Read local with these 12 Charlotte titles

Have a New Year’s resolution to read more books come January?

Here are 12 of the top local titles about Charlotte, set in Charlotte (or the surrounding area) or written by Charlotte authors.

Travel and Tourism 

– “100 Things to Do in Charlotte Before You Die” by Sarah Crosland

This book lists some of the best restaurants, attractions and experiences locals and visitors need to check out at some point in their Charlotte lives. Crosland is the executive director of the Observer’s magazine division.


– “Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875-1975” by Tom Hanchett

Tom Hanchett, longtime (and recently retired) historian at the Levine Museum, wraps up Charlotte’s early growth over the course of a century and details how decades of urban policy decisions ultimately shaped our city.

– “Charlotte, NC: The Global Evolution of a New South City,” By Bill Graves and Heather Smith

This book chronicles how Charlotte, once a regional manufacturing and textile center, became a premier center for banking, energy and technology. It was written by two UNC Charlotte professors.

– “Wicked Charlotte: The Sordid Side of the Queen City” by Stephanie Burt Williams

In this book, Williams explores the darker side of the Queen City. Separated into sections on gold mining, local robberies, bootlegging and local scoundrels, it also includes stories like the tale of Rae Carruth and Jim and Tammy Faye Baker.


Biography (sort of)

– “Why is Your Name Upside Down? Stories from a Life in Advertising” by David Oakley

This collection of stories details the work life of David Oakley, founder and creative director of BooneOakley, a local advertising agency serving clients like Bojangles, The Hornets, Autobell and Goodwill.


– “100 Days of Real Food” by Lisa Leake (New York Times Bestseller)

Lisa Leake, a Matthews mom who’s been featured on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks, writes about ridding her family’s diet of processed food for 100 days.

“Pecans” and “Bourbon” by Kathleen Purvis

Purvis, the Observer’s food editor, wrote these two little cookbooks for the Savor the South series. Each book in the series celebrates a “beloved food or tradition of the American South.”


After a quick chat with Park Road Books store owner Sally Rooster, I learned these are the Charlotte fiction titles you won’t want to miss.

– “Lookaway, Lookaway” by Wilton Barnhardt (New York Times Bestseller)

Wilton Barnhardt is a NC State MFA professor whose book is loosely based on well-to-do Charlotte families of recent past. It’s set in the Myers Park neighborhood.

– “Speaking in Bones”

Reichs, an anthropology professor at UNC Charlotte, used her real life practice as a medical examiner to influence the Temperance Brennan series that this book falls into.

– “The Wrath and the Dawn”

This young adult novel re-imagines the classic Middle Eastern story “One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights).” Ahdieh lives in Charlotte.

– “The Slow Way Back” by Judy Goldman

This novel is set in the Carolinas and follows three generations of a Southern Jewish family, steadily revealing its secrets. Goldman lives in Charlotte.

Looking for more regional books? Check out UNC’s guide to titles set in North Carolina. Get comfortable, there are hundreds of them.