HomeArts & Lit10 Reads for Spring

10 Reads for Spring

New books by Southern authors to tide you over until summer.
compiled by Anna Cox

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
The story of a heartbreaking, forbidden love in 1930s Kentucky with an unlikely modern-day friendship, this novel is a She Reads national book club pick for February. When 89-year-old Isabelle asks her longtime hairdresser, Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drive her to a funeral in Cincinnati with hardly any notice, Dorrie is curious enough to oblige. That curiosity into Isabelle’s forbidden past love of a black man ends up helping Dorrie find her way.



Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Saleby Lynda Rutledge
Sassy Faith Bass Darling, the richest old lady in Bass, Texas, decides to have a garage sale, which wouldn’t seem odd except that she’s been the town recluse for nearly 20 years. To top it off, items for sale include priceless Tiffany lamps and other high-end antiques leaving townspeople curious to say the least. The debut work of a fifth generation Texan, this book takes you on a ride through exposing family secrets and age-old questions of wealth.



Frances and Bernardby Carlene Bauer
Inspired by the relationship between Flannery O’Connor and poet Robert Lowell, this work of fiction explores the limits of faith, passion, sanity, what it means to be a true friend and the nature of acceptable sacrifice. Summer of 1957, Frances and Bernard meet and soon they are immersed in the kind of fast, deep friendship that can take over — and change the course of — their lives.



Life After Life by Jill McCorkle
Jill McCorkle’s first novel in 17 years is about the daily triumphs and challenges of the residents and staff of Pine Haven Estates, a retirement facility now home to a good many of Fulton, North Carolina’s older citizens. Among them are a former third-grade teacher, once-prominent lawyer, the town’s social historian and a recent widow. C.J., the pierced and tattooed young mother who runs the beauty shop, and Joanna, the hospice volunteer, round out McCorkle’s cast of characters who are connected through their lives, pasts and even their deaths.


The Lost Saints of Tennesseeby Amy Franklin-Willis
Out in paperback this month, eighth-generation Southerner Amy Franklin-Willis’s tale of Ezekiel “Zeke” Cooper and his mother, Lillian, takes readers from the 1940s to 1980s as it follows Zeke’s evolution from anointed son to unhinged middle-aged man. Through an unexpected turn of events, Zeke is left with the fate of his family in his hands. Read Willis’s essay about “Lost Saints” and going home here.



The Next Time You See Meby Holly Goddard Jones
Gillian Flynn called it “an astoundingly good novel,” and this is the first by Kentucky native Holly Goddard Jones. In “The Next Time You See Me,” the disappearance of hard-drinking and unpredictable Ronnie Eastman reveals the ambitions, prejudices and anxieties of a small Southern town and its residents. Characters’ stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie, but all of their secret selves.



The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parksby Jeanne Theoharis
This biography of the Alabama woman who wouldn’t give up her seat on the bus examines her six decades of activism and challenges perceptions of her, while revealing a window into Rosa Parks and her journey from seamstress to hero of the Civil Rights Movement.



The Union Street Bakeryby Mary Ellen Taylor
Called a “beautifully written journey of self-discovery” by author Wendy Wax, the story of Daisy McCrae starts off grim. She has lost her job and her boyfriend, and is living in the attic above her family’s Union Street Bakery in Alexandria, Virginia. But just when she’s ready to give up on her dreams, an elderly customer dies, leaving Daisy an old journal that exposes the history of her adoptive family and gives her the courage to begin again.


Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
Russell’s followup to “Swamplandia,” this magical new collection of stories includes one about two vampires in a sun-drenched lemon grove who try helplessly to slake their thirst for blood and another about a dejected teenager who discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left behind in a seagull’s nest.



The Wisdom of Hairby Kim Boykin
“A beautiful story about cutting away the past to reveal what truly matters,” says Joshilyn Jackson, “The Wisdom of Hair” follows Zora Adams, a 19-year-old finally breaking free from her alcoholic mother and her tiny town in the mountains of South Carolina. Ready for life to be beautiful, Zora enrolls in the Davenport School of Beauty. Between learning updos and spit curls, she falls hard for a handsome young widower, who is drowning his grief in bourbon. As she tries to save him, she learns that there can be true beauty in life.


Anna Cox was born and raised in Memphis and is an intern at Deep South. Find out more about her in our Contributors section.



Related Content:

Fall/Winter Reading List
Graceland Bound by Amy Franklin-Willis
Books to Read During a Hurricane

Granny Wise Never Mi
Literary Friday
  • Kat Kennedy / March 1, 2013

    How to decide? The Lost Saints of Tennessee has been on my list for the longest, so I guess I’ll have to start there! What a list. Wonderful choices.

  • Tammy / March 1, 2013

    I was lucky enough to snag an advance copy of Jill McCorkle’s Life After Life. It took me a few chapter to really get into it but I ended up liking it a lot.

    I have also read The Lost Saints of Tennessee and I liked it as well. A very good read.

    Thanks to this list I now have a couple more books on my “to read” list! Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Anita / March 1, 2013

    What a great list, some are on my shelf, one I’ve read and some I’m adding to my tbr list…..Thanks for sharing!!

  • Jenna Curtis / March 4, 2013

    Great article. I can’t wait to get started on this list. I’ve been searching for great contemporary Southern Lit.

  • Sherry Perkins / March 13, 2013

    The Wisdom of Hair sounds like a great one. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Mahala / March 31, 2013

    I’m excited to see Jill McCorkle, so I’ll start there.