novel.

Which Side Are You On by Ryan Lee Wong

An October 2022 Read This Next! Title

Which Side Are You On is a dialogue-heavy book with prose that is sharp, thought-provoking, and humorous at times. The reader sees the subjects of race, policing, politics, & privilege through the eyes of a young activist as he pries into his parents’ own personal history of activism in their younger days. Filled with interesting anecdotes and hard-learned lessons, this book shows that sometimes personal growth is best attained through deep conversation and self-reflection.

Which Side Are You On by Ryan Lee Wong, (List Price: $24, Catapult, 9781646221486, October 2022)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

The Rabbit Hutch by Tessa Gunty

The Rabbit Hutch is about 18 year old Blandine Watkins, who has recently aged out of the foster care system and hopes soon to escape her earthly body like the female mystics who obsess her. It’s also about a dying Midwestern town, formerly home to an automobile manufacturer with a cultishly devoted customer base whose bankruptcy left the town in financial ruin and poisoned by toxic chemicals. And The Rabbit Hutch is also about the Rabbit Hutch, a low-income housing experiment full of residents living lives of varying degrees of quiet desperation, all of whom are brought sharply to life by Tess Gunty’s intricate, precise, dishy prose. It’s dark, but funny. It’s tragic, but affirming. And I didn’t want to skim over a single sentence, the writing is just that good. I will read anything Gunty publishes in the future.

The Rabbit Hutch by Tessa Gunty, (List Price: $28.00, Knopf, 9780593534663, August 2022)

Reviewed by Kat Leache, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Ali Hazelwood has quickly worked her way to being a favorite Romance author, for myself and many other readers. Mixing STEM, Feminism and romance is her recipe for her superb romances. Love on the Brain follows Bee, a strong willed and smart scientist as she embarks on a project partnered with NASA that just might turn her career around. An awful break-up changed the course of her career choices previously, but she is back stronger then ever about to show her stuff! However, her college nemesis Levi ends up being her partner for this project. You don’t have to be a science lover to appreciate Bee’s resilience in a male dominated career and to enjoy her nerdy, flirty, and powerful love story unfold.

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood, (List Price: $17.00, Berkley, 9780593336847,  August 2022)

Reviewed by Lillian Kay, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Hawk Mountain by Conner Habib

Hawk Mountain is a meditation on how toxic masculinity can lead to trauma and how that trauma can manifest itself into violence & horror. Additionally, Habib points to the manner in which consequences of our actions can cycle through generations as well and he does so with propulsive prose that continually ratchets up the tension with every page. This novel is pure psychological horror and it takes gaslighting to a whole new level of craziness that is tough to witness, but impossible to look away from.

Hawk Mountain by Conner Habib, (List Price: $26.95, W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393542172, July 2022)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

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

Such Big Dreams by Reema Patel

This book was beautiful. Rakhi was such a carefully crafted character with such a distinct voice. The novel has a sense of place and identity that is wholly it’s own and immensely compelling. The book speaks to poverty and voluntourism and privilege and hypocrisy while maintaining a focus on character and story. It paints upon a setting that unblinkingly presents both the beauty and the injustice of Bombay, and it presents Rakhi as she is—fiery and smart and insightful and honest. This is a perspective that needs to be heard and is so dignifying to its subject. I can’t recommend this book highly enough—I love a book that speaks honestly to the injustices of the world while completely holding its own as a literary work.

Such Big Dreams by Reema Patel, (List Price: $27, Ballantine Books, 9780593499504, April 2022)

Reviewed by Becca Sloan, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

The Golden Swift by Lev Grossman

A middle grade fantasy novel with magical trains, a magical submarine, an apartment in the sky, a missing uncle, talking animals, endangered species and rewilding? Yes, please! This series is proof that kids can learn about current day issues in novels. Not that any of us in the industry need convincing of this, but this series does it effortlessly. Brilliant! Can’t wait for more!

The Golden Swift by Lev Grossman, (List Price: $35, Little Brown and Company, 9780316283540, May 2022)

Reviewed by Jill Naylor, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Wired for Love by Stephanie Cacioppo

Wired For Love is part neuroscience and part memoir… but it is ultimately a love story between the world’s foremost authority on the brain’s response to love/loss and the world’s foremost authority on loneliness. Cacioppo includes a lot of scientific information and hard data pulled from years of her research, but she also guides the reader through her own personal story of falling in love and eventually her grief surrounding her husband’s death. She has a way of getting the reader to thoughtfully reevaluate the “common beliefs” surrounding incredibly complex (but purely human) emotions. This book is fantastic.

Wired for Love by Stephanie Cacioppo, (List Price: $28.99, Flatiron Bookss, 9781250790606, April 2022)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon from Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Listening Still by Anne Griffin

Simply beautiful! This is the story of Jeanie Masterson, who can hear the newly dead, and it is not cheesy or cliché or gimmicky; it is beautiful in its entirety. I had the pleasure of listening to an advanced copy of this, narrated by Nicola Coughlan, which only elevated my experience with this book. Kudos to Coughlan who incorporated small pauses and breaths and the sound of tears in one’s eyes, during dialogue, creating realistic-sounding conversation. The production studio’s attention to detail was on point as well, as characters who were on the other end of a phone call sounded tinny and small. Really well done!

Listening Still by Anne Griffin, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250200617, March 2022)

Reviewed by Jill Naylor, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Bird Brother by Rodney Stotts

Bird Brother is the fascinating journey of Rodney Stotts from growing up in the projects of Southeast DC to becoming a conservationist. inner-city youth mentor, and one of the few Black master falconers in the U.S. The book is written in a conversational style, and though reading his history can be emotional/difficult at times, it’s easy to see that his love for nature is the reason that he’s alive today. He’s also very honest about his mistakes, his perseverance in avian education/rehabilitation, and the obstacles that he overcame with the help of his friends & family. Most importantly, he champions the responsibility that we humans have as caretakers of the nature/wildlife around us… and in his own words, to serve something bigger than ourselves.

Bird Brother by Rodney Stotts, (List Price: $26.00, Island Press, 9781642831740, February 2022)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee


Catch the Sparrow by Rachel Rear

Catch The Sparrow is a puzzle of a true crime story as Rachel Rear investigates the mysterious disappearance of her stepsister twenty years ago. Through her research, Rear finds that there are more than a couple of people in her sister’s life who could have had a motive in her murder. And as she digs deeper into the police investigation surrounding the case, she also uncovers glaring oversights and corruption within the local police department as well as the legal system in and around Rochester, NY. Every chapter pulls a new fascinating thread and eventually leads the author to the chilling truth, offering her and her family the closure that they’ve always sought.

Catch the Sparrow by Rachel Rear, (List Price: $27.00, 9781635577235, February 2022)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, .novel in Memphis, Tennessee

All I Want by Darcey Bell

I thought I had this all figured out until the very last page, (that I had to reread several times, mind you), which then made me rethink the entire novel! Now, that’s the sign of a good book. I am still thinking about Emma and Ben and their country mansion…and whose truth I should believe. A compulsive read!

All I Want by Darcey Bell, (List Price: $17.00, Atria/Emily Bestler Books, 9781982177270, January 2022)

Reviewed by Jill Naylor, .novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen

LOVE! It’s no small feat to write a 60- page book so immersive that you can read it in a weekend and still feel extremely depressed when you come to the end, like, “That’s all?” C’mon, book two!!

Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen, (List Price: $30.00, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374181178, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kat Leache, novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Shelf Life by Nadia Wassef

Blame it on naivete or my newbie bookseller status, but I did not realize that, culturally, bookselling can vary drastically from country to country, but it can and it does, and thanks to Nadia Wassef, we get to hear first hand how three women got a wildly successful independent bookstore off the ground in Cairo, Egypt, when societal norms suggested that women weren’t meant to open small businesses. A remarkable story!

Shelf Life by Nadia Wassef, (List Price: $27, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374600181, October 2021)

Reviewed by Jill Naylor, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee


On Animals by Susan Orlean

On Animals is absolutely hilarious at times and a little heartbreaking at times, but it is mainly filled with love for animals of all kinds. It’s a collection of several of Orlean’s articles that were written for The New Yorker and Smithsonian magazine over the last few decades. She covers backyard chickens, racing pigeons, Moroccan donkeys, and even a real-life Lion Whisperer. If you enjoy animals and conservation, you’ll highly enjoy this love letter to the natural world.

On Animals by Susan Orlean, (List Price: $28, Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster, 9781982181536, October 2021)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee


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