Since the library’s theme this month is “Home is where the heart is,” we thought it seemed logical to cover the “Read a book set in your hometown” challenge now.
For the purposes of this challenge, we’re letting people define hometown however they want to–whether it’s the town they were born, the town they were raised, the town they’ve lived the longest, etc. And since this, of course, varies for every person, we thought we’d highlight books in our collection with a Carroll County setting.
Even if you’re not participating in the challenge–or if your hometown isn’t in Carroll County–you can still enjoy these books. (And, while we’re on that subject, if your hometown isn’t in Carroll County and you’re stumped trying to find a book to meet this requirement, just contact the library. We’ll help you find something that will work!)
If you’re interested in any of these selections and want to learn more, just follow this link to our catalog, where you can read more about them and also place hold requests.
If You Want to Read Fiction:
Dan Krotz’s Coffee with John Heartbreak: A Mostly True Story of Berryville, Arkansas (2009)
In addition to being written by local author Dan Krotz, this book is set in Berryville. A comedic mystery, it centers around the character of John Heartbreak, who runs Pretty Good Books and Really Dreadful Coffee, and includes a serial killer and someone on the lam from the FBI. In addition, if you’ve lived in Berryville any length of time, chances are you will recognize some of the book’s characters because they include real-life residents.
Anna Loan-Wilsey’s A Lack of Temperance (2012)
Set in 1892, this historical mystery follows the adventures of Hattie Davish, who comes to Eureka Springs to work as a secretary for a temperance organizer. Complications ensue when her employer turns up dead. This book starts Loan-Wilsey’s Hattie Davish series, so if you end up enjoying it, you can enjoy more of the character’s investigations, even if they take you far away from the Ozarks.
Goldie Browning’s Night Journey (2012)
If you’re looking for a Carroll County read that isn’t a mystery, try this one. It’s a ghost story that also features time travel and romance set in Eureka Springs’ famously haunted Crescent Hotel. Emma and Zan are staying at the hotel when Emma is injured and mysteriously transported back to the 1930s, when the Crescent was a hospital run by a charlatan doctor, Norman G. Baker. (Yes, he was real.) She quickly learns that one of the fellow patients she meets is Zan’s grandmother and that she must rescue her from Baker’s quackery if Zan is to ever exist.
Radine Trees Nehring’s Something to Die For Series
Nehring’s cozy mystery series takes place in Arkansas. The main characters are Carrie and Henry, she a widowed librarian and he a former police officer, who have relocated to the Arkansas Ozarks separately for retirement and then join forces to solve crimes across the state. The books might be a little confusing if read out of order, but they do provide a new setting for each one, which makes the series a great option for those who want to fulfill the challenge requirement by a book that is not set in Carroll County. The fourth book is set in Eureka Springs–at the Crescent Hotel–but remaining books are set in Stone County, Hot Springs, the Buffalo National River, Van Buren, and War Eagle. Even better, if you enjoy her work, there’s a chance you might be able to chat with her in person at this year’s Books in Bloom in Eureka Springs in May.
If You Prefer Nonfiction:
One thing to remember is that the challenge doesn’t say you have to read a novel set in your hometown. You can also try nonfiction–and our Arkansas section of the library has books on a wide range of topics. This section includes county history, as well as state history. There are several very nice pictorial histories of the county, such as A Pictorial History of Carroll County, Arkansas and Carroll and Boone Counties.
We also have books that cover everything from local plants to local animals to local sports teams to local folklore.
Some of the more unusual books in this collection include:
Tom W. Dillard’s Statesmen, Scoundrels, and Eccentrics: A Gallery of Amazing Arkansans (2010)
This gallery of biographical sketches highlights famous Arkansans from all walks of life, from the state’s earliest history until contemporary times. Organized by field of achievement, chapters include “Antebellum Politicians,” “Postbellum Politicians,” “the Law,” “Artists and Writers,” “Seers, Spiritualists, and Skeptics,” and “Eccentrics, Frauds, and the Inexplicable.” Dillard’s book makes for great reading on its own, but it also includes handy “For More Information” reading lists for each subject, making it a great resource if you want to continue learning more about your favorites.
Brooks Blevins’s Hill Folks: A History of Arkansas Ozarkers and Their Image (2002)
Rather than focusing solely on the history of the Ozarks, Blevins delves into the area’s image throughout the years and examines the roots of the stereotypes other Americans have long held about this region. In the process, Blevins covers the history of the region, but he also ends up concluding that the region is far more complex than those longstanding assumptions of it have indicated.
Vance Randolph’s Ozark Magic and Folklore (1964)
If you’re interested in traditional folklore, definitely give this book a try. Randolph is widely considered the preeminent expert on Ozark folklore, and in this volume, he catalogs local folklore about weather, farming, medicine, and courtship, among other topics. In fact, we have several Vance Randolph books in the collection, so if you enjoy this one, definitely check out his other work.
Robert Cochran’s Our Own Sweet Sounds: A Celebration of Popular Music in Arkansas (2005)
If you’re interested in music and pop culture, you may really enjoy this book. Cochran includes a history of music from the state’s beginnings until now, encompassing a range of genres–blues, rock, gospel, country, etc. In addition to its historical narrative, the book also includes a “Featured Performers” section, which is a collection of biographies and photographs of dozens of performers mentioned in the book.
Kat Robinson’s Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State (2012)
The author is a former Arkansas Times food writer who recorded her experiences traveling around the state and sampling pies from hundreds of restaurants. Arkansas Pie features profiles of the restaurants she visited, anecdotes about her visits, and perhaps, most importantly, lots of pie recipes. Carroll County did really well on the pie front–Berryville, Eureka Springs, and Green Forest all have restaurants featured. Within the book, Robinson praises the Dang Good Pies from Berryville’s sadly now defunct 302 on the Square, the possum pies (and fried chicken) at Myrtie Mae’s in Eureka Springs, and the chocolate meringue pie at The Country Rooster in Green Forest.
Interested in reading any of these books? What do you consider your hometown? Let us know in the comments!