In November of 2013, I committed to reading three books set in each of the 50 United States, plus the District of Columbia, for a grand total of 153 works of fiction. I didn’t set a time limit for myself, and now, six years later, I have completed my literary tour of the US. As you can see from the title of this post, I read a few more than 153 books.

The list below is a comprehensive list of books I’ve read that are set in a US state and written by an author who lived in or was born in that state (exceptions are noted). Some are not fiction. Some I read prior to embarking on this project. I wanted to include them all here for anyone looking for books set in particular places. My favorites are marked with an asterisk*. You can find brief reviews for some of the books in the BOOKS BY STATE category.


  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee*
  • Forrest Gump by Winston Groom*
  • Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake-Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia by Dennis Covington*
  • Train Whistle Guitar by Albert Murray
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg


  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey*
  • Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage, and Survival by Velma Wallis
  • The Woman Who Married a Bear: An Alaskan Mystery by John Straley
  • Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer


  • Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
  • La Maravilla by Alfredo Véa, Jr.
  • The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver


  • True Grit by Charles Portis*
  • Ark of Bones and Other Stories by Henry Dumas
  • The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou


  • Cannery Row by John Steinbeck*
  • The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh*
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell*
  • The Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  • The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
  • The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac


  • Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas
  • Plainsong by Kent Haruf
  • The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz by Manuel Ramos
  • Little Miss Strange by Joanne Rose
  • Tough Cookie by Diane Mott Davidson


  • The Narrows by Ann Petry
  • I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates


  • The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez*
  • Courting Ruth by Emma Miller
  • The Saint of Lost Things by Christopher Castellani

Washington, DC

  • Advise and Consent by Allen Drury
  • You Are One of Them by Elliot Holt
  • River Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke
  • Discretion by Allison Leote


  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston*
  • A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith
  • Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaason
  • Chomp by Carl Hiaason
  • Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel
  • Surface Tension by Christine Kling
  • Mangrove Squeeze by Laurence Shames
  • Summer Lightning by Judith Richards
  • To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
  • Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews
  • Once a Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.
  • The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean


  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker*
  • Flannery O’Connor: The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor*
  • Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers*
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell*
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
  • Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray
  • Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Anne Burns
  • Delirium of the Brave by William C. Harris, Jr.
  • Lighthouse by Eugenia Price
  • Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews
  • Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews
  • Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews
  • Paris Trout by Pete Dexter


  • The Descendents by Kaui Hart Hemmings
  • Song of the Exile by Kiana Davenport
  • The House of Pride and Other Tales of Hawaii by Jack London
  • Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport
  • Paradise Park by Allegra Goodman
  • Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton
  • Moloka’i by Alan Brennert (not a Hawaii author, but the book is worth reading)


  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Jailing of Cecelia Capture by Janet Campbell Hale
  • Train Dreams by Denis Johnson


  • Native Son by Richard Wright
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  • The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury


  • The Bright Forever by Lee Martin
  • The Used World by Haven Kimmel
  • The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf
  • Mum’s the Word (A Flower Shop Mystery, #1) by Kate Collins
  • The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


  • A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley*
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? by Peter Hedges
  • Jasmine by Bharati Mukherjee
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson


  • The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard*
  • Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum


  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver*
  • River of Earth by James Still
  • The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson
  • Icy Sparks by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
  • My Bluegrass Baby by Molly Harper


  • The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
  • The Missing by Tim Gautreaux
  • A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
  • The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams


  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout*
  • Rigged for Murder by Jenifer LeClair
  • Edinburgh by Alexander Chee
  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • Pet Sematary by Stephen King
  • It by Stephen King
  • Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
  • Cujo by Stephen King
  • Clammed Up (Maine Clambake Series #1) Barbara Ross
  • The Cider House Rules by John Irving
  • The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
  • Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert (author not from Maine, but worth reading)


  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  • A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald


  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry by Gabrielle Zevin
  • The Wedding by Dorothy West
  • The Wapshot Chronicle by John Cheever
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Moby Dick, Herman Melville


  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  • Winter Study by Nevada Barr
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides


  • Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
  • The Late Homecomer by Kao Kalia Yang
  • The Real Minerva by Mary Sharratt
  • Summit Avenue by Mary Sharratt
  • An Untamed Land (Red River of the North, #1) by Lauraine Snelling
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America by Natalie Goldberg
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen #1) by Joanne Fluke


  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward*
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner*
  • The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
  • As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
  • The Optimist’s Daughter, Eudora Welty
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward


  • Stoner by John Williams*
  • Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell*
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain


  • Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker
  • Fools Crow by James Welch
  • Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz


  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell*
  • O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
  • My Ántonia by Willa Cather
  • Bead on an Anthill: A Lakota Childhood by Daphne Red Shirt
  • Plains Song by Wright Morris


  • The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark*
  • Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins*
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims by Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins

New Hampshire

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving*
  • The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving*
  • Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
  • Sea Glass by Anita Shreve

New Jersey

  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • Family Life by Akhil Sharma
  • One For the Money (and all Stephanie Plum novels) by Janet Evanovich
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

New Mexico

  • Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
  • Night at the Fiestas by Kirsten Valdez Quade
  • Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home by Natalie Goldberg

New York

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald*
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt*
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith*
  • Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Meriwether
  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • Bright Young Things (Bright Young Things #1) by Anna Godbersen
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
  • A Widow For One Year by John Irving

North Carolina

  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris*
  • Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs*
  • Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
  • The Truest Pleasure by Robert Morgan
  • Garden Spells (Waverly Family, #1) by Sarah Addison Allen
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
  • At Home in Mitford (Mitford Years, #1) by Jan Karon
  • Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews
  • The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert (author not from North Carolina, but book is worth reading)

North Dakota

  • The Round House by Louise Erdrich
  • The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
  • Prairie Silence: A Memoir by Melanie Hoffert


  • Winesburgh, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
  • At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier
  • All the Things I Never Told You by Celeste Ng


  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • That Was Then, This is Now by S.E. Hinton
  • Mean Spirit by Linda Hogan
  • Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson


  • No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July*
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson
  • Wildwood by Colin Meloy
  • Mink River by Brian Doyle


  • Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon*
  • Oreo by Fran Ross
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Rhode Island

  • Spartina by John Casey
  • The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood
  • The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

South Carolina

  • The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
  • Beach Music by Pat Conroy
  • My Losing Season by Pat Conroy
  • The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy
  • The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Clover by Dori Sanders

South Dakota

  • The Soul of the Indian by Charles Alexander Eastman
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder


  • A Death in the Family by James Agee
  • Bloodroot by Amy Greene
  • This Side of Eternity by Rosalyn McMillan
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor


  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry*
  • Comanche Moon by Larry McMurtry
  • Dead Man’s Walk by Larry McMurtry
  • Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry
  • The Old Order by Katherine Anne Porter
  • Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria E. Anzaldúa


  • When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
  • The Last Cowgirl by Jana Richman
  • The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff


  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt*
  • My Garden by Jamaica Kincaid
  • Midwives by Chris Bohjalian


  • Big Stone Gap series by Adriana Trigiani (4)
  • Wish You Well by David Baldacci
  • Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
  • The Known World by Edward P. Jones
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (not a Virginia author, but worth reading)
  • The House Girl by Tara Conklin (not a Virginia author, but worth reading)


  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie*
  • Bread Alone by Judi Hendricks
  • Before the Wind by Jim Lynch
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

West Virginia

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Strange As This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake
  • John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead (not a West Virginia author)


  • The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach*
  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr
  • The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry


  • Skipped Parts by Tim Sandlin
  • Cowboys and East Indians by Nina McConigley
  • The Virginian: Horseman of the Plain by Owen Wister
  • Open Season (Joe Pickett #1) by C.J. Box

* Denotes a favorite

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