News & Press: Symposium Highlights

2018 Summer Symposium Reading List

Monday, March 26, 2018  

Get prepared and get in the mood for the 2018 Giving Institute Summer Symposium by reading a great book!  As you might imagine, a city as old as Charleston and its environs are rich with stories. Choose a book (or two) from this suggested reading list as you prepare to make your Symposium pilgrimage. There is something for everybody. 

Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South
Author:  Christopher Dickey
The subject was the British representative in Charleston. His candid comments, many passed on to Washington, were helpful to the north and helped prevent recognition by Britain of the south. Good non-fiction.




Be Free or Die
Author:  Cate Lineberry
The story of a slave, Robert Smalls, who successfully steals a ship in Charleston harbor and delivers it to the US Navy. He rescues his family and several others in the process of his escape. The story continues with his service during the rest of the Civil War and his return to SC afterwards. Most remarkably he takes care of his former owner's widow after buying the home. A good non-fiction tale.  It meant more to me since I visited the house.



Mary Chesnut’s Civil War
Edited by:  C. Vann Woodward
This 1982 Pulitzer Prize winner collection of letters is a “feast for Civic War buffs.” Don’t expect to read this voluminous work in one sitting or even one summer.  This is a book to “curl up with over a whole lifetime.” It is “a great epic drama of our greatest national tragedy.”




South Carolina:  A History
Author:  Walter Edgar
For the reader who wants to learn about more than just Charleston. This is “the first comprehensive history of South Carolina published in nearly fifty years…a sweeping narrative of a state with an illustrious, sometimes infamous, past.” 




South of Broad
Author:  Pat Conroy
A great summer read. According to, “a big, sprawling novel that is at once a love letter to Charleston and to lifelong friendship. Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints.” A fascinating insight into Charleston.




On Folly Beach
Author:  Karen White
To most people, Folly Beach is simply the last barrier island before reaching the great Atlantic. To some, it's a sanctuary for lost souls, which is why Emmy Hamilton's mother encourages her to buy the local book store, Folly's Finds, hoping it will distract Emmy from the loss of her husband.


Pawleys Island
Author:  Dorothea Benton Frank
Dorothea Benton Frank presents a refreshingly honest and funny novel about friendship, family, and finding happiness by becoming who you're meant to be.  Catapulted from her home, her marriage and her children, artist Rebecca Simms has come to Pawleys Island, South Carolina, to hide herself from herself. Little does she know that on this "arrogantly shabby" family playground, she'll encounter three people who will change her life.



The Summer Girls
Author:  Mary Alice Monroe
From New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe, the heartwarming first installment in the Lowcountry Summer trilogy, a poignant series following three half-sisters and their grandmother. Three granddaughters. Three months. One summer house.




Death by Darjeeling
Author:  Laura Childs
Enjoy this summer mystery read.  Meet Theodosia Browning, owner of Charleston's beloved Indigo Tea Shop. Patrons love her blend of delicious tea tastings and southern hospitality. And Theo enjoys the full-bodied flavor of a town steeped in history and mystery!




The Invention of Wings
Author:  Sue Monk Kidd
Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world. An Oprah’s Book Club selection.


Charleston Curiosities: Stories of the Tragic, Heroic, and Bizarre
Author:  Michael Coker
Michael Coker describes several centuries worth of little-known wonders from the Holy City. Whatever happened to Osceola’s head? What was it like to walk the streets of Charleston just after secession was declared? What is the story of how she-crab soup was created? Find all of the answers and impress your friends with these tidbits of trivia!



Slaves in the Family
Author:  Edward Ball
Published in 1998, this nonfiction work tells the story of Ball’s confrontation of the legacy of his family’s slave owning past. A family record of how the painful legacy of slavery continues to endure in America’s collective memory.



Rich in Love
Author:  Josephine Humphreys
In this work of fiction, at the age of seventeen, Lucille Odom finds herself in the middle of an unexpected domestic crisis. As she helps guide her family through its discontent, Lucille discovers in herself a woman rich in wisdom, rich in humor, and rich in love.




Three O'Clock Dinner
Author:  Josephine Pinckney
A 1945 winner of the Southern Authors Award, this best seller tells the story of an ill-fated marriage on the eve of World War II. Written by a Charleston insider and set in the historic city, this is a most interest read.



A Short History of Charleston
Author:  Robert Rosen
A lively chronicle of the South's most renowned and charming city - has been hailed by critics, historians, and especially Charlestonians as authoritative, witty, and entertaining.

Learn More & Register for Summer Symposium 2018 

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