Back to Blog

NCWN’s August Recommended Reading List

The North Carolina Writers’ Network staff and Board of Trustees share the books they love so far this summer:

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Anchor Books)

“I recently read Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, a title that had been on my TBR list for years. This brilliant book breaks all the rules of voice, tense and time to tell three interrelated captivating tales of love, sisterhood, revenge and faith through the sweeping backdrop of late 20th century Canadian politics,” writes Board President Michele T. Berger.

Almost Deadly, Almost Good by Alice Kaltman (word west)

“This is a meaty & juicy linked story collection. While the characters were people that felt straight from my own backyard, they acted in such alluring and surprising ways that I found myself devouring the stories like each one was a friend telling me a bit of gossip over lunch,” writes Board Secretary Cassie Mannes Murray.

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham (Milkweed Editions)

“Drew Lanham is a Clemson ornithologist and poet who grew up in Edgefield, South Carolina. His study of migratory birds and the fate of enslaved people in the South is profound and revelatory,” writes Board member Georgann Eubanks.

Trust by Hernan Diaz (Riverhead Books)

“I just read this book for So & So Books’ July/August Book Club and it’s an amazing novel told from four points of view, divided into four separate books with the main book. Set in the 1920s and 1930s about an extremely wealthy couple in New York City, Trust explores the power of money, class, and mental illness, with the overarching theme of whose story is the truth and who is allowed to tell their story. This book is perfect for book clubs because it’s a conversation provoker and there aren’t any clear answers. In addition, Diaz is an exceptional writer and I can’t wait to read more of his work,” writes Board member Alice Osborn.

Civilizations by Laurent Binet (FSG)

“I found Binet’s HhHH an excellent piece of creative non-fiction, and I enjoyed Civilizations as a literary take on alternate history,” writes Board member Shervon Cassim.

The Art of the Poetic Line by James Longenbach (Graywolf Press)

“I recommend The Art of the Poetic Line by poet and critic James Longenbach, who just passed away much too soon in July. This book will help you read closely and think in new ways about how a line of poetry works in tandem with another organizing tool—the sentence. These two join forces to create an expressive music in verse both formal and free. Longenbach’s book is an education but is also clearly expressed and readable, incorporating examples to get you started,” writes Board member Julie Funderburk.

Swerve or Die: Life at My Speed in the First Family of NASCAR Racing by Kyle Petty (St. Martin’s Press)

“I’m finding it both charming and fascinating. I’m not much of a NASCAR fan anymore, and never was as big a fan as many, but like a lot of North Carolinians my life has intertwined with the sport in all sorts of weird and personal ways. Kyle’s book is bringing back a lot of fond memories and sparking connective thoughts, which is much of what I ask for from a book,” writes Executive Director Ed Southern.

The Crocodile Bride by Ashleigh Bell Pedersen (Hub City Press)

“This debut novel from Hub City transported me back to a 1980s summer with a lush setting and vibrant characters. The protagonist, Sunshine, is on the cusp of puberty where the world, and her body, stops making sense. Ashleigh Bell Pedersen does a tremendous job writing about the end of innocence and how intergenerational trauma works. This setting is rural Louisiana and yes, the author knows Louisiana doesn’t have crocodiles,” writes Membership Coordinator Deonna Kelli Sayed

The Crocodile Bride is part of the 2022 Charles Frazier Cold Mountain Fund Book Series from Hub City Press.

Thin Places: a natural history of healing and home by Kerri ní Dochartaigh (Milkweed Editions)

“This book found me when I needed it most. Providing comfort not only through my connection as an Irish American but also as a woman navigating my mental health. Kerri ní Dochartaigh encourages readers to find their liminal spaces, their places between worlds, to be present, to be; reminding us to lean in to nature who will hold us, who will make us make ourselves whole once more,” writes Communications Director Katherine O’Hara.