The Southern Bookseller Review 11/30/21

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of November 23, 2021

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November 30, 2021


December 5-11 is Reading Africa Week — a literary event started five years ago by a small publisher, Catalyst Press, which has taken off and is now celebrated by bookstores, libraries, literary organizations, and publishers on all the continents. The goal is to celebrate African literature of all kinds, so readers are encouraged to use the #ReadingAfrica and #ReadingAfricaWeek hashtags when they post to social media about the books they are reading.

Some recommendations from Southern Booksellers:

The Old Drift

The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell

I get way too excited about this book, turn into the Micro Machines Man suffering hiccups. I don’t know where to start, so I open seven sentences all at once. Lacking Namwali Serpell’s skills to gracefully braid them into a concise (yet carnival-ride-bumpy) narrative, I just sound like a maniac. t’s all over the right place at all over the right time. I loved it.- Ian McCord from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA


Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu

Nadia Owusu was born to a Ghanaian father and an Armenian-American mother who abandoned her when she was two. Growing up in parts of Africa as well as Europe before moving to the United States, she has spent much of her life feeling without a mother, home, nationality or racial identity only to be overwhelmed by the abundance of these things she possesses at other times. Part memoir and part cultural history, Owusu has crafted an incredibly powerful force of a book – Carl Kranz, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

O Beautiful by Jung Yun


O Beautiful by Jung Yun
St. Martin’s Press / November 2021

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

This beautiful character-driven book set in the American Midwest covers many contemporary topics like racism, fracking, sexual harassment, and the immigrant experience. I loved the messy protagonist Elinor Hanson, a Korean American who grew up in South Dakota. A former model with a new career later in life as a journalist, Elinor has baggage that needs unpacking so badly her clothes are spilling out of her metaphorical suitcase at a rapid pace. Korean American author Jung Yun has written a fantastic novel in O Beautiful that surprised me over and over, especially by book’s end.

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan


Helene Tursten

Where do you get your ideas? Where do ideas come from?

When Patti Callahan was asked to describe her new novel Once Upon a Wardrobe in a sentence she answered "Where did Narnia come from?"

"Where do get your ideas" is, as she readily admits, the most common question any writer has ever received about the book they have written.

"it’s an unanswerable question," Callahan admits, "It’s mysterious. A little bit numinous. A little bit out of my control. We come up with answers…but you can’t ever fully say."

It was, nevertheless, a question that came up for Callahan herself when she was researching her novel on C.S, Lewis’s wife, Becoming Mrs. Lewis. She saw clues, "breadcrumbs" of things in Lewis’s life that hinted at what would become Narnia. "Where did Narnia come from?" became a question she was always asking at the back of her mind. Rather than come up with a list of reasons, "I thought," she said, "it would be more interesting to answer that question as a story."

Once Upon a Wardrobe

What booksellers are saying about Once Upon a Wardrobe

  • I have eagerly been awaiting for this story as I am a fan of all things C.S. Lewis related! Callahan does not disappoint. She has chosen a unique perspective on the life of Lewis by weaving the yearnings of a small boy, George, who desperately wanted to know where Narnia came from into a deep connection that he comes to have with Lewis through his sister, Megs. Wonderfully charming and insightful! ― Stephanie Crowe from Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL
    Buy from Page & Palette

  • “The way stories change us can’t be explained. It can only be felt like love.” Patti Callahan in Once Upon a Wardrobe has written a story that has so many quotes that I wanted to keep forever with me. This book is a treasure that you can keep in your life forever. ― Nancy Pierce from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA
    Buy from Bookmiser

  • This unfolding tale of how C.S. Lewis penned one of his best known works is spellbinding. I cannot remember the last time a book made me cry, but Patty Callahan created Megs and George who reached in and melted my heart.  ― Jackie Willey from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC
    Buy from Fiction Addiction

  • Patti is a wonder, and her enduring relationship with the life and loves of CS Lewis delves deep into the heart of what it means to be a passionate reader. This is a novel about a practical young woman bound to find the story behind the story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe to fulfill her dying brother’s last wish. What a beautiful book!  ― Ashley Warlick from M Judson, Booksellers in Greenville, SC
    Buy from M. Judson

About Patti Callahan

Patti Callahan is the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Globe and Mail bestselling novelist of fifteen novels, including Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Surviving Savannah, out now, and Once Upon a Wardrobe, out October 19, 2021. A recipient of the Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year, the Christy Book of the Year, and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year, Patti is the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series and podcast Friends & Fiction. Follow her at

My Body by Emily Ratajkowski


My Body by Emily Ratajkowski
Metropolitan Books / November 2021

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

As a society, we have become wired to see women – especially those in the spotlight – as objects to use to our satisfaction to the point that it is difficult for women to see how we are being used. Emily Ratajkowski has experienced this time and time again as a model and actress – used for her body and being made to feel as though she does not own herself. Throughout these stories, readers are shown how Emily Ratajkowski was and still is treated. This book feels like catching up with an old friend and letting it all out. Ratajkowski discusses important topics that will force you to restructure the way you think of the women who “entertain” you.

Reviewed by Stephanie Carrion, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

American Christmas Stories by Connie Willis


American Christmas Stories by Connie Willis
Library of America / October 2021

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

So grateful for this collection of 70 diverse and extraordinary stories from our friends at Library of America and editor Connie Willis. This collection features voices from across the American experience an centuries and contains stories of mystery, horror, western, inspirational, fantasy, humor, and more! This would make a great gift and is long overdue. Shirley Jackson and Jack London, Amy Tan and Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain and Nalo Hopkinson. Very excited to put this into the hands of those who celebrate.

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Another Kind by Trevor Bream,


Another Kind by Trevor Bream,
HarperAlley / October 2021

More Reviews from Story on the Square

Trevor Bream and Cait May deliver an absolutely delightful story with Another Kind. This novel follows the adventures of six cryptid kids who are trying to find their way to a place they can be their selves and call home. I fell in love with these kids and I was rooting for them every step of the way! The art is beautiful and I cannot wait to order this for the story with its wide release. Not only do we have a beautifully diverse cast, we also have some nonbinary representation with one of the kids realizing that is what they are. Handled delicately and honestly without it taking away from the focus of the story, there’s plenty of moments like this that will charm any reader.

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Passport by Sophia Glock


Passport by Sophia Glock
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / November 2021

More Reviews from Bookmarks

As though growing up wasn’t tough enough on its own. Let’s add a sink-or-swim Spanish immersion school that you transfer to years after your classmates start learning Spanish, even if your parents yank you out after their great experiment (you) fails. Add constantly moving house from country to country, AND your parents don’t even tell you what it is they do (because it’s <redacted>). This memoir told in graphic novel is for young people looking for their people, trying to avoid the watchful eye of their parents, and trying to (depending on the sibs) live up to or escape the shadow of the older sibs. Oh and maybe get a first kiss out of the deal. The art conveys much depth to an already affecting story, particularly in the opening chapters where the sense of place is established.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller


The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller
Little, Brown and Company / October 2021

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

A Fall 2021 Read This Next! Title

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.

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

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Sentence The 1619 Project A Thousand Ships
How to Forage for Mushrooms The Smart Cookie

[ See the full list ]

sbr shelf

Parting Thought

“The way stories change us can’t be explained. It can only be felt like love.”
– Patti Callahan

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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