Books about the American South

Check out this list of interesting books to read to help you prepare for your next trip to the American South.

The United States is very large and so has different cultural and historical influences in different regions. In this post we’re going to take a look at The American South.

The American South is also called “The Bible Belt” because of the many churches, both large and small, scattered across the land as well as religious influence on society in the area. Texas is one of the most internationally known Southern states, but Southern culture in Texas is very different from what you’d find in South Carolina or Georgia. Many parts of Texas identify with the American Southwest (think cowboys and Spaghetti Westerns) whereas in the states that make up the American South are more closely related to a slower, sweet-tea and fried chicken kind of lifestyle.

The American South is both enchanting and evil. It is the place where the slave trade started in the United States as well as where the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. It is also home to world-famous Southern hospitality, Gospel, and Soul Food. A place where centuries-old oak trees rustle in the cool Southern breezes. It’s the birthplace of Ray Charles and Hank Williams and where Gullah Geechee culture still thrives today.

In order to give you a chance to experience The American South, we’ve compiled a list of novels and short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, that will transport you among the chaos and beauty of the region.

  1. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – John Berendt

Published: 1999

This non-fiction novel explores the ins and outs of life in Savannah, Georgia while centering around a shocking crime.

  1. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

Published: 1982

The novel explores the lives of two sisters in rural Georgia as they cope with hardship and sacrifice.

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Published: 1960

A cornerstone of the American literary canon, this novel depicts both the moral depths of the human conscience as well as a coming-of-age story in a small Southern town.

  1. As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner

Published: 1930

A harrowing tale of one family’s journey across rural Mississippi to bury their wife and mother, Addie.

  1. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café – Fannie Flagg

Published: 1987

This novel ties together two stories of friendship, loss, and adventure, one set in 1980’s Alabama and the other in the 1930’s.

  1. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor – Flannery O’Connor

Published: 1955

This is the largest compilation of short stories by one of The American South’s most prolific authors.

  1. Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison

Published: 1952

This novel shows the nightmare of the nameless protagonist’s literal journey across The American South to the streets of Harlem as well as the horrors of his figurative journey across the racial divide.

  1. The Water is Wide – Pat Conroy

Published: 1972

The true story of Pat Conroy’s difficult and rewarding year teaching on Yamacraw Island, a land where the way of life is threatened by the fast-growing, overbearing world around it.

 

Southern Shrimp and Grits – English Reading Comprehension

Recipe /ˈrɛsəpi/

Learning a new language isn’t just about learning vocabulary and grammar, you must also learn the culture of that language. You must consider where it is spoken, who speaks it, and what the traditions and customs are of its native speakers. So, what are some ways you can go about learning the traditions and customs of a group of speakers? Well, one great way to start is by learning to cook their food! As mama always says, there’s no better way to a person’s heart than through their stomach!

Here is a recipe for a typical dish from South Carolina, in the south eastern part of the United States. It is usually served at brunch alongside an ice-cold mimosa (a drink made from champagne and orange juice) and great company!

Now have a look at this video: Southern Shrimp and Grits

Ingredients

2 cups (470 milliliters) chicken broth

2 cups (470 milliliters) milk

1/3 cup (76 grams) butter, cubed

3/4 teaspoon (3.5 grams) salt

1/2 teaspoon (2.85 grams) pepper

3/4 cup (100 grams) uncooked old-fashioned grits (substitute with polenta)

1 cup (130 grams) shredded cheddar cheese

SHRIMP:

8 thick-sliced bacon strips, chopped

1 pound (450 grams) uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon (5.7 grams) Cajun or blackened seasoning

4 green onions, chopped

Instructions

Mix the broth, milk, butter, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil. Slowly stir in the grits (or polenta). Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook for 12 – 14 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally. Once the sauce is thick, stir in the cheese until it has melted. Put the sauce aside and keep it warm.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until it becomes crisp. Once the bacon is crisp, set it aside on paper towels and keep 4 teaspoons (20 milliliters) of the drippings. Saute the shrimp, garlic, and seasoning in the bacon drippings until the shrimp turn pink.

Serve the shrimp over grits and sprinkle with green onions.

Now try the following quizzes to check your understanding of the article.

Southern Shrimp and Grits | Match

Match the ingredients with the pictures.

Southern Shrimp and Grits | Fill in the Blank

Fill in the blank with the correct command.

Southern Shrimp and Grits | True or False

Decide if the statement is true or false.

Reading Exercise | | The Pastry AI that Learned to Fight Cancer

Japan’s long history of trade is considered one of the reasons behind the country’s very diverse food tastes. Because of this, unlike French or Italian bakeries that offer only a few options, Japanese bakeries offer pastries of all sizes, shapes, flavors, and colors. They have options like The Carbonara, which is a pastry version of the famous Italian pasta dish, or The Ham Corn, a breakfast pastry topped with ham, corn, and mayonnaise. There are hundreds of different types of pastries in these unique bakeries. Unfortunately, this diversity did not come without a cost: cashiers had to spend months learning the price of each individual pastry based on sight alone. This meant that the checkout process was not only very difficult for cashiers, but also caused long wait times for customers.

A software company called Brain was asked to help resolve the problem of confusion at the cash register. Brain, which was founded by computer programmer and software designer Hisashi Kambe, had always worked on projects based on computer visualization capabilities. The company originally designed computers that could detect errors in formulas for fabric patterns, so resolving the problem of visualizing hundreds of different pastries was no stranger to them. Brain began working on a software called BakeryScan.

BakeryScan is unique because, unlike deep learning software like Google Translate, Siri, and almost every AI system out there, BakeryScan doesn’t need large amounts of specialized data to make decisions; it is created to understand irregularities like the shadow cast into the middle of a donut hole or the slightly darker color of over-baked bread without needing the input of tens of thousands of similar images.

Once BakeryScan was implemented, it became a hit. It was televised all over Japan and became such a cultural phenomenon that it was even referenced in their language proficiency exams.

This was how a doctor at the Louis Pasteur Center for Medical Research, in Kyoto, saw a television segment about the machine. He realized that cancer cells, under a microscope, looked a lot like bread. He contacted Hisashi Kambe’s company Brain to see how they could collaborate to develop a version of the program that could help pathologists detect cancer cells. BakeryScan was already equipped with tools that allowed human experts to give the program feedback, the only thing they needed to change was what exactly the system would be analyzing.

They started small, analyzing single cells under a microscope, but eventually moved up to more complex images. Now, BakeryScan, adapted and renamed Cyto-Aiscan, is being tested in two major hospitals in Kobe and Kyoto. It is capable of “whole-slide” analysis, meaning that more than analyze a single cell at a time, it is capable of looking at an entire microscope slide and identifying the cells that might be cancerous. Instead of considering the shadows cast into a donut hole or the darker shade of over-baked bread, the software is now considering the color tone of the nucleus, its size and texture, and its overall roundness.

Who knew that the world of pastries could bring us further ahead in cancer research?

Did you enjoy reading this article? Test your reading skills by completing the quizzes below.

The Pastry AI that Learned to Fight Cancer | Definition Match

Match the phrases with their definition.

The Pastry AI that Learned to Fight Cancer | Fill in the Blank II

Fill in the blank with the correct word or phrase: