More time at home means more time for books. If you’re looking for your next read, consider one of these about life in Appalachia. You can even order online from the West Virginia Book Company, A New Chapter in Lewisburg, or Taylor Books in Charleston, and have them delivered directly to you. 

Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina is one of the best-loved books by a West Virginia author. It chronicles the hard life spent in the coalfields just before The Great Depression. The story is so compelling that a theatrical adaptation was performed by the West Virginia Public Theatre in 2019 with hopes of one day hitting Broadway.  

Another take on life in Appalachia is waiting for you in Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. His memoir is about his Appalachian Kentucky family living in Middletown, Ohio. It covers many themes all too common in literature about the region, like poverty, blue-collar work, drug addiction, abuse, and the struggle to get ahead. 

This next book is a response to Vance’s book and was written on behalf of people who don’t identify with his depiction of life in Appalachia, the author says. What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia was penned by Tennessee history professor Elisabeth Catte and is definitely one you should check out if Vance’s book sets you off.  

Rocket Boys, written by Homer Hickam, is an inspiring memoir and coming of age tale about life in Coalfield during the 1950s. It even reached the top of The New York TimesBestseller list.

Ann Pancake is a native of Romney who’s published several essays and short stories about Appalachian life. Her 2007 novel Strange as This Weather Has Been depicts a present-day coal mining family and its struggles with the industry’s impact on life in West Virginia’s mountains. 

posted on April 10, 2020

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Holly Leleux-Thubron
Written by Holly Leleux-Thubron
Holly is the managing editor for all magazines created by New South Media. She has more than 15 years of professional writing experience and when she isn’t working on the next issue, she’s finding adventure with her husband, Stephen, and teenage daughters: Isabel and Eve.