North Carolina Reads

North Carolina Reads is North Carolina Humanities’ statewide book club! North Carolina Reads annually features five books that explore issues of racial, social, and gender equity and the history and culture of North Carolina. All five books pose critical questions about how North Carolinians view their role in helping to form a more just and inclusive society. North Carolina Reads received a national Schwartz Prize by the Federation of State Humanities Councils in 2023 for its outstanding statewide impact.


From February – June 2024, NC Humanities will host virtual monthly book club discussion events where participants will hear from guest speakers, including book authors and topic experts. Libraries, community groups, and individuals across North Carolina are encouraged to read along with NC Humanities, and then host their own local community book discussion programs to accompany NC Humanities’ virtual events.


Books, reading, literacy, and literary history are important parts of NC Humanities’ mission. At the heart of North Carolina Reads is NC Humanities’ desire to connect communities through shared reading experiences. Reading with others develops critical-thinking skills; strengthens minds, vocabulary, and mental health; and creates opportunities to empathize with others’ stories and experiences.


The North Carolina Reads 2024 Book Selections Are:


February 2024 – Beyond Innocence: The Life Sentence of Darryl Hunt by Phoebe Zerwick. 


Our book club discussion featured Phoebe Zerwick and Mark Rabil in a conversation moderated by Mike Wakeford. Watch the Recording.

Non-Fiction. A young Black man is falsely accused of murdering a white woman in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and is sentenced to life in prison, where he spent 19 years behind bars before his tireless attorneys were able to prove his innocence. Part true crime drama, part chronicle of a remarkable life cut short by systematic prejudice, Zerwick’s narrative powerfully illuminates the sustained catastrophe faced by an innocent person in prison and the difficulty all formerly incarcerated people face when they try to restart their lives.

March 2024 – Poster Girls by Meredith Ritchie.


Our book club discussion featured Meredith Ritchie and Dr. Sarah Patterson in a conversation moderated by Laura Demski Williams. Watch the Recording.

Historical Fiction. After an unwanted southern migration, an upside-down world in 1943 offers military wife and mother, Maggie Slone, a job at Charlotte’s largest wartime employer––the massive and dangerous Shell Assembly Plant. Meanwhile, military wife and Alabama native, Kora Bell’s steadfast determination enables her to navigate the challenges she faces as a Black woman seeking employment under Jim Crow. A shared love of literature spurs an unlikely friendship between Kora and Maggie, and the two work together to unify the plant’s workforce.

April 2024 – American Refuge: True Stories of the Refugee Experience by Diya Abdo.


Register for our virtual book club discussion on April 24, 2024 at 6:00 pm. This event features Diya Abdo and Dr. Omar Ali in a moderated conversation. Register to attend here.

Non-Fiction. In this intimate and eye-opening book, Diya Abdo–daughter of refugees, U.S. immigrant, English professor, and activist—shares the stories of seven refugees. Coming from around the world, they’re welcomed by Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR), an organization Diya founded to leverage existing resources at colleges to provide temporary shelter to refugee families. We learn that these refugees from Burma, Burundi, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, and Uganda lived in homes they loved, left against their will, moved to countries without access or rights, and were among the 1% of the “lucky” few to resettle after a long wait, almost certain never to return to the homes they never wanted to leave. We learn that anybody, at any time, can become a refugee.

May 2024 – The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb.


Register for our virtual book club discussion on May 29, 2024 at 6:00 pm. This event features Brendan Slocumb and Dr. Marcus Pyle in a moderated conversation. Register to attend here.

Fiction. The riveting story of a young Black musician who discovers that his old family fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius: when it’s stolen on the eve of the world’s most prestigious classical music competition, he risks everything to get it back. Growing up Black in rural North Carolina, Ray McMillian’s life is already mapped out. But Ray has a gift and a dream—he’s determined to become a world-class professional violinist, and nothing will stand in his way. Not his mother, who wants him to stop making such a racket; not the fact that he can’t afford a violin suitable to his talents; not even the racism inherent in the world of classical music.

June 2024 – Welcome to the Circus of Baseball by Ryan McGee.


Register for our virtual book club discussion on June 26, 2024 at 6:00 pm. This event features Ryan McGee and Dr. Nick Buzzelli in a moderated conversation. Register to attend here.

Non-Fiction. A gloriously funny, nostalgic memoir of a popular ESPN reporter who, in the summer of 1994, was a fresh-out-of-college intern for a minor league baseball team. Madness and charm ensue as Ryan McGee spends the season steeped in sweat, fertilizer, nacho cheese sauce, and pure, unadulterated joy in North Carolina with the Asheville Tourists. He has since risen the ESPN ranks to national TV, radio, and Internet host, but his time in Asheville still looms large.



Here is how you can participate in North Carolina Reads in 2024: 

If you’d like to receive updates about North Carolina Reads, please sign up for our e-newsletters at

Getting Books:
  • Get the books you want to read from your local library or bookstore.
  • Accessible books may be requested courtesy of the State Library of North Carolina Accessible Books & Library Services. Please read the eligibility requirements to see if you qualify for service.
  • Request a North Carolina Reads Book Box from NC Humanities.
Reading Resources:
  • Read at your own pace! Download our Reading Schedule and Discussion Guide, to access a paced reading schedule and discussion questions to ask yourself and and talk about with others as you read.
  • Host your own North Carolina Reads program! Download our Program Planning Guide so you and your community group can talk about the books and themes together!
  • Groups who received a Book Box and are looking for additional resources to help promote and host their own book club can download our North Carolina Reads Tool Kit! The kit includes promotional social media images, a sample press release, logos, and more.
  • All North Carolina Reads book club discussions will be recorded and available on YouTube.
Register for North Carolina Reads Book Discussion Events:
  • Join thousands of other North Carolinians at one of the five virtual book club discussion events hosted by NC Humanities. Event registration details are listed above. All events will be available to stream virtually and will be recorded.


Please note, you do not have to request a book box or read the books to participate in NC Humanities’ North Carolina Reads virtual book club events. Selected North Carolina Reads books are intended for readers 18 and over and may not be suitable for some audiences.


North Carolina Reads 2022-2023 Programs & Resources:


This is a program of the North Carolina Center for the Book and is provided by NC Humanities.

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