The Southern Bookseller Review 10/4/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of October 4, 2022

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The week of October 4, 2022

Support Florida’s independent bookstores.

Mr. Brady, MacIntosh Books in Sanibel, Florida Photo Credit MacIntosh Books When The Southern Bookseller Review went out last week, Hurricane Ian was just making landfall in Fort Myers, Florida. Now, a week later, the scale of the devastation left by the storm has staggered and horrified the all of us.

The "Southern" in the name of "The Southern Bookseller Review" is not just a word. SBR is very much a "southern" publication, born from and nurtured by the southern literary community. SBR counts many, many Floridians among its readership, and many Florida booksellers and bookstores among its reviewers. There are about fifty Florida independent bookstores listed in The SBR Bookseller Directory, some located right in the path of the hurricane. Over the past week SBR’s parent organization, the Southern Booksellers Alliance, has been reaching out to each of them to make sure their shops and their staff were alright.

"Fortunately, we’re fine." Rona Brinlee of The Bookmark in Neptune Beach reported. "We were very lucky. Seems there was a storm surge in our area, but we had sandbags by the front door–they were soaked and there was a water line 3+ inches up the door. Again, very lucky."

Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, close to Fort Myers, was able to post to their Facebook page that their store and staff were all okay:

"This storm was life-altering for so many of us. Even if you ‘just’ had some property damage, even if you evacuated and didn’t feel Ian’s brutality, you have been and will continue to be affected. We’re all now connected by this unprecedented experience."

The bookstores on Sanibel Island faced the full force of the storm’s destruction. Owners and staff of evacuated ahead of Ian’s arrival, and still have been unable to return to assess the damage. "Our entire staff are safe and off the island," Gene’s Books posted to their Facebook page, "but we are all reeling from the devastation."

Gene's Books, photo credit Gene's Books

Before they evacuated, they took a picture of their store.

MacIntosh Books + Paper also reported that owners and staff were safely evacuated, including Mr. Brady, the beloved and rather famous store cat. In an emotional post right after she left the island, store owner Rebecca Binkowski admitted that "there may not be anything to go back to," but she went on to say in response to the many, many people who had reached out to her, "I feel so fortunate to have all of you in my life, for the relationships that we’ve built, and to know what MacIntosh means to you. MacIntosh means a lot to me too, and we will continue in some way…we’ll figure it out." Binkowski has created a fundraising campaign to help with what will be either a rebuilding or a relocation of the store.

We often talk about independent bookstores as the "soul" of their communities, and never has that been more evident than in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. Here is how you can help:

1. Buy books from Florida bookstores. Even if their doors are still closed, their websites are not. Visit the Bookstore directory for a list of Florida bookstores with links to store sites. Orders are still being filled online.

2. Donate to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc). Binc is the only nonprofit in the country dedicated to assisting booksellers and comic shop employees in need, and provides assistance to employees and shop owners who have a demonstrated financial need arising from severe hardship and/or emergency circumstances.


Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro


or get the audiobook

Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro
Knopf / October 2022

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

The story of family and how lives intersect over time, Signal Fires is a quiet portrait of neighbors who lived near a 500-year-old oak tree during a large chunk of their lives. How those in the two families live and people chose to intersect or not to, choose to acknowledge weakness or tragedy- or do not- as they move through lives stages and across the country are central to this novel.

Reviewed by Kimberly Daniels, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Which Side Are You On? by Ryan Lee Wong


Ryan Lee Wong Photo Credit Beowulf Sheehan

More and more I believe that in the face of a political situation or in the face of an emergency, you have to ask the questions, ‘Which side are you on? Where do I stand in relation to this?’And at the exact same time, ultimately, there are no sides.” ―Ryan Lee Wong, Interview, Los Angeles Times

What booksellers are saying about Which Side Are You On?

Which Side Are You On? by Ryan Lee Wong
  • A son returns home to LA for his grandmother’s last few days, and opens up to learn of his parents’ history as activists. He compares his own experiences with theirs as he struggles to figure out his future as a college student and self-proclaimed radical. Perfect for this moment, when so many of us are studying history to blaze new trails forward. I found this book very thought-provoking, and the family’s story refreshing.
      ―Alissa Redmond from South Main Book Co. in Salisbury, North Carolin | Buy from South Main Book Co.

  • Ryan Lee Wong packed so much into fewer than 200 pages! I loved the story of his family and how everything was revealed to him. I walked away still thinking of how Reed, the protagonist, learned that we have to allow stories to change us, not just to reinforce our own opinions. As someone who also lived in Los Angeles, I could envision exact places the author was describing; this also felt like a love story to his hometown.  ―Amber Taylor from One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia | Buy from One More Page

  • Ryan Lee Wong’s debut Which Side Are You On is something special. This is a serious book with funny moments that centers around a young college student’s relationship with his mom. Reed is a young Asian American activist working to confront racism in America but he’s been shielded from the roles his parents played in the Korean-Black coalition in L.A. When he comes home from college in a life crisis, Reed’s mother pushes him to truly examine what he is doing to change the world.  ―Rachel Watkins from Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia | Buy from Avid Bookshop

About Ryan Lee Wong

Ryan Lee Wong was born and raised in Los Angeles, lived for two years at Ancestral Heart Zen Temple, and currently lives in Brooklyn, where he is the administrative director of Brooklyn Zen Center. Previously, he served as program director for the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and managing director of Kundiman. He has organized exhibitions and written extensively on the Asian American movements of the 1970s. He holds an MFA in fiction from Rutgers University–Newark. Which Side Are You On is his first book.

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez


or get the audiobook

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Penguin Random House / April 2022

More Reviews from 44th and 3rd Bookseller

I loved the characters in this book especially Civil Townsend. She was my hero! I remember reading about the true story this book is based on and feeling what a tragedy that something like this could happen. This story brought to life the real-life trauma of the two young girls the story is based on. I loved the way Civil championed their cause, and I felt her pain when things would go sideways. I recommend reading this book to anyone who is interested in justice.

Reviewed by Cheryl Lafaye Lee, 44th & 3rd Bookseller in Atlanta, Georgia

Boldly Go by William Shatner, Joshua Brandon


or get the audiobook

Boldly Go by William Shatner, Joshua Brandon
Atria Books / October 2022

More Reviews from Main Street Books

I love William Shatner but for reasons other than his literary talents. Which he has! This memoir is adorable. He’s got a David Attenborough save the planet kind of vibe, with like, a grandpa who can’t use Zoom twist. You’ll read this in an afternoon. His incredulity and his sense of wonder is infectious, although there’s only so far the reader can go before they hit their head on the Successful Elderly White Man Door. A short, sweet read. He’s just so ridiculous and wonderful.

Reviewed by Aimee Keeble, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze


or get the audiobook

The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glazeaze
Union Square & Co. / October 2022

More Reviews from The Haunted Book Shop

When I say I inhaled this book…Edie and Violet are twins. And mediums like their mother was. When they were forced between being institutionalized in an 1880s asylum and leaving in the dead of the night, they of course chose to run. And they joined a traveling Spiritualist show—a group of women who buck the oppressive treatment of females (which unfortunately we’re feeling again ??) by hiding their real talents (like oration, doctoring, etc) under the pretense of trances where they commune with spirits. The turn-of-the-century Spiritualism movement has always been a fascination of mine and the sister bond between Edie and Violet is wonderful. Sometimes I wanted to shake some sense into Edie when she treats Violet more like a little sister but of course that added to the suspense & tension. The romance between Edie and Laws was perfect. It didn’t take over the story nor read weird with the feminist vibes.

Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

I am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges


or get the audiobook

I am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges
Orchard Books / September 2022

More Reviews from My Sister’s Books

Elementary school. Ruby tells her story, as she experienced it, when she was just six years old. Adapted for the youngest readers, this edition has beautiful illustrations that demonstrate Ruby’s words. There is a glossary to help children learn key terms. For older readers, the author and illustrator have included their own personal notes of what inspired this version. This is an excellent book to help encourage family discussions about America’s history of education. This is a children’s book. It is told from the eyes of a child. It is illustrated showing the world through a child’s eye. It is beautiful! I loved Ruby’s sass, especially when it came to her very old name. I loved her innocence and her spunk. She is, indeed, Ruby Bridges, the First!

Reviewed by Nicole McManus, My Sister’s Books in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina

Issunboshi by Ryan Lang


Issunboshi by Ryan Lang
Oni Press / October 2022

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

“You don’t need to be a hero to take a stand against evil and fight for good in this world, that is how you become one.” This quote from the graphic novel embodies this story to perfection. The story is gripping and the art work is drawn to perfection. This graphic novel is perfect for any Japanese Manga or Anime fan. When the world began the gods sent down then heavenly spear to create the world. After the land was created, the gods separated the spear into parts. Three belonged to the earth: the trees, the flowers, and the stone. The fourth part is the spirit of the spear, the essence of life itself, stayed in the air. When a great mountain ogre, the Oni, accidentally discovers one of the three earthly pieces of the spear, he becomes obsessed to gain the power of the spear, and release the world of the dead. The only hope for the world is the spirit of the spear. To save the world and stop the Oni, he comes to earth to a lonely couple beseeching the gods for a son. The only challenge is that he is no bigger than your thumb. How can someone so small defeat a powerful Oni? It will take courage, training, and friends.

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Which Side Are You On by Ryan Lee Wong


or get the audiobook

Which Side Are You On by Ryan Lee Wong
 Catapult / October 2022

More Reviews from Novel

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.

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Fairy Tale Starry Messenger Sentence
This is Your Mind on Plants The Weight of Blood

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“I do things like get in a taxi and say, "The library, and step on it.”
– David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

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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