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Looking For Recommendations > New Orleans/the South?

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message 1: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (natalietate) | 3 comments Hi everyone, I've recently fallen in love with New Orleans and I'm looking for some books that take place there. I've heard of James Lee Burke but I don't know where to begin with his books! Any suggestions?

Also, I'd love recommendations for any other book or series that takes place in the south. For some reason I'm really drawn to the culture and the lifestyle.

Thanks so much!


message 2: by El (new)

El Two books that specifically take place in New Orleans are A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole (not a fan) and The Awakening, Kate Chopin. And of course Anne Rice wrote extensively about New Orleans.

Some good Southern lit authors are Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner (I'm not a fan, but that's beside the point), Katherine Anne Porter, Thomas Wolfe (I'm currently reading him now), Carson McCullers, James Dickey, Walker Percy, Pat Conroy, Cormac McCarthy, Margaret Mitchell... um, I'm tapped.



message 3: by El (new)

El I could also suggest Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt - it takes place in Savannah, Georgia but has good cultural details - you'll walk away feeling like you know the South. :)


message 4: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (natalietate) | 3 comments Oh, thanks so much! I just read The Awakening recently, and I really enjoyed it. I think I've heard of the John Berendt book, hopefully we've got it in at the library. I'll definitely take a look at that list of authors too. Thanks!


message 5: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 310 comments anything by Ann Rice...if horror is your thing...


message 6: by Charity (last edited May 19, 2009 11:12AM) (new)

Charity (charityross) I believe Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series is set in New Orleans.

Other New Orleans-based books:

The Client, The Pelican Brief and Runaway Jury by John Grisham

Part of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (Rhett and Scarlett's honeymoon; of course, the book itself is entirely Southern fiction)

Junky by William Burroughs

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Mosquitoes and Pylon by William Faulkner (the latter novel takes place in a thinly disguised New Orleans known as "New Valois"; of course, all William Faulkner books are big Southern fiction books)

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (play)

There are certainly plenty more, but thought these might help. If you need more books that are just Southern lit, as opposed to New Orleans-specific, I can offer up a few more suggestions. (In addition to El's suggestions for Southern authors, Truman Capote springs to mind.)


message 7: by El (new)

El Charity wrote: "(In addition to El's suggestions for Southern authors, Truman Capote springs to mind.)"

Never fails that I forget to list one of my favorite authors, hah. Good call, Charity!

I thought most of Grisham's books took place in Memphis? It's been a while since I've read him. Regardless, New Orleans or Memphis, it's all a part of the South!


message 8: by Jen B (last edited May 19, 2009 11:20AM) (new)

Jen B (jennybee618) "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" by Rebecca Wells is set in Louisiana...it's slightly chick lit (not sure if you're into that), but there's quite a bit of Southern culture/language/references.

Some other good Southern authors:
Fannie Flagg (Fried Green Tomatoes)
Sarah Addison Allen (Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen)
Lee Smith (Fair & Tender Ladies, Family Linen)
Clyde Edgerton (Rainey, Walking Across Egypt)

And I have to agree with El's suggestions of Thomas Wolfe, Eudora Welty, and Pat Conroy...can you tell I love this genre? :)


message 9: by Jen B (new)

Jen B (jennybee618) Oh, and All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren is another Louisiana book...


message 10: by Charity (last edited May 19, 2009 11:40AM) (new)

Charity (charityross) I thought most of Grisham's books took place in Memphis? It's been a while since I've read him. Regardless, New Orleans or Memphis, it's all a part of the South!

Yeah, I believe the vast majority do. In fact, I only think part of the Grisham books I mentioned take place in New Orleans (with the remainder taking place in various other southern cities). I don't fully remember. But, yes, John Grisham is another big Southern lit writer in general.

And d'oh! I was so hung up on New Orleans-specific books that I didn't even think about Louisiana in general. Some Louisiana books:

The Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines

Cane River by Lalita Tademy

Dead Man Walking (nonfiction) by Helen Prejean (you may or may not be familiar with the movie adaptation that came out in the 90s starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.)

Diary of a Blues Goddess by Erica Orloff (actually, this one is New Orleans-specific)

That's all that I can come up with off the top of my head (without repeating what others have mentioned).


message 11: by Laura (new)

Laura (questionableadvice) City of Masks takes place in New Orleans

The House on Tradd Street is set in Charleston and southern history plays a big part in the story


message 12: by Kandice (new)

Kandice I can't think of any that haven't been suggested, but I am a fellow lover of Luoisiana! My family's joke is that if anything happens to my husband, I would sell our house and move there a week later. (I think I really would) I am content to take all future vacations there and have successfully finagled 3 in the last 5 years.:)


message 13: by El (new)

El There's also Andrei Codrescu - he's Romanian but has "adopted" New Orleans and has written several essays/books specifically about the city. I haven't read those, but I am always impressed by other things I have read or when I hear him on NPR (yummy accent + intelligence = swoon).

New Orleans, Mon Amour Twenty Years of Writings from the City
The Muse Is Always Half-Dressed in New Orleans and Other Essays
Messiah A Novel
The Devil Never Sleeps and Other Essays (I have read this one and really enjoyed it)

While searching for Codrescu's books I came across this one: New Orleans Stories Great Writers on the City which might appeal to you also.


message 14: by Mary Beth (new)

Mary Beth (marybethbaker) | 98 comments There is a series of books by Poppy Z. Brite about the restaurant world of New Orleans that are pretty entertaining: Liquor: A Novel, Prime: A Novel, and Soul Kitchen: A Novel.


message 15: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10124 comments Mod
soo many great books and authors being mentioned here.
I have to second Cormac McCarthy, Charlaine Harris, Truman Capote, Harper Lee.... very goth, very southern (well, Harris isnt goth... but you get my drift!)


message 16: by Natalie (new)

Natalie (natalietate) | 3 comments Oh WOW! SO many suggestions! Thank you everyone! I'll start looking through these tonight and I'll definitely be making a library trip tomorrow morning.

This is making me itch for a New Orleans trip now!


message 17: by GracieKat (new)

GracieKat | 864 comments The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens is set in New Orleans. It's a mystery/thriller but I warn you. It involves kidnapped children and is pretty intense in spots. Lisa Jackson has a few books set in New Orleans: Hot Blooded, Cold Blooded, Absolute Fear, Shiver, and Lost Souls. They're fair romantic/suspense stories. I'm not sure if they're in the right order and Lost Souls wasn't that great but the rest aren't bad.


message 18: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) | 954 comments Wow, how has nobody mentioned North and South by John Jakes? I'm currently reading it and a lot of the book takes place in the south, it's really engaging!!


message 19: by Kandice (new)

Kandice April wrote: "Wow, how has nobody mentioned North and South by John Jakes? I'm currently reading it and a lot of the book takes place in the south, it's really engaging!!"

I love that book! Well, really all of those. I had a misunderstanding recently because there is also Gaskell's North and South, (England) that is also wonderful.




message 20: by Paula (new)

Paula | 1098 comments I second "The Dollmaker". Terrific story! I'd also recommend the tea series by Laura Childs. It's a cozy series in New Orleans.


message 21: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie (sbez05) | 556 comments The Little Friend by Donna Tartt is set in the south. It's the only book I've read by her, but I think several others are set there also. I really enjoyed The Little Friend but I've heard from others that they enjoyed the rest of her books more.


message 22: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 142 comments Set in historical New Orleans, and fabulously well researched - this series begins with A Free Man of Color - basically mysteries, with superb atmosphere, plots and character. Each book stands alone as a story - read in order, you get to follow the characters.


message 23: by El (new)

El Stephanie wrote: "The Little Friend by Donna Tartt is set in the south. It's the only book I've read by her, but I think several others are set there also. I really enjoyed The Little Friend but I've h..."

I think Donna Tartt only has two books - The Little Friend and The Secret History (which took place in New England). I think she got so much praise for History that people were disappointed by Friend so she stopped writing. Though occasionally I think she publishes a short story in a magazine or something. It's a shame - I would like to read more books by her.


message 24: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10124 comments Mod
I own both, but have read neither. I think I am going to read Secret History first..... since that is the one people are most impressed with!


message 25: by El (new)

El Lori wrote: "I own both, but have read neither. I think I am going to read Secret History first..... since that is the one people are most impressed with!"

That's my recommendation also. Friend was good, but I much preferred History.


message 26: by GracieKat (new)

GracieKat | 864 comments El wrote: "Stephanie wrote: "The Little Friend by Donna Tartt is set in the south. It's the only book I've read by her, but I think several others are set there also. I really enjoyed The Little..."

That seems a little weird to me. Almost like throwing in the towel. You would think that she would have just tried harder on the next one.

Another one set in the south would be Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe A Novel


message 27: by Katie (new)

Katie Flora Wilkins (kflora) Grace wrote: "Another one set in the south would be Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe A Novel "

I live within a stone's throw of the Whistle Stop Cafe. I haven't read the book, but have seen the movie a couple of times.


message 28: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Lopez El wrote: "I could also suggest Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt - it takes place in Savannah, Georgia but has good cultural details - you'll walk away feeling like you know..."

I just wanted to second Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. If you've seen the movie, don't judge the book on the basis of that. The book is terrific. It's a page-turner with a great sense of period and place, as El writes.


message 29: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Lopez And if you're interested in a film set in New Orleans you might want to check out The Big Easy.


message 30: by Mary (new)

Mary | 203 comments Here are a few that I don't think have been mentioned:

The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue
Lives of the Saints by Nancy Lemann

Also, I am Madame X: A Novel and Gioia Diliberto and Love is a Wild Assault by Elithe Hamilton Kirkland. Both of these feature characters who are originally from Louisiana but emigrate to Paris and Texas, respectively.

I also recommend The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Mississippi) and The Mermaid Chair and Secret Life of Bees both by Sue Monk Kidd and both set in SC.

I also love southern lit !!


message 31: by Emilly R (new)

Emilly R (rosario0829e) | 198 comments Thank you for saying that,i watched the movie so i didnt feel the need to read the book.Jonathan, do you think David Baldaci is an author of the south?.


message 32: by Mel (last edited May 25, 2009 08:15AM) (new)

Mel (melcdn) | 90 comments I second the reference to Pat Conroy. The subject matter may not always give you a warm fuzzy feeling but to me Pat Conroy's words will always smell of honeysuckle and lawn swings. He exudes Southerness.


message 33: by Jonathan (last edited May 26, 2009 05:38PM) (new)

Jonathan Lopez Emilly wrote: "Thank you for saying that,i watched the movie so i didnt feel the need to read the book.Jonathan, do you think David Baldaci is an author of the south?."

David Baldacci -- aren't most of his books set in and around DC? I guess I don't generally think of DC as the south....what do others think?



message 34: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Mulkey | 2 comments another author is Greg Iles. He is from Natchez, MS. Most of his novels are in MS or New Orleans.


message 35: by Liz M (new)

Liz M Julie Smith has written nine mysteries about a female New Orleans cop, Skip Langdon, including Mean Woman Blues.


message 36: by Ed (new)

Ed (ejhahn) | 193 comments Natalie wrote: "Hi everyone, I've recently fallen in love with New Orleans and I'm looking for some books that take place there. I've heard of James Lee Burke but I don't know where to begin with his books! Any su..."

I believe you are referring to the Dave Roubicheaux Series. Start with "Neon Rain" (1987) and work your way forward.

Burke is one of my favorite authors and it really helps to start with the first book and work through the series as they build on one-another.

You will not be disappointed. You will be hooked.


Petra: all work & no play makes you poor.On hiatus (petra-x) If you like vampire novels, the Sookie Stackhouse series (Charlaine Harris) and Sherilyn Kenyon's are all set in New Orleans.


message 38: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin (kraaivrouw) Pat Conroy is great. Really like The Prince of Tides, but they're all good.

Greg Iles writes thrillers. Again, all really good, but I'd start with The Quiet Game.

There's Faulkner, of course. For a light Faulkner read (& all around good time) I always recommend The Reivers. This was also a movie with Steve McQueen that is wonderful.

James Lee Burke is completely addictive & can write place like nobody else.

I also like Willie Morris' books - North Toward Home isn't so much about the south as it is about being from the south.

A very cool & wonderful Anne Rice book, The Feast of All Saints, which was written early enough in her career to be worth reading (I think her later books are garbage). It's about les gens de couleurs libres whose community was the French Quarter & their tradition of placees. I absolutely love this book for both its story & its atmosphere. & it's not about anything paranormal, btw.


message 39: by Cindy AL (new)

Cindy AL (cangelmd) | 58 comments Someone mentioned A Free Man of Color, the author is Barbara Hambly, and the series of mysteries is very good, and the story of free blacks and biracial folk in early NOLA is fascinating.
Barbara Hambly also writes some good fantasy and vampire books... kind of an odd combination.


JG (Introverted Reader) I'm drawing a big, fat blank on New Orleans right now, but if you're looking for even more recs, you might want to check out the Southern Lit Lovers group here on GR. We're a fairly small group, but everyone always has lots of good recommendations!


message 41: by Katie (new)

Katie Flora Wilkins (kflora) Caitlin wrote: "Pat Conroy is great. Really like The Prince of Tides, but they're all good."

A good trip is go to Charleston and Beaufort, SC and Savannah, GA. They're within 2 hours of each other, and a lot of Southern lit is based in these towns.





message 42: by El (new)

El Katie Flora wrote: "A good trip is go to Charleston and Beaufort, SC and Savannah, GA. They're within 2 hours of each other, and a lot of Southern lit is based in these towns."

I agree with this. My mother and I took a similar trip a few years ago. Memphis, Savannah, Charleston, Asheville. It was a really good time - I actually picked up a paperback copy of Gone With the Wind on that trip, even though it's easy enough to get just about anywhere... it felt more appropriate getting it in the South. :)


message 43: by Chris (new)

Chris Tusa My book, Dirty Little Angels, is set in New Orleans, but I must warn you, it's not the New Orleans you read about in brochures. Here's a link to the book in case you're interested:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6...


message 44: by Chris (new)

Chris Tusa You might also try Yellow Jack, a phenomenal novel set in New Orleans during the Yellow Fever epidemic.


message 45: by Brenda (new)

Brenda | 266 comments You might enjoy The Bark of the Dogwood: A Tour of Southern Homes and Gardens by Jackson Tippet McCrae. I really enjoyed his description of New Orleans. You should check the reviews for this though because it seems it was either a love it or hate it book. A lot of people found it disturbing and dark, but I liked the way this was written.


message 46: by Yuliya (new)

Yuliya (yuliyalovestoread) | 1685 comments Laura wrote: "City of Masks takes place in New Orleans

I read recently the City of Masks and like it - it about ghost hunting in modern times. I don't usually read about that subject, but I like this book very much



message 47: by Vincent (new)

Vincent LoCoco | 2 comments I am from New Orleans. My novel, Tempesta's Dream- A Story of Love, Friendship and Opera, partly takes place in New Orleans.

Check it out. It has been garnishing some very good reviews.

Here is the link for a book trailer.
https://www.goodreads.com/videos/5419...


message 48: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) Good Recommendation Marie. Yes, Anne Rice's vampire chronicle books portray New Orleans so well and in such detail that at times you can't help but feel as if your there.


message 49: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Schwartz (jasmineschwartz) Purple Cane Road is my favorite James Lee Burke. He's phenomenal - enjoy him and New Orleans!


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