Last Thursday night, the Georgia Center for the Book (new snappy looking web site!) hosted a special event at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur. The occasion was the unveiling of the latest list of the 25 books that all Georgians should read. This is the fourth list compiled by the Georgia Center for the Book. The purpose of the list is to promote quality literature by authors living in or born in the State of Georgia. It was an excellent event, and I am very thankful to have been invited. Many of the honored authors were in attendance, and it was especially thrilling to meet Senator Max Cleland. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The 25 books that all Georgians should read are:
James Braziel, Snakeskin Road, a novel shortlisted for the Townsend Award for Fiction and the British Fantasy award, is the author’s second novel after Birmingham 35 Miles. Braziel grew up in Pitts and teaches creative writing at the University of Cincinnati.
Jeff Fields, A Cry of Angels, a novel. Fields was born in Toombs County and grew up in Elberton, now lives in Atlanta.
John Holman, Luminous Mysteries: A Novel. Holman teaches fiction writing at Georgia State University and is the author of a short story collection, Squabble and Other Stories.
Mary Hood, How Far She Went, a story collection that won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Born in Brunswick and now living near Commerce, she is the author of And Venus is Blue and Familiar Heat.
Amanda Gable, The Confederate General Rides North, a first novel shortlisted for the Townsend Award for Fiction. Gable is a native of Marietta now living in Decatur.
Anthony Grooms, Bombingham, a novel. Winner of the Lillian Smith Award for Fiction. Grooms is professor of English at Kennesaw State University and the author of Trouble No More: Stories and a poetry collection, Ice Poems.
Joshilyn Jackson, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, a novel shortlisted for the Townsend Award for Fiction. Jackson, who lives in Atlanta, is the author of several novels including Gods in Alabama and Between Georgia.
James Alan McPherson, Hue and Cry: Stories. McPherson, born in Savannah and now teaching at the University of Iowa, was the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his collection Elbow Room.
Jack Riggs, When the Finch Rises. Riggs is writer-in-residence at Georgia Perimeter College and the author of a second novel, The Fireman’s Wife.
Bailey White, Nothing with Strings: NPR’s Beloved Holiday Stories, shortlisted for the Townsend Award for fiction. White, a native of Thomasville who still lives there, has been a popular commentator for NPR and is the author of Quite a Year for Plums and Sleeping at the Starlite Hotel.
Philip Lee Williams, The Heart of a Distant Forest, a novel which won the Townsend Award for Fiction. Born in Madison and recently inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, Williams is the author of many books including The Campfire Boys, Reflections from First Light and A Distant Flame.
Coleman Barks, Winter Sky: New and Selected Poems, 1968-2008. Barks, a renowned and prize-winning poet, taught at UGA for more than three decades and lives in Athens. His books include The Hand of Poetry and The Essential Rumi.
Thomas Lux, New and Selected Poems, 1975-1995. Lux holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry at Georgia Tech and directs their poetry program. He also is the prize-winning author of many collections including Split Horizon and The Cradle Place.
Memye Curtis Tucker, The Watchers. Tucker is a senior editor for Atlanta Review and the prize-winning author of several chapbooks including Admit One and Storm Line.
Douglas Blackmon, Slavery By Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. Blackmon is a writer for the Wall Street Journal based in Atlanta.
Roy Blount, Jr., Long Time Leaving: Dispatches from Up South. Blount, who grew up in Decatur, is the award-winning author of many books including Be Sweet, First Hubby, Alphabet Juice and Roy Blount’s Book of Southern Humor.
Taylor Branch, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68. Branch, born in Atlanta, won the Pulitzer Prize for Parting the Waters, the first volume in his “America in the King Years” trilogy. He also is the editor of The Clinton Tapes.
Max Cleland, The Heart of a Patriot: How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove. Cleland is a decorated U.S. war veteran, a former U.S. Senator from Georgia and the author of Strong at the Broken Places.
Jessica Handler, Invisible Sisters: A Memoir, a first book. Handler lives in Atlanta and has received several major writing fellowships that led to the writing of her memoir.
Lauretta Hannon, The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life, a first book. Hannon lives in Atlanta and has been a commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Paul Hemphill, Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams. Hemphill, a long-time Atlantan who died in 2009, was the prize-winning author of many books including The Nashville Sound, Leaving Birmingham, and King of the Road.
Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy. Mayes, born in Fitzgerald, is a poet and novelist and memoirist whose books include Bella Tuscany and Swan, a novel set in Georgia.
Deirdre O’Connell, The Ballad of Blind Tom, a first book. O’Connell lives in Australia but spent considerable time in Georgia writing about the 19th century Georgia slave who was a blind musical genius.
Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith. Taylor, A former Episcopal priest in Atlanta, now teaches at Piedmont College and lives in Northeast Georgia. She is the author of Leaving Church.
Virginia Willis, Bon Appetit, Y’All: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking. Willis is an Atlantan who is the former Kitchen Director for Martha Stewart Living Television.