The best southern books that transport us

The Books I Picked & Why

The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People

By Rick Bragg

Book cover of The Speckled Beauty: A Dog and His People

Why this book?

The Speckled Beauty by Rick Bragg is as extraordinary as his other books and carries his unique stamp: a small southern story told gloriously big. I’ve read just about everything written by Bragg and am enamored by his sublime, original voice. He began as a journalist and won the Pulitzer Prize in ’96 yet he’s never steered far from his humble roots. If you love great southern writing, put Rick Bragg on your list. 


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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

By Kim Michele Richardson

Book cover of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Why this book?

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson speaks to intense research and reveals unsung superheroes: librarians who carried enlightenment into dark hollers on a pack mule. Richardson’s rich characters are armed with the plucky determination required of our pioneers, but they reach beyond the necessary to survive and tap into the will to thrive thanks to the power of books. 


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Sold on a Monday

By Kristina McMorris

Book cover of Sold on a Monday

Why this book?

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris was told from a different angle than I anticipated, and I appreciated the moral dilemma posed by a journalist’s decision that needed undoing. I’m a sucker for hard-time stories set in the 1930s, and I’m reminded of my mother’s childhood. She was one of fifteen children raised by a twice-widowed mother. There was pride in the telling that none of her brothers and sisters were sent away when times were hard. 


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Prodigal Summer

By Barbara Kingsolver

Book cover of Prodigal Summer

Why this book?

Prodigal Summer: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver is set in my favorite place and time—1930s Appalachia. It’s my go-to southern novel I’ve read three times at different stages of my life. Each time I was transported in different ways thanks to Kingsolver masterfully interweaving three plots. Released in 2000, the tale still feels relevant and timeless. 


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In the Valley

By Ron Rash

Book cover of In the Valley

Why this book?

In the Valley by Ron Rash is a haunting collection of ten short stories told as lean and efficient as the author’s other works. Filled with surprise twists, I could hardly close the book at bedtime, so delicious were the varied plots. I particularly loved the stories that expanded our understanding of his captivating character, Serena, that was made into a movie in 2014. 


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