Arts & Culture

June Reading List

Welcome summer with a stellar new book haul, including buzzy debut novels, a visually stunning tour through mezcal territory, and two story collections by Southern authors that are perfect for poolside afternoons. Oh, And a Bottle of Rum.

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Florida, by Lauren Groff

In an assemblage of moving, nearly unnerving stories, Lauren Groff, who lives in Gainesville, mines the Sunshine State from inside the minds of Old Florida and New Florida residents: a “vanished daughter,” neighborhood gentrifiers, porch sitters, and snake chasers.

Country Music USA, by Bill C. Malone and Tracey Laird

Historian Bill C. Malone updated every chapter of his Country Music USA for a fiftieth anniversary edition. It’s a definitive book that starts in the rural South and inspired Texas author Larry McMurtry to note, “If anyone knows more about the subject than [Malone] does, God help them.”

There There: A Novel, by Tommy Orange

The fierce, memorable debut everyone will be talking about this summer tells intertwining stories of twelve modern-day Native American characters traveling to a powwow. A new literary voice, Tommy Orange is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.

The Traveling Feast, by Rick Bass

G&G contributor and prolific author Rick Bass uses his divorce and his love of literature and food to map a trip. On stops along the way, he pays homage to the writers who inspire him, including William Faulkner and Eudora Welty.

Finding Mezcal: A Journey into the Liquid Soul of Mexico, by Ron Cooper

Soulful photography, crisp cultural storytelling, and forty cocktail recipes make up this beautiful tome on the past, present, and future of the delicious, smoky spirit. Get the recipe for a mezcal mule here.

Espiridión Morales Luis, at Santo Domingo Albarradas, from Finding Mezcal: A Journey into the Liquid Soul of Mexico.

Photo: Michael Toolan

Fabergé Rediscovered, in the Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens series

The glamourous Southern socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post collected art, jewelry, and exquisite Fabergé eggs and decorative objects created by a jeweler to the Russian court.

Southernmost, by Silas House

The latest novel from Kentucky writer Silas House starts with a flood and explores family relationships, fear, and belief. Read Jonathan Miles’s review here.

Sweet & Low, by Nick White

Mississippian Nick White gathers in his stories the stereotypical places and faces and aspects of the South—juke joints, whiskey-logged writers, Gatlinburg tourists, a summer-time heat “so thick it has texture and personality”—and tosses out the sap in favor of unvarnished characters set against a brooding, beautiful region.

Tell the Machine Goodnight: A Novel, by Katie Williams

With her debut novel for adults, Louisiana-based author Katie Williams, who earned her MFA at the University of Texas at Austin, zeroes in on a collective worry—are we controlling our devices or are their grips fastened on us? No judgment if you’re reading this from your cell phone screen.

Life in the Garden, by Penelope Lively

Many writers have a special relationship to gardens, a link the British author and Booker Prize winner Penelope Lively harvests beautifully and honestly in an elegant memoir.


My Soul Has Grown Deep: Black Art from the American South, published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Flip through a collection cataloging paintings, quilts, drawings, and sculptures created by black artists from the mid-twentieth-century South. Among them: Gee’s Bend quilters in Alabama and artist Lonnie Holley.

And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails, by Wayne Curtis

This revised version of the rum-soaked romp of a book that first came out more than a decade ago from G&G’s drinks writer Wayne Curtis is now fully updated—most importantly, with new cocktail recipes.