for Teenagers and Older Children

Kristiana Gregory

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.


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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