Each year, hundreds of booksellers and readers across the South vote on the books they have most enjoyed selling, recommending, and reading. These are the books they couldn’t stop talking about: books by Southern writers, or with a Southern perspective, or both. Voting began November 10, 2018 and lasted until February 1, 2019. Winners were announced on February 14, 2019.

  • Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl

    Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl

     2019 Southern Book Prize Winner: Children's

    How far would you go to find something that might not even exist?

    All her life, Cricket's mama has told her stories about a secret room painted by a mysterious artist. Now Mama's run off, and Cricket thinks the room might be the answer to getting her to come back. If it exists. And if she can find it.

    Cricket's only clue is a coin from a grown-over ghost town in the woods. So with her daddy's old guidebook and a coat full of snacks stolen from the Cash 'n' Carry, Cricket runs away to find the room. Surviving in the woods isn't easy. While Cricket camps out in an old tree house and looks for clues, she meets the last resident of the ghost town, encounters a poetry-loving dog (who just might hold a key to part of the puzzle), and discovers that sometimes you have to get a little lost...to really find your way.

    Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl (Random House Books for Young Readers)

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  • The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table by Rick Bragg

    The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table by Rick Bragg

     2019 Southern Book Prize Winner: Nonfiction

    From the beloved, best-selling author of All Over but the Shoutin', a delectable, rollicking food memoir, cookbook, and loving tribute to a region, a vanishing history, a family, and, especially, to his mother. Including seventy-four mouthwatering Bragg family recipes for classic southern dishes passed down through generations.

    Margaret Bragg does not own a single cookbook. She measures in "dabs" and "smidgens" and "tads" and "you know, hon, just some." She cannot be pinned down on how long to bake corn bread ("about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the mysteries of your oven"). Her notion of farm-to-table is a flatbed truck. But she can tell you the secrets to perfect mashed potatoes, corn pudding, redeye gravy, pinto beans and hambone, stewed cabbage, short ribs, chicken and dressing, biscuits and butter rolls. Many of her recipes, recorded here for the first time, pre-date the Civil War, handed down skillet by skillet, from one generation of Braggs to the next. In The Best Cook in the World, Rick Bragg finally preserves his heritage by telling the stories that framed his mother's cooking and education, from childhood into old age. Because good food always has a good story, and a recipe, writes Bragg, is a story like anything else.

    The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table by Rick Bragg (Knopf)

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  • The Line that Held Us by David Joy

    The Line that Held Us by David Joy

     2019 Southern Book Prize Winner: Fiction

    From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again.

    When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he's chased for years, he never expected he'd accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he's killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer, his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But when Dwayne Brewer comes looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world.

    The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption, where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.

    The Line that Held Us by David Joy (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)

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