The Southern Bookseller Review 12/21/21

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of December 21, 2021

View this email online. | unsubscribe | SBR Archive | SUBSCRIBE TO SBR

facebook  twitter  instagram 

sbr logo

December 21, 2021

SBP: The Nonfiction Finalists

Nonfiction Finalists

For very the last minute gifts on your shopping list consider some of the Nonfiction finalists for the 2022 Southern Book Prize. And don’t forget to cast your vote for your favorite book(s) on the list. VOTE HERE

Here are what some booksellers have to say about the finalists in the Nonfiction category:

Bress ‘N’ Nyam by Matthew Raiford

Chef Matthew Raiford shares a unique culinary perspective. He is not only an accomplished chef who has returned to his culinary roots, he is a generational farmer – farming the land his third great grandfather, a freed slave, purchased in 1874. It is an honor that he would share these heirloom Gullah Geechee recipes, and his story, with his readers.– Virginia Aguilar from Bookstore at The Berry Center

Fight Songs by Ed Southern

Southern is a natural storyteller, making connections and drawing tales together to keep the reader engaged and delighted. — Beth Seufer Buss from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

Graceland, At Last by Margaret Renkl

Margaret’s weekly New York Times columns about culture in The South call out our many failures while describing in beautiful detail what makes our part of America so beautiful. Just when I think there’s no possible way to capture the tension between the terrible and the special, Margaret’s words are there to express what I am feeling. –Sissy Gardner from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN

Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light by Helen Ellis

I’m going to start a petition to force Helen Ellis to write books that are 400 pages or more. Her latest collection deals topics as wide-ranging as aging and loss to poker and garage sales with her signature wit, warmth and southern sass. The thing about Helen Ellis is you can feel her delight in her friends, her husband and the world at large with every sentence. Everything she writes is worth reading and Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light might be her best yet. Do yourself a favor and pick this up, but be prepared to want more when you finish! –Chelsea Bauer from union ave books in knoxville, TNA

How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith

A combination of first-person observation and meticulous research, Clint Smith’s nonfiction debut peels back layers of story-telling to reveal new truths and revelations about the ways in which American history is inextricably connected to the enslavement of human beings. Like the best teachers, he leads with his own curiosity, his thoughtful curation of primary source documents, and his encounters with the people who are tending and visiting these places today. And like the best poets, he is deft with language, leaving space for us to come along with him. Brilliant, necessary, life-changing — Beth Helfrich from Main Street Books (NC) in Davidson, NC

Black, White, and The Grey by Mashama Bailey, John O. Morisano

The real-life story of the two radically different people who conspired to create Savannah’s The Grey restaurant, told from both their points of view. A tale of tragedy and triumph (and a lot of head butting), against issues of race, class, and gender; and it also includes a dozen or so appealing recipes. –Anne Peck from Righton Books in St Simons Island, GA

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan


The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
William Morrow Paperbacks / October 2021

More Reviews from Bookmiser

Who doesn’t love Christmas spirit, Christmas decorations and books that transport us to that magical season? The Christmas Bookshop deposits us into the middle of the life of Carmen who is suddenly without a job or place to live. She moves in with her perfect sister Sofia in Edinburgh—into a perfect house with Sofia’s many children. Carmen begins working with a seemingly impossible-to-save failing bookstore. Can she help the bookstore? Can she cope with her sister’s family? Can she ever find love? All these questions are answered surrounded by the promise of the festive season. Jenny Colten has given us a fun holiday journey that you won’t want to leave when the last page is read.

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Comfort Me With Apples by Catherynne M. Valente


Catherynne M. Valente

"Unlike most of my work, Apples turned up in my head whole one day a few years back. I knew exactly where it was headed, how I’d get there, and how I’d wreck the neighborhood on the way there before I ever touched one letter on my keyboard."–Cathrynne M. Valente (My Favorite Bit)

The newest book by the prolific and much-beloved Catherynne Valente is described as a thriller, a horror story, and a fairy tale. But more detailed descriptions are deliberately lacking. That was intentional: "It has such a massive twist that we’ve worked so hard not to spoil in the lead-up to its release (and reviewers have kindly helped out!)"

The story centers around Sophia, who is a happy housewife with the perfect husband living in a gated community she loves. Until one day she discovers what looks like the tip of a human finger when she is cleaning her house. Suddenly, Sophia’s perfect life seems not quite so perfect.

The conspiracy of silence around the plot and its twists has not prevented a rising chorus of surprised delight from Valente’s readers. Valente has written across multiple genres and formats, including the recently released speculative climate-change graphic novel The Past is Red, which was a recent Read This Next! selection by Southern booksellers. Her work, as an interviewer for Gridmark Magazine notes, includes stories of myth and superheroes, science fiction and fantasy, comedy and horror, and both middle-grade and adult.

"It’s very important to me to always be trying something new," says Valente, "pushing the edges of my skill level"

Comfort Me With Apples

What booksellers are saying about Comfort Me With Apples

  • As crisp and delicious as its namesake, with an equally rotten core. Catherynne M. Valente continues to be one of the most creative, diabolical, and insightful writers of our time.  ― Jenny Luper from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • Small and delicious, more thrilling than thriller. Valente’s prose is gorgeous and strange. I caught the mystery halfway through the narrative, which didn’t lessen any of this little novel’s power. For that witch in your life, or for a woman you know that needs to be reminded of her own ancient worth. ― Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • What a creepy delight this short book was! Valente’s masterful prose creates a sense of suspense and unease that permeates the whole book– we know something is amiss, however, it isn’t until the very end that we understand who and what the threat really is. Comfort Me With Apples is like if The Yellow Wallpaper and The Bible combined and made one twisted new story.  ― Jessica Baker from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • Yowza, this book! I don’t really know how to classify it – sort of horror, sort of sci-fi, sort of a class of its own. A retelling of Adam and Eve, but with a cast of Stepford-like characters, this packs a lot of wildness in just over 100 pages. Apples truly is difficult to describe without giving anything away so trust me – just read it. ― Andrea Richardson from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA
    Buy from Fountain Bookstore

About Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over two dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan’s Tales series, Deathless, Radiance, and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (and the four books that followed it). She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Sturgeon, Eugie Foster Memorial, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus, and Hugo awards, as well as the Prix Imaginales. Valente has also been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

A Rush of Wings by Laura E. Weymouth


A Rush of Wings by Laura E. Weymouth
Margaret K. McElderry Books, / November 2021

More Reviews from The Story Shop

This book is all the things I love about Weymouth’s writing: atmospheric, complex characters, compelling narrative, quietly philosophical. Rowenna is a force and I loved her!

Reviewed by Lauren Brown, The Story Shop in Monroe, Georgia

The Churchill Sisters by Rachel Trethewey


The Churchill Sisters by Rachel Trethewey
St. Martin’s Press / November 2021

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

A fascinating look at the lives of Winston Churchill’s daughters. Diana, Sarah, and Mary each lived very different lives but had a unique bond with their father. Despite their daughters’ difficulties that included divorce, alcoholism, and mental issues, Winston and his wife Clementine remained supportive and loving until their final years. The girls reveled in their father’s triumphs and were by his side through difficult times. Trethewey’s book provides great insight into the family life of a magnificent statesman.

Reviewed by Linda Hodges, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Cremation by Rafael Chirbes


Cremation by Rafael Chirbes
New Directions / November 2021

More Reviews from Square Books

Cremation is a stream-of-monologue masterpiece that harkens to Beckett and Faulkner. When Matias, the patriarch of a rich Spanish family, dies, it sets off psychological battles among the surviving members. These spats take the form of unbroken pages-long conversations and thoughts, going beyond the closet-drama scope to encompass architecture, economics, corruption, art, and the consequences of 20th century European history. Towards the end, the fictional town of Misent turns into a character, much after the fashion of Durrell’s Alexandria, but more bitter and disillusioned. By the end of a reading, these incredible speeches come through like blasts of hot air over rivers of concrete.

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds


Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / November 2021

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

Move over Dogman, there’s a new kid on the graphic novel shelf and he has things to say. Portico is wrestling with some real big kid issues, finding his footing, and using his super power to making sure all of the special people in his world stay super and stay safe. With a story by the award winning Jason Reynolds and illustrated by the amazing Raoul the Third, Stuntboy is sure to rocket straight to the top of everyone’s list this Fall.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Tidesong by Wendy Xu


Tidesong by Wendy Xu
Quill Tree Books / November 2021

More Reviews from Foggy Pine Books

A Fall 2021 Read This Next! Title

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.

Grace Quinn from Foggy Pine Books in Boone, NC

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Call Us What We Carry These Precious Days I Hope This Finds You Well
New York Times No-Recipe Recipes It Fell From the Sky

[ See the full list ]

sbr shelf

Parting Thought

“Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. Yet nothing can replace the exact, complicated, subtle communion between absent author and entranced, present reader. ”
– Julian Barnes

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

SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805
You have received this email because you are currently subscribed to receive The Southern Bookseller Review. Please click @@unsubscribe_url@@ if you no longer wish to receive these communications.


Scroll to Top