Editor's Letter

From the Editor: Good Reads

A few thoughts on great Southern reads—and announcing our upcoming book club


DiBenedetto among the shelves at Buxton Books in Charleston, South Carolina.

You never quite know what’s going to arrive in the mail at the G&G offices. I received a stunning handmade wooden memorial for Pritchard, my late Boykin spaniel, from a reader in Madisonville, Louisiana, that truly stole my breath. There are always letters from readers suggesting ideas and occasionally giving a stern but loving correction about something we may have gotten wrong in the pages, a Southern tsk-tsk. Once we received a very pregnant-looking USPS box stuffed with black walnuts, and there have been countless country hams and numerous garage-crafted duck calls. But one constant is a litany of new books from publishers.

Most of those volumes pile deep on senior editor CJ Lotz’s desk. Among other duties, Lotz keeps everyone apprised of what’s coming, works on the popular seasonal book roundups, and frequently corresponds with authors, like James Lee Burke and Beth Macy. Of her conversations with Burke (who has a piece on p. 162 of this issue), she says, “He’s so generous with his stories and his wonderful laugh.”

Much like Lotz, a self-described “book nerd,” I’ve been a reader ever since I could ride my dirt bike to the local library on Wilmington Island in Savannah. I always gravitated to Jack London’s tales of the Yukon or C. S. Forester’s Hornblower series (which I cadged from my old man’s bookshelf), and I’ll never forget when Wilson Rawls ripped my heart out with Where the Red Fern Grows. This past year, I’ve been immersed in several great Southern reads, including Black Cloud Rising by David Wright Faladé, Ride South until the Sawgrass by James Chapin, A Year without Months by Charles Dodd White, and S. A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland. I don’t have room here to go into depth, but I heartily recommend anything from that list.

I know from much of the correspondence we receive that you all appreciate a good book, too. Which is why I’m delighted to announce that this January we’ll unveil our online book club, G&G Reads. Along with recommendations on new releases, you’ll see editors chatting with their favorite authors, learn about cherished indie bookstores, and much more. Think of us as what the writer Arthur Koestler called your “library angel.” To make sure you don’t miss the rollout, visit G&G Reads. Until then, happy reading.

Follow David DiBenedetto on Instagram and Twitter at @davedibenedetto.