Pat Conroy was sitting like Santa Claus in a red baseball cap with a palmetto tree and moon on it, signing books at the end of a long line of fans.
He had left the writing desk of his home in Beaufort last weekend to appear at the AJC Decatur Book Festival in the Atlanta suburb.
In a way, he was back home. Atlanta had welcomed young Conroy when he felt run out of South Carolina after "The Water is Wide" was published, and he became a star in the golden age of the city's literary history.
In the heat and hubbub outside Conroy's tent, someone pressed into my hand a bookmark. On one side was a list of "Books All Georgians Should Read 2014" and on the other was a list all young Georgians should read. It was sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book.
Never miss a local story.
At the risk of being scolded by an English teacher who has been producing a list for decades, I wondered aloud: "Why can't we have an annual list of books all South Carolinians should read?"
We could start with Conroy's latest, "The Death of Santini."
Or "Moonrise," the new one by his wife, Cassandra King. She also made appearances at the "largest independent book festival in the United States." And she and Pat were to appear with Cliff and Cynthia Graubart in a session called "Marriage by the Book."
John Warley of Beaufort was there with his new book, "A Southern Girl." Maybe everybody should read that one, or the brand-new "Famous All Over Town" by Beaufort's Bernie Schein.
"The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd is on most people's South Carolina list, as well as anything by Ron Rash. How about earlier novels, like "Porgy" by DuBose Heyward, or "Scarlet Sister Mary" by Julia Peterkin?
Anne Rivers Siddons of Charleston could put a number of books on the list, but "Peachtree Road" might help our many newcomers understand the South.
One of the books on the Georgia list belongs on ours as well.
"The World of the Salt Marsh: Appreciating and Protecting the Tidal Marshes of the Southeastern Atlantic Coast," by Charles Seabrook, should be a textbook in South Carolina schools. Seabrook is from Johns Island near Charleston, but earned his living for many years writing about science and nature for the Atlanta newspaper.
South Carolina's Center for the Book is called ReadSC, based at the South Carolina State Library in Columbia. It is preparing to celebrate later this month the launch of "The Spirit of an Activist: The Life and Work of I. DeQuincey Newman." Maybe that book should be on our list.
What would you put on a list of books every South Carolinian should read?
Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.