These are not ranked in any order because I just simply couldn’t put a number on these reads. I loved them all for different reasons. I HIGHLY recommend every single one.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving: This is Jimmy’s favorite book. He’s read it many, many times; therefore, the pressure was on when I finally picked this up. I was worried I wouldn’t like it, and what would that mean? However, I fell in love with this book and Owen Meany. He’s an amazing character. It’s a story about religion, Vietnam, grief, but mostly friendship. You’ll think about this book long after you’re finished.
Bastarrd Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison: My favorite element of this novel is they way Allison captures Southern dialect. She has the cadence of our accent in the dialog and prose itself. Her characters could very well be my relatives. I devoured the dark and courageous story of Bone or Ruth Anne, depending on who you’re asking, the narrator. Allison is a raw writer that doesn’t shy away from the shadowy sides of her characters.
Going Away Shoes by Jill McCorkle: This is McCorkle’s latest short story collection, and as always it is full of poignant stories that will take a turn into the hilarious and somber at times. One of my favorite stories from this collection is “Surrender,” which is the story of Rose, a grandmother, struggling to take care of a naughty grandchild. The women in McCorkle’s stories and novels are real and wonderful. Really wonderful.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote: I know I’m really late on getting to this one, but better late than never. I usually am not a fan of non-fiction; however, Capote’s surprising descriptions had me hooked. This is a story about a murder, but Capote delves into so much more than the act. Each character, murderers and victims, are totally full and real on the page. My emotions were swayed in many different directions. This is one that I wish I could read again for the first time.
Best Stories of the South (2003): I picked this older addition up at The Habitat Home Store for 50 cents. It’s full of a diverse set of stories. It’s not just sweet tea and front porch sitting stories about the South. There’s a story set in the perspective of a strange funeral home director to one in the voice of an Indian woman’s broken English.
Dark Blonde by Belle Waring: This is a poetry collection that I fell in love with this year. Waring is a neonatal nurse that just happens to write poetry as well. Her poems are raw, break the rules, and are versatile. She tells narrative style poems that come from real life experience, not the world of academia. I recommend it, especially her poem “It Was My First Nursing Job.”