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 Illinois 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.

You may also like: Biggest sources of immigrants to Illinois

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

– Rating: 3.99 (616,210 ratings)
– Author: Erik Larson
– Published: February 11, 2003
– Genres: Nonfiction, History, True Crime, Crime
Read more on Goodreads

The Time Traveler’s Wife

– Rating: 3.99 (1.7 million ratings)
– Author: Audrey Niffenegger
– Published: January 1, 2004
– Genres: Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Time Travel
Read more on Goodreads

Ghost Hand (The PSS Chronicles, #1)

– Rating: 3.88 (1,045 ratings)
– Author: Ripley Patton
– Published: November 28, 2012
– Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Read more on Goodreads

State of Horror: Illinois

– Rating: 4.21 (19 ratings)
– Author: Jerry E. Benns
– Published: August 23, 2014
– Genres: Horror
Read more on Goodreads

The Jungle

– Rating: 3.76 (137,497 ratings)
– Author: Upton Sinclair
– Published: February 25, 1905
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literature
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Recipes from Illinois

Native Son

– Rating: 4.01 (95,100 ratings)
– Author: Richard Wright
– Published: January 1, 1940
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Historical Fiction, African American
Read more on Goodreads

A Long Way from Chicago (A Long Way from Chicago, #1)

– Rating: 3.96 (33,184 ratings)
– Author: Richard Peck
– Published: January 1, 1998
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction, Childrens
Read more on Goodreads

A Heart Of Stone

– Rating: 3.71 (14 ratings)
– Author: Amanda Springer
– Published: September 29, 2014
– Genres: Christian
Read more on Goodreads

The House on Mango Street

– Rating: 3.68 (158,830 ratings)
– Author: Sandra Cisneros
– Published: January 1, 1984
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Young Adult, Short Stories
Read more on Goodreads

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

– Rating: 3.72 (378,675 ratings)
– Author: John Green
– Published: April 6, 2010
– Genres: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary, Fiction
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Cities in Illinois with the most living in poverty

Across Five Aprils

– Rating: 3.54 (13,132 ratings)
– Author: Irene Hunt
– Published: September 1, 1964
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Young Adult, Civil War
Read more on Goodreads

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)

– Rating: 3.98 (329,620 ratings)
– Author: Jim Butcher
– Published: April 1, 2000
– Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Fiction
Read more on Goodreads

A Raisin in the Sun

– Rating: 3.84 (83,631 ratings)
– Author: Lorraine Hansberry
– Published: January 1, 1959
– Genres: Plays, Classics, Fiction, Drama
Read more on Goodreads

The Unicorn Hunter

– Rating: 4.11 (27 ratings)
– Author: Del Henderson
– Published: October 26, 2015
– Genres: Fantasy, Unicorns
Read more on Goodreads

The Litigators

– Rating: 3.85 (71,085 ratings)
– Author: John Grisham
– Published: October 25, 2011
– Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Legal Thriller
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Counties with the lowest home prices in Illinois

Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town, #2)

– Rating: 3.92 (116,764 ratings)
– Author: Ray Bradbury
– Published: September 17, 1962
– Genres: Horror, Fantasy, Fiction, Classics
Read more on Goodreads

Chicago Poems

– Rating: 4.02 (2,439 ratings)
– Author: Carl Sandburg
– Published: January 1, 1916
– Genres: Poetry, Classics, Fiction, American
Read more on Goodreads

Deceptions (Cainsville, #3)

– Rating: 4.15 (10,172 ratings)
– Author: Kelley Armstrong
– Published: August 18, 2015
– Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Read more on Goodreads

Deadlock (V.I. Warshawski, #2)

– Rating: 3.81 (5,273 ratings)
– Author: Sara Paretsky
– Published: December 12, 1984
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Mystery Thriller
Read more on Goodreads

Rose Madder

– Rating: 3.73 (105,733 ratings)
– Author: Stephen King
– Published: January 1, 1995
– Genres: Horror, Fiction, Thriller, Fantasy
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Highest rated IPAs in Illinois

Wild Women and the Blues

– Rating: 3.78 (4,834 ratings)
– Author: Denny S. Bryce
– Published: March 30, 2021
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Adult
Read more on Goodreads

Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires, #1)

– Rating: 3.98 (62,970 ratings)
– Author: Chloe Neill
– Published: April 7, 2009
– Genres: Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Paranormal, Fantasy
Read more on Goodreads

It Had to Be You (Chicago Stars, #1)

– Rating: 4.01 (64,344 ratings)
– Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
– Published: January 1, 1994
– Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary, Sports
Read more on Goodreads

Omens (Cainsville, #1)

– Rating: 4.07 (19,880 ratings)
– Author: Kelley Armstrong
– Published: August 20, 2013
– Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal
Read more on Goodreads

Visions (Cainsville, #2)

– Rating: 4.25 (12,603 ratings)
– Author: Kelley Armstrong
– Published: August 14, 2014
– Genres: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mystery
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Best counties to live in Illinois

Brush Back (V.I. Warshawski, #17)

– Rating: 3.93 (4,001 ratings)
– Author: Sara Paretsky
– Published: July 16, 2015
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Mystery Thriller
Read more on Goodreads

Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15)

– Rating: 4.56 (79,214 ratings)
– Author: Jim Butcher
– Published: May 27, 2014
– Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery
Read more on Goodreads

The Firebrand (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy #3)

– Rating: 3.90 (2,148 ratings)
– Author: Susan Wiggs
– Published: April 1, 2001
– Genres: Romance, Historical Romance, Historical, Historical Fiction
Read more on Goodreads

The Mistress (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy, #2)

– Rating: 3.78 (1,757 ratings)
– Author: Susan Wiggs
– Published: October 1, 2000
– Genres: Romance, Historical Romance, Historical, Historical Fiction
Read more on Goodreads

Blood Secrets

– Rating: 3.89 (282 ratings)
– Author: Craig Jones
– Published: January 1, 1978
– Genres: Horror, Mystery, Fiction, Thriller
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Counties with the oldest homes in Illinois

Arsenic and Adobo (Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery, #1)

– Rating: 3.56 (49,123 ratings)
– Author: Mia P. Manansala
– Published: May 4, 2021
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Mystery Thriller
Read more on Goodreads

Dandelion Wine (Green Town, #1)

– Rating: 4.08 (63,916 ratings)
– Author: Ray Bradbury
– Published: September 1, 1957
– Genres: Fiction, Classics, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Read more on Goodreads

Time Between Us (Time Between Us, #1)

– Rating: 3.90 (11,084 ratings)
– Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
– Published: October 9, 2012
– Genres: Young Adult, Time Travel, Romance, Fantasy
Read more on Goodreads

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)

– Rating: 3.99 (1.4 million ratings)
– Author: Veronica Roth
– Published: May 1, 2012
– Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fiction, Fantasy
Read more on Goodreads

The Hostage (Great Chicago Fire Trilogy #1)

– Rating: 3.90 (2,211 ratings)
– Author: Susan Wiggs
– Published: April 1, 2000
– Genres: Romance, Historical Romance, Historical, Historical Fiction
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Highest-rated golf courses in Illinois, according to Tripadvisor

If We Were Villains

– Rating: 4.22 (102,871 ratings)
– Author: M.L. Rio
– Published: April 11, 2017
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Contemporary
Read more on Goodreads

The Summer I Saved the World . . . in 65 Days

– Rating: 4.12 (1,281 ratings)
– Author: Michele Weber Hurwitz
– Published: January 1, 2014
– Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade, Fiction
Read more on Goodreads

Sister Carrie

– Rating: 3.76 (38,660 ratings)
– Author: Theodore Dreiser
– Published: November 8, 1900
– Genres: Classics, Fiction, Literature, American
Read more on Goodreads

Deliver Us from Normal

– Rating: 3.41 (554 ratings)
– Author: Kate Klise
– Published: January 1, 2005
– Genres: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction, Middle Grade
Read more on Goodreads

About Average

– Rating: 3.71 (1,651 ratings)
– Author: Andrew Clements
– Published: June 26, 2012
– Genres: Realistic Fiction, Middle Grade, Fiction, School
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Highest-earning counties in Illinois

A Year Down Yonder (A Long Way from Chicago, #2)

– Rating: 4.13 (29,030 ratings)
– Author: Richard Peck
– Published: January 1, 2000
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction, Childrens
Read more on Goodreads

Indemnity Only (V.I. Warshawski, #1)

– Rating: 3.90 (17,327 ratings)
– Author: Sara Paretsky
– Published: February 3, 1982
– Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Crime, Mystery Thriller
Read more on Goodreads

My Chocolate Year: A Novel with 12 Recipes to Make Your World a Little Sweeter

– Rating: 3.54 (144 ratings)
– Author: Charlotte Herman
– Published: February 19, 2008
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Juvenile, Childrens, Historical
Read more on Goodreads

Ghost Story (The Dresden Files, #13)

– Rating: 4.25 (92,055 ratings)
– Author: Jim Butcher
– Published: July 26, 2011
– Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery
Read more on Goodreads

The Jazz Palace

– Rating: 3.68 (750 ratings)
– Author: Mary Morris
– Published: April 7, 2015
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction, Music, Jazz
Read more on Goodreads

You may also like: Colleges with the best ROI in Illinois

A Kiss of Shadows (Merry Gentry, #1)

– Rating: 4.01 (57,038 ratings)
– Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
– Published: September 30, 2000
– Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Read more on Goodreads

Just Your Average Princess (Just Your Average #1)

– Rating: 3.38 (386 ratings)
– Author: Kristina Springer
– Published: October 11, 2011
– Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Read more on Goodreads

The Paper Cowboy

– Rating: 4.19 (1,248 ratings)
– Author: Kristin Levine
– Published: September 4, 2014
– Genres: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Historical, Family
Read more on Goodreads