- By Jill Vejnoska The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sure, anyone can be well-read.
But leave it to Georgia to take being well-read to a whole other level.
Specifically, the Georgia Center for the Book, which just announced its 2016 list of “Books All Georgians Should Read.” Paired with another new list of “Books All Young Georgians Should Read,” the powerhouse lineup of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and even a trio of picture books will be celebrated along with their creators at a free public event at the Decatur Library at 7:30 p.m. on August 18.
Each one of the two dozen books chosen for inclusion in 2016 is the work of an author or illustrator with strong Georgia connections. Think of the lists as a gentle nudge from somebody who knows what’s good for you as a Georgia resident.
Not that it’s at all a chore to read the latest recommendations, which include “Where We Want to Live,” by Ryan Gravel, the “father” of the Atlanta Beltine; “The Class of ’65,” former AJC reporter Jim Auchmutey’s compelling, real-life tale of race and forgiveness in southwest Georgia, which was excerpted as a Personal Journey in the newspaper; and “Memories of the Mansion,” a fascinating and at times hilarious history of the Georgia Governor’s Mansion and the families who’ve lived in it that was co-authored by the state’s current First Lady, Sandra Deal, and two Kennesaw State University history professors.
“Georgia and Georgia’s literary landscape are more diverse than ever before, and these lists express our diversity and individuality, but at the same time show we all are connected to place,” said Joe Davich, Executive Director of the Georgia Center for the Book. “Whether riding in a pick-up truck in South Georgia, or in a tuk tuk in India, the settings in these books are different, but the universal message is the same. Georgians will easily find themselves at home among these pages.”
This is the seventh edition of the list, which debuted in 2002 as the “Georgia Top 25 Reading List.” Featuring classics like “Gone With the Wind,” “The Color Purple,” “Deliverance” and “Tobacco Road,” the list of books about or by Georgians proved so popular – and endlessly discussable – that additional lists followed in 2005 and 2008.
In 2013, the Georgia Center for the Book Advisory Council voted to make the lists an annual thing. Writers, librarians, educators and other individuals submit nominations throughout the year to the Decatur-based organization, which regularly hosts events featuring authors. The Center has posted both new lists for 2016 on its Facebook page. Previous year’s lists can be found on the Georgia Center for the Book web site.