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WNC listeners share picks for NPR’s summer books project

50 books npr
Alyson Hurt/NPR
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NPR is asking for recommended quintessential reads that illuminate where you live.

Looking for a summer read? BPR listeners have you covered.

NPR asked poets laureate, state librarians, bookstore owners and other literary luminaries from all 50 states — plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico — to recommend quintessential reads that illuminate where they live.

BPR decided to join in the literary fun, inviting listeners to share books that they think best represent North Carolina. Check out these excellent selections, shared by avid listeners, hosts and friends of BPR, and librarians across our region.

BPR Listener Nancy Nehls Nelson
St. Dale by Sharon McCrumb

“It explores the depth of feelings for NASCAR followers that just confuse people from "away." It's a heartwarming story that I recommend to all newcomers. Each time I reread it, I find something new and can finish the book with a smile on my face.”

Darin Waters, Deputy Secretary for Archives and History for the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and co-host of BPR’s The Waters and Harvey Show
Land of Water, Land of Sky by Bland Simpson

“Like Jaki Shelton Green (who made the selection for NPR’s project), I also recommend this book. It just won the 2021 North Caroliniana Book Award.”

Western Carolina University political scientist Dr. Chris Cooper
Step It Up and Go: The Story of North Carolina Popular Music, from Blind Boy Fuller and Doc Watson to Nina Simone and Superchunk by David Menconi.

“Through compelling profiles of the music and musicians of North Carolina, Menconi reveals a state populated with an usually diverse array of creative talent that reflects the diversity of its people and the centrality of place.”

Derek Nelson, Circulation Librarian at Transylvania County Library
Blue Ridge Babies 1, 2, 3: A Counting Book by Laura Sperry Gardner

“Written by Transylvania County Library’s local history librarian, this book introduces the earliest readers to the plants and wildlife of the Blue Ridge mountains. Set to the tune of the folk song “Over in the Meadow,” it follows animal mothers and their young as they explore the wonders of the wilderness.”

Eloise Shepard, Library Assistant at Transylvania County Library
Lunch at the Piccadilly by Clyde Edgerton

“Set in North Carolina and by a native North Carolinian, this book shows that Southerners have a sense of humor about themselves.”

Lisa Sheffield, Adult Services Librarian at Transylvania County Library
The Road by John Ehle

“North Carolina author John Ehle uses the true story of the building of the railroad line “up the mountain” at Old Fort in the 1880s as the basis for his novel. Ehle’s skill as a storyteller shines light on the place, time, and people struggling against all odds to connect western North Carolina to the rest of the state.”

What book best represents your home state? Send it to NPR and share it with us at voices@bpr.org.