The Southern Bookseller Review 5/16/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of May 16, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of May 16, 2023

The Bookstores of SBR

Bookshelf illustration credit saemilee

There are about seventy southern independent bookstores which regularly review books for The Southern Bookseller Review. But there are nearly two hundred bookstores across eleven states listed in SBR’s Bookseller Directory.

The directory is a list of bookstores who are part of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, and ever-growing network of bookstores invested in their local communities. A new bookstore is always a happy event. Here are some of the newest members of SIBA, and the SBR Bookstore Directory, from this spring:

Book Ferret, Winston-Salem, NC
A new and used bookstore, and "It is a place for book lovers to search, discover, read, & learn together."

Broadway Books, Ashland, KY
A general bookstore with a special focus on children’s books and games, including a Lego wall and a train table!

The Copper Acorn Books & Gifts, Marion, VA
Newly opened in March, The Copper Acorn carries all kinds of books, and in particular showcases Appalachian authors and artisans.

GG’s Library, Prosperity, SC
GG’s started as a book fair that developed such a loyal following they decided to open a permanent location. They focus on children’s books, and frequently host story times and visits from book characters. They are also a presence in schools and children-oriented community events.

Ghostlight Books, Springhill, TN
Ghostlight is a not for profit used bookstore which supports local youth community theatre and arts. It began as a used book drive fundraising initiative and has grown into a permanent store which helps to sponsor free arts education for children in the community

Greene Books, Athens, AL
Greene Books is a bookmobile that serves north Alabama. They appear at local businesses, book fairs and festivals, community celebrations, open houses and markets. The schedule can be found on their website.

Paper Hearts Bookstore, Little Rock, AR
Paper Hearts is a "pop up" bookstore dedicated to creating "an environment that fosters joy, community, acceptance, and meaningful conversation….We want readers to shop with us and leave with a little more joy."

Treat Yo Shelf Books, Mountain Home, AR
Just opened in January, this cozy little independent sells new books and they love to put together bundles and sets of complimentary titles. They are also a popular local event venue,

When did you last visit your local bookstore? Think of what you could be missing!

Read This Now | Read This Next | Book Buzz | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The Double Life of Benson Yu by Kevin Chong


The Double Life of Benson Yu by Kevin Chong
Atria Books / April 2023

More Reviews from The Snail on the Wall

The Double Life of Benson Yu is a clever novel about art, childhood trauma, and survival. Comic book artist Benson Yu found commercial success with his Iggy Samurai series, but a letter from someone from his past prompts him to start a new project. This project, an autobiographical graphic novel about growing up in 1980s Chinatown, forces him to revisit his pre-teen self (and vice versa). Different versions of characters from his past seem to coexist as Benson writes and rewrites his past to try to deal with traumatic experiences. For fans of complex stories (with a little time travel).

Reviewed by Elizabeth Hardin, The Snail On the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

The Adult by Bronwyn Fischer


The Adult by Bronwyn Fischer
Algonquin Books / May 2023

More Reviews from Epilogue Books

I love when queer women make bad choices. Natalie is eighteen, freshly independent, and painfully naive when she starts an all-consuming relationship with Nora, an older woman who is connected to her own life in surprising ways. Fischer perfectly captures that enraptured feeling of first love, especially with someone older and more experienced. There are parts of this book that are also deeply melancholy; bits and pieces that made me exhale and set the book aside for a minute or two. A little bit heart-wrenching, this one will be perfect for Sally Rooney fans and sad gay people alike.

Reviewed by Gaby Iori, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Imogen, Obviously by Becky Albertalli


Becky Albertalli, photo credit Becky Albertalli

[This story] was incredibly cathartic to write—though it’s equally terrifying to release it into the world. All my books are personal, but this one’s personal in ways that are unnervingly public. So much of Imogen’s internal monologue mirrors my own questioning process. And even though Imogen isn’t a public figure, she’s internalized the same discourse that kept me tied in knots. For me—and for Imogen—even the idea of questioning felt like a step out of bounds. ―Becky Albertalli, Interview, Nerd Daily

What booksellers are saying about Imogen, Obviously

Imogen, Obviously by Becky Albertalli
  • Imogen’s friends are all queer. As well as her sister. She’s made it her job to be the best ally she can be. Because she’s straight. Right? When Imogen finally goes to visit her best friend Lili at college, she finds herself right in the middle of Lili’s lie: Lili has told her friends that Imogen is her bi ex, but now they’re really good friends. So when Imogen visits, her people pleasing personality has her trying on that identity. And she may find that it fits a lot better than she thought it would.
      ― Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser

  • Tender and hopeful, this is a charming YA about friendship, first queer crushes, and sitting in the discomfort of ambiguity. Imogen is a loving and gentle protagonist who explores the more nebulous parts of coming out as a young adult: how do you know if the flutters in your stomach when you talk to a cute, obviously gay new girl means you’re queer, questioning, or just a really strong ally? (spoiler: you might be queer). What does it even mean to be "queer enough?" (spoiler: it means nothing). Albertalli draws on a lot of her own experiences as a public-facing person whose identity was scrutinized and dissected, and it results in a personal and vulnerable story about growing up and coming out.
      ―Gaby Iori from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books

  • While Imogen is straight, she is definitely an ally. She has a queer little sister and queer best friends. But since one of her friends, Lili, went to college and acquired a circle of queer friends (who all seem amazing on social media), Imogen isn’t sure where she fits anymore. And things get even more confusing when Imogen visits Lili and meets Tessa…who, along with all of Lili’s other friends, thinks Imogen is bi. And now, with possible crush feelings for Tessa, Imogen doesn’t know what to think. More of a questioning story than a coming out story, this will resonate with anyone who might have realized that they’ve been put in the wrong box — by society, by friends and family, by themselves. And Albertalli has a true gift for character’s voices that make them really come off the page.
      ―Melissa Oates from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC | Buy from Fiction Addiction

About Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including William C. Morris Award winner and National Book Award longlist title Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (now a major motion picture, Love, Simon); The Upside of Unrequited; Leah on the Offbeat; Love, Creekwood; What If It’s Us and Here’s to Us (cowritten with Adam Silvera); Yes No Maybe So (cowritten with Aisha Saeed); and Kate in Waiting. Becky lives with her family in Atlanta, and she’s still not tired of Oreos. You can visit her online at

Pieces of Blue by Holly Goldberg Sloan


Pieces of Blue by Holly Goldberg Sloan
 G.P. Putnam’s Sons / May 2023

More Reviews from E. Shaver, bookseller

I’ve had a hard time trying to decide what to say about this book. I don’t want to say anything about the plot because I don’t want to give anything away. This is a post-apocalyptic novel unlike any I have read. David’s writing is beautiful and propulsive though the story is kind of a slow burn. Like most of my favorite books, this one left me both heartbroken and hopeful.

Reviewed by Gaby Iori, E. Shaver, Bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Quantum Criminals by Alex Pappademas


Quantum Criminals by Alex Pappademas
University of Texas Press / May 2023

More Reviews from Malaprop’s

Perhaps they can’t buy a thrill, but now Steely Dan fans can buy awareness into the lyrics they’ve debated for almost 50 years. With Quantum Criminals, Alex Pappademas and artist Joan LeMay provide cultural context, educated speculation, and bold visuals illuminating the wild rogues and rascals populating the band’s songs. From the famous (Mr. Lapage, Hoops McCann) to the lesser known (Snake Mary, Pixeleen), you’ll have more insight into their memorable cast. Face it, there may not BE just one story behind each song. But Quantum Criminals sure is a fun excursion into what may (or may not) have been in Donald Fagen’s and Walter Becker’s minds.

Reviewed by Rosemary Pugliese, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina

They Hate Each Other by Amanda Woody


They Hate Each Other by Amanda Woody
Viking Books for Young Readers / May 2023

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

Dylan and Jonah have a long history of despising each other. Their friends have long insisted that the boys secretly have the hots for each other, though. So Dylan and Jonah agree to fake date for a while, and then they can break up and go about their lives without their friends trying to get them together. Except while they’re ‘dating’, they get to know each other — that Jonah works too much because his sisters are everything to him and he doesn’t want them to be taken away, and that Dylan has a brother he hasn’t even talked to in years because of something that happened in their past. And as they open up to each other, they find that maybe friendship — or more — could actually be there after all. This is a poignant story that is as much about Dylan and Jonah’s separate trials as it is about their romance, which makes it that much more satisfying when things work out for them.

Reviewed by Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Summer Is for Cousins by Rajani LaRocca


Summer Is for Cousins by Rajani LaRocca
Abrams Books for Young Readers / May 2023

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

I still fondly remember the summers spent with my cousins; playing at the beach, board games, sharing secrets under the covers, and of course the ice cream. Growing up my favorite person in the entire world was my older cousin Michael. And I always worried that the next time we saw each other, he would have forgotten me and all the memories I treasured. But just like Michael and I, Dhruv and Ravi understand each other. This book wonderfully captures the whimsy of childhood summers, the distance that comes from being apart, and the moments that matter.

Reviewed by Jamie Kovacs, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Lost in Taiwan (A Graphic Novel) by Mark Crilley


Lost in Taiwan (A Graphic Novel) by Mark Crilley
Little, Brown Ink, / May 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Imagine being in a country you know nothing about without your phone to guide you. You might be amazed at what you find, discover about an unknown place or even about yourself. This book takes you on journey through Taiwan and immerses you in the culture. I really loved the adventure of it all and the amazing graphics.

Reviewed by Keeshia Jacklitch, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

The Storyteller by Brandon Hobson


The Storyteller by Brandon Hobson
 Scholastic Press / May 2023

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

A May 2023 Read This Next! Title

Ziggy is just a regular kid. Well, a regular kid who encounters talking coyotes, singing frogs, prophesying snakes, truth-telling horses, a very interesting Grandma, and Nunnehi- spirits who protect those of Cherokee descent. Funny, sad, wise, and jam-packed with adventure, Ziggy’s story, The Storyteller, may be the very best book you’ll read in 2023.

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

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Covenant of Water  Tell Anybody The Secrets I Told You All the Light We Cannot See
Lessons from North Carolina Wishtree

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming, our own consciousness in someone else’s mind.”
— Anna Quindlen

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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