Living Columns & Blogs

It's fun to read books set in cities you've been to - such as Charleston

Do you actively visualize a setting when you read? Every story has one, and I personally enjoy reading books that are set in places I am familiar with or have visited. Maybe a place with good memories.

It is great to visualize as you are reading, especially if the setting is as beautiful as the city of Charleston and surrounding Carolina lowlands. Our libraries have many books that take place in Charleston. Here are a few of my recommendations:

* "Charleston," by Alexander Ripley, is a wonderful historical fiction book. This book begins during the middle of the Civil War and continues through 1898. It is the story of the Tradd family as they struggle to recover their home and livelihood after the war. Charleston's old traditions that are continued to this day, such as the ringing of the St. Michael's bells every hour, are described in the book. After reading this, you won't be left with any doubt that Charleston is a unique, picturesque and charming city. You can sit back and savor a piece of life in 19th century Charleston.

  • With the Citadel and palm-haunted Charleston as a familiar backdrop in this Pat Conroy novel, "South of Broad" sets out to delve into the lives of Leo Bloom King's family and friends. This book has a plot reminiscent of "The Big Chill." The book title is named for the location of the historic houses and blueblood aristocracy near the Battery. It is filled with gorgeous and heartbreaking scenes. Leo, the narrator, reveals himself as a paperboy for the South of Broad area, thus introducing to us the Charleston neighborhood. If you are a Conroy fan, you will enjoy this read.
  • "Sullivan's Island: A Lowcountry Tale," by Dorothea Benton Frank, is a book chock-full of the local color and flavor of Charleston's barrier islands. There are great characters in this novel. The author weaves a wonderful story of two sisters and their foibles. It has it all: history, romance, tragedy and humor.
  • If you like to read love stories, you'll enjoy "The Scent of Jasmine," by best-selling author Jude Deveraux. The book begins in 1799 in Charleston. A daughter of Southern gentility visits her godfather in Charleston. She is sent on a risky mission, one that seems to be simple, but turns out quite differently. Would you enter into danger for the love of a lifetime?
  • Charleston's ambience is the perfect backdrop for "The Alibi," by Sandra Brown. This book is a fast-paced mystery with more twists and turns and red herrings than you can count. It is the story of a handsome and charming Charleston native, whose family is one of the oldest and most respected in the area, and whose world falls apart in one momentous night. Hammond Cross is set to be the next D.A. If he prosecutes the state's key witness, a woman he knows intimately who might have murdered the town's wealthiest and most detested citizen, he is assured of the job. He struggles with his personal feelings, others' envy of him and plots to make him fail. The story ends with a cliffhanger. This book will capture your attention.
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