Treasures on the Shelves — Virginia authors are worth a read

Published 4:15 pm Friday, May 6, 2022

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Not long ago, I was looking at some of the book titles being released soon and it struck me how many of the writers I saw who are either from Virginia or who call Virginia home. Investigating further, I was pleasantly surprised at how many bestselling or award-winning authors reside right here in the Old Dominion.

Even if you are not a reader, you’ve surely heard of John Grisham and David Baldacci, two of the most successful authors writing today. A Mississippi native but also residing in Albemarle County, Grisham’s legal thrillers have been bestsellers since 1990 and several of his books have been made into popular films. His latest book, “Sparring Partners” will be released this spring. Richmond native Baldacci is a publishing juggernaut, with several popular book series including the Camel Club, Atlee Pine, the Memory Man and King & Maxwell. “Dream Town,” the most recent tile in his Aloysius Archer series, is available now.

Though born in Pennsylvania, author Adriana Trigiani had her first publishing success with “Big Stone Gap,” named after the Wise County town where she grew up. The book was hugely popular and she followed up with three sequels as well as other stand-alone titles. Trigiani has a new title “The Good Left Undone,” which was published in April. Another Virginia resident, Rita Mae Brown, was also born in Pennsylvania but now lives in Albemarle County. Her Mrs. Murphy mysteries, “written” with her cat Sneaky Pie, have been popular for decades. Both Brown and Trigiani are accomplished screenwriters as well. Author Barbara Kingsolver resides in Washington County. Her book “The Poisonwood Bible” was chosen as a selection of Oprah’s book club, and along with her later book, “Prodigal Summer” was a worldwide bestseller.

S.A. Cosby is one of the newest Virginia writers to make a name for himself. Residing in Mathews County, Cosby’s 2020 crime thriller, “Blacktop Wasteland” was an instant success, winning the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and an Anthony Award for best mystery. His second book, “Razorblade Tears” was also a bestseller and has been optioned for a film.

Virginia Tech grad Sharyn McCrumb has enjoyed success for years with her “ballad” novels, including “The Ballad of Tom Dooley.” Often set in North Carolina or Tennessee, her books feature the southern landscapes of the 19th century and highlight the folk culture of Appalachia.

As you can see, Virginia is home to an abundance of writing talent. These authors cover many genres and styles and choosing one of their titles as your next book would be an excellent choice.

Holly Howze is the branch manager for the Ripberger Public Library located in Kenbridge. She can be reached at