Ten of My Favorite Books Set in the Southern Appalachians

Ten of My Favorite Books Set in the Southern Appalachians

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Top Ten Tuesday

Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl gave us a pass to choose our own topic this week. I’m from the southern Appalachian mountains, specifically the Blue Ridge mountains, and I love reading books set in my area. We have an abundance of natural-born storytellers so there are plenty to choose from. I’m limiting my choices to one book from each author, but here are ten of my favorite books set in the southern Appalachians.

Ten of My Favorite Books Set in the Southern Appalachians

Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith–I don’t have words to describe how much I love this book. The main character, Ivy Rowe, feels like a family member.

She-Rain by Michael Cogdill–Beautifully written

One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash–Most readers are probably most familiar with Mr. Rash’s novel, Serena. While I did like that one, One in Foot in Eden spoke more to me and my deep familial ties to the region.

Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland by Jeremy B. Jones–This author seems to be about my age. He perfectly describes what it’s like to watch a place you love changing so rapidly before your eyes.

The Jack Tales by Richard Chase–You know “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Jack the Giankiller”? There are a lot more tales about that trickster Jack if you just know where to look. Settlers from the UK brought their old folk tales and nursery rhymes with them when they settled the Appalachians, and a strong oral tradition saved many of them.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen–I recommend any of Sarah Addison Allen’s novels, but this is my favorite. They’re light magical realism, usually with a touch of romance, and they always make me happy. (I just noticed that in my review I wrote that Garden Spells is my favorite! I guess I changed my mind somewhere along the way.)

All over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg–I recommend any of Mr. Bragg’s memoirs too (I haven’t read any of his other work). This was the first and arguably the best. I can never decide if I prefer listening to this as narrated by the author or whether I like savoring every written word. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Some of the events might be difficult, but Mr. Bragg almost always finds at least a grain of humor in every situation.

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier–We’re probably all familiar with either this book or the movie. I admire the female characters, doing what they have to in order to survive the Civil War years. (I haven’t watched the movie. I’m irrationally irritated that the moviemakers decided not to film it in North Carolina.)

Brighten the Corner Where You Are by Fred Chappell–Something of a coming-of-age-story, the humor of this book explores some serious themes.

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver–This is probably my favorite of Kingsolver’s books. I can just feel the indolent heat of a humid August day when I think about it.

What are your favorite books set in your corner of the world? Have you read any of books from my list? Link up every Tuesday at That Artsy Reader Girl!

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  1. I read All Over But the Shoutin’ when it was first published. I absolutely loved it and tell myself that one of these days I’ll read it again. I love listening to Bragg speak (watched several videos years ago when the book came out). He is funny and his accent is marvelous! I haven’t read any other books by him, but enjoyed his monthly column in Southern Living for many years. What a gem!

    Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors and while I loved The Prodigal Summer, I think Flight Behavior is my favorite. I’m looking forward to her new book later this year!

    1. I haven’t read Flight Behavior. I’ll have to look for it.

      I saw Rick Bragg speak at my local bookstore when he was on tour for his Jerry Lee Lewis biography. He’s a captivating storyteller!

  2. Great choice of topic 🙂 Barbara Kingsolver has been on my TBR for a while and still haven’t picked up one of her books yet and I haven’t heard of this one before but it does sound good!

  3. visiting this link from your Sunday Post and I’m sorry I missed it on the TTT blog hopping I did. But, I’m glad I found it now – though I’m not from the area, I’ve long wanted to visit (I’m in Seattle) and see that part of the country. I’m going to keep this list on hand – looks like a great collection!
    Terrie@Bookshelf Journeys

  4. Ah, the Sugar Queen! That was my introduction to the wonder of Sarah Addison Allen. Have you ever read Heather Webber’s books (starting with Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe)? You might enjoy them. She writes with a vibe similar to that of Allen.

    Stop by and see my first ever Top Ten Tuesday!

  5. I really enjoyed The Sugar Queen. I love mountains too. I’ve never seen the Appalachians in person, but they’re lovely in all the movies I’ve watched. Besides the Sugar Queen, I’ve only read The Hunger Games. I’m not sure if District 12 is in the Blue Ridge Mountain area specifically, but I know it’s near the Appalachians.

    1. I think District 12 is in the coal mining part of the Appalachians, so probably more around Virginia or Kentucky. But definitely in the southern Appalachians.

      The District 12 scenes in the first movie were filmed about 10 minutes away from my best friend’s house. She took me by there to explore after they finished filming. I think they had a lot of vandalism and graffiti shortly after that so they’ve limited or cut off access now. I can’t remember. But it was neat when the first movie finally came out and we watched it together, knowing that we’d walked around there. I think NC got greedy with tax breaks or something in the other movies so they were filmed elsewhere.

  6. Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer is one that has stuck with me for many many years. I don’t know the others on your list as much.

  7. Ooh what an excellent topic. I love it when books really capture the essence of a geographic area. and how much better when when it’s our home area or an area we’re familiar with? Bearwallow sounds amazing, and Sarah Addison Allen is an author who’ve I kinda wanted to try…

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