Arts & Culture

March 2019 Reading List

Welcome spring with wanderlust-worthy travel books, a haul of great cookbooks, and powerful photography collections
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See You in the Piazza, by Frances Mayes

We’ll follow the author Frances Mayes anywhere, whether that’s under the Tuscan sun or through her native South when she pens a lovely ode to the scent of a magnolia. In her latest book, Mayes, who grew up in Fitzgerald, Georgia, and has spent much of her life in Tuscany, shares an insider’s eating-and-drinking tour through Italy as the locals know it. Bonus: Like many Southerners, she’s generous with sharing her favorite recipes—such as risotto spiked with prosecco and spaghetti with olives and shrimp.

In Pursuit of Flavor, by Edna Lewis

Edna Lewis, who died in 2006, was revered as the first lady of Southern cooking. She knew every trick in the book (because she wrote it): Season she-crab soup with roe. Punch up cheese straws with extra-sharp cheddar and cayenne. Balance a salad with both bitter and sweet greens. As Mashama Bailey, the heralded chef of the Grey in Savannah, writes of Lewis in this re-released classic cookbook’s new foreword: “Three decades later, her voice continues to lead the way for chefs young and old.”

Fishing the Jumps, by Lamar Herrin

“Fishing the jumps” is a term that describes catching fish while they’re frenzied and feeding just below the surface. “In fishing the jumps there comes a moment when an insatiable hunger rises up in you and everything turns wild,” writes the author Lamar Herrin in his lyrical new novel that’s a story of friendship and memory recounted over time spent on the water.

The New Pie, by Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin

Doctors by day and award-winning pie-bakers by night, Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin have given a gift with this book—their perfect-crust secrets, filling tips, and baking tricks, and decorating hacks, plus 75 Instagram-worthy recipes for berry, chocolate, and custard pies—oh my!

Betty Kuhner: The American Family Portrait, by Kate Kuhner and Steven Stolman

The photographer Betty Kuhner captured family portraits of dozens of the most powerful tribes in mid-twentieth century American history, including the Kennedys and the Pulitzers. Some of the black-and-white snaps gathered here include her 1960s photographs of denizens of Palm Beach, Florida, that reveal the era’s casual glamour—designer Lilly Pulitzer among palm fronds and Estée Lauder and family perched beneath a gracious floral awning.


Lilly Pulitzer in Palm Beach, Florida, 1961.
Photo by Betty Kuhner

Thank You for Smoking, by Paula Disbrowe

It’s about time for warmer weekends and patio dinners, and with that in mind, Paula Disbrowe, the Austin-based cook and writer, shows wood smoke can elevate most meals. The one hundred recipes here span San Antonio-style flank steak tacos, smoked farro with wild mushrooms, and even cocktail ingredients such as pickled cherries.

Lot, by Bryan Washington

The short stories in Lot center around working-class characters in Houston and explore themes of love and identity. More importantly, the debut declares Bryan Washington, who has written for The New Yorker, a gifted young storyteller.

Shoot for the Moon, by James Donovan

Just in time for the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11’s lunar landing comes an in-depth space-exploration history by Dallas-based author James Donovan. He puts the space program’s current and past relevance in perspective and reveals little known astronaut tidbits such as the story of Buzz Aldrin smuggling aboard a tiny vial of wine so he could take communion in space.

Joy: And 52 Other Very Short Stories, by Erin McGraw

In these quick, delightful reads, the Sewanee, Tennessee-based writer Erin McGraw imagines the lives of such characters as mothers, siblings, the drummer of a fading band, and the personal assistant to Patsy Cline. At turns poignant and hilarious, you might just read it all in one sitting.

On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas

Young adult writer and Jackson, Mississippi, native Angie Thomas gained legions of fans young and old with her debut novel-turned-film The Hate U Give. In the follow-up, her characters delve further into the importance of music, place, and finding their own voices.

Walks to the Paradise Garden: A Lowdown Southern Odyssey, by Jonathan Williams. Edited by Phillip March Jones. Photographs by Roger Manley, Guy Mendes.

Long unpublished, this masterwork collection of rare stories and photos of now-famous Southern folk artists including Howard Finster and Lonnie Holley was first assembled in the early 1980s and almost lost to time after the death of writer Jonathan Williams in 2008. Now resurrected, the work is being published in conjunction with an exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Cemetery Road, by Greg Iles

A small Mississippi town that’s full of dark secrets, a powerful poker club, and conflicted characters with plenty to lose—here is the Natchez, Mississippi-based suspense writer Greg Iles at the top of his game.

Salt Smoke Time, by Will Horowitz, Marisa Dobson, and Julie Horowitz

Reading these homesteading, foraging, fishing, and hunting tips and game recipes feels like taking a mountain vacation. Recipes to savor include pickled chanterelle mushrooms and a hunter’s sausage spiked with ground juniper berries.

Blue Muse, by Timothy Duffy

The tintype images Timothy Duffy captures of blues musicians resonate with emotion and timelessness. This book of his portraits has been released in conjunction with an exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and also marks twenty-five years of his Music Maker Relief Foundation, which supports the work of generations of blues, gospel, and folk performers.