The Southern Bookseller Review 2/15/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of February 15, 2022

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February 15, 2022

Southern Book Prize Winners

The Southern Book Prize

Readers select the best Southern books of the year!

The Prize, representing Southern bookseller favorites from 2021, is awarded to “the best Southern book of the year” as nominated by Southern indie booksellers and voted on by their customers. Winners were chosen by popular vote from a ballot of finalists in fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature.

This year’s winners are When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash in Fiction, Graceland, At Last by Margaret Renkl in Nonfiction, and Keep Your Head Up by Aliya King Neil and Charly Palmer (illus.) in Children’s. Winners receive a donation in their name to the charity or nonprofit of their choice.

Keep Your Head Up

2022 SBP Children’s Winner:
Keep Your Head Up, by Aliya King Neil and Charly Palmer (Illus.)
Denene Millner Books/Simon  Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 2021
“Everyone knows Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. What Keep Your Head Up does even better is show how you deal with the bad in a given day and even when a meltdown happens, how do you make good decisions going forward. I love Charly Palmer’s artwork and the expressiveness he puts in the faces and postures of his characters.” –Lisa Yee Swope from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

When Ghosts Come Home

2022 SBP Fiction Winner: When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash
William Morrow, September 2021
“Wiley Cash’s latest novel is damn near the most perfect crime thriller I have ever had the pleasure to read. Propulsive and character driven, I could NOT put this one down, and I stayed up all night to finish it – my heart was pounding by the end.” –Alissa Redmond from South Main Book Co in Salisbury, NC

Graceland, At Last

2022 SBP Nonfiction Winner: Graceland, At Last by Margaret Renkl
Milkweed, September 2021
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

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka


The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka
Knopf / February 2022

More Reviews from E. Shaver, bookseller

So, this book made me cry on the airplane. A ode to swimming, routine, kindness, and what it is like to fall into dementia, to love someone with dementia, and to loose that person as they lose themselves. A beautifully written meditation on the difficulties of a mother/ daughter relationship.

Reviewed by Jessica Osborne, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: How to Be Perfect by Michael Schur


Michael Schur

"I’ve spent five years on this show about moral philosophy, so I learned a lot about intention. Intention does matter. There’s a difference between someone intending to hurt someone and someone intending to be funny and make a joke and it going horribly wrong and miscalculating. But we have to be better at understanding that the things we say, regardless of their intention, can be really hurtful and can contribute to this ongoing problem of people feeling disrespected and less than and everything else…intention isn’t the only thing that matters. "Michael Schur (via Vulture)

How to Be Perfect

What booksellers are saying about How to Be Perfect

  • This is an only partially tongue-in-cheek guide to being a better person. The creator of
    television’s The Good Place revisits the classic ethics dilemmas and helps us understand
    why being a good person is a complicated, but achievable, goal. ― Anne Peck from Righton Books in St Simons Island, GA
    Buy from Righton Books

  • From the creator of The Good Place comes a tongue-in-cheek guide to being a good person. This is a whirlwind trip through philosophy that highlights teachers from all over the world, pleasantly balanced with non-Western ideals in addition to the familiar Greeks and Europeans. By the end you will be armed with tools to make real-life decisions. Perhaps the most moving part of the book was the letter at the end to his 10 and 12 year old children in which he boils down the entire book into concepts even the youngest human can understand. ―Kelly Justice from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA
    Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • Michael Schur’s work always leaves you wanting more, and with this book he gives us another taste of The Good Place. Brimming with his signature wit, humor, and awareness, this book is an accessible entry point to philosophy for the pop culturistas like me. Schur knows how daunting it can be to read philosophy (he had to do it for years for research!l); his approaching masterfully breaks down the walls between philosophical ideas and the average reader. I’m thrilled to finally say I’ve read philosophy!   ―Lauren Kean from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Michael Schur

Michael Schur is a television writer and producer who has worked on shows like The OfficeMaster of NoneThe Comeback, and Hacks, and created or cocreated Parks and RecreationBrooklyn 99The Good Place, and Rutherford Falls. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Jennifer, and their two kids, William and Ivy.

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len


Only a Monster by Vanessa Len
HarperTeen / February 2022

More Reviews from Story on the Square

Only A Monster uses my favorite type of time travel device (the fixed timeline) to craft an incredible tale spanning decades and centuries. I felt like I was right alongside Joan, trying to unravel the mysteries of the monster world. The idea of these sort of monsters moving throughout our world is a fascinating, if terrifying, one, and I was immediately intrigued. I wasn’t sold on the story right away, but the monster mystery was enough to keep me hooked until I really fell in love with the story itself. The world feels well-developed and larger than Joan and Aaron and our protagonists, and you get a distinct sense that a lot is going on in the “normal” world, while we see only a small fraction where we’ve chosen to focus our lens. Only A Monster is both heartbreaking and spellbinding, leaving you breathless for a happy ending. Will you get one? Only time will tell!

Reviewed by Kate Wilder, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

The Eye Test by Chris Jones


The Eye Test by Chris Jones
 Twelve / January 2022

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

Jones looks back on a career of studying fascinating individuals for his journalism, and in doing so reveals a truth he’s learned: analytics are helpful, but human passion, experience, and imagination are the things that count in the end. A great storyteller, Jones’s subjects include doctors, sports figures, entertainers, writers, cops, scientists, businesspeople, and more. He found that effective specialists learn, watch, and then act in a way that pushes society towards being better. They use both expertise and their minds. Models and formulas help with this, but they are limited because they rely on what has happened before. Sometimes new and crazy things happen; then they’re kind of useless. My favorite quote: “We do our best work when we remember our humanity, especially when it’s hard to remember it.”

Reviewed by Sissy Gardner, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López


The Year We Learned to Fly by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López
Nancy Paulsen Books / January 2022

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

When the world is too boring or too hard or too angry for them, a brother and sister are reminded by their very wise grandmother that somewhere in the world somebody else felt the same way. This stunningly illustrated (by Rafael López) masterpiece from Jacqueline Woodson, former Ambassador for Children’s Literature, highlights the power of the imagination and encourages young readers to believe in something, leave troubles behind, and imagine a better world.

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

Silent Parade by Keigo Higashino


Silent Parade by Keigo Higashino
Minotaur Books / December 2021

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Detective Galileo is back in another compelling puzzle-box mystery from the great Keigo Higashino. Whether you are a big fan of the series or a newcomer, Silent Parade is a excellent entry point into these engrossing mysteries. Set in Tokyo, a murder suspect has been able to avoid conviction twice because of lack on concrete evidence. Now the murder suspect has turned up dead during the community’s annual parade and Galileo is on the case to finally uncover the truth. Methodical, full of wonderful characters and an excellent sense of place, Silent Parade is a winning mystery experience.

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Funny Farm by Laurie Zaleski


Funny Farm by Laurie Zaleski
St. Martin’s Press / February 2022

More Reviews from Bookmiser

A February 2022 Read This Next! Title

Once you open this book, this story will never leave your heart. Laurie Zalenski tells of her mother’s love as the family escapes an abusive husband and father and attempts life with zero money. As the family scrapes by, they adopt and care for others including neglected animals. The love of people and animals shine on every page as the tale leads to the Funny Farm and the 600 abused and neglected animals that thrive on the New Jersey farm. You will fall in love with Laurie, the many animals, and the book as you plan your trip to see for yourself the Funny Farm.

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Recitatif Maus The Vanishing Half
Maus II Just Help!

[ See the full list ]

sbr shelf

Parting Thought

“So long as I have questions to which there are no answers, I shall go on writing.”
– Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star

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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