Your Southern Summer Reading List

By Hannah Lenore Gray

Summertime is the perfect opportunity to catch up on your reading. We've put together a list of the best new releases from our favorite Southern authors to keep you busy all season long.

1.    “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari (Penguin Press; June 16)

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Thanks to today’s technology the dating game is nothing like it used to be. Columbia, S.C. native Aziz Ansari (with the help of NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg) set out to analyze the nuances of dating and flirting in the 21st century (Is sexting a big deal? Should you really be using emojis to flirt? Do only creepy people use Tinder?). By setting up internationally conducted interviews, focus groups and of course, a research forum on Reddit, the project team manages to create a novel with the comedic standard expected from Ansari coupled with intelligent and culturally pertinent information. I call that a double win. 

2.    “Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald” edited and with an introduction by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan (Arcade; July 7)

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The relationship between Southern icon, Eudora Welty, and crime fiction writer, Ross Macdonald, is chronicled in this intimate look into the lives of two literary greats. With commentary and an introduction by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan (expert biographers of Welty and Macdonald, respectively) readers are invited to delve deep into the minds of the writers, who share conversations regarding everything from writer’s block to the Vietnam War. This collection of letters allows for the duo’s legacies to expand, encompassing the richness of their personal words alongside their already revered professional voices.

3. “Blue Fasa” by Nathaniel Mackey (New Directions; May 5)

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Mackey’s sixth collection of poems satisfies a summer palate with its chronicling of wanderlust — of the metaphysical kind. The poems feature a group of travelers who move throughout time, music, geography and mythology. And though it sounds hard to digest, the two intertwining serial poems featured in the work are interesting and enlightening. Perhaps “Blue Fasa” is not your typical beach read, but it certainly will grab your attention. 

4.    “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee (Harper; July 14)

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Close to 60 years after she originally wrote it, Harper Lee’s second novel is set to debut this summer. A sequel to her hit “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the story reintroduces the audience to Scout, who is 20 years older and a woman in her own right. Staying true to the humor and emotion characteristic of her premier novel, Lee again reminds readers why her work is regarded as a masterpiece and why her words can transcend centuries. Though time has passed in both the novels and reality, the messages within Lee’s work remain steadfast and relevant. 

 5.    “Hold Still: A Memoir With Photographs” by Sally Mann (Little, Brown and Company; May 12)

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A renowned photographer famous for her black and white photographs, Sally Mann has switched artistic mediums, lending her point of view through the power of a pen rather then a camera lens. In her memoir, the author sets out to explore her Southern family’s history, discovering a mess of scandal and shadow along the way. Her memoir is multifaceted, juggling personal drama and historical nonfiction in one fell swoop.