The Southern Bookseller Review 3/29/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of March 29, 2022

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March 29, 2022

April is Poetry Month

They shut me up in Prose –
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet –
Because they liked me “still” –

–Emily Dickinson

Poetry Month

"Poetry Month" is a favorite among booksellers, many of whom read and love poetry but have few chances to talk about it with readers. April is the one time of year they can get away with foisting poetry on their unsuspecting customers. They can do fun and silly in-store things like give discounts to customers who recite a limerick at the cash register, or create poetry videos with sock puppets, and of course by creating reading lists.

Because poetry is important to booksellers, it is important to SBR. Readers can look forward to extra poetry reviews this coming month, and a special all-poetry edition the week of April 15th.

In the meantime, here is a list of some of the poetry currently reviewed by booksellers:

Make Me Rain: Poems & Prose
by Nikki Giovanni (List price: $24.99, William Morrow, 9780062995285, October 2020), recommended by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

I would not call myself a poetry reader, but there is something about Nikki Giovanni’s poetry that speaks to me so deeply. Sentimental and comforting, Make Me Rain covers a wide range of topics from quilts and rising bread to the social change we so desperately need in our world. (Buy from Bookmarks)

Sparrow Envy
by J. Drew Lanham (List Price: $16, Hub City Press, 9781938235818, 4/13/2021)
Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

I found myself underlining something on nearly every page of this slim volume—Lanham’s distinctive voice sings with awe of the natural world and clear-eyed candor of the obstacles a Black man faces in engaging this awe. (Buy from Avid)

Refractive Africa
by Will Alexander, (List Price: $16.95, New Directions, 9780811230278, November 2021) Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

These odes to African intellectuals by Will Alexander are so rich in imagery and sound that every line has something you’ve never read before. I’m not kidding! (Buy from Square Books)

Read more bookseller recommended poetry

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada


Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada
New Directions / March 2022

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

Scattered All Over the Earth is undeniably a classic. A pilgrimage novel with a growing cast of memorable characters embodying a beautiful kaleidoscope of language, loss, identity, and home. Tawada’s vision is, as always, wonderfully unique, often funny and particularly here, where she’s at her most poignant. Thankfully, this is only the promising beginning of what is set to be a masterpiece trilogy of books.

Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus


Bonnie Garmus

"With Elizabeth Zott, I wanted to create a character who speaks for anyone who’s been held back, disbelieved, maligned, or underestimated. But I also wanted to create a character who refuses to put up with it. Elizabeth Zott has a disregard for societal limits. She rejects religion, stereotypes, racism, sexism, elitism, and food that comes in cans. "–Bonnie Garmus

What booksellers are saying about Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry
  • Lessons In Chemistry is the kind of book that makes me love reading. While there were moments of sorrow and frustration, the story left me with an overall feeling of joy. I didn’t want it to end – now I’m suffering with a book hangover wondering what to read next after such a fun and refreshing story. ― Melissa Summers from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • What an absolutely charming book! Elizabeth Zott is not your typical woman living in the 1960s. She is a chemist determined to prove that she is as good as any man in her field, which is not so easy to do with so many of the preconceived ideas of what a woman should and should not do at this time. I love her hilarious and straight to the point comebacks to many of the men who try to tell her she can not do something because it isn’t seemly for a woman to do. You will be infuriated by how she is treated and be thankful that women are not still treated that way (most of the time). You will love her delightful child Mad, and Six-thirty who is the best dog anyone could ever own, and you may also learn a little chemistry along the way. ―Nancy McFarlane from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC
    Buy from Fiction Addiction

  • This debut was a delight from start to finish. Elizabeth Zott was born just a decade too soon to forge the career in science she was destined for, so when she stumbled into a job as the host of a 1960s TV cooking show, she could not help but bring chemistry into her recipes. This book is filled with fabulous characters and is alternately touching and laugh out loud funny.   ―Karen Hayes from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN
    Buy from Parnassus Books

  • I want to introduce Elizabeth Zott to everyone I know. Unapologetic, smart and full of zest. Chemist, Elizabeth Zott, breaks boundaries and inspires other women to do the same in this heartbreaking yet uplifting story   ―Lillian Kay from Novel in Memphis, TN
    Buy from Novel

Bonnie Garmus

Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked widely in the fields of technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open-water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Born in California and most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.

This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke


This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke
Knopf Books for Young Readers / April 2022

More Reviews from M Judson booksellers and storytellers

A beautiful and strange novel full of magic, friendships, and hard truths. The search for voice & freedom, the drive to be heard, a reconciliation with past trauma and a future filled with hope weave a story I couldn’t let go of. The city of Budapest and the Danube are integral characters as Csilla discovers her worth. Along with a student revolutionary leader and a kind hearted angel of death, Csilla transforms the world around her into one filled with color.

Reviewed by Susan Williams, M Judson Booksellers and Storytellers in Greenville, South Carolina

The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah


The Sex Lives of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
 Astra House / March 2022

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

One of the most substantial and honest collections of essays about sex and pleasure I’ve ever read. Each author bares it all in order to give the reader permission to tell the truth about their relationship with sex. By centering voices and experiences that typically get left out of anthologies like this, we get to witness a multidimensional sexuality meditation through the lens of discovery, exploration, and joy. What a gift!

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey


The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Gallery Books / March 2022

More Reviews from E. Shaver, bookseller

This book had me hooked from page 1. Every bookseller has their faults and mine is a certain snobbishness when it comes to “women’s fiction.” Perhaps it is a leftover reaction from male-dominated classrooms or simply a dislike of the marketing surrounding such novels. Either way, I find myself avoiding and dismissing women’s fiction as best I am able. When I was asked to read this novel and review it, I thought “why not? It’ll be a nice fluffy read over Christmas.” I was wrong. This multi-generational saga, written with compelling prose and an arresting tenderness for the female story, grabbed my heart from about the second chapter in. The female struggle of being defined by your usefulness but longing to be your own definition, soaks through every page of this novel and you leave the book asking yourself some very important questions. This one is going in my staff picks when it comes out! I cannot wait to share it with my favorite customers (and my grandmother!!) A resounding thank you to the author for taking me down a few pegs when it comes to my opinion on women’s fiction. I hope this book blows up the market.

Reviewed by Annie Childress, E Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Eggs from Red Hen Farm by Monica Wellington


Eggs from Red Hen Farm by Monica Wellington
Holiday House / March 2022

More Reviews from Bookmarks

A practical picture book that explains where eggs come from AND teaches young readers how to read a basic map — what fun! I loved maps when I was a kid and this book is a great introduction to the concept of getting on the road to move from one place to the next.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi


The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
Tor Books / March 2022

More Reviews from The Haunted Book Shop

A March 2022 Read This Next! Title

This book was exactly what it needed to be. It’s fun, it takes familiar ideas about kaiju and puts a fresh spin on them, and adds in entertaining characters who care about what they do. It’s so very much an antidote and relief from things taking themselves too seriously, but landed the narrative beats when it needed them. Here, Scalzi show the artistry of solid craftsmanship, and I want more.

Reviewed by Alex Mcleod from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Kaiju Preservation Society We Don't Know Ourselves The Lost Apothecary
All That She Carried The Last Cuentista

[ See the full list ]

sbr shelf

Parting Thought

“Happiness. That’s what books smells like. Happiness. That’s why I always wanted to have a book shop. What better life than to trade in happiness? ”
– Saran MacLean

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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