Books set in Massachusetts

Written by:
September 27, 2022
Goodreads

Books set in Massachusetts

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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Goodreads

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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2 / 50
Goodreads

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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3 / 50
Goodreads

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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4 / 50
Goodreads

Walden

- Rating: 3.78 (177,583 ratings)
- Author: Henry David Thoreau
- Published: August 9, 1854
- Genres: Classics, Philosophy, Nonfiction, Nature
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5 / 50
Goodreads

Mystic River

- Rating: 4.15 (139,782 ratings)
- Author: Dennis Lehane
- Published: January 1, 2001
- Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Crime
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6 / 50
Goodreads

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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7 / 50
Goodreads

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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8 / 50
Goodreads

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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9 / 50
Goodreads

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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10 / 50
Goodreads

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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Goodreads

Shutter Island

- Rating: 4.09 (182,960 ratings)
- Author: Dennis Lehane
- Published: January 1, 2003
- Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Horror
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12 / 50
Goodreads

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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13 / 50
Goodreads

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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14 / 50
Goodreads

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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15 / 50
Goodreads

Summer

- Rating: 3.67 (12,968 ratings)
- Author: Edith Wharton
- Published: January 1, 1917
- Genres: Classics, Fiction, Romance, American
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Goodreads

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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17 / 50
Goodreads

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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18 / 50
Goodreads

Defending Jacob

- Rating: 3.99 (286,008 ratings)
- Author: William Landay
- Published: January 31, 2012
- Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Crime
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19 / 50
Goodreads

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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20 / 50
Goodreads

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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21 / 50
Goodreads

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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22 / 50
Goodreads

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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23 / 50
Goodreads

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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24 / 50
Goodreads

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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25 / 50
Goodreads

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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Goodreads

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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Goodreads

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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Goodreads

Ethan Frome

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

Bowlaway

- Rating: 3.11 (6,039 ratings)
- Author: Elizabeth McCracken
- Published: February 5, 2019
- Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Adult, Audiobook
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30 / 50
Goodreads

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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Goodreads

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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32 / 50
Goodreads

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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33 / 50
Goodreads

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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Goodreads

Townie

- Rating: 3.77 (7,569 ratings)
- Author: Andre Dubus III
- Published: January 1, 2011
- Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography
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35 / 50
Goodreads

Tuesdays with Morrie

- Rating: 4.14 (911,198 ratings)
- Author: Mitch Albom
- Published: August 18, 1997
- Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir, Biography, Inspirational
- Read more on Goodreads

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Goodreads

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
- Read more on Goodreads
37 / 50
Goodreads

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
- Read more on Goodreads
38 / 50
Goodreads

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
- Read more on Goodreads
39 / 50
Goodreads

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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40 / 50
Goodreads

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
- Read more on Goodreads

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Goodreads

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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42 / 50
Goodreads

Alice's Restaurant

- Rating: 4.10 (20 ratings)
- Author: Arlo Guthrie
- Published: January 1, 1968
- Genres: Memoir, Music
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43 / 50
Goodreads

Summer Sisters

- Rating: 3.85 (94,982 ratings)
- Author: Judy Blume
- Published: January 1, 1998
- Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit, Romance, Young Adult
- Read more on Goodreads
44 / 50
Goodreads

The Sinner (Rizzoli & Isles, #3)

- Rating: 4.13 (51,567 ratings)
- Author: Tess Gerritsen
- Published: August 19, 2003
- Genres: Mystery, Crime, Thriller, Fiction
- Read more on Goodreads
45 / 50
Goodreads

Being Henry David

- Rating: 3.65 (2,798 ratings)
- Author: Cal Armistead
- Published: January 1, 2013
- Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
- Read more on Goodreads

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46 / 50
Goodreads

High Strangeness

- Rating: 3.62 (131 ratings)
- Author: Eric Bickernicks
- Published: December 14, 2018
- Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
- Read more on Goodreads
47 / 50
Goodreads

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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48 / 50
Goodreads

The Other Daughter

- Rating: 4.00 (21,382 ratings)
- Author: Lisa Gardner
- Published: July 1, 1999
- Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction, Suspense
- Read more on Goodreads
49 / 50
Goodreads

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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50 / 50
Goodreads

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
- Read more on Goodreads

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