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36 Deep-Fried Delish Southern Books And Writers

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Are you looking for some of the best Southern books and writers? Find classic and contemporary Southern novels, historical fiction, romance, literature, and so much more.

As native New Englanders who moved to Florida and then North Carolina, we could not imagine a better way to acclimate with the South than through Southern books.

Actually, first, we ate all of the deep-fried pickles and fried green tomatoes.  Hushpuppies are Southern too, right ? 

Then, we read some of the most famous Southern authors and their books about the South. We wanted to know: what is the South really about?

We also asked friends, librarians, teachers, bookstagrammers, and other bloggers for the best books set in the South that would transport us there and teach us more.

Equally, what were their favorite or best Southern books of all time?

Below, find Southern novels including romances, nonfiction, indie, YA, thrillers, and mysteries. 

Discover books about Southern culture, and find historical and gothic fiction that will transport you to a different time in history.

Please remember that the “best” books about the South is also subjective, and we’d love to hear your favorites in the comments. Let’s get started!

Read around America with our 50 States Book List .

Southern Authors Best Southern Novels with bluebonnets in Texas

P.S. Find some of these books about the South here:

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Table of Contents

Most Talked About Contemporary Southern Books

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett book cover with swirls of blue, pink, yellow, and orange colors

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

One of the best books of 2020 and a strong book about sisters , The Vanishing Half  follows the lives of two Black sisters growing up in the Deep South.

The Vignes twins each choose a different path based on the color of their skin, embracing or denying who they are.

An intensely poignant and authentic novel about race and racism — set in Louisiana and California in the 1950s to 1990s — readers see just how deeply these mothers’ choices and feelings affect their lives and influence their children.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi black and pink divided book cover with black woman with hands in a prayer like steeple

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

If you are looking for fictional books set in the south that read like nonfiction, don’t skip Transcendent Kingdom .

A book about racism, mental health, and science versus faith and religion, follow a family of Ghanaian immigrants living in Alabama.

Their lives are filled with depression and prescription pill addiction. A med student at Stanford, Gifty studies addiction within mice hoping to help her mother. She also tries to reconcile her belief in God. 

You can also read more about Transcendent Kingdom on our books set in and about Ghana reading list .

Where The Crawdads Sing By Delia Owens book cover

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

One of the most talked-about southern books of 2018, Where The Crawdads Sing  topped all of the bestselling book charts.

Set in rural North Carolina, follow along with this coming-of-age story and shocking southern murder mystery.

Kya Clark, the “marsh girl,” is accused of the murder of Chase Andrews.  However, not everything is as it seems.

Discover the meaning of love and how to overcome a prejudiced society and the loneliness from that isolation.

In 2022, Where The Crawdads Sing was adapted into a movie . 

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones book cover

An American Marriage by Tayri Jones

An Oprah Book Club suggestion, readers follow along with newly married Celestial and Roy.  Unfortunately, the honeymoon ends early. 

Arrested and sent to jail for a crime he did not commit, Celestial loses her husband for what could be over a decade.

During that time, Celestial seeks comfort in Roy’s best man just as his sentence is suddenly shortened.  When circumstances are out of our hands, will the institution of marriage, love, and vows prevail?

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler white book cover with gold leaf

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

Reminiscent of  Little Fires Everywhere  meets  Romeo and Juliet , the wealthy and white Whitman family moves into close-knit Oak Knoll, North Carolina, destroying the neighborhood.

The war waged is about way more than killing Valerie’s beloved tree, though.

Find one of the most gripping and heartbreaking Southern novels about racism, corruption, and men abusing power.

A Good Neighborhood  is also the perfect North Carolina novel for book clubs .

Razorblade Tears by S A Cosby book cover with pink sky and two people walking on dirt road

Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

One of the best books set in the South from 2021, head to Virginia in Razorblade Tears .

This is a gripping and violent story about a Black father and a white father who become friends to seek revenge on the people responsible for killing their married sons.

Both Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee are ex-cons. They’ve been ashamed and unaccepting that their sons are gay.

Unfortunately, all were on bad terms when their sons were brutally murdered in front of their favorite wine shop.

The police don’t have many leads, and all that the families have left are Derek and Isaiah’s young daughter. Who would want to kill these law-abiding, community-oriented, and kind young men?

Although Buddy Lee and Ike have been trying to do their best since prison, their grief and guilt (and old habits) are far too powerful; they vow to find their sons’ murderers and kill them.

Thus begins a bloody road filled with gang violence, retribution, and self-growth.

Thought-provoking and fast-paced, this complicated story will engross you, break your heart, and smash assumptions. Talk about the ultimate friendship book too.

There are many TWs, including violence, homophobia, transphobia, alcoholism, abuse, and racism. 

Fiction books about the deep south Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward book cover

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Southern book recommendation from Lindsey from To Make Much of Time

Winner of the National Book Award in 2017, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward explores one Gulf Coast Mississippi family’s struggle to survive.

The world is working against this family in many aspects: The socio-economic challenges of the rural south, racism, drug abuse, and the gaping maw left by absentee fathers.

Thirteen-year-old Jojo is at the epicenter of all of these factors.  Trying to make sense of the world as he comes of age, he fears the impending loss of his grandmother.

The characters are heartbreakingly real, and Ward adds a fascinating dimension of magical realism through the inclusion of deceased characters and other supernatural events.

Uncover even more ghost books to read.

Swamplandia by Karen Russell book cover

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

Southern book submission from bookstagrammer, Jennia

The unconventional Bigtrees are as much of an attraction as their moldering, gator-centered, family-run amusement park.

The clan soon faces an uncertain future, both for themselves and their beloved park when star-of-the-show and mother Hilola succumbs to ovarian cancer.

The three adolescent children and their father scatter like seeds in the wind, each one embarking on an implausible journey filled with struggle and revelation.

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson book cover

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

Southern books submission from Rachel of Never Enough Novels

The Almost Sisters is a quirky southern novel featuring deep family ties, race relations, nerd culture, and an unsolved murder.

Leia returns to Alabama to take care of her aging grandmother and tell her family about her unexpected pregnancy.

When she discovers a family secret hidden in the attic, the discovery unleashes a torrent of consequences for the whole town.

The Almost Sisters has a multitude of storylines, but Jackson does an incredible job tying them all together. It’s humorous, thought-provoking, and ultimately a novel you’ll want to read more than once.

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore book cover with purple and blue clouds over a dusty field

Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

One of the hardest Southern books to digest on this reading list, meet 5 different women in Odessa, Texas in the mid-1970s.

All of these women are deeply affected by the brutal attack of Gloria, a young Mexican girl. Watch poverty, racism, abandonment, and a failed justice system at its worst.

The Removed by Brandon Hobson book cover with gold, red, pink and green squares with black and white image inside

The Removed by Brandon Hobson

A somber and moving 2021 book release set in Oklahoma, Hobson weaves a tale of Cherokee folklore and family in a powerful story about family, addiction, home, and grief.

Readers also get a glimpse into the painful and brutal ‘removal’ and murder of Cherokee families from their homes by white soldiers.

When a racist police officer kills Ray-Ray, the Echota family is never the same. With a father who battles Alzheimer’s, they take in a foster child while their own adult children are lost in and to the world.

The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix book cover with orange peaches with bite marks leaking blood

The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

One of the most talked-about vampire books set in South Carolina, don’t miss The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix.

This Southern book comes with content and trigger warnings for domestic abuse, suicide, violence, and sexual assault.

Patricia wishes for more excitement in her life, especially after reading true crime stories for her book club.

It doesn’t help that she and her friends are deemed skittish, hysterical, and weak Southern housewives by their deplorable husbands.

When members of the community – including young children – start disappearing and taking their own lives, all clues point to the new guy in town.

“Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt.”

Unfortunately, proving that James is a vampire sounds impossible, especially when he’s bringing all of their families great wealth. He is a guy’s guy, and the husbands love him.

James is cocky AF and never sated, though, which might be his downfall. Not all of the women will come out alive, but can Patricia save her family?

For thrilling books set in the South and horrifying monster books , The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires has gore, feminism, and horror.

Discover even more great books about reading and book clubs .

Historical Fiction Set In The South

Southern historical fiction Guests on Earth by Lee Smith book cover

Guests on Earth by Lee Smith

  Thanks to the award-winning writer, Cat Michaels , for this recommendation

Guests on Earth is one of the southern books on this list inspired by a true story. Dr. Robert S. Carroll ran Highlands Hospital for Nervous Disorders, built in Asheville, NC, in the early 1900s. 

Highlands removed patients’ chains and straight jackets and instead, offered them fresh air, exercise, and creative arts along with counseling.

F. Scott Fitzgerald spent much of his time in residence at Asheville’s nearby Grove Park Inn.  Highlands treated Fitzgerald’s beautiful Zelda, a brilliant creative who likely was bipolar.

No spoiler here because of historical fact: Zelda was one of nine women who perished when the hospital burned to the ground in 1948. 

Told by a young woman who enters as a patient and later became an instructor at Highlands, Smith seamlessly weaves fact with fiction.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead red and white book cover with two Black teenagers walking and talking

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

A 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction award-winner, The Nickel Boys is based loosely on a true story about the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.

Elwood Curtis, an ambitious and talented young Black man, battles growing up in a racist society filled with racist policies.

When he is unfairly sent to the ‘reform’ school, his life and promising future of higher education are over — no matter how hard he tries.

Sadly, the surprise ending isn’t a surprise in this society. The Nickel Boys is by far one of the best historical fiction novels about Florida .

Southern historical fiction All The Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren book cover

All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

Thanks to Sheere of Keeping Up With The Penguins for this recommendation

Hailed as “the definitive novel about American politics” by the New York Times , All The King’s Men is a long and intense exploration of power and masculinity in the 1930s American South.

Jack Burden, a former history student turned political aide, witnesses and documents the rise of Governor Willie “The Boss” Stark.

Rumored to be based on the career of real-life Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long (a claim Robert Penn Warren always denied), this southern novel charts a remarkably similar fall from grace for the fictional protagonist, against the beautiful backdrop of an unnamed Southern state.

While the absence of women and people of color from the narrative is frustrating, the story remains startlingly resonant in today’s populist political climate. See the full review of All The King’s Men on KUWTP→

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd book cover

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Book recommendation from Tori of Tori-Leigh .

Freedom and the power of voice. Sue Monk Kidd – author of The Secret Life of Bees (another southern favorite) – brings us this masterpiece of historical fiction.

On her eleventh birthday, Sarah Grimke is uncomfortably gifted Hetty, a slave in the Grimke household. Kidd, a master at emotional storytelling, never once romanticizes the deep south.

Rather, she channels the sorrow into an opportunity to introduce that people are capable of something better. 

The Invention of Wings follows the two women over the next few decades as they both experience love, loss, guilt, betrayal, and hope.

Despite their many setbacks, both women  strive  to find purpose in their lives and discover their inner voices. 

Sarah’s character is based on her historical counterpart, a true abolitionist and catalyst for the women’s rights movement.

Themes of hope, freedom, storytelling, and discovering the power of using just one, small voice are seamlessly woven into this heartbreaking and empowering story. 

Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith book cover

Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith

Southern books submission from Lindsey from To Make Much of Time

Fair and Tender Ladies , published in 1988, is an epistolary novel that follows Ivy Rowe from childhood through life’s milestones.

This masterpiece accentuates Ivy’s hardships, challenges, and culture unique to her Appalachian upbringing during the middle part of the 20th century.

Lee Smith grew up in such a community near Grundy, Virginia (near the Kentucky border).

Southern Romance Books

Fiction Books About The Deep South Glory Road by Lauren K Denton book cover

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Recommendation from CJ of A Well-Read Tart

Glory Road follows three generations of women as they navigate life and love in their sleepy Alabama town.

Denton’s relaxed and evocative writing draws readers into a deliciously slow, Southern summer.  The days seem to stretch on forever and anything seems possible, making this book the perfect escape read.

Glory Road is brimming with long-lost love, budding new romances, and comfortable, small-town charm.  At the heart of it all is a message about taking chances and counting on the people you care about.

Flower buffs will love the gardening tips at the beginning of each chapter.  Foodies will love the Southern treats Gus bakes up, several of which inspired this mouth-watering Peach Cobbler Pound Cake .

Southern Romance Novels First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen book cover

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Books set in the south submission from CJ of A Well-Read Tart

First Frost , the second book in the Waverley Family series, is set in the Southern town of Bascom, North Carolina.

This enchanting southern novel steeped in magical realism is a food lover’s delight; the story follows the culinary adventures of candy-maker and caterer Claire, who can magically inspire people with the delicious food she makes.

What would any charmingly sweet story be without a little romance, both for Claire and her teenage daughter, Bey, who starts falling for the wrong-but-oh-so-right boy.

First Frost  also brings all the cozy, seasonal vibes as Bascom prepares to throw its annual “First Frost” festival to celebrate the fall season.

Be sure to check out Claire’s signature  fig and pepper bread recipe , which it’s apparently not First Frost without. If you love magic and witchy books , this one is for you.

Read even more of our favorite novels about food .

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Thrillers And Mystery Books Set In The South

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin book cover with waves breaking on a beach with half woman's face

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

A 2020 psychological thriller set in small-town North Carolina, follow Rachel Krall, a true-crime podcaster.

Recruited into the coverage of a new trial as well as an unsolved murder case, deadly drama finds Rachel.  Can she solve the case before it’s too late?

If you love seriously spooky books , The Night Swim will fulfill your true crime obsession and have you looking over your shoulder.

Southern mystery series Twenty Eight and a half wishes by Denise Grover Swank book cover

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes (Rose Gardner Mystery #1) by Denise Grover Swank

Southern mystery submission from Kal of Reader Voracious .

Twenty-four-year-old Rose Gardner has lived a pretty sheltered life.  Afraid of her “curse” — premonitions — she foreshadows her death.

She is determined not to die before crossing off items on her bucket list – 28 and a half wishes for her life – all the while trying to uncover the mystery of her demise.

This first-in-series tale is one of first love, personal growth, and exploration, with a side of cozy sleuthing vibes.

Set in Fenton County, Alabama, Rose uncovers just how seedy the criminal underground is…and the more she digs, the more in danger she becomes.

Southern thriller novel The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle book cover

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

Southern mystery and thriller from Lauren Elena of  Literary Dates

Set in Atlanta, Iris and Will seem to have the perfect marriage until Will goes on a business trip to Orlando.

However, now Iris learns that Will was instead on a flight to Seattle that crashed with no survivors. Presumed dead, is Will actually alive?

In Iris’s search for answers, she goes down a rabbit hole into Will’s past.  What she discovers may shock her and the reader. I stayed awake many nights as I tore through the pages while Iris uncovered new layers.

I love a good psychological thriller and this one definitely delivers.

Classic Southern Novels

African American Southern Literature Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God  by Zora Neale Hurston

Set across Florida, if you are looking for one of the best classic love stories and infamous southern novels of all time, you cannot miss Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Janie Crawford is a firecracker with her own goals and dreams–and desire for love. 

In and out of relationships and eventually marriages, Janie finds herself trapped in the town gossip and as arm candy, a politician’s wife, and eventually an alleged murderer.

Watch Janie battle not only a hurricane but also the men, prejudices, and circumstances of her time. 

Contemporary Southern Classics, The Color Purple by Alice Walker book cover

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Winner of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize,  The Color Purple  is one of the most famous contemporary classic books about the south.

It’s also one of the best books set in Tennessee and Georgia with a newer 2023 movie adaptation .

The story follows Celie’s impossibly hard life over the course of 40 years and focuses on the bigotry and prejudice of the time in rural Georgia and later Tennessee.

Celie is only 14 years old when the story begins.  Her mother dies, and her father constantly beats and rapes her. 

Forced into a loveless marriage, readers watch as Celie finds love elsewhere while reconciling a relationship with her sister who she thought had died years ago.

Can Celie come out on top after years of abuse and tragedy?

Find The Color Purple on our books with the color purple in the title as well as top ’80s books reading lists.

Southern Classics To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee book cover

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Named The Great American Read and a Pulitzer Prize winner, Lee is truly one of the most well-known southern writers with her infamous novel, To Kill A Mockingbird .

Plus, this is one of the best books to come from the 1960s .

Scout Finch lives in Maycomb, Alabama with her brother and father, Atticus.  Atticus is a lawyer during the Great Depression and an extremely racist time in American history. 

Even more trying, Atticus is representing a Black man accused of raping a white woman.  Atticus is truly and innately good.

Through it all, Scout learns about overcoming prejudice, and empathy, and that love prevails over hate. 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt book cover

Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Book recommendation from Lori of Southerner Says.  Check out her boozy travel post if you are headed to Georgia .

You simply cannot have a list of books set in the south and not include Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil .

Set in Georgia’s coastal crown jewel, Savannah, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil tells a tale of gossip, intrigue, and yes, murder.

Full of eccentric personalities and secret insights on how southerners fill those humid nights, you’ll pack your bag and buy a ticket before you even finish it.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was published in 1994 by John Berendt and spent a whopping 216 weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.

Further proof it’s a must-read for anyone who wants to get to know the south.

Book Set In Asheville, NC, Look Homeward Angel Thomas Wolfe book cover

Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe

Published in 1929, Look Homeward, Angel  is the most gossipy of classic Southern books on this reading list. 

While a fictional account of a young man growing up in Asheville, NC, Wolfe infamously bases his characters on real people.

Initially poorly received — no one likes having their dirty laundry aired — once the townspeople (and more so Wolfe) became famous, Asheville took pride in their young author.

Look Homeward, Angel  is a coming-of-age story about a passionate young boy struck with restlessness and wanderlust.  Wolfe is also famous for later noting that “you can never go home again.”

Read more famous Asheville authors , and if you are headed to Asheville, don’t miss touring the Thomas Wolfe Memorial .

Indie Books That Take Place In The South

YA Southern Books, Meant to be broken by Brand woods snow book cover

Meant To Be Broken by Brandy Woods Snow

One of my favorite southern indie novels of 2018, Meant To Be Broken  captures the essence of small-town South Carolina.  You cannot even buy off-brand Mayo without someone taking notice.

Rayne is different than the other girls at school yet somehow manages to catch the heart of Preston, high school jock, sweetheart, and cutie pie. 

Preston has an equally hunky black sheep and bad boy brother, Gage, who accidentally begins to build a strong friendship with Rayne.

Do we see where this story is going? 

Caught in a love triangle, Rayne must figure out who she loves amidst the lies, secrets, and angsty teen emotions. Meant To Be Broken  is the perfect YA book set in the south as well as a deep-fried summer romance.

See the full TUL book review of Mea nt To Be Broken →

2019 southern novels Any Good Thing by Joy E Rancatore

Any Good Thing by Joy E. Rancatore

Looking for new southern writers?  Check out New Orleans resident, Joy E. Rancatore , and her September 2019 indie press release, Any Good Thing.  

One tragic night of drag racing changes the course of Jack Calhoun’s life forever.  He remains alive while four other teens will never see adulthood.  Like his now-estranged dad, Jack takes to the bottle.

Just when Jack has risen above the guilt and booze through rehab, another accident derails his life.  Jack must escape the suffocating and condemning town that blames him for everything gone wrong.

A coming-of-age story, Jack heads off to Iraq to find redemption and make the ultimate sacrifice.

Nonfiction Books About The South

In Cold Blood By Truman Capote book cover

In Cold Blood  by Truman Capote

Another southern classic as well as a true-crime story, Capote investigates the gruesome murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas.

In 1959, Hickock and Smith rob and murder all four members of the Clutters, baffling police. 

Eventually caught, Capote tries to reconstruct what happened on that fateful day while trying to pry into the mind of two murderers.

Nonfiction books about the south The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan book cover

The Last Castle  by Denise Kiernan

One of our favorite nonfiction southern books set in Asheville , Kiernan tackles Biltmore Estate , the largest house in the US.

The Last Castle isn’t just your MTV cribs type of story, though.  There is romance, financial hardship, and of course, a plethora of births and pre-mature deaths. 

Kiernan wants readers to understand the true trials and tribulations behind Biltmore.

Edith and George invested in their North Carolina community, including areas such as forestry, education, and politics. 

They and members of their families shared their wealth and aimed to make society better with their progressive values.

Although this is a nonfiction book set in the south, catch a glimpse of New York socialites, Newport homes, and Parisian life. 

I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings by Maya Angelou book cover

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

One of the most famous contemporary Southern books and nonfiction classics,  I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings  takes place in the 1930s and ’40s in the midst of the Great Depression and World War 2.

In Maya Angelou’s autobiography, she talks about being raised by her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas.

This coming-of-age story showcases the story of a promising young woman overcoming racism, abuse, and poverty. 

Of course, this is also one of those poignant yet sad books that will make you tear up and cry .

Southern Authors Southern Books Pinterest Pin with book covers for A Good Neighborhood, The Removed, The Nickel Boys, Transcendent Kingdom, Valentine, and The Vanishing Half

Dear Martin By Nic Stone

If you are looking for contemporary books about the South, head to Atlanta in Dear Martin . This YA novel emphasizes the Black Lives Matter movement and is a must-read book about racism. 

Justyce writes letters to Dr. Martin Luther King; he is trying to navigate his life as a young Black man in a very white private school system.

Time and time again, Justyce witnesses firsthand racist police brutality and even murder.  How can he rise up in a system so determined to maintain white supremacy?

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone book cover with young Black men wearing a blue outfit on a gray cover

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

The sequel to  Dear Martin , Quan finds himself trapped in the juvenile (in)justice system as a young Black man growing up in Atlanta, Georgia.

The story begins with Quan in jail. Police are accusing him of killing the police officer who had previously profiled Justyce.

Books about the south, The Downstairs Girl by Stacy Jo book cover

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

Southern books submission from J.R. of Eternity Books

The Downstairs Girl is a YA southern novel about a young Chinese woman’s journey to finding herself in the midst of a Reconstruction Era Georgia.

Fired from her job as a milliner because of her race, Jo begins to secretly write a column for a newspaper challenging society’s ideals.  She becomes the voice of the modern independent woman in the South.

This story is also about Jo’s journey of finding herself, learning about her past, and sticking by her family and what she believes, no matter the consequences.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper book cover

The Gravity Of Us by Phil Stamper

Head to Houston, Texas with YA LGBTQ+ romance ,  The Gravity Of Us.   Cal dreams of becoming a famous journalist and is about to start his upcoming BuzzFeed internship.

Unfortunately, Cal’s parents thwart his social media dreams, moving the family from Brooklyn to Houston to work on a NASA Mars mission.

In Texas, Cal finds himself falling head over heels for an astronaut’s son and with a new story to share with millions of young followers.

Books set in the south don’t get any sweeter than this.

 More Famous Southern Authors & Writers

I couldn’t include every Southern book and/or Southern author on this reading list.  There are just too   many  However, you may also want to check out these extremely popular southern writers, as well:

Fannie Flagg

Eudora Welty

Carson McCullers

Flannery O’Connor

William Faulkner

Which Southern Books Will You Read Next?

Which of these books set in the South will you read next? 

Are we missing some of your favorite Southern authors and their novels? 

Are there any Southern novels that you didn’t enjoy on this list?

You May Also Like:

Books Set In North America Ultimate 50 States Reading List

More Book Lists :

Books Set In Florida Books Set In Tennessee Books Set In North Carolina Books Set In Asheville

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Christine Frascarelli

36 Comments

You included some many classic books. I enjoyed reading the classic novels you mentioned. But I am glad you included so many new books I am not familiar with yet. I would love to read the An American Marriage book.

Hi Lanae, We are so glad you appreciate the mix of classic books and new releases. Thank you for the feedback, and happy reading! We always update with more and more new great finds too.

I think I’ve been reading since birth, and once I discovered Southern writers in a college class, I am perpetually in search of additions. Your list reminds me of some favorites and gives me more than a few pieces that I want to explore. My favorite, TKAM, always shows me something that I’ve managed to miss in the years of teaching it. I love that Harper Lee teaches her invaluable lessons through the eyes of Scout.

One author that I have devoured in the recent past is Greg Isles who grew up in Natchez, MS, which is his primary setting. His trilogy, which begins with NATCHEZ BURNING, grabbed me and shoved me ungraciously into the decade of my youth, the 1960’s… Isles questions some major historical events of the time while exposing the best and the worse of human nature. His protagonist Penn Gage learns more about people than he wants. While each of the three can stand alone, the repetition of some information can be distracting. I didn’t mind the repeated story line as it reminded me of the significance across the volumes. I don’t know about y’all, but when I get engrossed in reading, everything else is secondary. I can “lose a crop” if I’m not careful. Thank you for reminding me how much I love the South and its storytellers.

Hi Pam! Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment.

Greg Isles is an author that I have been meaning to explore, and you definitely gave me a wonderful reason to get on it.

Sometimes I find that I need a slightly repeated storyline if the books are meant to be read in order (and only when I’ve read them farther apart…usually a year or more). For a lot of authors, though, I do find that repetition to be a little distracting, as well. I read Janet Evanovich for fun, and her Stephanie Plum series can also be a standalone per book (although it’s better as a series); she repeats a lot of the backstory each time. Drives me a little crazy, to be truthful. After 20-something books, regular readers can probably skip the first 10 pages or so. I totally understand.

Thank you so much for the kind words, too.

We never read TKAM in high school or college, which made me happy to dive in as an adult, especially when the second book came out–which I didn’t love as much. You really get a feel for the south.

Thank you for responding to my comments. Please explore Greg Isles. He has a number of “stand-alone” books that can introduce you to his writing if going for the trilogy seems too much at the moment. The trilogy is my favorite. If you decide to explore one of his solitary books, look up the protagonist Penn Cage. Your exposure to Penn reveals his values and shortcomings. You begin to “know” the characters and anticipate their actions and reactions while others continue to surprise you. Oh, my precious Harper Lee! No words truly capture her love for Maycomb and the many lessons it details. Lee did not want GO SET A WATCHMAN to be published, at least until after her death, as she stated. I believe WATCHMAN was her explorations of Maycomb but with varying circumstances. I believe she didn’t want it published because she KNEW it wasn’t the unequal novel she eventually published. Because of my respect for her and her desires for WATCHMAN to not be published, I refused to read it before her death. She shared her heart and soul with us in TKAM; the least I could do was honor her wishes and not explore its perspectives while she lived. It was the least I could do.

Oh, that’s so interesting about Lee and Go Set A Watchman that she knew the book wasn’t equal to To Kill A Mockingbird. I’m pretty sure most knew that (or possibly expected it) as well. Although, I am sure everyone was secretly hoping it would blow them away even more. That was so nice of you to respect her wishes, too. Putting out another related book, period, was pretty brave of Lee. Thank you for further explaining more about Greg Isles and his characters, as well. I’m intrigued.

What – no Harry Crews?? Big oversight for the best known Southern Gothic author of the last 50 years.

What is your absolute favorite Harry Crews novel? Please let me know.

We asked librarians, teachers, book bloggers, and the book community–plus our own experiences, education, and background–for this books set in the south reading list. “Best” is still pretty subjective–I am sure there are other authors that people love on this list or wish weren’t there at all. We also did not capture every single one. These are southern authors that we personally consider the best and enjoy. I wouldn’t call it an oversight so much as a decision not to add Crews to this list for this round.

I definitely appreciate your thoughts and opinions for future consideration, though. I update lists frequently, and if I read something that blows me away, I will definitely add the book/author.

How did I miss this post?! There are so many AMAZING books on here! Some of these are my all time favourites (namely To Kill a Mockingbird , In Cold Blood and The Color Purple , which is funny, cause I never think I read all that much southern US fiction. Turns out that might be the majority of the fiction I read from the US… I guess it’s my southern birth just fighting to get out.

I haven’t read An American Marriage , but I read Tayari Jones’ Silver Sparrow a few years ago and loved it so much I picked up Leaving Atlanta , which was also wonderful. So naturally her newest is on my list, but just so many books to get through!

I’ve also been meaning to read Swamplandia for ages! I should really get on that. Although there’s just so much on here I want to add to me TBR now!

Right? I actually didn’t realize how many southern novels that I had read too, even in high school and college. You just think of them as literature and not location-specific. Then again, I wasn’t looking for books set in places back then.

I haven’t read Silver Sparrow . I’ll have to add that one to my TBR list.

Another fab book list, there’s definitely a few on here that have caught my eye. Again sorry for not contributing, I staked out my Goodreads but couldn’t find any other than Mockingbird and Crawdads! I am keen to read more books set here though so will check some of these out 🙂

Thank you, and no worries! I definitely needed more help with my southern book lists. I knew the FL authors and books extremely well but my upcoming TN book list seems/ed daunting. Thankfully, I have quite a few submissions for TN. I’m trying to cover a lot of the south this fall with an upcoming TN press trip. I gotta get reading.

I read To Kill A Mockingbird in school and it’s still one of my favorite books.

I wish we had read To Kill A Mockingbird in school! For some reason, we skimmed right past it and went to A Tale of Two Cities. Our honors English classes missed out. Thankfully, I read the southern novel as an adult.

Did you read Go Set A Watchman ? If so, what did you think?

Flannery and Alice are both from the area I grew up in! Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful list. I have only read like 3 of them so I am looking forward to reading the others. So glad to see you listed Pat Conroy! He is amazing! Great post as always

Hey Dee– I am looking forward to updating the list as I read more and more books set in the south. There were just SO many to write about. Thank you so much, and happy reading!

Glory Road is definitely the title I’m most drawn to out of this fab list. I actually think I’m gonna dig back into To Kill a Mockingbird this Fall because it’s definitely a good “autumnal” pick! I’ve heard so many good things about The Downstairs Girl that I really need to check it out at some point. You definitely had me chuckling at that “I decided to ride a cowbo–horse” line haha!!

Thanks! Hehe! Gotta make sure that everyone is paying attention.

When I had heard that Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman was coming out, I decided to listen to the audiobook for To Kill A Mockingbird . I think Sissy Spacek narrated, and she did a fabulous job. We never read To Kill… in high school so I had felt like I was missing out–especially since a few of my librarian coworkers said the southern book was their all-time fav. I didn’t like the second book, though. Ek!

I love fall reading, and happy first day of autumn! Show me your decorations. ALL OF THEM!

I love your book lists!! They give me such great book inspiration. Crawdads is definitely in my TBR because of one of your other book lists. I have it on my Kindle! I will definitely be reading it!

Okay, so I had to google half-backs since I had never heard of that term either. The Urban dictionary used it in a sentence,”It was a nice, little town until it got ruined by a bunch of half-backs.” Might not be the exact quote but you get the gist. I hope people aren’t using it in that sense when they talk to you! Hopefully they don’t think of it in that way and they think they’re just being funny. Maybe they mean it in an endearing way, the way a mom might say their child is a holy terror- but mean it lovingly.???‍♀️

Anyway…I’ve definitely added Sing, Guest, Twenty-Eight, Almost Sisters, American Marriage, and Meant to be Broken to my TBR. Such a great mix there! I love the one that includes magical realism and the one with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda!? I have to read that book. Sounds like it will be heartbreaking. I love the story behind that mental institution. I’d love to learn more about it. Cool to think that it was the first place to take that approach. I don’t even want to think about how it used to be.

I don’t know if I’ve actually read the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve definitely read the play. My acting teacher assigned me a monologue from that play so I used to use it in auditions. What a story.

Thank you so much for including me in your awesome book list. This is another great one!

Ahaha, thanks so much for checking the urban dictionary for me. I definitely think *some* people in Asheville do probably feel that way about people moving in and ruining the town. I’ve heard there are mixed sentiments right now about people moving into the area in droves, economic development, and then, of course, congestion and changing city. Some want the growth for their small businesses to thrive and like seeing Asheville progress while others feel that their home is being taken over. It’s that way everywhere these days, it seems and I get it. Most people seem to be using half-back in a more light-hearted and joking manner with us. So many people aren’t native to Asheville.

I definitely want to read the book with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda too. I’m going to write a “books set in Asheville” book list for Uncorked Asheville, and this one sounds perfect. Plus, Fitzgerald had a lot of mental health issues, and it sounds like his wife was probably struggling with her own in a time that didn’t have as much information or help out there.

When I was older, I decided that it was finally time to read To Kill A Mockingbird , but I never had to read the southern literature novel for school. Then again, I never had to read Romeo or Juliet either.

Thanks so much for contributing! I really appreciate it. These lists are always so much better with reading recommendations from others.

Whoa! As others already commented, what a juicy list! I found old friends ad several new titles to add to my stack. Thanks for including my review and for the lovely shout out to my children’s books, which are also set in the south. Sharing this TUL list with my book club and social media friends.

Hey Cat! I am so glad that you found some new titles to enjoy. Thanks so much for participating. I know that I had a double book here and there so if I can find a home for the submission (one of yours overlapped), I will add the title in and credit you. Thanks for sharing, too. I hope you had a great weekend.

What a fantastic list! Book clubs could have their agendas set for a couple of years with this one. Thank you for including me in such great company and for your kind words about my debut!

Thank you so much! Your debut is fantastic too!

Funny that you should mention book clubs: I am actually thinking of having an online book club paired with an Asheville meet-up book club at a local brewery (based on request). The books would, of course, focus on or inspire travel and be set all over the world. I still have to wrap my head around this one, though.

I love that idea!! Book clubs are near and dear to my heart for a multitude of reasons. I host a monthly online one via Facebook LIVE. It’s always fun to see who shows up live, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how many people watch later. I think something online is so much easier these days, but I do miss that in-person experience. And, meeting at a brewery? Yes, please!

I’d have to get brave to go online live lol! I avoid youtube for that very reason. I’ll definitely be interested to see the interest as well as how having a book club online and in-person will do. I haven’t run a book club since my librarian days a few years ago.

I have never heard the term half-back. Interesting. I was always called a gringa when I lived in PR. Hated it because it wasn’t always used as a term of endearment.

Anyways, what a great list of books. There is a great mix here and sadly I haven’t read any of them. Not even the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. I have seen the movie though. I purposely never read the Color Purple because I knew it would be a hard one for me to get through.

I added a few of these to my long list.

I hadn’t heard the term ‘half-back either’ until we moved here. It’s definitely different… Residents say it’s because I moved from the north to the far south and then decided to live at the halfway point to get the best of both worlds. I guess this is what I get for calling everyone snowbirds in FL lol.

I definitely didn’t think “gringa” was very nice (I heard it growing up here and there)–kind of like how Indonesians called me a ‘bule’ when I lived there. The signification isn’t technically meant to offend, but it means “white foreigner.” I kind of appropriated bule back while I was there to make light of it lol. People would shout bule at me in my tiny village market, and I know it wasn’t meant to be mean, but I didn’t love it. A 4-star hotel in Depok (on the outskirts of where I used to live) called me bule as I walked away from the desk LAST year (still being used 10 years later), and I may have said something in my Trip Advisor review lol.

Sadly, I didn’t read To Kill A Mockingbird until I was older–and I think it was right around the time that Lee’s Go Set A Watchman came out, which I didn’t love–there was too pressure there. The Color Purple is pretty brutal. I read that southern novel when I was much younger and eventually saw the movie. I’m due for a re-read, but it’s a hard one.

The TBR list never ends. Have a great weekend, and send me DevaCut pics ASAP!

Thank you so much for accepting my submission, and this is such a solid list of books! Many of these I didn’t realize where set in the south somehow. I still need to get around to reading An American Marriage.

Thank you SO SO SO much for participating. I love having guests so that my book lists are way more diverse. This southern book list came out fab with your submission!

Where The Crawdads Sing is one of the best books I read this year! I also didn’t remember that First Frost is set in the South, so that makes me want to go back and reread it. The Marriage Lie is also on my TBR. Love the variety!

I love the variety too, and I think TUL lists are WAY better when I have so many amazing contributors. Thank you soooooo much for your additions too! I really appreciate it. I need to read some of the southern book suggestions that others mentioned: I am eyeing First Frost first because Sarah Addison Allen lands on a lot of my book lists from other bloggers. Have a great weekend. XXxxx

What a great list of books!! There are so many I want to read in this post. Thanks so much for including my recommendations!!! And, for the record, I get some of my best recipes and recipe inspiration from Southern Living magazine. ? I’ve had a subscription for years! #noregrets. I say Treat Yo’self since there are tons of great Southern places to visit covered in the articles. You will love all the adventure ideas!

Thank you so much for contributing–I love having you on the blog. Your recipes paired with books are literally the best and so fitting. I definitely think the foodie aspect sparks up the summaries, too–which TUL readers will LOVE!

I do need to read Southern Living . I peruse their articles online all of the time, and I am glad to know that you recommend them too. Indulge away!

Thank you so much for accepting my suggestion!! I can’t wait to check out some of the books on here! Happy reading!!

Thank you so much for contributing! I am thrilled to have you on the blog, and I definitely love the diversity of books on this list. I might add some more–there were just SO many to cover. Have a great weekend. Xxx

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Eight Books That Explain the South

The southern travelogue is a genre with a long history. These examples helped me write my own.

A photograph of group of Black people dressed in colorful summer celebration clothes in front of a hanging American flag and a two-story building

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For more than a century, readers have been fascinated by the American South, a place where the dialects remain distinct, raconteurs abound (I’ve never met a southerner who can’t tell at least one good story), and American music is rooted. Their interest is rewarded by the many books written over the decades about traveling to, or through, the region. Though its tone and scope have changed over time, that genre consistently focuses on the particularity of the area: its cultural beauty, its idiosyncrasies, the poverty of many of its people, and the cruelty of its racial regime.

My most recent book, South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation , a hybrid work mixing history, travelogue, creative nonfiction, and personal discovery, is part of this tradition. I invite readers to reconsider the South along with me, and to confront its centrality in the building and being of the United States. Any honest rendering of who we are as a nation requires us to understand how much of our national abundance has depended on southern land and labor, and how many of our tastes and pleasures have depended on southern folk.

Because I am not the first to move through this history, place, and genre, the following list includes some of the titles that most affected me and shaped my writing. These authors employed various forms: fiction, scholarship, history, and poetry. Some found their voice while going to or departing from the South. I cherish these works as models because they are not simply depictions of the landscape or those who live there, but artistic and philosophical explorations as well. They each push the boundaries of literature, using the vivacity of southern culture as both context and inspiration.

Read: In the Black South, you’re always considered

The orange cover of "Old Creole Days"

Old Creole Days , by George Washington Cable

Cable was a writer, a social critic, and a New Orleans native. In his work, including this 1879 debut collection of stories, he walks readers through the streets of New Orleans, unspooling the city’s history and culture. After he took a strong position against Jim Crow, notably in the 1885 essay “The Freedman’s Case in Equity,” Cable was forced to leave home and became an exile in Massachusetts. But he continued to write about Louisiana for the next three decades, paying particular notice to the intimate cultural connections among African, Indigenous, and European people despite the restrictions of segregation. Old Creole Days , written while he was still in Louisiana, hums with loving observations about Cable’s home. For the rest of his career, he would masterfully blend his careful and respectful attention to the South, even from afar, with probing social critique.

The ornate Penguin Vitae cover of "The Souls of Black Folk," in red with gold text

The Souls of Black Folk , by W. E. B. Du Bois

Du Bois’s classic 1903 essay collection remains arguably the single most influential text in African American studies. Du Bois was a renaissance intellectual and a “race man”—an early-20th-century term of art for one who dedicated his extraordinary gifts to the cause of racial justice. Du Bois spent decades studying inequality while advocating for colonized and racially subjugated people. Born in Massachusetts, he first made his way south in adulthood when he attended Fisk University, in Nashville. The Souls of Black Folk , his work of appeal on behalf of Black Americans living under the long shadow of a Jim Crow society, is a multi-genre text that draws on music, economics, labor analysis, social history, and pedagogy. In particular, his chapters on Atlanta and Georgia’s Black Belt are remarkable for their accounts of the differences between the urban and rural South, as is his critical assessment of how land and commerce are integral to the American construction of races.

Chad Williams: Du Bois gave voice to pain and promise

The colorful cover of "The Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown," featuring five painted Black people

Southern Road , by Sterling A. Brown

Brown, a celebrated blues poet, was a professor at Howard University for 40 years, where he taught literary figures such as Toni Morrison , Amiri Baraka, and Stokely Carmichael (before he was known as Kwame Ture). In this 1932 collection, the “southern roads” that lead him across states and into creative, resilient rural communities become fodder for his poems about folk characters and stories. Through Southern Road , Brown argued that southern culture was in fact still vibrant, despite claims from many of his peers that it was on its last legs. Careful listening and learning allowed Brown to praise the vitality, voice, and imagination of working people.

The black, blue, yellow, and red cover of Mules and Men

Mules and Men , by Zora Neale Hurston

Educated at Howard and Columbia, Hurston was an anthropologist and one of the nation’s most influential chroniclers of Black southern and Caribbean culture, as well as an extraordinary writer of fiction . Hurston was born in Alabama and came of age in the incorporated Black town of Eatonville, Florida. Her 1935 ethnographic collection, Mules and Men , is a written compilation of the African American folklore of that town, neighboring Polk County, Florida, and New Orleans. Despite her positioning, Hurston was no imperial scholar. Instead, she appears in the book as a participant observer who speaks the language of her subjects and places herself in the action—in one instance, she becomes a contestant in a toe pageant—to captivating effect. Hurston’s methodological irreverence, combined with her diligent research methods, leaves us with an important documentation of Black folkways.

Read: Zora Neale Hurston teaches Angela Flournoy how to write

The cover of The Southern Mystique

The Southern Mystique , by Howard Zinn

Before he was known as the leftist social historian behind A People’s History of the United States , Howard Zinn, a Jewish man from Brooklyn, wrote a book describing his experiences working as an activist in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the civil-rights era. He details the complex social relationships that existed across the color line, while simultaneously rejecting the idea that racism was a uniquely southern affliction. Instead, he writes, when it came to race, the differences between North and South were of degree rather than kind. Zinn’s book reveals that even someone who might have been considered an “outside agitator” could make astute observations about life below the Mason-Dixon.

The cover of South to a Very Old Place

South to a Very Old Place , by Albert Murray

A close friend of influential artists such as Romare Bearden and Ralph Ellison, Murray was a groundbreaking music critic and novelist in his own right who experimented with form and style. Born in Alabama, Murray settled in Harlem in 1962. For South to a Very Old Place , however, he returned home, traveling to multiple southern cities and towns. He noted that though the civil-rights movement had changed the South in some ways, many of its traditional rituals, sensibilities, and habits were sustained: The color line remained, but so did intimacy across its border. While Hurston, among others, consistently traced the connections among Black cultures throughout the diaspora to their roots in West Africa, Murray made the case that the United States was deeply influenced by Black people and that Black Americans were fundamentally American. Much of the text takes issue with the cultural nationalism associated with the Black Power movement; he also rejects the designation African American . Though our politics aren’t aligned, Murray’s crotchety, insightful arguments directly inspired my own title and framing. I, too, moved about the South, grappling with my own relationship to the place and finding exceptional beauty and imagination—notwithstanding all the wounds.

The cover of The Evidence of Things Not Seen

The Evidence of Things Not Seen , James Baldwin

This book chronicles one of James Baldwin’s literary and literal forays into the South. In 1972, with the publication of No Name in the Street , Baldwin depicted his travels to cities such as Birmingham and Washington, D.C., as a sort of pilgrimage to his homeland while it was in social upheaval; fear and inspiration met him there. More than a decade later, he went to Georgia to report on the Atlanta child murders of 1979–81. Echoing Du Bois some 82 years earlier, he found a unique city, distinguished by its striving and stratification. In the text, a multipart essay, Baldwin despairs over the unfinished business of the civil-rights movement. He encounters a city devastated by the murders of Black children and maps the shifting grounds of Black experience at a time after the laws opening up doors had been passed, but economic and social barriers to equality remained.

Read: James Baldwin was right all along

The photographic cover of A Turn in the South, showing two white headstones marked with American flags.

A Turn in the South , by V. S. Naipaul

In the late 1980s, Naipaul turned his gaze away from his native Trinidad and ancestral India to the American South. He was not known for sensitivity to the politics of race in the Caribbean, or for an appreciation of Black diasporic cultures—Naipaul could be cutting in his assessments of the politics and economy of the Caribbean while also keeping himself at a distance as an Indo-Trinidadian. But his willingness to listen attentively to southerners, Black and white, and to trace a sense of belonging connected to land, ritual, and narrative, leads to a fascinating portrait of a place that he doesn’t know. He notes, for example, the resonances in language and musicality that the region shares with his own nation. He exposes how white southerners embraced the Confederacy and how some African Americans preferred the more honest racism of the South to the covert but no less intense racial animus of the North. And, crucially, he grasps why, for African Americans, a brutal setting could also be called “down home.”

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By Tayari Jones

  • Jan. 25, 2022

SOUTH TO AMERICA A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation By Imani Perry

At the start of “South to America,” Imani Perry implores the reader: “Please remember, while this book is not a history, it is a true story.” I tried to keep these instructions in mind — not always easy with a narrative so scrupulously researched and teeming with facts and citations — but ultimately, I discarded them. After all, Perry addresses everything from hip-hop to the United Fruit Company and her own grandmother. Any attempt to classify this ambitious work, which straddles genre, kicks down the fourth wall, dances with poetry, engages with literary criticism and flits from journalism to memoir to academic writing — well, that’s a fool’s errand and only undermines this insightful, ambitious and moving project.

This is no “both sides” affair: Perry is an unabashed “movement” baby, raised by intellectual freedom-fighter parents. The conviction of this book is that race and racism are fundamental values of the South, that “the creation of racial slavery in the colonies was a gateway to habits and dispositions that ultimately became the commonplace ways of doing things in this country.” In other words, the South is America, and its history and influence cannot be dismissed as an embarrassing relative at the nation’s holiday dinner table.

Inspired by Albert Murray’s 1971 memoir-cum-travelogue “South to a Very Old Place,” Perry travels to over a dozen Southern cities and towns, excavating both histories and modern realities. She begins at Harpers Ferry, W.Va. We meet Shields Green, a Black South Carolinian known as the “Emperor of New York” who was executed along with John Brown. His heroism has been nearly lost to history, and to compound the tragedy, after he was hanged his body was given to Winchester Medical College for dissection. In telling his story, Perry reveals the first of many patterns in the quilt stitched on these pages: At each stop, she recounts an atrocity, but also resistance. And she does not flinch when documenting the consequences.

From the three essays that examine Alabama it’s clear that despite a childhood in New England, Perry’s heart belongs to the idiosyncratic Yellowhammer State. Her tone grows tender as she recalls her dancing cousins or the foot-washing Baptists. Her portraits of her grandmother combine elegiac longing and the rigor of a historian setting the record straight. Equally moving are the dispatches from her mother’s native Louisiana.

The theme of unmarked graves and untold stories permeates this work. As remediation, Perry names scores of Southerners: some famous, some unknown. As Andre 3000 declared, “The South got something to say.” And it’s a breathtaking something — from fine arts to reality television, internationally traded corporations to roadside rib-shacks whose flavors inform the American palate.

Perry vowed to visit and contemplate as much of the South as possible for this project; this ambition is both gift and obstacle. The benefit of such a large canvas is that patterns are easily identified. Historical injustice such as the Wilmington Massacre cannot be dismissed as a one-off, nor can the contemporary violence of Dylann Roof, or the storied resistance of Rosa Parks. Perry finds that one “hidden virtue of an unsure genealogy is a vast archive of ways of being learned from birth.”

It is inevitable, though, that all sites will not receive equal care and attention — and clearly her loyalty is to Alabama. An acolyte of Toni Morrison, Perry nevertheless takes pointed issue with the Nobel laureate’s characterization of the women of Mobile. I understand her pain, for it is the same feeling conjured in me as I read the chapter on Atlanta, my hometown. While in some places, Perry has the benefit of a guide, here she doesn’t cite the personal conversations that led to her insights, and the resulting observations feel a bit chilly. Perry declares that “the major metropolis of the South doesn’t have a sufficient mass transit system or a polyglot culture....” but goes on to suggest that survivors of dirt roads take comfort, instead, in the shiny baubles hawked in Lenox Mall. Well, that hurt my feelings.

Wounded pride aside, it must be said that this work, though sometimes uneven, is an essential meditation on the South, its relationship to American culture — even Americanness itself. This is, as Perry puts it, “not a preservation. This is intervention.” For too long, the South has been scapegoated and reduced to a backward land on the other side of some translucent, but impenetrable, barrier.

Beyond the literal divide of the Mason-Dixon, Perry is fixated on the line that divides past and present. On her travels she encounters a Confederate re-enactor celebrating a birthday. Though he is nostalgia and revisionism made flesh, Perry finds him surprisingly pleasant. Assuming he’ll speak about “Northern aggression,” Perry chooses not to question him, and this, too, is the legacy of the intimacy of slavery — we have lived together so long that we believe we can read each other’s minds.

During her visit to Maryland, Perry sees people wearing muslin shirts and straw hats while laboring in a field. Her insides clench, fearing that she is witnessing some cruel antebellum cosplay. As she gets closer, Perry hears the men speaking Spanish. She was “sad, and also relieved. Workers, not re-enactors.” But of course, this underscores the refrain of this immersion in Southern (American) life and history — to what extent are we all re-enactors of the nation’s brutal history? This work — and I use the term for both Perry’s labor and its fruit — is determined to provoke a return to the other legacy of the South, the ever-urgent struggle toward freedom.

Tayari Jones is the Charles Howard Candler professor of English at Emory University.

SOUTH TO AMERICA A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation By Imani Perry 433 pp. Ecco. $28.99.

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New Works from Southern Voices

Deep south ’s southern voice section highlights authors that capture the nuanced flavor of the south. here is a list of new books coming out by past southern voice authors. , dark roux by toby leblanc, out now .

new books about the south

Dark Roux is the story of a family simmering on the verge of burning to ruin. The delicate nature of this sauce depicts how Cajun culture survives Americanization along parade routes and swamps in South Louisiana. The Mouton family approaches Mardi Gras 1999 expecting traditional joy and release. But teenage struggles with sexual orientation and independence, the ambiguity of young love complicated by the racism of the South, motherhood leaving little room to love one’s self (even when two non-family women are waiting to help) and blind ambition as a way to deal with the past, all plague the family. The lines tying them together become taut, threatening to fail and toss them into the hurricane of the future.

Toby LeBlanc is an author and mental health professional currently living in Austin, Texas. His work often delves into his Cajun roots. LeBlanc’s short story “ The End of the World Bar ,” published in Deep South ’s Southern Voice section in 2018, incorporates themes of Southern identity and hope in the face of environmental threat.

Petrochemical Nocturne by Amos Jasper Wright IV, August 2023

new books about the south

The Mississippi River. HAZMAT labels. Boxing. Suicide by cop. New Orleans Saints football. Chemical explosions. The Angola prison rodeo. Chlorine gas ghost ships. Through these symbols and themes, we learn about Toussaint, an African-American man named after the Haitian revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture, and his formative experiences in the Standard Heights neighborhood of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While the principal action is set in the Deep South, Petrochemical Nocturne is an indictment of what Toussaint describes as “that dystopian haunted carnival cruise line called America,” as Standard Heights and the ExxonMobil refinery that has destroyed it supply the energy and refined petroleum products that enable contemporary consumerism. A discursive exploration of environmental racism, Southern history, the prison-industrial complex, police brutality, intergenerational trauma and climate change, Petrochemical Nocturne is both paean and eulogy for the former enslaved communities of Cancer Alley, the erasure of an entire people from a poisoned landscape.

Amos Jasper Wright IV is an Alabama native whose work explores the positioning of the South in the context of social and environmental justice, including his previous work Nobody Knows How it Got This Good , which we revealed the cover for in 2018.

The Muu-Antiques by Shome Dasgupta, July 2023

new books about the south

“ The Muu-Antiques is a southern-fried, whole-hearted, quirky mystery—it has the feel of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry with the spirit of Forrest Gump . With each step of Percy’s adventure, you see the mundane anew, and true treasures come from relationships which sprout in front of us like flowers in Macy’s garden. The friendships in this novel are sweeter than the tea sipped on Macy’s porch, and by the end, you’ll wish Percy would move into the apartment above your garage. Dasgupta’s writing is as inviting, familiar, and colorful as a well-worn muumuu—it’s rare to find a book that has you rooting for both friend and foe, and then have both stick with you long after you turn the last page. This is Dasgupta’s greatest gift: find the good in everyone and let that be remembered long afterwards, like a fine antique.” -Toby LeBlanc, author of Dark Roux

Shome Dasgupta is a Louisiana-based, award-winning author whose short stories “Crawfish and a Drawing by Barn” and “The Storm Was Coming” were published in Deep South ’s Southern Voice section in 2014. 

These Particular Women by Kat Meads, out now  

new books about the south

Did or didn’t Virginia Woolf carry her walking stick with her into the River Ouse? Did Kitty Oppenheimer get it right on her fourth marital try? Was revenge Agatha Christie’s motive when she disappeared in 1926? Could Estelle Faulkner out-drink her husband Bill? Did Mary McCarthy believe her own hype? Was Caroline Blackwood a slob as well as a snob? In These Particular Women , Kat Meads investigates 10 famous/infamous women and the exceedingly contradictory biographical and autobiographical portraits that survive them.

Kat Meads is a North Carolina-born author, poet and playwright whose short story “ Guidance ” appeared in Deep South’s Southern Voice section in March 2023.

Dead Mediums by Dan Leach, out now  

new books about the south

With the dark determination of Flannery O’Connor, the inventive urgency of Haruki Murakami and an insight and wit all his own, Dan Leach conjures the American South with all its beauty, magic, tragedy, grace and violence. Young boys make a dangerous deal with the vagrant who sleeps in the construction site at the edge of a trailer park. A wizard’s cures bring bizarre side effects. Trying to win back his girlfriend, a penitent man crawls through the streets like a dog, plunging his college town into chaos. The stories in Dead Mediums are electrifying, gritty, compelling and profound.

Dan Leach, born and raised in South Carolina, uses fiction as an avenue to explore Southern culture. His short story “ Everything must go ” appeared in Deep South ’s Southern Voice section in 2014.

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new books about the south

12 Southern Novels That Will Knock Your Boots Off

new books about the south

I always get homesick for my North Carolina hometown at this time of year. There’s nothing like a Southern summer with long lake days, surprise thunderstorms, lightning bugs, homemade Butterfinger ice cream, country music concerts, and nights at the drive-in theater. Here are the 12 books I’m reading for a dash of Southern comfort until my next trip home.

The Life and Times of Persimmon Wilson

An immersive and breathtaking work of historical fiction, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF PERSIMMON WILSON follows the epic journey of a slave who travels from a brutal New Orleans sugar plantation to the Texas frontier in search of his lost love and his own identity. This novel is perfect for readers who love COLD MOUNTAIN and THE INVENTION OF WINGS .

new books about the south

MENTIONED IN:

By Taylor Noel | July 17, 2018

Slightly South of Simple

Despite swearing to never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff, Caroline Murphy returns home after her marriage falls apart. Caroline's sisters soon join her in their childhood home and their mother, Ansley, begins to feel overwhelmed by her adult children. Then someone from Ansley's past shows up and the secret she's kept from her daughters for years might finally be exposed.

new books about the south

The 10 Most Popular Books That Captured Our Hearts This September

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 30, 2020

The 10 Most Popular Books We Added to Our TBR This August

By Off the Shelf Staff | August 31, 2020

7 Sunny Reads That Will Transform Your Reading Nook into a Beach Oasis

By Holly Claytor | August 12, 2020

The Last Ballad

Set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events, THE LAST BALLAD chronicles an ordinary woman's struggle for her dignity and rights in a textile mill. This lyrical novel also brings to life the 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.

new books about the south

And the winner of most fitting title goes to SOUTHERNMOST—a stunning novel about judgment, courage, heartbreak, and chance. After a flood washes away a small Tennessee town, an evangelical preacher offers shelter to two gay men and risks losing everything: his religiously prejudiced wife, his unaccepting congregation, and his young son caught in the middle of a custody battle.

new books about the south

Grab a glass of sweet tea and hunker down with this gorgeous novel set in rural Georgia during the Depression and Prohibition eras. After two babies-one with light brown skin, the other dark-are born to Elma, a white sharecropper's daughter, a black field hand is accused of having raped her and is murdered. In the years that follow, as Elma begins the difficult task of raising her babies, everyone on the farm is forced to contend with the actions that led to this man's death.

new books about the south

9 Historical Novels That Offer New Perspectives of Our World

By Erin Madison | April 2, 2018

The Summer Girls

In this enchanting story set on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe captures the complex relationships between Dora, Carson, and Harper, three half-sisters scattered across the country—and a grandmother determined to help them rediscover their family bonds. Truths are revealed, mistakes are forgiven, and precious connections are made that will endure long beyond one summer.

new books about the south

Three sisters reunite on Sullivan’s Island off the coast of South Carolina after years of separation in this first installment of the Lowcountry Summer trilogy. Fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Dorothea Benton Frank will be charmed by this heartwarming series that explores the depths and complexities of sisterhood, friendship, and forgiveness.

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Treeborne

I've always loved the idea of living on an orchard. It seems so romantic to me. But life isn't that simple for Janie, the keeper of an orchard in Elberta, Alabama. As the world closes in on Elberta and threatens to destroy it, Janie tells the story of its people: her granddaddy who was determined to preserve the town's legacy at any cost, his wife whose sudden death throws everything into chaos, the black orchardist harvesting in a white locality where he is not welcome.

new books about the south

I'll read anything James McBride writes, and SONG YET SUNG is no exception. It's a rich, deeply affecting story about a runaway slave whose escape sets loose a chain of dramatic events among slave catchers, plantation owners, watermen, other runaway slaves, and free blacks. This is a novel about tragic triumph, violent decisions, and unexpected kindness.

new books about the south

Read Around America: 14 Superb Books That Span the States

By Off the Shelf Staff | July 2, 2021

Before We Were Yours

In 1939 Memphis, Rill Foss and her four sisters are wrenched from their happy family life and thrown into a cruel orphanage. In present-day South Carolina, Avery Stafford's perfect life is disrupted when a chance encounter compels her to take a journey through her family's long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption. This is Southern historical fiction at its finest, and is actually based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals.

new books about the south

SOIL is a darkly comic novel about an ambitious environmental scientist who moves his family to Mississippi to pursue his dream of cultivating new and progressive agriculture. But things don't pan out as Jay expects and he suffers financial ruin within a year. Then, a dead body appears on his farm and Jay is convinced he's being framed for murder. Drawing on elements of classic Southern noir, dark comedy, and modern dysfunction, SOIL is about the gravitational pull of one man's apocalypse and the hope that maybe, just maybe, he can be reeled in from the brink.

new books about the south

Tell About the South: 11 Southern Gothic Tales You Need to Read

By Kerry Fiallo | May 14, 2019

The Underground River

Set aboard a nineteenth century riverboat theater, this is the moving, page-turning story of a charmingly frank and naive seamstress who is blackmailed into saving runaways on the Underground Railroad, jeopardizing her freedom, her livelihood, and a new love.

new books about the south

FLYING SHOES is the stunning debut novel from Lisa Howorth, the cofounder of Square Books in Oxford Mississippi. It's based on the unsolved case of Howorth's stepbrother. An honest and luminous portrait of a particular time and place in the South, FLYING SHOES is the story of a reluctant woman forced to revisit her stepbrother's murder when a detective calls her 30 years later.

new books about the south

Want more Southern Lit? Here are 12 Overlooked Novels with Southern Roots

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The Most Popular Books Set in Every Southern State from the Past 10 Years

Goodreads shares the best of the bunch from every state in the South in the past decade.

Perri Ormont Blumberg is a former senior staff writer for Southern Living's News Team.

new books about the south

There are only so many Hallmark movies and Netflix series one can watch. These days, we're finding much comfort, fun, and enlightenment in reading. All the better if it's a book that takes place in the Southern nook of our country. But with so many amazing titles that fit that bill on the market, it can be hard to narrow down what to read next. That's why we reached out to Goodreads —the much-loved reviews platform and personal reading tracker— to help us out. Below, they've compiled a list of the most popular books set in every Southern state that has been published in the last 10 years. To identify the most popular of such tomes, they looked at both number of ratings and average rating on their site. Since Goodreads' focus is on helping people discover their next great read, we hope this list serves as inspiration to roll up your sleeves and discover the South without leaving your couch.

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

There's something so inviting about Jackson's writing, and it really shines in this 2017 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction as you get to know Leia Birch Briggs, who returns to Alabama and uncovers a life-altering secret. (When you're done with this one, be sure to check out Between, Georgia , about a woman with two competing families and two men in her life.)

Check it out on Goodreads .

Buy It: $8.99; Amazon.com

Calico Joe by John Grisham

Acclaimed author John Grisham tells the story of Joe Castle, a baseball star from Calico Rock, Arkansas, in 1973, and a Mets pitcher and his son, in the yarn of "a fastball that would change their lives forever." Pick it up for any baseball fan in your life pronto.

Buy It: $7.99; Amazon.com

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

The Riveras move from their native Mexico to Delaware in this moving novel set in the modern day. "We're the unknown Americans, the ones no one even wants to know, because they've been told they're supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we're not that bad, maybe even that we're a lot like them. And who would they hate then?" Henriquez writes in one poignant line that's just a taste of all the evocative writing you'll encounter.

Buy It: $8.49; Amazon.com

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

This heart-wrenching novel is the follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning best-seller, The Underground Railroad , and like its predecessor, it doesn't disappoint. Set in 1960s Tallahassee, the book's exploration of the Jim Crow South illuminates many issues our country sadly still grapples with today.

Buy It: $11.34; Amazon.com

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Earning an average rating of 3.96 stars on Goodreads, this Atlanta and Louisiana-based book shares what unfurls when a marriage is wrecked when the husband is sent to jail for a crime he didn't commit. Elegantly penned, it's easy to see why it was nominated for a National Book Award in 2018.

Buy It: $9.04; Amazon.com

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

A moving book set in Baileyville, Kentucky, in 1937, the Depression-era work tells of the Pack Horse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky . One Goodreads reviewer summed it up: "This story is a love letter to every person who understands the importance of literacy, of reading for both knowledge and entertainment, and the need for libraries."

Buy It: $10.36; Amazon.com

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

A Goodreads Choice winner for last year, you'll quickly understand why everyone has been recommending this piece of historical fiction within the first few pages of the book. The harrowing story begins in the 1950s about two twin Black sisters, one who secretly passes as white.

Buy It: $16.20; Amazon.com

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Taylor

All aboard for this Baltimore novel that keeps chugging along at a steady clip for all 358 of its pages. A story that could be about any family, it unlocks lessons that will resonate with many.

Buy It: $12.78; Amazon.com

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

4.08 stars for this suspenseful thriller doesn't do it justice. It's hard to put down with so many plot twists, all set against the backdrop of North Carthage, Missouri. We don't want to give too much away, but as the title implies, drama unfolds as a wife goes missing on the couple's wedding anniversary.

Buy It: $9.99; Amazon.com

Mississippi

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Journey to a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi in this unforgettable story of a Black family in contemporary times. With lines like "Ain't no good in using anger just to lash. You pray for it to blow up a storm that's going to flush out the truth" the writing is infused with an almost lyrical quality. Ward is the National Book Award–winning author for Salvage the Bones , so you'll want to buy that one too if you haven't read it already.

Buy It: $15.99; Amazon.com

North Carolina

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Yes, this courtroom drama that is also a love story set on North Carolina's coastline is being made into a movie by Reese Witherspoon . No, nothing could possibly top this book.

Buy It: $11; Amazon.com

Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline

Taking place in both Columbus, Ohio, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, this beautifully written tome examines life in 2044. Ideal for fantasy lovers, take one Goodreads' reviewer's comments to heart: "I believe you can tell the author's passion from what he's written, and it is clear from this book that Ernest Cline is a fellow gamer and geek. I salute him."

South Carolina

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Set in Charleston, this powerful story explores slavery in the early 1800s through the lens of an 11-year-old named Sarah Grimke who is given ownership of Hetty "Handful" Grimke for her 11th birthday. Inspired by the real-life Sarah Grimke, the story traces Sarah and Hetty's complicated bond over the next three decades.

Buy It: $13.58; Amazon.com

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Griffin

Let's head on over to Nashville, folks. This Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction in 2018 dives into tough topics like racism, privilege, the ills of social media, and more. The novel centers around Nina Browning who marries into Nashville's upper class, Tom Volpe, a single dad struggling to raise his daughter, Lyla, and what happens when a photograph alters the course of their lives.

Buy It: $16.30; Amazon.com

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

With 26,592 five-star reviews on Goodreads, you'll definitely want to pick up this novel set in Texas in the 1870 that was nominated for a National Book Award in 2016. To whet your appetite, consider one of our favorite quotes from Jiles' beautiful prose: "Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we have just one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says; it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed."

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This stunning novel has a 4.07-star rating on Goodreads and captures "the darkness of slavery and all of its shackles to the brightness of conduction and all of its light," as one Goodreads reviewer put it. Especially now during this time of turmoil in our country, it's an important book for all to read and reflect upon.

Buy It: $16.25; Amazon.com

Washington, D.C.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Saunders' first novel dazzles in this father-son story of Abraham Lincoln. The tale may be imaginary, but expect plenty of timeless real-life truths to be revealed throughout and stay with you for years to come.

Buy It: $19.99; Amazon.com

West Virginia

Wait for You by Jennifer Armentrout

With an average rating of 4.17 stars on Goodreads, this 322-page book is the kind you can zoom through in just a few sittings. When the protagonist moves from Texas to college in West Virginia, you'll be captivated by the romance and drama that ensues.

Buy It: $6.99; Amazon.com

How many of the above titles have you already checked off your reading list? Any you're particularly excited to check out next?

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The 10 Most Popular Books Based in the South, According to Goodreads

One even earned a spot in Oprah's Book Club .

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Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Rating: 4.29 out of 5

Gone with the Wind offers one of the greatest historical romance stories thanks to its protagonists, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Not to mention, Margaret Mitchell's ability to keep readers' attention for more than 1,000 pages is worth the praise. The 1936 novel, which takes place on a Georgia plantation, was later adapted into a movie in 1939 . The film will  return to theaters on February 28 in celebration of its 80th anniversary.  

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Rating: 4.27 out of 5

Sure,  To Kill a Mockingbird  was probably required reading at your high school. But the book's gripping story about lawyer Atticus Finch, his family, and an Alabama town marred by racism and tragedy is worth re-reading. Harper Lee's debut novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961, and is ranked by Guinness World Records as the top-selling novel of all time, further proving its influence in literature and film .

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Rating: 4.19 out of 5

In 1982, Alice Walker weaved an intricate tale about a Black woman's journey to love and self-discovery while growing up in the rural South. The Pulitzer Prize - winning novel would later spawn the 1985 film of the same name, starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah , and Danny Glover. Currently, Steven Spielberg is working on a movie musical—and yes, Oprah is involved .

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Rating: 4.04 out of 5

A popular choice for book clubs everywhere, Ward’s third novel tackles heavy-hitting issues like racism, poverty, and criminal justice, while telling the tragic story of the Mississippi mother-son duo Leonie and Jojo. Despite the fact that the past permeates most of the book, its subject matter is just as relevant today. Ward won the National Book Award for fiction in 2017.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Rating: 4.03 out of 5

Though Sue Monk Kidd's novel was released in 2001, the coming-of-age tale actually takes place in 1964 in a fictitious South Carolina town. It follows the story of 14-year-old Lily Owens, a motherless teenager who has a fondness for bees. Soon, she discovers her sense of place, purpose, and a love of honey through the Boatwright sisters and her maid, Rosaleen. The book became a 2008 blockbuster movie  starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys . 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead uses characters Cora and Caesar to offer a valuable history lesson on slavery in the South. In a courageous act of rebellion and resistance, Cora and Caesar decide to escape their harsh life on the Georgia plantations where they're forced to work. They do it through the Underground Railroad. Whitehead's tale will serve as the inspiration for an upcoming Barry Jenkins-directed Amazon TV series . It also won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Oh, and it became a 2016 Oprah's Book Club  pick.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Rating: 3.91 out of 5

The city of Savannah, Georgia has a rich colonial history. But the "Hostess City of the South" is also known for something else, other than its deep Irish roots, cobblestone streets, and giant oak trees: ghosts. John Berendt explores the dark forces and stories that took place in Savannah and Beaufort, South Carolina in this 1994 nonfiction novel. Director Clint Eastwood adapted the Southern gothic book for the big screen in 1997. 

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Rating: 3.89 out of 5

Zora Neale Hurston's literary works often highlighted the plight of African Americans, and her words would go on to influence contemporary Black authors such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. This 1937 novel is among her most celebrated because of its vivid depiction of heroine Janie Crawford on her journey to love and self-exploration, while living in the poor South. The empowering story was released as a made-for-TV movie on ABC in 2005, featuring Halle Berry and Michael Ealy as love interests. 

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Rating: 3.85 out of 5

It’s not a surprise to see Charles Frazier's 1997 war novel top this list. Thanks, in part, to the 2003 eponymous movie starring Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, and Jude Law, many voracious readers still come back to the story of deserter W.P. Inman (Law). Frazier's colorful depiction of Inman's trek through South and North Carolina to return to the love of his life, Ada Monroe (Kidman), is why it stayed at the top of The New York Times best-seller list for 61 weeks. 

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Rating: 3.81 out of 5

This compelling story is told through the eyes of 9-year-old Cassie Logan, who details the racism she and her family experience during the height of the Depression era in Mississippi. Mildred D. Taylor's 1976 novel is a sequel to her 1975 book, Song of the Trees . The book won the prestigious Newbery Medal in 1977, and Taylor followed up its success with two more sequels:  Let the Circle Be Unbroken in 1981 and The Road to Memphis in 1990.  

Headshot of Michelle Darrisaw

Michelle is the Culture & News Writer for OprahMag.com, where she writes about celebrities (she considers herself an expert on Beyoncé and Reese Witherspoon), plus the latest in pop-culture news, binge-worthy TV shows, and movies. The transplanted Southerner turned ambitious New Yorker lives her best life by listening to hip-hop and Pod Save America, watching The Office on repeat, quoting Oprah-isms, eating dessert before dinner, and avoiding avocado. Seriously, she doesn’t get the hype.

It should say, “Michelle is the former Culture & News Writer for Oprahmag.com...”

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the south Books: 2024’s Updated Collection of 20 Must-Reads

Are you looking for a captivating book on the south? Whether you’re a history buff, a fiction lover, or just someone eager to explore the rich culture and heritage of the southern United States, we’ve got you covered. From classic tales of the antebellum South to modern-day stories of love and loss, this list has something for everyone. Get ready to be swept away by the charm and allure of the south with these 20 best books about the south.

  • 1 The Underground Railroad
  • 2 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  • 4 A Confederacy of Dunces
  • 5 The Color Purple
  • 6 To Kill a Mockingbird
  • 7 The Sound and the Fury
  • 8 Gone with the Wind
  • 9 The Prince of Tides
  • 10 The Secret Life of Bees
  • 11 The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  • 12 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • 13 The Yearling
  • 14 The Optimist’s Daughter
  • 15 The Known World
  • 16 Cold Sassy Tree
  • 17 The Last Picture Show
  • 18 The Water is Wide
  • 19 The Orchard Keeper
  • 20 The Glass Castle
  • 21 Conclusion

best books about the south The Underground Railroad

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The Underground Railroad

By colson whitehead.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead is a captivating and harrowing novel that takes readers on a journey through the antebellum South. The story follows the life of Cora, a young enslaved woman who escapes from a Georgia plantation and embarks on a treacherous journey via a literal underground railroad, seeking freedom and safety. Whitehead’s masterful storytelling and vivid descriptions bring to life the brutal realities of slavery, as well as the resilience and courage of those who fought against it. This powerful exploration of the ‘book about the south’ is a gripping and thought-provoking read that challenges readers to confront the dark history of America’s past while offering a glimmer of hope for a better future.

best books about the south Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

By john berendt.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a captivating nonfiction novel that delves into the eccentricities and mysteries of Savannah, Georgia, a city steeped in history and charm. John Berendt’s book about the south transports readers into the heart of the Deep South, where they encounter a colorful cast of characters, from socialites to drag queens, and get entangled in a web of scandal, murder, and secrets. Berendt’s vivid storytelling and sharp observations bring the vibrant and enigmatic atmosphere of Savannah to life, making it a compelling read for anyone drawn to the allure of the south. Whether you’re a fan of true crime, southern culture, or simply love a good story, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is sure to captivate and enthrall.

best books about the south The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is a compelling novel set in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. This book about the south explores the lives of African American maids working for white families, and the complex relationships and social dynamics that exist in the segregated society. Through the perspectives of three women – Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter – the novel delves into the racial tensions, discrimination, and the courage of those who dared to challenge the status quo. The south book sheds light on the struggles, resilience, and strength of the characters as they navigate through the harsh realities of the Jim Crow era. The Help is a powerful and thought-provoking story that portrays the deep-rooted issues of inequality and the courage to stand up for what is right.

best books about the south A Confederacy of Dunces

A Confederacy of Dunces

By john kennedy toole.

A Confederacy of Dunces, a comical masterpiece by John Kennedy Toole, is a satirical novel set in the vibrant city of New Orleans. The story follows the misadventures of Ignatius J. Reilly, a larger-than-life, eccentric character who is both intelligent and bumbling. As he navigates the colorful world of New Orleans, the novel offers a humorous and insightful commentary on the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the southern culture. With its witty dialogue, memorable characters, and rich portrayal of the unique atmosphere of the South, A Confederacy of Dunces is a must-read for anyone looking for a book about the South that is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.

best books about the south The Color Purple

The Color Purple

By alice walker.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a powerful and evocative novel set in the American South. It follows the life of Celie, a young African American woman who faces a lifetime of abuse and struggles to find her own identity and voice in a society dominated by racism and sexism. Through a series of letters to God and her sister, Celie shares her journey of resilience, self-discovery, and empowerment. The novel explores themes of love, friendship, and the resilience of the human spirit, while also shedding light on the harsh realities of life in the South for African Americans during the early 20th century. With its vivid storytelling and compelling characters, The Color Purple is a moving and unforgettable exploration of the human experience in the South.

best books about the south To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

By harper lee.

To Kill a Mockingbird, a classic novel by Harper Lee, is a captivating book about the south. Set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, the story follows Scout Finch, her brother Jem, and their father, lawyer Atticus Finch. The novel explores themes of racial injustice, moral growth, and the innocence of childhood. Through the eyes of Scout, the reader is immersed in the southern culture and society, witnessing the challenges and prejudices of the time. The southern setting plays a vital role in the story, creating a rich and immersive backdrop for the characters and their experiences. With its timeless themes and memorable characters, To Kill a Mockingbird remains a powerful and thought-provoking book about the south.

best books about the south The Sound and the Fury

The Sound and the Fury

By william faulkner.

The Sound and the Fury, a book on the south, is a classic novel by William Faulkner that explores the decline of the Compson family in the American South. Set in Mississippi, the novel is divided into four sections, each narrated by a different character, offering a unique perspective on the family’s unraveling. The story delves into themes of race, class, and the changing social landscape of the South, making it a compelling book about the south. Through beautiful and evocative prose, Faulkner captures the complexities of family dynamics, the weight of tradition, and the passage of time. The Sound and the Fury is a poignant and immersive exploration of the southern experience, making it a must-read for anyone interested in delving into the heart of the south.

best books about the south Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind

By margaret mitchell.

Gone with the Wind is a classic novel set in the antebellum South. This epic tale follows the life of Scarlett O’Hara, a headstrong and determined Southern belle, as she navigates the hardships of the Civil War and its aftermath. The novel captures the essence of the Old South, depicting the lavish lifestyle of plantation owners and the devastating impact of war on their way of life. With themes of love, loss, and resilience, this book about the South is a timeless portrayal of the human spirit and the enduring power of the Southern landscape. Margaret Mitchell’s vivid storytelling brings the beauty and complexity of the South to life, making Gone with the Wind a must-read for anyone interested in the rich history and culture of the region.

best books about the south The Prince of Tides

The Prince of Tides

By pat conroy.

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy is a captivating novel set in the American South. This compelling story delves into the complex dynamics of a dysfunctional Southern family, addressing themes of love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit. Through vivid prose and richly drawn characters, Conroy paints a vivid portrait of the beauty and brutality of life in the South. The novel explores the impact of trauma and the enduring power of family bonds, all against the lush backdrop of the Southern landscape. With its evocative storytelling and poignant exploration of Southern culture, The Prince of Tides is a mesmerizing read that offers a deep and immersive experience of the South.

best books about the south The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees

By sue monk kidd.

The Secret Life of Bees is a captivating novel set in the American South during the 1960s. It follows the story of a young girl named Lily Owens, who is searching for the truth about her mother’s past. Along the way, she is taken in by three African American sisters who are beekeepers, and she learns about love, forgiveness, and the power of female friendship. The novel is a heartwarming coming-of-age story that explores themes of racism, family, and resilience. With its rich imagery and vivid characters, The Secret Life of Bees is a poignant and touching book about the American South and the transformative power of love. It’s a must-read for anyone looking for a compelling and insightful story about this particular region.

best books about the south The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

By carson mccullers.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, written by Carson McCullers, is a captivating novel set in the American South during the 1930s. This poignant tale explores the lives of several characters in a small Southern town, each struggling with their own personal challenges and yearnings for connection. The novel beautifully delves into themes of isolation, longing, and the human need for understanding and companionship. McCullers masterfully weaves together the stories of her characters, creating a rich and evocative portrayal of life in the south. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is a powerful and moving book about the south that delves into the complexities of human emotions and relationships, making it a timeless and compelling read for anyone interested in the human experience.

best books about the south The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

By mark twain.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, written by Mark Twain, is a classic novel set in the antebellum South. The story follows the escapades of Huck Finn, a young boy, and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, as they navigate the Mississippi River. Twain’s portrayal of the southern landscape and culture provides a vivid and often humorous insight into the complexities of the region. The novel touches on themes of freedom, morality, and societal norms, making it a thought-provoking and thrilling read. With its richly detailed setting and engaging characters, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a quintessential ‘book about the south’ that continues to captivate readers of all ages.

best books about the south The Yearling

The Yearling

By marjorie kinnan rawlings.

The Yearling, a novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, is a classic ‘book on the south’ that tells the story of a young boy named Jody and his adventures in the rugged wilderness of rural Florida. Set in the 1870s, the novel captures the harsh yet beautiful landscape of the ‘southern’ wilderness and the struggles of a family trying to make a living off the land. Jody’s bond with his pet fawn, whom he names Flag, becomes the heart of the story as he navigates the challenges of growing up in a harsh environment. The novel beautifully depicts the ‘south’ through its vivid descriptions of nature and the deep sense of community that permeates the ‘southern’ culture. The Yearling is a timeless ‘book about the south’ that explores the complexities of life in the backwoods of Florida, and the enduring connection between humans and the land.

best books about the south The Optimist's Daughter

The Optimist’s Daughter

By eudora welty.

The Optimist’s Daughter is a poignant novel by Eudora Welty, a celebrated American author. Set in the South, the story follows Laurel Hand, a woman who returns to her hometown to be with her father as he undergoes eye surgery. After his death, Laurel grapples with grief and memories of her past, reflecting on her relationships with her father, stepmother, and her own late husband. Through lyrical prose and vivid imagery, Welty delves into themes of loss, family dynamics, and the complexities of southern life. The novel beautifully captures the essence of the south and the nuances of human emotions, making it a compelling and evocative read for anyone interested in a book about the south.

best books about the south The Known World

The Known World

By edward p. jones.

The Known World by Edward P. Jones is a captivating book about the south that explores the complex and often forgotten history of slavery in Virginia. Set in the antebellum South, the novel delves into the lives of both enslaved people and their owners, shedding light on the intricacies of power, freedom, and identity. The narrative weaves together the stories of various characters, offering a multifaceted portrayal of the region during this tumultuous time. With its richly detailed storytelling and thought-provoking themes, The Known World immerses readers in a world that is both familiar and unsettling, inviting them to confront the legacy of slavery and its impact on the southern landscape. Jones’s powerful prose and vivid characterizations make this a must-read for anyone interested in the complexities of the southern experience.

best books about the south Cold Sassy Tree

Cold Sassy Tree

By olive ann burns.

Cold Sassy Tree is a captivating coming-of-age story set in the American South during the early 1900s. This novel, often described as a ‘book on the south’, follows the life of a young boy named Will Tweedy as he navigates the complexities of love, loss, and family in a small Southern town. The book captures the essence of the ‘the south book’ with its rich portrayal of Southern culture, traditions, and values. As Will’s story unfolds, readers are immersed in a world filled with colorful characters, Southern charm, and the timeless beauty of the rural South. Olive Ann Burns’ evocative prose and vivid storytelling make Cold Sassy Tree a heartwarming and poignant ‘book about the south’ that resonates with readers of all backgrounds.

best books about the south The Last Picture Show

The Last Picture Show

By larry mcmurtry.

The Last Picture Show is a novel by Larry McMurtry that captures the essence of small-town life in the American South. Set in the 1950s in a small town in Texas, the book follows a group of high school friends as they navigate the challenges of adolescence and adulthood. McMurtry’s vivid prose and authentic portrayal of the South’s landscape and culture bring the setting to life, immersing readers in the rich and complex world of the region. Through its compelling characters and poignant storytelling, The Last Picture Show offers a captivating glimpse into the heart and soul of the South, making it a must-read for anyone interested in exploring the intricacies of life in this part of the country.

best books about the south The Water is Wide

The Water is Wide

The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy is a compelling and eye-opening book about the south. Based on the author’s experiences as a teacher on Yamacraw Island, the book captures the challenges and complexities of life in the American South. Conroy’s vivid storytelling brings the setting to life, painting a rich picture of the people and culture of the region. The book provides a unique insight into the social and educational issues that were prevalent in the South during the 1960s, shedding light on the racial tensions and inequalities of the time. With its powerful narrative and thought-provoking themes, The Water is Wide offers a poignant look at the south book and the struggles faced by its inhabitants, making it a must-read for anyone interested in Southern literature.

best books about the south The Orchard Keeper

The Orchard Keeper

By cormac mccarthy.

The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy is a riveting book about the southern United States, filled with evocative descriptions of the landscape and the people who inhabit it. Set in the hills of Tennessee, this novel weaves together the lives of a young boy, a mysterious man named John Wesley Rattner, and an elderly moonshiner as their paths intersect in unexpected ways. With its rich prose and atmospheric storytelling, this book offers a compelling glimpse into the rugged and raw beauty of the southern countryside, as well as the complex relationships that unfold within it. McCarthy’s masterful writing captures the essence of the South, making The Orchard Keeper a must-read for anyone fascinated by the rich history and unique culture of this region.

best books about the south The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

By jeannette walls.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a captivating memoir that delves into the author’s unconventional and tumultuous childhood in the American South. This powerful narrative takes readers on a journey through Walls’ upbringing in a dysfunctional and impoverished family, as they travel from place to place in search of a better life. The book explores themes of resilience, love, and the enduring human spirit amidst adversity. Walls’ vivid storytelling and raw honesty paint a vivid picture of her experiences, leaving a lasting impact on readers. The Glass Castle is a poignant and thought-provoking book about the south that will resonate with anyone who has ever faced challenges and triumphed against all odds.

In conclusion, these 20 best books about the south offer a rich and diverse exploration of the region’s history, culture, and people. Whether you’re interested in fiction, history, or memoir, these books provide a captivating glimpse into the complexities and beauty of the American South.

Which the south book is best?

The best book on the south can vary with personal preference, but three widely recommended titles are:

  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ,
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt ,
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett .

Each offers valuable insights and could be a great starting point.

What are the best books to learn about the south?

For those looking to learn about the south, there is a wealth of literature that can provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject. Some of the most highly recommended books include:

  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett ,
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole ,
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker ,
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee ,
  • The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner ,
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell ,
  • The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy ,
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

These books offer a range of perspectives on the south, covering various aspects and approaches to the subject.

What are the best books on the south?

The best books on the south include:

  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers ,
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain ,
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee .

Each offers unique insights into the subject. While these books on the topic of the south are highly regarded, it’s important to note that any list of ‘best’ books is subjective and reflects a range of opinions.

What are the best the south books of all time?

Choosing the best the south books of all time can vary depending on who you ask, but seven titles that are often celebrated include

  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd ,
  • and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers .

Each of these books has made a significant impact in the field of the south and continues to be influential today.

Related posts:

Literary Voyage

23 Atmospheric Books Set in the South

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Are you looking for the best books set in the South?

The southern United States is a fascinating region that is steeped in rich culture and history. Many people are familiar with the South’s elegant cities like New Orleans, Savannah, and Charleston. And Southern cuisine is famous for its “comfort food” flavors.

But what is the South really about?

That’s what these books set in the South seek to answer. The books on this list span a variety of genres, from classics to contemporaries, set in the South of the past and the South of the present.

If you are looking for great books set in the South that will transport you and make you feel like you are there, look no further than these atmospheric Southern novels:

Savannah, Georgia

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Best Books Set in the South

to kill a mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This classic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is set in a small, rural town in Alabama in the 1930s. It’s a coming-of-age story set in a South poisoned by virulent hatred and prejudice.

It’s told through the eyes of a young white girl, as she witnesses her father, a crusading local lawyer, risks everything to defend a black man who has been unjustly accused of committing a terrible crime.

Buy on Amazon | View in Goodreads

where the crawdads sing

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen

Set in a small coastal town in North Carolina in the 1960s, this story follows the wild and barefoot Kya Clark, who has been abandoned by her family. Nicknamed the “Marsh Girl” by locals, she is treated with disgust and suspicion.

When a popular local athlete is found dead, Kya is the main suspect. This book juxtaposes a profound coming-of-age story with a haunting mystery.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

The award-winning novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is set in Savannah and tells a story of intrigue, gossip, and murder.

This fictionalized account of a sensational true event that happened in Savannah, Georgia in the early 1980s paints a lush and vivid picture of this atmospheric Southern city.

For nearly a decade, a shooting in one of Savannah’s grandest mansions and the aftermath of the case reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares.

the color purple

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

One of the most famous books set in the South, The Color Purple , having won both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize, is one of the best books set in Tennessee and Georgia.

Celie has grown up poor in rural Georgia, despised by the society around her and abused by her own family. She strives to protect her sister, Nettie, from a similar fate, and while Nettie escapes to a new life as a missionary in Africa, Celie is left behind, married off to a harsh and brutal husband.

In an attempt to transcend a life that often seems too much to bear, Celie begins writing letters directly to God. The letters record a journey of self-discovery and empowerment.

The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Set in South Carolina in 1964, this novel tells the story of Lily Owens, a young white girl whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed.

Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, this is a touching coming-of-age story.

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Originally published in 1936, this classic novel tells the story of a privileged young woman, Scarlett O’Hara, coming of age on a Georgia plantation on the eve of the Civil War.

sing unburied sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

This lyrical, poignant novel set in the South follows a drug-addicted black woman named Leonie on a road trip with her two children to bring their white father home from prison.

Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing won the National Book Award in 2017 and is a powerful and moving novel about race, family, and what it means to be human.

the underground railroad

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. She is an outcast even among fellow slaves and lives in constant fear. When Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Another great classic novel and one of the best classic love stories set in the South,  Their Eyes Were Watching God was originally published in 1937 and tells the story of a woman named Janie living in Florida after the Emancipation when black Americans were freed but still not free.

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

This historical fiction novel follows a disillusioned Confederate soldier named Inman, who deserts the war and decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge mountains to Ada, the woman he loves.

His trek across the disintegrating South allows him to meet slaves, marauders, bounty hunters, and witches. At the same time, the intrepid Ada is trying to revive her father’s derelict farm and learning to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away.

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, this is the story of one family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice.

the vanishing half

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This prize-winning novel tells the story of twin sisters who are raised as light-skinned black women in Louisiana and run away to New Orleans as teens.

As adults, their paths diverge as one sister marries a white man and the other marries a dark-skinned black man. The Vanishing Half explores themes of race, identity, and family in an impactful way.

Buy on Amazon  |  View in Goodreads

transcendent kingdom

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

This contemporary novel is a powerful, intimate, layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama. It’s a deeply moving portrait of a family ravaged by depression, addiction, and grief.

an american marriage

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career.

But as they settle into the routine of their life together, their life is upended when Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.

a good neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

Set in the small town of Oak Knoll, North Carolina, this novel examines the complicated relationship and entanglements between two families who live next door to one another.

A gripping Southern novel about racism, corruption, and men abusing their power.

the help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This historical fiction novel that was made into a popular movie follows three women in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 who join together to write a tell-all about working as a black maid.

the kitchen house

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

This book is about a young, white Irish woman named Lavinia who arrives in Virginia and becomes an indentured servant in a plantation home in the years before the Civil War.

the invention of wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Set in Charleston in the early nineteenth century, this historical fiction novel inspired by real characters follows the remarkable lives of two women: one enslaved and one free.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

This classic novel centers around a deaf-mute man named John Singer, who becomes the confidant for various types of misfits in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s.

the almost sisters

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

Set in Alabama, this is a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality

the summer girls

The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe

This summery beach read is set on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, and follows three half-sisters who come together at the behest of their grandmother to spend the summer at their family home, Sea Breeze. There, they reconnect in a way that will last long beyond the summer.

midnight bayou

Midnight Bayou  by Nora Roberts

In this atmospheric romantic suspense novel, Declan Fitzgerald purchases a crumbling old mansion called Manet Hall on the outskirts of New Orleans where strange things occur.

Only the companionship of alluring Angelina can distract him from the mysterious happenings in the house, but she has secrets of her own and a surprising connection to Manet Hall.

the nickel boys

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel set in 1960s Tallahassee, Elwood is unfairly sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy. he finds himself trapped in a grotesque chamber of horrors. Elwood’s only salvation is his friendship with fellow “delinquent” Turner.

These are some of the best books set in the South.

Have you read any of these books set in the South? Do you have any favorite books set in the South that I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Where next?

Inspire your wanderlust with this list of  Travel Memoirs by Women  for the best travel books written by women!

More recommended reading from The South:

  • Books Set In Florida
  • Books Set in New Orleans

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new books about the south

Arts & Culture

The Best New Books for Southerners in 2023

Hit order (and preorder) for these two dozen new and forthcoming books that G&G editors and contributors are buzzing about

Edited by CJ Lotz

February 15, 2023

new books about the south

Stalking Shakespeare , by Lee Durkee

When I turned eleven, my parents gave me a membership to the iconic M J Library in Ahmedabad and two rupees to cover my bus fare and a snack that they knew I would need after spending a couple hours there. I have been reading ever since. It helps that I am surrounded by friends and family who read as well and are constantly sending each other recommendations and reviews of things they are reading. Of late however, I have allowed myself to become ill-read. Given that I live in Oxford, Mississippi, the literary capital of America, this is rather distressing and frankly unacceptable. I plan to remedy this by diving into Lee Durkee’s latest book, Stalking Shakespeare . I love the premise of this novel, Lee is a local, and I have already received two emails and a phone call from my ninety-year-old Dad in India, wondering if I have acquired the book yet. Well, I am off to Square Books. I can hopefully get Lee to personalize it and read it before the daffodils start popping their pretty heads out of the ground. —Vishwesh Bhatt, chef and author

stairway

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new books about the south

Let Us Descend , by Jesmyn Ward

It won’t be an easy read, but I look forward to reading  Let Us Descend  by Jesmyn Ward, which comes out in October. It’s her first novel after going through a harrowing life-altering loss and is the story of an enslaved teenage girl. — Jessica B. Harris , contributing editor

new books about the south

Silver Alert , by Lee Smith

Silver Alert  is classic Lee Smith: laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving, full of endearing, complex characters who become real people to the reader. This story of an elderly man who takes “one last joy ride” in his Porsche—with a young, mysterious manicurist aboard—is a lovely, raucous look at life in Key West, growing old, and unlikely friendships. — Silas House , author and contributor

new books about the south

Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge , by Helen Ellis

Few writers delight me like Helen Ellis does, so I can’t wait for this June’s  Coral Lounge , for which she turns her gimlet eye on marriage. When reading her essays—whether  for  G&G , or in her previous collections  Southern Lady Code  and  Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light —I inevitably end up texting my best friends the lines that make me literally LOL. (In  Baggage , that included a Panama City Beach waterpark-goer telling Ellis she should ride a ride only “if you want to taste the crotch of your own bathing suit.”) —Amanda Heckert, executive editor

new books about the south

Salvage This World , by Michael Farris Smith

In the rearview, this moment will look mythical: Forty or so writers now live and work in and around the college town of Oxford. None are better at exploring the dark terrains of Mississippi than Michael Farris Smith, who will soon pull off his own miracle. The film Rumble Through the Dark , which stars Aaron Eckhart and for which he wrote a screenplay based on his novel The Fighter , releases in theaters April 14. Salvage This World , his latest novel, publishes eleven days later. It’s a storm-tossed and demagogue-haunted book, set in a land of strip malls and thrift stores, in which a mother and child struggle to make their way through the literal and metaphorical dark. — John T. Edge , contributing editor

new books about the south

Bang Bang Crash , by Nic Brown 

I’m naturally fond of Nic because he wrote that ridiculously flattering piece about me for you all. Even if that weren’t true, I would want to read it because I’m fascinated by the way that being in bands launches people into new creative directions. I didn’t know him then, but I knew the band he played in. (You could write quite a tome about chefs who used to be in bands—Steven Satterfield, John Currence, and Cheetie Kumar, for starts.) Anyway, I’m already a fan, so I am looking forward to this. —Bill Smith, author and chef

new books about the south

Swamp Story , by Dave Barry

Sometimes, when all seems lost, I remember that Dave Barry still exists, probably clacking away at a Gateway 2000 computer down there in Miami, writing his dad-humor jokes and flying that Florida Man freak flag high. The Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist has, for an entire lauded career, found plenty of true Florida tales to comment on, but in May he gator-snaps back with his first novel in ten years. It’s delightfully unhinged and takes place in the Everglades. I agree with Steve Martin’s book jacket blurb: “I haven’t read it yet, but I love it!” —CJ Lotz, senior editor

new books about the south

How to Stay Married , by Harrison Scott Key

Harrison Scott Key’s first book, The World’s Largest Man , is one of the funniest memoirs I’ve ever read, a perennial favorite in the class on Mississippi writers I teach at Ole Miss. His second book (which is about writing the first book) is somehow even funnier than the first. I can’t wait to read his third, which I heard him talk about one memorable night in Gorham’s Bluff, Alabama. To this book he brings all his humor-writing skills, but this time the topic is the least funny thing imaginable: infidelity, and the near breakup of his marriage after he discovered his wife was having an affair with a neighbor. Harrison is a writer of tremendous humor and heart: What he does with this material will be a memoir worth reading and rereading. — Beth Ann Fennelly , author and contributor

new books about the south

Appalachia on the Table , by Erica Abrams Locklear

I’m really excited about  Appalachia on the Table: Representing Mountain Food and People  by Erica Abrams Locklear, who has become one of the preeminent voices in Appalachian literature, history, and culture. — Wiley Cash , author and contributor

new books about the south

Three poetry collections

In the forty poems in  Judas Goat ,  Gabrielle Bates’s ravishing debut, sacred and unsacred longings find their embodiments in cemeteries, barnyard animals, squirrel and snake carcasses, mudbanks, and ghosts from scripture. … Composition , another stunning debut, comes from Junious “Jay” Ward, a poetry slam champ and the inaugural poet laureate of Charlotte, North Carolina. …“I’m trying to / unwrite this place.” That’s K. Iver, the author of  Short Film Starring My Beloved’s Red Bronco ,  and the place—psychic bruise as much as a location—is Iver’s native Mississippi. Iver’s poems will turn you inside out. — Jonathan Miles , contributing editor, in his review of all three books in Garden & Gun ’s February/March 2023 issue

new books about the south

The Auburn Conference , by Tom Piazza

It’s a crazy time in 1883, with the Civil War (never) over and Reconstruction failed and the Gilded Age upon us. Here’s what is called for: some new form of American expression. So you talk Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Forrest Taylor, and Lucy Comstock into coming together in the  first-ever  Writer’s Conference! Not that easy, of course, but leave it to a New Orleanian jazz authority, Tom Piazza, in his latest imaginative leap,  The Auburn Conference . Piazza does the voices of all those literati (two of whom, the former Confederate general and the best-selling ladies’ novelist, Piazza made up), plus that of an unknown talent named Emily Dickinson in the audience. — Roy Blount Jr. , contributing editor

new books about the south

Those We Thought We Knew , by David Joy

I’m looking forward to David Joy’s new novel this year,  Those We Thought We Knew . He’s one of my favorite writers—gripping, gritty, suspenseful, and fearless—and this book looks to tackle some big-time subjects as they play out in a small North Carolina mountain town, including racism, community, and the weight of history. I can’t wait to see how he weaves it all together. —Dave Mezz, deputy editor

new books about the south

How to Sell a Haunted House , by Grady Hendrix

I’m not much for horror, but I am big on humor, which Hendrix, a Charleston, South Carolina, native now based in New York, is known for. This book takes place in nearby Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and deals with two estranged adult siblings who must sell their parents’ house. There’s just this one little hiccup: Some of their parents’ belongings don’t want to leave. — Kinsey Gidick , contributor

new books about the south

This Isn’t Going to End Well , by Daniel Wallace

I won’t spill all the details from Jonathan Miles’s full review of this book in the forthcoming issue of G&G , but I want to shout out this memoir-of-sorts from Daniel Wallace, the author of Big Fish and a G&G contributor. It’s his first book-length work of nonfiction and traces his relationship with the brother-in-law he revered and only thought he knew. Heartbreaking and real. —CJ Lotz

new books about the south

The Comfort of Crows , by Margaret Renkl

Few people can write about nature—or anything, in fact—as beautifully as Margaret Renkl. I cannot wait for her new book,  The Comfort of Crows , described by her publisher as “a literary devotional.” —Silas House

new books about the south

Decent People , by De’Shawn Charles Winslow

I recently read and loved De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s new novel,  Decent People , a murder mystery set in small-town North Carolina that features issues that are surprisingly relevant despite the novel being set in 1976. —Wiley Cash

new books about the south

Josef Albers, Homage to the Square , 1950-1976 ; Simone Leigh

I’m excited about a couple of art books coming out this year: Josef Albers, Homage to the Square , 1950-1976 . It could be argued that this work was fomented during his time at Black Mountain College in North Carolina. I’m also really excited about the new Simone Leigh book out in September. —Natalie Chanin, founder of Alabama Chanin

new books about the south

Good Women , by Halle Hill

I’ve read a story or two of Halle’s and her writing is propulsive, bold, and Southern in the richest and most thought-provoking ways. I truly can’t wait for this one—it’s out in September. —Ashleigh Bell Pedersen, author and contributor

new books about the south

The Lost Journals of Sacajewea , by Debra Magpie Earling

I love anything from Milkweed Editions, and some of my favorite books ( Braiding Sweetgrass   and  Late Migrations ) have come from their press. I’m really excited for  The Lost Journals of Sacajewea , a novel from author Debra Magpie Earling, who’s a member of the Bitterroot Salish. We all know the story of Sacajewea from the perspective of Lewis and Clark, but Earling reframes the narrative around Sacajewea’s voice. —Gabriela Gomez-Misserian, digital producer

new books about the south

The Forgotten Girls , by Monica Potts

In the shadow of the Ozarks, two childhood best friends played make-believe, fought, made up, and plotted escapes from their tiny Arkansas town. A visceral tell-all, The Forgotten Girls by reporter Monica Potts shares that painful but hopeful story, plus what followed for her and her pal Darci, weaving in startling new statistics about life expectancy in rural America. —CJ Lotz

new books about the south

Daughters of Muscadine , by Monic Ductan

Monic Ductan’s lovely debut collection of linked stories offers a look into the complicated lives of girls and women in the small mountain town of Muscadine, Georgia, over the last hundred years in precise, rhythmic prose, with a vivid sense of place and pitch-perfect characterizations. (Full disclosure: I served as the editor for this book.) —Silas House

new books about the south

Cooking for the Culture , by Toya Boudy Part cookbook, part memoir, Toya Boudy’s deeply personal new book (subtitled Recipes and Stories from the Streets of New Orleans to the Table ) about her culinary journey as a chef is an intimate celebration of New Orleans food and its Black culture from a born-and-raised native. Known for her creative spin on classics, Boudy brings the authenticity of her experience to dishes such as  praline bacon , beignets with raspberry sauce , jambalaya, and other Louisiana favorites. —Emily Daily, newsletter editor

new books about the south

The Trackers , by Charles Frazier

A treasure of Western North Carolina, Charles Frazier is best known for his epic Southern-set novels Cold Mountain and Varina . Now he turns his attention west to rural Wyoming during the Depression. It’s so good to have his words back in our ready hands and minds. —CJ Lotz

new books about the south

The Weeds , by Katy Simpson Smith

Garden lovers will delight in this roving, fascinating novel that follows a Mississippi woman who discovers the unexpectedly rich plant world of the Roman Colosseum. Wanderlust: induced! —CJ Lotz

new books about the south

Two Clotilda books

Three years ago, journalist Ben Raines uncovered the shipwreck of the Clotida, the last slave ship to arrive in America, on the muddy banks of the Mobile River. Since then, there’s been a flurry of interest in the ship’s history and in the community of Africatown that sprung from those aboard. In addition to the Netflix series  Descendant , which came out last fall, there are two new books not to miss:  Africatown: America’s Last Slave Ship and the Community It Created  by Nick Tabor, out on February 21, and  Clotilda: The History and Archaeology of the Last Slave Ship , written by a team of maritime archeologists and out on March 7. —Lindsey Liles, editorial assistant

new books about the south

Moonrise Over New Jessup , by Jamila Minnicks

This novel started getting a ton of buzz when it won the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. Now that it’s newly out, readers are discovering the expressive, inspired writing of Jamila Minnick, who sets a cast of characters against a small town in 1957 Alabama in her stirring debut. —CJ Lotz

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Savoring the South: Must-Read Books About the South

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When traveling to the American South (especially the Southeast/Deep South) for the first time, I would recommend doing a little reading first to get a taste of the culture. Below is my list of the  best books about the South that everyone should read before they visit . 

These are not just books set in the South; these books are shaped by the South. The South oozes out from every page. 

Woman in a hammock reading a book.

They are not all refined and gentle, though certainly some are.  Some of these books might even make you angry or bring you to tears, but all will provide a deeper understanding of Southern culture past and present before you make a trip there. 

Let’s dive in! 

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  See disclaimer.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is considered one of the best Southern novels for a reason.

Harper Lee’s classic novel about one man’s quest for personal integrity as he wrestles with his conscience under enormous pressure to cave to social norms in 1930s Alabama won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.  

If you’re a fan of  To Kill a Mockingbird  and also a bit nerdy about writing and publishing you might also want to pick up  Go Set a Watchman . This early draft of  Mockingbird  was published in 2015. 

It’s often referred to as a sequel since it’s set 20 years after the major events of Mockingbird, but it was written well before Mockingbird was published.  

The film adaptation with Gregory Peck is excellent, but the book should be required reading for everyone on the planet.

Read More → Top Books About Travel and Self-discovery

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Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler. Great balls of fire! 

You know the drill. 

Along with  To Kill a Mockingbird , I would call  Gone with the Wind  a must-read among books about the Deep South. 

In addition to the sweeping story about one woman’s journey from antebellum Georgia privilege through war and poverty, it also provides a peek into the thinking of how 1930s Georgians looked back on the War. 

It’s the only book that Margaret Mitchell, an Atlanta native, published during her lifetime. Also like Harper Lee come to think of it.

Gone with the Wind  won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. If you’ve only seen the movie, do yourself a favor and read  Gone with the Wind . 

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  • Mitchell, Margaret (Author)
  • 960 Pages – 05/03/2011 (Publication Date) – Scribner (Publisher)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  is the great American novel. Fight me. 

Huck’s adventures start in a fictional Missouri town when he decides to fake his own death and set off on a raft down the Mississippi with a runaway slave named Jim. 

Their journey takes them through Illinois, Kentucky, and Arkansas. Through it all Huck finds himself constantly wrestling with the values of the society in which he grew up since they don’t square with his personal feelings for and friendship with Jim, a Black man. 

Please note that because Twain made broad use of English vernacular in this book, it does include repeated use of the “n” word.  

Do not waste your time with any movie adaptations of this book. 

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

The abolitionist novel  Uncle Tom’s Cabin,   set mainly in Kentucky and Louisiana, has to be considered one of the best books about the South. 

This is not a “curl up with a cup of hot chocolate” book. It’s difficult to read. I’ve read it twice and I cried both times. 

If you’ve seen  The King and I  you’re at least familiar with the part of the story in which a young enslaved woman named Eliza runs away to find freedom with her young child. 

The name of the title character Uncle Tom, unfortunately, has come to be used against Black people considered to have “sold out” to white people. I’d be willing to bet that none of the people who use “Uncle Tom” in that way have ever read this novel. 

It’s hard to overestimate the impact that  Uncle Tom’s Cabin  had on American literary culture. Only the Bible outsold Uncle Tom in the 19th century. And according to legend, President Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe sometime during the Civil War and said, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.” 

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  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher (Author)
  • 328 Pages – 05/03/2022 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes’  The Giver of Stars  follows the story of Alice, an Englishwoman newly married to the son of a coal mine owner in rural Depression-era Kentucky.

Looking for a way to expand her horizons, Alice signs up to join the Works Progress Administration Pack Horse Library Project.  

The Pack Horse Librarians delivered books to remote parts of Appalachia during the height of the Great Depression.

The project provided employment for some 200 women and reading materials to those with no access to public libraries. 

Alice has to learn how to negotiate the rough Eastern Kentucky terrain and deal with some of the townspeople who are not too happy about the library project and the women it employs.  

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The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2004, The Known World is set in antebellum Virginia. 

Like  Uncle Tom’s Cabin, it explores slavery from many angles, but also includes the uncommonly explored historical topic of Black slave  ownership .  

When Black plantation owner Henry Townsend dies, the order he created begins to crumble away. The corruption of race-based slavery infects all around it, both slave and free, Black and white. 

The novel is meticulously constructed and beautifully written, deep and dense…but only in a good sense. Definitely not in a “difficult to read” sense. In the sense that the entirely fictional world Jones created feels real and true.

Jones supposedly claimed he did little to no research before drafting, basing his story completely on memories of stories and his own imagination. 

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  • Edward P. Jones (Author)

Black Boy by Richard Wright

Black Boy is one of the few books about which I can honestly claim that I could barely put it down. 

Unlike most of the other books on this list,  Black Boy  is not a novel but a memoir. Published in 1945 it tells the story of the early life of writer Richard Wright. 

Wright spent his early years in Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee before moving to Chicago. 

Black Boy  is an important book about Southern life at the time and includes blunt depictions of his childhood in poverty and constant hunger on top of the (of course) overt racism he experienced. 

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas

Frederick Douglas fled slavery in Maryland to become one of the key figures of the abolitionist movement. 

Seven years after he gained his freedom, he wrote his story and published it in 1845. Keep in mind that it was illegal for slaves to learn how to read or write in many states…easier to keep them enslaved without education or the literacy necessary to thrive socially, economically, or politically. 

Douglas’  Narrative  still stands today as one of the most important pieces of American literature and a pillar of the slave narrative genre. 

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Christy by Catherine Marshall

Set in a fictional Appalachian village deep in rural Tennessee,  Christy  was based on the work of writer Catherine Marshall’s mother among impoverished Appalachian children in the early 20th Century.  

This is one of the classic books about Southern culture and a highly influential work of Christian fiction. 

Young Christy Huddleston leaves her comfortable life in Asheville, North Carolina, for a teaching job in remote Smoky Mountain Tennessee.

Throughout the story, she faces incredible challenges among the families in her new home and their poor living conditions. 

There’s a little romance too for those who like that kind of thing. 

If you enjoyed the sadly short-lived television show of the same name you definitely need to try the book.  

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  • Marshall, Catherine (Author)

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Delia Owens’ debut novel  Where the Crawdads Sing  is a beautifully written coming-of-age story about a young girl who essentially raises herself in the marshes of coastal North Carolina. 

Kya knows the marshes around her home inside and out. She lives so intimately with the land that she becomes an expert in the local plants and wildlife.    

She also lives so isolated a life that few people from the nearby town know her. But when one of the young men she spent time with turns up dead, Kya becomes the prime suspect in his murder. 

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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

You can’t explore Southern literature without taking a trip down to William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi.  As I Lay Dying   follows the Bundren family’s journey to bury the wife and mother of the family in her hometown. It’s sometimes touching, sometimes rather dark and grim. 

This is quintessential Faulkner and essential reading for anyone who wants to understand 20th-century Southern American literature.

It consistently appears on lists of the most important works of American literature and best 20th-century novels. In addition to winning two Pulitzer Prizes (not for  As I Lay Dying ), Faulkner also won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1940. 

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The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

When white teenager Lily Owens runs away from home with her Black “stand-in mother,” she is taken in by three Black sisters in South Carolina, the Boatwrights. 

Set in 1964 against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, young Lily tries to negotiate through her foggy memories surrounding her mother’s death. And she learns something about the importance of female companionship in the absence of her mother. 

Sue Monk Kidd’s debut,  The Secret Life of Bees , stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for two and half years. It’s been adapted for both film and stage. 

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  • Kidd, Sue Monk (Author)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry   won the 1977 Newberry Medal and is the only book for young readers on this list. Like  To Kill a Mockingbird , this story is told from the point of view of a young girl awakening to “how things are in the South.”  

Young Cassie Logan is growing up in Southern Mississippi during the height of the Great Depression. Her family owns their own land which accords them some independence despite the racism they face every day. 

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  • 288 Pages – 04/12/2004 (Publication Date) – Puffin Books (Publisher)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award,  The Underground Railroad  is a gripping story of a young woman’s journey from slavery to freedom. 

Encouraged by tales of the underground railroad, Cora and Caesar plot to flee the Georgia cotton plantation where they’ve been enslaved.

But in Whitehead’s novel, there’s an unusual twist…the underground railroad is literally a secret railroad that runs underground. 

Their escape is nearly thwarted not far from the plantation. They manage to get away only when Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Now there’s no going back. 

Cora’s journey takes her from Georgia to South Carolina, Tennessee, and beyond.

And each place she stops she encounters a different world and passes through unique perils known to Black men and women in the antebellum South. 

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  • Whitehead, Colson (Author)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Kathryn Stockett’s runaway bestseller explores the situation of the Black women who worked as domestic help in the civil rights era Deep South. 

With the help of a young white writer, two Black women will take on a secret and anonymous project that will shake their community down to the foundation. 

The film adaptation of The Help is also excellent and worth watching, though I’d recommend reading the book first. It’s better.

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Darcy Vierow is a busy professional and travel planning expert with years of experience maximizing travel with limited time and on a less-than-average salary. Her tips have been published by Forbes, MSN.com, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Finance, Aol, Newsbreak and GOBankingRates. Read more about Darcy Vierow .

Nevermind, you are right! Fictional town bases on Hannibal. Good job!

Huck Finn was from Hannibal, Missouri – not a fictional town. It’s where Twain grew up.

The South was not all about race and slavery. This is the typical left wing reading list. The South was not the Nazi Germany that many like to proclaim.

Books like “Fried Green tomatoes at the whistle stop cafe” offer an alternative look st the south without the constant political issues. For the majority before and after the Slavery issue and the Great Depression.this is a more typical view of life and struggles for ALL people in the South.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. Although we can agree to disagree, in my opinion it would be a great disservice to my readers to create a list of Southern literature that ignores the great works that explore the single greatest issue that defined the South’s culture, politics and economy for most of the first 250+ years of its history. If you’re looking for Southern lit recommendations that intentionally ignore these issues, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Please correct the grammatical error under the Uncle Tom’s Cabin review. You were commenting about the unfortunate use now of the “Uncle Tom” reference to blacks who have “sold out.” You said the you bet these people had not “every” read, should be “ever read…..”

Your recommendations are spot on, the old retired English teacher has read most, not all, though. (All of the older books, I’ll get right on a few of the more current ones. One thing I think we really agree on, is that all of these books, especially the ones written many years ago, should be looked at with the era in which they were written in mind. Why should anyone get upset about Mark Twain including the “n” word?!!! Irritates me that current standards apply. There is so much to gain from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Twains novels, Gone with the Wind (must read the book, not rely on the movie, I agree), et al. I imagine the “every/ever” was a typo. (I proofed my way through graduate school, theses, dissertations, and developed the bad habit of correcting every one. Don’t look too close, I’ll blame any errors on my old age.)

Thanks so much for reading! The typo has been fixed. I appreciate your pointing it out.

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Photographer Rahim Fortune Examines Heritage, Ritual, and Black Culture’s Enduring Traditions in the American South

By Allison Schaller

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All featured products are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, Vanity Fair may earn an affiliate commission.

It’s only been nine years since photographer Rahim Fortune began his professional career, but in that time he’s grown into one of the industry’s leading contemporary portraitists and documentarians. Through his camera lens, Fortune explores American identity with his striking black-and-white images, primarily taken in the American South.

From shooting fashion editorials to photographing celebrities like Solange Knowles to making images of essential workers during the initial onset of COVID-19, Fortune’s work offers a profound sense of timelessness and understanding of the medium. His second book, I can’t stand to see you cry, made waves in 2021 when it was nominated for the Paris PhotoBook Award, and later, won the Rencontres d’Arles Louis Roederer Discovery Award in 2022.

His latest release, Hardtack, published by Loose Joints , features a collection of images made over a decade that focus on Black culture’s enduring traditions. The body of work tackles heritage and ritual by linking portraiture and landscape—homing in on details such as the haze surrounding a rodeo cowboy, and the clouds hanging heavy above a dirt road, threatening to release their humidity. Other images carry the legacy of the legions of photographers who came before Fortune and inspired him.

“If you notice there’s not really many signifiers of the time within the book,” he said of his latest effort. “A lot of the images almost feel as though they could have been made in any decade. I feel as though what you end with is a set of photographs that speak to an intergenerational connectedness to history that we maybe don’t have the most control over, but truly affects most parts of our lives.”

Vanity Fair recently spoke to Fortune about his interest in and exploration of photo history, how he came to land on the American South as a major topic in his work, and the making of Hardtack.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Vanity Fair: I wanted to start by talking a little bit about how this book is a follow-up to I can’t stand to see you cry , published in 2021. That was a reimagining of where you’re from, similar, I think, to your first book Oklahoma . Is HardTack also a reimagining? Or do you see it as settling into a place?

Rahim Fortune: Both Oklahoma and I can’t stand to see you cry are books that are very much about my family. I used those projects to develop my language with photography. I would say that this project is stylistically a step into a new direction. The images were made over a long period of time, towards the end of the project I felt as though I became a little bit more confident with how I approached making photographs. And also narrative-wise—following the passing of both of my parents, I began to become really interested in these ideas of community and family dynamics, but also stories that were lost.

There are a lot of things that I wish that I could have spoken with my parents about that I don’t have context to, and so, I felt this profound urgency of collecting stories and of contextualizing place and history. The primary way in which I find the books connected is within I can’t stand to see you cry, you very much see me functioning within my own nuclear family. But in this work, I’m stepping out as a more extended family, friend, brother, or whatever role was required to occupy within the various spaces in which I photographed.

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That makes me think when, during a talk with Gregory Harris at the High Museum of Art, you spoke briefly about newspaper photographers and holes in archives, particularly in the South. Are you seeing yourself, especially with this project, as an archivist? Has any of your practice become about wanting to fill holes in the archives of a specific place?

No, I would more so say it’s just an artistic expression. The archives are definitely there and I think that’s more the work of scholars, historians, and researchers, where I am visually stitching together stories from various places and various connectivity. But that’s all viewed through my own lens of expression. A lot of the people who I photograph and within any photographic practice, it’s as much about the person who’s making the images as it is about the people in the photographs.

I was also really interested in the idea that post-COVID-19 and post-hyper-consumer culture, that it’s still possible to produce a body of work in the real world because of the limitations that we’re challenged with, especially as America becomes more homogenous in how it looks. So, to find places that still have unique characteristics and are bound to history in this way, was also part of the challenge to overcome within making this book.

I definitely don’t think I can take credit for filling in any holes in the archive that don’t already exist. I mean, I was so inspired by the photography that came before me, that it was so brilliantly executed, to even just to come up short was a success in being in conversation with the people who I admire.

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With Hardtack being so tied to photo history and being rooted in the history of the South, which has had a really tumultuous and even contemporarily challenging history, I think at times it’s also been really a commodified space to profile. I’m curious how you’ve navigated that while making this work.

I think that just not being reactionary with how I share the images or how they come out into the world, many of these photographs weren’t shared on social media prior to the book coming out. That really allows you to make something that's your own creation versus something that is of a certain moment.

I had a similar thing with the previous book. Around the time that I made I can’t stand to see you cry, there was a flood of pandemic projects and protest photographs. And so, to put something out of that nature at that time was risky because of the visual noise that was coming out around COVID-19 and around the protests, things of that nature.

How do you not get lost in this wave of what some maybe call a “trendy” image stream? The way that I, hopefully, combated that was thinking about particular storylines in the book being the churches or being the rodeos, subjects that are heavily photographed. Thinking about how can I make the photographs different? Or how can I show them in a different way that offers a different view, or perspective, or framing of these places? And also not making them so central in the book storyline.

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How do you think that your migration from this region to New York and then back has influenced your understanding of your way of seeing that identity?

I moved to New York in 2016 to study at CUNY. I would spend a lot of time in the library between classes with the photography books that were there, they had a pretty good selection of books that I hadn’t seen. I began looking at a lot of new topographic photography people like Robert Adams or Lewis Baltz. And I was seeing these very melancholy gray photographs of the American West. That’s when I started to realize, “Oh, wow, this looks a lot like where I grew up” and began trying to crack a formula for making good pictures. That’s when I began to travel back to Oklahoma to make photographs there and try to emulate the people who had influenced me. I don’t think that I would’ve been able to recognize that, had I not gotten that juxtaposition of the big city.

New York had its own excitement as well, especially with all of its reference within popular culture, which was primarily what I knew of New York before moving there and it becoming my second home. With moving back to the South as well, I had always traveled back fairly frequently to Texas, especially as my father became ill. Texas became this escape for me. I was able to come here, spend time with family, make photographs that in a way felt as though they’re my own, instead of getting too caught up in the bustle of what fashion editorial I was shooting or what jobs I was getting. Texas was something that was uniquely my own that had always been photographing.

When I moved back, a lot of the things that I photographed were just events I enjoyed being at and participating in. The parades, the celebrations, the pageants, or rodeos, I just enjoyed being there. If I made a photo that was good, but if not, I also just enjoyed my time there. Meeting people and going to historic sites and researching about maybe where the next photo will lead me is something that I hope to find within my next projects as well.

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What does it mean for you to be one of the people who gets to share what it means to be a Black artist hailing from the South through your work?

It is a privilege to be able to share my work and to be able to share these stories, and my experiences with audiences around the world really. It’s something that I don’t take lightly and try my best to honor the people who are in my photographs, and my family who have been in my photographs and passed on. Especially as far as artists who are making work about the South, I definitely encourage multiple viewpoints and people to be creative in whatever format it is. It’s about supporting people who are creative in whatever medium. Whether it's dance, or if it’s literally even young people who are expressing themselves through social media. I try to be very open about what that can look like, so that we don’t get this homogenous view that’s purist or traditional, that’s not really my MO.

Also, the generation who came before us who laid the groundwork—there’s a lot of brilliant Black photographers who have made extensive work in Texas. I want to make work that they feel is carrying on the lineage, but also I think there’s always going to be a little bit of differences in our approaches, and in our times and generations.

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A lot of your subjects are either quite young or elderly people. Why were you drawn to them?

There are definitely a few middle-aged people within the book, hopefully I was able to get a range of people of where they’re at in life and where they’re situated within the generation. I think of one image in particular that’s called “Deontay.” It’s taken in New Sweden, Texas. And he’s leaning forward, looking away from the camera. And on his chest, he has three dates tattooed, they’re 1947, 1968, and 2017. Most likely emblematic of either birth or death years. But I think about how these three years situate him within a generation. Someone who has grandparents who were born in 1947 or ’68, or someone who passed in ’17. Like I said, a lot of this book comes from my own autobiographical lens, but also from friends who are of similar generation. In some of the images, you’ll see of open roads, there are a lot of those photographs in the book, they’re meant to be a grounding narrative tool that would show you that I’m the one traveling between places and making these connections. It is this two-way transaction of storytelling or memory.

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It sounds like it was an incredibly conscious decision to include the archetypes that you did. Was there any work that you felt was almost too referential? Or anything you think successfully advanced the narrative around the tropes featured?

That sometimes can be the difficult thing about whenever you begin to do press for a project like this. There’s a Robert Adams quote where he was like, "If I knew how to explain it, then why did I make the picture?" And it’s this idea that I could only explain it to you worse than what the photograph does.

I’m someone who’s always looking at different photographs and especially when I was working on this book, I was writing an essay for a book that came out called “ A Long Arc ,” which was published by Aperture. I was thinking about these different points in which we arrive at the archive. If it’s a studio photographer who made 30 images a day of couples and families, but these photographs would go on to live in people’s family albums and be what we really know of our ancestors and people who came before us. You can kind of argue, well, how much did that person really invest into these portraits if he made hundreds of them in his lifetime? And that’s not to say that these studio photographers didn’t care because I’m sure they put a lot of love into the work that they did. But where we put virtue within photographs is really interesting. Or if it’s photographs of the South made by coastal trained photographers who came to the South to make work of this place in the country that’s so intrinsically connected to folk history or activism through pointing towards sharecropping South and the abject poverty of the South, often what you saw in those images was the outsider who was let in. There’s also blind spots within that, but there’s moments of truth that peek out through these various things too.

I always tell students: use your influences and then walk away from them. I might be out trying to make a photograph like someone who I admire. If it’s Judith Joy Ross, or someone like Vanessa Winship, or so many countless others. But I could never make a picture like them. You also have to accept a little bit of who you are as an artist and find contentment with that because as a photographer you have artists you're striving towards without being too referential where it just completely becomes obvious. But I think that is one of the interesting things about photography, that we're all in a way borrowing from each other and also working in conversation.

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A new book shows how the South – and its history – shapes our nation

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Frye Gaillard and Cynthia Tucker are old enough to remember Jim Crow in the South. But they recognize the part of the country they grew up in for both its flaws and its significant role in the history of the country. In their new book, The Southernization of America , Tucker and Gaillard make an argument about how the South shapes the nation's political and cultural landscape – for good and bad. In an interview with Debbie Elliott on Weekend Edition Saturday, they discuss the South's problematic contradictions and pushback now by some against learning about them.

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A new book argues the u.s. south shapes the nation's political and cultural landscape.

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Dr. David Greven publishes new book on American Romanticism and its precursor texts

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“All the Devils Are Here” views literary influence as the enactment of narcissism and melancholic identification

At the heart of David Greven’s new book, All the Devils Are Here: American Romanticism and Literary Influence (UP of Virginia, 2024), is a theory of what it means to say that one author has been “influenced” by another. Greven contends that influence emerges not from an Oedipal conflict for supremacy, as critics have commonly argued. It refers instead to a complex blend of loss, identification, and imperfect repetition by one writer of an earlier writer’s disposition toward gender and power. All the Devils pays special attention to the specters of Shakespeare and Milton in this context. In a series of chapters that pair works by Hawthorne, Melville, and James Fennimore Cooper with texts by these precursor figures, Greven provides a revelatory new reading that shows how male Romantics inherited while rewriting the category of the feminine as an ambivalent signifier for male creativity.

Wyn Kelley of MIT calls Greven’s writing in the book “splendid.” “With his open-hearted engagement with texts,” Kelley continues, “Greven offers new styles of connection and navigates critical questions deftly and in ways that illuminate the work with tremendous lucidity and  élan .”

For more information see here . And for a list of Dr. Greven’s extensive publications in his ongoing exploration of masculinity, power, and culture, see his department webpage .

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.

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Muses of the Moscow Metro (popular scientific edition) / Muzy Moskovskogo Metro (Nauchno-populyarnoe izdanie)

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Muses of the Moscow Metro (popular scientific edition) / Muzy Moskovskogo Metro (Nauchno-populyarnoe izdanie) Hardcover – January 1, 2010

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Klyuch-S (January 1, 2010)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ Russian
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 5931361154
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-5931361154
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Friday's earthquake was the strongest in NJ since 1783. A look back at quake history

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new books about the south

The April 5, 2024 earthquake was a once-in-a-lifetime event .

The magnitude 4.8 earthquake near Tewksbury was the most significant to impact North Jersey since 1884, when an Aug. 10 earthquake somewhere near Jamaica Bay toppled chimneys and moved houses off their foundations as far as Rahway.

Other than that quake, there were only three earthquakes in modern history that caused damage in the state: 1737 (New York City), 1783 (west of New York City) and 1927 (New Jersey coast near Asbury Park), according to New Jersey Office of Emergency Management records. However, as with Friday's quake, objects falling from shelves and building damage such as chimney collapse were thought to be the extent of the impact. New Jersey has yet to record a fatality due to an earthquake, according to state records.

The Dec. 19, 1737 earthquake is believed by modern experts to have been a 5.2 magnitude quake. Charted as taking place in the greater New York City area, some accounts say its epicenter was near Weehawken. State records show it threw down chimneys. Chimneys were also hurled down during the Nov. 29, 1783 quake. Estimated at a 5.3 magnitude that originated in modern-day Rockaway Township, according to state records, it was felt from Pennsylvania to New England.

The Aug. 10, 1884 quake, estimated at a 5.2 magnitude was the last the state has seen of its significance and was felt from Virginia to Maine, according to state records. Though, there have been other large quakes felt in the state, including an 1886 quake near Charleston, South Carolina, state records show.

NJ earthquake: Ground shaking in New Jersey sends residents to social media. How communities felt the earthquake

Friday's quake was pinpointed to a spot roughly two miles from Tewksbury, according to the federal government's Earthquake Hazards Program. The location is along the Ramapo Fault System, where most of New Jersey's earthquakes are concentrated. Stretching from Pennsylvania through New Jersey and into New York, this fault system is the longest in the Northeast. It also makes the region the most seismically active area east of the Mississippi River.

The Ramapo Fault makes earthquakes most likely to occur in the northern parts of New Jersey. Still, North Jersey earthquakes, like all inter-plate quakes, are rare. Most earthquakes globally occur where the Earth’s tectonic plates meet. Less than 10% of earthquakes occur within plate interiors, according to records kept by the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquakes Hazard Program.

Most of the quakes in New Jersey are also small in magnitude. The largest this century before Friday was a 3.5 magnitude quake north of Milford, while most fall under a 2.0, state records show.

Those with a magnitude of 2.5 or less are usually not felt, according to an assessment from Michigan Tech University. Those from 2.5 to 5.4 are often felt but only cause minor damage. From 5.5 to 6.0, slight damage to buildings and other structures could be expected, according to the assessment.

Since the end of 2020, New Jersey has had few earthquakes epicentered within state borders. They include a 2.4 magnitude quake near Tuckerton in June 2021, a 2.3 near Morris Plains on Aug. 30, 2022, a 1.7 near Lake Telemark the same day and a 2.3 near Harvey Cedars on Sept. 9, 2022.

The 4.8 earthquake was followed by more than 10 aftershocks with epicenters in and around Tewksbury, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquakes Hazard Program. One, felt just before 6 p.m. ET, measured at a 4.0 on the Richter scale. That earthquake by itself would have been the biggest with an epicenter in NJ since a 4.0 hit near Freehold on Aug. 23, 1938, according to state records.

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Local News | Berks Book Bonanza has a new permanent home

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The organization signed an agreement with the county that will house the book sale at the berks county south campus for at least the next five years..

Berks County officials will sublease a portion of its South Campus in Mohnton to the Berks Book Bonanza for at least the next five years. (KAREN SHUEY - READING EAGLE)

When Sherry Davis began as a volunteer for the Berks Book Bonanza, the organization collected and stored books in a damp and musty basement under the Reading Post Office on North Fifth Street.

That was 20 years ago.

In the decades that followed, the largest book sale in the county has used numerous locations to collect and store the tens of thousands of books and other materials involved in the annual event.

It used the Berks County Public Libraries headquarters in Bern Township. And then it moved to the Vanity Fair Outlets in West Reading. The last few times it was held, the venue was the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing.

The past two years, without a place to call home, the sale was canceled. And its future appeared to be in doubt.

But on Thursday, the Berks County commissioners made a move that should bring some stability to the event — at least for a little while. The commissioners approved a five-year agreement to host the book sale at the Berks County South Campus in Mohnton.

Davis, president of the Berks Book Bonanza Board of Directors, said finding a permanent home has been a long time coming.

“We can’t begin to explain how grateful we are to the commissioners,” she said.

The latest plan started taking shape just over two years ago, just after the county announced the creation of the South Campus. County officials said then that part of the new facility would be dedicated to the Book Bonanza for the collection of books, storage of materials and site of the annual sale.

Organizers of the Book Bonanza were invited to meet with an architect to talk about renovating a portion of the property into a space designed for their purpose.

And now, everything has finally come to fruition.

“We’ve been homeless for close to three years now, so it will be so wonderful to move into a newly renovated building that has been designed with us in mind,” Davis said. “This will be a place to collect books, to sort them, to put them on the shelves and then open the doors for people to come in. This suits us down to the ground.”

Book Bonanza is run by a small army of volunteers from Friends of Berks County Libraries and the local branch of the American Association of University Women. The proceeds from the sale are split evenly between the two groups.

The last sale, held in 2021, raised nearly $105,000 for the nonprofit organizations.

The Berks Book Bonanza is returning to the Berkshire Mall in July.

Emily Orischak, community relations coordinator for Berks County Public Libraries, said the Book Bonanza officially getting a new home is very good news.

“This is a big relief,” she said.

Having the fate of the sale in jeopardy also put that funding in jeopardy.

“Every dollar counts,” she said. “Funding from our other sources, for the most part, has been pretty stagnant while costs have gone up.”

Commissioners Chairman Christian Leinbach, speaking during the Thursday meeting where the commissioners approved the agreement with Book Bonanza, said he was glad to be able to help put to rest some of the worries about the future of the event.

“This, hopefully, culminates a decadeslong effort for Book Bonanza to find a permanent location,” he said. “They have been all over the place. They are a great nonprofit and I’m glad it worked out to find them a place at the South Campus.”

The agreement will provide just under 9,800 square feet of warehouse space for the book sale at the South Campus at 400 E. Wyomissing Ave. It will also provide use of a loading dock, 15 parking spaces and use of the building’s multipurpose room between June 1 and July 31 each year.

While the deal is initially for five years, it includes language that allows it to be extended in two-year increments up to 10 times.

While the agreement will give the Book Bonanza a place to store its materials, the new site will also play host to the public sale portion of the Book Bonanza, although organizers are unsure whether they will be able to pull a sale together for 2024.

Davis said the group will tour the facility later this week and decide in the weeks to come whether a sale will take place this year. She said they are considering their options, which include holding the sale at its traditional time in July, holding it in the fall or not holding one at all this year.

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Trump is selling ‘God Bless the USA’ Bibles for $59.99 as he faces mounting legal bills

Former President Donald Trump, now the presumptive 2024 Republican nominee, released a video on his Truth Social platform on Tuesday urging supporters to buy the “God Bless the USA Bible,” inspired by country singer Lee Greenwood’s patriotic ballad.

FILE - President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Trump is now selling Bibles as he runs to return to the White House. The presumptive Republican nominee released a video on his Truth Social platform Tuesday urging his supporters to purchase the “God Bless The USA Bible." (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

FILE - President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John’s Church across Lafayette Park from the White House, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Trump is now selling Bibles as he runs to return to the White House. The presumptive Republican nominee released a video on his Truth Social platform Tuesday urging his supporters to purchase the “God Bless The USA Bible.” (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is now selling Bibles as he runs to return to the White House.

Trump, who became the presumptive Republican nominee earlier this month, released a video on his Truth Social platform on Tuesday urging his supporters to buy the “God Bless the USA Bible,” which is inspired by country singer Lee Greenwood’s patriotic ballad. Trump takes the stage to the song at each of his rallies and has appeared with Greenwood at events.

“Happy Holy Week! Let’s Make America Pray Again. As we lead into Good Friday and Easter, I encourage you to get a copy of the God Bless the USA Bible,” Trump wrote, directing his supporters to a website selling the book for $59.99.

The effort comes as Trump has faced a serious money crunch amid mounting legal bills while he fights four criminal indictments along with a series of civil charges. Trump was given a reprieve Monday when a New York appeals court agreed to hold off on collecting the more than $454 million he owes following a civil fraud judgment if he puts up $175 million within 10 days. Trump has already posted a $92 million bond in connection with defamation cases brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll , who accused Trump of sexual assault.

Former President Donald Trump awaits the start of a pre-trial hearing with his defense team at Manhattan criminal, Monday, March 25, 2024, in New York. A judge will weigh on Monday when the former president will go on trial. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool)

“All Americans need a Bible in their home, and I have many. It’s my favorite book,” Trump said in the video posted on Truth Social. “I’m proud to endorse and encourage you to get this Bible. We must make America pray again.”

Billing itself as “the only Bible endorsed by President Trump!” the new venture’s website calls it “Easy-to-read” with “large print” and a “slim design” that “invites you to explore God’s Word anywhere, any time.”

Besides a King James Version translation, it includes copies of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as a handwritten chorus of the famous Greenwood song.

The Bible is just the latest commercial venture that Trump has pursued while campaigning.

Last month, he debuted a new line of Trump-branded sneakers , including $399 gold “Never Surrender High-Tops,” at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia. The venture behind the shoes, 45Footwear, also sells other Trump-branded footwear, cologne and perfume.

Trump has also dabbled in NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, and last year reported earning between $100,000 and $1 million from a series of digital trading cards that portrayed him in cartoon-like images, including as an astronaut, a cowboy and a superhero.

Donald Trump is facing four criminal indictments, and a civil lawsuit. You can track all of the cases here .

He has also released books featuring photos of his time in office and letters written to him through the years.

The Bible’s website states the product “is not political and has nothing to do with any political campaign.”

“GodBlessTheUSABible.com is not owned, managed or controlled by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, CIC Ventures LLC or any of their respective principals or affiliates,” it says.

Instead, it says, “GodBlessTheUSABible.com uses Donald J. Trump’s name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC, which license may be terminated or revoked according to its terms.”

CIC Ventures LLC, a company that Trump reported owning in his 2023 financial disclosure, has a similar arrangement with 45Footwear, which also says it uses Trump’s “name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC, which license may be terminated or revoked according to its terms.”

A Trump spokesperson and God Bless the USA Bible did not immediately respond to questions about how much Trump was paid for the licensing deal or stands to make from each book sale.

Trump remains deeply popular with white evangelical Christians , who are among his most ardent supporters, even though the thrice-married former reality TV star has a long history of behavior that often seemed at odds with teachings espoused by Christ in the Gospels.

When he was running in 2016, Trump raised eyebrows when he cited “Two Corinthians” at Liberty University, instead of the standard “Second Corinthians.”

When asked to share his favorite Bible verse in an interview with Bloomberg Politics in 2015, he demurred.

“I wouldn’t want to get into it. Because to me, that’s very personal,” he said. “The Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics.”

When he was president, law enforcement officers aggressively removed racial justice protesters from a park near the White House, allowing Trump to walk to nearby St. John’s Church, where he stood alone and raised a Bible. The scene was condemned at the time by the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

Before he ran for office, Trump famously hawked everything from frozen steaks to vodka to a venture named Trump University, which was later sued for fraud .

new books about the south

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Gillian Anderson to Headline Southbank Literature Season With Her Book About Female Sexual Desire

By K.J. Yossman

K.J. Yossman

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Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson is set to take center stage at the Southbank Centre season of literature and spoken world in London this fall.

The “Sex Education” actor will host a panel discussion around her new book “Want,” which tackles female sexual desire. Anderson will be joined by special guests for the panel.

Also set to appear during Southbank’s literary season are comedian and filmmaker Richard Ayoade who will discuss mid-century playwright Harauld Hughes (about whom Ayoade has written a memoir), former FBI boss James Comey on his new legal thriller “Westport,” Neneh Cherry on her memoir “A Thousand Threads” and “Normal People” author Sally Rooney.

East and South East Asian literature will also be celebrated at the ESEA Lit Fest which will run alongside.

“We’re thrilled to be presenting many of the most anticipated moments of the summer, with an array of world-class writers sharing new works for the very first time on our stages,” said Ted Hodgkinson, the Southbank Centre’s head of literature. “From thought-provoking non-fiction to captivating poetry, the season is a testament to literature’s ability to inspire, inform, and spark crucial conversations about our modern world. This is all part of our role and a shared commitment to provide a truly diverse offering for all of our audiences.”

The season will kick off with a creative workshop on April 28 and run through Oct. 6.

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COMMENTS

  1. New Releases in Southern Fiction

    Amazon.com New Releases: The best-selling new & future releases in Southern Fiction. ... These Tangled Threads: (A Southern Historical Fiction Book Set on the Early 1920's Biltmore Estate) Sarah Loudin Thomas. Paperback. 1 offer from $17.99 #31. The Summer of Songbirds. Kristy Woodson Harvey.

  2. 36 Deep-Fried Delish Southern Books And Writers

    P.S. Find some of these books about the South here: Audible Plus: From Amazon, listen to Amazon Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks.They add new titles every week. Book of the Month: Get the month's hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month.You might snag an early release or debut author.

  3. 45 New Books from the American South

    56 likes 0 comments. The American South has produced some Hall of Fame literary superstars: William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Lee, Wendell Berry. And it's a tradition that continues in contemporary writing. Collected below are 45 individually selected books, published since 2018, set in the South or concerning Southern themes.

  4. Imani Perry: Eight Books That Explain the South

    Eight Books That Explain the South. The southern travelogue is a genre with a long history. These examples helped me write my own. By Imani Perry. A 1939 Fourth of July celebration, St. Helena ...

  5. Book Review: 'South to America,' by Imani Perry

    Jan. 25, 2022. SOUTH TO AMERICA. A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation. By Imani Perry. At the start of "South to America," Imani Perry implores the reader ...

  6. Imani Perry's new book "South to America" seeks to understand the ...

    Ecco. "The South." It's not a neutral term for most Americans. But love it or hate it, a new book says you must appreciate its good, bad and ugly sides to understand the country. The book is South ...

  7. Want to understand the U.S.? This historian says the South holds the

    Imani Perry says the South can be seen as an "origin point" for the way the nation operates. Her book South to America traces the steps of an enslaved ancestor. Originally broadcast Jan. 25, 2022.

  8. A new book argues the U.S. South shapes the nation's political and

    The South shapes the nation's political and cultural landscape for good and bad, according to a new book from journalists Cynthia Tucker and Frye Gaillard. It's called "The Southernization Of ...

  9. New Works from Southern Voices

    In These Particular Women, Kat Meads investigates 10 famous/infamous women and the exceedingly contradictory biographical and autobiographical portraits that survive them. Kat Meads is a North Carolina-born author, poet and playwright whose short story " Guidance " appeared in Deep South's Southern Voice section in March 2023.

  10. 12 Southern Novels That Will Knock Your Boots Off

    For a bit of southern comfort, these 11 books—including SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE by Kristy Woodson Harvey and THE SUMMER GIRLS by Mary Alice Monroe—will knock your boots off. ... South Carolina, New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe captures the complex relationships between Dora, Carson, and Harper, three half-sisters ...

  11. Goodreads' Most Popular Books Set in the South in Past 10 Years

    Check it out on Goodreads . Buy It: $12.78; Amazon.com. South Carolina. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Set in Charleston, this powerful story explores slavery in the early 1800s through the lens of an 11-year-old named Sarah Grimke who is given ownership of Hetty "Handful" Grimke for her 11th birthday.

  12. Goodread's 10 Most Popular Books Based in the South

    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Rating: 4.03 out of 5. Though Sue Monk Kidd's novel was released in 2001, the coming-of-age tale actually takes place in 1964 in a fictitious South Carolina town. It follows the story of 14-year-old Lily Owens, a motherless teenager who has a fondness for bees.

  13. the south Books: 2024's Updated Collection of 20 Must-Reads

    To Kill a Mockingbird, a classic novel by Harper Lee, is a captivating book about the south. Set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, the story follows Scout Finch, her brother Jem, and their father, lawyer Atticus Finch. The novel explores themes of racial injustice, moral growth, and the innocence of childhood.

  14. 23 Atmospheric Books Set in the South

    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Set in South Carolina in 1964, this novel tells the story of Lily Owens, a young white girl whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, this is a touching coming-of-age story.

  15. The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction

    When this book first appeared in 1992, it won a broad array of prizes and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The citation for the National Book Award declared Promise of the New South a vivid and masterfully detailed picture of the evolution of a new society.

  16. The Best New Books for Southerners in 2023

    Hit order (and preorder) for these two dozen new and forthcoming books that G&G editors and contributors are buzzing about. Edited by CJ Lotz. February 15, 2023. Stalking Shakespeare, by Lee Durkee. When I turned eleven, my parents gave me a membership to the iconic M J Library in Ahmedabad and two rupees to cover my bus fare and a snack that ...

  17. Savoring the South: Must-Read Books About the South

    Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Scarlet O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Great balls of fire! You know the drill. Along with To Kill a Mockingbird, I would call Gone with the Wind a must-read among books about the Deep South.. In addition to the sweeping story about one woman's journey from antebellum Georgia privilege through war and poverty, it also provides a peek into the thinking of ...

  18. Photographer Rahim Fortune Examines Heritage, Ritual, and Black Culture

    A profound sense of timelessness surrounds Fortune's new book, 'Hardtack,' comprised of portraits and landscapes photographed over a decade.

  19. This Spring's Best New Books Start With a Journey

    Obreht, whose 2011 novel The Tiger's Wife was a finalist for the National Book Award, has written an uncanny piece of speculative fiction. Set in the very near future (so near that most of life ...

  20. A new book shows how the South

    In their new book, The Southernization of America, Tucker and Gaillard make an argument about how the South shapes the nation's political and cultural landscape - for good and bad. In an ...

  21. Dr. David Greven publishes new book on American Romanticism and its

    At the heart of David Greven's new book, All the Devils Are Here: American Romanticism and Literary Influence (UP of Virginia, 2024), is a theory of what it means to say that one author has been "influenced" by another. Greven contends that influence emerges not from an Oedipal conflict for supremacy, as critics have commonly argued.

  22. Muses of the Moscow Metro (popular scientific edition) / Muzy

    Amazon.com: Muses of the Moscow Metro (popular scientific edition) / Muzy Moskovskogo Metro (Nauchno-populyarnoe izdanie): 9785931361154: Odriosola V.: Books

  23. Friday's earthquake made NJ earthquake history. Here's why

    Here's why. Friday's earthquake was the strongest in NJ since 1783. A look back at quake history. The April 5, 2024 earthquake was a once-in-a-lifetime event. The magnitude 4.7 earthquake near ...

  24. Berks Book Bonanza has a new permanent home

    Emily Orischak, community relations coordinator for Berks County Public Libraries, said the Book Bonanza officially getting a new home is very good news. "This is a big relief," she said ...

  25. Russia's First Locomotive Company unveils new loco

    THE first locomotive produced by First Locomotive Company, the joint venture of Zavod Metallokonstrukcii and Bombardier, was unveiled at a ceremony held at the joint venture's Engels plant in Saratov region, Russia, on August 19. The multi-system 1520mm-gauge locomotive, named Prince Vladimir, is based on Bombardier's Traxx platform and has a ...

  26. Donald Trump is selling Bibles for $59.99 as he faces mounting legal

    Trump is selling 'God Bless the USA' Bibles for $59.99 as he faces mounting legal bills. Former President Donald Trump, now the presumptive 2024 Republican nominee, released a video on his Truth Social platform on Tuesday urging supporters to buy the "God Bless the USA Bible," inspired by country singer Lee Greenwood's patriotic ballad.

  27. Moscow to Shcherbinka

    Book now. There are 3 ways to get from Moscow to Shcherbinka by train, taxi or car. Select an option below to see step-by-step directions and to compare ticket prices and travel times in Rome2Rio's travel planner. Recommended option. Train • 1h 3m. Take the train from Ploschad Tryokh Vokzalov to Scherbinka D2;

  28. Gillian Anderson to Headline Southbank Literature Season With Her Book

    Sasha Gushov courtesy of Southbank Centre. Gillian Anderson is set to take center stage at the Southbank Centre season of literature and spoken world in London this fall. The "Sex Education ...

  29. 3 Best Speakeasy Restaurants In South Park

    2. Top of the Hyatt. Awesome ( 34) $$$$. • Speakeasy • Downtown. Top of the Hyatt is a highly recommended American restaurant famous for its tasty dishes and excellent service. Patrons commend the restaurant for its cheese and meat board, trio dessert, cocktail shrimp, and the flatbread, with one customer noting the crab dip as a particular ...