Back in my bookstore days, I bought every cookbook with the word "Southern" in it. Here are a few of my enduring favorites:
1. Southern Traditions: A Seasonal Cookbook by Margaret Agnew. The author is a former food editor for Southern Living, and it shows. This is a very pretty cookbook with lots of pictures and seasonal entertaining menus. I prefer it to the Southern Living cookbooks.
2. Charleston Receipts and Repeats by the Jr. League of Charleston. If only for the cooter soup recipe that begins "Kill cooter by chopping off head." Now, that's my kind of Jr. League! And for those of you with dirty minds, a cooter is turtle.
3. Fannie Flagg's Original Whistlestop Cafe Cookbook and Irondale Cafe Original Whistlestop Cafe Cookbook. Classic meat-and-three recipes without opening too many cans and boxes.
4. Loveless Cafe book by the Sterns is quite nice, although it's really just classic meat and three stuff. A caveat: the book doesn't contain the recipe for Loveless biscuits. And we all know that the biscuits are the reason to go to the Loveless. (A personal note: a biscuit and blackberry preserve binge at the Loveless while 6 months pregnant led to my failing a blood sugar tolerance test and being classified as gestational diabetic for the remainder of my pregnancy. It was (almost) worth it.)
5. The Blue Willow Inn is absolutely charming, but I'm not so in love with the owner's new book. Again, it's meat-and-three, but heavy on the convenience foods.
A few more Southern titles that I think are worth seeking out:
Gift of Southern Cooking by Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis. In 20 years, this will be considered the classic work explaining Southern food. Also, Craig Claiborne's Southern Food and James Villas' My Mother's Southern Table.