The Southern Bookseller Review 3/21/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of March 21, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of March 21, 2023

Celebrating the Right to Read

Trans Rights Readathon

It is a hard thing for people who love reading and literature to bear the rising tide of book bans and legislation in this country attempting to dictate what kinds of books can be on a library’s shelves, or discussed in a school classroom. Most of these challenges target either books on "critical race theory" or on LGBTQ+ and gender studies. In fact, there are currently 428 anti-LGBTQ bills being tracked by the ACLU across the nation.

Independent bookstores fight book bans and challenges in their communities in many ways, not the least of which is to simply stock the books that are being pulled from library shelves. They are acutely aware that they are among a shrinking number of places where readers can find books in which they see themselves.

This week, in response to the swell of anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans legislation, many indie bookstores are participating in the Trans Rights Readathon from March 20-27.

The Readathon was started by the author Sim Kern (Seeds for the Swarm) to encourage people to read books by trans, genderqueer, and nonbinary authors, and to donate to organizations supporting trans people.

The Readathon has been taken up by many, many bookstores. Readers can check the social media posts of their local bookstores to see if they are participating, which trans advocacy groups the stores are donating to, and what books they are reading:

Underground Books in Carrollton, GA

Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA

One More Page Books in Arlington, VA

Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Bookshop in New Orleans, LA

Charis Books and More in Decatur, GA

Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC

…and naturally, there is an eternally growing reading list at The Southern Bookseller Review.

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Sundial by Catriona Ward


Sundial by Catriona Ward
Tor Nightfire / March 2023

More Reviews from Wordsworth Books

An interesting read with many twist and turns. Characters and setting were very unique, and I could never guess what would happen next.(Spoilers inbound) This was a weird book, but not in a bad way. The writing was spiritic, with odd inclusions and details, but it all felt intentional. Rob was flawed and different individual, and the writing portrayed that perfectly. Cassie’s chapters felt like reading the mind of a child who sees thing she shouldn’t. All of this felt very intentional, it felt like the book was trying to pack a lot within as few pages as possible, and yet some of the twists and events of the book felt forgotten too easily. Yet, the last couple chapters of the climax had me enraptured and glued to the page. And the book as a whole had a unique premise and storyline, even if there was whole lot in it. A definite need to read for sure.

Reviewed by Mandolin Moore, WordsWorth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

Eastbound by Maylis De Kerangaln


Eastbound by Maylis De Kerangal
Archipelago / February 2023

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

Jessica Moore perfectly encapsulates the thrilling genius of Maylis de Kerangal in this translation. The beauty of Eastbound‘s prose directly contradicts the dire circumstances of Aloicha, a young Russian soldier who quickly deserts, hiding on the very same train as his pursuers. Kerangal’s masterful control of his work and Moore’s faithful translation of the original French novel will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Reviewed by Lena Malpeli, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson


Jenny Jackson, photo credit Sarah Shatz

"In March 2020, when COVID-19 shut down New York City, my husband and I packed up our apartment on Pineapple Street, buckled our kids into their car seats, and drove to northwest Connecticut, where my in-laws live deep in the woods. We stayed with them for six months—six months that were scary, strange, and, at times, very, very funny.

Living in someone else’s house turns you into a bit of an amateur anthropologist, deriving meaning from the closets full of ski jackets, tennis rackets, and twenty years’ worth of Sky & Telescope magazines. I found a letter, sent home from summer camp, that read “Camp is good. They made me write you so I could get ice cream.”" ―Jenny Jackson, Letter to booksellers

What booksellers are saying about Pineapple Street

Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson
  • Pineapple Street is family drama at its finest – and its most decadent. Told through the eyes of three women in an elite Brooklyn family, the novel is witty and insightful and a thoughtful commentary on class, wealth, and society. These characters equally shocked me and endeared themselves to me; you can’t help but root for happy endings all around. This story will be a best of 2023 for me; I can’t wait to see what Jenny Jackson writes next!
    ―Beth Seufer Buss from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

  • I loved this juicy, complicated family drama! Pineapple Street tells the story of the Stockton family, part of the uber-rich one percenters living in New York City, through the perspectives of two of their daughters and one daughter-law. You won’t be able to help falling in love with each of these characters in spite of their first world problems. Touching and zany, Pineapple Street is perfect for fans of Amy Poeppel and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.
    ―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

  • I couldn’t put down this novel that explores loyalty, class, family and love. It was zippy and readable while also not shying away from important conversations on privilege.
    ―Lillian Kay from Novel in Memphis, TN | Buy from Novel.

  • Welcome to Pineapple Street, where the Stockton family reigns with old money and even older traditions. The three Stockton siblings, Darley, Cord and Georgiana, all face their monied background with varying degrees of guilt. Sasha, Cord’s wife, is the bohemian artist to the wealthy clan and always finds herself on the outside looking in. Jenny Jackson has created a funny and sharp behind the scenes look at New York’s elite. These characters remind us that what we see on the outside is never quite the same as what is happening on the inside.
    ―Mary Jane Michels from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC | Buy from Fiction Addiction.

About Jenny Jackson

Jenny Jackson is a vice president and executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf. A graduate of Williams College and the Columbia Publishing Course, she lives in Brooklyn Heights with her family. Pineapple Street is her first novel.

The Angel Maker by Alex North


The Angel Maker by Alex North
Celadon Books / February 2023

More Reviews from Snail on the Wall

I am not a reader of thrillers, but I could not put this down. Following the two octogenarian sons of a future-seeing serial killer, this story weaves between past and present, between investigators and the investigated, and intertwines a horrific legacy with a more recent brutal attack and the siblings that survived. Alex North kept me guessing, and though I had to draw a character map to track all the Englishmen the story follows, I was deeply invested by the end and questioning for myself the roles of family, both blood and chosen.

Reviewed by Sarah Catherine, The Snail On the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Always the Almost by Edward Underhill


Always the Almost by Edward Underhill
Wednesday Books / February 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

I wish I could put this book in a time machine and send it back to my high school youth orchestra friends in the 2000s! I’m so glad that books like this exist for teens to read now. Edward Underhill’s passion for the piano and classical music shines on every page of this book and his trans protagonist Miles who is figuring out who he is and what he stands for as he prepares to enter a big competition will capture your heart. I also loved that this book is set in Wisconsin, a state I don’t know very much about!

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

Happily by Sabrina Orah Mark


Happily by Sabrina Orah Mark
Random House / March 2023

More Reviews from Main Street Books

Subtitled "A Person History –with Fairy Tales," this collection of essays refracts Mark’s fears, losses, family, and more through the prism of fairy tales. There are plenty of jagged edges and tales torn into for new meanings and few happily ever afters. Incisive, probing, Mark gives herself to the stories and leave readers a wealth of questions.

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Ancient Night by David Alvarez


Ancient Night by David Alvarez
Levine Querido / March 2023

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

Álvarez’s illustrations alone are enough to make this stunning picture book a winner—the dreamy feel of the milky moonlight against the deep-dark night and the crisp simplicity of the animals and their world is masterful. When paired with interwoven traditional Mesoamerican tales of the magic and power of our lunar companion, the story sings, enchanting readers with its mystery and beauty. Don’t miss this one!

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Akim Aliu: Dreamer by Akim Aliul


Akim Aliu: Dreamer by Akim Aliul
Graphix / February 2023

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

The gripping story of a boy who fell in love with a sport to only experience systemic racism while succeeding on the ice, this graphic novel is a must-read. Told in a conversational tone with rich illustrations, Aliu’s story is both heartbreaking and inspiring.

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud


The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud
 Gallery, Saga Press / March 2023

More Reviews from Book No Further

A March 2023 Read This Next! Title

The Wild West meets Mars in this science fiction page-turner! 14-year-old Annabelle Crisp is one of a group of settlers from Earth who’ve formed a colony called New Galveston. The tough, lawless residents are presumably abandoned on Mars, as nobody has heard from Earth in years. The Silence, as they call it, has cut off supplies, news from Earth and, sadly for Annabelle, her mother. Then Silas Bundt and his gang show up to her father’s diner and steal the cylinder with her mother’s voice- her last remaining object of remembrance. Annabell is a feisty protagonist who is on a quest of revenge, travelling across Mars to reclaim the cylinder. She is accompanied by a sketchy group of partners, and an Engine named Watson. Dangers abound in the form of War Engines, ghosts and other settlers who have been taken over by “The Strange.” I enjoyed this page-turner in a genre that I only occasionally read!

Reviewed by Lisa Uotinen, Book No Further in Roanoke, Virginia

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Old Babes in the Wood It's OK to be Angry About Capitalism The Candy House
My What If Year Hot Dog

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“A story can always break into pieces while it sits inside a book on a shelf; and, decades after we have read it even twenty times, it can open us up, by cut or caress, to a new truth.”
– Andre Dubus

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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