Summer is here.
Are there some North Carolina books in your summer reading book bag?
If not, here are some possibilities from authors who will be featured on upcoming programs on UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch.
Rachel, the blue-eyed child of a black American GI and a Danish mother, is the central character in an award-winning novel, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” by Heidi Durrow. Durrow herself is the child of a Danish mother and an African-American father, whose military assignments brought him to North Carolina. The author’s real struggle to find her identity provided the background for the similar fictional struggle that Rachel faced. But the novel is a darker story, a more compelling one, of a child whose mother loved her so much she wanted her child to die with her. (Durrow will be my Bookwatch guest at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, June 17, and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 19.)
Suzanne Hobbs, who teaches at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, is a prominent public health professional and author of several books in the “for Dummies” series, including “Living Dairy-Free for Dummies.” Why would a distinguished professor want to write a book for dummies? She explains that the “dummies” formula is a big help for an author who wants to write clearly and simply. Lots of readers, most of whom are not dummies, appreciate the approach. And the books far outsell most of the academic books that Hobbs’s university colleagues write. (June 24,26)
Burnsville’s Abigail DeWitt’s new novel, “Dogs,” is not about dogs. It is the story of a judge’s daughter who grows up into trouble and nevertheless is admitted to Harvard, where those troubles compound. How she makes for a happier life in North Carolina as she grows older keeps the story from being overwhelmingly dark. Here is what Lee Smith says about the book: “Dark, sexy, and profoundly original—a Texas-hot family saga unlike any other. A brilliant and thought-provoking novel from the extravagantly talented Abigail DeWitt.” (July 1,3)
From “Birth of a Nation” in 1915 to Hattie McDaniel in “Gone with the Wind,” to Ethel Waters in “Member of the Wedding” in 1952, African-American actresses made their way into American movies in the first half of the last century. In her new book, “African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900–1960,” UNC-Chapel Hill professor Charlene Regester tells the real stories of these women who became stars in a time of segregation and oppression. (July 8,10)
John Hart’s recent novel “The Lost Child” won for him a second Edgar Award for the best mystery novel of the year. He says his latest, “Iron House,” is even better. It is a page-turner, with much of the action set on a large estate near Chapel Hill owned by a wealthy U.S. Senator. (July 15,17)
A new author, Anna Jean Mayhew, and a new novel, “The Dry Grass of August”, take us all the way back to the racially-segregated Charlotte of 1954 and the poignant story of a young girl in a family under stress, being pulled apart by forces the girl does not understand. It is a story, in Lee Smith’s words, that is “written with unusual charm, wonderful dialogue, and a deeply felt sense of time and place.” (July 22,24)
Seventy-five years ago, down in Pinehurst, a young heiress married a charming but dead broke socialite. A few weeks later she dies under suspicious circumstances. Many people think the husband did it. Years later Steve Bouser, editor of the Southern Pines Pilot, tracked down the details. He tells the story of what he found in “Death of a Pinehurst Princess: The 1935 Elva Statler Davidson Mystery.” (July 29,31)
What’s on YOUR summer reading list?