Which UNC Press books make the best North Carolina gifts? It’s a question I’m often asked—particularly around the holidays and when people start their vacation travels and want to bring along a thoughtful gift with a connection to their home state.
I’ve narrowed the field to the following bounty of books with a Tar Heel theme, connection, or written by a North Carolina author. With this list as your guide, you can be one of those people who have most of their holiday shopping done by Thanksgiving, which also happens to be the first night of Hannukah this year.
For the baker: Durham’s Magnolia Grill may be just a sweet memory since it closed in 2012, but fans of James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Karen Barker can recreate many of her signature desserts with her classic cookbook Sweet Stuff: Karen Barker’s American Desserts. $22.00 paperback
For the history buff: David La Vere’s engagingly written and critically acclaimed The Tuscarora War: Indians, Settlers, and the Fight for the Carolina Colonies is the first book on the topic. $30.00 hardcover
For the boating enthusiast: Lawrence Earley’s The Workboats of Core Sound: Stories and Photographs of a Changing World is the next best thing to spending a day on the water. $35.00 hardcover
For the locavore: Sheri Castle’s The New Southern Garden Cookbook offers 250 can’t-miss recipes to showcase a farmers market haul or CSA box bounty. $35.00 hardcover
For the genealogist: The True Image: Gravestone Art and the Culture of Scotch Irish Settlers in the Pennsylvania and Carolina Backcountry, by Daniel W. Patterson. Family historians will glean much from Patterson’s life work photographing and interpreting headstones. $49.95 hardcover
For the NASCAR follower: Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France by Daniel S. Pierce is a standout book on stock car racing. $22.00 paperback
For the literary tourist: The Literary Trails of North Carolina, by Georgann Eubanks (N.C. Arts Council). Three volumes covering the Mountains, Piedmont, and Eastern part of the state. Give a set of all three books and make a statement. $22.00 each in paperback or $66.00 for the three-volume set.
For the jazz and R & B fan: African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina, by Sarah Bryan and Beverly Patterson with Michelle Lanier (N.C. Arts Council). A first-of-its kind travel guide that includes a CD with 17 recordings performed by some of the region’s outstanding artists. $19.95 paperback
For the barbecue aficionado: Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed, with William McKinney. This book stands as the definitive guide to the Tar Heel barbecue tradition. It’s usually the first book to sell out at the UNC Press booth at book festivals. $33.00 hardcover
For your holiday hosts: Kathleen Purvis’s two books in our Savor the South® cookbook collection lend themselves particularly well to holiday giving. You’ll be a standout guest if you come bearing a copy of her Bourbon along with your favorite bottle of the same. And whoever’s cooking the holiday meal will appreciate Purvis’s take on Pecans accompanied by a bag of the very best pecans you can find. $18.00 hardcover each
When you’re traveling and want to give a gift that offers a pictorial overview of the people, places, and natural beauty of the state, Hugh Morton’s North Carolina showcases all of the above in a single volume. $39.95 hardcover