North Carolina Reads is North Carolina Humanities’ statewide book club for 2022. North Carolina Reads features five books that explore issues of racial, social, and gender equality 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.


How to participate:

Libraries, community groups, and individuals across North Carolina are encouraged to read along with North Carolina Humanities.


1. Get a copy of the books!

-NC Humanities offered a limited-time giveaway of North Carolina Reads books and printed resources as a way of providing access to these humanities resources in December 2021. At this time, we are at capacity for free book kits.  All book kits were shipped as of March 2022. Resources are available for free download, below. 

-For those who still need books, North Carolina Humanities encourages everyone to check with their local library or local bookstore for assistance.

-Those who need accessible books may request North Carolina Reads books for free courtesy of the State Library of North Carolina Accessible Books & Library Services. Please read the eligibility requirements to see if you qualify for service.

  • Soul City – In audio, DB102282
  • Last Ballad – In braille, BRC01808, audio, DB89501, and large print, LT38267
  • Even As We Breathe —In audio, DB101640
  • Pauli Murray – Not available
  • Driving with the Devil —In audio, DB102282

More Free Book Copies: Thanks to our friends at UNC Press, NC Humanities is giving away 40 extra copies of Pauli Murray: A Personal and Political Life! Books are available on a first-come, first-served basis starting May 5. As of May 12 all book copies have been claimed. Thank you!

2. Read the books at your own pace!

3. Access free reading and program planning resources:

It is strongly encouraged that libraries and community groups participating in North Carolina Reads plan and host a reading program, book discussion, or other event in their community to further the impact of the Read and create opportunities to come together to talk and listen.


We’re providing a reading schedule and sample discussion questions to ask yourself and talk with others about as you read.


View our tips on how to host a book club event.




4. Join thousands of other North Carolinians at one of the five book discussion and panel events hosted by North Carolina Humanities, happening online and in person. At these monthly book club events participants will hear from guest speakers, including book authors and topic experts, and have a chance to ask questions about the month’s book. Event details are listed below. 


North Carolina Reads Book List and Book Events by Month:

You do not need to have read the books to attend events.

February  2022 Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia by Thomas Healy

Nonfiction. In a gripping, poignant narrative, acclaimed author Thomas Healy resurrects this forgotten saga of race, capitalism, and the struggle for equality. Was it an impossible dream from the beginning? Or a brilliant idea thwarted by prejudice and ignorance? And how might America be different today if Soul City had been allowed to succeed?

Book Event: Watch the recorded program on our YouTube page.

About the Book Event:  This event features author Thomas Healy and Dr. Kofi Boone in conversation moderated by North Carolina African American Heritage Commission Associate Director Adrienne Nirdé.


March 2022 – The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

Historical Fiction. Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early twentieth-century America—and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers.

Book Event: Watch the recorded program on our YouTube page.

About the Book Event: This event features author Wiley Cash and Dr. David Zonderman in conversation moderated by NC Humanities Board Trustee Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams.


April 2022 – Even As We Breathe by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle

Historical Fiction. Nineteen-year-old Cowney Sequoyah yearns to escape his hometown of Cherokee, North Carolina, in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. When a summer job at Asheville’s luxurious Grove Park Inn and Resort brings him one step closer to escaping the hills that both cradle and suffocate him, he sees it as an opportunity.

Book Event: Watch the recorded program on our YouTube page.

About the Book Event:  This event features author Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle and Dr. Trey Adcock in conversation moderated by NC Humanities Board Trustee Lorna Ricotta.


May 2022 – Pauli Murray: A Personal and Political Life by Troy R. Saxby

Nonfiction Biography. Raised in Durham, the Rev. Dr. Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray (1910–1985) was a trailblazing social activist, writer, lawyer, civil rights organizer, and campaigner for gender rights. In this intimate biography, Troy Saxby provides the most comprehensive account of Murray’s inner life to date, revealing her struggles in poignant detail and deepening our understanding and admiration of her numerous achievements in the face of pronounced racism, homophobia, transphobia, and political persecution.

Book Event: Watch the recorded program on our YouTube page.

About the Book Event: This event features author Troy Saxby and Executive Director of the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice Barbara Lau in conversation moderated by NC Humanities Board Trustee Rebecca Reyes. This event is sponsored by the University of North Carolina Press.


June 2022 – Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR by Neal Thompson

Nonfiction. The true story behind NASCAR’s moonshine-fueled origins. Long before the sport of stock-car racing existed, young men in the rural, Depression-wracked South learned that cars and speed were tickets to a better life. With few options beyond farm or factory, the best chance of escape was running moonshine.

Book Event: June 23 at 7:00 PM at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte. Register Here

About the Book Event: This event features author Neal Thompson, Dr. Daniel Pierce, and NASCAR Cup Series Driver Erik Jones, in conversation about Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR. This conversation is moderated by North Carolina Humanities Board Trustee Brian Kahn. You’ll hear Neal, Daniel, and Erik discuss themes from the book and the fascinating history of stock car racing, from its roots in Prohibition-era bootlegging to the sport’s status as a multi-billion-dollar industry. Join us for an hour-long, pre-event reception beginning at 6:00 pm. Food and beverage will be provided. The program beings at 7:00 pm.


Please direct all North Carolina Reads-related questions to Melissa Giblin, Director of North Carolina Center for the Book, at or (704) 687-1526.

Please note that selected books are intended for readers 18 and over and may not be suitable for some audiences.




North Carolina Reads is made possible in part by “A More Perfect Union”, a special initiative grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 


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

Thank you for your submission!