Share A WV Story This Season: It’s the Perfect Gift

A holiday gift to inspire and nurture the mind is simple: stick a bow on a book. It’s the universal present everyone can enjoy, but also pointedly personal, because you have to take the time to choose a title that speaks to the recipient.

Southern West Virginia has spawned hundreds of profound authors, including Pearl Buck and Booker T. Washington, and countless powerful stories. To help you choose, we’ve picked out a variety of our favorite titles to connect anyone on your list to the most intriguing tales of Appalachian culture.


Trace the trails of the New River with NPR host and author Noah Adams as he bikes, hikes and rafts the full stretch of the river. He travels from Kentucky to the mouth of the New in West Virginia, looking back upon those who have roughed the journey before him and meeting local characters.

History: “FOLLOW THE RIVER,”  James Alexander

The Gift of Reading: “Follow The River”

Another riveting river chronicle, this one a historical novel, follows the humbling journey home of pioneer Mary Ingles, who was pregnant when she was kidnapped by Native Americans in 1755. After being captive for months, she escaped and embarked on a search for her home, using the only landmark she knew, the Ohio River, for a thousand miles.

Inspirational: “ROCKET BOYS,” Homer Hickam

A New York Times Bestseller about dreaming big and aiming for the sky, Rocket Boys is Homer Hickam’s memoir about pursuing rocketry while growing up in a small West Virginia mining town. In a culture where mining was a dangerous but prideful way of life, Hickam was determined as a teenager to develop a unique skill that could offer him a different opportunity.

Literary fiction: “THE STORIES OF BREECE D’J PANCAKE,” Breece D’J Pancake

This Pulitzer-nominated collection of short fiction included those inspired from Pancake’s own upbringing in rural West Virginia. Hailed as one of the greatest writers of all time, his short career still influences today’s most prominent authors and artists. Not for the feint of heart, Pancake paints portraits of the struggles of rural life and survival with sharp honesty.


A folklore collection of the spookier state stories, “The Greenbrier Ghost and Other Strange Stories” is a compelling read for anyone seeking a shiver. The title tale of the Greenbrier Ghost details the odd event of a woman who apparently appeared to her mother as a spirit after her death, and whose posthumous testimony was included in the trial that convicted her husband of the crime.

What books about Appalachia or West Virginia keep you turning the pages?

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