Summer 2022 Appalachian Reading List
Updated: Aug 15, 2022
By: Marcus J. Hopkins
As summer comes to a close, the Appalachian Learning Initiative invites our followers to celebrate
the Appalachian Region's rich and diverse culture by reading a book about life in Appalachia.
With that in mind, we have put together a selection of some fantastic books to pick up and read while you're surviving the summer heat. Check out our summer reading list below:
Check out all our reading lists:
Above the Waterfall
By: Ron Rash
Les, a long-time sheriff just three-weeks from retirement, contends with the ravages of crystal meth and his own duplicity in his small Appalachian town.
Becky, a park ranger with a harrowing past, finds solace amid the lyrical beauty of this patch of North Carolina.
Enduring the mistakes and tragedies that have indelibly marked them, they are drawn together by a reverence for the natural world. When an irascible elderly local is accused of poisoning a trout stream, Les and Becky are plunged into deep and dangerous waters, forced to navigate currents of disillusionment and betrayal that will force them to question themselves and test their tentative bond—and threaten to carry them over the edge.
By: Denise Giardina
Annadel, West Virginia, was a small town rich in coal, farms, and close-knit families, all destroyed when the coal company came in. It stole everything it hadn't bothered to buy—land deeds, private homes, and ultimately, the souls of its men and women.
Four people tell this powerful, deeply moving tale: Activist Mayor C. J. Marcum. Fierce, loveless union man Rondal Lloyd. Gutsy nurse Carrie Bishop, who loved Rondal. And lonely, Sicilian immigrant Rosa Angelelli, who lost four sons to the deadly mines.
They all bear witness to nearly forgotten events of history, culminating in the final, tragic Battle of Blair Mountain—when the United States Army greeted ten thousand unemployed pro-union miners with airplanes, bombs, and poison gas. It was the first crucial battle of a war that has yet to be won
A Parchment of Leaves
By: Silas House
Set in 1917, A PARCHMENT OF LEAVES tells the story of Vine, a beautiful Cherokee woman who marries a white man, forsaking her family and their homeland to settle in with his people and make a home in the heart of the mountains. Her mother has strange forebodings that all will not go well, and she's right. Vine is viewed as an outsider, treated with contempt by other townspeople. Add to that her brother-in-law's fixation on her, and Vine's life becomes more complicated than she could have ever imagined. In the violent turn of events that ensues, she learns what it means to forgive others and, most important, how to forgive herself.
Strange as This Weather Has Been
By: Ann Pancake
Set in present day West Virginia, this debut novel tells the story of a coal mining family—a couple and their four children—living through the latest mining boom and dealing with the mountaintop removal and strip mining that is ruining what is left of their hometown. As the mine turns the mountains “to slag and wastewater,” workers struggle with layoffs and children find adventure in the blasted moonscape craters.
Strange as This Weather Has Been follows several members of the family, with a particular focus on fifteen–year–old Bant and her mother, Lace. Working at a motel, Bant becomes involved with a young miner while her mother contemplates joining the fight against the mining companies. As domestic conflicts escalate at home, the children are pushed more and more frequently outside among junk from the floods and felled trees in the hollows—the only nature they have ever known.
But Bant has other memories and is as curious and strong–willed as her mother, and ultimately comes to discover the very real threat of destruction that looms as much in the landscape as it does at home.
Shiloh & Other Stories
By: Bobbie Ann Mason
"These stories will last," said Raymond Carver of Shiloh and Other Stories when it was first published, and almost two decades later this stunning fiction debut and winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award has become a modern American classic. In Shiloh, Bobbie Ann Mason introduces us to her western Kentucky people and the lives they forge for themselves amid the ups and downs of contemporary American life, and she poignantly captures the growing pains of the New South in the lives of her characters as they come to terms with feminism, R-rated movies, and video games.
"Bobbie Ann Mason is one of those rare writers who, by concentrating their attention on a few square miles of native turf, are able to open up new and surprisingly wide worlds for the delighted reader," said Robert Towers in The New York Review of Books.