G&G’s Summer Reading List

Editors, contributors, and Southern booksellers share the new novels, fresh nonfiction, and even a couple of cookbooks at the top of their book stacks

Wingwalkers, by Taylor Brown

I’m such a big fan of Taylor Brown’s novel River of Kings that I keep it in a prominent spot on my shelf. I can’t wait to dive into Wingwalkers, his latest work that follows a former World War I pilot and his wing-walking wife across the country, with a twist provided by William Faulkner himself. —David DiBenedetto, editor in chief

The Crocodile Bride, by Ashleigh Bell Pedersen

Oddly enough, I don’t mind my summer reading with a side of humidity, which is why the Virginia native Ashleigh Bell Pedersen’s debut novel delving into myths, legends, and multi-generational drama on the Louisiana bayou will be next on my nightstand. —Amanda Heckert, executive editor

Every Cloak Rolled in Blood, by James Lee Burke

In an interview with the best-selling eighty-five-year-old author James Lee Burke, I asked if a description of an old farmhouse came from his Louisiana and Texas childhood memories. It did. Fans of Burke are likely already finished with this, his newest rollicking read that’s also deeply personal; soon-to-be fans will tear through it, and then check out his extensive backlist. —CJ Lotz, senior editor

Bomb Shelter, by Mary Laura Philpott

In her new memoir, Mary Laura Philpott describes herself as an “anxious optimist,” a description with which I could not identify more. This self-inspection (both of the writer and, in my case, the reader) comes with all the humor and poignancy I’ve come to associate with Philpott’s writing. —Caroline Sanders, associate editor

Antipodes, by Holly Goddard Jones

Jones is from a small town in southwestern Kentucky, and her writing bears the faint imprint—it’s probably unavoidable—of Bobbie Ann Mason. You’ll find eighties ranch houses here, with off-brand Coke going flat on the kitchen counter and working-class folks perched between hope and disappointment. But what you’ll also find is a fresh and invigorating weirdness. —Jonathan Miles, contributing editor, in his review

A Haunted Road Atlas, by Christine Schiefer and Em Schulz

I’m packing this book, subtitled Sinister Stops, Dangerous Destinations, and True Crime Tales, for my next road trip—whether it’s to New Orleans, Charleston, or San Antonio—because this podcast host duo knows where to find each city’s best haunts and most bizarre legends. —Lady Vowell Smith, owner of the Snail on the Wall bookstore in Huntsville, Alabama

Sounds Wild and Broken, by David George Haskell 

Haskell’s Pulitzer Prize–nominated first book, The Forest Unseen, was set in a one-square-meter patch of Tennessee forest and remains my favorite example of environmental nonfiction. His latest work, which came out this spring, examines the world through its tapestries of sound, from birdsong to noisy city streets. Haskell has a way of using what usually goes unnoticed to tackle big questions about humanity and nature, and I have no doubt that after I read it, I’ll be a better—and more educated—listener. —Lindsey Liles, editorial assistant

Another Appalachia, by Neema Avashia

So far, I can’t put down this new memoir from West Virginia writer Neema Avashia, and I’ve loved learning more about her family, neighbors, and small pocket of Appalachia. Avashia carefully balances and binds together love and hardship as she recounts growing up as a gay Indian woman in an often overly simplified region of the South. —Gabriela Gomez-Misserian, digital producer

I Am from Here, by Vishwesh Bhatt

Written by an Oxford, Mississippi, chef with roots in Gujarat, India, this forthcoming read is a declaration of belonging and belief that doubles as an approachable and inspiring cookbook. Bonus: a whole dang chapter of okra recipes, including an okra chaat, sweetened with cane syrup and tossed with jalapeños and peanuts. —John T. Edge, contributing editor

Horse, by Geraldine Brooks

I am chomping at the bit (ha) to get my hands on Horse by Geraldine Brooks. Her book March, a retelling of Little Women from the perspective of their abolitionist father, was my introduction to Brooks and her singular brilliance. Her new novel entwines horse racing in the antebellum South with modern-day museum work, all tangled up in the eternal struggle of race relations in America. —Lauren Northup, contributor

The Crane Wife, by CJ Hauser

After reading this forthcoming memoir-in-essays by the warm, wise, wry, and wonderful CJ Hauser, author of the viral Paris Review essay “The Crane Wife,” you’ll have to go fix your face. Were you crying laughing or just crying? Both? Splash some cold water on your cheeks. That’s it. Now, go forth in peace with a new understanding of what it means to live and love. —C. Morgan Babst, contributor

George Masa’s Wild Vision, by Brent Martin

I’m excited about George Masa’s Wild Vision: A Japanese Immigrant Imagines Western North Carolina. Masa and his brilliant photography too often go uncredited for the role they played in developing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and this book both tells his story and exhibits his stunning work. —Wiley Cash, contributor

The Grand Design: A Novel of Dorothy Draper, by Joy Callaway

I look forward to traveling back in time to West Virginia’s Greenbrier Resort in 1946, when famed designer Dorothy Draper was hired to renovate this landmark. Using her artistry and unconventional design ideas, she transformed it into the bold, beautiful place we know today. —Lady Vowell Smith

The Hurting Kind, by Ada Limón

It’s comforting, amid a stack of thick novels and all the latest cookbooks I want to read, to keep a book of short poems to dip into like scripture. This one is in my summertime rotation, the latest from the open-hearted Kentucky-based poet Ada Limón, who writes earnestly about love, her Mexican American family, and the wildness of memory. —CJ Lotz

Rainbow Rainbow, by Lydia Conklin

Critically acclaimed writer Lydia Conklin brings us ten transformative short stories about love and selfhood, courage and ferrets. Have a rainbow cocktail, become a mother—or an ox in an immersive game of Oregon Trail—and come back to yourself, broadened, changed. —C. Morgan Babst

Nora Goes Off Script, by Annabel Monaghan

A rom-com about a working mom, set in a hundred-year-old house? Order me another frozen drink, please—this new novel is coming up next in my poolside reading stack.  —Mary Laura Philpott, author of Bomb Shelter and contributor

Her Country, by Marissa R. Moss 

Situating three current female country artists in the larger context of their genre, Moss highlights the women who came before them, the discriminatory obstacles the industry put in their way, and the progress that still needs to be made at the intersection of gender, race, and sexuality. Her Country should be required reading for every music lover. —Sarah Arnold, a director at Parnassus Books in Nashville

Oleander City, by Matt Bondurant 

The Wettest County in the World was a fabulous historical novel based on the author’s bootlegger ancestors in Depression-era Virginia—now I’m looking forward to seeing how Bondurant handles the 1900 Galveston hurricane in his new novel based on a true story.  —Beth Ann Fennelly, contributor

It Dies with You, by Scott Blackburn

I’m looking forward to readers getting their hands on Scott Blackburn’s debut novel, It Dies with You, about a prizefighter who seeks justice of his own after his father is murdered. —Wiley Cash

Fishing for Chickens, by Jim Casada

In his new food memoir, the outdoorsman and North Carolina writer Jim Casada makes an appetizing case that his Smokies stretch of the Appalachians serves up a distinct sliver of mountain memory. He includes recipes that pinpoint the flavors of his family’s home-cooked meals—“freshly caught trout wearing dinner jackets of stone-ground cornmeal fried to a golden turn and served with fried taters and onions,” he writes; Cherokee succotash; blackberry cobbler; “finely chopped ramps atop a dish of scrambled eggs cooked with real butter and partnered with a cathead biscuit.” —CJ Lotz