13 Books to Read Before Your Southern U.S. Vacation

The southern part of the U.S. is a beautifully wanderlusty area and it has a special place in my heart. I’m from there! Even though I have since moved away from that area I love reading books that have a southern U.S. setting. I’m always finding myself reading a book I haven’t read yet set in the south before we head down there for a vacation. It really gives me alll the southern U.S. vibes. Here are 13 book I recommend you pick up for a great read before your next vacation down south:

  1. The Heat of the Sun by Louis D. Rubin, Jr.: Set in South Carolina in the 1940s, this book has romance and southern twang. What more could you need?
  2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: Following The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I liked this one better. I liked reading about Huck and Jim cruising along the Mississippi River and the shenanigans they get into to.
  3. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin: You guessed it, this book is set in Mississippi (and yes, I sing the song in my head to spell it correctly). I absolutely loved reading this book-it’s hard to find a great southern setting novel set in contemporary times.
  4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: Wow. This book. It’s probably my favorite classic American novel of all the ones I’ve read. And I’ve read my fair share, believe me. Read about Janie and Tea Cake’s adventures in this beautiful story set in Florida.
  5. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines: I was actually assigned to read this story in high school in English class, but man am I glad I was because it was such a page turner and very deep. Set in Louisiana and about a man who is sentenced to death, and another man who must visit him in jail to educate him during the last days of his life.
  6. True Grit by Charles Portis: This is an awesome story set in Arkansas (my home states, yea!) and follows a girl who wishes to avenge her father’s death.
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Set in 1920s Alabama, this is a wonderful story about a young girl, her recluse neighbor, and an unfair trial happening in town.
  8. The Little Rock Nine by Stephanie Fitzgerald: The Little Rock Nine were the first black students in Little Rock, AR to attend a public all-white highschool. This book recounts the horrors they faced during this process of segregation.
  9. A Painted House by John Grisham: Of course John Grisham must be on this list. My favorite of his has to be A Painted House. Set in the farming days of Northeast Arkansas, this story is told from the viewpoint of a young boy who recounts one summer on the farm and all that went down that season.
  10. The Whisper of the River by Ferrol Sams: This is actually the second book of a three book series, but you can read them out of order. I loved reading about Peter Osborne and his college days at a university in Georgia. He learns a lot and grows as a person over his 4 years away at school, meeting all sorts of characters along the way.
  11. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: This is a bit of a sad story but ends happy, I promise! A little girl is deserted at a young age and raises herself in the marsh of the North Carolina coast. She must learn so much on her own and become independent fast.
  12. Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice: Set in New Orleans when the Parisians first settled in the area, this story follows the lives of three vampires over several decades.
  13. Lightning Bug by Donald Harrington: A strange but interesting book following the lives of the residents of a tiny town in Northwest Arkansas. It has all the humor and mega southern U.S. vibes.

I hope you find that you enjoy reading at least a few from this list. They’re all different genres so it just depends on what you like! I have another recommended list strictly for an Arkansas vacation if you want to check that one out, too. Happy reading!