The Best Southern Books of November 2022

For me, November means thick socks, fried apples, and a coffee mug within reach at all times. It’s also time to start thinking about my holiday shopping. This month’s new releases have something for everyone, including a retelling of Daniel Boone’s story from the perspective of the women in his life; essays on childhood, religion, and queerness; and West Virginian folklore. If you’re checking books off your gift list, consider buying from your local independent bookstore.

By Patricia L. Hudson
November 1, 2022

Fireside Industries: “Since the 1700s, when his name first appeared in print, Daniel Boone has been synonymous with America’s westward expansion and life on the frontier. Traces is a retelling of Boone’s saga through the eyes of his wife, Rebecca, and her two oldest daughters, Susannah and Jemima.”

How It Went
By Wendell Berry
November 8, 2022

Counterpoint: “For those readers of his poetry and inspired by his increasingly vital work as advocate for rational land use and the right-size life, these stories of Wendell Berry’s offer entry into the fictional place of value and beauty that is Port William, Kentucky. Berry has said it’s taken a lifetime for him to learn to write like an old man, and that’s what we
have here, stories told with grace and ease and majesty.”

Now Is Not the Time to Panic
By Kevin Wilson
November 8, 2022

Ecco: “Sixteen-year-old Frankie Budge — aspiring writer, indifferent student, offbeat loner — is determined to make it through yet another sad summer in Coalfield, Tennessee, when she meets Zeke, a talented artist who has just moved into his grandmother’s unhappy house and who is as lonely and awkward as Frankie is. Romantic and creative sparks begin to fly, and when the two jointly make an unsigned poster, shot through with an enigmatic phrase, it becomes unforgettable to anyone who sees it.”

Engine Running
By Cade Mason
November 14, 2022

Mad Creek Books: “Lush and innovative, these essays contemplate childhood memories and family secrets, religion and queerness in the rural South, and the ways rituals and contours of manhood are passed through generations. Most of all, we feel with Mason what it is to grapple with and love a place even as you yearn to leave.”

I Am the Light of This World
By Michael Parker
November 15, 2022

Algonquin: “In the early 1970s, in Stovall, Texas, seventeen-year-old Earl — a loner, dreamer, lover of music and words — meets Tina, the new girl in town. Tina convinces Earl to drive her to see her mother in Austin, where Earl and Tina are quickly separated. Two days later, Earl is being questioned by the police about Tina’s disappearance and the blood in the trunk of his car. But Earl can’t remember what happened in Austin, and with little financial support from his working-class family, he is sentenced for a crime he did not commit.”

Making Our Future
Emily Hilliard
November 22, 2022

University of North Carolina Press: “Drawing from her work as state folklorist, Emily Hilliard explores contemporary folklife in West Virginia and challenges the common perception of both folklore and Appalachian culture as static, antiquated forms, offering instead the concept of ‘visionary folklore’ as a future-focused, materialist, and collaborative approach to cultural work.”

A Long Time to Be Gone
Michael McFee
November 22, 2022

Carnegie Mellon University Press: “Michael McFee’s twelfth collection of poetry explores challenging subjects — the realities of aging, the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the disappearance of Appalachian culture — in poems that discover enduring pleasures in the details of our everyday lives.”

Because the World is Round
By Jane Saginaw
November 29, 2022

Deep Vellum Publishing: “Fifteen-year-old Jane was trapped. Trapped in high school in Dallas, Texas where her classes were too easy and her classmates were too conventional. Trapped in service to her mother, a polio survivor who used a wheelchair. When her parents sold their automobile brake repair business in 1969, they withdrew Jane from her high school to travel the world, visiting India, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Yugoslavia and Northern Europe. As she traveled, Jane was pushed to reckon with her dual role as responsible daughter and as teen in the late 60s, the culture of Bobby Fischer, The Beatles, and Hair!. Because the World is Round reckons with what it means to be an individual, a caretaker, and a traveler in a vast and changing world.”