Arts & Culture

July Reading List

Summer is here and so are new novels, a collection from Julia Reed, beach lit, a beautiful typography book, and one wiggly memoir.
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Catfish Dream, by Julian Rankin

Ed Scott Jr. was a family man, entrepreneur, and the first black man to farm catfish in the Mississippi Delta. Author Julian Rankin spent time at the Southern Foodways Alliance’s writing residency to pen this inspiring true tale of gumption and triumph over racial injustice.

Clock Dance, by Anne Tyler

The Raleigh, North Carolina–raised author Anne Tyler has written more than twenty novels and won the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons in 1988. Her latest work of fiction is set in Baltimore and features a charming cast of eccentric neighbors.

Don’t Make Me Pull Over!, by Richard Ratay

I call shotgun! This nonfiction work is a lighthearted, nostalgic look at something deeply American—the road trip during its midcentury heyday, before cell phones and Google Maps.

Don’t You Ever: My Mother and Her Secret Son, by Mary Carter Bishop

A true, profoundly human telling of a Virginia family’s long-held secret that is unearthed by one of its members—the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Mary Carter Bishop.

Jell-O Girls: A Family History, by Allie Rowbottom

This surprising page-turner of a memoir tells the story of the drama-haunted family behind the wiggly dessert that went on to become one of the most profitable businesses in American history (and a favorite Southern ingredient).

South Toward Home: Adventures and Misadventures in My Native Land, by Julia Reed

Don’t miss G&G contributor Julia Reed at her best, sharing her fanciful interactions and hilarious romps through the South. The collection of her Garden & Gun columns features a foreword by Jon Meacham.

The Lost Country, by William Gay

A posthumously published Southern Gothic novel by short story master William Gay (The Long Home; I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down), Lost Country is an eerie, stream-of-consciousness drift through storms, death, and mystery in midcentury Tennessee.

Pickles: A Global History, by Jan Davison

A perfectly pocket-sized pickle primer covering everything sour, from German sauerkraut to kosher dills to Latin American ceviche.

Safe Houses, by Dan Fesperman

If you’re going to treat yourself to a spy thriller over a beach weekend, make it Safe Houses, a novel set between West Berlin and a farm town in Maryland with CIA secrets lurking in the middle.

Winslow Homer and the Camera, by Dana E. Byrd and Frank H. Goodyear III

One of the giants of American painting in the nineteenth century, Winslow Homer also had a fascination with lens and shutter. The images he captured on trips to Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba inspired his late-career paintings of tropical life.

Winslow Homer, Palm Trees, Homosassa River, Florida, c. 1904, Gelatin silver print.

photo: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick. Gift of the Homer Family.

Saving Beck, by Courtney Cole

The writer of this wrenching, ultimately hopeful novel about a young football star who becomes addicted to heroin lives in Florida and has dealt with addiction in her own family. Her experience makes Saving Beck both believable and nearly impossible to put down.

Goodtype: The Art of Lettering, by Brooke Robinson

The Instagram account @goodtype features a community of hand-letterers and art fans nearly a million strong, and the founder Brooke Robinson’s roots are in Austin, Texas. This coffee-table tome collects work from the @goodtype community and is full of inspiration for budding calligraphers, graffiti appreciators, and those who love custom details.

Hand-lettered matchboxes from Joe Swec, a muralist and sign painter in Austin, Texas, photographed in Goodtype: The Art of Lettering.

The History of Landscape Design in 100 Gardens, by Linda A. Chisholm

You’ll be the most in-the-know garden clubber with this read that feels like a botanical vacation around the world. Images and illustrations of a hundred beautiful greenspaces include Southern estates Mount Vernon and Monticello in Virginia, and Middleton Place in South Carolina.

The Medium of Desire, by Alex McGlothlin

Two seeming opposites—a bohemian painter in Richmond, Virginia, and a corporate climber in New York—drift through the stages of love in this novel, with art as their relationship’s backbone.

The New Inheritors, by Kent Wascom

Louisiana writer Kent Wascom sets his third novel in New Orleans, the Mississippi coastline, Cuba, and Nicaragua, sketching a portrait of young love and the dramatic ways one family is forever tied to the Gulf.

The Wrong Heaven: Stories, by Amy Bonnaffons

Darkly comic and visionary, the Athens, Georgia–based writer Amy Bonnaffon’s debut story collection is memorable for its whip-smart writing and imaginative situations: a woman who injects herself with hormones to turn into a horse; chattering Jesus and Mary lawn statues, the Virgin with a “slight British accent, like Julie Andrews.”