Erin and Ben's Summer Reading Must-Haves

Erin and Ben's Summer Reading Must-Haves

 Erin and Ben Napier are avid readers and self-proclaimed book nerds. Their bookshelves are filled with stories of wonder, fiction, historical tales and biographies. They enjoy reading so much that they co-wrote their love story in Make Something Good Today in 2018, and Erin wrote a children's book, The Lantern House, that became an instant New York Times bestseller!

From filming and salvaging the historical integrity of homes on Home Town to bedtime rituals with their daughters each night, the Napiers live and breathe storytelling. It's no wonder they also love to get lost in others' stories. That's why they're sharing their favorite books and your reading list this summer. We're sure you'll find your next all-time favorite on this list. Let's get to reading!

 

Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey Into the Heart of America by James and Deborah Fallows

For the last five years, James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a single-engine prop airplane. Visiting dozens of towns, they have met hundreds of civic leaders, workers, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, public servants, librarians, business people, city planners, students, and entrepreneurs to take the pulse and understand the prospects of places that usually draw notice only after a disaster or during a political campaign.

Their view of the country is as complex and contradictory as America itself, but it also reflects the energy, the generosity and compassion, the dreams, and the determination of many who are in the midst of making things better.

 The Reivers: A Reminiscence by William Faulkner

One of Faulkner’s comic masterpieces, The Reivers is a picaresque that tells of three unlikely car thieves from rural Mississippi. Eleven-year-old Lucius Priest is persuaded by Boon Hogganbeck, one of his family’s retainers, to steal his grandfather’s car and make a trip to Memphis. The Priests’ black coachman, Ned McCaslin, stows away, and the three of them are off on a heroic odyssey, for which they are all ill-equipped, that ends at Miss Reba’s bordello in Memphis. A series of wild misadventures ensues—involving horse smuggling, trainmen, sheriffs’ deputies, and jail.

 

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

The Cost of These Dreams by Wright Thompson

Wright Thompson figures people out. He jimmies the lock to the furnaces inside the people he profiles and does an analysis of the fuel that fires their ambition. Whether it be Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods or Pat Riley or Urban Meyer, he strips the away the self-serving myths and fantasies to reveal his characters in full. There are fascinating common denominators: it may not be the case that every single great performer or coach had a complex relationship with his father, but it can sure seem that way. And there is much marvelous local knowledge: about specific sports, and times and places, and people. Ludicrously entertaining and often powerfully moving, The Cost of These Dreams is an ode to the reporter's art, and a celebration of true greatness and the high price that it exacts.

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

A curmudgeon hides a terrible personal loss beneath a cranky and short-tempered exterior while clashing with new neighbors, a boisterous family whose chattiness and habits lead to unexpected friendship.

 

Best of Normal Rockwell by Tom Rockwell

Norman Rockwell's son, Tom, has put together the absolute finest collection of his father's bounteous body of work, illustrations that bespeak the golden glow of pre- and post-WWII Americana. Rockwell senior, who said he depicted life "as I would like it to be," chronicled iconic visions of American life: the Thanksgiving turkey, soda fountains, ice skating on the pond, and small-town boys playing baseball-not to mention the beginning of the civil rights movement. Now, the best-selling collection of Rockwell's most beloved illustrations, organized by decade, is available in a refreshed edition. With more than 150 images-oil paintings, watercolors, and rare black-and-white sketches--this is an uncommonly faithful Rockwell treasury. The original edition has sold nearly 200,000 copies.

 

Walter Anderson: The Extraordinary Life and Art of the Islander by Robert St. John

Lavishly illustrated, this book shines a light on all the facets of Anderson’s unbelievable output and presents a thoughtful progression of his art through personal and poignant stories told by his wife, Sissy, and their four children: Mary, Billy, Leif, and John.  This extensive volume contains rare photographs, artwork, and memories never before shared, as well as the heart-breaking story of loss through Hurricane Katrina.  It is the adventure tale of a most extraordinary, enigmatic genius who has been called “America’s Van Gogh.”

 

Factory Man by Beth Macy

The instant New York Times bestseller about one man's battle to save hundreds of jobs by demonstrating the greatness of American business.

 

Dispatches From Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta by Richard Grant

Winner of the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize
Mississippi's #1 Bestseller of 2015 and 2016 (The Clarion-Ledger)
A New York Times Bestseller

In Dispatches from Pluto, adventure writer Richard Grant takes on “the most American place on Earth”—the enigmatic, beautiful, often derided Mississippi Delta.

 

 Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last  by Wright Thompson

The story of how Julian Van Winkle III, the caretaker of the most coveted cult Kentucky Bourbon whiskey in the world, fought to protect his family's heritage and preserve the taste of his forebears, in a world where authenticity, like his product, is in very short supply.

 

All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

This haunting, harrowing, gloriously moving recollection of a life on the American margin is the story of Rick Bragg, who grew up dirt-poor in northeastern Alabama, seemingly destined for either the cotton mills or the penitentiary, and instead became a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. 

But at the center of this soaring memoir is Bragg’s mother, who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people’s cotton so that her children wouldn’t have to live on welfare alone.

My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South by Rick Bragg

Everything is explored, from regional obsessions with college football and fishing to mayonnaise and spoonbread to the simple beauty of a fish on the hook. Collected from over a decade of his writing, with many never-before-published essays written specifically for this edition, My Southern Journey is an entertaining and engaging listen, especially for Southerners (or Southerners at heart) and anyone who appreciates great writing. 

Travelers in Search of Vacancy by Karen Rasberry

Travelers in Search of Vacancy is a nostalgic, often hilarious, picnic table set with life experiences and discovery while family, home and friends serve as the centerpiece. The book gains its title from the author’s account of vacationing with her extended family in 1960s Florida and is one of 50 favorite short stories from the local newspaper based in the quaintly sophisticated city of Laurel, Mississippi.

 

A Southernmost Journey by Karen Rasberry

A Southernmost Journey is a new treasury of columns featured in Jones County’s former award-winning newspaper, The ReView. Each column chronicles travels to places near and not so far, and invites kindred spirits to ride along on her journey from a barefoot country girl to a Southern woman with big shoes to fill.

 

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Passionately in love, Clare and Henry vow to hold onto each other and their marriage as they struggle with the effects of Chrono-Displacement Disorder, a condition that casts Henry involuntarily into the world of time travel.

 

Shop Erin and Ben's Entire Book List Here!