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HottyToddy.com Lists Top 100 Books of the South

william-faulknerThis blog by HottyToddy.com contributor Emily Gatlin originally appeared on BookRiot.com and appears here with permission.

A Book Riot reader from the Midwest was so intrigued by my love letter to Flannery O’Connor, she tweeted me and asked if I had a copy of my Southern literature class reading list. She always wanted to dig into Southern lit, but didn’t know where to start. I suddenly realized that if you aren’t exposed to Southern lit, you really don’t know where to start. Sure, you’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird, and yeah… that Faulkner guy was from Mississippi (let’s face it, Faulkner’s words ain’t easy on the brain). But what else is there?

I started to make a list of Southern books I had in my personal library, and I had around 70 that I would be willing to tell a stranger to read. Bookseller extraordinaire Joe Hickman of Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi helped me fill in some gaps, and we exchanged a few notes on upcoming releases. Lemuria is by far the best bookstore in the South because they have a huge staff full of people who know their stuff. Plus, they have ALL THE BOOKS. Seriously. The books overflow off the shelves all over the floor. Great place.

A few notes: some authors have so many good books, I just listed the ones I liked the most. In the case of Faulkner, I picked his more accessible novels. There is some really great nonfiction included and a lot of really great nonfiction NOT included. I had to cut it off at some point.

I suggest you pour yourself a glass of single barrel bourbon, make a batch of cheese straws, and start reading.

  1. A Childhood: The Biography of a Place – Harry Crews
  2. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
  3. A Death in the Family – James Agee
  4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
  5. Airships – Barry Hannah
  6. A Land More Kind Than Home – Wiley Cash
  7. A Lesson Before Dying – Ernest Gaines
  8. All Over But the Shoutin’ – Rick Bragg
  9. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
  10. Apostles of Light – Ellen Douglas
  11. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
  12. A Streetcar Named Desire – Tennessee Williams
  13. A Time to Kill – John Grisham
  14. The Awakening – Kate Chopin
  15. Bastard Out of Carolina – Dorothy Allison
  16. Bats Out of Hell – Barry Hannah
  17. Big Bad Love – Larry Brown
  18. Black Boy – Richard Wright
  19. Blues All Around Me – B.B. King
  20. Brother to a Dragonfly – Will Campbell
  21. Burning Bright: Stories – Ron Rash
  22. Before Women Had Wings – Connie May Fowler
  23. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  24. Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters – Robert Gordon
  25. Child of God – Cormac McCarthy
  26. The Civil War: A Narrative (I-III) – Shelby Foote
  27. Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier
  28. Cold Sassy Tree – Olive Ann Burns
  29. *The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty – Eudora Welty
  30. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
  31. The Complete Stories – Flannery O’Connor
  32. The Courting of Marcus Dupree – Willie Morris
  33. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter – Tom Franklin
  34. Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man – Fannie Flagg
  35. Deep Blues – Robert Palmer
  36. Deliverance – James Dickey
  37. Delta Wedding – Eudora Welty
  38. Ellen Foster – Kaye Gibbons
  39. The End of California – Steve Yarbrough
  40. Every Day By the Sun – Dean Faulkner Wells
  41. The Fall of the House of Zeus – Curtis Wilkie
  42. Father of the Blues – W. C. Handy
  43. Fire in the Morning – Elizabeth Spencer
  44. Geronimo Rex – Barry Hannah
  45. Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues – William Ferris
  46. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  47. The Great Santini – Pat Conroy
  48. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
  49. Hell at the Breech – Tom Franklin
  50. House of Prayer No. 2 – Mark Richard
  51. I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down – William Gay
  52. It Wasn’t All Dancing and Other Stories – Mary Ward Brown
  53. Joe – Larry Brown
  54. The Keepers of the House – Shirley Ann Grau
  55. The Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom
  56. Known World – Edward P Jones
  57. Lanterns on the Levee – William Alexander Percy
  58. The Last Gentleman – Walker Percy
  59. The Last Girls – Lee Smith
  60. The Last of the Southern Girls – Willie Morris
  61. Light in August – William Faulkner
  62. The Little Friend – Donna Tartt
  63. Long Time Leaving: Dispatches from Up South – Roy Blount Jr.
  64. Look Homeward, Angel – Thomas Wolfe
  65. The Mind of the South – W.J. Cash
  66. The Moviegoer – Walker Percy
  67. Mudbound – Hillary Jordan
  68. The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure – Jack Pendarvis
  69. Native Guard – Natasha Tretheway
  70. North Toward Home – Willie Morris
  71. Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All – Allan Gurganus
  72. Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored – Clifton Taulbert
  73. One Foot in Eden – Ron Rash
  74. One Mississippi – Mark Childress
  75. The Optimist’s Daughter – Eudora Welty
  76. Other Voices, Other Rooms – Truman Capote
  77. Poachers – Tom Franklin
  78. The Prince of Tides – Pat Conroy
  79. Provinces of Night – William Gay
  80. The Quiet Game – Greg Iles
  81. Raney – Clyde Edgerton
  82. Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 – John Barry
  83. Run with the Horseman – Ferrol Sams
  84. Salvage the Bones – Jesmyn Ward
  85. Salvation on Sand Mountain – Dennis Covington
  86. The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
  87. Serena – Ron Rash
  88. The Sharpshooter Blues – Lewis Nordan
  89. Shiloh and Other Stories – Bobbie Ann Mason
  90. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
  91. Southern Belly: A Food Lover’s Companion – John T. Edge
  92. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom – Peter Guralnick
  93. Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
  94. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  95. Victory Over Japan – Ellen Gilchrist
  96. Walking Across Egypt – Clyde Edgerton
  97. Welding with Children – Tim Gautreaux
  98. Wise Blood – Flannery O’Connor
  99. Work Shirts for Madmen – George Singleton
  100. Zeitoun – Dave Eggers

Coming soon:

  1. The Death of Santini – Pat Conroy (Nan A. Talese)
  2. Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt (St. Martin’s Press)
  3. Men We Reaped – Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury USA)
  4. The Realm of Last Chances – Steve Yarbrough (Knopf)
  5. The Resurrectionist – Matthew Guinn (W.W. Norton)
  6. Rivers – Michael Farris Smith (Simon & Schuster)
  7. Someone Else’s Love Story – Joshilyn Jackson (William Morrow)
  8. Sycamore Row – John Grisham (Doubleday)
  9. This Dark Road to Mercy – WIley Cash (William Morrow)
  10. The Tilted World – Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly (William Morrow)

emilygatlinEmily Gatlin spent four years as the manager of an independent bookstore in Mississippi. In 2012, she was nominated to serve on the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Board of Directors. She is a contributor for Book RiotFood Riot, and also writes for Invitation Oxford and Mud & Magnolias Magazine. Occasionally, she updates her own blog, A Prose For Emily.

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