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From bioluminescent bays to a Benson childhood, area writers explore the interconnections of nature, place and family in volumes of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction ideal for summer reading.

North Carolina Arts Council literature and theater director David Potorti has assembled a selection of recent books by N.C. Arts Council fellowship recipients and other North Carolinians, recently published in paperback.

1. Blue Yodel
Ansel Elkins
(Yale University Press, 2015)

In her debut collection of poetry, Greensboro resident Elkins introduces readers to a multitude of characters whose “otherness” has condemned them to live on the margins of society, inviting us to find the humanity in every person. She is a 2011–12 N.C. Arts Council fellowship recipient in the category of poetry. Blue Yodel is the 109th volume the Yale Series of Younger Poets, honoring exceptional American poets under the age of forty.

2. Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer’s Search for Wonder in the Natural World 
Leigh Ann Henion
(Penguin Press, 2015)

A Boone resident and 2013–14  N.C. Arts Council literature fellowship recipient in the category of non-fiction, Henion chronicles her experience of the world’s natural phenomena — including Sweden’s aurora borealis, Tanzania’s wildebeest migration, Venezuela’s Catatumbo lightning and Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays — as a means to rekindle her sense of wonder and deepen her experience of parenting.

3. Land of Enchantment
Liza Wieland
(Syracuse University Press, 2015)

Arapahoe resident Wieland interweaves stories from New Mexico, Atlanta and New York City showing how art reveals the depth and complexity of human love, in all its betrayals and losses, beauty and redemption. She is a 2013–14 N.C. Arts Council Fellowship recipient in the category of fiction.

4. 27 Views of Greensboro: The Gate City in Prose & Poetry
(Eno Publishers, 2015)

27 Views of Greensboro showcases the literary life of this city as seen through the eyes of 27 hometown writers of fiction, journalism, history, poetry, and more. Contributors include Fred Chappell, Michael Parker, Ann Deagon, Maria Johnson, Ed Cone, Veronica Grossi, Lee Zacharias, Joya Wesley, Stuart Dischell, Quinn Dalton, Linda Beatrice Brown, Jeri Rowe, Allen Johnson, Jim Schlosser, Richard Zweigenhaft, Diya Abdo, Val Neiman, Logie Meachem, and others.

5. The Girl in the Road
Monica Byrne
(Broadway Books, 2015)

A 2013–14 N.C. Arts Council Fellowship recipient in the category of playwrighting, Durham resident Byrne pens her debut novel about a future world where global power has shifted east and revolution is brewing. Two women, from India and Africa, embark on vastly different, and unexpected, journeys.

6. Hotel Worthy
Valerie Nieman
(Press 53, 2015)

Greensboro resident Nieman’s second collection of poetry promises “poems of love, loss, and survival.” She is a 2013–14 N.C. Arts Council literature recipient in the category of poetry.

7. Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir
Frances Mayes
(Broadway Books, 2015)

The author of three books about her life in Italy, Hillsborough writer Frances Mayes now revisits the turning points that defined her early years in Fitzgerald, Georgia, exploring the power of landscape, the idea of home, and the lasting force of a chaotic and loving family.

8. Amazing Place: What North Carolina Means to Writers
(UNC Press, 2015)

Authors from every region of North Carolina ruminate on the meaning of place in this collection of 21 original essays, untangling North Carolina’s influence on their work, exploring how the idea of place resonates with North Carolinians, and illuminating why the state itself plays such a significant role in its own literature. Contributors include Belle Boggs, Marianne Gingher, Stephanie Griest, Jill McCorkle, Michael McFee, Michael Parker, Bland Simpson and Lee Smith.

9. Steal Away
Shelby Stephenson
(Jacar Press, 2014)

An intimate, tender and lyrical chapbook that looks back at a childhood where friendship, family, and slavery intersect. These poems ponder the conflicted emotions, from joy to sorrow, that come from meditating on one’s legacy. Stephenson, a Benson resident, is the current Poet Laureate of North Carolina.

10. The Petals of Your Eyes
Aimee Parkison
(Starcherone Books, 2014)

An eerie  tale of modern-day kidnapping and slavery by Charlotte resident Parkison, a 2013–14 N.C. Arts Council literature fellowship recipient in the category of fiction.

11. Falling Into Place
Catherine Reid
(Beacon Press, 2014)

A 2013–14 N.C. Arts Council fellowship recipient in the category of non-fiction, Asheville resident Reid explores insights into how the mysteries of nature are interwoven with those of family and community.

12. The Life of the World to Come
Joseph Bathanti
(University of South Carolina Press, 2014)

George Dolce aspires to leave his blue collar, Catholic neighborhood in 1970s Pittsburgh to attend law school, but his involvement with a local gambling ring threatens his plans, and ultimately, his life. Escaping to North Carolina, he meets a mysterious woman who joins him in the task of reconciling his past and avoiding his punishment. Vilas resident Bathanti was awarded N.C. Arts Council fellowships in the categories of poetry (1995–96) and fiction (2009–10) and served as the poet laureate of North Carolina from 2012 to 2014.

13. An Infuriating American: The Incendiary Arts of H. L. Mencken
Hal Crowther
(Muse Books, 2014)

Mencken, the belligerent newspaperman from Baltimore, was considered by many to be the most powerful individual journalist of the 20th century. Hillsborough resident Crowther, who followed in Mencken’s footsteps as a reporter, magazine editor, literary critic, and political columnist, paints a picture of the pundit and how he came to be such an outrageous original.

14. Deadliest of Sins
Sallie Bissell
(Midnight Ink, 2014)

Asheville author Sallie Bissell’s latest Mary Crow mystery takes place in Campbell County, North Carolina, where a recent murder and a preacher could be linked in a conspiracy.

Still looking for more suggestions? The Read North Carolina Novels blog from UNC-Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Literary Map from UNC-Greensboro and the State Library are two great places to start.

Don’t forget as well that public libraries across North Carolina will be offering summer reading programs for adults and kids alike.

What will you bee reading this summer? Tell us in the comments.

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Looking to get started on your summer reading, but not sure where to start? Look no further, than North Carolina Historical Publications!

From general overviews of historical topics to detailed histories of specific places and people to primary documents and maps, Historical Publications has something for everyone, and between now and the end of the June, most of Historical Publications’ more than 160 titles are discounted between 50 and 90 percent!

As part of series of blog posts we did last year, Historical Publications recommends checking out the following titles if you’re specifically interested in looking for a light summer read:

  1. The Lost Colonists: Their Fortune and Probable Fate by David Beers Quinn: A discussion the composition of the Lost Colony of 1587, the conditions on Roanoke Island, and the activities of the English colonists after landing there.
  2. The Pirates of Colonial North Carolina by Hugh F. Rankin: Originally published in 1960, this paperback is the most popular title ever published by the Historical Publications Section and has never gone out of print.
  3. Gold Mining in North Carolina: A Bicentennial History by Richard F. Knapp and Brent D. Glass: The first documented discovery of gold in the United States was in 1799 at John Reed’s farm in Cabarrus County. This book traces the history of gold mining in North Carolina from that discovery to the 20th century.
  4. North Carolina Legends by Richard Walser: North Carolina is a place where history has been enriched by legends and folklore. The 48 colorful Tar Heel tales in this volume include well-known stories like “Virginia Dare and the White Doe” and “Old Dan Tucker” and some less-familiar ones, too!
  5. North Carolina as a Civil War Battleground by John G. Barrett: This popular title presents an overview of Civil War North Carolina, with information on secession, preparations for war, battles fought in North Carolina, blockade-running, and the coming of peace.

Conveniently enough all five of these titles and many, many more are significantly marked down, so head on over to the Historical Publications online store and order your copy today!

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From new revelations on the fate of the Lost Colony to BuzzFeed’s best jokes for history nerds, we’ve shared some pretty cool stories with you through our social media this year (if we don’t say so ourselves!).

Top StoriesAs 2014 heats up, we took a look back at what you liked the most. Here are the 13 stories from 2013 that you liked best (in order):

  1. 21 Jokes Only History Nerds Will Understand  from BuzzFeed
  2. An overview of a Blackbeard’s demise from our This Day in North Carolina History blog
  3. Pictures of some interesting artifacts found at the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck on National Geographic’s website
  4. The most famous book from every state, according to Business Insider
  5. An update on what may have happened to the Lost Colony from a newspaper in the United Kingdom
  6. More photos from the Queen Anne’s Revenge – these on our Flickr of a cannon recovery in August
  7. The story of  a mysterious shipwreck on a Pender County beach
  8. An NPR story on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Asheville connections
  9. The story of serial prison escape Otto Woods on our This Day in N.C. History blog
  10. A blurb on the The Land of Oz theme park in Beech Mountain
  11. The First 10 Works of Fiction You Should Read If You’ve Never Read a Book Before, according to Flavorwire
  12. 38 Signs You’re From North Carolina, at least according to Buzzfeed
  13. A story on the similarities between Downton Abbey and Biltmore Estate from WUNC

Thanks for continuing to follow us! We can’t say enough how much we appreciate it, and how much we enjoy sharing the story of our state’s culture with you.

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The third volume in The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance series is now available. The last 18 months of Vance’s governorship at the end of the Civil War (1864-1865) are chronicled in the more than 200 letters and other documents transcribed and annotated in this volume.

Topics discussed include conscription, desertion and disaffection among North Carolina citizens, and conflicts with the Confederate government over blockade running, impressment and and the increasing calls for a peace convention. Also included is the flurry of correspondence between Vance and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston prior to his surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman at Bennett Place in Durham on April 26, 1865.

The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance, Volume 3: 1864-1865  retails for $45. Click here to order a copy through the online Historical Publications Shop.

Historical Publications is also offering a Vance Papers set of volumes 1 (1843-1862), 2 (1863), and 3 (1864-1865) of the series for $60, a 37% savings off the purchase of the three volumes separately.

Have questions? Contact Bill Owens by telephone at (919) 733-7442, ext. 225) or by e-mail.

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This post is the last in a three-part series we’re doing on summer reading. Click here to read part one and here to read part two.

So you’ve reached that point in the summer where you’ve gotten to every interesting book on your list. You want to try to something new because there are still a few precious weeks left in the season, but the deluge of specific book suggestions is overwhelming , and you’re looking for somewhere to browse.

Inside McIntyre's Books in Pittsboro

Inside McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro

That’s where the N.C. Arts Council comes in. They put together this awesome list of the best bookstores that emphasize North Carolina writers from Chapel Hill to Charlotte, from Southern Pines to Sylva and beyond. Enjoy!

1. Quail Ridge Books & Music
3522 Wade Ave., Raleigh
(919) 828-1588
2. So & So Books
704 N. Person St. , Raleigh
(919) 426-9502
3. The Regulator Bookshop
720 9th St., Durham
(919) 286-2700
4. Flyleaf Books
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd .,Chapel Hill
(919) 942-73735. McIntyre’s Books
220 Market Street, Fearrington Village, Pittsboro
(919) 542-3030

Fireside Books and Gifts in Shelby

6. Duck’s Cottage Coffee & Books
105 Sir Walter Raleigh St., Manteo
(252) 473-1056

7. City Lights Bookstore
3 E. Jackson Street, Sylva
(828) 586-9499

8. The Country Bookshop
140 NW Broad St., Southern Pines
(910) 692-3211

9. Malaprop’s Bookstore
55 Haywood St., Asheville
(828) 254-6734

10. Park Road Books
4139 Park Road, Charlotte
(704) 525-9239

11. Fireside Books and Gifts
212 S. Lafayette Street, Shelby
(704) 487-8477

12. The Fountainhead Bookstore
408 N Main St., Hendersonville
(828) 697-1870

13. The Book Shelf
94 N Trade St., Tryon
(828) 859-9304

14. Two Sisters Bookery
318 Nutt St., Wilmington (#32 In the Cotton Exchange)
(910) 762-4444

Do you have a favorite bookstore that focuses on North Carolina authors in your community? Tell us about in the comments!

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