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Welcome to the 2023 Southern Literature Reading Challenge! We’ll focus on books and authors from the southeastern region of the United States.
Table of Contents:
Definition of “The South”
Definitions of the South are flexible, so I’ve decided to base my definition on the current makeup of the Southern Legislative Conference:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
That said, I’m not looking for a debate and I’m flexible. These are only guidelines so use your best judgment.
- Read books by Southern authors set largely in the South
- You can read any genre, including fiction or nonfiction, classics, or contemporary works
- You can read books meant for any age group
- Crossovers with other challenges are fine
- Any format that you choose is also acceptable
- The challenge will run from January 1 through December 31, 2023
- A blog is not required for participation; you can also link to reviews on other sites such as GoodReads or Instagram
- Sign up anytime throughout the year
- I’ve tried to keep this simple but if you have any questions, reach out in the comments, via social media (links in my sidebar), or my contact form.
- Most importantly, have fun!
As a White woman from the South, I debated whether I should revive this challenge because of the ongoing racial injustices throughout the country. Some of our books glorify slavery, racism, Jim Crow laws, the Civil War, and the issues surrounding them, each of which I wholeheartedly condemn. Ultimately, I decided that, while these flaws must not be ignored and are a shameful part of our heritage, they do not constitute the entirety of that heritage. Southern writers add a strong, unique voice to literature. However, that voice is incomplete unless it includes BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) authors. I encourage participants to add BIPOC Southern authors to their book choices for this challenge. This is one of my personal goals and I will try to share my progress here. Please feel free to share any recommendations with me.
(Many, many thanks to my uncle for helping me write this section. He helped me clarify my stance while trying to be sensitive to the issues. Any missteps are inadvertent and my own.)
New and Optional for 2023: Categories
My primary purpose in hosting this challenge is to encourage readers to celebrate Southern authors. As such, I encourage you to read any book that speaks to you.
But I love a challenge list as much as anyone so I chose reading categories for those of you who might want some ideas or a more difficult challenge. These are completely optional but if you’re inclined, feel free to read from any or all of the four categories below!
The optional challenge:
- Read a classic Southern book (Oxford American has a list of the greatest fiction and nonfiction titles if you need suggestions)
- Read a book set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights era in the South (I’ve linked to a GoodReads list)
- Read a book written by an author who claims membership in a Native American tribe based in the South (I’ve linked to a list of Southeastern tribes at the National Congress of American Indians. You can then search for authors from one of the tribes on this list of Native American authors at the Internet Public Library. They even include lists of each author’s work.) Do you live in the South and want virtual bonus points? Search this interactive tribal map and read a book written by an author from a tribe whose traditional lands included your hometown.
- Read a book by a contemporary Southern author (Here are lists from Southern Living and It’s a Southern Thing to get you started)
I have a shelf on GoodReads with lots of books on it. There’s also a Best Southern Literature list on GoodReads that should give you some good ideas. Or you can reference the linked reviews from the 2022, 2021, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011 versions of the challenge.
Level 1–C’mon in the house! Read 1-2 books.
Level 2–Pull up a seat and stay a while! Read 3-4 books
Level 3–Have a glass of sweet iced tea, honey. Read 5-6 books
Level 4–Y’all come back now, y’hear! Read 7+ books
Spread the Word
If you like the idea of this challenge, please help me spread the word via social media using #2023southernlit. Please also add a link to this post and/or the challenge image to your sign-up and review posts. You can also tag me @IntrovertReader on Twitter, @Introverted.Reader on Instagram, or @IntrovertedReader on Facebook if you’d like and I’ll try to share. Thank you!
Sign Up Posts
I’m signing up at level 4 myself.
Please link directly to the post announcing your intention to participate (Not your home page), or your social media profile (Please keep in mind these links are publicly viewable).
I’ve had questions from GoodReads users about how to sign up through Mister Linky. I created illustrated, downloadable instructions (below). Let me know if you still have questions or need instructions for a different site!
Please link directly to your review and not your blog home page. My suggested format is your name and/or the title of your blog and then the title of the book in parentheses.
Example: Jen @ Introverted Reader (To Kill a Mockingbird)
I’ve also created illustrated, downloadable instructions for sharing GoodReads reviews through Mister Linky. Let me know if you still have questions or need instructions for a different site!
Wrap Up Posts
If you’ve completed the challenge, congratulations! If you choose to write a wrap-up post, you may link it here.