You shop local, you eat local—but are you reading local, too? If you’re not, you’re missing out. Local authors and the stories they tell can change your life—and your community. And all you have to do is read a book you love.
Here are just a few reasons you should read books by local authors, plus a few tips on how you can find their books.
There’s Something for Everyone
Whatever your go-to genre, from memoir to thriller to children’s books and more, you’re bound to find one by a local author. And you can define “local” however you’d like: your city, your state or province, or anything in between.
It Boosts Your Local Economy
Supporting the authors in your neighborhood helps keep the money circulating in your own community—the same way stopping by your neighborhood coffee shops, markets, and boutiques does.
Bonus points if you buy a local author’s book at an indie bookstore. Now you’re not only helping the author, but you’re also helping the local bookshops contribute to your community, including by offering more job opportunities. If you’re looking for an indie bookstore near you, check out Book Riot’s 2019 favorites.
It Keeps the Literary Scene Thriving
The more support local authors get, the more likely they are to stay and help build a strong literary community that inspires interesting, imaginative, and thoughtful stories. How does this affect us as readers? The better, more varied, and more personal stories we read, the more things we have to think and talk about with each other.
You’ll Feel More Connected to Where You Live
Have you ever thought, “Hey, I know that street!” while you were reading a novel? Or smirked at a joke only locals would get? It’s kind of thrilling. You find yourself even more invested in the story and its characters—all because it takes place in a setting you know and love. And a story like that can only be written by someone who knows your community as well as you do.
But reading local authors can also help you learn a thing or two about the place you call home. Look for a book about an intriguing historical event in your city. Or pick up a novel that tells the story of a part of your community that’s different from the part you know.
You Can Share Your Neighborhood With the World
Your community has some incredible stories to tell—you know that, but shouldn’t everyone else know that, too? The world needs books about all different kinds of people and the places where they live. Local authors can help bring your neighborhood’s stories to a bigger stage in the most authentic way. In fact many of them already are. Tayari Jones, who wrote Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage, set all four of her novels in her hometown of Atlanta. In an interview with Book Riot, Tayari Jones explains her mission to “cultivate a resurgence in regional literature.”
But don’t forget to do your part. When you find a story you really connect with, share it with your friends and family who don’t live near you.
It’s Easier to Meet Local Authors
Hold on to that burning question you have after reading an amazing book—if you live in the same neighborhood as the authors you read, you may just get to ask them in person. Chances are, they’ll be showcased at local readings, signings, and other literary events. Check for the ones in your area at bookstores, libraries, universities, and museums.
How to Find Books by Local Authors
Ready to support your local literary community? Here are a few ways to get started.
- As mentioned above, independent bookstores are a great place to start. Many indie booksellers spend a lot of time curating the books they think you’ll like best. Ask them for recommendations for both established and up-and-coming local authors.
- A lot of public libraries have a local author section. See if yours does, and if it doesn’t, go ahead and request one.
- Local literary events in town are a great way to not only hear from the authors you already know, but also to discover new ones. As mentioned above, you can look for events at booksellers, libraries, schools, museums, and even coffee shops and clubs.
- Don’t forget about good old-fashioned googling. Try searching city, state, and genre. Or search for a historical period or event and drill down from there.
So if you haven’t already, add some books written by local authors to your TBR list. It’s good for your community, it’s good for your brain, and it’s good for your soul.