30 Books Set in + About North Carolina

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Oh, North Carolina! I love you so much. Sometimes in my family we ask each other what state we would live in if we had to live somewhere other than Alabama, and I almost always say North Carolina. The mountains, the fresh air, the small towns, the arts. North Carolina is truly one of my favorite places, and this list of books about North Carolina can help transport you there too.

There are TONS of great novels set in North Carolina, and you’ll find everything from historical fiction to mysteries to rom-coms here. Plus we have we couple of non-fiction titles (and are keeping our eyes peeled for more!) and some great middle grade books about North Carolina.

Novels About North Carolina

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

During the Great Depression, 15 year-old Thea is set away from her family’s home in Florida to a boarding school in North Carolina. She loved her home and her twin brother, but her mistakes have caused her world to fall apart. This book is definitely scandalous and steamy, but also riveting. For fans of historical fiction and coming-of-age stories.

Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle

When Frank and Lil retire from Boston to North Carolina, they ponder the history they are leaving for their children and the history they have come from. Lil sorts through family history and begins uncovering secrets. Meanwhile, Frank revisits his childhood home, causing issues for the woman now living there. For fans of literary fiction.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Listen, y’all. Am I thrilled about including this book on my North Carolina books list? Not really. Please look up the news about the author. But also, this book, about a girl who shows up from the marsh and a murder and nature, has been one of the biggest blockbusters of the last few years. So here we are. For fans of contemporary fiction and mystery.

What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

In a North Carolina town that is largely segregated, the community is upset as students from the Black side of town are brought to the mostly white schools. In the midst of this, two mothers are trying to do what is best for their kids, and their decisions will affect their families for decades. For fans of contemporary fiction, and I have a feeling this would make for a great book club discussion.

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

I don’t feel like you can make a list of books about North Carolina without including Wiley Cash somehow. Cash, from North Carolina himself, sets this novel in a small town church community where two brothers come face to face with the danger brought by a new pastor. For fans of suspense.

When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash

In a coastal North Carolina town, a large plane crashes near an airfield. When the local sheriff goes to investigate, he finds a local man murdered, and an investigation starts that rocks the community and the life of the sheriff. For fans of suspense and mysteries.

Serena by Ron Rash

When Serena and her husband Pemberton come to the North Carolina mountains during the Great Depression, they have their eyes on wealth. And it seems like they will stop at nothing to get what they want. For fans of historical fiction and gothic novels and suspense.

Evensong by Gail Godwin

In the North Carolina mountains, right before the new millennium, Margaret, an Episcopal priest is feeling the stresses of her life. Her husband has been depressed, a mysterious monk shows up at their door, an alcoholic teenager comes to lives with them, and a self-righteous woman is determined to hold her “Birthday March for Jesus.” This book is like if the Mitford series met Gilead. For fans of contemporary fiction. (Although do we technically have to count a book set in 1999 as historical now?)

Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy

In the mountains of North Carolina, Jacob McNeely spends his time helping his father run a meth ring. Meanwhile, he’s reunited with Maggie, his first love. But when tragedy strikes, can he find the strength to turn his back on his family and find a better life for himself? For fans of noir and literary fiction.

The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda

Abby loves her newfound hometown of Cutter’s Pass, North Carolina, where she works at a mountain resort. But when a journalist who is investigating several unsolved disappearances disappears himself, Abby looks for answers and realizes she may be still be an outsider to this mysterious town. For fans of thrillers.

The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers

In this historical novel about North Carolina, a woman named Maddie Sykes takes on 1940s Big Tobacco as she begins to understand the link between tobacco and local health issues. The only problem: the town depends on the tobacco industry for their economy. (PS — Did you know North Carolina is still the nation’s largest producer of tobacco crops?) For fans of historical fiction.

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

This novel set in Charlotte, North Carolina centers around two friends, Zadie and Emma, who work as doctors. When someone from their past shows up, decisions they made during medical school come back to haunt them and make them reexamine their lives. For fans of contemporary fiction and medical dramas.

Even As We Breathe by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle

When Cowney Seqoyah takes a job at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn, it isn’t regular hotel guests he is serving: it’s Axis diplomats and their families kept there during WWII. But when a girl goes missing, he finds himself in the center of a murder investigation. For fans of historical and literary fiction.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

In a small, fictional North Carolina town, the Waverley family tends to a magical garden, the plants of which can change their neighbors’ lives. Claire Waverley uses these plants in her catering business as the last Waverley caring for their gifts. But then her sister, who fled years ago, shows up with her young daughter, the two women must figure out how to come to terms with their past hurts. For fans of women’s fiction and sister stories.

All the Little Hopes by Leah Weiss

During WWII, Lucy and Allie are two young girls determined to solve mysteries. When their towns becomes home to a Nazi POW camp and men start disappearing, they try to figure out what’s going on and come to complicated answers. For fans of historical fiction and mysteries.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Literary agent Nora is used to taking care of everyone in her life: her clients, her sister, not to mention herself. When she agrees to go on a month-long escape to the fictional North Carolina town of Sunshine Falls with her sister, she thinks it will be the break her sister needs. But instead her sister starts acting weird and she finds out that she’s also sharing the town with Charlie, a grumpy book editor who Nora is sure doesn’t like her. This book is an absolute delight. For fans of rom-coms and sister stories.

If You Ask Me by Libby Hubscher

When Violet learns her husband has been having an affair, her blunt advice column about it goes viral, turning her life upside down. Then, when she sets her husbands belonging on fire in her front yard, a firefighter shows up who might just lead to a new kind of future. For fans of romance and rom-coms.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

It’s hard to talk about books set in North Carolina without mentioning Nicholas Sparks because so many of his books are based there. Here we have one of his best known novels, where ten years after their first romance, Noah and Allie are wondering if they can find each other again. For fans of romance.

Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe

Thomas Wolfe’s first novel is about a young man who leaves his small town in North Carolina in search for a better life and more intellectual stimulation. Wolfe is a classic North Carolina writer (you can actually visit his house in Asheville!), and this novel is for fans of modern classics.

Find more great books with these books set in Tennessee!

25 Books Set in Tennessee

Non-Fiction Books About North Carolina

The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home by Denise Kiernan

The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is known for being “America’s Largest Home.” This non-fiction book captures the history of George and Edith Vanderbilt, who ran the estate through decades of change. For fans of historic non-fiction and books with lots of glitz and glamour.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

North Carolina is know for being the home of the first airplane flight, as the Wright brothers tested their aircraft in the Outer Banks. Here, McCullough takes his mastery of historical non-fiction to their story. For fans of historical non-fiction.

Children’s Books Set in North Carolina

T is for Tar Heel: A North Carolina Alphabet by Carol Crane, Illustrated by Gary Palmer

Explore the culture, landscapes, history, and animals of North Carolina with this alphabet book. It covers everything from the Appalachian Mountains to NASCAR, and we love these books because each page contains a simple rhyming refrain for young children along with sidebars with more information for older children and adults. Recommended ages: 4 and up.

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford, Illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue

When eight-year-old Connie witnesses the Greensboro lunch counter sit-ins, she knows that things in her community may start to change. She may be too young to march, but she can still find her own way to help. Recommended ages: 4-8 years.

An Island Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk on a Barrier Island by Virginia Wright-Frierson

Discover the world of a North Carolina barrier island as an artist and her daughter spend the day observing the landscape and animals. Recommended ages: 6-9 years.

Middle Grade & Young Adult Books Set in North Carolina

Wish by Barbara O’Conner

All Charlie wants is to have her family back how they were. But when she is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in the mountains of North Carolina, she discovers that family may look different with the help of a new friend and a new dog. Recommended ages: 8-11 years.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

Serafina lives in the basement of Asheville’s Biltmore Estate, hidden from the rich family that lives there as her father works as a maintenance man. But when children on the estate start disappearing, Serafina teams up with a friend to solve the mystery. And if your kiddos love this book, it’s the first in a series. Recommended ages: 9-12 years.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

Even though her world is segregated, Stella lives a relatively peaceful life in North Carolina. But then, late one night when she isn’t supposed to be out, she discovers the Ku Klux Klan has shown back up planning trouble. Recommended ages: 10 and up.

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

After Will and Ollie have a summer romance on vacation, Ollie learns he’s moving to North Carolina and will happen to be going to the same school as Will. But Will isn’t the same person he knew over the summer, and still hasn’t come out to his friends yet. Recommended ages: 13 and up.

The Edge of Anything by Nora Shalaway Carpenter

In the North Carolina mountains, Len, a photographer struggling with her mental health, and Sage, a volleyball player who suddenly has found herself unable to play, become unlikely friends. They are both looking for scholarships, struggling with changes in their lives, and keeping secrets. Recommended ages: 13 and up.

We’ll Fly Away by Bryan Bliss

Luke and Toby dream of leaving their small town and finding better lives. But then a choice changes their lives forever and lands Luke in prison, where he writes letters to Toby. Recommended ages: 14 and up.

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