Bisher, Catherine W.; Southern, Michael T.; and Martin, Jennifer F., A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Western North Carolina, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1999, 471 pp. Part of a three-book series on architecture in North Carolina (the other volumes are on Eastern and Piedmont North Carolina), this volume ranges wide but not always as deep on individual buildings as one might hope.


Hansley, Richard, Asheville’s Historic Architecture, The History Press, Charleston, S.C., 2011, 173 pp. Written by a former Asheville High School teacher, this guide highlights individual buildings of note in Asheville and provides considerable information on each, typically with a photography.


McAlester, Virginia and McAlester, Lee, A Field Guide to American Houses, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2011, 525 pp. While not specifically about Asheville, this in-depth guide helps you identify the various architectural styles of American houses.


Neufeld, Rob and Neufeld, Henry, Asheville’s River Arts District, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, S.C., 2008, 127 pp. Excellent collection of photographs along with some history of the RAD. This one of the Images of America series that has also published photo books of Asheville, Hendersonville, Biltmore Estate, Biltmore Village and elsewhere.



Arts and Literature

Eubanks, Georgann, Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2007, 426 pp. This is another wonderful title from the UNC Press.  It goes beyond just a listing of WNC authors, providing a guidebook to literary journeys in the mountains.


Kirk, Stephen, Scribblers, Stalking the Authors of Appalachia, John F. Blair, Winston-Salem, 2004, 248 pp. Kirk recounts the history of some of the major literary figures of Asheville and interviews writers with connections to the area.


Neufeld, Rob (Introduction), 27 Views of Asheville, A Southern Mountain Town in Prose & Poetry, Eno Publishers, 2012, 204 pp. An eclectic collection of pieces on Asheville by many writers with Asheville connections, including Gail Godwin, Charles Frazier, Wayne Caldwell, Dale Neal, Nan K. Chase, Rick McDaniel, Robert Morgan and others.




Ballew, Bill, A History of Professional Baseball in Asheville, Hickory Press, Charleston, S.C.,  2007, 128 pp.  Well-researched history of the Tourists and other pro baseball teams in Asheville.


Terrell, Bob, The Old Ball Yard: McCormick Field, Home of Memories, Worldcomm, Alexander, N.C., 1997, 96 pp. Long-time Asheville Citizen-Times columnist and sports editor Bob Terrell’s recollections of McCormick Field.



Biltmore Estate

Bryan, John M., G.W. Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, The Most Distinguished Private Place, Rizzoli International, New York, 1994, 157 pp. This coffee-table format book chronicles the construction of Biltmore House, with extensive architectural drawings and sketches. It also presents stunning new full-color photographs of the house and grounds.


Covington, Jr., Howard E., Lady on the Hill, How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, N.J., 2006, 331 pp. Although this book was underwritten by Biltmore, its author is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who paints a fair and balanced picture of Biltmore in the 20th century, and especially of the important role William A.V. Cecil played in making Biltmore House a tourism success.



Black Mountain College

Duberman, Martin, Black Mountain College, an Exploration in Community, Northwestern University Press, Chicago, 2009, 616 pp. First published in 1972 by Dutton, Duberman’s book remains by far the best and most complete overview and history of this important and radical institution, despite, and perhaps partly because of, the author’s self-revelatory style.


Rumaker, Michael, Black Mountain Days, Black Mountain Press, Asheville, 2003, 542 pp. Readable memoir of the college in its end days in the early to mid-1950s.



Blue Ridge Parkway

Johnson, Randall, Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway, 2nd ed., FalconGuides, 2010, 352 pp. Exhaustive guide to the long and short of parkway hikes.


Logue, Victoria; Logue, Frank; and Blouin, Nichole, Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway, 3rd ed., Menasha Ridge Press, 2010, 160 pp. It is what it is.


Whisnant, Anne Mitchell, Super-Scenic Motorway, A Blue Ridge Parkway History, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2006, 464 pp. Originally done as a Ph.D. dissertation, this is a well-researched, detailed yet readable history of the building of the parkway.




Eaton, Allen H., Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands, Russell Sage Foundation, New York, 1937, republished by Dover Books, New York, 1973, 373 pp. This pioneering survey of the crafts of the Southern Appalachians, was inspired by the work of Olive Dame Campbell of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Murphy. Eaton played a key role in the establishment of the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild.


Fields, Jay and Hurst, Betty, The Craft Heritage Trails of Western North Carolina, 3rd Ed., Handmade in America, Asheville, 2003, 237 pp. This popular guide lists many of the craft studios and galleries in the region, along with suggested driving routes. However, it needs updating.



Food and Cooking

Daniel, Diane, Farm Fresh North Carolina, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2011, 283 pp. A guide to farmers’ markets, wineries, U-pick spots and farms in WNC and elsewhere in the state.


McDaniel, Rick, Asheville Food, A History of High Country Cuisine, American Palate, Division of The History Press, Charleston, S.C., 2013, 126 pp. This slim volume provides a much-needed, if abbreviated, overview of the history of restaurants and cooking in Asheville.


Parris, John, Mountain Cooking, Citizen-Times Publishing Co., Asheville, 1978, 372 pp. The best collection of articles on mountain cooking and mountain recipes by the long-time Asheville Citizen columnist.




Caldwell, Wayne, Cataloochee, Random House, New York, 2008, 368 pp. Asheville native’s first novel follows three generations of 19th century families living in the Cataloochee Valley in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Will still be read a century from now.

      --- Requiem by Fire, Random House, New York, 2010, 335 pp. Caldwell’s second novel takes place mostly in the Cataloochee Valley in the 1920s, just before the coming of the Great Smokies park.


Ehle, John, The Journey of August King, Harpercollins, New York, 1971, 218 pp. This is one of 11 novels by Haywood County-born novelist Ehle, most set in Canton or elsewhere in Western North Carolina. August King explores a white pioneer’s involvement with a runaway slave.


Frazier, Charles, Cold Mountain, Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 1997, 356 pp. This National Book Award winner and best seller tells the story of a wounded Civil War deserter who walks for months to return to the love of his life on a mountain farm in Western North Carolina.


Godwin, Gail, Unfinished Desires, Random House, New York, 2010, 416 pp. Godwin grew up in Asheville and has set a number of her 14 novels here. Some, including Unfinished Desires, take place at a Catholic girls’ school that resembles Asheville’s St. Genevieve’s, now closed.


Morgan, Robert, Gap Creek, Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, 2000, 324 pp. Born in Hendersonville, Morgan has written several books of poetry and novels. He has taught at Davidson and now teaches at Cornell. Gap Creek is set in Western North Carolina.


Percy, Walker, The Second Coming, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York, 1980, 368 pp. Dr. Walker’s fifth novel takes place in Western North Carolina.


Wolfe, Thomas, Look Homeward, Angel, Scribner, New York, 1929, 554 pp. Wolfe’s first novel was highly biographical, focusing on his youth in Asheville (called Altamont in the novel) and on its citizens. Its reception in Asheville at first was hostile, though as the years passed local residents began to admire Wolfe and his books.

--- Of Time and the River, Scribner, New York, 1935, 896 pp.

--- The Web and the Rock, Scribner, New York, 1939, 712 pp.

--- You Can’t Go Home Again, Scribner, New York, 1940, 656 pp.



Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 DeFoe, Don; Giddens, Beth; and Kemp, Steve (eds.), Hiking Trails of the Smokies, Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, 1994, 575 pp. By far the most comprehensive guide to hiking in the Smokies, though now somewhat dated.


Frome, Michael, Strangers in High Places, The Story of the Great Smoky Mountains, University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1966, 391 pp. A 20th century classic in the field of environmental journalism.


Johnson, Randall, Best Easy Day Hikes Great Smoky Mountains National Park, FalconGuides, 2010, 128 pp. Has brief descriptions and maps for 22 day hikes in the park.


Kemp, Steve, Trees of the Smokies, Great Smoky Mountains Association, Gatlinburg, 1993, 128 pp. Features 80 color photos and 100 drawings of trees found in the Smokies.


Lawrence, H. Lea, The Fly Fisherman’s Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cumberland House Publishing, Nashville, 1998, 183 pp. Good guide to trout fishing in the park, by a Tennessee writer.


Manning, Russ, 100 Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 2nd. Ed. The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1999, 286 pp. Comprehensive guide to most of the main hiking trails in the Smokies.


Minetor, Randi and Minetor, Nic, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Pocket Guide, FalconGuides, 2008, 96 pp. Short and sweet guide to the highlights of the park.


Pierce, Daniel S., Corn in the Jar, Moonshining in the Great Smoky Mountains, Great Smoky Mountains Association, Gatlinburg, Tenn., 2013, is a history of making moonshine by a professor at UNC-Asheville.


Sluder, Lan, Fodor’s InFocus: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Fodor’s, New York, 2009, 221 pp. Pocket-sized guide to the park; includes a chapter on Gatlinburg by Michael Ream.


Strutin, Michal, History Hikes of the Smokies, Great Smoky Mountains Association, Gatlinburg, 2003, 352 pp. This guide focuses on hikes to historic places in the Smokies and provides detailed information on the history of the hiking destinations.




Arthur, John Preston, Western North Carolina History (From 1730-1913), The Edward Buncombe Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Asheville, 1914, 710 pp. An early history of the region that just goes on and on.


Blackmun, Ora, Western North Carolina and Its People to 1880, 2nd ed., Appalachian Consortium Press, 1980, 458 pp. Born in Minnesota, Ora Blackmun moved to North Carolina in 1944. She became intensely interested in the history of the western part of the state and wrote and lectured extensively on it. The first edition of this history was published in 1977.


McDaniel, Douglas Stuart, Asheville, Arcadia Publishing, 2004, 128 pp. Part of the Images of America series, it sketches the history of Asheville through old photographs with captions.


Sondley, Forster Alexander, Asheville and Buncombe County, The Citizen Company, Asheville, 1922, 200 pp. Sketches of the history of Asheville-Buncombe, published as a small book by the Asheville Citizen newspaper, along with an article on Buncombe County by Theodore F. Davidson. Sondley’s personal library became the nucleus of Pack Memorial Library’s North Carolina collection.


Tessier, Mitzi Schaden, Asheville, A Pictorial History, Donning Company, Norfolk, 1982, 232 pp. The history of the Asheville area is told in wonderful old photographs with informative captions. Tessier also wrote The State of Buncombe.



Mountain Culture

Ager, John Curtis, We Plow God’s Fields, The Life of James G. K. McClure, Appalachian Consortium Press, 1991, 477 pp. Ager tells you more than perhaps you’d ever want to know about Jim McClure, a prominent Asheville area farm owner and founder of the Farmers Federation.


Kephart, Horace, Our Southern Highlanders, Outing Publishing Co., New York, 1913, 548 pp., Macmillan, rev. ed. 1923, republished in various editions and by different publishers since. This is the groundbreaking work on life in the Appalachian mountains by a man who played an important role in establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of the book is observations on mountain life in the Hazel Creek area of what is now the Smokies.


Parris, John, Roaming the Mountains, Citizen-Times Publishing Co., Asheville, 1955, 246 pp. The first in a wonderful series of collections of prose poems to the mountains of Western North Carolina and its people. The pieces were originally published as daily columns in the Asheville Citizen newspaper.

--- My Mountains, My People, Citizen-Times Publishing Co., Asheville, 1957, 257 pp.

---  Mountain Bred, Citizen-Times Publishing Co., Asheville, 1967, 372 pp.

---  These Storied Mountains, Citizen-Times Publishing Co., Asheville, 1972, 372 pp.




Fussell, Fred C. with Kruger, Steve, Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina: A Guide to Music Sites, Artists, and Traditions of the Mountains and Foothills, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2013, 281 pp. This well-researched new guide, which includes a CD of mountain music, points readers to sites in WNC where authentic bluegrass, old-time, gospel and string band music, along with clogging, flat-footing and other forms of traditional dance, can be experienced. Lots of interviews with mountain musicians.


Sharp, Cecil, and Karpeles, Maud. (ed.) English Folk-Songs from the Southern Appalachians, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1932, republished in two volumes, by Loomis House Press, 2012. Sharp made three visits to the United States between 1916 and 1918, recording and collecting hundreds of songs. He originally came to the Southern mountains because of Olive Dame Campbell of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Murphy.




Biggs, Jr., Walter C. And Parnell, James F., State Parks of North Carolina, John F. Blair, Winston-Salem, 1989, 339 pp. Comprehensive guide to the state’s parks, though now somewhat out of date.


Bost, Toby, North Carolina Gardener’s Guide, rev. ed., Good Springs Press, Nashville, 2002, 272 pp. Helpful guide to flower gardening in North Carolina and also has useful color photographs of flowers and trees commonly seen in North Carolina.


Davis, Jennifer Pharr, Five-Star Trails: Asheville: Your Guide to the Area's Most Beautiful Hikes, Menasha Ridge Press, 2011, 240 pp. Pocket-sized guide provides maps, directions and highlights of the best hiking trails in the Asheville area.


Davis, Ricky; Potter, Eloise F.; Parnell, James F.; and Teulings, Robert P., Birds of the Carolinas, 2nd Ed., University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2006, 399 pp. A standard reference for Carolina birders, although the photos are not nearly as useful for identification as those in, say, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America.


Dykeman, Wilma, The French Broad, Holt Rinehart, New York, 1955,  republished by Wakestone Press, 1992, 371 pp. Asheville native Wilma’s Dykeman’s “poem” to the French Broad River.


North Carolina Birding Trail, Mountain Trail Guide, distributed by University of North Carolina Press, 2009, 190 pp. Handy guide to the best birding sites in Western North Carolina, put together by six North Carolina organizations.




Bothwell, Cecil, Finding Your Way in Asheville, Brave Ulysses Books, Asheville, 2013, 157 pp. The author is an Asheville City Council member and alternative journalist.  What’s good about the self-published guide is that it provides a nice sense of Asheville. Also, it does an excellent job leading you on a tour of the various areas of Asheville.


Jacobs, Fred L. and Davis, Roger (illustrator), Standard Guide to Asheville and Western North Carolina, Fred L. Jacobs, Asheville, 1887, 55 pp. Possibly the earliest published guidebook to the Asheville area.


Lindsey, T. H., Lindsey’s Guide Book to Western North Carolina, The Randolph-Kerr Printing Co., Asheville, 1890, 92 pp. One of the earliest travel guides to the WNC mountains.


Pantas, Lee, The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & The Western North Carolina Mountains, 4th Ed., R. Brent & Co., Asheville, 2011, 485 pp. As much a collection of lists as a guidebook, it covers a lot of ground. There are striking pen-and-ink sketches by the author.


Richards, Constance E. and Richards, Kenneth L., Insiders’ Guide to North Carolina Mountains, 10th Ed., Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, CT, 2010, 387 pp.  Part of the series of Insiders’ Guides, this one is comprehensive and easy-to-use, if slightly dated.


Sakaowski, Carolyn, Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads, 3rd ed., John F. Blair, Winston-Salem, 2011, 316 pp. Superb guide to the by-ways of WNC.


Sluder, Lan, Amazing Asheville, Guide to Asheville and the Beautiful North Carolina Mountains, Equator, Asheville, 2013, 408 pp.  The latest guide to the region:  Candid, comprehensive and with an unabashedly liberal-progressive point of view.


Sluder, Lan (co-author and contributor of the Asheville area and Great Smoky Mountains National Park chapters), Fodor's The Carolinas & Georgia, Fodor's/Random House, New York, 2013,  720  pp. Covers the main travel highlights of Asheville area and the Great Smokies, along with the rest of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.  This is the best-selling guidebook to the multi-state region.



All content copyright © Lan Sluder except selected photographs used by permission and brief quotations or other fair use text, which are owned by the copyright holder.

We have made every effort to confirm the accuracy of information on this website, and in the Amazing Asheville book and ebooks, but travel information is subject to frequent change, and no warranty is made, express or implied. Please notify us of any errors or omissions, and we will attempt to correct them as soon as possible. All opinions expressed are those of the author, Lan Sluder, unless otherwise noted.