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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Southern Reading Challenge 2007

Maggie over at Maggie Reads has proposed a summer reading challenge that I can not resist. The challenge is to read three Southern books, by Southern authors, in Southern settings. This does not begin until June 1, so I have plenty of time to pick my books. Maggie has been posting a lot of stuff about Southern authors to help people choose their titles, and I'll be taking her advise into consideration.

Since moving to South Dakota (at least it's South Something!) from Alabama in 2002, I miss a lot of things Southern. Sweet tea. Chick-Fil-A. Kudzo. The Auburn/ Alabama rivalry. A couple of years ago I wrote a letter to an old college professor of mine at Auburn. Dr. Flynt was such a great teacher. His classes were just outright enjoyable. I just googled a little bit and found out that he has a (short) wikipedia page! A bookseller called Alabama Booksmith has a nice short bio of him that starts with- "Wayne Flynt is the leading authority on Alabama history. Author of eleven books, Dr. Flynt has actively devoted his life to bringing the issues of history and poverty and their social impact to the forefront of the public's consciousness."

I took two classes from him, one of which was "History of the South since 1877" which I took the winter quarter 1997. A quarter or so later I took Alabama History from him. During the History of the South class we all had to read a book off a list and present it to a small group of students, and Dr. Flynt. This event took place at his home, and his wife made us Mississippi Mud Pie. Ever since that class I have said that I wanted to read everything on his list, but I didn't keep the list. So in the fall of 2004 I wrote to him and asked if he would please send me a copy of the list. He replied immediately, and personally, and it sure seems that he remembers me. (Remember, I took 2 classes from him, for a total of 24 weeks, 6 years in the past, at Auburn, not a particularly small school).

The list is the back two pages of his syllabus, and the copy he sent me was clearly pulled off the back of a syllabus. Makes me wish I'd asked for the entire thing. I do not know how or why he chose these books.

His Key: @- Alabama writers, #-Pulitzer/ Nobel Prize/ National Book Award Winners, *- his favorites (the stars were added before he mailed it to me.)

Harry Crews, A Childhood
Eudora Welty, A Curtain of Green*
James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men@
Erskine Caldwell, Tobacco Road
Dorothy Allison, Bastard out of Carolina
Rick Bragg, All Over But the Shoutin' @*
Lee Smith, Saving Grace

Clyde Edgerton, Raney*
Flannery O'Connor, Wise Blood
-, The Violent Bear it Away
-, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories
Walker Percy, Lancelot @
William Styron, Sophie's Choice*
Will Campbell, Brother to a Dragonfly*
Dennis Covington, Salvation on Sand Mountain @*

Alice Walker, The Color Purple #
Vicki Covington, Bird of Paradise @*
Elizabeth Dewberry Vaughn. Break the Heart of Me @
Lee Smith, Oral History
-, Fair and Tender Ladies
Mark Childress, Crazy in Alabama @
Nanci Kincaid, Balls @*

Richard Wright, Native Son
-, Black Boy
Shirley Ann Grau, The Keeper of the House @#*
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird @#*
William Styrom, The Confessions of Nat Turner *
Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man @#*
Zora Nell Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God *
William Faulker, Intruder in the Dust *
Albert Murray, South to a Very Old Place @

Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men #*

Olive Ann Burns, Cold Sassy Tree *
Ferrell Sams, Run With the Horseman *
William Faulker, The Unvanquished #*
-, Light in August #*
Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward Angel *
John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces #*
Dori Sanders, Clover
Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides *
Peter Taylor, A Summons to Memphis #*
Elise Sanguinetti, The Last of the Whitfields @
Eudora Welty, The Optimist's Daughter #*
Judith Patterson, Sweet Mystery @
Mary Ward Brown, Tongues of Flame @*
Clyde Edgerton, Walking Across Egypt
-, In Memory of Junior
Eugene Walter, The Untidy Pilgrim @
Walker Percy, The Movie Goer. @

In case you wonder, I read Dori Sanders' Clover. I do not remember it.


  1. Wow! What a great list!

    I went to UofA in Tuscaloosa (sorry) ;) and remember hearing about Dr. Flynt! I like the inclusion of Edgerton. Sometimes I don't think he gets much credit.

    Thanks for the EXCELLENT post! :D

  2. Girl on a Mission got me hooked on your blog. I collect Southern Fiction and have more books than time to read, but I like that feeling. Looking through the list I have to say that Keepers of the House is one of my all time favorite books. I read it all night until I was finished.

  3. Hi Nancy! Great to have you reading with me. I'll have to check out Keepers of the House.


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