Beautiful Mural at Circle City Books

Warm weather and sun in North Carolina brought the completion of the Circle City Books wall mural last week. Onlookers and photographers were a constant presence as the final strokes were applied by artists Bailey Friedman (Number One Daughter) and her friend Emily Kerscher. Then, off into the sunset rode Bailey, jet-bound to New Zealand, for an indefinite adventure of indeterminate duration. But what she and Emily left behind was a sensation that scarcely goes an hour without being remarked upon by another newcomer who is just astonished to see such a sight in Pittsboro.

book mural in Pittsboro
The Great Book Mural in Pittsboro

Though the mural is finished, I’ve conceived of a plan to extend the process (some might say drag it out) for several more months. With an eye toward the good opinion of the community, and because I think I can still squeeze a couple more books onto the wall, I have determined to hold a contest to elect an additional two or three titles to be added this summer. They will be placed horizontally across the top of some of the existing books. My proposal is to allow visitors to the store to nominate up to three titles each, and after a several months of voting, paint the new books on the wall in June. It will be especially interesting to me to see if the choices favor local authors or nationally known authors.

As of now, 48 books are depicted on the wall. Some represent writers of world-wide renown, some local talents who aspire to such stature. But all are books to which, by including them, I intended to pay homage. Several local writers have asked (some indirectly) to have their books added to the wall. I hadn’t calculated the impressive number of writers we have in the area, but once I began the process of building the list, it became clear that the choices I made would likely have repercussions that aren’t entirely positive. No matter how much reading you do, you can’t read every good book, and even though I am keenly interested in local writers, there are some good ones that I still haven’t encountered. And, of course, there are a few not so good. More than anything else, the wall reflects my bookshelf at home. In addition to many works of fiction, I’ve included some poetry, drama, history, science and sociology; there are books from every decade of the 20th century. Nearly every book was either written in North Carolina, or by a North Carolinian. The one obvious exception is “Light in August”, but in my thinking, all Southern writers owe to Faulkner at least some small part of their voice.


Let me present here for the first time in print, the entire roster:

  1. The Lost Colony – Paul Green
  2. Only in America – Harry Golden
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal – William Leuchtenburg
  4. Look Homeward, Angel – Thomas Wolfe
  5. From Slavery to Freedom – John Hope Franklin
  6. Raney – Clyde Edgerton
  7. Big Fish – Daniel Wallace
  8. Beasts of the Southern Wild – Doris Betts
  9. The Hope of Liberty – John Moses Horton
  10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  11. Tantalus in Love – Alan Shapiro
  12. Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier
  13. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
  14. Light in August – William Faulkner
  15. A Gallery of Southerners – Louis Rubin
  16. With the Lightnings – David Drake
  17. The Light in the Piazza – Elizabeth Spencer
  18. Woodrow’s Trumpet – Tim McLaurin
  19. Gather at the River – Hal Crowther
  20. Children of Heaven – Roxanne Henderson
  21. Old Southern Apples – Lee Calhoun
  22. Lusty Wind for Carolina – Inglis Fletcher
  23. Silk Hope, N.C. – Laurence Naumoff
  24. Bootlegger’s Daughter – Margaret Maron
  25. Literary North Carolina – Richard Walser
  26. Accidental Birds of North Carolina – Marjorie Hudson
  27. Kate Vaiden – Reynolds Price
  28. Biodiesel Power – Lyle Estill
  29. Proud Shoes – Pauli Murray
  30. Dagon – Fred Chappell
  31. Oldest Living Confederate Woman Tells All – Alan Gurganus
  32. The Conjure Woman – Charles Chesnutt
  33. They Called Him Stonewall – Burke Davis
  34. Debby – Max Steele
  35. The Parchman Hour – Mike Wiley
  36. The Four Million – O. Henry
  37. Clash of Angels – Jonathan Worth Daniels
  38. Blood Done Sign My Name – Timothy Tyson
  39. The Mind of the South – Wilbur J. Cash
  40. Oral History – Lee Smith
  41. Still Valley – Manly Wade Wellman
  42. Dragonbreath – Ursula Vernon
  43. Literary Trails of North Carolina – Georgann Eubanks
  44. The Cheerleader – Jill McCorkle
  45. Ellen Foster – Kaye Gibbons
  46. Winter People – John Ehle
  47. Seeking the Hook – Lou Lipsitz
  48. Mural Painting – Friedman and Kerscher


I won’t expound on every title here, but a few comments might be useful for readers outside of the South. Paul Green’s outdoor symphonic drama, “The Lost Colony” (1937), has been in almost constant summer performance near Manteo, N. C., for nearly 75 years. “The Hope of Liberty,” by George Moses Horton (he lived about five miles from the store) was the first book published (1829) by a Black writer in the South. “Clash of Angels” was Jonathan Worth Daniels’ first book, written (1930) before he was to spend two generations as the progressive editor of the Raleigh News and Observer. “Still Valley” was the title Rod Serling gave a short story by Manly Wade Wellman that was used as a episode of the Twilight Zone (1961).

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