Boston, Massachusetts is or was home to some of the most popular, talented and even hidden gems of American literature. Bibliophiles will find numerous books to read and collect from the city William Tudor called “The Athens of America.” In the early days of Boston, many of the must reads that came out of the town were pamphlets of a religious or political nature. Since that time, all manner of books have come out of this city, including those that highlight Boston’s checkered past.

(credit: Penguin Classics)

“The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Buy it at:
Trident Booksellers & Cafe
338 Newbury St
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 267-8688

“The Scarlet Letter” is one of the most treasured pieces of American literature. Hawthorne‘s masterpiece is set in 17th-century Puritan-era Boston. It revolves around a woman named Hester Prynne, who has had a child with a man other than her long-absent husband and refuses to name the father. Hawthorne ties in all of the superstitions of Puritanism while being very sympathetic to feelings of love, pride and loneliness. Hawthorne spent part of his life in the Boston area, where Ticknor, Reed & Fields published his novel in 1850.

Related: Best Children’s Book Shops In Boston

(credit: PublishAmerica)

“Jara’s Fate” by Judith Ann Closs

Buy it at:
Harvard Bookstore
1256 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 661-1515

Judith Ann Closs grew up in the Greater Boston area, where she developed a passion for writing from her artistic family. Her freshman novel, “Jara’s Fate,” pays homage to those roots by drawing names and likely even some themes from her upbringing and family. It is a love story that starts with a twist and keeps pushing and pulling until the very end. Closs is currently working on her second novel, which is tentatively titled “A Town Called Creak.” According to the author, this book will jump genres, so she is certainly a native Boston novelist to watch.

(credit: Random House)

“The Eden Express” by Mark Vonnegut, M.D.

Buy it at:

Barnes & Noble
800 Boylston St, Suite 179
Boston, MA 02199
(617) 247-6959

Mark Vonnegut, M.D. is the son of author Kurt Vonnegut and is named after the novelist Mark Twain. His first novel, “The Eden Express,” is an introspective look at the experience of severe mental illness, as well as an autobiographical look at Mark’s life from 1969 to 1971. This novel is for people with or without mental illness. Those suffering can see themselves in another and find hope. Those not suffering can get a better understanding of mental illness and the possibility of recovery.

(credit: Penguin Classics)

“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

Buy it at:
Orchard House Museum Store
399 Lexington Road
Concord, MA 01742
(978) 369-4118

The highly-praised and long-beloved novel “Little Women” was first published in Boston in 1868. In it, Louisa May Alcott paints a picture of a woman struggling to find independence, a family placing love and morality above material wealth and of Civil War era Massachusetts. While a little outside of the city, the Orchard House Museum Store is still the best place to buy “Little Women” in the Boston area. It is the home in which Louisa wrote and set the novel.

(credit: HarperCollins)

“Mystic River” by Dennis Lehane

Buy it at:
Porter Square Books
25 White St
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 491-2220

Dorchester native Dennis Lehane is the author of numerous moving books based in Boston, such as “Shutter Island” and “Gone, Baby, Gone.” Several of his novels are now films. Such is the case with “Mystic River,” arguably his best Boston fiction novel to date. “Mystic River” follows three friends as they experience trauma, guilt, suspicion, grief and rage.

Related: New Books by Boston-Area Authors

What are your favorite books by Boston authors? Share your faves in the comments section below.

Shelly Barclay is a professional freelance writer and amateur author. She writes on a variety of topics from food to mysteries. She loves to share the culture and rich history of her birthplace and home, Boston, with the rest of the world. Her work can be found at