Nashville has a rich cultural history, and has been the subject of various books and novels. Here, we highlight our top 10 books (both fiction and nonfiction) that discuss notable Nashvillian figures, use Music City as a background, or highlight interesting places in the city.
NASHVILLE – Scenes from the new American South
Nashville celebrates Nashvillians’ beloved locales and events, both established and new, that are the heart of the city’s character including:
• Bobbie’s Dairy Dip
• Cumberland River
• Buchanan Arts District
• Bolton’s Chicken and Fish
• East Nashville Tomato Arts Festival
• The Gulch
…And many more…
Combining “exceptional narrative, evocative photography—including 175 black-and-white and color photographs—and a bold graphic design”, Nashville is an entertaining and original read.
The never-before-told true account of the serial killers who terrorized Nashville’s music scene for decades—and the cold-case Murder Squad determined to bring an end to their sadistic sprees.
The city’s brewing history dates back to the 1800s, when German immigrants first settled in the area. In the last decade of the century, a boom of brewpubs brought the drinking class some newer, more exotic styles of beer, and the people of Nashville have been “under the influence” of creative brewing ever since. Food, beverage and travel writer Chris Chamberlain tells the story of beer from the Music City and introduces you to the breweries and beer lovers that make up a local scene well worth raising a glass to.
In this collection of columns, longtime journalist and Tennessee native George Zepp illuminates a less familiar side of the city. Learn the secrets of Timothy Demonbreun, one of the city’s first residents, who lived with his family in a cliff-top cave; Cortelia Clark, the blind bluesman who continued to perform on street corners after winning a Grammy award; and Nashville’s own Cinderella story, which involved legendary radio personality Edgar Bergen and his ventriloquist protegee. Cleverly rendered, using questions from readers across the nation, these little-known tales abound with Music City mystery and charm.
RACING THE DEVIL
A part of a fictional series, this book follows Nashville private investigator Jared McKean who has a son with Down’s syndrome, a best friend with AIDS, an ex-wife he can’t seem to fall out of love with, and a weakness for women in jeopardy – until one frames him for murder. Now Jared must find a way to clear his name, hold his family together, and solve a case that could cost him his life.
FORTUNES FIDDLES AND FRIED CHICKEN
Providing rare facts in reviewing Nashville’s past and present businesses, Fortunes, Fiddles, & Fried Chicken, written by journalist Bill Carey, is a comprehensive account of the city’s history. Fortunes, Fiddles, & Fried Chicken also shares the life stories of people who founded and led Nashville companies, from Kentucky Fried Chicken and HCA co-founder Jack Massey to Third National Bank president Sam Fleming to H.G. Hill Sr., founder of H.G. Hill Food Stores.
While known for the twang of its country music, Nashville is also home to a colorful and salacious past. The earliest settlers to lay claim to the land surrounding Nashville brought with them betrayal, murder and thievery. As the city grew, authorities unsuccessfully attempted to outlaw and remove vice. During the Civil War, the number of “soiled doves” in Nashville forced the army to legalize and regulate prostitution. The death of outspoken politician Edward Carmack triggered the state to outlaw booze for nearly thirty years, but that did not stop alcohol from flowing in the city. One local mayor even bragged about his patronage of saloons. Elizabeth Goetsch dives into Nashville’s wicked past and explores some of Music City’s more tantalizing history.
EARLY HISTORY OF NASHVILLE
This is a quirky history book about Nashville, written at the turn of the last century. The historical style, content and grammar make it a strange but compelling read as seen through the eyes of an author living in Nashville decades before it became the city current residents would recognize.
Abandoned Nashville explores forgotten and mostly unvisited places through its display of photos by abandoned building photographer Jay Farrell. Readers are encouraged to explore the forgotten corners of the state, see the world through different eyes, and take the long road home. There is also an edition on the wider state, called Abandoned Tennessee.
All books are available on Amazon.com