New Orleans is one of the most intriguing cities in the United States. Its blend of French, Spanish, and African-American influence gives it a unique culture, architectural style, cuisine, and even language (Creole) that cannot be found anywhere else in the country.
This atmospheric Southern city is known for its exuberant Mardi Gras festivities, its elegant and historic French Quarter, and its decadent, mouth-watering cuisine. It’s also famous for being the birthplace of jazz, and you can still find numerous jazz clubs in the city today.
Best Books About or Set in New Orleans
If you are looking for books set in New Orleans, you are in the right place. Few cities are as captivating as the Big Easy, making it the perfect setting for many lush and atmospheric books that are sure to capture your imagination.
I have put together a list of the best books set in New Orleans, spanning various genres and ranging from fiction to nonfiction, that will transport you straight to the Crescent City.
Here are the best books set in New Orleans that will make you feel like you are there:
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Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
This gripping historical fiction novel follows Josie, a spunky teenage girl living in New Orleans in 1950. Although she’s the daughter of a brothel worker, she has dreams of escaping her life and going to college.
However, it isn’t so easy to leave, and she is soon pulled into the city’s dark and clandestine underworld after becoming entangled in a mysterious death.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
This prize-winning novel tells the story of twin sisters who are raised as light-skinned black women in Louisiana and run away to New Orleans as teens.
As adults, their paths diverge as one sister marries a white man and the other marries a dark-skinned black man. The Vanishing Half explores themes of race, identity, and family in an impactful way.
A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
Following three generations of a black family living in New Orleans, this book addresses racial disparity during World War II, the 1980s, and post-Katrina New Orleans.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
This is a great classic novel set in New Orleans. First published in 1899, The Awakening is a groundbreaking feminist story about a woman rejecting the societal expectations of marriage and motherhood, and searching for independence and creative fulfillment instead.
All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg
Alex, a headstrong lawyer living in LA, returns home to New Orleans when her father is on his deathbed. Back home, she attempts to unravel the secrets of her dysfunctional family.
The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh
Blending historical fiction with fantasy, this young adult novel set in late 19th-century New Orleans is full of romance and intrigue. When Celine arrives at a convent in New Orleans, she’s trying to escape a bloody secret from her past in Paris.
However, instead of a fresh start, she becomes entangled in the seductive, secretive world of a magical New Orleans society.
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
In this New Orleans-set memoir, Sarah traces her life, her family’s story, and the inexorable pull of home she feels to the little yellow shotgun house where she was raised.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Interview with the Vampire is a gothic horror novel that started the vampire fiction genre that is still so popular today.
Originally published in 1976, this book is told in the form of confessions from a notorious New Orleans vampire who has lived for over 200 years.
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
This Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play was adapted into a classic Hollywood movie in 1951. Set in New Orleans, it follows penniless Southern belle Blanche DuBois, who moves in with her sister in New Orleans. There, she is pushed over the edge to madness by her cruel brother-in-law.
Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal
Set in Civil Rights-era New Orleans, this historical fiction novel follows a young white girl Ibby who is sent to stay with her grandmother in New Orleans one summer. Her grandmother’s black cook Queenie and her Dollbaby take it upon themselves to show Ibby the real New Orleans.
French Silk by Sandra Brown
In this romantic suspense novel set in New Orleans, lingerie tycoon Claire Laurent becomes the prime suspect in the case of a murdered evangelical pastor. District Attorney Robert Cassidy finds himself being pulled into Claire’s world, even as he knows she’s hiding something.
Nine Lives by Dan Baum
If you’re looking for a book that tells the history of New Orleans in a unique way, pick this one up. Told through the lives of nine remarkable New Orleans figures, this nonfiction book weaves a lush and atmospheric portrayal of the Big Easy and its inhabitants.
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Set in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina, this fictional novel follows four siblings living with their absent, alcoholic father in a town near New Orleans.
As the storm draws nearer, Esch and her three brothers do what they can to prepare while their father continues drinking. This is a heart-wrenching novel about family, community, and poverty.
November Road by Lou Berney
This fast-paced thriller follows a loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss who has to go on the run. JFK has just been assassinated, and Frank Guidry knows too much.
The World That Made New Orleans by Ned Sublette
History lovers will enjoy this nonfiction account of the Big Easy. Focusing on the first one hundred years of the city’s history, the author traces the political, cultural, and musical development of New Orleans, and how these early colonial influences still shape the city today.
What are your Favorite Books Set in New Orleans
Have you read any of these books set in New Orleans? Do you have any favorite books set in New Orleans that I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!
Inspire your wanderlust with this list of 25 Brilliant Travel Memoirs by Women for the best travel books written by women! Or check out these recommended book lists set around the US including NYC, Maine, Hawaii, or Alaska.
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