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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 writerly 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 Massachusetts 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.

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Little Women

– Rating: 4.13 (2.0 million ratings)
– Author: Louisa May Alcott
– Published: January 1, 1868
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
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Make Way for Ducklings

– Rating: 4.23 (87,681 ratings)
– Author: Robert McCloskey
– Published: January 1, 1941
– Genres: Picture Books, Childrens, Classics, Fiction
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The Scarlet Letter

– Rating: 3.43 (797,429 ratings)
– Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
– Published: March 16, 1850
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, School
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Walden

– Rating: 3.78 (177,583 ratings)
– Author: Henry David Thoreau
– Published: August 9, 1854
– Genres: Classics, Philosophy, Nonfiction, Nature
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Mystic River

– Rating: 4.15 (139,782 ratings)
– Author: Dennis Lehane
– Published: January 1, 2001
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Crime
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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

– Rating: 4.00 (231,029 ratings)
– Author: Gabrielle Zevin
– Published: April 1, 2014
– Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Books About Books, Adult
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A Drink Before the War (Kenzie & Gennaro, #1)

– Rating: 3.94 (39,780 ratings)
– Author: Dennis Lehane
– Published: November 1, 1994
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Thriller
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The Bell Jar

– Rating: 4.04 (762,319 ratings)
– Author: Sylvia Plath
– Published: January 1, 1963
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Feminism, Mental Health
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The Crucible

– Rating: 3.60 (370,664 ratings)
– Author: Arthur Miller
– Published: January 22, 1953
– Genres: Classics, Plays, Fiction, Historical Fiction
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The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (The Physick Book, #1)

– Rating: 3.72 (55,421 ratings)
– Author: Katherine Howe
– Published: June 9, 2009
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery
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Shutter Island

– Rating: 4.09 (182,960 ratings)
– Author: Dennis Lehane
– Published: January 1, 2003
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Horror
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On Beauty

– Rating: 3.75 (77,738 ratings)
– Author: Zadie Smith
– Published: June 4, 2005
– Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Novels, Literary Fiction
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The Heretic’s Daughter

– Rating: 3.78 (34,352 ratings)
– Author: Kathleen Kent
– Published: September 3, 2008
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Witches
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Love Story (Love Story, #1)

– Rating: 3.64 (57,425 ratings)
– Author: Erich Segal
– Published: February 14, 1970
– Genres: Romance, Fiction, Classics, Contemporary
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Summer

– Rating: 3.67 (12,968 ratings)
– Author: Edith Wharton
– Published: January 1, 1917
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Romance, American
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The Boston Girl

– Rating: 3.82 (82,296 ratings)
– Author: Anita Diamant
– Published: December 9, 2014
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Audiobook, Historical
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The House of the Seven Gables

– Rating: 3.45 (37,141 ratings)
– Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
– Published: March 1, 1851
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Gothic, Literature
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Defending Jacob

– Rating: 3.99 (286,008 ratings)
– Author: William Landay
– Published: January 31, 2012
– Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
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Summer of ’69

– Rating: 3.96 (108,546 ratings)
– Author: Elin Hilderbrand
– Published: June 13, 2019
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Audiobook, Chick Lit
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Johnny Tremain

– Rating: 3.67 (46,041 ratings)
– Author: Esther Forbes
– Published: January 1, 1943
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Classics, Young Adult
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Illumination Night

– Rating: 3.74 (8,177 ratings)
– Author: Alice Hoffman
– Published: August 5, 1987
– Genres: Fiction, Magical Realism, Contemporary, Fantasy
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Run

– Rating: 3.62 (44,702 ratings)
– Author: Ann Patchett
– Published: January 1, 2007
– Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Adult Fiction
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Thoreau at Devil’s Perch (Henry David Thoreau Mystery #1)

– Rating: 3.45 (127 ratings)
– Author: B.B. Oak
– Published: January 1, 2013
– Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Fiction
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The Wedding

– Rating: 3.98 (5,514 ratings)
– Author: Dorothy West
– Published: January 1, 1995
– Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, African American, Classics
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The Chocolate War (Chocolate War, #1)

– Rating: 3.49 (44,151 ratings)
– Author: Robert Cormier
– Published: January 1, 1974
– Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Classics, Realistic Fiction
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The Giant’s House

– Rating: 3.67 (7,204 ratings)
– Author: Elizabeth McCracken
– Published: June 1, 1996
– Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Adult Fiction
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The Wolves of Andover

– Rating: 3.56 (4,170 ratings)
– Author: Kathleen Kent
– Published: January 1, 2010
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Romance
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Ethan Frome

– Rating: 3.43 (118,845 ratings)
– Author: Edith Wharton
– Published: January 1, 1911
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Literature, Romance
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Bowlaway

– Rating: 3.11 (6,039 ratings)
– Author: Elizabeth McCracken
– Published: February 5, 2019
– Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Adult, Audiobook
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The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (The Penderwicks #1)

– Rating: 4.16 (54,690 ratings)
– Author: Jeanne Birdsall
– Published: June 14, 2005
– Genres: Middle Grade, Fiction, Childrens, Realistic Fiction
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Gone, Baby, Gone (Kenzie & Gennaro, #4)

– Rating: 4.14 (36,682 ratings)
– Author: Dennis Lehane
– Published: July 22, 1998
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Crime
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Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel, #1)

– Rating: 3.78 (54,869 ratings)
– Author: Janet Evanovich
– Published: September 14, 2009
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal
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Girl, Interrupted

– Rating: 3.92 (211,847 ratings)
– Author: Susanna Kaysen
– Published: January 1, 1993
– Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir, Psychology, Mental Health
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Townie

– Rating: 3.77 (7,569 ratings)
– Author: Andre Dubus III
– Published: January 1, 2011
– Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography
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Tuesdays with Morrie

– Rating: 4.14 (911,198 ratings)
– Author: Mitch Albom
– Published: August 18, 1997
– Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biography, Inspirational
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I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

– Rating: 4.04 (7,902 ratings)
– Author: Maryse Condé
– Published: January 1, 1986
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Witches, Feminism
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Magic Lessons (Practical Magic, #0.1)

– Rating: 4.21 (40,957 ratings)
– Author: Alice Hoffman
– Published: October 6, 2020
– Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Magical Realism
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So Far From Home: the Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl, Lowell, Massachusetts, 1847

– Rating: 3.75 (5,027 ratings)
– Author: Barry Denenberg
– Published: January 1, 2003
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Historical, Fiction
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See What I Have Done

– Rating: 3.18 (14,113 ratings)
– Author: Sarah Schmidt
– Published: May 2, 2017
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Historical
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A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers / Walden / The Maine Woods / Cape Cod

– Rating: 4.23 (2,150 ratings)
– Author: Henry David Thoreau
– Published: January 1, 1849
– Genres: Classics, Nonfiction, Philosophy, Nature
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The Art Forger

– Rating: 3.74 (83,948 ratings)
– Author: Barbara A. Shapiro
– Published: October 23, 2012
– Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Art, Historical Fiction
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Alice’s Restaurant

– Rating: 4.10 (20 ratings)
– Author: Arlo Guthrie
– Published: January 1, 1968
– Genres: Memoir, Music
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Summer Sisters

– Rating: 3.85 (94,982 ratings)
– Author: Judy Blume
– Published: January 1, 1998
– Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit, Romance, Young Adult
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The Sinner (Rizzoli & Isles, #3)

– Rating: 4.13 (51,567 ratings)
– Author: Tess Gerritsen
– Published: August 19, 2003
– Genres: Mystery, Crime, Thriller, Fiction
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Being Henry David

– Rating: 3.65 (2,798 ratings)
– Author: Cal Armistead
– Published: January 1, 2013
– Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
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High Strangeness

– Rating: 3.62 (131 ratings)
– Author: Eric Bickernicks
– Published: December 14, 2018
– Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
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Emily Upham’s Revenge: A Massachusetts Adventure

– Rating: 3.67 (119 ratings)
– Author: Avi
– Published: January 1, 1978
– Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Childrens, Young Adult
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The Other Daughter

– Rating: 4.00 (21,382 ratings)
– Author: Lisa Gardner
– Published: July 1, 1999
– Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction, Suspense
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The Bostonians

– Rating: 3.58 (6,953 ratings)
– Author: Henry James
– Published: January 1, 1886
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, 19th Century, Literature
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Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things (Alvin Ho, #1)

– Rating: 3.82 (6,735 ratings)
– Author: Lenore Look
– Published: January 1, 2008
– Genres: Realistic Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade, Childrens
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This story was written by Stacker and has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

This post was originally published on this site

Stacker

This story was written by Stacker and has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License. Founded in 2017, Stacker combines data analysis with rich editorial context, drawing on authoritative...