The Southern Bookseller Review 2/8/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of February 8, 2022

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February 8, 2022

What to read next? Two Monthly Reading lists.

What to read next?

If you are like other readers of The Southern Bookseller Review, not only are you reading several books at a time, you are always looking out for something new to add to your probably already tottering TBR stack.

SBR publishes two reading lists each month to help readers feed their literary addictions and discover that great new book that will be the perfect answer to that most exciting, and dreaded question: What should I read next?

Read This Next! is a list of five books that have just been published, and have been getting exceptionally enthusiastic bookseller buzz. One of the books is always featured in this newsletter (this week it is Ruta Sepetys’s I Must Betray You), and you can always find the list here.

The SBR Shelf is a list of six books of interest that deserve readers’ attention. It is sponsored by a southern indie bookstore and highlights books that might have slipped under the radar, such as:

Don’t Cry for Me by Daniel Black
"This book is absolutely amazing. Brilliantly written with such a strong story." Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books

Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander
"This book is a treat about a strong woman who embodied the post emancipation strength that cursed through many in the bright years before Jim Crow." Kimberly Daniels, The Country Bookshop

See the full shelf here, compliments of Books & Crannies Bookstore in Martinsville, Virginia.

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner


Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner
Gallery Books / January 2022

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

Greenwich Park is a fabulous debut novel. The book starts off with a letter to Helen from someone in prison wanting her to know the truth. So, you know from the beginning that something bad is going to happen, but you don’t know who wrote the letter. Told from three points of view–Helen’s, who hopes to finally be bringing a baby to term after many miscarriages; Serena’s, who is Helen’s college friend and now married to her brother Rory; and Kate’s, Helen’s child hood friend who is her brother Charlie’s on again and off again girlfriend–the story takes time to develop but once it starts going it seems to go in lots of different directions at once. The ending will surprise you, and then the rest of the ending will surprise you even more – and then the last sentence on the last page happens.

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Joan is Okay by Weike Wang


Weike Wang

"…sometimes being around writers is kind of strange. I love them, but sometimes there’s just this sense of impracticality with writing. It’s just such an inefficient system. I feel like I’m always straddling the middle place. I have no desire to write this character that’s a repudiation, because that in and of itself is a stereotype. That is defined by white marketing, I think—the dominant race marketing whatever they think “good Asian people” or “cool Asian people” are supposed to be. I don’t want it to be that tidy. I don’t want people to dismiss Joan—I want them to really stay with her and see how she’s managing this difficult year in her life. ” "Weike Wang (via Electric Lit)

Joan is Okay

What booksellers are saying about Joan is Okay

  • An insightful story about a woman living life on her own less-traditional terms and facing the pushback from society and family as a result. I really enjoyed getting to know Joan and was routing for her throughout the book, which was a compelling and thoughtful read. ― Melissa Summers from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • Joan is the youngest child and only daughter of Chinese immigrants, a brilliant intensive care doctor, a workaholic for whom the hospital is the closest she’s ever had to feeling at home – and one of the most different and memorable characters you’re likely to encounter this year. Joan is Okay is full of subtle wit as she navigates both her relationships with her family following her father’s death, and her identity as a Chinese American. Joan may be okay – but this gentle, nuanced novel is most definitely more than okay. ―Jude Burke-Lewis from Square Books in Oxford, MS
    Buy from Square Books

  • Joan is Okay is so, so good! I loved this contemporary story about family, immigration, and life expectations. As unique as her experience is, it was easy to relate to Joan’s struggle against the pressures to conform that come at her from all sides. Wang’s smart prose sparkles with spare intensity, just like Joan herself. I can’t wait to tell readers about this book!   ―Serena Wyckoff from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL
    Buy from Copperfish Books

  • Like many readers I adored Weike Wang’s debut novel Chemistry and have been eagerly awaiting her next book. In Joan is Okay Wang builds on what made Chemistry so successfulnot only her exploration of the intersection of race and gender in spaces predominantly inhabited by men (in this case moving from the chemistry lab to the ICU) but also her ability to capture the quiet sadness underlying the lives of her characters. I won’t be able to stop thinking about this clever, poignant novel for weeks to come. ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Weike Wang

Weike Wang was born in Nanjing, China, and grew up in Australia, Canada, and the United States. She is a graduate of Harvard University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry and her doctorate in public health. Her first novel, Chemistry, received the PEN/ Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, the Ploughshares John C. Zacharis First Book Award, and a Whiting Award. She is a “5 Under 35” honoree of the National Book Foundation and her work has appeared in The New Yorker. She currently lives in New York City.

Reclaim the Stars by Zoraida Córdovas


Reclaim the Stars by Zoraida Córdovas
Wednesday Books / February 2022

More Reviews from Books and Books

Reclaim the Stars is a knockout collection of young adult SFF short stories from voices of the Latin American diaspora. Each story feels personal, powerful & stands strong on its own, but I love the marvelous tapestry this book creates by binding them all up.

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Bird Brother by Rodney Stotts


Bird Brother by Rodney Stotts
 Island Press / February 2022

More Reviews from Novel.

Bird Brother is the fascinating journey of Rodney Stotts from growing up in the projects of Southeast DC to becoming a conservationist. inner-city youth mentor, and one of the few Black master falconers in the U.S. The book is written in a conversational style, and though reading his history can be emotional/difficult at times, it’s easy to see that his love for nature is the reason that he’s alive today. He’s also very honest about his mistakes, his perseverance in avian education/rehabilitation, and the obstacles that he overcame with the help of his friends & family. Most importantly, he champions the responsibility that we humans have as caretakers of the nature/wildlife around us… and in his own words, to serve something bigger than ourselves.

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Pure Colour by Sheila Heti


Pure Colour by Sheila Heti
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / February 2022

More Reviews from Malaprop’s

Defying the traditional framework the novel, Sheila Heti proves once again she is one the wisest and most imaginative active writers. The story begins innocently enough and then wonderfully morphs, with ruminations on loss, companionship, religion, and the physical form. Ever since reading the book, it has echoed in my brain continuously.

Reviewed by James Harrod, Malaprop’s in Asheville, North Carolina

A is for Oboe: The Orchestra’s Alphabet by Lera Auerbach and Marilyn Nelson


A is for Oboe: The Orchestra’s Alphabet by Lera Auerbach and Marilyn Nelson
Dial Books / December 2021

More Reviews from Bookmarks

This is a fun twist on an alphabet picture book, with each letter conjuring up the parts of the orchestra, from the tuning A given by the oboe to the well-earned snoozing after a successful performance. My favorite thing about this book was the way it highlighted so much more than just the instruments of the orchestra—even the music librarian gets to make an appearance!

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Nigel and the Moon byAntwan Eady


I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Philomel Books / February 2022

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

A February 2022 Read This Next! Title

Ruta Sepetys tackles the little-known subject of communist Romania with the gut-wrenching, suspenseful story of Cristian. He dreams of writing but instead is blackmailed to turn on everyone he loves. His story explores the endurance of the human spirit even in the toughest circumstances.

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield from Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Violeta South to America The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Power Iron Widow

[ See the full list ]

sbr shelf

Parting Thought

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

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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