Reading up on the region you call home can help you better understand and appreciate its history, culture, and charm. There’s also something special about reading stories set in places you know. If you’re looking to improve your knowledge of Atlanta’s history or absorb a tale set in your stomping grounds, consider these essential literary works.
Kelly Gay, 2009
The Charlie Madigan series imagines a future in which humans inhabit two starkly different dimensions. In the series’ first book, Integration Task Force officer Charlie Madigan seeks to uncover the source of an off-world narcotic whose use is quickly spreading throughout Atlanta.
Rebecca Burns, 2011
In the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, riots rocked more than 100 cities around the country. In Atlanta, an alliance of students, politicians, law enforcement officials, religious and business leaders, and grieving members of King’s family worked together to preserve order and safety. As a result, 150,000 mourners managed to partake in a peaceful day of rituals honoring the late reverend and slain civil rights leader. Rebecca Burns chronicles these events in her highly-praised work Burial for a King. Another essential piece of Burns nonfiction for Atlanta history buffs is Rage in the Gate City, which adeptly chronicles the city’s 1906 race riots.
Margaret Mitchell, 1936
Margaret Mitchell’s iconic Civil War and Reconstruction Era tale was America’s bestselling book in both 1936 and 1937. It has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. And, as recently as 2014, a Harris poll found Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to be America’s second favorite book. The historic Bildungsroman has received criticism for its portrayal of slavery, but has been traditionally praised for its representation of the period in which it takes place. One thing most readers agree on is that Gone With the Wind has literary value.
Pat Conroy, 1976
Celebrated for its character development and moving prose, The Great Santini is one of the late Pat Conroy’s seminal works. Prior to the start of the Vietnam War, marine fighter pilot Bull Meecham and his family move from Atlanta to Ravenel, South Carolina. The Great Santini tells their story. Meecham’s strongman ethos is countered by the strong will and cool demeanor of his wife Lillian, a mix of influences that makes it fascinating to follow the development of their athletically-gifted son Ben. Conroy’s bestselling novel is fiction, but draws heavily from the author’s own life and childhood.
Daniel McCaig, 2007
Seventy years after Gone With the Wind was first published, readers finally heard the story from Rhett Butler’s perspective. Authorized by the Mitchell estate, Donald McCaig’s sequel stays true to the classic but introduces additional events and adds a new ending. Gone With the Wind enthusiasts and other Atlanta readers should definitely check it out.
Karin Slaughter, 2006
Follow investigator Will Trent as he cracks cases while battling internal struggles in Karin Slaughter’s Atlanta-set mystery series. The Pretty Girls writer’s sharp, well-written series is filled with twists and turns. Triptych is the first mystery in the saga.
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