The Southern Bookseller Review 1/31/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of January 31, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of January 31, 2023

Last chance to vote for The Southern Book Prize!

Last Chance to Vote for the 2023 Southern Book Prize

The Ballot for the 2023 Southern Book Prize closes at midnight on February 1st, so readers still have a chance to weigh in on which books they think deserve to be called "the Best Southern Book of the Year." Votes have been pouring in all week, and if this were a televised election night, we would be saying that results are still "too close to call!"

Take a few moments to make your opinion known. Vote at

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery


If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery
MCD / September 2022

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

Southern Book Prize Finalist

Jonathan Escoffery’s debut If I Survive You chronicles an American immigration story full of hope, heartbreak, promises broken, and most importantly the constant struggle. Told in interconnected stories, If I Survive You addresses class, race, and economic disparity but is also funny. Mark my words, Escoffery is a rising literary star.


Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Problem with Prophecies by Scott Reintgen


The Problem with Prophecies by Scott Reintgen
Aladdin / May 2022

More Reviews from Little Shop of Stories

Southern Book Prize Finalist

When Celia Cleary “comes of age” in her magical family, she inherits a gift for prophecy–and all the problems that come with it. While The Problem with Prophecies raises questions about fate, free will, and magic, it is at its core a sweet story about family, friendship, and first crushes. Scott Reintgen writes insightfully about the liminal space between childhood and adolescence.


Reviewed by Heather Jeziorowski from Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Georgia

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

More Than Meets the Eye by Iris Johansen


More Than Meets the Eye by Iris Johansen
Grand Central Publishing / February 2023

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

Iris and Roy Johansen are prolific authors whose works remain fresh and engaging. Kendra Michaels is a very unique character. Blind until she was twenty and had a novel operation to restore her sight, she really wants to focus on her music therapy practice. However, her finely tuned senses make her incredibly useful to the FBI. Her morals and care for others make it hard for her to refuse when asked to consult on cases. This one is particularly heinous, a serial killer has agreed to reveal the location of one his victims. As the grave is excavated and a large crew looks on an explosive device is activated. Kendra can’t say no when asked to help untangle this twisted rope of evil.

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

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Big Swiss by Jen Beagin


Jen Beagin, photo credit Franco Vogt

I’d never done manual labor before, and I remember my hands aching in the middle of the night. I was also useless without sugar, caffeine, and nicotine. I needed all three, all the time. The women I worked with ate apples for breakfast. Apples. It was baffling. They were always offering me fruit, and I was like, Get away from me with your disgusting bananas. They drank tea and didn’t smoke. They swept mindfully. They appreciated the meditative aspects of cleaning. They could clean three houses and still go to the gym and out to dinner. I showed up with donuts, and then ate all the donuts.” ―Jen Beagin, Interview, Bloom

What booksellers are saying about Big Swiss

Big Swiss by Jen Beagin
  • Big Swiss is the sort of strange and beautiful novel that you have to read to believe. It’s utterly shocking, absolutely hysterical, and beautifully cynical. Honestly, it was unlike anything else I’ve ever read. I laughed out loud on every other page, rolled my eyes at the pervasive hipster things Big Swiss pokes fun at, and thoroughly enjoyed the quirky atmosphere. However funny and entertaining, though, know that Big Swiss is also an intimate and often disturbing portrait of mental illness, infidelity, and trauma. It’s a close encounter with human damage and nothing is off limits.
      ―Emily Lessig from The Violet Fox Bookshop in Virginia Beach, VA | Buy from The Violet Fox

  • I knew this book was going to be for me when the blurb said it was for fans of Killing Eve and it really didn’t disappoint! The feeling of slowly watching a train wreck happen was prevalent as Greta made the absolute worst decisions she could, but that’s what made this enjoyable. Greta is super flawed and unreliable but that’s what it makes her feel so human.
      ―Ndobe Foletia from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books

  • Brilliant, acerbic, and vulnerable in its hilarity, this bonkers narrative is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Greta is obsessed with Big Swiss, Big Swiss is obsessed with Greta. They probably hate each other, they probably hate parts of themselves that the other adores. It’s all so ridiculous and sexy. There’s immense violence and sadness, but so many off kilter details that make you feel like all of its real and nothing is real at the same time. Which makes it the perfect book. It’s like a reality built on fantasy but the foundations are wearing thin so you can see all the swirling and neon madness underneath.
      ―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

  • One might call her an eavesdropper, but that wouldn’t entirely be accurate as Greta is actually being paid to transcribe the sex therapy sessions she is listening to. After devouring this clever, darkly hilarious romp, you’ll feel a bit of a voyeur yourself, but boy, will you be glad you peeked between the covers of this gem.
      ―Angie Tally from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC | Buy from The Country Bookshop

About Jen Beagin

Jen Beagin holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine, and is a recipient of a Whiting Award in fiction. Her first novel Pretend I’m Dead was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and Vacuum in the Dark was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction. She is also the author of Big Swiss. She lives in Hudson, New York.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett


Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
Del Rey / January 2023

More Reviews from Eagle Eye Book Shop

This book is such an unexpected delight! It’s told in an epistolary style- journal entries, with you, the reader, being an outside observer to events that have already happened. However, Heather Fawcett’s style of writing is such that it seamlessly blends with the narrative and you forget entirely that you’re reading a journal! It’s cozy, heart-warming, absolutely page-turning, and will leave you both satisfied and wanting more. It’s unique, enchanting, and one of my favorite reads of this year, perfect for anyone who loves fantasy and especially the fae!

Reviewed by Preet Singh, Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur, Georgia

Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder


Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidder
Random House / January 2023

More Reviews from McIntyre’s Books

I’ve read almost everything Tracy Kidder has written and was inspired, again, by Rough Sleepers. For five years, Kidder followed Dr. O’Connell, who’s been providing compassionate, respectful healthcare to the homeless in Boston for decades. Rough Sleepers brings tough statistics to vivid life and shines light on a complex and often overwhelming subject.

Reviewed by Sarah Goddin, McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina

Planning Perfect by Haley Neil


Planning Perfect by Haley Neil
Bloomsbury YA / February 2023

More Reviews from Bookmiser

This sweet romcom about a girl on the asexual spectrum who tries to plan her mom’s location wedding in Vermont without spiraling out will be just what you’re looking for as a wonderful summer read. Felicity has had a rough time of it. After the incident last year, she’s trying to get back on track with a prime position at her favorite school club. But when her mom gets engaged, she throws all her energy into planning the perfect wedding. And maybe she can connect more with a friend from the summer that she may or may not have a crush on!

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad


The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad
Bloomsbury YA / February 2023

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

So often, when people are asked what they would wish for, they reply “World Peace.” In The Kindest Red, Faizah wishes for “World Kindness,” and isn’t that really the first step to world peace? This simple picture book with a big message is just perfect for families or classrooms looking to celebrate diversity and personal responsibility.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson


The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson
 Simon & Schuster / February 2023

Adult FictionHistorical
More Reviews from The Little Bookshop

An February 2023 Read This Next! Title

Set in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson is a wonderful historical fiction novel that tells the story of two young women who are working hard to achieve their dreams. 15 year old Ruby lives in Philadelphia. She wants to be a doctor but is struggling to make ends meet while living with her aunt. A secret love affair forces an impossible choice upon her. Eleanor is a student at Howard University in D.C. and struggling to pay her tuition when she meets a handsome young man who brings her into an elite world of wealth and privilege. What will she do to fit in and stay in? This novel pulls you in from the first page and doesn’t let go until the very end. Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

How to Sell a Haunted House Rough Sleepers Daisy Jones & the Six
The January 6th Report Very Good Hats

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Books are everywhere; and always the same sense of adventure fills us. Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.”
– Virginia Woolf, Street Haunting

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance /
Editor: Nicki Leone /
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett /
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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