Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

22 Books By Memphians To Read This Summer

Summertime in Memphis presents a series of wonderful opportunities to relax, sip some iced tea, and finally catch up on your reading. But with so many great books out there, it’s hard to figure out where to begin. Lucky for you, there are plenty of wonderful stories being told right here in Memphis, and we’ve rounded up some of our favorites. 

Photo: Emily Jordan; The Book Juggler

Novels

  • The Roots of the Olive Tree, by Courtney Miller Santo 
    • Santo is a local author who teaches creative writing at the University of Memphis, where she earned her MFA. Her debut novel, The Roots of the Olive Tree traces the story of a family of women spanning five generations, all living together in a secluded California home.
  • The City Where We Once Lived, by Eric Barnes
    • Written by local publisher and television host Eric Barnes, The City Where We Once Lived is a dystopian novel which unfolds in a future world ravaged by climate change.
  • The Artifice Conspiracy, by Wes Yahola
    • Featuring spies, wizards, dragons, and a tremendous struggle for power, this fantasy thriller from first time author and long time local radio host Wes Yahola brings readers along on a grand adventure.
  • Agent in Place, by Mark Greaney
    • A native Memphian and the coauthor of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series, Mark Greaney has recently released another heart pounding thriller. Agent in Place tracks the story of Court Gentry, an international secret operative whose mission leads him deep into the tangle of lies, lust, and murders surrounding the Syrian regime.

Youth & YA Fiction

  • Circa Now, by Amber Mcree Turner
    • Local children’s author Amber Mcree Turner’s second novel, Circa Now tells a heartfelt and creative story of grief, healing, humor, and family through the experiences of its 12-year old heroine Circa Monroe.
  • Rise & Shine, by Patricia A. Dell
    • Written and illustrated by local artists, this children’s book tells a story of unconditional love through its lyric poetry and brilliant illustration.
  • The Sea of the Dead, by Barry Wolverton
    • The third installment of acclaimed author Barry Wolverton’s Chronicles of the Black Tulip series, this high seas adventure invites young readers into a fantastical world of discovery and excitement.
  • The Diminished, by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
    • Patterson’s debut YA fantasy novel, The Diminished charts the lives of Vi and Bo, children born into two different destinies but bound by a conflict which threatens to destroy both of their worlds.
  • Chaucer’s Caper: The Nutscapade, by Emma Dixon
    • This delightful children’s book, written for ages 4-6, chronicles the ‘nutty’ adventures of an adventurous chipmunk named Chaucer.

Romance Fiction

  • Memphis Blues, by Cheryl Mattox Berry
    • Set in Memphis during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, this romantic drama weaves together double identities, lost dreams, and long held secrets.
  • Check Out, by Debra Parmley
    • Exploring the unlikely romance between a shy librarian and a mysterious military veteran, this unlikely romance unfurls in Bartlett, TN.

Other Fiction

  • Elmwood: Stories to Die For (A Malice in Memphis Collection), edited by Carolyn McSparren
    • Created by Malice in Memphis, a collective of local mystery writers, Elmwood: Stories to Die For contains the group’s most recent collection of short stories, all set in Memphis.
  • Cat & Mouse, by Roland Mann, Dean Zachary, Barb Kaalberg, and Kevin Gallegly
    • Set in the city of New Orleans, this action-crime-drama comic series features the talents of four distinguished local authors and artists.

Nonfiction

  • Shooting Shotguns, by Tommy Foster
    • Published in 2017 by beloved local artist and entrepreneur Tommy Foster, this collection of photographs features over fifty full-color photos of shotgun houses in Memphis in a visual exploration of their role within the culture and folklore of the South.
  • The Book of Isaias, by Daniel Connolly
    • The debut book of acclaimed Commercial Appeal reporter and Memphis native Danial Connolly, this work draws from the research Connolly gathered while embedded for a year at Kingsbury High School. Through his observations of Kingsbury senior Isaias Ramos, Connolly develops a timely and deeply insightful exploration of the unique struggles and potential of DREAMers (foreign born but US raised children of undocumented immigrants) and their families.
  • Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, by Alice Bolin
    • The debut collection of MFA creative nonfiction professor Alice Bolin, this hard hitting collection of essays explores literature, media, and pop culture in order to delve into our nation’s fascination with dead, injured, and disenfranchised women and the pervasive issues which lie at its roots.
  • Silencer, by Marcus Wicker
    • Silencer is the second collection of poems published by MFA professor Marcus Wicker. This lyrical, impassioned collection reflects on the experiences defining black masculinity in modern America.
  • Retro Baby, by Dr. Anne Zachry
    • Written by pediatric occupational therapist Dr. Anne Zachry, this insightful parenting book explores the detrimental effects of the overuse of equipment and technology in early childhood, offering parents a series of healthier and time-tested alternatives.

Photo: Emily Jordan

Historical Nonfiction

  • Memphis Rent Party (The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown), by Robert Gordon
    • Local author Robert Gordon’s newest book, this collection of essays weaves together a series of profiles, interviews, and stories. By shining a light on some of the city’s lesser known artists across a variety of genres, Gordon offers an enthralling perspective on Memphis’ musical history.
  • Hellhound on His Trail, by Hampton Sides
    • A national bestseller, this thrilling narrative traces the events surrounding James Earl Ray’s assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and the nationwide manhunt which ensued. 
  • A Spy in Canaan, by Marc Perrusquia
    • Released in the spring of 2018, this fascinating profile by Memphis journalist Marc Perrusquia traces the double life of the renowned Civil Rights movement photographer, and paid FBI informant, Ernest Withers.
  • Chocolate Cities, by Zandria Robinson and Marcus Anthony Hunter
    • Published in January by Rhodes professor and sociologist Zandria Robinson, Chocolate Cities draws on film, fiction, music, and oral history to reimagine the landscape of black culture in America. 

If any of you bookworms are looking to find some more ways to engage the literary community in Memphis, check out a local book club and learn more about our local bookstores.

What Memphis authors are we missing that people need to know about? Let us know!