The Bitter Southerner surveys five great indie booksellers to bring you a list of nine new Southern books — and one monumental reissue — for your vacation reading season.
Roundup by Kyle Tibbs Jones
Thunder is shaking the rafters and rain is blowing sideways through the windows. Everything is wet and I don't really care. I’m trying to convince myself this might actually be better than mopping.
I love how summer storms wash the sticky off of everything. I feel lighter after the earth gets a good soaking. It's also the only time in the South's hard-core hot months when you can catch a breeze.
Mostly though, when it’s raining cats and dogs, I want to read.
There's nothing like a stormy summer afternoon for getting lost in a book. The truth is, summer is reading season no matter what — when it’s hot as Hades, in the early evenings, in the middle of the night as buzzing insects bounce off window screens. At the beach, in the bed, in the mountains, on a plane, on a train ... anywhere.
Whether we read constantly or only “in season,” sometimes we all look around and feel a bit intimidated by the stack of unread books. When that happens, we’re probably just out of the reading rhythm and a good choice is all we need to get our groove back. Sometimes, we feel behind because we've missed so many of the greats. Why should I buy this new book when I've got so much catching up to do? Well, I say, this summer, let’s not think like that. Instead, let’s dig into a few new books we can love and enjoy and rave about to our friends. Let’s read the good stuff. The juicy. The delicious. The funny.
So, as The Bitter Southerner does annually, we’ve made you a list of great Southern reads for the summer. I've called five independent booksellers around the South and we’ve rounded up some books with real potential.
I talked with Frank Reiss at our old standby, A Cappella Books in our hometown of Atlanta, Jamie Kornegay at Turnrow Books in Greenwood, Miss., Tom Lowenburg at Octavia Books in New Orleans, Matt Nixon at The Booksellers at Laurelwood, a 30-year institution in Memphis, and to Rachel Watkins at Avid Bookshop over in our beloved Athens, Ga. From their recommendations, we present our Top 10, based on the consensus choices.
I bet there’s a summer book in here for most all of you. Take a look. Decide what fits, and go buy one or two from your local independent bookstore.
Don’t wait for a rainstorm.
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The World’s Largest Man
by Harrison Scott
by Jaime Kornegay
by Brian Panowich
A Clear View of the Southern Sky
by Mary Hood
by Nell Zink
The World is on Fire
by Joni Tevas
by Sally Mann
The Class of 65 - A Student, A Divided Town & The Long Road to Forgiveness
by Jim Auchmutey
The Nashville Sound
by Paul Hemphill
And Two Bonuses From BS Writers
Two other authors whose work have appeared in The Bitter Southerner have books that would also make great additions to your summer stack. Joe Samuel Starnes, who wrote the great “A Boy, His Granddad and the Monumental Courage of Henry Aaron” for us last year, has a great new novel set in the world of sports: “Red Dirt: A Tennis Novel.” And “Big Fish” author Daniel Wallace, who gave us his essay “Killings” earlier this year, has his 2013 novel “The Kings of Queens of Roam” out in paperback.