These are the most and least popular states for book settings

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we can earn an affiliate commission.

The frame of a book can play a huge role in its tone and memorability. The best writers can bring a place to life and make the story feel much more real because of it. This means that the choice of where to place a book is crucial. Many writers simply put their books where they live and draw on their daily lives for inspiration. Others find locations that match the plot or feel of the story: Noir, which takes place in California vs. New York, for example, stands for two different subgenres.

So what are the states that draw in writers, and which ones greatly lack literary representation? You can place your guesses now (pure population size is a good place to start), but Crossword Solver has done the work of counting all the US location marks on Goodreads, so let’s dive into their results.

a map graphic that marks the states where most and least books have taken place
Click for full size image

Not surprisingly, New York ranks first with 4,887 books, and more than half of the books take place in New York City. California gave it a run for its money with 4,505 books placed there. However, it has a slightly larger spread of cities, so taking the books out in each state’s most populous city would place California at the top.

a map graphic showing the city where most books are located in each state
Click for full size image

Crossword puzzle also drew the city out in every state where most books are put. Again, New York City is the champion that I’m sure you’ll be shocked to know. Other popular cities to put books in include Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans and Boston.

a graphic showing the 10 best places to put books with photos of each city

However, not all cities attract the same kind of writers. Some cities are destined for horror novels, while others are the perfect place for a great story. Before you continue scrolling: can you guess the city that has the highest percentage of mystery books there? What about romantic novels?

a graphic showing the 10 best places to put mystery books with photos of each city

Some cities are typecast to specific genres, and Bisbee, Arizona is a mysterious city. 81% of the books are mysteries, including Desert Heat by JA Jance. Personally, I would be a little nervous about living in a city that seems to be the backdrop for a murder mystery.

a graphic that shows which locations have the highest percentage of thriller books there

In retrospect, it makes sense that Washington DC is likely to be home to a thriller. Political thrillers are a common subcategory, and what better place to place an American political thriller than its capital? One of the most popular examples is Deception Point by Dan Brown. New York is also a popular thriller venue, with three of its cities ranked this top 10.

a graphic that shows which places have the highest percentage of romance books there

Are you looking for the most romantic city in America? According to novelists, it might just be Bloomington, Indiana. 93% of the books are romance novels! One of the most popular is Redemption by Karen Kingsbury. Second place goes to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Both places have a large Amish population, so it is probably the Amish romance subgenre that has put them in the top positions. Did you know that Flint, Michigan is romantic too? 82% of the books are romances!

a graphic showing which places have the highest percentage of historical fiction books there

Some cities are so central to U.S. history that a large percentage of the books are historical fiction. According to Goodreads data, an astonishing 100% of the books set in Pearl Harbor are historical fiction. Books that are not specifically about the Pearl Harbor bombing are likely to be labeled more generally Hawaii or Oahu. Massachusetts and New York are also likely to form the basis of a historical fiction book in which New York has three cities on the list and Massachusetts claims two seats.

a graphic that shows which sites have the highest percentage of fantasy books placed there

What American cities do you think of when you think of fantasy novels? While many fantasy series take place in other worlds, some place their magic in our world, hidden around the corners of familiar buildings. The Blue Ridge Mountains, Arizona * must emit a magical aura because 31% of the books are in the fantasy genre, including This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost.

a graphic that shows which sites have the highest percentage of sci-fi books out there

Sci fi often takes to the stars for its settings, but it can also take place on a future Earth. If you want to visit a place that has one foot in the future, check out Sedona, Arizona, where every fourth book is a sci-fi story, including River Rising by John A. Heldt.

* Editor’s note: the creators of this infographic identify the Blue Ridge Mountains of Arizona. We have retained the error, but know that the area is located from southern Pennsylvania through Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia


If you do not live in New York or another major city, it can be difficult to find books going on nearby, so Crossword Solver compiled the data they collected to display the books near you! Just enter your zip code to get a list of books in several genres near you.

If you liked this post, you might also want to check out The Most Translated Books From All Countries In The World And The Most Popular Children’s Books From All Countries In The World.

Leave a Comment