By Guest Blogger Ellen Bryant Lloyd 

North Carolina has long been known as a state that has it all: mountains, beaches, foothills, barrier islands, great golf courses, historic sights, delicious cuisine, diverse landscapes, rich culture, a wide range of sporting and outdoor activities, and a great deal more. In fact, our state has so much to offer that it is a regular “go to” for authors to use as they craft their stories.

Many of the authors who use North Carolina in their settings are born, raised and still live in our state, some moved here at some point, and others live elsewhere after being a Tar Heel for a period of time. Whatever the case, there is no denying that our state “hooks” authors and provides great places and people for them to use in their books. Over the last 20 years, I have had the good fortune to meet a number of authors listed below. It is always a treat to learn more about how authors decide to write about the topics they do, especially if stories have a tie to North Carolina.

While some authors use names of locations you can find on a map, others will fictionalize cities and towns. However, those “in the know” will easily recognize the fictionalized versions. The same goes for certain landmarks throughout the state, and even people in some cases.

I have always known that there were a long list of authors who lived in or wrote about North Carolina, but once I delved in and did more research, I discovered the list was longer than I imagined. The list of books I want to read has significantly grown with the addition of titles from this list. Please know that this list is in no way exhaustive, so my sincere apologies to authors of any books set in North Carolina that I did not include, especially those by North Carolina authors. It is truly impressive how many authors our great state has, not to mention the number of books that feature our state in some way.

Enjoy perusing the titles below. I hope you will also enjoy adding many of them to your “to read” list. My now expanded list will easily take me through the dreary days of winter, and probably into the spring! Enjoy!

Fiction (Women’s, Historical, Contemporary and General)

– The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (8 books in the series)

By Diana Chamberlain
– Necessary Lies
– Big Lies in a Small Town

By Ron Rash:
– Serena
– The Cove
– The Risen

Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons

By Charles Frazier
– Cold Mountain
– Thirteen Moons

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

Christy by Catherine Marshall (set in NC and Tennessee) (1967)

By Lee Smith
– On Agate Hill
– Guests on Earth

By Jill McCorkle
– Life after Life
– Ferris Beach

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon (there are 14 books set in Mitford, NC)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Outbound Train by Renea Winchester

Flora by Gail Godwin

Look Back All the Green Valley by Fred Chappell

Miss Julia Speaks her Mind by Ann B. Ross (her other titles feature North Carolina settings)

By Sarah Addison Allen:
– Garden Spells
– The Sugar Queen
– The Girl Who Chased the Moon
– The Peach Keeper

By Nicholas Sparks:
– The Notebook
– Message in a Bottle
– A Walk to Remember
– Nights in Rodanthe
– Dear John
– Every Breath

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes

If Morning Ever Comes by Anne Tyler (1964)

Birds in the Air by Frances O’Roarke Dowell

The Queen of Hearts by Kimberly Martin

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock

Young Adult (Because moms enjoy YA too!)

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

The Summer I Turned Pretty – Trilogy by Jenny Han

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty (This book is older elementary/middle grade, but I really enjoyed it and decided to add it to the list! Check out his other titles as well)

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen (readers will definitely “see” North Carolina in many of her other titles)

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Thrillers and Mystery Books

The King of Lies by John Hart (readers will recognize North Carolina in his other titles as well)

Joyland by Stephen King

Seven Turned & Moonlight and Moss by Kim Beall

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Under a Gilden Moon by Joy Jordan -Lake

Glazed Murder by Jessica Beck

The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell

Bare Bones by Kathy Reichs

NC Literature and Nonfiction Books

Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe (1929)

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs (1861)

The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan


Ellen Bryant Lloyd is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue. Please visit and to learn more about Freckles. Ellen writes a blog about her perspectives on life and parenting at and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She lives in Greensboro with her husband and two children.

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