As I was driving to work this morning and listening to NPR, WUNC‘s Leoneda Inge was reporting from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where locals are eager to draw more visitors now. (Forget what I said before about it being too late to plan a trip! It’s not too late!) The economies of beach communities depend on a thriving summer tourist season to sustain them through the quieter winter months. We’re all feeling the squeeze of a tightening economy. If you thought you couldn’t afford a vacation this summer, the Outer Banks may be more within reach than you think. SouthernLiving.com gives the Outer Banks the #1 spot in their list of Top 10 Budget Getaways.
There are tons of things to do on an Outer Banks trip – and many of them are free. There are also plenty of bookshops where you can go fill your Beach Book Grab Bag! UNC Press has published armloads of books about the Outer Banks – so many that I’m going to have to save some of them for later posts. But here’s a hefty helping to get you started:
- The Outer Banks of North Carolina, by David Stick – You may recall I introduced David Stick in a previous week’s post on pirate and shipwreck books. As Roy Parker Jr. has said, “David Stick has more Outer Banks sand in his shoes than anyone.” This classic history of the Outer Banks has been in print for decades and remains one of our best sellers. It covers five centuries of the place and its people, from the first English colony in the New World to the Revolution, the Civil War, and today.
- Seasoned by Salt: A Historical Album of the Outer Banks, by Rodney Barfield – Barfield has assembled more than 150 historic photographs and drawings depicting life on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Focusing on the early nineteenth century but also including images from other periods, the book is a visual portrait of Banks history and the people who lived it. The photographs are accompanied by substantive captions and a detailed introductory text.
- First to Fly: North Carolina and the Beginnings of Aviation, by Thomas C. Parramore – Visit the site where the Wright brothers‘ first powered flight lifted off the ground at Kill Devil Hill. Read about it in First to Fly. Endorsed by the First Flight Centennial Commission, First to Fly offers a fascinating account of North Carolina’s significant contributions to the early history of aviation. North Carolinians were on the cutting edge of aviation technology well before Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first powered flight. They furnished critical assistance to the Wright brothers, produced some of the most notable airmen and women of the early 1900s, and provided hundreds of pilots for World War I.
- Taffy of Torpedo Junction, by Nell Wise Wechter – For younger readers (ages 8 to 14). A classic in juvenile literature first published in 1957, this is the story of thirteen-year-old Taffy Willis, who – with the help of her pony and dog – exposes a ring of Nazi spies operating from a secluded house on Hatteras Island during World War II. The book portrays dramatic wartime events on the Outer Banks, where German U-boats turned the area around Cape Hatteras into “Torpedo Junction” by sinking more than 60 American vessels in six months in 1942.
- An Outer Banks Reader, selected and edited by David Stick – This anthology collects the most captivating and best-written examples of what people have said about the Outer Banks, from the first known record of a meeting between Europeans and Native Americans in the region in 1524 to modern-day accounts of life on the Outer Banks. Sixty-four selections include pieces by explorer John Lawson, Wilber & Orville Wright, John Dos Passos, and Carl Sandburg.
- Ribbon of Sand: The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean and the Outer Banks, by John Alexander and James Lazell – For a natural history of the Outer Banks, turn to Ribbon of Sand. A preface discusses recent developments on the Banks, including the discovery and excavation of a wreck believed to be Blackbeard’s ship and the continuing threat of offshore oil drilling. Throughout the book the authors reveal the controversies, natural wonders, and fascinating legends that make the Outer Banks one of the nation’s most beloved treasures.
That’s all for this week. Next week we’ll delve into some creative nonfiction beach reads. Same bat time, same bat channel. (Yes, I’m sort of looking forward to the new Batman movie, which opens tomorrow!)