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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.
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!