The best books about strong Southern women

Why am I passionate about this?

I was raised by strong Southern women, including my Mamaw Myers, whose life inspired The Tobacco Wives, my debut novel. Mamaw was a hairdresser for the wives of RJ Reynolds tobacco executives in Winston-Salem, NC in the 1940s, and as a girl, I was fascinated by the idea of her glamourous, wealthy clients. I’ve always been drawn to stories about women who are “Steel Magnolias, a complex mix of strength and vulnerability” that writer Robert Harling so beautifully defined and brought to life in his play and film of the same name. His is one of the five stories that I recommend if you’re a fan of strong Southern women.


I wrote...

The Tobacco Wives: A Novel

By Adele Myers,

Book cover of The Tobacco Wives: A Novel

What is my book about?

A vibrant historical debut set in 1946 North Carolina, The Tobacco Wives follows a young female seamstress who uncovers dangerous truths about the Big Tobacco empire ruling the American South. Shedding light on the hidden history of women’s activism during the post-war period, at its heart, The Tobacco Wives is a deeply human, emotionally satisfying, and dramatic novel about the power of female connection and the importance of seeking truth.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Adele Myers Why did I love this book?

I first read this book in high school and it had a profound impact on me. This memoir of Angelou’s life is described as “a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself.” I find myself returning to it again and again, especially when I am preparing to write something new. Angelou’s voice, her vulnerability, and her honesty inspired me as a 15-year-old and still feed my soul today. Reading her words feels like home.

By Maya Angelou,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Maya Angelou's seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy,achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover.


Book cover of Steel Magnolias

Adele Myers Why did I love this book?

As a child of the 80s, I adored the film. But did you know you can also read the play? After the death of his sister to diabetes in 1985, Harling wrote a play about six women set in a beauty parlor in Louisiana. He later adapted the play for the big screen, bringing to life the touching, at times hilarious, and incredibly moving tale of M’Lynn, Shelby, Truvy, Ouiser, Clairee, and Annelle. A true classic!

By Robert Harling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Steel Magnolias as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Within the walls of Truvy's beauty shop are six women whose lives increasingly hinge on the existence of one another. Together, they absorb the passing seasons, just like the weathered wooden structure of the salon "home" that they share.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast production, starring Frances Fisher, Jeanie Hackett, Shannon Holt, Amy Pietz, Brittany Snow, and Jocelyn Towne. Additional voices by Josh Clark. Directed by Jessica Kubzansky and recorded before an audience by L.A. Theatre Works.


Book cover of The Liars' Club

Adele Myers Why did I love this book?

Talk about a strong Southern woman. Karr grew up in East Texas, the daughter of a hard-drinking father and a mother who painted and married her way through half a dozen husbands. Actually, seven husbands to be exact. Part memoir and part coming of age story, this raw rendering of a tough childhood is told with honesty and heart. It struck a chord with me that I’ll never forget.

By Mary Karr,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Liars' Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#4 on The New York Times' list of The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years

The New York Times bestselling, hilarious tale of a hardscrabble Texas childhood that Oprah.com calls the best memoir of a generation

"Wickedly funny and always movingly illuminating, thanks to kick-ass storytelling and a poet's ear." -Oprah.com

The Liars' Club took the world by storm and raised the art of the memoir to an entirely new level, bringing about a dramatic revival of the form. Karr's comic childhood in an east Texas oil town brings us characters as darkly hilarious as any of J.…


Book cover of Surviving Savannah

Adele Myers Why did I love this book?

I just love hidden history, especially the hidden history of strong Southern women, and no one does it better than Patti Callahan. This tale of survival, told in two timelines inspired by the mystery surrounding the sinking of “The Titanic of the South,” explores the themes of friendship, grief, family, second chances, and more. Truly a historical fiction masterpiece.

By Patti Callahan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Surviving Savannah as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An atmospheric, compelling story of survival, tragedy, the enduring power of myth and memory, and the moments that change one's life." 
--Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Four Winds
 
"[An] enthralling and emotional tale...A story about strength and fate."--Woman's World
 
“An epic novel that explores the metal of human spirit in crisis. It is an expertly told, fascinating story that runs fathoms deep on multiple levels.”—New York Journal of Books 

It was called "The Titanic of the South." The luxury steamship sank in 1838 with Savannah's elite on board; through time, their fates were forgotten--until the…


Book cover of Shadows of Pecan Hollow: A Novel

Adele Myers Why did I love this book?

This novel by my new friend and fellow debut author, Caroline Frost, is a stunner. It’s one of those books that stays with you long after you finish it. It’s been described as “Badlands meets Paper Moon, a tale about a scrappy young woman and the partner-in-crime she can’t escape.” If you loved Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon, you’ll love Kit Walker in Pecan Hollow.

By Caroline Frost,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shadows of Pecan Hollow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recommended by The Washington Post!

"Paper Moon meets Badlands in this mesmerizing Texas backroads thriller, a twisty story of a runaway girl who finds a home and a desperate love on the road with an opportunistic criminal...told in a gritty, sensual prose."-Janet Fitch, #1 New York Times bestselling author of White Oleander

Set in 1970-90s Texas, a mesmerizing story about a fierce woman and the partner-in-crime she can't escape, perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and Valentine.

It was 1970 when thirteen-year-old runaway Kit Walker was abducted by Manny Romero, a smooth-talking, low-level criminal, who first coddled her…


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Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

By Kathleen DuVal,

Book cover of Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

Kathleen DuVal Author Of Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professional historian and life-long lover of early American history. My fascination with the American Revolution began during the bicentennial in 1976, when my family traveled across the country for celebrations in Williamsburg and Philadelphia. That history, though, seemed disconnected to the place I grew up—Arkansas—so when I went to graduate school in history, I researched in French and Spanish archives to learn about their eighteenth-century interactions with Arkansas’s Native nations, the Osages and Quapaws. Now I teach early American history and Native American history at UNC-Chapel Hill and have written several books on how Native American, European, and African people interacted across North America.

Kathleen's book list on the American Revolution beyond the Founding Fathers

What is my book about?

A magisterial history of Indigenous North America that places the power of Native nations at its center, telling their story from the rise of ancient cities more than a thousand years ago to fights for sovereignty that continue today

Native Nations: A Millennium in North America

By Kathleen DuVal,

What is this book about?

Long before the colonization of North America, Indigenous Americans built diverse civilizations and adapted to a changing world in ways that reverberated globally. And, as award-winning historian Kathleen DuVal vividly recounts, when Europeans did arrive, no civilization came to a halt because of a few wandering explorers, even when the strangers came well armed.

A millennium ago, North American cities rivaled urban centers around the world in size. Then, following a period of climate change and instability, numerous smaller nations emerged, moving away from rather than toward urbanization. From this urban past, egalitarian government structures, diplomacy, and complex economies spread…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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