Best Southern Literature
Our favorite works of Southern literature.

(Books that are set in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.)
1 To Kill a Mockingbird
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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23 avg rating — 2,057,916 ratings
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2 Gone with the Wind
by
4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 638,713 ratings
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3 The Help
by
4.44 of 5 stars 4.44 avg rating — 1,079,795 ratings
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4 The Adventures of Huckleber...
by
3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 819,360 ratings
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5 Fried Green Tomatoes at the...
by
4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 148,760 ratings
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6 The Secret Life of Bees
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 738,060 ratings
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7 The Color Purple
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 295,073 ratings
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8 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 380,843 ratings
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9 The Sound and the Fury
by
3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 97,591 ratings
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10 Midnight in the Garden of G...
by
3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 120,544 ratings
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11 Their Eyes Were Watching God
by
3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 134,914 ratings
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12 The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
by
3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 53,725 ratings
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13 The Prince of Tides
by
4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 119,532 ratings
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14 As I Lay Dying
by
3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 75,324 ratings
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15 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya...
by
3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 388,891 ratings
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16 A Confederacy of Dunces
by
3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 132,434 ratings
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17 A Streetcar Named Desire
by
3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 141,046 ratings
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18 Cold Sassy Tree
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 60,709 ratings
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19 A Good Man is Hard to Find ...
by
4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 20,387 ratings
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20 Cold Mountain
by
3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 137,254 ratings
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21 The Notebook (The Notebook,...
by
4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 832,218 ratings
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22 A Time to Kill (Jake Brigan...
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 459,111 ratings
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23 Absalom, Absalom!
by
3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 24,052 ratings
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24 Dead Until Dark (Sookie Sta...
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 350,729 ratings
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25 All the King's Men
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 35,410 ratings
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26 Bastard Out of Carolina
by
4.05 of 5 stars 4.05 avg rating — 24,257 ratings
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27 Roots
by
4.39 of 5 stars 4.39 avg rating — 89,634 ratings
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28 The Awakening
by
3.6 of 5 stars 3.60 avg rating — 92,707 ratings
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29 I Know Why the Caged Bird S...
by
4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 165,088 ratings
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30 Interview with the Vampire ...
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 311,831 ratings
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31 September Again
by
4.82 of 5 stars 4.82 avg rating — 136 ratings
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32 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
by
4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 33,774 ratings
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33 The Glass Menagerie
by
3.63 of 5 stars 3.63 avg rating — 65,741 ratings
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34 Uncle Tom's Cabin
by
3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 107,315 ratings
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35 Everything That Rises Must ...
by
4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 11,063 ratings
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36 Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump,...
by
3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 30,073 ratings
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37 Garden Spells
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 47,303 ratings
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38 All Over But the Shoutin'
by
4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 16,192 ratings
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39 Sophie's Choice
by
4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 51,391 ratings
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40 Light in August
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 32,408 ratings
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41 The Pelican Brief
by
3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 221,034 ratings
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42 Look Homeward, Angel
by
3.93 of 5 stars 3.93 avg rating — 7,322 ratings
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43 The Complete Stories
by
4.45 of 5 stars 4.45 avg rating — 21,987 ratings
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44 Cane River
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 29,040 ratings
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45 The Lords of Discipline
by
4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 15,165 ratings
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46 Steel Magnolias
by
4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 9,190 ratings
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47 The Client
by
3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 228,120 ratings
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48 The Great Santini
by
4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 17,083 ratings
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49 North and South (North and ...
by
4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 36,895 ratings
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50 The Member of the Wedding
by
3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 7,847 ratings
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51 Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
by
3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 49,453 ratings
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52 The Firm
by
3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 348,791 ratings
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53 South of Broad
by
3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 25,506 ratings
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54 I Talk Slower Than I Think:...
by
3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 27 ratings
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55 Wise Blood
by
3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 13,505 ratings
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56 Beach Music
by
4.1 of 5 stars 4.10 avg rating — 24,800 ratings
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57 The Ballad of the Sad Café ...
by
4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 6,357 ratings
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58 Blood Meridian, or the Even...
by
4.2 of 5 stars 4.20 avg rating — 50,332 ratings
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59 Prodigal Summer
by
3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 62,166 ratings
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60 The Water Is Wide: A Memoir
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 9,832 ratings
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61 The Kitchen House
by
4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 100,897 ratings
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62 The Red Badge of Courage
by
3.15 of 5 stars 3.15 avg rating — 55,518 ratings
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63 Dead to the World (Sookie S...
by
4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 160,630 ratings
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64 From Dead to Worse (Sookie ...
by
4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 134,677 ratings
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64 Song of Solomon
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 43,346 ratings
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66 The Violent Bear it Away
by
4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 5,072 ratings
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67 Summer of My German Soldier...
by
3.62 of 5 stars 3.62 avg rating — 10,994 ratings
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68 In Cold Blood
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 305,221 ratings
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69 Mudbound
by
3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 34,611 ratings
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70 The Collected Stories
by
4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 4,971 ratings
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71 Suttree
by
4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 9,427 ratings
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72 Other Voices, Other Rooms
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 7,106 ratings
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73 Dead and Gone (Sookie Stack...
by
4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 130,578 ratings
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74 Tobacco Road
by
3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 8,312 ratings
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75 Fair and Tender Ladies
by
4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 4,181 ratings
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76 Charms for the Easy Life
by
4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 8,091 ratings
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77 Welcome to the World, Baby ...
by
3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 13,825 ratings
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78 A Lesson Before Dying
by
3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 29,369 ratings
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79 A Christmas Memory
by
4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 5,164 ratings
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80 Narrative of the Life of Fr...
by
3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 37,228 ratings
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81 Deliverance
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 19,651 ratings
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82 The Moviegoer
by
3.72 of 5 stars 3.72 avg rating — 13,541 ratings
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83 The Girl Who Chased the Moon
by
3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 31,920 ratings
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84 Spare Change (Wyattsville #1)
by
4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 828 ratings
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85 The Witching Hour (Lives of...
by
4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 67,615 ratings
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86 Because of Winn-Dixie
by
3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 119,128 ratings
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87 Scarlett
by
3.23 of 5 stars 3.23 avg rating — 26,234 ratings
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88 The Rapture of Canaan
by
3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 23,746 ratings
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89 The Sugar Queen
by
3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 29,821 ratings
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90 Gods in Alabama
by
3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 11,897 ratings
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91 Between, Georgia
by
3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 8,816 ratings
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92 The Optimist's Daughter
by
3.46 of 5 stars 3.46 avg rating — 4,903 ratings
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93 Go Down, Moses
by
3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 5,858 ratings
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94 Delta Wedding
by
3.7 of 5 stars 3.70 avg rating — 1,585 ratings
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95 The Widow of the South
by
3.71 of 5 stars 3.71 avg rating — 9,694 ratings
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96 A Painted House
by
3.62 of 5 stars 3.62 avg rating — 49,332 ratings
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97 The Road
by
3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 395,115 ratings
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98 Oldest Living Confederate W...
by
3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 3,864 ratings
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99 The Killer Angels
by
4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 44,785 ratings
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100 The Peach Keeper
by
3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 36,276 ratings
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flag this list (?)
756 books · 1,829 voters · list created June 23rd, 2008 by JG (The Introverted Reader) (votes) .
189 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


JG (The Introverted Reader)
JG (The Introverted Reader)
2472 books
343 friends
Jessica
Jessica
2056 books
97 friends
Jay
Jay
454 books
19 friends
Jennifer
Jennifer
1483 books
50 friends
Lara
Lara
1039 books
133 friends
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
1577 books
4584 friends
Todd
Todd
284 books
83 friends
Carl
Carl
2013 books
82 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 57) (57 new)


message 1: by TexasMargarita (new)

TexasMargarita I think Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil could almost make it in here, and some day maybe some James Lee Burke


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

And what about Kathleen Anne Porter?!


message 3: by Sunita (new)

Sunita these books are cool and Ilike them



message 4: by Sunita (new)

Sunita cool book peoples and I like them very much you rock
lvu you people very much and how you keep voting for these book and as for the people who don't do it now and when I say do it now I mean it just do it now .For those people who collect these books u rock so much that I can't say how much it must be for you to read and that is the one things that is the mager thing about collecting books and I hope thatyou keep collecting these books
thank you
sunpoo0994


message 5: by pcb (new)

pcb ditto about james lee burke


message 6: by Joann (new)

Joann The Known World by Edward P Jones


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Is The Plain Truth really Southern? Jodi Picoult lives near my sister in VT. I read it but don't remember much about it now. Wasn't it about the Amish?


message 8: by Maxine (new)

Maxine Dexter Aaaw no All the Pretty Horses? That's my favorite Cormac McCarthy book.


message 9: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Mar 29, 2010 08:42PM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads The Prince and the Pauper? It's set in Tudor England!

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is set in a fantasy English Dark Ages.


message 10: by Hayes (new)

Hayes Susanna wrote: "The Prince and the Pauper? It's set in Tudor England!"

Yes... *Southern* Tudor England! ;-)


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Ah dew declare!


 ~☆ Alice8,000ft Gone with the Wind is listed twice.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I told it to check for duplicates, which hopefully got it.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Is this list for works about the South, or by Southerners?


message 15: by ☯Bettie☯ (last edited Oct 20, 2011 12:06PM) (new)

☯Bettie☯ Hayes wrote: "Susanna wrote: "The Prince and the Pauper? It's set in Tudor England!"

Yes... *Southern* Tudor England! ;-)"


hahaha - you are right, the title doesn't say Southern North America now does it; a touch arrogant n'est pas!?


 ~☆ Alice8,000ft Susanna wrote: "Is this list for works about the South, or by Southerners?"

Well, Southerners do tend to read books about the South, honey chile.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Yes, indeedy they do!

And I myself interpreted it as "books about the South." But "books by Southerners" is the only way I can think of that Prince and the Pauper, A Tramp Abroad, or A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court could qualify, so I thought I'd ask!


message 18: by ☯Bettie☯ (new)

☯Bettie☯ Susanna wrote: "Yes, indeedy they do!

And I myself interpreted it as "books about the South." But "books by Southerners" is the only way I can think of that Prince and the Pauper, A Tramp Abroad, or A Connecti..."


I'll wait for an answer to your question before voting
:O)


message 19: by holly (new)

holly Plain Truth takes place in Pennsylvania and the author is from New York...


message 20: by David (new)

David Ernest Gaines's novels should be added to this list. So should books by Gayl Jones and Nikki Finney.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads You could add them; it's easy to add books to lists. At the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes."


message 22: by David (new)

David Thanks, Susanna.


message 23: by Beth (last edited May 12, 2012 08:15PM) (new)

Beth Susanna wrote: "Is this list for works about the South, or by Southerners?"

I took a course called "Southern Literature" at the University of Georgia when I was working on a graduate degree. Southern Literature was defined as literature that was written by a Southerner AND set in the South. I have always found this definition to be very helpful.


message 24: by Shawnee (new)

Shawnee I didn't see West Virginia in the list of states but I added books with author and setting from WV. Most of the state is below the Mason-Dixon line and we mountaineers consider ourselves southerners.


message 25: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Whitlock Forgive my crass marketing here. I've written a book called EVIL IS ALWAYS HUMAN that's been compared to Flannery O'Connor and Cormac McCarthy. I invite you to take a look at it.


message 26: by Tina (new)

Tina Lovell Eddie wrote: "Forgive my crass marketing here. I've written a book called EVIL IS ALWAYS HUMAN that's been compared to Flannery O'Connor and Cormac McCarthy. I invite you to take a look at it."

Beth wrote: "Susanna wrote: "Is this list for works about the South, or by Southerners?"

I took a course called "Southern Literature" at the University of Georgia when I was working on a graduate degree. South..."


TexasMargarita wrote: "I think Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil could almost make it in here, and some day maybe some James Lee Burke"

thank you for the information! I loved "midnight in the garden Of good and evil"


message 27: by Tina (new)

Tina Lovell ~☆ Alice☆~ wrote: "Susanna wrote: "Is this list for works about the South, or by Southerners?"

Well, Southerners do tend to read books about the South, honey chile."
Yes we Do! Tina L.

Eddie wrote: "Forgive my crass marketing here. I've written a book called EVIL IS ALWAYS HUMAN that's been compared to Flannery O'Connor and Cormac McCarthy. I invite you to take a look at it."

Shawnee wrote: "I didn't see West Virginia in the list of states but I added books with author and setting from WV. Most of the state is below the Mason-Dixon line and we mountaineers consider ourselves southerners."


message 28: by Pat (new)

Pat W. Virginia separated from Virginia rather than be part of the South. So, that's a done deal.
"Sophie's Choice" takes place in Europe with no mention of 'the South' so, multiple people putting it on the list is just sad.
Including William Tecumseh Sherman's biography several times is wrong. While a work about only his maniacal acts in the South could be included, it would hardly seem to merit "the Best Southern Literature".
These mistakes aside, the list is enjoyable.


message 29: by Beth (new)

Beth Well stated!I completely agree.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Pat wrote: ""Sophie's Choice" takes place in Europe with no mention of 'the South' so, multiple people putting it on the list is just sad."

Well, in their defense it might be mentioned that the author is from Virginia. Which, owing to the book's setting and subject matter, doesn't make it a "Southern" novel IMHO either, though ... nor, based on the description now added to the list, in the opinon of the list's creator.

JG, do you want the list to be pruned back to books actually set in the states you mentioned?


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh my god, how is "The Sound and the Fury" not number 1, fuck you Goodreads, this is not debatable


message 32: by Beth (last edited Dec 31, 2012 10:01AM) (new)

Beth Lists are made by Goodreads members/readers. Goodreads provides the arena for its readers who can vote for the various books listed in any Listopia. In other words, people have voted for these books and their rank is the result of these votes. Several books on the list would have been ranked differently for me personally. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see where different books line up after votes are calculated.


message 33: by Steve (new)

Steve Yep, those that like southern lit should vote and/or add their favorites. The list will sort out over time.


message 34: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Dec 31, 2012 09:52AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads The one that makes me scratch my head currently is #36: I Talk Slower Than I Think: An Antidote to Helicopter Parenting, as it looks to be non-fiction?

Also, 5 ratings and 33 votes???


message 35: by Shawnee (new)

Shawnee West Virginia separating from Virginia had more to do with perceived unfair distribution of state resources and divisive beliefs on slavery and nothing to do with whether it wanted to be part of the south. More important, the U.S. Bureau of Census states West Virginia as part of the South Region. I think my position is valid and West Virginia should be included in this category list.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Susanna wrote: "The one that makes me scratch my head currently is #36: I Talk Slower Than I Think: An Antidote to Helicopter Parenting, as it looks to be non-fiction?

Also, 5 ratings and 33 votes???"


The voting pattern is highly suspicious (1 of 1 or, at most, 1 of 2, all of them).

It being nonfiction alas doesn't seem to be a reason for exclusion on this particular list, though (the list title says "literature," not "fiction," and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil -- currently ranked no. 12 -- is nonfiction as well) ...


message 37: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Pat wrote: "W. Virginia separated from Virginia rather than be part of the South. So, that's a done deal.
"Sophie's Choice" takes place in Europ..."


Sophie's Choice does not take place in Europe,it takes place in New York. Only the memories of Sophie take place in Europe. One of the main characters "Stingo" is a very southern boy who comes to New York to write.


message 38: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Charlaine Harris & Anne Rice made this list, but not Peter Taylor, Elizabeth Hardwick, Dorothea Benton Frank, Anne Rivers Siddons, the Fugitive poets, etc etc. WTF??


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads That's because it's a user-sourced list. You are free to add them, if you like. (It's easy to add books to lists - at the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes.")


message 40: by Beth (new)

Beth Vicki, those are good candidates for the list and I encourage you to add them. I was not familiar with the Fugitive poets until you mentioned them in your post. That's one of the good thing about Listopia, it allows us to learn from each other regarding books and authors of which we might not have previously known.


message 41: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 Agreed. That's why "In Cold Blood" shouldn't be on this list.


message 42: by Donna (new)

Donna I am surprised at how little nonfiction is here. I added some, and I voted for Sherman's memoir as #1, since there is absolutely no denying that he changed the course of Southern history, like it or not.


message 43: by Donna (new)

Donna Shawnee wrote: "I didn't see West Virginia in the list of states but I added books with author and setting from WV. Most of the state is below the Mason-Dixon line and we mountaineers consider ourselves southerners."
I really question that subscript also. How is Florida not a Southern state, yet Oklahoma is? Kentucky was not a Confederate state, but it is in the list, and rightfully so. I think West Virginia should be, since culturally, they fit. An argument could be made for Maryland; rural, I think they are Southerners, but the cities are much more northern in character imo.


message 44: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 Donna wrote: "Shawnee wrote: "I didn't see West Virginia in the list of states but I added books with author and setting from WV. Most of the state is below the Mason-Dixon line and we mountaineers consider ours..."

I grew up in Maryland, but now live in South Carolina. Nobody in SC considers Maryland the South. When I went to grad school in New York City, everyone there considered me Southern. Who knows? Perspective is everything.


message 45: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 Donna wrote: "I am surprised at how little nonfiction is here. I added some, and I voted for Sherman's memoir as #1, since there is absolutely no denying that he changed the course of Southern history, like it o..."

I disagree about Sherman's memoirs. He was an Ohioan who campaigned in the South. Grant campaigned there too, so why not add 'The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant?" Neither work would meet my definition of Southern literature. In fact, I adhere to the definition of literature as "imaginative or creative writing, especially of recognized artistic value." That eliminates non-fiction, although I realize some would consider all written works in a particular language as literature.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I'd consider Maryland "Southern."

It was a slave state, and kept in the union 150 years ago by hook or by crook (and for good reason - D.C.'s situation would have been utterly untenable if it had seceeded).

Also, I remember from my childhood, that on trips north, that the line dividing where if you asked for "tea" what you automatically got was iced, rather than hot, was about the Maryland/Delaware line. (Circumstantial, I confess.)


message 47: by Manray9 (new)

Manray9 Susanna - Censored by GoodReads wrote: "I'd consider Maryland "Southern."

It was a slave state, and kept in the union 150 years ago by hook or by crook (and for good reason - D.C.'s situation would have been utterly untenable if it had ..."


We always considered the line to be Maryland-Virginia, south of that line they included grits with breakfast.


message 48: by Terry (new)

Terry Perrel Have you read my comic Southern novel, Cooley & Rose, which is primarily set in 1948 South Norfolk, VA? If you like Grit Lit, please take a look at the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Thanks.


message 49: by Sue (last edited Jan 03, 2014 08:59PM) (new)

Sue Peyton Place? Oh come on. New Hampshire has never been very southern and Massie's book on Empress Catherine Isn't either. Otherwise there are some great titles here. I'm trying to think of the title of Peter Mattheisen's book so I an add it. Oh well later I guess.
I looked it up...Shadow Country. What a book.


message 50: by Donna (new)

Donna Donna wrote: "Shawnee wrote: "I didn't see West Virginia in the list of states but I added books with author and setting from WV. Most of the state is below the Mason-Dixon line and we mountaineers consider ours..."

I agree, WV should be added to the list of Southern books.


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