The American Tour: Spectacular Stories from the Southeast

Next stop on our American Tour is the Southeast. Here are ten recommendations. Come explore the Southeast U.S. with us!

Book Culture Classics Diversity Fiction Literary Fiction Memoirs & Biographies Recommendations Thriller & Mystery Young Adult
Yellow background with Southeast states in the background and Harper Lee, Booker T. Washington, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Maggie Stiefvater in front.

The next stop on Bookstr’s American Tour series is the Southeast. This portion of the United States includes Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Come read our list of recommendations from this region!

For the previous article in Bookstr’s American Tour series that covered the Great Lakes, click here.

Trigger Warning: The mention of certain content and topics such as slavery, race, and sexual assault in this article may be triggering to some readers.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird has been taught in schools for generations. It tells the story of the Finch family and the events that unfold in their neighborhood and town. It touches on the issues of race, class, rape, gender roles, and compassion in a story that takes place in the South. Atticus Finch, a white lawyer, is chosen to represent Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. The book tells the story of the family’s struggle, as well as Tom’s, and how they try to fight against violence and racial inequality.

To Kill a Mockingbird cover by Harper Lee with a tree on the front.

Harper Lee grew up in Alabama, where the book takes place. She loosely wrote about characters and the events that took place in her life when she was ten years old. Go Set a Watchman is the sequel to the book, published in 2015. It was confirmed to be an earlier draft of To Kill a Mockingbird but was published as a sequel instead. In December 2021, The New York Times announced To Kill a Mockingbird to be the best book of the last 125 years.

2. Covenant Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Half-blood, the first book in the series, follows the story of Alexandria, who is a half-blood: part human, part Greek god. Half-bloods are surrounded by pure-bloods, who have more Greek god in their lineage, and who rule over the half-bloods. Half-bloods only have two options: become a Sentinel, a guard who protects against evil monsters known as daimons, or become a servant to a pure-blood. Alexandria would rather die than become a servant, and if she fails at her duty of becoming a Sentinel, she might just do exactly that: die. The book follows her journey at the Covenant school and her growing relationship with Aiden, a pure-blood she’s always had a crush on (We do, too!). There are only two problems: pure-bloods and half-bloods can’t be in relationships, and Alexandria has to survive long enough to graduate.

Half-blood cover by Jennifer Armentrout with a lyre on the front cover.

Jennifer Armentrout was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and currently resides in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. She has many best-sellers, including From Blood and Ash and Obsidian, both of which are action-packed and filled with romance.

3. My Ántonia by Willa Cather

My Ántonia tells the story of Jim Burden and his friend, Ántonia, who is a Bohemian immigrant. Both characters move to Nebraska early on in the book, and the story follows them as they grow up and experience the American West. It touches on many different themes, such as gender roles, class, and sexuality. It’s an interesting read, and it leaves an profound impression on the reader.

My Antonia cover with a girl in a brown dress sitting outside. There are a few trees in the background, but very little vegetation.

Willa Cather was originally from Virginia but moved out West early in her life. The story follows the same pattern, as Jim Burden is from Virginia and moves out West after his parents die. Willa Cather was an influential author before her death in 1947, and many scholars still wonder about her sexuality and sexual identity (for some reason). She was a very private person, so not much is known about her compared to other famous authors.

4. The Firm by John Grisham

The Firm by Grisham is his best-selling novel. It was the second book Grisham wrote. Like many of his other novels, it is a legal thriller. The book tells the story of Mitch McDeere, who has recently been hired to work at a small tax firm in Memphis. Mitch quickly finds the law firm suspicious, as many of his colleagues or previous employees have died under unsettling circumstances. He discovers the truth about the law firm and the crimes that its employees have been committing. He begins working with the FBI but must tread carefully as his new law firm begins to suspect him of working with the police. He has to navigate crime, all while trying to keep himself alive long enough to bring the law firm to justice.

The Firm cover by John Grisham with a blue background and a man in a suit walking toward a skyline with many skyscrapers.

John Grisham has many best-selling novels. He was a former member of the Mississippi House of Representatives and was a practicing lawyer for several years before retiring to become a writer. His first novel was published in 1988.

5. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver tells the story of Grace Brisbane, a young girl enamored with the wolves behind her house. She especially likes one wolf, a mysterious one with yellow eyes. As a young girl, Grace was attacked by the wolves and left for dead. Miraculously and under suspicious circumstances, someone carried her back to her house, and she survived. This event leads to her obsession with the wolves, one that survives until high school, when one day, a peculiar stranger shows up on her front porch with a gunshot wound.

This peculiar stranger, named Sam, happens to have yellow eyes, just like Grace’s favorite wolf. Quickly, Grace is swept into Sam’s world and his fight for survival in the town of people who want to kill him and several others like him, which potentially might include Grace, too.

Shiver cover with blue woods and the image of a girl and a wolf. There are light blue trees climbing up the sides of the cover.

Maggie Stiefvater lives in Virginia. She has several best-selling novels. Her other famous series is known as The Raven Cycle. Maggie is also an artist who loves drawing and painting. She also has an assortment of different animals, including goats and horses. By the age of sixteen, she was submitting manuscripts to publishers.

6. Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam

Rocket Boys is a coming-of-age novel about a group of boys who desire to launch rockets into space. By the end of the novel, those boys do exactly that. It’s a novel about accomplishing dreams and growing up. It is the novel that inspired the movie October Sky. The novel is a memoir about Hickam’s life and recounts his life as a coal miner’s son.

Rocket Boys cover with a starry night sky and an image of a white house nestled in the hills.

Homer Hickam was born in the coal country of Coalwood, West Virginia, and as a child, he desired to be a rocket engineer. He later accomplished his dream and worked for NASA until 1998. He began his writing career in 1969, and Rocket Boys, his second novel, was published in 1998. He has continued to write novels and has published many since the start of his writing career.

7. Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington

You might have heard this name before but might not really know who he is or what he’s known for. Booker T. Washington was an enslaved person in Virginia, where he was born in 1856. Up from Slavery recounts his story and struggle growing up in the South. It recounts the true story of how he overcame many obstacles and later became an educator and an important political figure in American history. It’s truly an inspiring read.

Up from Slavery cover by Booker T. Washington with a man in a suit in a chair on the cover that is Booker T. Washington himself.

Booker T. Washington was not only an influential author but an educator, an inspiration, and an important political figure. He served as an advisor to several presidents and helped influence several movements and organizations, even ones that formed after his death. He published five books within his lifetime.

8. Will Trent by Karin Slaughter

This series of books follows the protagonist, Will Trent, who has a knack for solving murders. With his own troubled past, he joins a crew of troubled detectives to solve a murder and may just be the key to solving it. This series is packed full of action, plot twists, romance, and lots of murder and drama. It has since been adapted into a TV show by the same name.

Will Trent cover by Karin Slaughter with broken glass in the background.

Karin Slaughter was born in Georgia and currently resides in Atlanta. She is the author of over twenty best-selling New York Times novels and is published in over a hundred countries. The Will Trent series currently has eleven books.

9. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This book made a splash in 2018 when it was adapted to the big screen. It features the story of Starr Carter and her struggle after she witnesses the killing of her childhood best friend, Khalil. Khalil was unarmed and shot by a police officer when the officer mistakenly thought he had a gun. Soon, the story makes headlines, and everyone is dying to know what happened. The only person who can answer that question is Starr, and whatever she says could put her life in danger and upend the entire community she lives in.

The Hate U Give cover by Angie Thomas with a dark-skinned girl on the front holding a sign with the book title.

The Hate U Give is Angie Thomas’s debut novel and touches on racism and police brutality. Thomas was born and raised in Mississippi but currently resides in Atlanta. Her first novel debuted at number one on the New York Times best-selling list. Her second novel also debuted at number one. She published a prequel to The Hate U Give in 2021 called Concrete Rose, which also debuted at number one.

10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle is a memoir that tells the story of author Jeannette Walls and her family. Though they are a dysfunctional family, the book tells the story of how they loved one another, even through their hardships. Walls’s father was a drinker, and her mother abhorred the idea of settling down anywhere and raising children. The book follows the children as they learn to take care of each other and themselves on a journey of resilience and redemption.

The Glass Castle cover by Jeannette Walls with a picture of a young girl on the front.

Though she was born in Arizona, Walls never settled down in a place for very long. Out of all the places her family visited and blew through, they eventually settled in Welch, West Virginia, where they lived the longest. Walls eventually moved to New York City to follow her sister at the age of seventeen. She currently resides in Virginia.

Those are our recommendations for the Southeast region of the United States. Have you read any of our recommendations? Stay tuned for the next stop on our American Tour series!

For more American Tour articles, click here.

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