Why We Love the Gulf

Five Great Gulf-Set Beach Reads

An author and historian shares his reading list for a trip to the Gulf Coast

Photo: Jess Spence

From the plate tectonics that created the Gulf to the oystermen, tarpon chasers, and artists who have shaped its story, historian Jack E. Davis’s new book, The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea, is the first to tell the full tale of the region. Here, Davis picks his favorite Gulf-set beach reads.

  • Goodnight, Texas

    Goodnight, Texas by William J. Cobb

    “In this crisply written tragicomic novel stocked with vivid characters, a Gulf Coast town confronting diminishing oil and shrimping prospects, a looming hurricane, and West Nile virus grasps for hope—and sanity—in a giant zebra fish that washes ashore.”

  • Creole Belle

    Creole Belle by James Lee Burke

    “A master stylist and storyteller, Burke casts one of his most engrossing, plot-twisting Louisiana mysteries against the oil spill of the ages.”

  • Salvage the Bones

    Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

    “As Hurricane Katrina presses toward the Mississippi coast, the affecting voice of the young narrator in this heart-warming and -wrenching National Book Award winner draws in readers from the first page.”

  • Bad Monkey

    Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

    “Hiaasen moves to the Gulf side of Florida’s wacky southern tip, taking with him the usual repertoire of rollicking misadventures, criminal farce, feral characters, and comparatively tame wildlife.”

  • Isaac’s Storm

    Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson

    “The narrative in Larson’s breakthrough book, recounting the drama of the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, is endowed with a force that compares with the great storm itself.”

    >See more reasons why we love the Gulf