Fall 2021 Read This Next!

A seasonal list of the favorite books of Southern indie booksellers, for your reading pleasure!
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Read This Next!

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

This tiny gem is destined to be a Christmas classic. Think in terms O’Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. Alice Munro and Raymond Carver also come to mind. Based on actual events in Irish history only recently brought to light, the story follows Bill Furlong, a coal merchant, husband, and father to five daughters, and his discovery of a coverup by the church. The town is largely controlled by the church in this 1985 setting, but he still risks his livelihood, reputation, and marriage to right a wrong. Readers who enjoy stories of characters confronting their pasts, embracing hope, and being quiet heroes will find much to love here. When I first read it I thought: “good story”. But I have picked it up over and over again, read and reread it, marveling at its depth charge emotional impact.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, (List Price: $20, Grove Press, 9780802158741, November 2021)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA


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Tidesong by Wendy Xu

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Xu’s beautiful artwork in combination with such strong storytelling makes for an enchanting graphic novel. Sophie’s struggles with her inner thoughts reflect much of my own as a child, making this read all the more special. I can see this story so clearly in my mind’s eye as a Studio Ghibli film – it provides such similar comfort in small things, the beauty of nature, and how two young people can have such a central impact on each other. This graphic novel is certainly a favorite for this year.

Tidesong by Wendy Xu, (List Price: 12.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780062955791, November 2021)

Reviewed by Grace Quinn from Foggy Pine Books in Boone, NC


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Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

I enjoyed every word in these brilliantly-written stories. Each story offered warm and immersive portraits of real, layered characters. Original, literary, human, and peppered with heart wrenching, high-stakes moments that jolt the reader’s emotions in the best way possible. A wonderful collection.

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King, (List Price: 27, Grove Press, 9780802158765, November 2021)

Reviewed by Melissa Summers from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC


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Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Anne Wynter

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

An enchanting debut by author Anne Wynter with vivid illustrations by the incomparable Oge Mora (Saturday) that fairly leap of the page, Everybody in the Red Brick Building is fabulous! An engaging, story with lyrical language and wonderful sounds to mimic, we will want to live in the red brick building. We won’t get much sleep, but we will have a whole lot of fun! A joy to read for the whole family.

Everybody in the Red Brick Building by Anne Wynter, (List Price: $17.99, Balzer + Bray, 9780062865762, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kathy Neff from Square Books in Oxford, MS

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The River Has Teeth by Erica Waters

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Well. That was nuts. Khaw threw together a fast-paced ghost story, the bitter lyricism of her writing conveying the complexity of feelings when you have History with someone, as well as the surreal when an offended ghost decides it’s making an example out of you.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw, (List Price: $19.99, Tor Nightfire, 9781250759412, October 2021)

Reviewed by Alex Mcleod, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

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Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

A great plot that incorporates family, lifelong friendship, betrayal, and the specter of 9/11. Avery seems like an all-American girl who has achieved her dream job. She is the new anchor for a well-received news/life show. It appears she has an amazing life. And she does, unfortunately much of it is in a deeply buried past. Walt is an unwilling retired FBI agent who has hidden away from life in the remote area of Jamaica. Their lives collide when Walt’s early career intersects with Avery’s current career. The plot is deep with several sub-plots that keep you guessing about how it will all come together. The ending is very unexpected on several fronts. Any good crime and mystery fan will enjoy this book.


Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea, (List Price: $27, Kensington, 9781496727169, December 2021)

Reviewed by Jackie Willey, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

 

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Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood

A Fall Read This Next! Selection I was already a fan of the series at the first book but this second really sold me on it. Great character development and originality make for a fun read. Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood, (List Price: $27, Doubleday, 9780385547123, December 2021) Reviewed by Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Ellice Littlejohn is a Black corporate attorney who is promoted after her white boss and lover dies violently, by his own hand or someone else’s? She has secrets, but so do her coworkers. This fast-paced legal thriller hooked me from page one. I so enjoyed having a kick-ass protagonist in a legal thriller which also touches on the challenges of Black women in the male dominated corporate law firm environment. Definitely a book for fans of Stacey Abrams and Laura Lippman.

All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris, (List Price: $16.99, William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780063082465, November 2021)

Reviewed by Lia Lent, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas


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The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

I don’t know that I’ve ever come across a book more satisfying to my inner-misanthrope than The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven. Anyone who constantly longs for quiet, feels prickly in an overcrowded space, loves the idea of unfettered alone time: this book is for you. Set in the early twentieth century, The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven follows a man who literally goes to the edge of the earth and settles in the Arctic with a loyal dog as his only companion. Nathaniel Ian Miller has written a novel that, in showing us extreme isolation, reminds us how vital our bonds to this world are. I adored it.

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller, (List Price: 28, Little, Brown and Company, 9780316592550, October 2021)

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books in Nashville, North Carolina


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Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Jumping off from a mention in a 1946 essay by George Orwell about fruit trees and roses he had planted ten years earlier, Solnit begins a meandering path through a garden of antifascism, art, and the ways in which they intertwined in Orwell’s life. In the span of about 270 pages, coal mining and climate change, mass rose production in Columbia and the invisibility of capitalism’s machinations, Orwell’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War, and his ancestral connection to the slave trade are all explored deftly and, in the ususal Solnit style, with lines beautifully drawn to our current condition. Whether you are deeply interested in Orwell and his milieu or just a fan of Solnit’s incisive writing, you will find this biography/essay collection bears flowers scented with hope, resistance, and pleasure.

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit, (List Price: $28, Viking, 9780593083369, October 2021)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


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The Boys by Ron Howard

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

The Boys felt like you were listening in at an extended family reunion of the Howards as Ron and Clint held court, retelling some of their favorite family anecdotes from years gone by, occasionally interruping each other with interjections and sometimes just telling the same story from the other lens. I could not put it down, but now I have an enormous list of classics to rewatch and bit parts (and B-movies) to look up and cameos to watch for.


The Boys by Ron Howard, (List Price: $28.99, William Morrow, 9780063065246, October 2021)

Reviewed by Lisa Yee Swope, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

 

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Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

When you are growing up, the world can seem to change around you in shocking ways. Things you have taken for granted are often turned on their head and ideas and beliefs to which you have always held unquestioning faith sometimes leave you wondering what you do really believe. New York Times bestselling author Gayle Foreman makes her middle grade debut with the story of Frankie and Bug and the challenges and difficulties they face during the summer the world opens up for them.

Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman, (List Price: $17.99, Aladdin, 9781534482531, October 2021)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

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Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Chibundu Onuzo’s Sankofa is the story of Anna, an African British woman who never knew her father. Anna discovers clues to her African father’s identity only after her mother dies. This is fortuitous. What follows as Anna acknowledges and accepts her father, a man with a vast reputation and many secrets, is the healing and melding of Anna’s two identities and a new beginning. A master storyteller, Onuzo’s third novel is an epic story of belonging and identity.

Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo, (List Price: $26, Catapult, 9781646220830, October 2021)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

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A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

If you like a fast-paced, unapologetically feminist, unabashedly nerdy, deliciously inventive read that sucks you into a fever dream of fun, then you must pick up this book. Author Alix E. Harrow has not only turned the dying girl trope on its head, but also answered the question “What if you Spiderverse’d Grimm’s Fairy Tales?” And the answer is: lot’s of fun, a good dose of mind-being physics, and a dash of fairy tale logic. Taking probably one of the most overlooked fairytales, Sleeping Beauty, and ripping it inside out, tossing it upside down, and creating all new rules in a world that is both high stakes and beautiful, Harrow has created a spell-binding world that you’ll anxiously avoid leaving as you rush towards this perfect novella’s end.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow, (List Price: $17.99, Tordotcom, 9781250765352, October 2021)

Reviewed by Christen Thompson, Itinerant Literate Books in North Charleston, South Carolina

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Fight Night by Miriam Toews

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

Fight Night brings it. Every corner of human emotion is nudged, awakened, revealed. Nine year old Swiv and her Grandma are comrades and confidantes. While Swiv’s pregnant mother hustles back and forth between home and her faltering acting career, Grandma helps Swiv make sense of the world and their place in it, through vivid, sometimes bawdy, sometimes heartbreaking stories of her past. This novel is a reminder of the full potential of a book to connect us to our humanity and to inspire us to fight another day.

Fight Night by Miriam Toews, (List Price: $24, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635578171, October 2021)

Reviewed by Candice Anderson from Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg, FL

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