50 books directly related to Tennessee 📚

All 50 Tennessee books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Book cover of Tennessee Frontiers: Three Regions in Transition

Why this book?

This book not only provides a chapter on the State of Franklin era (1780s) but several leading up to it, beginning with a survey of eastern Tennessee topography, its native peoples, and the earliest encroaching exploration and settlement of Europeans. Several more chapters of the region’s history follow the information on the failed statehood attempt. Along the way the author captures the spirit of the various people groups who called this region home, detailing many individuals such as Attakullakulla, Nancy Ward, Daniel Boone, John Sevier, Davy Crockett, Andrew Jackson, and John Ross, among others.

Tennessee Frontiers: Three Regions in Transition

By John R. Finger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This chronicle of the formation of Tennessee from indigenous settlements to the closing of the frontier in 1840 begins with an account of the prehistoric frontiers and a millennia-long habitation by Native Americans. The rest of the book deals with Tennessee's historic period beginning with the incursion of Hernando de Soto's Spanish army in 1540. John R. Finger follows two narratives of the creation and closing of the frontier. The first starts with the early interaction of Native Americans and Euro-Americans and ends when the latter effectively gained the upper hand. The last land cession by the Cherokees and the…


Book cover of The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History

Why this book?

Yellow fever, like many feared diseases, conjures up an image of faraway, steamy rain forests. At one time, yellow fever really was found there. But the disease—and the mosquito that carries it—didn't stay there. I was surprised to learn how prominent and feared yellow fever was in early Colonial America and that it persisted in the United States through the early 20th Century. Crosby provides background on the disease from Africa, its path to the Americas, and routine epidemics in New Orleans, but the book's primary focus is the account of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878 that decimated Memphis, Tennessee, and other towns along the Mississippi River.  I liked this book for filling in the blanks in my awareness and understanding of this American plague. 

The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History

By Molly Caldwell Crosby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The American Plague as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this account, a journalist traces the course of the infectious disease known as yellow fever, “vividly [evoking] the Faulkner-meets-Dawn of the Dead horrors” (The New York Times Book Review) of this killer virus.

Over the course of history, yellow fever has paralyzed governments, halted commerce, quarantined cities, moved the U.S. capital, and altered the outcome of wars. During a single summer in Memphis alone, it cost more lives than the Chicago fire, the San Francisco earthquake, and the Johnstown flood combined.

In 1900, the U.S. sent three doctors to Cuba to discover how yellow fever was spread. There, they…


Book cover of This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality

Why this book?

A collaborative book written in verse by award-winning Debbie Levy and JoAnn Allen Boyce who was one of twelve African American students who desegregated Clinton High School in eastern Tennessee in 1956. Brown vs. Board of Education ruled to integrate schools in 1954, but integration didn’t happen easily or quickly. We tend to know more about the Little Rock Nine of 1957 because national journalists published what became iconic photos of the tense struggle of courageous Black teenagers breaking through white hostility to attend a white high school. The earlier event in Tennessee was equally fraught (but less photographed). To have Boyce’s memory of events and her ability to articulate her feelings and Levy’s lyrical bent makes this an enlightening read.

This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality

By JoAnn Allen Boyce, Debbie Levy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Promise of Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recipient of a Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Honor
Winner of the 2019 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
2020 National Council for the Social Studies Carter G. Woodson Honor Recipient
A NYPL Top Ten of 2019
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting…


Book cover of The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote

Why this book?

This recent book tells the dramatic story of Tennessee’s ratification of the 19th Amendment. Thirty-six states were required for ratification, and by July 1920 it all came down to Tennessee. The fate of women’s suffrage, decades of struggle, hung in the balance. I love how Weiss brings the context, characters, and events in the drama to life. She vividly portrays the public proceedings and plotting behind-the-scenes for a victory that almost didn’t happen and can’t be taken for granted. Yet, in terms of race, it was a hollow victory. Weiss shows how the suffrage debate in Tennessee, a former slave state, inextricably interrelated with Black voting rights. 

As antisuffragists played the race card—women’s suffrage endangered racial disenfranchisement—white suffragists responded with their own version: white women outnumbered and could outvote African Americans, plus racial disenfranchisement would remain. Betrayed by the “suffrage sisterhood,” Black suffragists fought on.

The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote

By Elaine Weiss,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Woman's Hour as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Both a page-turning drama and an inspiration for every reader" -- Hillary Rodham Clinton

Soon to be a major television event, the nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history: the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Nashville, August 1920. Thirty-five states have approved the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote; one last state--Tennessee--is needed for women's voting rights to be the law of the land. The suffragists face vicious opposition from politicians, clergy, corporations, and racists who don't want black women voting. And then there are the…

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

By Pat Zietlow Miller, Frank Morrison (illustrator),

Book cover of The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

Why this book?

This is another book about Wilma Rudolph, but this one focuses on how Wilma inspired two young girls in Clarksville, Tennessee, Wilma’s birthplace. Alta is The Quickest Kid in Clarksville, but worries about Charmaine, the new girl with brand-new, “stripes down the sides” shoes. The author’s writing is fast-paced with a rhythm to it, perfect for a running book about winning, losing, and friendship. Yes, friendship, as when Wilma Rudolph arrives for a parade to celebrate her Olympic wins, the girls finally agree to carry Alta's big banner to the parade in a relay race like Wilma won at the Olympics.

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville

By Pat Zietlow Miller, Frank Morrison (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quickest Kid in Clarksville as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist. She'll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was. It doesn't matter that Alta's shoes have holes because Wilma came from hard times, too. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race? Will she still be the quickest kid?
The Quickest Kid in Clarksville is a timeless story of dreams, determination, and the power of friendship.

The Wolfman

By Nicholas Pekearo,

Book cover of The Wolfman

Why this book?

This is perhaps my favorite book of all time. Marlowe Higgins is a werewolf who uses his monthly change to hunt and kill the worst of criminals. The setting mostly takes place in 1993 with a few flashbacks including some time the main character spent in Vietnam during the war. There’s a serial killer targeting young women and Marlowe is hunting for him. He needs a scent or a name before the wolf can find them. And some people suspect Marlowe is the serial killer. The real tragedy of this story is the author died a few months before the book was published. The story is well written. There are plenty of funny moments to go along with the scary parts. If you like werewolves and anti-heroes, you’ll love this novel.

The Wolfman

By Nicholas Pekearo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marlowe Higgins is a hard man; a wanderer. Since being dishonourably discharge after a tour in Vietnam, he's been in and out of prison, moving from town to town, going wherever the wind takes him. He's not really the kind of guy who can stay in one place too long. Every full moon he kills someone. Marlowe Higgins is a werewolf. For years he struggled with his affliction, until he found a way to use his unfortunate curse for good - he only kills really bad people. After years of being on the road, Higgins has found a home in…

Child of God

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of Child of God

Why this book?

When I worked for a daily newspaper, I covered the trial of serial killer Richard Biegenwald. Unlike a lot of serial killers, who tend to be loners, Biegenwald was married. He seemed fairly normal, except for his habit of occasionally killing people and burying them in his mother’s backyard. Serial killers, people who don’t kill in self-defense, or to protect someone from harm, but just because they like killing, have always fascinated me. Sitting in court, twenty feet from a real, live serial killer, was intensely interesting and not a little creepy.

Having covered the trial of a serial killer, I was intrigued by what would make someone do that. The serial killer in Child of God is a loner who’s lost his home and who constantly tries, and fails, to connect with other people. His struggles are as poignant as his deeds are gruesome. 

Child of God

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this taut, chilling novel from the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Road, Lester Ballard—a violent, dispossessed man falsely accused of rape—haunts the hill country of East Tennessee when he is released from jail.

While telling his story, Cormac McCarthy depicts the most sordid aspects of life with dignity, humor, and characteristic lyrical brilliance.

"Like the novelists he admires-Melville, Dostoyevsky, Faulkner-Cormac McCarthy has created an imaginative oeuvre greater and deeper than any single book. Such writers wrestle with the gods themselves." —Washington Post

Look for Cormac McCarthy's new novel, The Passenger.

Book cover of Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign

Why this book?

When I read this book, I knew plenty about Martin Luther King’s ties to the labor movement. What I did not knowand what it took Honey twenty years to piece together—was an understanding of the 1,200 workers whose desperate straits and courageous creative nonviolence called King to Memphis in 1968. Honey uncovers the small triumphs hidden from view if we only look at the large tragedy of King’s assassination. Sanitation workers fought for safer working conditions, adequate wages, and trade union recognition from a city administration that literally treated them like garbage. A labor dispute transformed into a nonviolent community revolt. I remain in awe of the book’s richly textured portraits, among them Reverend Ralph Jackson, a peaceful protester brutalized by police, who forged a "campaign to end police brutality and improve housing, jobs, wages, and education across the city."

Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign

By Michael K. Honey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Going Down Jericho Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Memphis in 1968 was ruled by a paternalistic "plantation mentality" embodied in its good-old-boy mayor, Henry Loeb. Wretched conditions, abusive white supervisors, poor education, and low wages locked most black workers into poverty. Then two sanitation workers were chewed up like garbage in the back of a faulty truck, igniting a public employee strike that brought to a boil long-simmering issues of racial injustice.

With novelistic drama and rich scholarly detail, Michael Honey brings to life the magnetic characters who clashed on the Memphis battlefield: stalwart black workers; fiery black ministers; volatile, young, black-power advocates; idealistic organizers and tough-talking unionists;…

Book cover of The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature

Why this book?

Haskell writes evocatively of the fascinating life of the forest floor, from invisible microbes to colorful fungi and beautiful birds. I was fascinated by the interconnected lives on the floor of an old-growth forest in the southeastern United States, and I appreciated Haskell’s own passion for his subject when unforeseen destruction of a portion of the forest floor by ginseng hunters triggered a heart attack and trip to the emergency room for Haskell—fortunately, he was ok.

The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature

By David George Haskell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Forest Unseen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A biologist reveals the secret world hidden in a single square meter of old-growth forest--a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pen/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award 

Look out for David Haskell's new book, The Songs of Tree: Stories From Nature's Great Connectors, coming in April of 2017

In this wholly original book, biologist David Haskell uses a one- square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest as a window onto the entire natural world. Visiting it almost daily for one year to trace nature's path through the seasons, he brings the forest and its inhabitants to vivid life.

Each of…


Book cover of Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862

Why this book?

Several books have been written about the Battle of Shiloh, fought on April 6 and 7, 1862. This is no surprise, as the battle was one of the very first large-scale engagements of the war, with more than 100,000 combatants and producing 23,000 casualties. That staggering butcher’s bill stunned the nation and created a deep-rooted interest in remembering the contest. A National Cemetery was created in 1866, and Shiloh was one of the five original military parks established by Congress in 1895. The park’s interpretive thrust has shaped the outline of the traditional narrative of the battle ever since.

In the 1960s, Edward Cunningham offered a corrective to that traditional narrative, in an unpublished academic thesis. Discarding long-held, preconceived notions, Cunningham hewed closer to the primary sources to provide a deeply insightful new interpretation of the battle. Unfortunately, he never found a publisher for that thesis—until 2009. Though Cunningham had long since passed from the scene, an editorial team—including Tim Smith, author of Champion Hill—managed to produce an annotated version in 2009. The result is an outstanding new (despite being 40 years old) and thought-provoking interpretation of Shiloh.

Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862

By O. Edward Cunningham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The stunning Northern victory at Shiloh in 1942 thrust Union commander Ulysses S. Grant into the national spotlight, claimed the life of Confederate commander Albert S. Johnston, and forever buried the notion that the Civil War would be a short conflict.

Anxious to attack the enemy, Johnston began concentrating Southern forces at Corinth, a major railroad center just below the Tennessee border. His bold plan called for his Army of the Mississippi to march north and destroy General Grant's Army of the Tennessee before it could link up with another Union army on the way to join him.

On the…

Shiloh 1862

By Winston Groom,

Book cover of Shiloh 1862

Why this book?

The Battle of Shiloh has been the subject of a number of distinguished historians, but only Winston Groom is able to capture the 170 individual fights between regiments with clarity and skill. The sheer numbers are daunting—100,000 soldiers fighting in 12 square miles. But Groom has told the complex Shiloh story effectively without getting bogged down in “minute detail and technical aspects” as he reports in his beginning notes. Groom’s writing is enhanced by ten detailed maps that bring lucency and specificity to the narrative. Shiloh, fought in 1862, had a deeper impact that foretold the future. In Groom’s words: “It was as if at Shiloh they had unleashed some giant, murderous thing that was now going to drench the country in blood, just as Sherman had predicted back in 1860.”     

Shiloh 1862

By Winston Groom,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shiloh 1862 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this gripping telling of the first "great and terrible" battle of the Civil War, Groom describes the dramatic events of April 6 and 7, 1862, when a bold surprise attack on Ulysses S. Grant's encamped troops and the bloody battle that ensued would alter the timbre of the war.

She Walks These Hills

By Sharyn McCrumb,

Book cover of She Walks These Hills

Why this book?

I was drawn to this book because it’s loaded with atmosphere, and features hill folk like I do, with the difference that McCrumb’s characters inhabit the hills of Tennessee, while mine live in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts. I especially like the way she weaves local lore and legends into the story, and how she reveals how the landscape appears to different characters, ranging from a long-ago woman, kidnapped by Indians who escapes and makes her way homeward, to a modern-day non-hillbilly who struggles to re-create her difficult journey. Then, there’s the way McCrumb adds a dash of the supernatural through a character with psychic powers—all of which have been grist to my fictional mill.

She Walks These Hills

By Sharyn McCrumb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked She Walks These Hills as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Katie Wyler still crosses Ashe Mountain, and although a few can see her, Deputy Sheriff Martha Ayers doesn't believe in ghosts. Hiram Sorley has escaped after 30 years in prison and he's on his way home to Ashe Mountain. Only Martha seems to understand that Sorley's wife and daughter are in danger.

Flight Behavior

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Book cover of Flight Behavior

Why this book?

This novel is about one woman’s experience of the greatest cataclysm the world now faces: climate change. Kingsolver plunges us into the life of Dellarobia Turnbow, a bright, restless Appalachian woman married too young and trying to make sense of who she is. When migrating monarch butterflies confused by climate change unexpectedly settle on land belonging to Dellarobia’s family, they announce the advent of unmoored worlds and set Dellarobia on a new path. Barbara Kingsolver writes with such grace and empathy that I felt as if I was living Dellarobia’s hope and confusion as we pondered what is becoming of the dazzling natural world around us. This novel’s aesthetic beauty, breadth of vision, and generosity of spirit brought me to tears.

Flight Behavior

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"The flames now appeared to lift from individual treetops in showers of orange sparks, exploding the way a pine log does in a campfire when it is poked. The sparks spiralled upward in swirls like funnel clouds. Twisters of brightness against grey sky."

On the Appalachian Mountains above her home, a young mother discovers a beautiful and terrible marvel of nature: the monarch butterflies have not migrated south for the winter this year. Is this a miraculous message from God, or a spectacular sign of climate change. Entomology expert, Ovid Byron, certainly believes it is the latter. He ropes in…

To Whisper Her Name

By Tamera Alexander,

Book cover of To Whisper Her Name

Why this book?

This book is set just after the war and deals with the aftermath of a devastated land. Rich in detail with characters that tug at the heartstrings, it is a story of complex loyalties and dealing with betrayal. A beautiful and powerful story of tender hearts left wounded by a very difficult time. I listened to the audio version of this story and found it to be one I wanted to stop everything I was doing to savor.

To Whisper Her Name

By Tamera Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Whisper Her Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From bestselling author Tamera Alexander comes an exquisite historical novel set against the real history of Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville, Tennessee, that explores the struggles of real people of the post-war South and the journeys of a man and a woman scarred by betrayal.

Olivia Aberdeen, destitute widow of a man shot as a traitor to the South, is shunned by proper society and gratefully accepts an invitation from Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation. Expecting to be the Hardings' head housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned when she learns the real reason Elizabeth's husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding,…


Book cover of Co. Aytch: Maury Grays, First Tennessee Regiment Or, a Side Show of the Big Show

Why this book?

“High Private” Sam Watkins wrote his memoir from memory eighteen years after the war. His account of life and death as a rebel soldier is gripping, shocking, and tragic, yet often humorous. He dutifully followed orders, was dedicated to his cause, saw many friends killed close by, and killed enemy soldiers close up – young men in a different uniform much like himself. His attitude and prejudices reflect those of the average Confederate enlisted man. The reader experiences in intimate detail the often-desperate life of the common soldier.

Co. Aytch: Maury Grays, First Tennessee Regiment Or, a Side Show of the Big Show

By Sam R. Watkins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Of the 120 men who enlisted in "Company H" (Or Co. Aytch as he calls it) in 1861, Sam Watkins was one of only seven alive when General Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee surrendered to General William Tecumseh Sherman in North Carolina on April, 1865. Of the 1,200 men who fought in the First Tennessee, only 65 were left to be paroled on that day. "Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of the Civil War" is heralded by many historians as one of the best war memoirs written by a common soldier of the field. Sam R. Watkin's writing style…

The Widow of the South

By Robert Hicks,

Book cover of The Widow of the South

Why this book?

I’m a big historical fiction fan, and hold a degree in history, so anything that has a bend in that direction will get my attention. This one takes the reader directly into the life of Carrie McGavock and her role as owner of Carnton plantation in Tennessee. During the battle of Franklin, Carnton became a field hospital, and Carrie worked tirelessly to help wounded soldiers. Her family even dedicated some of the ground on their plantation as a Confederate cemetery. From the first sentence I forgot where I was, what I was doing and what time it was. All that existed was this time and place so long ago, written so beautifully I could have reached out my window here in Michigan and touched the hills of Tennessee. 

The Widow of the South

By Robert Hicks,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Widow of the South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tennessee, 1864. On a late autumn day, near a little town called Franklin, 10,000 men will soon lie dead or dying in a battle that will change many lives for ever. None will be more changed than Carrie McGavock, who finds her home taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a field hospital. Taking charge, she finds the courage to face up to the horrors around her and, in doing so, finds a cause.

Out on the battlefield, a tired young Southern soldier drops his guns and charges forward into Yankee territory, holding only the flag of his…


Book cover of Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age

Why this book?

Zak is an award-winning reporter for the Washington Post where his gift for prose is on regular display. When he turned his skillful journalist’s eye toward nuclear weaponry and present-day anti-nuclear activism, the result was a book that takes readers through the night and aftermath of a break-in at one of the most secure facilities in the country, and a look at the moments and forces in history that shaped the people involved.

Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age

By Dan Zak,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On July 28, 2012, three senior citizens broke into one of the most secure nuclear-weapons facilities in the world. An 82 Catholic nun, a Vietnam veteran, and a house smeared the walls with human blood and spray-painted quotes from the Bible. Then they waited to be arrested. This simple act spawned a complex discussion. In Almighty, Washington Post writer Dan Zak examines how events over the past 70 years led to this act, one of the most successful and high-profile demonstrations of anti-nuclear activism.

Book cover of Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion

Why this book?

Nearly a century ago, in the small town of Dayton, Tenn., one of the most heated trials in U.S. history occurred. Few Americans could ignore the small, crowded, overheated courtroom where an illustrious criminal lawyer squared off against a renowned politician over the teaching of the theory of human evolution. The case, which pitted religion (William Jennings Bryan) against science (Clarence J. Darrow), highlighted the rift between urban and rural values, and demonstrated the rising authority of modern educators and experts. Perhaps most exciting, this book chronicles the untamed expansion of American popular culture during the 1920s. 

Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion

By Edward J. Larson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Summer for the Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the summer of 1925, the sleepy hamlet of Dayton, Tennessee, became the setting for one of the twentieth century's most contentious courtroom dramas, pitting William Jennings Bryan and the anti-Darwinists against a teacher named John Scopes, represented by Clarence Darrow and the ACLU, in a famous debate over science, religion, and their place in public education. That trial marked the start of a battle that continues to this day -- in cities and states throughout the country.Edward Larson's classic Summer for the Gods -- winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History -- is the single most authoritative account of…

Book cover of Laughing in the Dark: A Comedian's Journey Through Depression

Why this book?

Depression can sneak up on anyone, even a Christian comedian such as Chonda Pierce. Her busy schedule and constant pressure to make others laugh ran her own tank empty. Where did she turn? To God, of course. But she found that God often works through friends, family, and yes, even psychologists to haul people back onto their feet. With faith, hope, and humor, she exposes depression from the inside out and leads people from the dark into the light of Jesus. Though I’ve never experienced depression, I feel better armed should I ever meet this foe.

Laughing in the Dark: A Comedian's Journey Through Depression

By Chonda Pierce,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Laughing in the Dark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A refreshingly honest and witty exploration of one woman’s journey through depression.

For many, depression is associated with shame and humiliation—even a lack of faith. But Laughing in the Dark is like getting genuine advice from a kind friend. And in her words you’ll find hope and renewed confidence that will guide you through your own darkness and into the light.

- If you are currently suffering from depression—this book will help you realize you’re not alone.
- If you have a loved one dealing with depression—this book will help you understand.
- If you are a mental health professional—you…

Provinces of Night

By William Gay,

Book cover of Provinces of Night

Why this book?

Gay was a McCarthy disciple and Provinces of Night is his greatest work. Though he often mimics McCarthy (and in my opinion came closer to McCarthy than anyone else), he finds a desperate, haunting voice that is all his own. Provinces of Night (the title taken from a line in McCarthy’s Child of God) does a remarkable job of storytelling with multiple characters leading the narrative. Bonus points for this quote: “Life blindsides you so hard you can taste the bright copper blood in your mouth then it beguiles you with a gift of profound and appalling beauty.”

Provinces of Night

By William Gay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The year is 1952, and E.F. Bloodworth has returned to his home - a forgotten corner of Tennessee - after twenty years of roaming. The wife he walked out on has withered and faded. His three sons are grown and angry. Warren is a womanising alcoholic; Boyd is driven by jealousy to hunt down his wife's lover; and Brady puts hexes on his enemies from his mother's porch. Only Fleming, the old man's grandson, treats him with respect and sees past all the hatred, realising the way it can poison a man's soul. It is ultimately the love of Raven…

Outer Dark

By Cormac McCarthy,

Book cover of Outer Dark

Why this book?

A book from a Pulitzer Prize-winning author should always be on any list about teaching new writers. With Outer Dark, McCarthy goes down a violent and disturbing route that’s more art than book. Its graphic scenes and heavy plot material won’t even be the most disturbing aspects of this book. It’s the lack of setting and time that will trigger deep existential feelings of a primal sort of fear that is difficult to explain. The book takes place in the deep south of the United States (possibly) sometime in the past. But how far in the past? How much time passes between the first page and last page? How do the brutal antagonists know the things they know? This book is perfect for setting the bar for how to properly handle the surreal and psychological aspects of writing, which in this book’s case is far more terrifying than a hook through the jaw or drinking the blood of a victim (I did explain the villains were brutal after all). 

Outer Dark

By Cormac McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

By Cormac McCarthy, the author of the critically acclaimed Border Trilogy, Outer Dark is a novel at once mythic and starkly evocative, set in an unspecified place in Appalachia sometime around the turn of the century. A woman bears her brother's child, a boy; the brother leaves the baby in the woods and tells her he died of natural causes. Discovering her brother's lie, she sets forth alone to find her son. Both brother and sister wander separately through a countryside being scourged by three terrifying and elusive strangers, headlong toward an eerie, apocalyptic resolution.

It Came from Memphis

By Robert Gordon,

Book cover of It Came from Memphis

Why this book?

In Memphis during the 1950s, there was Black and there was White, but the two rarely met. One of the few places where they did was in clubs and recording studios, and the sparks they struck started a fire that came to be called rock ’n’ roll. 

In this wonderfully rich stew of a book, author and filmmaker Robert Gordon walks the streets of Memphis, exploring the sights and sounds and smells of a unique, endlessly fascinating world. 

As Gordon’s publisher says, “This is a book about the weirdos, winos, and midget wrestlers who forged the rock ’n’ roll spirit.” As Rolling Stone says, “If you haven’t read this book, do it now.”

It Came from Memphis

By Robert Gordon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It Came from Memphis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vienna in the 1880s. Paris in the 1920s. Memphis in the 1950s. These are the paradigm shifts of modern culture. Memphis then was like Seattle with grunge or Brooklyn with hip-hop―except the change was more than musical: Underground Memphis embraced African American culture when dominant society abhorred it. The effect rocked the world. We’re all familiar with the stars’ stories, but It Came From Memphis runs with the the kids in that first rock and roll audience, where they befriended the older blues artists, the travails of blazing a rock and roll career path where one had not existed (nor…

To Win Her Favor

By Tamera Alexander,

Book cover of To Win Her Favor

Why this book?

Tamera and I had the same agent who said Tamera’s books and mine were similar in that both were “a cut above” your typical Christian romance. I concur because Tamera’s books are not only beautifully written, they are a wealth of spiritual passion that perfectly dovetails with classic romantic passion.

To Win Her Favor

By Tamera Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Win Her Favor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever.

An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He's come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he'd wagered, especially when…


Understanding Fiction

By Cleanth Brooks (editor), Robert Penn Warren (editor),

Book cover of Understanding Fiction

Why this book?

Well-chosen stories with commentary that makes sense. A classic. Both authors were founders with others of The Fugitives, who published for a short time a literary magazine at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee. Both were giants in the expanding popularity of fiction writing. As a teacher of creative writing and creating great fiction stories, I have found the wisdom of these writers essential in nurturing writers to elevate their work and careers.

Understanding Fiction

By Cleanth Brooks (editor), Robert Penn Warren (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ample collection of short stories, with essays, notes and questions for each.


Southernmost

By Silas House,

Book cover of Southernmost

Why this book?

I loved this book because it is beautiful in so many ways. It is a coming-of-age tale for many of the characters in a unique way. House challenged my view of ways to love, tolerance, and limits of belief. Additionally, I enjoyed this book because of its wonderfully crafted prose. With lessons richly sprinkled on its pages, it provided me with a new way of thinking. The cherry on top for me, was the quite unique plot that as the reader I followed and could not stop until I finished the last page.

Southernmost

By Silas House,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In the aftermath of a flood that washes away much of a small Tennessee town, evangelical preacher Asher Sharp offers shelter to two gay men. In doing so, he starts to see his life anew - and risks losing everything: his wife, locked into her religious prejudices; his congregation, which shuns Asher after he delivers a passionate sermon in defense of tolerance; and his young son, Justin, caught in the middle of what turns into a bitter custody battle.

With no way out but ahead, Asher takes Justin and flees to Key West, where he hopes to find his brother,…

The Foreign Student

By Susan Choi,

Book cover of The Foreign Student

Why this book?

In 1950s Sewanee, Chang and Katherine slowly fall in love and find that the Souths of Korea and Tennessee are not that different after all, both subject to lingering issues of class, family, race, and civil war. I love the poetic language in this novel, as well as its ambitious story and the complexity invested in every relation.

The Foreign Student

By Susan Choi,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Foreign Student as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This wonderful hybrid of a novel--a love story, a war story, a novel of manners--introduces a writer of enchanting gifts, a beautiful heart wedded to a beautiful imagination. How else does Susan Choi so fully inhabit characters from disparate backgrounds, with such brilliant wit and insight? The Foreign Student stirs up great and lovely emotions."  — Francisco Goldman, author of The Ordinary Seaman

The Foreign Student is the story of a young Korean man, scarred by war, and the deeply troubled daughter of a wealthy Southern American family. In 1955, a new student arrives at a small college in the…


Leading Men

By Christopher Castellani,

Book cover of Leading Men

Why this book?

If there is something written by Tennessee Williams that I’ve not read, I’d be surprised. All I’ve known about his personal life is that he was gay, but what that meant to him, or how he expressed it, were mysteries to me until I read Leading Men, a fictionalized account of Tennessee Williams’s 30-year love affair with Frank Merlo. Set largely in Italy, it’s filled with dazzling characters and backstage intrigue. It’s also a heartbreaking novel about life in the shadows of greatness. A book that hasn’t left me since I read it and I’m sure to read it again.

Leading Men

By Christopher Castellani,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An expansive yet intimate story of desire, artistic ambition, and fidelity, set in the glamorous literary and film circles of 1950s Italy

In July of 1953, at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren, a mysterious young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress. Their encounter will go on to alter all of their lives.

Ten years later, Frank revisits the tempestuous events of that fateful summer from his deathbed in Manhattan, where he waits anxiously for Tennessee to visit him one final time. Anja, now legendary film…

Book cover of My Own Country: A Doctor's Story

Why this book?

If someone else wrote this story, they’d say Abraham Verghese was a hero. He doesn’t. Instead, he describes his quest as a member of a foreign minority to become an American doctor, one who ironically finds himself striving to help young men who are outcasts in their own country. When AIDS first arrived in Johnson City, Tennessee in 1985 there was no way to test for the virus and no effective treatment. Fear ran rampant. A local undertaker didn’t want to put socks on the feet of a victim because he was afraid to touch the corpse’s bare feet. Some medical personnel refused to touch AIDS patients. Verghese became both physician and friend to his 81 patients, risking social and professional standing and endangering his marriage. Eventually, the burden of repeated patient death and of his family’s terror about his work led him to quit his post and study writing. This was not a cop-out, only a brief respite. He returned to the treatment of infectious diseases and wrote this poignant book. 

My Own Country: A Doctor's Story

By Abraham Verghese,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Own Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Doctor's storyof a town and its people in the age of Aids

Revelator

By Daryl Gregory,

Book cover of Revelator

Why this book?

This book took me by surprise. I thought I might like it—thus why I bought it—but from the first sentence I was hooked and in awe of the writing. Revelator is rich and dark and feels so real you can almost taste the food they're eating. But then, just when you’re feeling comfortable, you realize what this story is actually about. Revelator will blow your mind in the best way possible. 

Revelator

By Daryl Gregory,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

ONE OF THE WASHINGTON POST'S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR • The dark, gripping tale of a 1930’s family in the remote hills of the Smoky Mountains, their secret religion, and the daughter who turns her back on their mysterious god—from the acclaimed author of Spoonbenders.
 
“Gods and moonshine in the Great Depression, written with a tenderness and brutality … this is as good as novels get.” —Stephen Graham Jones, author of The Only Good Indians

In 1933, nine-year-old Stella is left in the care of her grandmother, Motty, in the backwoods of Tennessee. The mountains are home to dangerous…

Beard Science

By Penny Reid,

Book cover of Beard Science

Why this book?

Beard Science manages to be laugh-out-loud hilarious, thought-provoking, and utterly charming at the same time. Cletus Winston is one of those characters who’s stayed with me. He’s quirky and devious but has a heart of gold hidden beneath his bushy beard. He’s always overlooked Jennifer Sylvester, which is why it’s so perfect that she’s the one who challenges his view of the world. 

Jennifer has been living in the image her parents molded for too long, and when she decides enough is enough, she blackmails Cletus into helping her break free. Her story is one of self-discovery, and it’s uplifting to see her self-confidence grow until she knows she’s capable of standing on her own two feet. As a couple, Cletus and Jennifer are zany, endearing, and totally perfect.

Beard Science

By Penny Reid,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*Goodreads Choice Award Finalist for Best Romance *
*Amazon Top 10 Romances of 2016*
*AAR Top 10 Romances of All Time*

From the NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, & USA TODAY bestselling series.

Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need?

Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer…

Return the Innocent Earth

By Wilma Dykeman,

Book cover of Return the Innocent Earth

Why this book?

This emotion-rich novel chronicles three generations of a southern Appalachian family as they rise by ambition and hard work from indebted and nearly destitute farmers to wealthy owners of a national canning business. (In real life, Dykeman married into such a family.) As members of this fictional family feud with one another over the values of “tenderness and toughness,” communal trust and “money-greed,” and “the wild and the useful,” the reader gains insight into the prejudices and passions that have shaped the contemporary land and culture of southern Appalachia. Dykeman was the Tennessee State Historian from 1981 to 2002.

Return the Innocent Earth

By Wilma Dykeman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Return the Innocent Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Stay with Me

By Becky Wade,

Book cover of Stay with Me

Why this book?

A friend once told me to read Becky Wade because her books were similar to mine.

I did and wow, I loved her style and immediately put everything of hers on auto-buy! Realistic temptation and passion mixed with heart- and soul-wrenching life lessons—home run for the Christian romance reader!

Stay with Me

By Becky Wade,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stay with Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Contemporary Romance category of the Christy Award

Winner of the Romance Category of the Kipp Book Award

Loving her is a risk he can't afford . . . and can't resist.

When acclaimed Bible study author Genevieve Woodward receives an anonymous letter referencing her parents' past, she returns to her hometown in the Blue Ridge Mountains to chase down her family's secret. However, it's Genevieve's own secret that catches up to her when Sam Turner, owner of a historic farm, uncovers the source of shame she's worked so hard to hide.

Sam has embraced his sorrow, his…

Book cover of Bear in the Back Seat: Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Why this book?

If you’re in the mood for a lighthearted book about the national parks, Bear in the Backseat is an entertaining look at the experiences of a wildlife ranger at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It contains a variety of humorous anecdotes mixed with more sobering tales. This book will open your eyes to the difficulty in managing both wildlife and park visitors. It contains a variety of humorous anecdotes mixed with more sobering tales.

Bear in the Back Seat: Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

By Kim DeLozier, Carolyn Jourdan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bear in the Back Seat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#7 in the USA audio book in 2016#9 in the USA Wall Street Journal best seller in 2013Named A Top 50 Must Read for the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service.Named A Top 10 Must-Read Books That Could Save Our National Parks and the Environment along with John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Lewis & Clark, Bill Bryson, and Ken Burns.
Bear in the Back Seat I is the first volume in a series of true stories from “[a]n extraordinary landscape populated with befuddled bears, hormonally-crazed elk, homicidal wild boars, hopelessly timid wolves, and nine million tourists, some of whom…

The Eternal Ones

By Kirsten Miller,

Book cover of The Eternal Ones

Why this book?

Have you ever met someone for the first time, and felt like you’d known them forever? I have. On multiple occasions. Not just love interests, but friends, mentors, and others who have come and gone from my life at times when they were most needed. This particular story struck me hard as something I can identify with in this way, as it explores that phenomenon, and takes it one step farther toward the possibility of reincarnation, and the idea that we all have a single soulmate who we are meant to meet in every lifetime. I loved this idea, and it was well done enough to—again—still stick in my memory years later. 

The Eternal Ones

By Kirsten Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Eternal Ones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Haven Moore can't control her visions of a past with a boy called Ethan and a life in New York that ended in fiery tragedy. In our present, she designs beautiful dresses for her classmates with her best friend Beau. Dressmaking keeps her sane, since she lives with her widowed and heartbroken mother in her tyrannical grandmother's house in Snope City, a tiny town in Tennessee. Then an impossible group of coincidences conspire to force her to flee to New York, to discover who she is, and who she was.

In New York, Haven meets Iain Morrow and is swept…


The Memory House

By Linda Goodnight,

Book cover of The Memory House

Why this book?

I expected great things from this wonderful writer and was not disappointed. This was my first-ever split-time novel, and I was hesitant to pick it up because historical fiction isn’t my favorite genre. But this beautiful tale of love, duty, honor, devotion, and second chances seamlessly wove together two remarkable love stories—one present day, one Civil-War era—in a lovely, lyrical tapestry that tugged at my heartstrings. And as you can see from my list, it opened me up to other stories that use the split-time technique to tell generational stories.

The Memory House

By Linda Goodnight,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Memory House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times bestselling author Linda Goodnight welcomes you to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, and a house that's rich with secrets and brimming with sweet possibilities 

Memories of motherhood and marriage are fresh for Julia Presley—though tragedy took away both years ago. Finding comfort in the routine of running the Peach Orchard Inn, she lets the historic, mysterious place fill the voids of love and family. No more pleasure of a man's gentle kiss. No more joy in hearing a child call her Mommy. Life is calm, unchanging…until a stranger with a young boy and soul-deep secrets shows up in her…

On the Rocks

By Kandi Steiner,

Book cover of On the Rocks

Why this book?

Kandi Steiner has been described as the queen of angst and it is so true! On the Rocks brings the small town tension together with angst that will definitely keep you up at night. I couldn’t put this down as I kept going, page after page, to see how the two main characters were ever going to find a way to be together. I love that she also gives glimpses of side characters that will eventually get their own books. 

On the Rocks

By Kandi Steiner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Rocks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I'm the mayor's daughter. He's the town bad boy. I'm engaged to someone else... but my heart belongs to him.

Noah Becker is nothing but trouble.

That’s what Mama told me when I was a kid, kicking his pew in church and giggling at the games we’d play. It’s what the town said when his father died and the Becker brothers went wild. And it’s on repeat in my mind the day I walk into the whiskey distillery where he works to buy a wedding gift for my fiancé.

He's trouble.
Dirty, sweaty, rude trouble.

No matter how many times…

Summer at Hideaway Key

By Barbara Davis,

Book cover of Summer at Hideaway Key

Why this book?

Something was wrong. Bad wrong.” The book begins with a prologue that sets up the plight of two small girls, abandoned by their mother, and it immediately tugged at my heartstrings. I’m not always a dual timeline fan, but I love the way Davis weaves two stories together into this novel, that of present-day Lily, who has just inherited a beach house on Hideaway Key from her recently deceased father, and the tragic history of her aunt Lily Mae, told through a series of journal entries. I love (of course!) the mystery element in this book.

Due to a rift between her mother and her aunt, Lily knows absolutely nothing about her aunt Lily May. When she finds Lily May’s journal in the beach house she begins to uncover the long-kept secrets between her aunt, her mother, and her father—a tale of star-crossed lovers, sibling rivalry, and the heroic sacrifices of a loving heart. Meanwhile, as Lily begins to understand the past, she begins to open up to change in her own life. I loved that even though this book broke my heart in places, it also re-affirmed that there are good people in the world, and it left me smiling at the end.

Summer at Hideaway Key

By Barbara Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Summer at Hideaway Key as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of The Wishing Tide comes a stunning new novel about two summers, one journal, and the secrets that can break and open our hearts....
 
Pragmatic, independent Lily St. Claire has never been a beachgoer. But when her late father leaves her a small house on Hideaway Key—one neither her mother nor she knew he owned—she’s determined to visit the sleepy spit of land along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Expecting a quaint cottage, Lily instead finds a bungalow with peeling shutters and mountains of memorabilia. She also catches a glimpse of the architect who lives down the beach….
 
But…

Book cover of The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

Why this book?

A New York Times bestseller, this incredible true story tells about the top-secret World War II town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the young women brought there unknowingly to help build the atomic bomb. While in college in Eastern Kentucky, I was well-acquainted with a man who had worked at Oak Ridge, so I was especially interested in Kiernan’s story. I became aware of this book while writing my novel.

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

By Denise Kiernan,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Girls of Atomic City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestseller, now available in paperback—an incredible true story of the top-secret World War II town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the young women brought there unknowingly to help build the atomic bomb.

“The best kind of nonfiction: marvelously reported, fluidly written, and a remarkable story...As meticulous and brilliant as it is compulsively readable.” —Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City

At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, and consumed more electricity than New York City, yet it was shrouded in such secrecy that it did not…

Book cover of The Lost State of Franklin: America's First Secession

Why this book?

It’s been a decade since I wrote my novel that featured as a backdrop the conflict over North Carolina’s western (Overmountain) counties’ attempt to form the controversial State of Franklin, but I remember how helpful Barksdale’s book was in forming my understanding of the era, the place, and the people involved. If I didn’t, the copious highlights and notes I left in my copy of this book would be enough to jog my memory. This book was highly readable and rich in detail.

The Lost State of Franklin: America's First Secession

By Kevin T. Barksdale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost State of Franklin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amid the economic turmoil, Native American warfare, and political unrest following the Revolutionary War, the leadership of the Tennessee Valley declared their region independent from North Carolina and formed the state of Franklin. In The Lost State of Franklin: America's First Secession, Kevin T. Barksdale chronicles the rise and fall of the ill-fated Franklin statehood movement. Barksdale describes the dramatic four years in which the Franklinites crafted a backcountry bureaucracy, expanded their regional market economy, and nearly eradicated the southwestern frontier's Native American population, all with the goal of becoming America's fourteenth state. Although the Franklin statehood movement collapsed in…

The Overmountain Men

By Pat Alderman,

Book cover of The Overmountain Men

Why this book?

If you want your information supplemented with copious amounts of photos, sketches, maps, tax lists and other helpful records, as well as excerpts from original source documents, this is the book on the State of Franklin for you. It also covers the Battle of King’s Mountain and several other key eras and events in the formation of what became eastern Tennessee.

The Overmountain Men

By Pat Alderman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Overmountain Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume is a compilation of a series of booklets planned by the author to cover succeeding periods of early Tennessee history. Beginning with the long hunters in the 1760s, and the ending with the Tennessee's admittance to the Union in 1796, the thirty-six eventful years are divided into five sections: The Overmountain Men; One Heroic Hour at King's Mountain; The Cumberland Decade; State of Franklin; and Southwest Territory

Filled with photographs, maps, and illustrations, this compact, readable text includes "Sycamore Shoals Treaty, March 17, 1775" "Washington County List of Taxable 1778" "Signers of the Franklin Petition" and many other…


The Wataugans

By Max Dixon,

Book cover of The Wataugans

Why this book?

Another in-depth examination of the development of government in the Overmountain/East Tennessee region, lending a deeper understanding of what led to the failed State of Franklin movement, also covered in this book. A slender volume originally published as part of a series for Tennessee American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, it highlights many individual and conflicting viewpoints over the issues that impacted this region’s settlers and natives alike.

The Wataugans

By Max Dixon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Originally published as part of a series for the Tennessee American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, this well-written volume gives necessary background information and details the early activities in that area in the 1760s. It thoroughly covers the settlement during its vanguard role in the 1770s and chronicles the various events that brought a change from that of a holding action to one of aggressive expansion in the 1780s.

Book cover of The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks

Why this book?

It may be pure fiction, but Harington’s saga of the remote community of Stay More (home, of course, to the Stay Morons) is still the best, most entertaining history of the Ozarks in existence. Beneath the postmodern devices and 1970s-era subversiveness, Harington’s abiding love for the Ozarks and its people shines through. From the backcountry dialect to the intricacies of a century and a half of regional history, it remains – for my money – the best thing ever written about the Ozarks.

The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks

By Donald Harington,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jacob and Noah Ingledew trudge 600 miles from their native Tennessee to found Stay More, a small town nestled in a narrow valley that winds among the Arkansas Ozarks and into the reader's imagination. The Ingledew saga-which follows six generations of 'Stay Morons' through 140 years of abundant living and prodigal loving-is the heart of Harington's jubilant, picaresque novel. Praised as one of the year's ten best novels by the American Library Association when first published, this tale continues to captivate readers with its winning fusion of lyricism and comedy.

The Gwythienian

By Savannah J. Goins,

Book cover of The Gwythienian

Why this book?

I loved the adventure and world building in this book. Odan Terridor is a fantastical world hidden from most eyes filled with dragons, curious beasties, and a mysterious, powerful stone that makes the main character, Enzi (aka Mackenzie) invisible. As usual, the characters pulled me in. Enzi isn’t your beautiful-but-clueless heroine—she struggles with school, her weight, and a past trauma that’s truly heartbreaking (but tastefully done). It makes her victory at the end of the series so satisfying.

The Gwythienian

By Savannah J. Goins,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A magic relic missing from another world for years. A Tennessee teen who doesn’t know it’s hers. A dragon who needs it back, and just found out she has it.

He’s not the only dragon watching her now.

Seventeen-year-old Enzi Montgomery had worn the stone around her neck for years. It was set in a cheap metal fitting, nothing fancy.

But it made her wonder if she was crazy.

Sometimes, when she had it on, she could disappear. She couldn't make it happen. It just worked on its own. But always at convenient times, like when she'd needed to hide…


Shiloh

By Shelby Foote,

Book cover of Shiloh

Why this book?

Shiloh is an early novel by writer and historian, Shelby Foote, that recounts the story of this bloody battle through multiple perspectives—both Union and Confederate. Foote does a masterful job of portraying how the lives of the various narrators are interrelated, especially the lives of those in each of the armies. In addition, he illuminates just how crazed and violent the experience of the battle itself was—in contrast to the often quite rational, even humane men who fought it. The success of Shiloh also led to Foote writing his monumental three-volume The Civil War: A Narrative and playing a starring role in Ken Burns’ documentary on the war. 

Shiloh

By Shelby Foote,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This fictional re-creation of the battle of Shiloh in April 1862 is a stunning work of imaginative history, from Shelby Foote, beloved historian of the Civil War.  Shiloh conveys not only the bloody choreography of Union and Confederate troops through the woods near Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, but the inner movements of the combatants’ hearts and minds.  Through the eyes of officers and illiterate foot soldiers, heroes and cowards, Shiloh creates a dramatic mosaic of a critical moment in the making of America, complete to the haze of gunsmoke and the stunned expression in the eyes of dying men.
 
Shiloh, which…

Book cover of Windows on the Past: The Cultural Heritage of Vardy

Why this book?

Overbay grew up at the epicenter of Melungeon settlement in Hancock County, Tennessee. She attended the Vardy school, built for Melungeon children (who as descendants of “free people of color” weren’t allowed to attend public schools) by Presbyterian missionaries. This state-of-the-art school far surpassed in its facilities and offerings those of the local public schools, and it turned out several generations of accomplished young people. This book includes riveting oral histories about daily life in a Melungeon community and about the educational theories that inspired those who directed the school.

Windows on the Past: The Cultural Heritage of Vardy

By DruAnna Williams Overbay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Windows on the Past as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Windows on the Past: The Cultural History of Vardy features oral histories and images of Melungeon daily life such as church gatherings and family activities by focusing on the Vardy Community School, a Presbyterian mission school, and the Vardy Community Church. A vivid description of the community and its historical buildings is included as the interviewees discuss the classroom environment and teaching activities within the school. The impact of the school's staff and the spiritual and community leaders is also emphasized. Relative to these stories is the Vardy Community Historical Society, Inc., a group formed to restore Vardy landmarks and…


Book cover of Cades Cove: The Curse of Allie Mae (Cades Cove Series Book One)

Why this book?

This kind of story has been told countless times. In lesser hands, it might have been trite. But the author has taken great pains to create a rich world of Appalachian and Native American folklore that lends an incredible depth to the haunting tale of a young Tennessee girl wronged in another century. If you enjoy novels that harken back to an earlier, less civilized time in America and feature nail-biting scenes of supernatural horror, then I suggest you read Cades Cove: The Curse of Allie Mae.

Cades Cove: The Curse of Allie Mae (Cades Cove Series Book One)

By Aiden James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Ghost stories don't get any better than this." --J.R. Rain

Deep in a ravine in the picturesque Smoky Mountains is a very dark secret.

David Hobbs, vacationing with his wife Miriam, inadvertently stumbles upon a small cloth ‘keepsake’ bag and a broken tooth. A human tooth. Miriam begs David to hand the bag and tooth over to park officials, but he ignores his wife’s pleas and secretly keeps the ‘harmless’ items. The action opens a doorway that had been closed for nearly a hundred years and unleashes hell on earth, or at least hell in the lives of David and…

Book cover of Sightings: Extraordinary Encounters with Ordinary Birds

Why this book?

In Sightings, Sam Keen lays a gentle hand on your shoulder and invites you to share in his love affair with birds. From the Indigo Bunting to the Lord God bird, he describes his various encounters, weaving bits of his own history with illuminating glimpses into the avian realm. This slim volume is beautifully illustrated with paintings by Mary Woodin and venerable quotes, reminding us that the world, viewed up close, is a sacred place designed for those with open hearts.

Sightings: Extraordinary Encounters with Ordinary Birds

By Sam Keen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In twelve interwoven essays, Sam Keen, the "New York Times" best-selling author of "Fire in the Belly", shares moments of spirituality and insight that he's experienced while bird watching. Keen has been blessed with moments of beauty that he interprets with wit, wisdom, and a bit of down-home philosophy. From his childhood ramblings in the Tennessee wilderness to a heartbreaking drive through Arizona to a stroll on the shore of Lake Michigan on his 70th birthday, here are meditations on such universal ideas as friendship, the nature of the soul, and the disappointment that comes with getting exactly what you…

Book cover of Traveler's Companion to Montana History

Why this book?

The author, a history professor and Tennessee State Historian, provides an in-depth look into Montana history, region by region. The academic tone is nicely balanced by the people and events presented on the pages – plain folk to preachers and everything in between. A great companion to Jonathan Raban’s Badland.

Traveler's Companion to Montana History

By Carroll Van West,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Traveler's Companion to Montana History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Montana writer and historian Joseph Kinsey Howard described Montana as "high, wide, and handsome." It is difficult to find better words for Montana's geography. Between these covers, Carroll Van West discusses Montana's physical and historical landscapes, the settings for important events involving exploration, the military, Native Americans, miners, cowboys, homesteaders, and railroad builders as well as the physical remnants of Montana's prehistoric past. With this guide in hand, readers can discover a Montana past unavailable in more standard histories.

Book cover of American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation's Favorite Spirit

Why this book?

Clay Risen is a writer for the New York Times with an immense passion for whiskey and its history. It was he who broke the news that the famed Jack Daniels learned whiskey-making from an African American. Risen’s American Whiskey, Bourbon, and Rye is exactly what it bills itself as—a guide, and an incredibly useful one to the consumer. Risen provides a short history of whiskey in America, but most of the book provides advice. He helps readers make sense of the jargon used in the whiskey world, such as “straight bourbon,” “Tennessee whiskey,” and “white whiskey”. The book carries 300 reviews of American whiskeys, and its modest dimensions make it easy for the shopper to tuck under one’s arm. Don’t go whiskey shopping without it! 

American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye: A Guide to the Nation's Favorite Spirit

By Clay Risen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bible of American whiskeys, bourbons, and ryes has been updated! Arranged alphabetically by distillery and then brand, this expanded and revised edition offers histories, ratings, and tasting notes for over 300 whiskeys - with more than 100 entirely new entries. Each section includes the contact information of the featured maker, along with its various products. In addition to finding out how to get the best value for your money, you'll learn how to read a label, how to buy whiskey, which whiskey to give as a gift, and a full account of each bottling, including: age, proof, nose, colour,…

Book cover of Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through

Why this book?

Somewhere in their fourteen-page digression on the 18th-century non-binary American prophet Universal Publick Friend did I realize—once again—that I was nearly done with T Fleischmann’s enchanting book-length essay on transness, time, and art. I have read it three times! As a trans person, I love this book for its meditations on the transitioning body and its sexy tales of intimate encounters. It also offers a critical engagement with the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s work, as well as a memoir of discovery that, like Fleischmann themself, bounces from New York City to rural Tennessee and back again, charting a geography of queer friendship and memory. 

Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through

By T. Fleischmann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do the bodies we inhabit affect our relationship with art? How does art affect our relationship to our bodies? T Fleischmann uses Felix Gonzales-Torres's artworks-piles of candy, stacks of paper, puzzles-as a path through questions of love and loss, violence and rejuvenation, gender and sexuality. From the back porches of Buffalo, to the galleries of New York and L.A., to farmhouses of rural Tennessee, the artworks act as still points, sites for reflection situated in lived experience. Fleischmann combines serious engagement with warmth and clarity of prose, reveling in the experiences and pleasures of art and the body, identity…