Southerners have a way with words. Take Atlantan Emily Giffin who has penned a slew of international best-sellers. Her sharp, conversational writing brings to life multifaceted heroines sifting through matters of the heart.
We’ve been hanging on her every word since her first novel Something Borrowed debuted in 2004. And there was a collective sigh when the preview copy of her latest book Where We Belong arrived at Southern Livng HQ earlier this spring. The pastel cover, with Emily’s moniker perched across the top in that familiar lowercase typeface, assured us summer days and good reads were just around the corner.
Where We Belong, the story of Marian Caldwell a thirty-something television producer whose cushy life is turned on-end with an unexpected visitor from her past (nope, we’re not going to divulge the identity, though it is awfully tempting), hit stands on July 24. In celebration of her new book, we asked Emily–a devotee to the South’s rich literary tradition–to share her Top 10 Southern Must Reads. Here’s her list:
1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
“The original Southern classic and one of the first to be written in the vernacular. Arguably one of the most important books in American—let alone Southern—literature.”
2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Mitchell is one of my literary heroines—and Rhett Butler is the fictional character I’d most want to bed. Need I say more?
3. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
“I was in the eighth grade when I first read about Frankie. She made me feel as if I weren’t the only one longing to be part of something larger. One of my favorite books of all time.”
4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
“A lyrical love story that I read in an African American literature course at Wake Forest. I can still recall how profoundly it moved me.”
5. One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty
“An autobiography of one of my favorite writers. This book was a gift from my mother when I graduated from law school at the University of Virginia. She knew I didn’t really want to be an attorney!”
6. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
“A story of a Confederate soldier deeply wounded, yet yearning to be home with his love, this book is the saddest I’ve ever read. I actually threw it across the room after I read the last page, yet I’ve tortured myself by rereading it.”
7. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
“A coming-of-age tale about the importance of motherhood. Incidentally, it was the first book I read after I moved to Atlanta and my twin sons were born.”
8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
“A modern classic written by my friend and fellow Atlantan. I remember when Kitty came to my Love the One You’re With launch party and told me about the story about black maids she’d just penned. Little did we all know…”
9. The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor
“Utterly original, colorful, and haunting stories. My favorite, in a grotesque way, is Everything That Rises Must Converge. I consider O’Connor to be the greatest inspiration for my own morally flawed characters.”
10. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A perfect book. Period.
What Southern read would you add to the list?