Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
I grew up in the South, in Georgia to be exact, and was lucky to be exposed to some really great Southern books from an early age. These are books that I read and loved growing up, or discovered later as an adult, and that really evoke the South for me.
1. Rich in Love by Josephine Humphreys. I know I’ve talked about this book several times before, but it is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a story about what it means to be a family, as told from the perspective of 17-year-old Lucille–a coming-of-age novel that meant a lot to me when I was going through my own coming-of-age.
2. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. Most people have either heard of this book or seen the movie with Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand, which was good but can in no way compare to Conroy’s beautiful, lyrical prose. The kind of book you want to read aloud–the writing is that good.
3. Peachtree Road by Anne Rivers Siddons. I absolutely loved this book when I first read it as a teenager. I haven’t read it since to see how it has held up over time, but I’ve read other books by Siddons and enjoyed them as well. She was also the first author I corresponded with, and I’ll never forget the kind and encouraging letter she wrote back to me.
4. Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson. I only discovered Jackson’s novels a few years ago, but I’ve since fallen in love with her storytelling, and I’ve listened to them all on audio (including the latest that I’m listening to at the moment!). Her writing is good, but there’s something about hearing her read it herself, with her voice that makes you feel like you’re a friend she’s telling the story to… This book is her first, and a good place to start if you’ve never read her before.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. You didn’t think I could leave this one off the list, did you? This book changed the way I saw the world. I first read it when I was in the sixth grade, and I’ve since re-read it several times. A great story, with characters that you will never forget. The movie, with the gorgeous Gregory Peck as Atticus, is wonderful as well.
6. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. Taking place in the southern Appalachians in the summertime, the flora and fauna of the area are almost another character in the story. I remember that about the South I grew up in, the feeling that it was a wild place, and being connected to nature in a way that I haven’t felt since.
7. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. I read this last year and loved the elements of magical realism that somehow feel real in the context of the deep South. I have read other books by her since and not enjoyed them as much, but this one is worth a read.
8. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. A great story of friendship and the bonds of Southern women.
9. Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon. I read this one when I was young and I’m a bit fuzzy on the details now, but it revolves around a young boy growing up in a small town in Alabama and is simply magical.
10. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. A fascinating book of non-fiction based on a landmark murder case, but the real star of the book is the city of Savannah. Read it before you visit, and you’ll definitely look at the city in the different light.
Ten was too short of a list to include all the great Southern novels and writers I started thinking of once I got started–I really needed to put Alice Walker, Kaye Gibbons, and Ellen Gilchrist on this list, to name just a few. But it’s a start.