HomeArts & Lit2012 Fall/Winter Reading List

2012 Fall/Winter Reading List

As temperatures cool down and the leaves begin to turn, curl up with these mysteries, thrillers, new releases & love stories from down South.

American Ghost (available October 23)
by Janis Owens
published by Scribner

The only daughter of a Pentecostal preacher in Florida, main character Jolie Hoyt is aware of her family’s closet full of secrets and distrust of outsiders. Nevertheless, she throws caution to the wind when she meets Sam Lense, a Jewish anthropology student from Miami, who is in town to study the ethnic makeup of the region. Their affair abruptly ends when Sam becomes the latest victim in a long tradition of small-town violence. Twelve years later, the pair are reunited when an issue related to area’s dark racial history resurfaces, and Jolie must finally come to terms with the realities of her hometown.


by Tim Westover
published by QW Publishers

“Auraria” is the debut novel from Atlantan Tim Westover. Filled with water spirits, moon maidens, haunted pianos and tales of gold, Westover’s story is a fantastical read rooted in the history and origins of North Georgia’s mountain towns. Main character James Holtzclaw is tasked with turning the fading gold rush town of Auraria into a first-class resort., but when the town’s peculiar people and problematic ghosts collide with his own rival ambitions, Holtzclaw must decide what he will save and what will be washed away.


Back to Blood (available October 23)
by Tom Wolfe
published by Little, Brown and Company

The latest from the author of “Bonfire of the Vanities” and a native of Richmond, Virginia, “Back to Blood” is set in Miami and includes a Cuban mayor, black police chief, muckraking young journalist, sex addiction psychiatrist and a bunch of shady Russians among its cast of characters. And that’s just for starters. Wolfe’s take on immigration, crime, class and corruption in the melting pot of Miami, Kirkus calls the book “a welcome pleasure from an old master.”


The Cutting Season 
by Attica Locke
published by Harper Collins

Caren Gray manages Belle Vie, a sprawling Louisiana plantation whose owners have turned the place into an eerie tourist attraction. When the dead body of a migrant worker is found on the grounds, Caren begins uncovering things she wishes she didn’t know. As she’s drawn into the dead girl’s story, she unearths new facts about a very old mystery that has ties to the current murder and discovers that Belle Vie and its beauty are not to be trusted.


A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty
by Carolyn J. Brown
published by University Press of Mississippi

This new biography, written with a younger audience in mind, tells Mississippi author Eudora Welty’s life story, starting with her parents and leading readers through her education, career and popularity in the 1980s. Photos of Welty throughout the years and an appendix of her artwork in the back of the book only add to the experience. This book was named the Mississippi pick for “52 Great Reads” at the National Book Festival earlier this month!


Flight Behavior (available November 6)
by Barbara Kingsolver
published by Harper Collins

Set in a small town in Tennessee, “The Poisonwood Bible” author’s latest book is about a young woman who hikes up a mountain road behind her house for a secret tryst and encounters a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a number of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders and the media. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, she’s thrown into a spiraling confrontation with her family, her church, her town, her continent and finally the world at large.


Ghost on Black Mountain
by Ann Hite
published by Gallery Books

“Nellie Clay married Hobbs Pritchard without even noticing he was a spell conjured into a man, a walking, talking ghost story. But her mama knew. She saw it in her tea leaves: death. Folks told Nellie to get off the mountain while she could, to go back home before it was too late.” Told in the voices of five women whose lives are inextricably bound when a murder takes place in rural Depression-era North Carolina, Ann Hite’s debut spans generations and conjures the best of Southern folklore — mystery, spirits, hoodoo and the incomparable beauty of the Appalachian landscape.


by Susan Woodring
published by St. Martin’s Press

When Percy Harding, Goliath’s most important citizen, is discovered dead by the railroad tracks one autumn afternoon, no one can quite believe what’s happened. Only Rosamond Rogers, Percy’s secretary, may have the answer. The town itself has been Rosamond’s anchor, but it is beginning to quiver with the possibility of change: High school girls are writing suicide poetry, a troubled teenaged boy plans to burn down Main Street. In the wake of the town’s undoing, Rosamond seeks to reunite the community in this second novel by a North Carolina, native whose style is being compared to that of Sherwood Anderson in “Winesburg, Ohio.”


Happily Ever Madder: Misadventures of  a Mad Fat Girl (available November 6)
by Stephanie McAfee
published by New American Library

McAfee’s followup to her e-book hit “Diary of a Mad Fat Girl” finds the lovable Ace Jones leaving Bugtussle, Mississippi, for Pelican Cove, Florida, and finally opening her art gallery and kickstarting her life with longtime beau Mason McKenzie. Ace has vowed to leave her sassy ways behind until she becomes the No. 1 enemy of a pack of snippy old ladies. Thankfully, Ace has got friends of her own, not to mention her ever-faithful chiweenie Buster Loo by her side.


Hemingway’s Girl
by Erika Robuck
published by New American Library

Maryland native Erika Robuck‘s second novel is a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway’s life in Key West. Set during the Depression, “Hemingway’s Girl” tells the story of 19-year-old Mariella Bennet and her relationship with the Hemingway family, from Papa to his second wife, Pauline, their sons and cast of friends. Mariella becomes caught in the tensions and excesses of the Hemingway household, especially as a massive hurricane approaches and puts everyone in harm’s way. Read our interview with Erika Robuck here.


Man in the Blue Moon
by Michael Morris
published by Tyndale House

“A Place Called Wiregrass” author Michael Morris’s latest is the story of struggling mother Ella Wallace, who goes to pick up a clock at the boat docks only to find a mysterious man instead. He convinces her he can help her avoid foreclosure on her family’s land in Florida, but as Ella fights to hold onto what is hers, it becomes evident that things are not as they appear. Hypocrisy and murder soon shake the coastal town of Apalachicola and jeopardize Ella’s family in what author Pat Conroy called “one of the best portraits of a small Southern town I’ve ever encountered.”


The Mermaid Collector (available October 2)
by Erika Marks
published by New American Library

Fans of  Erika Marks’ debut novel “Little Gale Gumbo,” which made our list last year, will want to read her latest work set in coastal Maine. More than a century ago, lighthouse keeper Linus Harris left his beloved wife and waded into the ocean with three other men to reunite with their mermaid lovers. The mysterious Mermaid Mutiny of 1888 has become legend for the residents of Cradle Harbor and proof of life’s magic for young resident Tess Patterson. When Tess is hired to carve the commemorative sculpture for the town’s upcoming Mermaid Festival, a chance meeting looks like it might finally bring her the love she’s been longing for, along with a long-buried secret.


Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society (available October 2)
Amy Hill Hearth
published by Atria Books

This January selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club is about a wife transplanted from Boston to Florida in the 1960s who shakes things up in Naples by starting a literary salon and radio show. Calling herself “Miss Dreamsville,” Jackie Hart welcomes everyone into her book club, even the woman who allegedly killed her husband, a black woman and a young divorcee.


The Racketeer (available October 23)
by John Grisham
published by Doubleday

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered. Judge Raymond Fogletree just became number five.” So goes the opening description of John Grisham’s latest legal thriller about a lawyer in prison who knows who killed the judge and why.


Sharp Objects
by Gillian Flynn
published by Shaye Areheart Books

Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” was the talk of the summer, but her first two books are just as psychologically thrilling. “Sharp Objects” is her first and set in Missouri. While on the border between North and South, the story has a Southern Gothic feel, as reporter Camille Preaker returns to her hometown to investigate the murders of two young girls. Staying with her mother in a rambling Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by a childhood tragedy, yet drawn back into the troubled world she grew up in. As she works to uncover the truth about the violent crimes, much to the dismay of her well-mannered mother, she’s forced to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to find the truth.


A Silence of Mockingbirds: The Memoir of a Murder
by Karen Spears Zacharias
published by MacAdam/Cage

Written while Zacharias was writer-in-residence in Fairhope, Alabama, this book is part investigation, part memoir and tells the story of a recent high-profile Oregon murder case in which a little girl is murdered by her mother’s boyfriend. The mother once lived in Zacharias’ house, and the author felt compelled to consider her own culpability in the tragedy. “Karen Zacharias, using her own reporting skills files a crime story readers won’t put down and will never forget,” says “Forrest Gump” author Winston Groom.”


by Leila Meacham
published by Grand Central

Recently orphaned, 11-year-old Cathy Benson feels she has been dropped into a cultural and intellectual wasteland when she is forced to move from her academically privileged life in California to the small town of Kersey in the Texas Panhandle. There, football reigns supreme, and Cathy quickly forms a friendship and eventual love triangle with two local stars and fellow orphans. Taking the three friends through their high school graduations, when several tragic events break them apart, the novel follows their careers and futures until they reunite in Kersey at age 40.


Giveaway Details: We won’t be giving away all the books on this list, but do have a few to hand out. To enter to win, comment on this post and tell us what book you’re looking forward to reading most or what you’ve already read. A few winners will be chosen at random throughout the fall and winter to receive books.

Click here to download a pdf of the reading list that you can print out and take with you to the bookstore or library.

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Best of the Bayou Br
  • Wanda Robertson / September 26, 2012

    The only one I have read is “Man in the Blue Moon” by Michael Morris. I want to read all of them!!

  • Kullervo / September 26, 2012

    Wow, they all sound amazing, but I would sure love to read Ghost on Black Mountain.

  • Erin Curry / September 26, 2012

    I’m excited to read The Cutting Season after a recent trip along the River Road from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.


  • Gail Williams / September 26, 2012

    I would love to give my mom some of these southern books. I’m always on the lookout for these kind of books. She grew up in the Mississippi delta and really enjoys reading. She is the only surviving member of six children. She has had four cancers and came through all of them. She has flower beds, a small vegetable garden and lives alone. My dad has been dead for a long time. She likes to play cards once a week and read.
    As for myself I can’t wait until the new Grisham book comes out.
    Thanks for this opportunity.

  • Susie / September 26, 2012

    I have Goliath on audio need to listen to that one! I also have Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society & Auraria from netgalley. The 2 I most want to read/get are Ghost on Black Mountain & The Cutting Season I’ve had my eye on both of those!

  • Sara Grambusch / September 26, 2012

    What an amazing list! The Cutting Season and Tumbleweeds sound fantastic!

  • Anita / September 26, 2012

    What a wonderful list! I’ve read SHARP OBJECTS & HEMINGWAY’S GIRL. I’ve got a few,of these on my radar but many are new to me, AMERICAN GHOST sounds very interesting!! Thanks for a chance to win.

  • Laura Kay / September 26, 2012

    What a list!!! I’ve actually got lots of them in my TBR pile including: The Mermaid Collector, Man in the Blue Moon, Auraria, Hemingway’s Girl, and Happily Ever Madder.

    I LOVED Ghost of Black Mountain!!!

    There are two books I’m ITCHING to get my hands on 😀 AMERICAN GHOST and THE CUTTING SEASON!!!

  • Jessica McCann (@JMcCannWriter) / September 26, 2012

    Wow, what a line up. So many great books! I’ve got Hemingway’s Girl waiting for me at the top of my to-read pile. Also on my list of books to buy: Man in the Blue Moon, The Mermaid Collector and The Racketeer.

  • Hallie Sawyer (@Hallie_Sawyer) / September 26, 2012

    The Mermaid Collector and Ghost on Black Mountain are two I’m dying to read!

  • Denzil Pugh / September 26, 2012

    I’ve read Auraria by Tim Westover, and found it really good. Fantastic Normalcy. It’s worth it just to read the small sections where everyday life, with a twist, happens. Such potential from a local writer. Georgia should be proud of its literary heritage.

  • Kern / September 26, 2012

    UHMMMMMM…….tho I want to read them all – you all choose so very well – The Cutting Season tweeks my interest the most!

  • Renea / September 26, 2012

    As much as I love many of the other authors on this list, I am thrilled that A Silence of Mockingbirds is on this must-read list. My daughter, who is 15 years old, took the book to highschool and emailed all her teachers. A Silence of Mockingbirds should be required reading in High School.

  • C. Hope Clark / September 27, 2012

    Sharp Objects and A Silence of Mockingbirds both sound fabulous! Hemingway’s Girl is already on my To-Read list on Goodreads. Fantastic list!

    Hope Clark

  • Becky / September 27, 2012

    The Cutting Season looks amazing! So does American Ghost!

  • Lori / September 27, 2012

    I’m going to have to get the Eudora Welty biography. Hemingway’s Girl also looks very interesting.

  • Melanie / September 27, 2012

    I would love to read a Daring Life. Growing up in MS I was always a fan of Eudora Welty and I would love to get my hands on this soon!

  • Lisa / September 27, 2012

    I’m currently reading Auraria by Tim Westover and it’s fantastic!

  • Paula Dolin / September 27, 2012

    They all sound great! The one I would most like to read is Man In the Blue Moon.

  • Sherry Perkins / September 27, 2012

    Miss Dreamsville, A Daring Life, and The Cutting Season all seem interesting. Haven’t read any of the books on the list, but would love to.

  • Craig Pittman / September 27, 2012

    “Back to Blood” by Tom Wolfe. I know he spent a lot of time in Miami researching the details — so much time, in fact, that it became the subject of a documentary film by the guy who was showing him around. “Miss Dreamsville” also sounds interesting — and I’m also intrigued by the Eudora Welty biography. Her memoir, “One Writer’s Beginnings,” is one of my all-time favorite Southern books.

  • Mary Ellen / September 27, 2012

    The first one I want to get my hands on is Tom Wolfe’s. I’ve loved his stuff for decades. The last one I read, “I Am Charlotte Simmons”, I found disappointing at the end, but the first chapter had me convinced that Wolfe just about *was* Charlotte Simmons, just as the title said; I’ve been a not-well-off southern scholarship girl (though from Kentucky, not North Carolina) and he hit the nail on the head.

    Tom Wolfe on “immigration, crime, class, and corruption” — *and* set in the South? I am *so* there.

  • Kristie P. / September 28, 2012

    I’m looking forward to reading all of Michael Morris’ books. I’ve got the first 2 and am anxious to get Man in the Blue Moon. Happy reading for me!!!!

  • Judy Lee Green / September 28, 2012

    I love Eudora Welty so can’t wait to read “A Daring Life” as well as “Ghost on Black Mountain.” However, I love Southern Lit so I’m sure I shall enjoy reading them all.

  • Julie / September 29, 2012

    I definitely want to read the new Tom Wolfe! Also, as a native Mississippian, I’m eager to read the one about Eudora Welty.

  • Cindy / September 29, 2012

    What a great writer Ann Hite is…loved Ghost on Black Mountain and can’t wait for her next book. Next book to read Auraria by Tim Westover.

  • Paula / September 30, 2012

    What a spectacular list of fall reading! I read Ann Hite’s Ghost on Black Mountain last year and loved it!

    Really looking forward to reading The Mermaid Collector and Auraria, but the entire list looks great!

  • Melinda McGuire / September 30, 2012

    Definitely adding Eudora Welty’s biography to my TBR list. Excited to see new insights on her and looking forward to the photos.

  • Amy / September 30, 2012

    Man in the Blue Moon is first on my list. Tom Wolfe’s detail and characters are always great, too. Looks like I’ll be starting in the Sunshine State!

  • (Bloomin'Chick) Jo / October 2, 2012

    Great list with more than a few I’ve added to my to-read list!

  • Carol / October 2, 2012

    Sharp Objects would be at the top of my list. They all look like must reads. Tough choice! Thanks for a great list.

  • Laura Kay / October 13, 2012

    I’m so excited I got my hands on The Cutting Season! Now to get American Ghost!

  • Darlene Rogers / October 17, 2012

    I have read Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite and it was amazing.. Can’t wait for another one of hers to come out.

    I so want to read Man in the Blue Moon by Michael Morris I have heard wonderful things about this book.

    I wish I could read everybook ever written…..

  • Sherry Perkins / November 13, 2012

    “Ghost on Black Mountain” seems awesome with the richness of the mountains, the spell of a man, and a defiant woman. I bet it’s a volcano of a read! If the book is anything like the description, it’s a must read! Thank you for considering this comment.

  • Tamara / November 14, 2012

    The Cutting Season and a Daring Life ( mainly because we are having an unofficial booktopia in Jackson, MS and going to tour Eudora Welty’s place) are the 2 books I’m dying to have!

    The Mermaid Collector, Man in the Blue Moon, and Hemingway’s Girl- are also great books that I am ever reading/have read.

    As usual, Erin, you’ve picked a fantastic list. Thank you from the bottom of my book-loving heart 🙂

  • Lori Winstead / November 20, 2012

    I’ve already read “The Cutting Season” and it was awesome! I loved the visual descriptions and the very different take on plantation life! I’d love to give any of these other books a try!

  • Tammy / November 23, 2012

    I recently finished “Happily Ever Madder: Misadventures of a Mad Fat Girl” and I really liked it. It is a very funny book and I love all of the characters that Stephanie McAfee has created. I would also recommend the first book in this series “Diary of A Mad Fat Girl”.

  • Cindy H. / November 26, 2012

    Finished reading Auraria by Tim Westover….Interesting book, keep you on your toes with what was to happen next. Next on my list The Cutting Season..can’t wait to start it.

  • Holly / December 5, 2012

    It’s -30 here in Alaska so I stay inside and read a lot. I really enjoy the reading lists and other book suggestions you post. Thanks so much!!

  • Caleb Land / January 2, 2013

    I’m really looking forward to reading Auraria, always excited to find a good book about my neck of the woods. Of course Back to Blood is at the top of my list too.

  • Michelle M. / January 27, 2013

    I just found this list and it has some interesting recommendations. Can’t wait to start reading some of these. Some old favorite authors and some new ones to try.

  • Conrad Deitrick / February 28, 2013

    Can’t wait for the next list… twice a year ain’t enough by half.