Bluegrass Bookshelf: Lincoln, Wendell Berry, Harlan County featured

Books listed here are by regional authors or of interest to Central Kentucky readers and have been published since April or will be published in coming months.

Many of these books are self-published; this column is intended to note new works, not review them. All titles are available at bookstores and online booksellers unless otherwise noted.

They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History by Alessandro Portelli (Oxford University Press, $34.95, out in November): The oral-history pioneer compiles more than 25 years of narratives from more than 150 men and women of one corner of Eastern Kentucky to tell "the whole history of the United States through Harlan County."

Images of America: Floyd County by Lisa Perry and the Wheelwright Historical Society (Arcadia Publishing, $21.99): The popular series of vintage-photo books focuses on one of the dominant counties of Eastern Kentucky and its culture of coal and agriculture.

How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders by Maryjean Wall (The University Press of Kentucky, $29.95, out in October): The historian and former Herald-Leader turf writer offers a look at how Kentucky went from an underdog, post-Civil War border state to the center of the billion-dollar Thoroughbred industry.

I Wonder as I Wander: The Life of John Jacob Niles by Ron Pen (The University Press of Kentucky, $35, out in September): In what is billed as the "first full-length biography of the 'dean of American balladeers,'" the University of Kentucky professor takes on the influential Louisville-born songwriter and folk singer.

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner (W.W. Norton and Co., $29.95, out in October): The noted historian takes on the story of Kentucky's native-born president and the United States' "transformation through the crucible of slavery and emancipation."

Digging Bones: Poems by Barb McMakin (Finishing Line Press, $12, out Sept. 3): The Kentucky writer delves into the beauty of ordinary life in this collection of poems. Available at

Extreme Writing: Discovering the Writer in Every Student by Keen J. Babbage (Rowman & Littlefield Education, $32.95): In this educational text, the longtime history and political science teacher at Henry Clay High School in Lexington guides teachers on taking students' skill at and eagerness for social writing, such as text messaging, and applying it to more formal writing.

Wendell Berry: Life and Work, edited by Jason Peters (The University Press of Kentucky, $21.95): A broad collection of writers examines the famous Kentucky agrarian writer's work through a series of essays.

Babe Ruth: The Man Behind the Legend by Rebecca Clark Rau (, $19.95): The Lexington writer takes on one of baseball's biggest legends in this biography. Available at The Morris Book Shop and at

Take Me Home: A Novel by Brian Leung (Harper, $24.99, out in October): Although the story is set in a Wyoming coal-mining town in the late 1800s, the Louisville writer's heroine, Addie, has a significant back story set in the "backwoods Kentucky home" of her childhood.

Do You Doubt the Daffodil? Meditations From the Garden by Bobbi Junod (Gadfly, $24.95): The Lexington writer has compiled a collection of spiritual wisdom gathered "through the gardener's eye."

Inside The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: A Guide to Exploring the Journey Beyond Narnia by Devin Brown (Baker Books, $12.99, out in October): In advance of the fall release of the film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Asbury College professor and C.S. Lewis expert has written a guide to the third novel in Lewis' series.

Lincoln's Sword by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald (Eos Books, $7.99): In this fantasy/alternate history, two people with supernatural powers work to set in motion events that eventually led to President Abraham Lincoln's death, the end of the Civil War and the preservation of the United States. Among the interesting plot points is that first lady Mary Todd Lincoln is psychic.

The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World One Correction at a Time by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson (Crown Publishers, $23.99, out Aug. 3): In the spirit of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, two grammarians make a cross-country journey to correct typos in public places. Their only correction in Kentucky: a small sign at a Newport shopping center that said "photo's" instead of "photos."

Missing Lucile: Remembering the Grandmother I Didn't Know by Suzanne Berne (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $23.95, out Oct. 12): The novelist turns her attention to her grandmother, an heir to the Cincinnati-based Kroger grocery fortune.

Nashville Chrome by Rick Bass (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, out Sept. 14): In his new novel, the acclaimed writer tells the story of the Brown siblings, international music stars in the 1950s, and what became of them later in life.