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My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  2,697 ratings  ·  511 reviews
From celebrated New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Rick Bragg, comes a poignant and wryly funny collection of essays on life in the south.

Keenly observed and written with his insightful and deadpan sense of humor, he explores enduring Southern truths about home, place, spirit, table, and the regions' varied geographies, including his nativ
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 15th 2015 by Oxmoor House
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4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,697 ratings  ·  511 reviews

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Tom Mathews
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of Southern literature and culture and folks who like yelling 'Roll Tide!'
Update August 2016: A yer after first reading the book, I checked out the audio recording read by Rick Bragg himself. It is even better than the original, if that is even possible. I may end up buying this recorded so that I can listen to it many more times. Bragg is priceless!

Original review September 2015
A friend of mine describes Rick Bragg as a ‘national treasure’. Even if that assessment is a tad overstated it can be safely applied to his relationship with the American South. From his touch
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a delightful collection of essays from Rick Bragg, most of them republished from his column in Southern Living magazine. Topics cover food (of course), football (naturally), and a range of other stories about home, family, weather, and travel.

I picked up My Southern Journey because I had loved Bragg's latest book, The Best Cook in the World, and was tickled to find that some of the amusing family anecdotes from Cook also had small mentions in his essays.

I listened to both Bragg books on
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've always loved Rick Bragg, so it's no surprise that I really enjoyed this compilation of essays he's written as magazine articles over the years. The closer I get to age 60 the more nostalgic I become. You don't need to have grown up in the South to relate to the stories here, as the deeply rooted love he has for a memory filled upbringing and " all things Southern" shines through. It might help if you grew up watching Gunsmoke on an enormous black and white TV while eating Little Debbie snac ...more
Connie G
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rick Bragg describes this book as "a kind of love story to the South". The book is made up of around seventy articles or essays, most from his column at "Southern Living". They range from the humorous to the heartfelt. It's the type of book that you can pick up when you have only a few minutes to read.

The stories about his family are some of my favorites. His love for his mother and other family members is evident. He grew up in a red clay area of Alabama filled with working class people. Life w
Diane Barnes
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: slow-reads
It is a testament to how much I love this man's writings that I did not skip over the essays on football, but read every word. Some of these pieces made me laugh, and some made me cry, but they all made me proud of my southern heritage and upbringing.
Diane S ☔
Jul 29, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 Bragg's love of the South, his heritage, customs and quirks definitely shines through in his writing. Many, if not all of these articles are repeats that have been published previously in Southern Living. Many of these I loved, the old dog, his mother as the cat lady, moonshine as a toddy and others. But, there were many that I think would be better understood if one was raised or living in the South, to be honest some left little or no impression on me at all. A few made me shudder. But, as ...more
Kirk Smith
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Surely everyone knows about the words of Rick Bragg. Do I need to go on? I'll make my own title for this: 'Short Stories and Anecdotes'. This is a collection of articles from Southern Living magazine as well as Garden and Gun, GQ, Bon Apetite, and others. Subjects are categorized as Home, Table, Place, Craft, and Spirit. The predominant length for each is two pages, but there are several of four to six pages. There is a good deal of writing on the subject of food, so make sure to have dinner be ...more
Sep 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable collection of stories that Bragg shares with us about growing up and living in the south. Lots of the stories are a reflection of my own story of growing up southern. Some are quite funny and others are a little emotional. Highly recommend the audio version where Bragg himself reads.
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
3 stars

I've been a Rick Bragg fan for well over five years now and cannot (nay, will not) stop singing the praises of the homages to his family, warts and all (particularly the stunning Ava's Man and All Over but the Shoutin'.) If you're even remotely interested in hardscrabble life in the South (the Tennessee River Valley region of Alabama to be exact), as relayed by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, those two books are absolutely essential reading.

My Southern Journey, while unmistakably
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars but rounded up for the phrasing. Southern USA supreme phrasing ambiance. Not just the trite, but the exact.

It lost a star in the repetitive nature of the short pieces. Having run the full boat ancestry and relative books of Rick Bragg- many of these were retelling the same in just a few varying circumstances.

But still. Ava, Margaret, Jo, Edna his siblings and all the men and their tools- they all come alive. As does his love of the home places of his Southern birth and life.

The food
Yolanda Smith
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2019
I fell in love with the beginning of this book, but the author lost me when he rolled out all the football essays. I'm giving it 3.75 stars rounded up to 4. Would easily have been 4.5 if not for the football segment.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Treat yourself to the audio version. Rick reads the book himself and his sweet, deep Southern accent is music to my ears.
I loved these stories told with laugh-out-loud humor and tear-inducing poignancy. Bragg, a southern boy from Alabama, hits all the right notes whether he is writing about family, food, pride of place, being an outsider in northern cities, romance, break-ups, his step-son or holiday traditions. And did I mention food? He is especially funny when talking food; one essay on cole slaw had me rolling! And another story about cast iron pans and how his mother saved hers from the ashes of a house fire ...more
Fred Forbes
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm as much a New Englander as Rick Bragg is a Southerner but with clients all over the southeast, I can certainly understand his love affair with his home. Especially now, as I have made numerous trips through the area on business but with side trips to Civil War sites, my 5th great grandmother's grave site, friends in the southern states, etc. While I have now lived in Florida for 30+ years (and am not sure that counts as the south since few here are from here), I enjoy getting into the surrou ...more
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Do yourself a favor and listen to this on audiobook. Then do yourself a favor and if you're addicted to 1.5 speed, don't. For one thing, you won't want to rush this. You'll want the full 8 hours 43 minutes. And for another thing, even though Rick Bragg's voice sounds perfectly normal at 1.5, since he speaks so slowly, that drawl is at least half of the charm.

Next time I'm finding myself a little anxious, I might just turn this on. It's really hard to think anything bad could happen in the world
Rebecca Elswick
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seldom have I enjoyed a book like I did, My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South! I chose to listen to this book on audible and I am sooooo happy I did! What an amazing bonus it was to hear the stories in the author's voice. Rick Bragg is a true storyteller in the "old school" way of storytellers. Listening to him read his stories was like sitting on the front porch and listening to my dad tell stories. I got the same warm feeling and had the same grin on my face long after ...more
John Behle
Oct 25, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: skip
I had to give up on this "aw shucks--we just eat our our troubles away" collection of southern lifestyle stories.

Tale after fat filled episode, this book was giving me a stomach ache reading about foodie attacks.

I ditched this bag of doughy doughnuts. After a few accounts of the author scheduling his day around access to fried food, enough.
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, favorites
"[...]I felt a comfort in that room, and in that company, I have seldom known. Maybe that is because by taking me into their past, they took me back to my own."

Ahhh, Rick Bragg. I have read bits and pieces of his work for years, mostly when I was going to Bama and traveling the circles that talked about every new work he produced. This book is a compilation of his articles centering around the southern way of life that he grew up surrounded by, and I pretty much loved every story.

When I was youn
This collection, largely culled from Southern Living, also contains articles originally published in Sports Illustrated, GQ, and more. Bragg’s stories of Alabama and New Orleans, food, family, and SEC football together form a nice little love letter to the south. His soothing drawl - I listened to the audio - and wry wit are a delightful combination. He writes with such love and humor. I adore him.

Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
I enjoyed these essays very much, though some, of course, were better than others. I particularly liked the ones about food (and that's a lot of them) -- tomorrow night I'll be pulling out my long-neglected cast iron skillet and frying some chicken, and I'm even planning to try to make hush puppies (from Martha White's mix, because ten years in North Carolina haven't been enough to turn this Floridian into a proper Southerner, but Mr. Bragg has inspired me to try, anyway!). The one about being ...more
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I haven't gotten over Pat Conroy's death, but I feel like his spirit handed me over to Rick Bragg (via the On the Southern Literary Trail Group on Goodreads). I could sit on the porch listening to Rick Bragg tell stories drinking lemonade (or maybe even something harder on ice) for days on end. This man loves food and can describe southern dishes in such beautiful detail that I was looking for somewhere to pull over to eat. He even made me think about trying oysters one more time (in New Orleans ...more
Julie  Durnell
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern
I love this book of exceptional stories! I can't believe I've never read any of his books before but will certainly pick up more of Mr. Bragg's! Most of them are sweet as iced tea on a hot afternoon, with some laugh out loud moments. His love for his mother is touching and honoring; his love for reading shines throughout his life stories, and the honesty behind growing up in the South of the 60's makes for a wonderful compilation of memories. Recommended!
David Ward
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
My Southern Journey: True Stories From the Heart of the South by Rick Bragg (Oxmoor House 2015) (814.54). It appears that with this volume Rick Bragg has become a quintessential Southern writer. My Southern Journey is a series of essays in which set and setting play the key roles. These short compositions, none of which are more than two or three pages long, will take a Southerner home just as assuredly as will a classic episode of "The Andy Griffith Show." Author Rick Bragg's tales of growing u ...more
Matt Beard
May 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There's a feeling I get when I drive down the (once dirt) roads where I learned to drive. It's the same feeling I get when I smell chewing tobacco (the kind from a pouch) or hear someone play an old Johnny Rodriguez song on an acoustic guitar. The stories in this book give me that same feeling. And that's saying something.
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I laughed. I cried. I became ravenously hungry. I felt the deep homesickness of being out of my place. Bragg writes his stories from deep love and with a precision of words that is just beautiful and causes me envy. This book of essays is to be savored...on a porch...with a glass of tea and cicadas singing in the trees....
Brian Kovesci
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, need-a-copy
This man knows how to write a story. Each segment is a part of him that he unashamedly shares with sometimes self deprecating accuracy. It's curious, but I feel more connected with my country through these stories than through anything else I've read. Even though I am not a Southern man, Rick Bragg is my brother.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-popsugar
This is a collection of Rick Bragg's short essays, some originally published in Southern Living, Southern Journal, The NY Times, etc., and some never before published. He beautifully captures the sense of place in the South and the warm, loving hearts of its residents.

They remind us of family, southern life, our love for each other, and of course, college football! Bragg is adept at conveying the southern voice in his books, but if you have a chance to listen to the audio version, do it! He nar
Pat Murphy
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Rick Bragg is from Alabama and he has a southern streak in him a mile wide. He writes about it in a way that makes me want to go there and visit for a few months. He writes stuff that is so funny, and tasty, and thought provoking. I find that I have the same feelings I had when I was a boy when I read about his adventures as a child. When he writes about food I go out and buy some grits or cornbread. He has the same appreciation for the poor working man that I do. Here is a ph ...more
Donna McBroom-Theriot
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had the opportunity to hear Rick Bragg speak at a writer’s conference. His smooth flow of words and Southernly manners transfer from conversation to book seamlessly. He has a gift for words and his delivery leaves you spellbound.

My Southern Journey is indicative of life in the South. The stories are from the heart and speak of love of family and the land we hail from. They speak of truth, the good and the bad. All you need do is open to Page One and you will not be able to put the book down. E
Oct 18, 2015 rated it did not like it
I will not finish this book. It's due back at library tomorrow and frankly I don't think I'm missing out. I was excited about this book, but how I've half finished it without chucking it across the room is beyond me.

1) This book perpetuates the stereotype that Southerners are unhealthy and obese (by choice), stubborn (see #2 below), and stupid (again, see #2 below).

2) It's 2016. The Civil War ended 151 years ago. It is no longer acceptable to call people Yankees. Period. The End.

Note: I'm a N
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Rick Bragg is the Pulitzer Prize winning writer of best-selling and critically acclaimed books on the people of the foothills of the Appalachians, All Over but the Shoutin, Ava's Man, and The Prince of Frogtown.

Bragg, a native of Calhoun County, Alabama, calls these books the proudest examples of his writing life, what historians and critics have described as heart-breaking anthems of people usual
“But I hope I will never have a life that is not surrounded by books, by books that are bound in paper and cloth and glue, such perishable things for ideas that have lasted thousands of years, or just since the most recent Harry Potter. I hope I am always walled in by the very weight and breadth and clumsy, inefficient, antiquated bulk of them, hope I spend my last days on this Earth arranging and rearranging them on thrones of good, honest pine, oak, and mahogany, because they just feel good in my hands, because I just like to look at their covers, and dream of the promise of the great stories inside.” 16 likes
“The children start school now in August. They say it has to do with air-conditioning, but I know sadism when I see it.” 14 likes
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