When the weather turns warmer and summer is on the horizon my thoughts always turn to great summer reads. It doesn't matter that I don't really read more in the summer than in any other time of year and that summer lives in the heart anyway!  I am blessed to publish an online magazine, www.stsimonsislandonline.com, and we're talking about great southern books in the coming issue. The dividing line between books and literature is drawn by the beholder and we don't cast aspersions at those! After hearing lots of opinions and adding a few of our own we came up with a short (and ongoing) list. Summer Starters as it were!

Winner of the Townsend Prize for Fiction in 1986, “The Heart of a Distant Forest” by Phillip Lee Williams writes a story set in north coastal Georgia. His character Andrew Lachlan sets out on a year journey after being diagnosed with a terminal illness, the story is at once haunting and sweet. It's no wonder that this book has been in print for so long, it truly stands the test of time.

Dorothea Benton Frank authored “Folly Beach” in 2011 and says “Last summer, I went down to the South Carolina Historical Society and read the papers of Dorothy and DuBose Heyward, thinking that it was DuBose who wrote Porgy and Bess with George Gershwin on Folly Beach during the summer of 1934. Not true. My first discovery was that DuBose was a high school dropout and that Dorothy, a young orphan, was unusually well educated and already an award winning playwright when they married. Then I discovered the huge economic disparities between them. Dorothy was wealthy and although DuBose was comfortable at the time they met, he had grown up in poverty. I ran across a copy of her birth certificate, on which her name is “Dorothea”—my name—and letterhead that stated she lived on Fifth and Twelfth in Manhattan—my old address— on and on. Every time I turned around, it seemed I was bumping into another coincidence. Okay, I thought, there’s a story here and I’m going to try and tell it. Who was Dorothy Heyward? And what happened that summer on Folly Beach?” A great read set in Folly Beach, South Carolina, Frank writes a tale that is charming, witty and very intriguing.

“Waltzing at the Piggy Wiggly” by Robert Dolby was published in 2007 and began a series now in 6 volumes of fun. Light and fluffy, happy and southern, readers will be captivated and charmed by this Mississippi tale. It's a mood changer! How can you help but smile?



Reynolds Price penned “A Long and Happy Life” in 1962 and this book has stood the test of time. Winner of the William Faulkner Award for a notable first novel this story speaks of a time long gone in North Carolina and beautifully so. Honestly, I don't know anyone who doesn't enjoy reading this story of the long ago rural south.

What books do YOU have on your list? Read on!

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Comment by whitney long on April 17, 2013 at 7:21pm

Great summer list! Have you  joined our southern authors group?

Comment by Tina Jones Kim on April 17, 2013 at 10:25am

Haven't read that in years.... I'll put it on the list!  Thanks Amber!

Comment by Amber Wilson on April 17, 2013 at 9:38am

During the summer, I ALWAYS read Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Nature" Essay. It makes me appreciate the beauty around me everyday! 

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