True Story

Appalachian Memoirs

Labor Day blazed hot and humid here in South Carolina. Per our family tradition, the Corgis went on a great adventure, exploring the local nature preserve, frapping around the creek, and barking at ducks. Taking the Corgi out of suburbia and into nature always reminds me of home — of looking up every day and seeing the Appalachian hills all around me. So today, we’re looking at two Appalachian books told from two very different perspectives and corners of the region.

But first, new books an a reminder that Book Riot’s editorial team is writing for casual and power readers alike over at The Deep Dive! During the month of September, all new free subscribers will be entered to win Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, plus 5 mystery books from The Deep Dive. To enter, simply start a free subscription to The Deep Dive. No payment method required!

Bookish Goods

A photo of a white mug featuring an illustration of a stack of books. Text reads, the book was better. The background of the photo features cozy fall decor like mini pumpkins in various colors and a cinnamon bun

Book Mug: The Book Was Better by The Book Was Better

Y’all, I am so DESPERATE for fall. But it’s still in the 90s. I guess this is why we have small smoothies here in the South instead. ANYWAY, look at this adorable mug. I love the cute illustration. $21

New Releases

a graphic of the cover of Tolkien in the Twenty-First Century: The Meaning of Middle-Earth Today by Nick Groom

Tolkien in the Twenty-First Century: The Meaning of Middle-Earth Today by Nick Groom

Middle-Earth fans rejoice! This 480-page tome is here to give you all the discourse on what Tolkien’s work means to contemporary culture. Sure, Tolkien has a very enthusiastic TikTok presence and homemade Middle-Earth swag floods through Etsy every day. But, according to Groom, Tolkien’s impact on our culture extends past that.

a graphic of the cover of Creep: Accusations and Confessions by Myriam Gurba

Creep: Accusations and Confessions by Myriam Gurba

A few years ago, much of the bookish community first learned of Myriam Gurba’s world when she wrote about how a publication killed her negative review of American Dirt. But Gurba’s writing and ideas are so much more than that. Now, readers get to read her essays, all of which can stand on their own two feet.

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

a graphic of the cover of The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg

The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg

Growing up in New York City did not prepare Emma for her summer working as an intern for a nonprofit located in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. She falls in love with the area and decides to stay on as permanent staff after her internship is over. A large part of this book focuses on Emma’s research into the murder of two women several decades before. But soon she learns there was a mysterious third rainbow girl, and no one knows what happened to her. This book threads together history, true crime, and memoir, and the different threads of this book combine to create something truly unique.

a graphic of the cover of Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome

Punch Me Up to the Gods by Brian Broome

In this memoir, Brian Broome tells the story of his life growing up as a young, gay Black man in Appalachian Ohio. Broome has stated in interviews that he wanted to write this book for other poor, queer kids who feel they never see themselves and their life experiences in books. Eventually, Broome moves to Pittsburgh, making his home in urban Appalachia. His writing is vibrant and engrossing, so prepare a block of time for this book because once you start reading, you may find you’ve lost all track of time.

a photo of a bend in a creek. The water is low, and this is a large sand bar to the right. A tree has fallen across the creek bed. Dylan, a red and white Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and Gwen, a black, white, and brindle Cardigan Welsh Corgi, are trotting up to the water.
Dylan and Gwen at the End of Summer

That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy Reading, Friends!

~ Kendra