The best books for those days when you want the real world to go away

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve floated on the water next to many alligators. They’re actually quite nice. I know this because I have an obsession–one that takes me often to the South Carolina Lowcountry. It motivates me to research and experience and write. Books were my escape as a child, and now, I get to create the kind of novels I love–ones with an element of romance and a satisfying ending. I grew up in Alabama and now live in California, so maybe it’s nostalgia, but Southern culture is fascinating, and when you throw romantic relationships into the (well-seasoned cast iron) pot, there are infinite stories to be told. 


I wrote...

Book cover of The Firefly Jar

What is my book about?

Sweet Charlotte Sinclair has no idea that "bless your heart" is the same as "screw you"—and she’s about to find out the hard way. After her mother’s death, Charlotte moved from free-wheeling California to her mother’s tiny hometown in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Charlotte loves her status as a popular coffee shop owner and is enjoying her budding romance with local hero Will Rushton more than she’d like to admit. So why is she still struggling to find acceptance within the Crickley Creek community? There’s a secret nestled among the plantation homes and Spanish moss-covered oaks—a truth her mother’s arch rival will do anything to hide. Is it possible for an outsider to belong in the deep South and still remain true to her own roots?

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Laurie Beach Why did I love this book?

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting in a boat in the middle of a blackwater swamp, you know that there is no more peaceful place in the world.

There are no mosquitoes in the North Carolina swamps–just spiders and alligators. Who worries about those? Delia Owens creates a character, Kya, who fits in so well with the serene marshes and swamps that she simply becomes part of the fauna.

So, while the reader is fascinated with the character and how she ends up alone on a marsh, Owens deftly weaves in romance and a murder mystery. It is part nature love-affair, a study in feminine expectations, and happy-ever-after with a twist.

By Delia Owens,

Why should I read it?

44 authors picked Where the Crawdads Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

OVER 12 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE
A NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

For years, rumours of the 'Marsh Girl' have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be…


Book cover of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Laurie Beach Why did I love this book?

If you’ve ever stood behind your mother in the line at a grocery store and cringed because she was talking too much to a stranger, imagine if she was wearing smeared lipstick and a tiara.

That’s CeeCee Honeycutt’s mother, who also happens to be obsessed with the fact that she was once the Vidalia Onion Queen. Not that it matters anymore, Camille is dead, and CeeCee is moving in with her great-aunt Tootie.

Now that she’s no longer dealing with burnt mac-and-cheese and an alcohol-scented mother, CeeCee has to learn how to live with blue bloods, prosperity, and a whole new set of rules.

Set in Savannah, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt has the kind of stick-to-itiveness and familial-love-despite-dynamics that the best Southern books embody. 

By Beth Hoffman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Saving CeeCee Honeycutt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Camille Sugarbaker Honeycutt, the pretty but crazy 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen, dies suddenly, her twelve-year-old daughter CeeCee has barely a hope left in the world. To her rescue arrives Great Aunt Tootie in the most magnificent car CeeCee has ever seen, and she is whisked away to the storybook city of Savannah.

For some flowers, Aunt Tootie holds, are born to bloom only south of the Mason-Dixon line and soon, among the sweet scent of magnolias and the loving warmth of Tootie and her colourful collection of friends, it looks as though CeeCee has arrived in paradise. But when…


Book cover of Meant to Be

Laurie Beach Why did I love this book?

I used to think JFK Jr was better looking than Brad Pitt.

He had everything going for him–true love, wealth, and a family that was as close to American royalty as it gets. Meant To Be by Emily Giffin rewrites his real-life tragedy.

She gives those of us who hopefully and jealously gawked at him and his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, a new ending–one that doesn’t involve their deaths in the cold waters outside of Martha’s Vineyard. It’s part romance, part fiction, part history, and all escapism. 

By Emily Giffin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Meant to Be as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - He's American royalty. She comes from a troubled past. Is their love story meant to be? This "lively page-turner" (The New York Times) offers a nostalgic, hopelessly romantic escape--from the author of Something Borrowed and The Lies That Bind.

"I'm a sucker for an iconic, against-all-odds love story, and Meant to Be truly delivers."--Tia Williams, author of Seven Days in June

"A chic, history-inspired summer read [that] strikes a careful balance between simply retelling the true story of JFK Jr. and his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and crafting an entirely new one."--Bookreporter

The Kingsley family is…


Book cover of Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe

Laurie Beach Why did I love this book?

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe has just enough magical realism to spark your imagination.

You’ll never look at a bird the same way again. Anna Kate will only inherit the little cafe her Granny Zee owned if she works there for two months. Granny knew what was best for her granddaughter–that she couldn’t keep running from her family forever.

There’s romance, there’s mystery, and there’s blackbird pie. It’s a small-town family saga that will keep you rooting for Anna Kate and wondering if you’ve been paying close enough attention to your deceased loved ones.

By Heather Webber,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE USA TODAY BESTSELLER Heather Webber's Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe is a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town Southern charm.

Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to…


Book cover of Close Enough to Touch

Laurie Beach Why did I love this book?

Imagine being so allergic to human touch that it is impossible to have romantic love in your life.

Jubilee Jenkins is a character you will root for, cry over, and sometimes wish you could kick in the butt. She’s forced to face her fears after her mother dies, and she even gets a job - one that deals with the public.

Will she die? Will she be motivated to find a cure? Or will she spend her life longing–especially after she develops feelings for a man?

This book is full of hope, despair, and yearning, but those words alone don’t do it justice. It is also satisfyingly uplifting.  

By Colleen Oakley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Close Enough to Touch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “heart-wrenching and humorous” (Publishers Weekly) love story for anyone who’s ever wanted something—or someone—just out of reach, Colleen Oakley’s Close Enough to Touch will delight fans of Jojo Moyes’s One Plus One and Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project.

Can you miss something you never had?

Jubilee Jenkins is no ordinary librarian. With a rare allergy to human touch, any skin-to-skin contact could literally kill her. But after retreating into solitude for nearly ten years, Jubilee’s decided to brave the world again, despite the risks. Armed with a pair of gloves, long sleeves, and her trusty bicycle, she finally ventures…


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Beautiful and Terrible Things

By S. M. Stevens,

Book cover of Beautiful and Terrible Things

S. M. Stevens

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Charley Byrne isn’t really living. She hunkers down in her apartment above the bookstore she manages, until quirky activist Xander Wallace lures her out of social exile with the prospect of friendship and romance. Charley joins Xander’s circle of diverse friends and thrives, even leaving her comfort zone to join protests in a city struggling with social justice ills.

But the new friendships bring back-to-back betrayals that threaten the bookstore—Charley’s haven—and propel her into a dangerous depression, in a stark reminder that friendship has the power to destroy as well as save lives. Can her friends save the store? And Charley?

Beautiful and Terrible Things

By S. M. Stevens,

What is this book about?

"A beautifully crafted story of friendship and self-discovery set amidst the harsh realities of today's world. Superb!" -Eileen O'Finlan, author of Erin's Children

Charley Byrne isn't really living. At age 29, she hunkers down in her apartment above the bookstore she manages, afraid of a 7-year curse. Then quirky activist Xander Wallace lures her out of social exile with the prospect of friendship and romance. Charley joins Xander's circle of friends diverse in their heritage, race, gender and sexual orientation. She thrives, even leaving her comfort zone to join protests in a city struggling with social justice ills.

But the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in romantic love, Alabama, and murder?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about romantic love, Alabama, and murder.

Romantic Love Explore 867 books about romantic love
Alabama Explore 64 books about Alabama
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