36 Deep-Fried Delish Southern Books And Writers

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Are you looking for some of the best Southern books and writers? Find classic and contemporary Southern novels, historical fiction, romance, literature, and so much more.

As native New Englanders who moved to Florida and then North Carolina, we could not imagine a better way to acclimate with the South than through Southern books.

Actually, first, we ate all of the deep-fried pickles and fried green tomatoes.  Hushpuppies are Southern too, right

Then, we read some of the most famous Southern authors and their books about the South. We wanted to know: what is the South really about?

We also asked friends, librarians, teachers, bookstagrammers, and other bloggers for the best books set in the South that would transport us there and teach us more.

Equally, what were their favorite or best Southern books of all time?

Below, find Southern novels including romances, nonfiction, indie, YA, thrillers, and mysteries. 

Discover books about Southern culture, and find historical and gothic fiction that will transport you to a different time in history.

Please remember that the “best” books about the South is also subjective, and we’d love to hear your favorites in the comments. Let’s get started!

Read around America with our 50 States Book List.

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Who are amazing Southern authors, and what are the most riveting books set in the South? We asked our favorite bloggers, and these are the top Southern novels they recommend.

P.S. Find some of these books about the South here:

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Looking to read more Southern writers? Or, are you headed across America and hoping to read more books set in the South? Save this reading list for later to inspire your travels.

Table of Contents

Most Talked About Contemporary Southern Books

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett book cover with swirls of blue, pink, yellow, and orange colorsPin

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

One of the best books of 2020 and a strong book about sisters, The Vanishing Half follows the lives of two Black sisters growing up in the Deep South.

The Vignes twins each choose a different path based on the color of their skin, embracing or denying who they are.

An intensely poignant and authentic novel about race and racism — set in Louisiana and California in the 1950s to 1990s — readers see just how deeply these mothers’ choices and feelings affect their lives and influence their children.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi black and pink divided book cover with black woman with hands in a prayer like steeplePin

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

If you are looking for fictional books set in the south that read like nonfiction, don’t skip Transcendent Kingdom.

A book about racism, mental health, and science versus faith and religion, follow a family of Ghanaian immigrants living in Alabama.

Their lives are filled with depression and prescription pill addiction. A med student at Stanford, Gifty studies addiction within mice hoping to help her mother. She also tries to reconcile her belief in God. 

You can also read more about Transcendent Kingdom on our books set in and about Ghana reading list.

Where The Crawdads Sing By Delia Owens book coverPin

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

One of the most talked-about southern books of 2018, Where The Crawdads Sing topped all of the bestselling book charts.

Set in rural North Carolina, follow along with this coming-of-age story and shocking southern murder mystery.

Kya Clark, the “marsh girl,” is accused of the murder of Chase Andrews.  However, not everything is as it seems.

Discover the meaning of love and how to overcome a prejudiced society and the loneliness from that isolation.

In 2022, Where The Crawdads Sing was adapted into a movie

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones book coverPin

An American Marriage by Tayri Jones

An Oprah Book Club suggestion, readers follow along with newly married Celestial and Roy.  Unfortunately, the honeymoon ends early. 

Arrested and sent to jail for a crime he did not commit, Celestial loses her husband for what could be over a decade.

During that time, Celestial seeks comfort in Roy’s best man just as his sentence is suddenly shortened.  When circumstances are out of our hands, will the institution of marriage, love, and vows prevail?

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler white book cover with gold leafPin

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

Reminiscent of Little Fires Everywhere meets Romeo and Juliet, the wealthy and white Whitman family moves into close-knit Oak Knoll, North Carolina, destroying the neighborhood.

The war waged is about way more than killing Valerie’s beloved tree, though.

Find one of the most gripping and heartbreaking Southern novels about racism, corruption, and men abusing power.

A Good Neighborhood is also the perfect North Carolina novel for book clubs.

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Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

One of the best books set in the South from 2021, head to Virginia in Razorblade Tears.

This is a gripping and violent story about a Black father and a white father who become friends to seek revenge on the people responsible for killing their married sons.

Both Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee are ex-cons. They’ve been ashamed and unaccepting that their sons are gay.

Unfortunately, all were on bad terms when their sons were brutally murdered in front of their favorite wine shop.

The police don’t have many leads, and all that the families have left are Derek and Isaiah’s young daughter. Who would want to kill these law-abiding, community-oriented, and kind young men?

Although Buddy Lee and Ike have been trying to do their best since prison, their grief and guilt (and old habits) are far too powerful; they vow to find their sons’ murderers and kill them.

Thus begins a bloody road filled with gang violence, retribution, and self-growth.

Thought-provoking and fast-paced, this complicated story will engross you, break your heart, and smash assumptions. Talk about the ultimate friendship book too.

There are many TWs, including violence, homophobia, transphobia, alcoholism, abuse, and racism. 

Fiction books about the deep south Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward book coverPin

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Southern book recommendation from Lindsey from To Make Much of Time

Winner of the National Book Award in 2017, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward explores one Gulf Coast Mississippi family’s struggle to survive.

The world is working against this family in many aspects: The socio-economic challenges of the rural south, racism, drug abuse, and the gaping maw left by absentee fathers.

Thirteen-year-old Jojo is at the epicenter of all of these factors.  Trying to make sense of the world as he comes of age, he fears the impending loss of his grandmother.

The characters are heartbreakingly real, and Ward adds a fascinating dimension of magical realism through the inclusion of deceased characters and other supernatural events.

Uncover even more ghost books to read.

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Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

Southern book submission from bookstagrammer, Jennia

The unconventional Bigtrees are as much of an attraction as their moldering, gator-centered, family-run amusement park.

The clan soon faces an uncertain future, both for themselves and their beloved park when star-of-the-show and mother Hilola succumbs to ovarian cancer.

The three adolescent children and their father scatter like seeds in the wind, each one embarking on an implausible journey filled with struggle and revelation.

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The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

Southern books submission from Rachel of Never Enough Novels

The Almost Sisters is a quirky southern novel featuring deep family ties, race relations, nerd culture, and an unsolved murder.

Leia returns to Alabama to take care of her aging grandmother and tell her family about her unexpected pregnancy.

When she discovers a family secret hidden in the attic, the discovery unleashes a torrent of consequences for the whole town.

The Almost Sisters has a multitude of storylines, but Jackson does an incredible job tying them all together. It’s humorous, thought-provoking, and ultimately a novel you’ll want to read more than once.

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Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

One of the hardest Southern books to digest on this reading list, meet 5 different women in Odessa, Texas in the mid-1970s.

All of these women are deeply affected by the brutal attack of Gloria, a young Mexican girl. Watch poverty, racism, abandonment, and a failed justice system at its worst.

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The Removed by Brandon Hobson

A somber and moving 2021 book release set in Oklahoma, Hobson weaves a tale of Cherokee folklore and family in a powerful story about family, addiction, home, and grief.

Readers also get a glimpse into the painful and brutal ‘removal’ and murder of Cherokee families from their homes by white soldiers.

When a racist police officer kills Ray-Ray, the Echota family is never the same. With a father who battles Alzheimer’s, they take in a foster child while their own adult children are lost in and to the world.

The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix book cover with orange peaches with bite marks leaking bloodPin

The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

One of the most talked-about vampire books set in South Carolina, don’t miss The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix.

This Southern book comes with content and trigger warnings for domestic abuse, suicide, violence, and sexual assault.

Patricia wishes for more excitement in her life, especially after reading true crime stories for her book club.

It doesn’t help that she and her friends are deemed skittish, hysterical, and weak Southern housewives by their deplorable husbands.

When members of the community – including young children – start disappearing and taking their own lives, all clues point to the new guy in town.

“Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt.”

Unfortunately, proving that James is a vampire sounds impossible, especially when he’s bringing all of their families great wealth. He is a guy’s guy, and the husbands love him.

James is cocky AF and never sated, though, which might be his downfall. Not all of the women will come out alive, but can Patricia save her family?

For thrilling books set in the South and horrifying monster books, The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires has gore, feminism, and horror.

Discover even more great books about reading and book clubs.

Historical Fiction Set In The South

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Guests on Earth by Lee Smith

 Thanks to the award-winning writer, Cat Michaels, for this recommendation

Guests on Earth is one of the southern books on this list inspired by a true story. Dr. Robert S. Carroll ran Highlands Hospital for Nervous Disorders, built in Asheville, NC, in the early 1900s. 

Highlands removed patients’ chains and straight jackets and instead, offered them fresh air, exercise, and creative arts along with counseling.

F. Scott Fitzgerald spent much of his time in residence at Asheville’s nearby Grove Park Inn.  Highlands treated Fitzgerald’s beautiful Zelda, a brilliant creative who likely was bipolar.

No spoiler here because of historical fact: Zelda was one of nine women who perished when the hospital burned to the ground in 1948. 

Told by a young woman who enters as a patient and later became an instructor at Highlands, Smith seamlessly weaves fact with fiction.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead red and white book cover with two Black teenagers walking and talkingPin

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

A 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction award-winner, The Nickel Boys is based loosely on a true story about the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida.

Elwood Curtis, an ambitious and talented young Black man, battles growing up in a racist society filled with racist policies.

When he is unfairly sent to the ‘reform’ school, his life and promising future of higher education are over — no matter how hard he tries.

Sadly, the surprise ending isn’t a surprise in this society. The Nickel Boys is by far one of the best historical fiction novels about Florida.

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All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

Thanks to Sheere of Keeping Up With The Penguins for this recommendation

Hailed as “the definitive novel about American politics” by the New York Times, All The King’s Men is a long and intense exploration of power and masculinity in the 1930s American South.

Jack Burden, a former history student turned political aide, witnesses and documents the rise of Governor Willie “The Boss” Stark.

Rumored to be based on the career of real-life Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long (a claim Robert Penn Warren always denied), this southern novel charts a remarkably similar fall from grace for the fictional protagonist, against the beautiful backdrop of an unnamed Southern state.

While the absence of women and people of color from the narrative is frustrating, the story remains startlingly resonant in today’s populist political climate. See the full review of All The King’s Men on KUWTP→

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The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Book recommendation from Tori of Tori-Leigh.

Freedom and the power of voice. Sue Monk Kidd – author of The Secret Life of Bees (another southern favorite) – brings us this masterpiece of historical fiction.

On her eleventh birthday, Sarah Grimke is uncomfortably gifted Hetty, a slave in the Grimke household. Kidd, a master at emotional storytelling, never once romanticizes the deep south.

Rather, she channels the sorrow into an opportunity to introduce that people are capable of something better. 

The Invention of Wings follows the two women over the next few decades as they both experience love, loss, guilt, betrayal, and hope.

Despite their many setbacks, both women strive to find purpose in their lives and discover their inner voices. 

Sarah’s character is based on her historical counterpart, a true abolitionist and catalyst for the women’s rights movement.

Themes of hope, freedom, storytelling, and discovering the power of using just one, small voice are seamlessly woven into this heartbreaking and empowering story. 

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Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith

Southern books submission from Lindsey from To Make Much of Time

Fair and Tender Ladies, published in 1988, is an epistolary novel that follows Ivy Rowe from childhood through life’s milestones.

This masterpiece accentuates Ivy’s hardships, challenges, and culture unique to her Appalachian upbringing during the middle part of the 20th century.

Lee Smith grew up in such a community near Grundy, Virginia (near the Kentucky border).

Southern Romance Books

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Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton

Recommendation from CJ of A Well-Read Tart

Glory Road follows three generations of women as they navigate life and love in their sleepy Alabama town.

Denton’s relaxed and evocative writing draws readers into a deliciously slow, Southern summer.  The days seem to stretch on forever and anything seems possible, making this book the perfect escape read.

Glory Road is brimming with long-lost love, budding new romances, and comfortable, small-town charm.  At the heart of it all is a message about taking chances and counting on the people you care about.

Flower buffs will love the gardening tips at the beginning of each chapter.  Foodies will love the Southern treats Gus bakes up, several of which inspired this mouth-watering Peach Cobbler Pound Cake.

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First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Books set in the south submission from CJ of A Well-Read Tart

First Frost, the second book in the Waverley Family series, is set in the Southern town of Bascom, North Carolina.

This enchanting southern novel steeped in magical realism is a food lover’s delight; the story follows the culinary adventures of candy-maker and caterer Claire, who can magically inspire people with the delicious food she makes.

What would any charmingly sweet story be without a little romance, both for Claire and her teenage daughter, Bey, who starts falling for the wrong-but-oh-so-right boy.

First Frost also brings all the cozy, seasonal vibes as Bascom prepares to throw its annual “First Frost” festival to celebrate the fall season.

Be sure to check out Claire’s signature fig and pepper bread recipe, which it’s apparently not First Frost without. If you love magic and witchy books, this one is for you.

Read even more of our favorite novels about food.

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Thrillers And Mystery Books Set In The South

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The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

A 2020 psychological thriller set in small-town North Carolina, follow Rachel Krall, a true-crime podcaster.

Recruited into the coverage of a new trial as well as an unsolved murder case, deadly drama finds Rachel. Can she solve the case before it’s too late?

If you love seriously spooky books, The Night Swim will fulfill your true crime obsession and have you looking over your shoulder.

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Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes (Rose Gardner Mystery #1) by Denise Grover Swank

Southern mystery submission from Kal of Reader Voracious.

Twenty-four-year-old Rose Gardner has lived a pretty sheltered life.  Afraid of her “curse” — premonitions — she foreshadows her death.

She is determined not to die before crossing off items on her bucket list – 28 and a half wishes for her life – all the while trying to uncover the mystery of her demise.

This first-in-series tale is one of first love, personal growth, and exploration, with a side of cozy sleuthing vibes.

Set in Fenton County, Alabama, Rose uncovers just how seedy the criminal underground is…and the more she digs, the more in danger she becomes.

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The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

Southern mystery and thriller from Lauren Elena of Literary Dates

Set in Atlanta, Iris and Will seem to have the perfect marriage until Will goes on a business trip to Orlando.

However, now Iris learns that Will was instead on a flight to Seattle that crashed with no survivors. Presumed dead, is Will actually alive?

In Iris’s search for answers, she goes down a rabbit hole into Will’s past.  What she discovers may shock her and the reader. I stayed awake many nights as I tore through the pages while Iris uncovered new layers.

I love a good psychological thriller and this one definitely delivers.

Classic Southern Novels

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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Set across Florida, if you are looking for one of the best classic love stories and infamous southern novels of all time, you cannot miss Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Janie Crawford is a firecracker with her own goals and dreams–and desire for love. 

In and out of relationships and eventually marriages, Janie finds herself trapped in the town gossip and as arm candy, a politician’s wife, and eventually an alleged murderer.

Watch Janie battle not only a hurricane but also the men, prejudices, and circumstances of her time. 

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Winner of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, The Color Purple is one of the most famous contemporary classic books about the south.

It’s also one of the best books set in Tennessee and Georgia with a newer 2023 movie adaptation.

The story follows Celie’s impossibly hard life over the course of 40 years and focuses on the bigotry and prejudice of the time in rural Georgia and later Tennessee.

Celie is only 14 years old when the story begins.  Her mother dies, and her father constantly beats and rapes her. 

Forced into a loveless marriage, readers watch as Celie finds love elsewhere while reconciling a relationship with her sister who she thought had died years ago.

Can Celie come out on top after years of abuse and tragedy?

Find The Color Purple on our books with the color purple in the title as well as top ’80s books reading lists.

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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Named The Great American Read and a Pulitzer Prize winner, Lee is truly one of the most well-known southern writers with her infamous novel, To Kill A Mockingbird.

Plus, this is one of the best books to come from the 1960s.

Scout Finch lives in Maycomb, Alabama with her brother and father, Atticus.  Atticus is a lawyer during the Great Depression and an extremely racist time in American history. 

Even more trying, Atticus is representing a Black man accused of raping a white woman.  Atticus is truly and innately good.

Through it all, Scout learns about overcoming prejudice, and empathy, and that love prevails over hate. 

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Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

Book recommendation from Lori of Southerner Says.  Check out her boozy travel post if you are headed to Georgia.

You simply cannot have a list of books set in the south and not include Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Set in Georgia’s coastal crown jewel, Savannah, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil tells a tale of gossip, intrigue, and yes, murder.

Full of eccentric personalities and secret insights on how southerners fill those humid nights, you’ll pack your bag and buy a ticket before you even finish it.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was published in 1994 by John Berendt and spent a whopping 216 weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.

Further proof it’s a must-read for anyone who wants to get to know the south.

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Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe

Published in 1929, Look Homeward, Angel is the most gossipy of classic Southern books on this reading list. 

While a fictional account of a young man growing up in Asheville, NC, Wolfe infamously bases his characters on real people.

Initially poorly received — no one likes having their dirty laundry aired — once the townspeople (and more so Wolfe) became famous, Asheville took pride in their young author.

Look Homeward, Angel is a coming-of-age story about a passionate young boy struck with restlessness and wanderlust.  Wolfe is also famous for later noting that “you can never go home again.”

Read more famous Asheville authors, and if you are headed to Asheville, don’t miss touring the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.

Indie Books That Take Place In The South

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Meant To Be Broken by Brandy Woods Snow

One of my favorite southern indie novels of 2018, Meant To Be Broken captures the essence of small-town South Carolina.  You cannot even buy off-brand Mayo without someone taking notice.

Rayne is different than the other girls at school yet somehow manages to catch the heart of Preston, high school jock, sweetheart, and cutie pie. 

Preston has an equally hunky black sheep and bad boy brother, Gage, who accidentally begins to build a strong friendship with Rayne.

Do we see where this story is going? 

Caught in a love triangle, Rayne must figure out who she loves amidst the lies, secrets, and angsty teen emotions. Meant To Be Broken is the perfect YA book set in the south as well as a deep-fried summer romance.

See the full TUL book review of Meant To Be Broken

2019 southern novels Any Good Thing by Joy E RancatorePin

Any Good Thing by Joy E. Rancatore

Looking for new southern writers?  Check out New Orleans resident, Joy E. Rancatore, and her September 2019 indie press release, Any Good Thing.  

One tragic night of drag racing changes the course of Jack Calhoun’s life forever.  He remains alive while four other teens will never see adulthood.  Like his now-estranged dad, Jack takes to the bottle.

Just when Jack has risen above the guilt and booze through rehab, another accident derails his life.  Jack must escape the suffocating and condemning town that blames him for everything gone wrong.

A coming-of-age story, Jack heads off to Iraq to find redemption and make the ultimate sacrifice.

Nonfiction Books About The South

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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Another southern classic as well as a true-crime story, Capote investigates the gruesome murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas.

In 1959, Hickock and Smith rob and murder all four members of the Clutters, baffling police. 

Eventually caught, Capote tries to reconstruct what happened on that fateful day while trying to pry into the mind of two murderers.

Nonfiction books about the south The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan book coverPin

The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

One of our favorite nonfiction southern books set in Asheville, Kiernan tackles Biltmore Estate, the largest house in the US.

The Last Castle isn’t just your MTV cribs type of story, though.  There is romance, financial hardship, and of course, a plethora of births and pre-mature deaths. 

Kiernan wants readers to understand the true trials and tribulations behind Biltmore.

Edith and George invested in their North Carolina community, including areas such as forestry, education, and politics. 

They and members of their families shared their wealth and aimed to make society better with their progressive values.

Although this is a nonfiction book set in the south, catch a glimpse of New York socialites, Newport homes, and Parisian life. 

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I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

One of the most famous contemporary Southern books and nonfiction classics, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings takes place in the 1930s and ’40s in the midst of the Great Depression and World War 2.

In Maya Angelou’s autobiography, she talks about being raised by her grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas.

This coming-of-age story showcases the story of a promising young woman overcoming racism, abuse, and poverty. 

Of course, this is also one of those poignant yet sad books that will make you tear up and cry.

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Did you find your next few favorite Southern books and authors to read? Save this reading list for later.

YA Books

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Dear Martin By Nic Stone

If you are looking for contemporary books about the South, head to Atlanta in Dear Martin. This YA novel emphasizes the Black Lives Matter movement and is a must-read book about racism. 

Justyce writes letters to Dr. Martin Luther King; he is trying to navigate his life as a young Black man in a very white private school system.

Time and time again, Justyce witnesses firsthand racist police brutality and even murder.  How can he rise up in a system so determined to maintain white supremacy?

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Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

The sequel to Dear Martin, Quan finds himself trapped in the juvenile (in)justice system as a young Black man growing up in Atlanta, Georgia.

The story begins with Quan in jail. Police are accusing him of killing the police officer who had previously profiled Justyce.

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The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

Southern books submission from J.R. of Eternity Books

The Downstairs Girl is a YA southern novel about a young Chinese woman’s journey to finding herself in the midst of a Reconstruction Era Georgia.

Fired from her job as a milliner because of her race, Jo begins to secretly write a column for a newspaper challenging society’s ideals.  She becomes the voice of the modern independent woman in the South.

This story is also about Jo’s journey of finding herself, learning about her past, and sticking by her family and what she believes, no matter the consequences.

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The Gravity Of Us by Phil Stamper

Head to Houston, Texas with YA LGBTQ+ romanceThe Gravity Of Us.  Cal dreams of becoming a famous journalist and is about to start his upcoming BuzzFeed internship.

Unfortunately, Cal’s parents thwart his social media dreams, moving the family from Brooklyn to Houston to work on a NASA Mars mission.

In Texas, Cal finds himself falling head over heels for an astronaut’s son and with a new story to share with millions of young followers.

Books set in the south don’t get any sweeter than this.

 More Famous Southern Authors & Writers

I couldn’t include every Southern book and/or Southern author on this reading list.  There are just too many  However, you may also want to check out these extremely popular southern writers, as well:

Fannie Flagg

Rick Bragg

Eudora Welty

Carson McCullers

Pat Conroy

Flannery O’Connor

William Faulkner

Which Southern Books Will You Read Next?

Which of these books set in the South will you read next? 

Are we missing some of your favorite Southern authors and their novels? 

Are there any Southern novels that you didn’t enjoy on this list?

You May Also Like:

Books Set In North America
Ultimate 50 States Reading List

More Book Lists:

Books Set In Florida
Books Set In Tennessee
Books Set In North Carolina
Books Set In Asheville

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Christine Frascarelli

Christine (she/her) is the owner, lead editor, and tipsy book sommelier of The Uncorked Librarian LLC, an online literary publication showcasing books and movies to inspire travel and home to the famed Uncorked Reading Challenge.

With a BA in English & History from Smith College, an MLIS from USF-Tampa, and a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship in Christine's back pocket, there isn't a bookstore, library, or winery that can hide from her. Christine loves brewery yoga, adopting all of the kitties, and a glass of oaked Chardonnay. Charcuterie is her favorite food group.

36 Comments

  1. You included some many classic books. I enjoyed reading the classic novels you mentioned. But I am glad you included so many new books I am not familiar with yet. I would love to read the An American Marriage book.

    1. Hi Lanae, We are so glad you appreciate the mix of classic books and new releases. Thank you for the feedback, and happy reading! We always update with more and more new great finds too.

  2. I think I’ve been reading since birth, and once I discovered Southern writers in a college class, I am perpetually in search of additions. Your list reminds me of some favorites and gives me more than a few pieces that I want to explore. My favorite, TKAM, always shows me something that I’ve managed to miss in the years of teaching it. I love that Harper Lee teaches her invaluable lessons through the eyes of Scout.

    One author that I have devoured in the recent past is Greg Isles who grew up in Natchez, MS, which is his primary setting. His trilogy, which begins with NATCHEZ BURNING, grabbed me and shoved me ungraciously into the decade of my youth, the 1960’s… Isles questions some major historical events of the time while exposing the best and the worse of human nature. His protagonist Penn Gage learns more about people than he wants. While each of the three can stand alone, the repetition of some information can be distracting. I didn’t mind the repeated story line as it reminded me of the significance across the volumes. I don’t know about y’all, but when I get engrossed in reading, everything else is secondary. I can “lose a crop” if I’m not careful.
    Thank you for reminding me how much I love the South and its storytellers.

    1. Hi Pam! Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment.

      Greg Isles is an author that I have been meaning to explore, and you definitely gave me a wonderful reason to get on it.

      Sometimes I find that I need a slightly repeated storyline if the books are meant to be read in order (and only when I’ve read them farther apart…usually a year or more). For a lot of authors, though, I do find that repetition to be a little distracting, as well. I read Janet Evanovich for fun, and her Stephanie Plum series can also be a standalone per book (although it’s better as a series); she repeats a lot of the backstory each time. Drives me a little crazy, to be truthful. After 20-something books, regular readers can probably skip the first 10 pages or so. I totally understand.

      Thank you so much for the kind words, too.

      We never read TKAM in high school or college, which made me happy to dive in as an adult, especially when the second book came out–which I didn’t love as much. You really get a feel for the south.

      1. Thank you for responding to my comments. Please explore Greg Isles. He has a number of “stand-alone” books that can introduce you to his writing if going for the trilogy seems too much at the moment. The trilogy is my favorite. If you decide to explore one of his solitary books, look up the protagonist Penn Cage. Your exposure to Penn reveals his values and shortcomings. You begin to “know” the characters and anticipate their actions and reactions while others continue to surprise you.
        Oh, my precious Harper Lee! No words truly capture her love for Maycomb and the many lessons it details. Lee did not want GO SET A WATCHMAN to be published, at least until after her death, as she stated. I believe WATCHMAN was her explorations of Maycomb but with varying circumstances. I believe she didn’t want it published because she KNEW it wasn’t the unequal novel she eventually published.
        Because of my respect for her and her desires for WATCHMAN to not be published, I refused to read it before her death. She shared her heart and soul with us in TKAM; the least I could do was honor her wishes and not explore its perspectives while she lived. It was the least I could do.

      2. Oh, that’s so interesting about Lee and Go Set A Watchman that she knew the book wasn’t equal to To Kill A Mockingbird. I’m pretty sure most knew that (or possibly expected it) as well. Although, I am sure everyone was secretly hoping it would blow them away even more. That was so nice of you to respect her wishes, too. Putting out another related book, period, was pretty brave of Lee. Thank you for further explaining more about Greg Isles and his characters, as well. I’m intrigued.

    1. Hey Art,

      What is your absolute favorite Harry Crews novel? Please let me know.

      We asked librarians, teachers, book bloggers, and the book community–plus our own experiences, education, and background–for this books set in the south reading list. “Best” is still pretty subjective–I am sure there are other authors that people love on this list or wish weren’t there at all. We also did not capture every single one. These are southern authors that we personally consider the best and enjoy. I wouldn’t call it an oversight so much as a decision not to add Crews to this list for this round.

      I definitely appreciate your thoughts and opinions for future consideration, though. I update lists frequently, and if I read something that blows me away, I will definitely add the book/author.

  3. How did I miss this post?! There are so many AMAZING books on here! Some of these are my all time favourites (namely To Kill a Mockingbird, In Cold Blood and The Color Purple, which is funny, cause I never think I read all that much southern US fiction. Turns out that might be the majority of the fiction I read from the US… I guess it’s my southern birth just fighting to get out.

    I haven’t read An American Marriage, but I read Tayari Jones’ Silver Sparrow a few years ago and loved it so much I picked up Leaving Atlanta, which was also wonderful. So naturally her newest is on my list, but just so many books to get through!

    I’ve also been meaning to read Swamplandia for ages! I should really get on that. Although there’s just so much on here I want to add to me TBR now!

    1. Right? I actually didn’t realize how many southern novels that I had read too, even in high school and college. You just think of them as literature and not location-specific. Then again, I wasn’t looking for books set in places back then.

      I haven’t read Silver Sparrow. I’ll have to add that one to my TBR list.

  4. Another fab book list, there’s definitely a few on here that have caught my eye. Again sorry for not contributing, I staked out my Goodreads but couldn’t find any other than Mockingbird and Crawdads! I am keen to read more books set here though so will check some of these out 🙂

    1. Thank you, and no worries! I definitely needed more help with my southern book lists. I knew the FL authors and books extremely well but my upcoming TN book list seems/ed daunting. Thankfully, I have quite a few submissions for TN. I’m trying to cover a lot of the south this fall with an upcoming TN press trip. I gotta get reading.

    1. I wish we had read To Kill A Mockingbird in school! For some reason, we skimmed right past it and went to A Tale of Two Cities. Our honors English classes missed out. Thankfully, I read the southern novel as an adult.

      Did you read Go Set A Watchman? If so, what did you think?

  5. Flannery and Alice are both from the area I grew up in! Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful list. I have only read like 3 of them so I am looking forward to reading the others. So glad to see you listed Pat Conroy! He is amazing! Great post as always

    1. Hey Dee– I am looking forward to updating the list as I read more and more books set in the south. There were just SO many to write about. Thank you so much, and happy reading!

  6. Glory Road is definitely the title I’m most drawn to out of this fab list. I actually think I’m gonna dig back into To Kill a Mockingbird this Fall because it’s definitely a good “autumnal” pick! I’ve heard so many good things about The Downstairs Girl that I really need to check it out at some point. You definitely had me chuckling at that “I decided to ride a cowbo–horse” line haha!!

    1. Thanks! Hehe! Gotta make sure that everyone is paying attention.

      When I had heard that Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman was coming out, I decided to listen to the audiobook for To Kill A Mockingbird. I think Sissy Spacek narrated, and she did a fabulous job. We never read To Kill… in high school so I had felt like I was missing out–especially since a few of my librarian coworkers said the southern book was their all-time fav. I didn’t like the second book, though. Ek!

      I love fall reading, and happy first day of autumn! Show me your decorations. ALL OF THEM!

  7. I love your book lists!! They give me such great book inspiration. Crawdads is definitely in my TBR because of one of your other book lists. I have it on my Kindle! I will definitely be reading it!

    Okay, so I had to google half-backs since I had never heard of that term either. The Urban dictionary used it in a sentence,”It was a nice, little town until it got ruined by a bunch of half-backs.” Might not be the exact quote but you get the gist. I hope people aren’t using it in that sense when they talk to you! Hopefully they don’t think of it in that way and they think they’re just being funny. Maybe they mean it in an endearing way, the way a mom might say their child is a holy terror- but mean it lovingly.???‍♀️

    Anyway…I’ve definitely added Sing, Guest, Twenty-Eight, Almost Sisters, American Marriage, and Meant to be Broken to my TBR. Such a great mix there! I love the one that includes magical realism and the one with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda!? I have to read that book. Sounds like it will be heartbreaking. I love the story behind that mental institution. I’d love to learn more about it. Cool to think that it was the first place to take that approach. I don’t even want to think about how it used to be.

    I don’t know if I’ve actually read the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve definitely read the play. My acting teacher assigned me a monologue from that play so I used to use it in auditions. What a story.

    Thank you so much for including me in your awesome book list. This is another great one!

    1. Ahaha, thanks so much for checking the urban dictionary for me. I definitely think *some* people in Asheville do probably feel that way about people moving in and ruining the town. I’ve heard there are mixed sentiments right now about people moving into the area in droves, economic development, and then, of course, congestion and changing city. Some want the growth for their small businesses to thrive and like seeing Asheville progress while others feel that their home is being taken over. It’s that way everywhere these days, it seems and I get it. Most people seem to be using half-back in a more light-hearted and joking manner with us. So many people aren’t native to Asheville.

      I definitely want to read the book with F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda too. I’m going to write a “books set in Asheville” book list for Uncorked Asheville, and this one sounds perfect. Plus, Fitzgerald had a lot of mental health issues, and it sounds like his wife was probably struggling with her own in a time that didn’t have as much information or help out there.

      When I was older, I decided that it was finally time to read To Kill A Mockingbird, but I never had to read the southern literature novel for school. Then again, I never had to read Romeo or Juliet either.

      Thanks so much for contributing! I really appreciate it. These lists are always so much better with reading recommendations from others.

  8. Whoa! As others already commented, what a juicy list! I found old friends ad several new titles to add to my stack. Thanks for including my review and for the lovely shout out to my children’s books, which are also set in the south. Sharing this TUL list with my book club and social media friends.

    1. Hey Cat! I am so glad that you found some new titles to enjoy. Thanks so much for participating. I know that I had a double book here and there so if I can find a home for the submission (one of yours overlapped), I will add the title in and credit you. Thanks for sharing, too. I hope you had a great weekend.

    1. Thank you so much! Your debut is fantastic too!

      Funny that you should mention book clubs: I am actually thinking of having an online book club paired with an Asheville meet-up book club at a local brewery (based on request). The books would, of course, focus on or inspire travel and be set all over the world. I still have to wrap my head around this one, though.

      1. I love that idea!! Book clubs are near and dear to my heart for a multitude of reasons. I host a monthly online one via Facebook LIVE. It’s always fun to see who shows up live, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how many people watch later. I think something online is so much easier these days, but I do miss that in-person experience. And, meeting at a brewery? Yes, please!

      2. I’d have to get brave to go online live lol! I avoid youtube for that very reason. I’ll definitely be interested to see the interest as well as how having a book club online and in-person will do. I haven’t run a book club since my librarian days a few years ago.

  9. I have never heard the term half-back. Interesting. I was always called a gringa when I lived in PR. Hated it because it wasn’t always used as a term of endearment.

    Anyways, what a great list of books. There is a great mix here and sadly I haven’t read any of them. Not even the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. I have seen the movie though. I purposely never read the Color Purple because I knew it would be a hard one for me to get through.

    I added a few of these to my long list.

    1. I hadn’t heard the term ‘half-back either’ until we moved here. It’s definitely different… Residents say it’s because I moved from the north to the far south and then decided to live at the halfway point to get the best of both worlds. I guess this is what I get for calling everyone snowbirds in FL lol.

      I definitely didn’t think “gringa” was very nice (I heard it growing up here and there)–kind of like how Indonesians called me a ‘bule’ when I lived there. The signification isn’t technically meant to offend, but it means “white foreigner.” I kind of appropriated bule back while I was there to make light of it lol. People would shout bule at me in my tiny village market, and I know it wasn’t meant to be mean, but I didn’t love it. A 4-star hotel in Depok (on the outskirts of where I used to live) called me bule as I walked away from the desk LAST year (still being used 10 years later), and I may have said something in my Trip Advisor review lol.

      Sadly, I didn’t read To Kill A Mockingbird until I was older–and I think it was right around the time that Lee’s Go Set A Watchman came out, which I didn’t love–there was too pressure there. The Color Purple is pretty brutal. I read that southern novel when I was much younger and eventually saw the movie. I’m due for a re-read, but it’s a hard one.

      The TBR list never ends. Have a great weekend, and send me DevaCut pics ASAP!

    1. Thank you SO SO SO much for participating. I love having guests so that my book lists are way more diverse. This southern book list came out fab with your submission!

    1. I love the variety too, and I think TUL lists are WAY better when I have so many amazing contributors. Thank you soooooo much for your additions too! I really appreciate it. I need to read some of the southern book suggestions that others mentioned: I am eyeing First Frost first because Sarah Addison Allen lands on a lot of my book lists from other bloggers. Have a great weekend. XXxxx

  10. What a great list of books!! There are so many I want to read in this post. Thanks so much for including my recommendations!!! And, for the record, I get some of my best recipes and recipe inspiration from Southern Living magazine. ? I’ve had a subscription for years! #noregrets. I say Treat Yo’self since there are tons of great Southern places to visit covered in the articles. You will love all the adventure ideas!

    1. Thank you so much for contributing–I love having you on the blog. Your recipes paired with books are literally the best and so fitting. I definitely think the foodie aspect sparks up the summaries, too–which TUL readers will LOVE!

      I do need to read Southern Living. I peruse their articles online all of the time, and I am glad to know that you recommend them too. Indulge away!

    1. Thank you so much for contributing! I am thrilled to have you on the blog, and I definitely love the diversity of books on this list. I might add some more–there were just SO many to cover. Have a great weekend. Xxx

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