Arts & Culture

May Reading List

Nearly a dozen new books, including a groundbreaking never-before-published work from a heralded Southern author. Plus, poetry about man’s best friend, a moving memoir, and Texas like you’ve never seen it before.

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Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”  by Zora Neale Hurston; foreword by Alice Walker

This never-before-published work from the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God is a chance to read a beloved Southern novelist working in a different medium—ethnography. In 1927 in Plateau, Alabama, Hurston recorded the memories of 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis, the last living person brought to America on a slave ship. Between time spent tending his garden, sharing peaches or watermelon, or repairing his fence, he told Hurston stories about his childhood in Africa, the time he crossed the ocean as “cargo,” and the years he spent in slavery. A profound work that shows a writer in the process of gathering a landmark story.

A Dog Runs Through It: Poems, by Linda Pastan

We’re signing up for heartbreak, / We know one day we’ll rue it. / But oh the way our life lights up / The years a dog runs through it.

That’s one of the poems in this book of verse about dogs by a National Book Award finalist. We’re all in.

Session Cocktails: Low-Alcohol Drinks for Any Occasion, by Drew Lazor and the Editors of Punch

Lower-proof cocktails mean you can easily enjoy a second round. Grab your favorite bottle of rosé and your blender and make a batch of this made-for-day-drinking frosé.


The Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family, and Flowers, by Marcia Gay Harden

The actress Marcia Gay Harden (Miller’s Crossing, Mystic River) comes from a family of Texans. Here, she goes into all the personal and poignant details about her relationship with her mother before and after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

The Fair Chase: The Epic Story of Hunting in America, by Philip Dray

Threads of conservation, patriotism, and politics weave together in the story of sporting life in the United States. Check out G&G contributing editor Jonathan Miles’s review here.

Country Houses: The Architecture of Mark P. Finlay, by Mark P. Finlay

Architect Mark P. Finlay shows off a dozen of his most charming homes from South Carolina to New England. Get a sneak peek at one Virginia horse country stunner here.

Get a sneak peek at Mark P. Finlay’s Virginia horse country stunner here.

photo: Eric Piasecki 

Distilling the South: A Guide to Southern Craft Liquors and the People Who Make Them, by Kathleen Purvis

This handy reference book is a collection of trail maps to distilleries, recipes for cocktails, and interviews with the men and women who are leading the craft spirits charge throughout the South.

As Far as You Can See: Picturing Texas, by Kenny Braun; foreword by S. C. Gwynne

An outdoor photographer gathers, in images, the multifaceted beauty of the Lone Star State—Gulf Coast dunes, cypress swamps, leafy vineyards in Fredericksburg, and the majestic splendor of wild Caddo Lake.

“Foggy Bottom, near Hochheim, 2016” from As Far as You Can See: Picturing Texas, by Kenny Braun

photo: Kenny Braun

Atticus Finch: The Biography, by Joseph Crespino

A history professor at Emory College in Atlanta mines author Harper Lee’s views of her Alabama lawyer father as the model for Atticus Finch—both as a standup attorney in To Kill a Mockingbird and as a more conflicted character in Go Set a Watchman.

The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry, selected by Paul Kingsnorth

Whether you’re new to the words of Wendell Berry or a longtime fan of this Kentucky poet, farmer, and land-protector, you’ll want to add this tome of unforgettable, earth-moving Southern outdoors writing to the shelf.

Green Escapes: The Guide to Secret Urban Gardens, by Toby Musgrave

Sized perfectly to toss into a backpack, this wanderlust-inspiring book includes 250 tucked-away greenspaces in more than 150 cities worldwide—including a handful of Southern gems in Texas, Florida, and Georgia.

Tudor Place, Washington, DC, included in Green Escapes: The Guide to Secret Urban Gardens.

photo: Ron Blunt