Read This!

The latest reviews and recommendations directly from your favorite Southern indie booksellers

READ THIS NOW!

Current favorites of Southern indie booksellers. [FULL LIST]

Fiction

The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule

Bazawule swiftly drops you into an immediate and tumultuous love story between Bernadette and Melvin as they escape the States seeking a fantastical refuge in 1960s Ghana. This piece is deeply heartbreaking, yet manages to hold it together through its magical storytelling. “Queen and Slim” fans will love this novel as its deep cinematic influence encourages evocative visuals and sentient understandings of the character’s interiors.

The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule, (List Price: $27, Ballantine Books, 9780593496237, June 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Girls They Write Songs About by Carlene Bauer

It’s so hard to pin down exactly how I feel about this one. Safe to say, though, to start: I loved reading every page, so there is that! I think part of what makes me feel confused is how close to the bone it could have cut given a few of the similarities between me and Rose and Charlotte. But I was never ambitious. Never really tried to make a go of it as a writer. I was never of New York or the region. Girls They Write Songs About is brilliant, deliciously wry, not afraid to proceed to its destination. It pulls zero punches. It’s mature in a way that is hard to describe. It respects its characters and the reader enough to stay the course on its own terms. And that is a little difficult to accept at times, like real life. I loved it and will have no trouble recommending it to customers. But I’m going to spend between now and June refining my elevator pitch.

Girls They Write Songs About by Carlene Bauer, (List Price: $27, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374282264, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kat Leache, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

It is just weeks after the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S. in the summer of 2015. We meet two men who grew up together in the D.C. suburbs and are at opposite ends of what it means to be a gay man at this time in American history. Both are involved in obsessive cross-generational friendships. Sebastian has a complicated relationship with one of his out and proud high school students. Oscar is spending time with a Stonewall generation novelist on the decline. Sebastian is anxious to settle down and assimilate. Oscar is infuriated by what he sees as the death of gay culture in favor of what he views as colorless banality. I loved everything about this book. It is beautifully written and full of profound insights on what happens when a formerly ostracized segment of society becomes incorporated into the general population and what that means, good and bad, for the individuals that are part of it. Stunning!

Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih, (List Price: $16.95, Algonquin Books, 9781643752075, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Nonfiction

Blood Orange Night by Melissa Bond

The deeply personal story of a journalist and young mother who is given a long-term prescription for drugs (benzodiazepines) that are meant for short time use only. Her descriptions of life as an addict are deeply personal and harrowing.

Blood Orange Night by Melissa Bond, (List Price: $27.99, Gallery Books, 9781982188276, June 2022)

Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in Memphis, Tennessee

Also a Poet by Ada Calhoun

Calhoun had a complicated relationship with her famous art critic father Peter Schjeldahl. This book started as an attempt to write a biography of poet Frank O’Hara that her father never finished. Having inherited his obsession with the poet, the author wrestles with creating a narrative with answers when obstacles (time, fire, other people) keep them hidden. I felt the frustration of her and her subjects as it infected me with its incessant whispers of almosts and near misses. Ultimately, the author gifts us with wise lessons of kindness and acceptance. An extraordinary, raw read!

Also a Poet by June Gervais, (List Price: $27, Grove Press Books, 9780802159786, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby

A searing meditation on identity and place, Boys and Oil captured my heart and opened my eyes. My husband is from North Dakota, and I thought I understood what it meant to have grown up in that state, but Taylor Brorby’s memoir showed me a different perspective. His writing on place is some of the most evocative I’ve read since Terry Tempest Williams; his love for his home state is evident despite the pain of growing up gay in a community that didn’t understand or welcome him. An important book and a must-read!

Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby, (List Price: $27.95, Liveright, 9781324090861, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Children/YA

Brave Every Day by Trudy Ludwig

A great reminder that our hearts are bigger than our worries. As adults we sometimes forget how kids struggle with big feelings they don’t always understand. This book is great to start the conversation about emotional awareness and other social emotional skills that are important for kids to be successful in school and life.

Brave Every Day by Trudy Ludwig, (List Price: $18.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780593306376, June 2022)

Reviewed by Lupe Penn, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too by Jason Reynolds

Calling this the coolest most creative young adult book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, just wow! Powerhouse Jason Reynolds teams up with longtime best friend and artist Jason Griffin to bring the most interesting memoir I’ve ever read. Originally published in 2009 as Reynolds’s first book, this tiny but mighty memoir follows the two as they chase huge aspirations in New York City. Worlds, collages, and paint splatters cover the pages rather than paragraphs and it works so perfectly. Almost like a zine nonfiction novella, and if that wasn’t a thing it is now and I want more!

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too by Jason Reynolds, (List Price: $10.99, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 9781534478220, June 2022)

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Free at Last by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

Such an important message, beautifully told in Free at Last, A Juneteenth Poem. I hope this picture book depicting such an important part of our history is shared widely in homes and schools.

Free at Last by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, (List Price: $17.99, Union Square Kids, 9781454943747, June 2022)

Reviewed by Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC

READ THIS NEXT!

This month’s Southern indie bookseller favorites. [FULL LIST]

Read This Now! and Read This Next! powered by indie booksellers and Edelweiss+

Southern Indie Bookseller Directory

Weekly Bestseller List

The Southern Book Prize

Scroll to Top