The Best Fiction & Poetry Books From New Jersey

Collection of books

New Jersey is known for growing things, so it shouldn’t be surprising that our fertile soil has produced a thriving crop of authors and literature about our fair condition. Philip Roth, Judy Blume, Janet Evanovich, and Harlan Coben are just a few of the bestselling authors born in New Jersey. With these literary credentials in hand, we have compiled a list of some of our favorite books about the place we call home. We hope you’re inspired to grab a book and sit by the fireplace on a cozy night with one of these.

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The Best Fiction Books from New Jersey

  • Description:

    When he was six, Diaz's family immigrated to Parlin from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He attended Rutgers University. His character, "Yunior," narrates the American experience through the eyes of a Dominican immigrant and a boy obsessed with living the American dream.

Coming to the BIG Screen!
  • Description:

    This book is coming to the big screen in April 2023. Judy Blume, born and raised in Elizabeth, was a prolific writer. Jersey is so proud of this native daughter that in March 2022, a rest stop in Wall on the Garden State Parkway was named in her honor. This book deals with a child of interfaith marriage in the New Jersey suburbs searching for her religious identity.

  • Description:

    A plane crashes in Colorado, and one hundred and ninety-one people died. The sole survivor is a twelve-year-old, now orphaned boy. He goes to live with his aunt and uncle in West Milford. Although a fictional story, it is inspired by the real-life crash of Afriqiyah Airways Flight 771 on May 12, 2010. One hundred and three people died that day, and a nine-year-old boy, Ruben Van Assouw, survived. Apple T.V. will be releasing this story as a series in early February. 2023.

     

  • Description:

    Set in the swanky Weequahic section of Newark, this Pulitzer Prize-winning book tells the story of the unraveling of a" perfect family" caused by the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s. The dreams of the college football star married to the beauty queen collapse as their daughter's political awakening as a revolutionary wreaks havoc on their idyllic middle-class life. This book was made into a movie in 2016 with Dakota Fanning as the daughter.

  • Description:

    The story follows three characters from a Brown University class meeting through their careers. From Prettybrook, New Jersey, to a biology lab on Cape Cod, we follow Madeline's search for the existence of God and the true meaning of love. Reading Eugenides always feels a little like peeking into someone else's diary.

Poems
  • Description:

    Long Branch native and Former United States Poet Laureate Pinsky has written numerous books of poetry and a few prose books, most notably translating Dante's Inferno. This poetry book is a collection of poems illustrating Pinsky's thoughts on life. In his 2022 book, "Jersey Breaks," he describes his journey to becoming a world-class poet.

In Atlantic City
  • Description:

    Set in Atlantic City in the 1930s, it's the story of a Jewish family trying to conceal the death of a family member from a woman with a delicate pregnancy. Although the premise sounds odd, it's based on the author's family lore. The sights and sounds of Atlantic City during the 30's come alive in this well-written coming-of-age story.

  • Description:

    This book was the beginning of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series; now fans are eagerly waiting for book #30 to be published. This book was made into a movie in 2012 starring Katherine Heigl. Plum is a bounty hunter, and Trenton serves as the setting as Evanovich relives a bit of her youth in the capital city. Reading about Italian Peoples Bakery always makes me hungry!

  • Description:

    Set in Bayhead Harbor, this novella has echoes of Nabokov's Lolita. A sixteen-year-old nanny strikes up an unusual friendship with an older affluent artist. It's a haunting story about desire, class, and control. It's very Joyce Carol Oates.

  • Description:

    Coben is a talented and prolific thriller/suspense writer. Raised in Livingston, it's no surprise he would set this novel about a "typical family" in suburban New Jersey. When a seventeen-year-old good girl suddenly goes missing, the town is in crisis. It's a story as much about a missing girl and what happened to her as it is a commentary on the community in which she grew up.

Description:

When he was six, Diaz's family immigrated to Parlin from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He attended Rutgers University. His character, "Yunior," narrates the American experience through the eyes of a Dominican immigrant and a boy obsessed with living the American dream.

Coming to the BIG Screen!
Description:

This book is coming to the big screen in April 2023. Judy Blume, born and raised in Elizabeth, was a prolific writer. Jersey is so proud of this native daughter that in March 2022, a rest stop in Wall on the Garden State Parkway was named in her honor. This book deals with a child of interfaith marriage in the New Jersey suburbs searching for her religious identity.

Description:

A plane crashes in Colorado, and one hundred and ninety-one people died. The sole survivor is a twelve-year-old, now orphaned boy. He goes to live with his aunt and uncle in West Milford. Although a fictional story, it is inspired by the real-life crash of Afriqiyah Airways Flight 771 on May 12, 2010. One hundred and three people died that day, and a nine-year-old boy, Ruben Van Assouw, survived. Apple T.V. will be releasing this story as a series in early February. 2023.

 

Description:

Set in the swanky Weequahic section of Newark, this Pulitzer Prize-winning book tells the story of the unraveling of a" perfect family" caused by the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s. The dreams of the college football star married to the beauty queen collapse as their daughter's political awakening as a revolutionary wreaks havoc on their idyllic middle-class life. This book was made into a movie in 2016 with Dakota Fanning as the daughter.

Description:

The story follows three characters from a Brown University class meeting through their careers. From Prettybrook, New Jersey, to a biology lab on Cape Cod, we follow Madeline's search for the existence of God and the true meaning of love. Reading Eugenides always feels a little like peeking into someone else's diary.

Poems
Description:

Long Branch native and Former United States Poet Laureate Pinsky has written numerous books of poetry and a few prose books, most notably translating Dante's Inferno. This poetry book is a collection of poems illustrating Pinsky's thoughts on life. In his 2022 book, "Jersey Breaks," he describes his journey to becoming a world-class poet.

In Atlantic City
Description:

Set in Atlantic City in the 1930s, it's the story of a Jewish family trying to conceal the death of a family member from a woman with a delicate pregnancy. Although the premise sounds odd, it's based on the author's family lore. The sights and sounds of Atlantic City during the 30's come alive in this well-written coming-of-age story.

Description:

This book was the beginning of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series; now fans are eagerly waiting for book #30 to be published. This book was made into a movie in 2012 starring Katherine Heigl. Plum is a bounty hunter, and Trenton serves as the setting as Evanovich relives a bit of her youth in the capital city. Reading about Italian Peoples Bakery always makes me hungry!

Description:

Set in Bayhead Harbor, this novella has echoes of Nabokov's Lolita. A sixteen-year-old nanny strikes up an unusual friendship with an older affluent artist. It's a haunting story about desire, class, and control. It's very Joyce Carol Oates.

Description:

Coben is a talented and prolific thriller/suspense writer. Raised in Livingston, it's no surprise he would set this novel about a "typical family" in suburban New Jersey. When a seventeen-year-old good girl suddenly goes missing, the town is in crisis. It's a story as much about a missing girl and what happened to her as it is a commentary on the community in which she grew up.

Historical Fiction Books of New Jersey

  • Description:

    In 1915 Constance Kopp became the first female sheriff's deputy in the United States – this is a fact and the springboard for the Kopp sister books by Stewart. Constance and her two sisters look into a woman's expected role in the early 1900s; and what those brave women who broke the mold had to endure to live their authentic lives.

  • Description:

    Betty Gow was twenty-six when she got the plum job of being the nanny for the world-famous aviator Charles Lindberg and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindberg. No one could have foreseen that this dream job would soon become a nightmare for everyone concerned. While under her care, the twenty-month-old infant was abducted from his nursery and later discovered dead. Much has been written on this topic, but never from the young nanny's side. From Scotland to Hopewell and ultimately back to Scotland, this historical fiction book offers a fresh take on a legendary New Jersey crime.

Description:

In 1915 Constance Kopp became the first female sheriff's deputy in the United States – this is a fact and the springboard for the Kopp sister books by Stewart. Constance and her two sisters look into a woman's expected role in the early 1900s; and what those brave women who broke the mold had to endure to live their authentic lives.

Description:

Betty Gow was twenty-six when she got the plum job of being the nanny for the world-famous aviator Charles Lindberg and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindberg. No one could have foreseen that this dream job would soon become a nightmare for everyone concerned. While under her care, the twenty-month-old infant was abducted from his nursery and later discovered dead. Much has been written on this topic, but never from the young nanny's side. From Scotland to Hopewell and ultimately back to Scotland, this historical fiction book offers a fresh take on a legendary New Jersey crime.

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