North Carolina Reads

North Carolina Humanities’ North Carolina Reads program is a statewide book club featuring five books that explore issues of racial, social, and gender equality and the history and culture of North Carolina.  Throughout the fall, we’ll be reading the books and gathering for discussion.  To participate in the program, call us to sign up, pick up a copy of the books, read along, and join our discussion events scheduled over the next few months.

Registration is required to participate in the NC Reads events.  Please call (828)884-1830 to register.

2022 NC Reads Books:

August 23

Registration begins 8/1

September 13

Registration begins 8/23

October 4

Registration begins 9/13

October 25

Registration begins 10/4

November 15

Registration begins 10/25

The Last Ballad

by Wiley Cash

The New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. The chronicle of an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice.

Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early twentieth-century America—and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. 

Discussion Session: August 23 • 6:30 pm Rogow Room

Registration to participate in this event opens August 1.  To register, call (828)884-1830.  Limited copies of the book are available to borrow from the Library.

Watch NC Humanities’ recorded book event with author Wiley Cash and Dr. David Zonderman in conversation moderated by NC Humanities staff member Melissa Giblin.

even as we breathe

by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle

Nineteen-year-old Cowney Sequoyah yearns to escape his hometown of Cherokee, North Carolina, in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. When a summer job at Asheville’s luxurious Grove Park Inn and Resort brings him one step closer to escaping the hills that both cradle and suffocate him, he sees it as an opportunity. With World War II raging in Europe, the inn is the temporary home of Axis diplomats and their families, who are being held as prisoners of war. Soon, Cowney’s refuge becomes a cage when the daughter of one of the residents goes missing and he finds himself accused of abduction and murder.

After leaving the seclusion of the Cherokee reservation, he is able to explore a future free from the consequences of his family’s choices and to construct a new worldview, for a time. However, prejudice and persecution in the white world of the resort eventually compel Cowney to free himself from larger forces that hold him back as he struggles to unearth evidence of his innocence and clear his name.

Discussion Session: September 13 •      6:30 pm Rogow Room

Registration to participate in this event opens August 23.  To register, call (828)884-1830.  Limited copies of the book are available to borrow from the Library.

Watch NC Humanities’ recorded book event with author Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle and Dr. Trey Adcock in conversation moderated by NC Humanities Board Trustee Lorna Ricotta.

Soul city

by Thomas Healy

In 1969, with America’s cities in turmoil and racial tensions high, civil rights leader Floyd McKissick announced an audacious plan: he would build a new city in rural North Carolina, open to all but intended primarily to benefit Black people. Named Soul City, the community secured funding from the Nixon administration, planning help from Harvard and the University of North Carolina, and endorsements from the New York Times and the Today show. Before long, the brand-new settlement – built on a former slave plantation – had roads, houses, a health care center, and an industrial plant. 

But the utopian vision was not to be. The race-baiting Jesse Helms, newly elected as senator from North Carolina, swore to stop government spending on the project. Meanwhile, the liberal Raleigh News & Observer mistakenly claimed fraud and corruption in the construction effort. Battered from the left and the right, Soul City was shut down after just a decade. Today, it is a ghost town – and its industrial plant, erected to promote Black economic freedom, has been converted into a prison.

In a gripping, poignant narrative, acclaimed author Thomas Healy resurrects this forgotten saga of race, capitalism, and the struggle for equality.

Discussion Session: October 4 •            6:30 pm • MG 125, Brevard College

Registration to participate in this event opens September 13.  To register, call (828)884-1830.  Limited copies of the book are available to borrow from the Library.

Watch NC Humanities’ recorded book event with author Thomas Healy and Dr. Kofi Boone in conversation moderated by North Carolina African American Heritage Commission Associate Director Adrienne Nirdé.

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pauli murray

by Troy R. Saxby

The Rev. Dr. Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray (1910–1985) was a trailblazing social activist, writer, lawyer, civil rights organizer, and campaigner for gender rights. In the 1930s and 1940s, she was active in radical left-wing political groups and helped innovate nonviolent protest strategies against segregation that would become iconic in later decades, and in the 1960s, she cofounded the National Organization for Women (NOW). In addition, Murray became the first African American to receive a Yale law doctorate and the first black woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest. Yet, behind her great public successes, Murray battled many personal demons, including bouts of poor physical and mental health, conflicts over her gender and sexual identities, family traumas, and financial difficulties.

In this intimate biography, Troy Saxby provides the most comprehensive account of Murray’s inner life to date, revealing her struggles in poignant detail and deepening our understanding and admiration of her numerous achievements in the face of pronounced racism, homophobia, transphobia, and political persecution.

Discussion Session: October 25 •          6:30 pm • MG 125, Brevard College

Registration to participate in this event opens October 4.  To register, call (828)884-1830.  Limited copies of the book are available to borrow from the Library.

Watch NC Humanities’ recorded book event with author Troy Saxby and Executive Director of the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice Barbara Lau in conversation moderated by NC Humanities Board Trustee Rebecca Reyes.

driving with the devil    

by Neal Thompson

Today’s NASCAR—equal parts Disney, Vegas, and Barnum & Bailey—is a multibillion-dollar conglomeration with 80 million fans, half of them women, that grows bigger and more mainstream by the day. Long before the sport’s rampant commercialism lurks a distant history of dark secrets that have been carefully hidden from view—until now. 

In the Depression-wracked South, with few options beyond the factory or farm, a Ford V-8 became the ticket to a better life. Bootlegging offered speed, adventure, and wads of cash. Driving with the Devil reveals how the skills needed to outrun federal agents with a load of corn liquor transferred perfectly to the red-dirt racetracks of Dixie. In this dynamic era (the 1930s and ’40s), three men with a passion for Ford V-8s—convicted felon Raymond Parks, foul-mouthed mechanic Red Vogt, and war veteran Red Byron, NASCAR’s first champ—emerged as the first stock car “team.” Theirs is the violent, poignant story of how moonshine and fast cars merged to create a sport for the South to call its own. 

Discussion Session: November 15 •          6:30 pm • Rogow Room

Registration to participate in this event opens October 25.  To register, call (828)884-1830.  Limited copies of the book are available to borrow from the Library.

Watch NC Humanities’ recorded book event with author Neal Thompson, Dr. Daniel Pierce, and NASCAR Cup Series Driver Erik Jones. This conversation is moderated by North Carolina Humanities Board Trustee Brian Kahn.

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These programs are supported by North Carolina Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, nchumanities.org.

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(828) 884-3151

212 S Gaston St, Brevard, NC 28712