Curl Up With a Great Southern Read

Guest post by Erin Z. Bass, Editor/Publisher of Deep South Magazine


As summer 2009 approached and visions of long days at the beach and/or pool swam through our heads, we decided to create a Summer Reading List. Sure, Oprah already does it, but we were disappointed by the lack of Southern titles on her list. The South has such a long, and famous, literary history, that we thought the region deserved its own list. But we didn’t want to just revisit the classics by Faulkner, Welty or Capote. We wanted to tell our readers about authors who are writing about the South today—and rivaling their famous counterparts.
The first Deep South Summer Reading List included authors like Joshilyn Jackson, John Brandon, Dorothea Benton Frank, Nicole Seitz, Carl Hiaasen, Pat Conroy, Rebecca Wells, Mary Kay Andrews, James Lee Burke, Minrose Gwinand Ryan Anderson. We also decided to ask publishers if they’d like to send us a book to give away in conjunction with the list. Almost all said yes, and some sent two or three books.
This past summer, we did it again. Books like Michael Lee West’s Gone With a Handsomer Man, Karen Russell’s Swamplandia and the 75th anniversary edition of Gone With the Wind just begged for a beach chair and glass of sweet tea. Readers nearly lost their marbles over free books again, and some started begging for a second list to take them through the chilly days of fall and winter.

On Nov. 8, we delivered with the Deep South Fall/Winter Reading List. We knew this list had to be a little different. Maybe a little darker, with a few more mysteries and thrillers. Instead of lounging in a deck chair, these books had to make you want to curl up by the fire and sip on hot cider or cocoa. We researched other reading lists, including Oprah’s again, visited Barnes & Noble and contacted some publishers.

The subject matter of the books on the resulting list is indeed a bit darker, and mysteries abound. There’s Charles Frazier’s Nightwoods, a novel of suspense and love set in the North Carolina mountains. Karen White’s The Strangers on Montagu Street is a spooky tale filled with ghosts and Charleston history. Fall Line by Joe Samuel Starnes is being compared to Deliverance for its Georgia river setting and backwoods characters. And Erika Marks’ debut novel Little Gale Gumbo blends the cultures of New Orleans and coastal Maine with a dash of voodoo.

So as not to take away from the fanfare of our summer list, we decided not to give away all of the books on the fall/winter list, but readers do have the chance to win a few select titles. We’re also thrilled to partner with Better World Books on the current list and encourage our readers to purchase through this site in support of literacy and the joys of reading not just in the South, but around the world.

Visit to view the Fall/Winter Reading List and lots of other stories about the South. Our Southern Literary Trail App, included in Sutro World, is also now available on iTunes. Like us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter @deepsouthmag.

Have you read any of the books above? What’s your favorite piece of Southern literature? We’d love for you to share below.

*Note* The above blog post is a guest blog from Deep South Magazine Editor, Erin Bass. This content does not necessarily reflect the views of Better World Books (as our lawyers make sure we say). We love having guest bloggers and invite you to email if you are interested in covering a book or topic on the BWB Blog. Thank you, Erin for the list and for including BWB as the place to buy. Book for Book! 

One Comment

  1. Lou Ann Schulz says:

    I love all of Kaye Gibbons’ books.

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