The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers is an award-winning novel that tells the story of Ailey Pearl Garfield, as she embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors — Indigenous, Black, and white — in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story — and the song — of America itself. Watch Honorée in conversation with Tracy K. Smith here. Read an interview with her here.
There’s No Ham in Hamburgers by Kim Zachman is an entertaining and educational middle-grade read. From hot dogs and hamburgers to ice cream and pizza, this fascinating book is full of fun facts and stories of the origins of some of America’s most popular foods. Watch Kim’s video she did for a partnership between the Georgia Center for the Book and SCBWI — Southern Breeze (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) here. Watch an event with her here.
The Parted Earth by Anjali Enjeti spans more than half a century and cities from New Delhi to Atlanta. Enjeti’s debut novel is a heartfelt and human portrait of the long shadow of the Partition of the Indian subcontinent on the lives of three generations. For readers of Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, The Parted Earth follows Shan on her search for identity after loss uproots her life. Above all, it is a novel about families weathering the lasting violence of separation, and how it can often take a lifetime to find unity and peace. Watch her event with the Georgia Center for the Book here. Read interviews with Anjali here and here.
Name Tags and Other Sixth-Grade Disasters by Ginger Garrett is a middle-grade novel about twelve-year old Lizbeth. When she has to start sixth grade all over again at a new school because of her parents’ divorce, she gets stuck sitting with the Weirdos. She’s also forced to wear a name tag until everyone learns her name — or makes up a new one for her. Meanwhile, all her plans to reunite her parents go awry as she accidentally saves the school arts program and stands up for outsiders everywhere. Find a brief discussion guide from Lerner here.
Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South written by Winfred Rembert, as told to Erin I. Kelly, won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 2022. Vivid, confrontational, revelatory, and complex, Chasing Me to My Grave is a searing memoir in prose and painted leather that celebrates Black life and summons readers to confront painful and urgent realities at the heart of American history and society. Chasing Me to My Grave presents Rembert’s breathtaking body of work alongside his story, as told to Tufts Philosopher Erin I. Kelly. Watch our event with Winfred’s widow, Patsy Rembert, and Erin I. Kelly here.
Run: Book One is a graphic novel written by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, and illustrated by L. Fury and Nate Powell. Watch the book trailer here. Run is the sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel series March—the continuation of the life story of John Lewis and the struggles seen across the United States after the Selma voting rights campaign. In Run: Book One, John Lewis and longtime collaborator Andrew Aydin reteam with Nate Powell — the award – winning illustrator of the March trilogy — and are joined by L. Fury — making an astonishing graphic novel debut — to tell this often overlooked chapter of civil rights history.
A Night at the Sweet Gum Head: Drag, Drugs, Disco, and Atlanta’s Gay Revolution by Martin Padgett is a nonfiction book that tells an electric and intimate story of 1970s gay Atlanta through its bedazzling drag clubs and burgeoning rights activism. Watch to Martin discuss the book at last year’s Decatur Book Festival here. Read a Q & A with the author from Atlanta Magazine here.
Needle & Thread by David Pinckney is a YA graphic novel and coming-of-age yarn about self-discovery, resilience, and the enduring power of having a person believe in you! View the trailer for the book to learn more here. Learn more about the artist of the book, Ennun Ana Iurov, here.
Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip-Hop South by Regina N. Bradley is a vibrant nonfiction book that reflects the ways that culture, race, and southernness intersect in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Although part of southern hip-hop culture remains attached to the past, Bradley demonstrates how younger southerners use the music to embrace the possibility of multiple Souths, multiple narratives, and multiple points of entry to contemporary southern black identity. Learn more about it here. Hear Dr. Bradley on a panel for us discussing Rob Kenner’s The Marathon Don’t Stop: The Life and Times of Nipsey Hussle here. Listen to her discuss Chronicling Stankonia with Kiese Laymon here.
Fast Pitch is a middle-grade novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone. It is a challenging and heartwarming coming-of-age story about a softball player looking to prove herself on and off the field. Read an interview with Nic about the book here, and listen to Nic talk about the book here.
Peach State: Poems by Adrienne Su is a collection of poetry that has its origins in Atlanta, Georgia, the author’s hometown and an emblematic city of the New South, a name that reflects the American region’s invigoration in recent decades by immigration and a spirit of reinvention. Focused mainly on food and cooking, these poems explore the city’s transformation from the mid-twentieth century to today, as seen and shaped by Chinese Americans. The poems are set in restaurants, home kitchens, grocery stores, and the houses of friends and neighbors. Often employing forms — sonnet, villanelle, sestina, palindrome, ghazal, rhymed stanzas — they also mirror the constant negotiation with tradition that marks both immigrant and Southern experience. Read an interview with Adrienne to learn more. We chose Adrienne’s collection as our 2021 Route 1 Reads pick, which is a program with other Centers for the Book. As part of this, she participated in a collective virtual reading with other selected poets, and you can watch that here. Adrienne is towards the end, but we encourage you to watch the whole reading. She also participated in a reading for Georgia Poetry in the Parks, which you may watch here.
We Are All Under One Wide Sky is a picture book by Deborah Wiles. Children giggle, whirligigs spin ’round, and songbirds sail the air in this beautiful, lyrical picture book. We Are All Under One Wide Sky weaves together images of children, nature, and architecture from around the world, both celebrating our diversity and showing how we are the same in so many ways. Whether tending sheep in Afghanistan, watering tulips in the Netherlands, or flying kites in the United States, children enjoy one another and the spacious world around them. They share picnics and play music, play games and climb trees. A peace anthem with a timely and important message, We Are All Under One Wide Sky shows us that what we have in common is what is most important: family, laughter, love, nature, and friendship. We all share the same wide sky. Check out a video reading of the book here. Read an interview with Deborah here.
Wild Spectacle: Seeking Wonders in a World Beyond Humans by Janisse Ray, which is a memoir of one woman’s intentional exploration of the wild world. Read more about it here. We welcomed Janisse last fall as part of the Conversations at First Baptist series, and you may watch a recording of that event here. Check out Janisse talking about her memoir here, and read other essays by her here.
The Strange Birds of Flannery O’Connor is a picture book biography of the famous Georgia author by Amy Alznauer, with lovely illustrations by Ping Zhu. Flannery was born March 25, 1925, so we celebrated this book in March for her birthday! Learn more about the book here. Watch Amy and Ping discuss their lovely picture book here, and read more about the book here.
Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir is a chillingly personal and exquisitely wrought memoir of a daughter reckoning with the brutal murder of her mother at the hands of her former stepfather, and the moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of a tragedy. Learn more in this article from the New York Times, and read an interview with Natasha about the book in the Southern Review of Books here, and visit Natasha’s website to read more about her and her other work.
Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal is a story about friendship, privilege, sports, and protest from the bestselling authors of I’m Not Dying With You Tonight. Read about the authors’ inspiration for writing Why We Fly here, and listen to an interview with the authors by Lois Reitzes here.
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