Arts & Culture

John Grisham’s Summer Reading List

The bestselling author on the new cookbook that’s got him excited about shrimp gumbo, the novel he’s re-read at least five times, and his “method” for organizing books

When John Grisham can get away to his vacation home on Amelia Island, Florida, where he and his family like to gather each summer, he’ll be busy doing what he calls “serious loafing.” And there will usually be a book in his hand. This spring Grisham released Camino Winds, and come October he’ll bring back Jake Brigance, the main character in his classic A Time to Kill, for the new legal thriller A Time for Mercy. We caught up with the bestselling Southern author to ask about his reading plans for the summer, wherever he might be loafing.

What are you looking forward to reading on the beach soon?
I’m reading Scott Turow’s latest, The Last Trial. I’ll read some of my favorites over the summer—Ian Rankin, James Lee Burke, Mickey Herron. Also, the new bio of Yogi Berra. My pandemic project is all six novels by Walker Percy—I’m about halfway through.

Do you have any books you go back to again and again?
I read The Grapes of Wrath when I was a senior in high school and have gone back at least five times since. Sophie’s Choice, at least four times. The Little Drummer Girl, four times.

What are your favorite Southern classic reads?
I’m probably done with Southern classics. I read Faulkner at gunpoint as a student. Oh wait, I want to read the collected short stories of both Flannery O’Conner and Eudora Welty

What scene in a book has made you laugh out loud?
I can’t recall a particular scene, but I laughed throughout A Confederacy of Dunces.

Cooking out of any cookbooks lately? Any favorites?
I don’t cook. I eat and drink. My favorite cuisine is Cajun food, and I bought my wife the cookbook Mosquito Supper Club. I’m lobbying for a pot of Maxine’s shrimp okra gumbo.

What do you think about the trend of organizing book spines by color? How do you arrange your books?
Wasn’t aware of this new trend. I’m very meticulous. I toss a pile on the shelf—some fall, others don’t—and I can never find the book I’m looking for.