Every state has its hallmark writers. Mississippi has William Faulkner and his incomparable (fictional) Yoknapatawpha County and Missouri can lay claim to Mark Twain. The state of Maine is gifted with Pulitzer winner Richard Russo and horror icon Stephen King. Rural Pennsylvania is the playground of the much-heralded (and occasionally maligned) John Updike, and when many bibliophiles think of New Jersey, they also think of Richard Ford’s series of novels featuring recurring Everyman character Frank Bascombe. Illinois can lay claim to William Maxwell, Sandra Cisneros, and Adam Langer, among numerous others. And what reader can think of Washington State without contending with the sparkle-vampire yarns of Stephanie Meyer?

What makes authors like these inextricably associated with a particular state is not simply the matter of their having been born there or choosing to live there. The connection, from a writer’s standpoint, is deeper than that—their work, nearly all of it, is set in “their” state.

Of course, there are certainly exceptions. Whether a writer sets a tale in the town where they went to college or spent part of their childhood—like Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” and its New England arts school setting and the almost-factual small town of Jo Ann Beard’s “In Zanesville,” respectively—or crafts a story that follows a social or political theme to a location they know little about but lay narrative claim to anyway, the world is rife with books known, loved, and respected that also capture the essence of place—books where setting itself is one of the strongest characters.

Stacker compiled a list of books set in Tennessee from Goodreads. Whether you’re looking for a good read set in the state you call home, or you’re looking to expand your curiosity with a writer you’re already familiar with, we’ve got you covered.

Books that take place in Tennessee

Goodreads

The Color Purple

– Rating: 4.25 (609,269 ratings)
– Author: Alice Walker
– Published: June 1, 1982
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Feminism
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Goodreads

Christy

– Rating: 4.23 (52,546 ratings)
– Author: Catherine Marshall
– Published: June 1, 1967
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Classics, Christian Fiction
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Goodreads

Beard in Mind (Winston Brothers, #4)

– Rating: 4.20 (22,490 ratings)
– Author: Penny Reid
– Published: July 31, 2017
– Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary, Fiction
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Batter of Wits (Love at First Sight, #2)

– Rating: 4.01 (2,689 ratings)
– Author: Karla Sorensen
– Published: April 21, 2020
– Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary, Fiction
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Under Water: A Natural Disaster Memoir

– Rating: 3.59 (1,115 ratings)
– Author: Owen Grimenstein
– Published: October 29, 2016
– Genres: History, Nonfiction
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American Gods

– Rating: 4.11 (856,237 ratings)
– Author: Neil Gaiman
– Published: June 19, 2001
– Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Mythology
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The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lecter, #2)

– Rating: 4.23 (519,035 ratings)
– Author: Thomas Harris
– Published: July 1, 1988
– Genres: Horror, Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
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Elvis and Me: The True Story of the Love Between Priscilla Presley and the King of Rock N’ Roll

– Rating: 3.88 (7,021 ratings)
– Author: Priscilla Presley
– Published: September 19, 1985
– Genres: Biography, Nonfiction, Music, Memoir
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Goodreads

Grin and Beard It (Winston Brothers, #2)

– Rating: 4.14 (27,014 ratings)
– Author: Penny Reid
– Published: March 21, 2016
– Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary, Humor
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Goodreads

Natural Born Charmer (Chicago Stars, #7)

– Rating: 4.15 (35,061 ratings)
– Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
– Published: January 1, 2007
– Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary, Chick Lit
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Goodreads

Fortune Calling (The Fortune Series, #1)

– Rating: 4.55 (149 ratings)
– Author: Hunter S. Jones
– Published: January 27, 2014
– Genres: Romance, Fiction, Short Stories
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Goodreads

Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business

– Rating: 4.12 (3,651 ratings)
– Author: Dolly Parton
– Published: September 20, 1994
– Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biography, Music
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Goodreads

March: Book One (March, #1)

– Rating: 4.33 (52,232 ratings)
– Author: John Lewis
– Published: August 13, 2013
– Genres: Graphic Novels, Nonfiction, History, Memoir
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Goodreads

Carved in Bone (Body Farm, #1)

– Rating: 3.93 (12,309 ratings)
– Author: Jefferson Bass
– Published: January 1, 2006
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Crime
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Goodreads

She Walks These Hills (Ballad, #3)

– Rating: 4.10 (4,178 ratings)
– Author: Sharyn McCrumb
– Published: January 1, 1994
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery Thriller
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Goodreads

Flight Behavior

– Rating: 3.80 (88,703 ratings)
– Author: Barbara Kingsolver
– Published: November 1, 2012
– Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Environment, Contemporary
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Goodreads

Nothing to See Here

– Rating: 3.95 (141,627 ratings)
– Author: Kevin Wilson
– Published: October 29, 2019
– Genres: Fiction, Audiobook, Magical Realism, Fantasy
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Goodreads

Before We Were Yours

– Rating: 4.39 (505,677 ratings)
– Author: Lisa Wingate
– Published: June 6, 2017
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Audiobook
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Goodreads

The Firm

– Rating: 4.17 (60,976 ratings)
– Author: John Grisham
– Published: February 28, 1991
– Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime
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Goodreads

Say You Want Me (The Hennington Brothers, #2)

– Rating: 4.32 (13,335 ratings)
– Author: Corinne Michaels
– Published: October 29, 2016
– Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary, Audiobook
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Goodreads

Flesh and Bone (Body Farm #2)

– Rating: 4.06 (10,359 ratings)
– Author: Jefferson Bass
– Published: January 1, 2007
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Crime
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Goodreads

Roots: The Saga of an American Family

– Rating: 4.43 (155,905 ratings)
– Author: Alex Haley
– Published: August 17, 1976
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Classics, Historical
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Goodreads

The Women of Brewster Place

– Rating: 4.19 (19,799 ratings)
– Author: Gloria Naylor
– Published: June 2, 1982
– Genres: Fiction, Short Stories, Classics, African American
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Goodreads

A Death in the Family

– Rating: 3.90 (15,364 ratings)
– Author: James Agee
– Published: January 1, 1957
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Literature, Novels
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Goodreads

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

– Rating: 3.70 (28,615 ratings)
– Author: Denise Kiernan
– Published: March 5, 2013
– Genres: Nonfiction, History, World War II, Science
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Goodreads

Duke (Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club, #1)

– Rating: 3.75 (1,354 ratings)
– Author: Candace Blevins
– Published: April 22, 2015
– Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Paranormal Romance, Shapeshifters
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Goodreads

The Widow of the South

– Rating: 3.77 (16,351 ratings)
– Author: Robert Hicks
– Published: August 30, 2005
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Civil War, Historical
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Goodreads

Black Rose (In the Garden, #2)

– Rating: 4.06 (39,658 ratings)
– Author: Nora Roberts
– Published: May 31, 2005
– Genres: Romance, Fiction, Paranormal, Contemporary Romance
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Goodreads

A Summons to Memphis

– Rating: 3.65 (6,234 ratings)
– Author: Peter Taylor
– Published: June 29, 1986
– Genres: Fiction, Novels, Southern, Literary Fiction
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Goodreads

Beard Science (Winston Brothers, #3)

– Rating: 4.41 (31,169 ratings)
– Author: Penny Reid
– Published: October 11, 2016
– Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary, Humor
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Goodreads

Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley

– Rating: 4.10 (8,579 ratings)
– Author: Peter Guralnick
– Published: March 1, 1994
– Genres: Music, Biography, Nonfiction, History
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Goodreads

Blue Moon (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #8)

– Rating: 4.05 (64,311 ratings)
– Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
– Published: November 1, 1998
– Genres: Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Paranormal, Fantasy
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Goodreads

Zombies of the Gene Pool (Jay Omega, #2)

– Rating: 3.44 (1,173 ratings)
– Author: Sharyn McCrumb
– Published: February 1, 1992
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Humor, Science Fiction
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Goodreads

Red Lily (In the Garden, #3)

– Rating: 4.08 (38,518 ratings)
– Author: Nora Roberts
– Published: November 29, 2005
– Genres: Romance, Fiction, Paranormal, Contemporary Romance
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Goodreads

Cut to the Bone (Body Farm, #8)

– Rating: 4.09 (3,620 ratings)
– Author: Jefferson Bass
– Published: September 24, 2013
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Suspense
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Goodreads

Inherit the Wind

– Rating: 3.93 (22,774 ratings)
– Author: Jerome Lawrence
– Published: January 1, 1955
– Genres: Plays, Classics, Fiction, Drama
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Goodreads

The Children

– Rating: 4.50 (1,238 ratings)
– Author: David Halberstam
– Published: March 24, 1998
– Genres: History, Nonfiction, American History, Politics
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Goodreads

The Sandbox & The Death of Bessie Smith

– Rating: 3.60 (341 ratings)
– Author: Edward Albee
– Published: October 1, 1963
– Genres: Plays, Drama, Theatre, Fiction
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Goodreads

The Reivers

– Rating: 3.79 (7,103 ratings)
– Author: William Faulkner
– Published: January 1, 1962
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Literature, Historical Fiction
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Goodreads

Whistle

– Rating: 3.86 (556 ratings)
– Author: James Jones
– Published: March 1, 1978
– Genres: Fiction, War, Historical Fiction, World War II
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Goodreads

Ghost Riders

– Rating: 3.94 (1,814 ratings)
– Author: Sharyn McCrumb
– Published: January 1, 2003
– Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical
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Goodreads

Walland (Hesse Creek #1)

– Rating: 4.07 (340 ratings)
– Author: Andrea Thome
– Published: August 12, 2016
– Genres: Romance, Fiction
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Goodreads

Christmas at Carnton (Carnton, #0.5)

– Rating: 4.18 (2,599 ratings)
– Author: Tamera Alexander
– Published: October 3, 2017
– Genres: Christmas, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance
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Goodreads

The Hiding Girl (Emily Calby, #1)

– Rating: 4.32 (227 ratings)
– Author: Dorian Box
– Published: June 15, 2020
– Genres: Thriller, Fiction, Suspense
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Goodreads

Secondhand Smoke (Dartmoor, #4)

– Rating: 4.41 (1,798 ratings)
– Author: Lauren Gilley
– Published: January 14, 2016
– Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Dark, Suspense
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Goodreads

The Serpent King

– Rating: 4.16 (18,891 ratings)
– Author: Jeff Zentner
– Published: March 8, 2016
– Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Realistic Fiction
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