21 Books You Have to Check Out This Summer

This post is the second in a three-part series we’re doing on summer reading. Click here to read part one. Check back here on the next Friday for part three.  From Cullowhee to Pine Knoll Shores and from quirky humor to murder mysteries, North Carolina authors have stories to brighten up your summer at the beach or at home in your favorite chair. North Carolina Arts Council Literature Director David Potorti has selected a few of the 2013 releases from some of our state’s finest authors for you to explore:

1.  A Different Sun: A Novel of Africa by Elaine Neil Orr (Berkley Trade, 2013): This debut novel from NC State professor of English Elaine Neil Orr, born and raised in Nigeria, tells a tale of social and spiritual awakening. Orr is a 2002 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship recipient in literature.
2.  Allegiance and Betrayal by Peter Makuck (Syracuse University Press, 2013): Pine Knoll Shores resident Peter Makuck’s third story collection explores the mystery surrounding family relations, love, generational rifts, marriage, and the inevitability of loss.
3.  At Random by Lee Zacharias (Fugitive Poets Press, 2013): Zacharias, an emerita professor of English at UNC Greensboro, tells the story of a middle-aged couple struggling to survive a tragedy, and the tale of a refugee family caught between a younger generation's desire to assimilate and the older generation's desire to preserve their culture. Zacharias is the recipient of a 1986 and 2005 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship in literature.
4.  A Town of Empty Rooms by Karen E. Bender (Counterpoint Press, 2013): Karen E. Bender, who teaches creative writing at UNC Wilmington, presents the story of Serena and Dan Shine, estranged from one another as they separately grieve over the recent loss of Serena’s father and Dan’s older brother.
5.  Flashes of War: Short Stories by Katey Schultz (Apprentice House, 2013): Illuminating the intimate, human faces of war, this series of short stories questions the stereotypes of modern war by bearing witness to the shared struggles of all who are touched by it.
6.  Flora by Gail Godwin (Bloomsbury, 2013): Asheville author Gail Godwin’s darkly beautiful novel about a child and a caretaker in isolation is a story of love, regret, and the things we can't undo.
7.  Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (Little, Brown and Company, 2013): Raleigh native son David Sedaris brings his quirky perspective to another collection of hilarious personal essays.
8.  Life after Life by Jill McCorkle (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2013): This family saga by New York Times bestselling author Jill McCorkle weaves together the stories of multiple generations of the residents and staff of Pine Haven, a retirement community in Fulton, North Carolina.
9.  Lillian’s Garden by Carrie Knowles (Roundfire Books, 2013): Just when Helen thinks she can take charge of her life, a devil-hunting itinerant preacher upsets the delicate balance she has managed in a family locked in secrets and headed for trouble.
10.  Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble by Ann B. Ross (Viking, 2013): In Hendersonville, author Ann B. Ross’ latest installment in her popular series, Miss Julia deals with an internet scam, a crabby patient on bed rest, an overwhelmed lady of the house with a family to feed, and an unexpected guest with questionable intentions.
11.  Music of Ghosts by Sallie Bissell (Midnight Ink, 2013): Asheville author Sallie Bissell’s Mary Crow series continues in this story following a group of young thrill seekers as they head deep into the Appalachian woods to the old Fiddlesticks cabin, the scene of a bloody double murder from decades past.
12.  Nothing Gold Can Stay: Stories by Ron Rash (Ecco, 2013): New York Times Notable Writer Ron Rash’s most recent collection of short stories is dark, beautiful and affecting.
13.  Sweet Souls and Other Stories by Charles Blackburn, Jr. (Main Street Rag, 2013): In this series of short stories, Raleigh writer Charles Blackburn, Jr., takes readers on a journey from the rural South to the Middle East. Blackburn earned a 1998 NC Arts Council Artist Fellowship in literature and was the 2008 winner of the Sam Ragan Award for Literature.
14.  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (St. Martin's Press, 2013): North Carolina author Therese Anne Fowler explores the early days of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, capturing the golden years of their marriage.

Additionally, the N.C. Arts Council has released two guidebooks to authentic travel experiences exploring the state’s literary heritage and the traditional music of the mountains and the foothills. Both books are available from UNC Press and at your public library or local bookstore.

15.  Literary Trails of Eastern North Carolina allows readers to see the state’s landscape through the eyes of writers who have lived in worked in the 45 eastern and coastal counties featured in the guidebook. Written by Georgann Eubanks for the Arts Council the guidebook features stories, anecdotes and excerpts.
16.  Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina is a lively guidebook to music sites, artists and traditions of the mountains and foothills. The book, written by folklorist Fred C. Fussell with Steve Kruger, includes a CD with 20 music tracks.

 

If non-fiction is more your thing, look no further than North Carolina Historical Publications. The staff at Historical Publications recommend the following for a good summer read:

17.  The Lost Colonists: Their Fortune and Probable Fate by David Beers Quinn: A discussion the composition of the Lost Colony of 1587, the conditions on Roanoke Island, and the activities of the English colonists after landing there.
18.  The Pirates of Colonial North Carolina by Hugh F. Rankin: Originally published in 1960, this paperback is the most popular title ever published by the Historical Publications Section and has never gone out of print.
19.  Gold Mining in North Carolina: A Bicentennial History by Richard F. Knapp and Brent D. Glass: The first documented discovery of gold in the United States was in 1799 at John Reed's farm in Cabarrus County. This book traces the history of gold mining in North Carolina from that discovery to the 20th century.
20.  North Carolina Legends by Richard Walser: North Carolina is a place where history has been enriched by legends and folklore. The 48 colorful Tar Heel tales in this volume include well-known stories like "Virginia Dare and the White Doe" and "Old Dan Tucker" and some less-familiar ones, too!
21.  North Carolina as a Civil War Battleground by John G. Barrett: This popular title presents an overview of Civil War North Carolina, with information on secession, preparations for war, battles fought in North Carolina, blockade-running, and the coming of peace.

 

We want to know what you’re reading! Tell us about in the comments, and check back next week for some of best bookstores to discover North Carolina writers in your neck of the woods. Coming up next week: the best bookshops to explore North Carolina writers from the N.C. Arts Council's literature director.

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