1. Unlikely Angel by Lydia R. Hamessley
Lydia R. Hamessley’s expert analysis and Dolly Parton’s characteristically straightforward input inform this comprehensive look at the process, influences, and themes that have shaped the superstar’s songwriting artistry.
2. How Fire Runs by Charles Dodd White
What happens when a delusional white supremacist and his army of followers decide to create a racially pure “Little Europe” within a rural Tennessee community? As the town’s residents grapple with their new reality, minor skirmishes escalate and dirty politics, scandals, and a cataclysmic chain of violence follows. In this uncanny reflection of our time, award-winning novelist Charles Dodd White asks whether Americans can save themselves from their worst impulses and considers the consequences when this salvation comes too late.
3. Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger by Lisa Donovan
Renowned Southern pastry chef Lisa Donovan helped establish some of the South’s most important kitchens, yet she struggled to make a living in an industry where male chefs built successful careers on the stories, recipes, and culinary heritage passed down from generations of female cooks and cooks of color. This memoir is her searing, beautiful, and searching chronicle of reclaiming her own story and the narrative of the women who came before her.
4. The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington
When Charlie Boykin was young, he thought his life with his single mother on the working-class side of Nashville was perfectly fine. But when his mother arranges for him to be admitted as a scholarship student to an elite private school, he is suddenly introduced to what the world can feel like to someone cushioned by money. As he gets drawn into a friendship with a charismatic upperclassman, Archer Creigh, Charlie quickly adapts to life in the upper echelons of Nashville society.
But over time, he is increasingly pulled into covering for Archer’s constant deceits and his casual bigotry. At what point will the attraction of wealth and prestige wear off enough for Charlie to take a stand—and will he?
5. A Traitor to His Species by Ernest Freebert
In Gilded Age America, people and animals lived in environments that were dirty and dangerous to man and beast alike. The industrial city brought suffering, but it also inspired a compassion for animals that fueled a controversial anti-cruelty movement. From the center of these debates, Henry Bergh launched a shocking campaign to grant rights to animals. A Traitor to His Species is revelatory social history, awash with colorful characters, as they pushed for new laws to protect trolley horses, livestock, stray dogs, and other animals.