One sure sign of summer’s blissful advance in Charleston is a new crop of fair-weather reads by authors with local ties.
It’s clear that South Carolina-connected scribes have been busy during the pandemic, whether refining drafts or ramping up for releases. There is, after all, an ample sprouting of new works — and others on the way.
The genres, topics and voices may range, but, like the perfect picnic, this eclectic spread of literary offerings surely has something for everyone. Here are a few from which to choose for the leisurely days ahead. Oh, and why you're going local, consider purchasing them at an independent bookstore near you.
Here’s one for those pining to read the upbeat, sand-swept yarns regularly dreamed up by the late Dorothea Benton Frank. For "Reunion Beach," Frank’s friends and fellow writers contributed stories, poetry and essays all inspired by the beloved novelist. In writerly interludes perfect for a waterside idyll, these explorations of love, friendship and glorious immersions in the Lowcountry come from contributors including novelist Elin Hilderbrand, Adriana Trigiani, Patti Callahan, Mary Alice Monroe and poet Marjory Wentworth. Published by William Morrow. List price is $27.99; Kindle is $14.99.
Charleston-based author Mary Alice Monroe is back with another addition to her bestselling Beach House series. In "The Summer of Lost and Found," the Rutledge family of Charleston must now shore up against a mettle-testing summer by bonding together and holding fast to humor. Linnea, for one, faces another layoff, this time from her cherished aquarium. Then, there are those vexing decisions in matters of the heart. In the hands of seasoned storyteller Monroe, such seemingly insurmountable personal hurdles uncover how deep connections and deeper reserves of courage can buoy the most trying times. Published by Gallery Books. List price is $28: Kindle edition is $13.99.
Equally fitting for a full immersion or a leisurely dip, the expansive, illuminating “Alice: Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, Charleston Renaissance Artist” will be more at home on a beach house coffee table than packed in a tote. The work of librarian and researcher Dwight McInvaill; Smith’s great-great-niece, Caroline T. Palmer; and her great-niece, Anne Gaud Tinker, it offers a personal account of the artist’s life and work, which is coupled with transporting glossy spreads displaying more than 200 paintings, prints, sketches and photographs. Published by Evening Post Books, which is owned by the same company as The Post and Courier, in collaboration with Middleton Place Foundation. List price is $60.
The Gibbes Museum of Art has just set loose a similarly striking and absorbing work of word and image in “Lasting Impressions: Japanese Prints from the Read-Simms Collection.” The handsome, hard-bound catalog for its new exhibition, it pairs descriptive text by Sebastian Izzard with full-page images of works by Japanese ukiyo-e artists, including Suzuki Harunobu, Toshusai Sharaku, Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige. The catalog also covers the museum's companion exhibition, “Japonisme in Charleston: Alice Smith and Her Circle,” which explores the wave of enthusiasm for Japanese art embraced by Smith and others in 1940s Charleston. Published by Gibbes Museum of Art. List price is $45.
Far flung foray
Since travel was tamped down this past year, we’ve all been hard-pressed to zip around to parts unknown. The gradual reopening presents an ideal time to consider the wheres and whys of wandering. Enter globetrotting travel writer Bill Thompson. His recently released “Why Travel? A Way of Being, A Way of Seeing” amiably, expertly continent-hops in easily digestible essays collected from his extensive writing on the subject. They come together to provide a convivial, insightful compass that may well direct readers to newfound wonder. List price is $17.
Thrills and chills
Johns Island-based mystery writer Tamar Myers has “Mean and Shellfish,” published by Severn House, the 23rd book in the Magdalena Yoder mystery series. Set in the Amish and Mennonite hamlet of Hernia, Pa., the story centers on the strange occurrences during an annual festival. The list price is $28.99; the Kindle edition is $15.99.
Harry Farthing may live in Mt. Pleasant, but the adventure thriller author sets his novels in places that are far, far away in both mileage and mindset. Take his latest release, "The Ghost Moths," in which English mountain guide Neil Quinn is finishing the season's final climb on the highest mountain in Tibet. That's when things take a turn for the tumultuous, with an earthquake setting off a chain of events surrounding an oppressed land. Mining the pained terrain of Tibet, Farthing forges a journey rife with murder and subterfuge — all the makings of a riveting read for the long summer nights ahead. Published by Blackstone Publishing. List price is $27.99; Kindle edition is $9.99.
Myrtle Beach memoir
First-time author and New York magazine editor J. Nicole Jones left her home of Myrtle Beach for a toney college in New York City and now calls both Brooklyn, N.Y., and Nashville, Tenn., home. Her candid memoir is all Grand Strand. She wends from accounts of her volatile, hotel-owning family, which are punctuated by passages detailing South Carolina history, from Eliza Pinckney to Robert Smalls to Blackbeard, as well as a few famous ghosts. Foregoing linear storytelling, Jones instead layers dense, evocative prose that is at once languid and pained, sharply observed and scattershot. Converging garish vacation amusements to the frequent outbursts of her abusive grandfather, Jones unravels a fraught story of family, one loaded recollection at a time. Published by Catapult. List price is $26. Kindle edition is $14.99.
On the horizon
In August, be on the lookout for the debut novel by Charleston author Gervais Hagerty. “In Polite Company” lays out a rollicking, modern take on the centuries-old table setting that is old Charleston society. Quirky, questioning fiancée Simons Smythe is in possession of some serious French Huguenot lineage and some serious doubts, too. As deep-seated familial expectations collide with a burgeoning sense of self, a strong bond with an elegant, enigmatic grandmother helps guide the way forward. Add the drop-dead gorgeous wordsmithing with an eye on local beauty and beguilingly unvarnished mirth, and this late-summer bloomer could be the perfect season sendoff. The release date is Aug. 17. Published by William Morrow Paperbacks. List price is $16.99; Kindle edition is $11.99.