My Favorite West Virginia Books


As a native West Virginian, I get very excited to read books about or set in my home state. Here are my favorites:

Crum by Lee Maynard – Set in a small town on the West Virginia/Kentucky border, Crum is a harshly realistic and humorous Appalachian coming-of-age story. The novel recounts a nameless narrator’s experiences during his last year living in Crum. Lee Maynard’s colorful writing and unforgettable characters will haunt you for days. Though controversial, this cult classic is a must-read!

The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake – Breece D’J Pankcake was a talented, young writer whose promising career was cut short by suicide.  Pancake was a native of South Charleston and attended West Virginia University. This collection of short stories describes life in rural Appalachia. Pancake’s stark and honest prose sticks with you long after you’ve finished reading.

Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor – Boy meets dog, boy saves dog. This heart-warming tale is perfect for reluctant readers or any animal-lover.

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout – This book is Twilight-esque, but with aliens instead of vampires. Seneca Rocks is important to the plot and happens to be one of my favorite places in West Virginia (it is truly gorgeous, visit if you get the chance). I also love that Armentrout incorporates the legend of Princess Snowbird in Obsidian.

West Virginia UFOs: Close Encounters in the Mountain State by Bob Teets –  Another book featuring aliens… Do we see a pattern here? Whether you want to believe or not, this book is certainly entertaining.

The Telltale Lilac Bush & Coffin Hollow by Ruth Ann Musick – Ruth Ann Musick was a bad-ass folklorist who collected ghost stories from all over the state of West Virginia. Those tales are showcased in The Telltale Lilac Bush and Coffin Hollow. Any child who grew up in the Mountain State has fond memories of reading Musick’s books over and over again.