There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book, your beverage of choice and getting lost in the pages of an author’s story. It may be chilly outside, but you can still go on a literary tour of our region from the comfort of your own home. North Carolina frequently serves as the backdrop for many beloved works of literature and is also home to many best-selling authors. Check out these novels and kids’ books that are set in our area or are from the imagination of local storytellers.
Perhaps one of North Carolina’s best-known authors in recent decades is romance novelist Nicholas Sparks. A resident of New Bern, Sparks has found inspiration from the Outer Banks to the Blue Ridge Mountains to serve as the backdrop of his best-selling novels, including “The Notebook,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” “Message in a Bottle,” “Dear John,” and a “Walk to Remember.” Many of his novels have also been adapted into blockbuster films.
Also appearing on the New York Times Best Sellers list is Wiley Cash. He is known for novels based in North Carolina, including “This Dark Road to Mercy,” “A Land More Kind Than Home,” and “The Last Ballad” which was inspired by true events that occurred in the state’s textile industry in 1929. His style has drawn comparisons to other noted authors like Cormac McCarthy.
Other noteworthy titles to check out set in the Tarheel state include “Big Fish” by Daniel Wallace, “Guests on Earth” by Lee Smith, “Serena” by Ron Rash, “Life After Life” by Kate Atkinson, “Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel, “Ellen Foster” by Kaye Gibbons, “Cold Mountain” by Charles Frazier, “Emma Who Saved My Life” by Wilton Barnhardt and “The Last Castle” by Denise Kiernan.
While the plot is not entirely set in Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina makes a cameo in many popular novels that were published in the last few years. John Grisham’s “Camino Island” features a main character who teaches writing at the university while working on her second book. Delia Owen’s hit debut, “Where the Crawdads Sing” features a character attending the school in the 1960s, while the rest of the book unfolds in a fictional marsh town along the coast.
Your kids can find a treasure trove of local authors based out of Chapel Hill who will help their imaginations run wild. For young children, Linda Ashman wrote “William’s Winter Nap” to teach the importance of kindness, and “Planting Hope” by Susie Wilde and Peg Gignoux features local nonprofit PORCH and shows how one small seed can spread a larger message.
Older kids may enjoy Melissa Walker’s “Let’s Pretend We Never Met” that explores what it’s like to navigate middle school friendships, while Sarah Dessen’s “Once and For All” can help teenagers overcome their first heart break.
Look for these titles at local Chapel Hill bookstores.