The Southerner’s Handbook: A Guide to Living the Good Life

In many ways, The Southerner’s Handbook: A Guide to Living the Good Life reminds me of Conn and Hal Iggulden’s The Dangerous Book for Boys—both are fun collections of essays and activities, which aren’t strictly limited to the titular audience. This collection of more than 100 essays—curated by the editors of Garden & Gun magazine—sets about dissecting a Southerner’s good life. The short entries offer insight into a variety of topics—from hosting a dinner party to alligator wrestling—and bounce between practical knowledge and storytelling, each piece dripping with Southern charm and humor. The collection doubles as a travel, etiquette, fashion and culinary guide but avoids the hotel and restaurant ratings, while still providing a few obligatory recipes for iconic menu items such as fried chicken and sweet tea. Instead, through personal stories and historical anecdotes, the authors cover topics that include: breaking in cowboy boots; dealing with game wardens; “The Art of Goodbye”; and polishing silver. By the end, the slowly forming collage of ideas and views begins to reveal shared experiences of a culture heavily influenced by social interaction, the land and traditions. It’s a delightful look through someone else’s eyes, even if you never have cause to stare down an alligator.