The Southern Bookseller Review 6/20/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of June 20, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of June 20, 2023

Booksellers on the bestsellers

Books, illustration by Daria Ustiugova

All the way down at the end of this newsletter is a short highlight about some of the books which have just appeared on the Southern indie bestseller list. Each week SBR features a few of the titles that are new to the list, or have risen suddenly, or have otherwise become especially noteworthy.

But these are just a handful of the books that appear on the full weekly bestseller list, which, as you may or may not know, is not your average bestseller list. The Southern Indie list represents books that are bestsellers at independent bookstores in the American South. As such, the list is often idiosyncratic, reflecting the specific tastes of not only southern readers, but of the books Southern booksellers are "hand-selling" to their customers.

So what do some of those booksellers have to say about the books on this week’s bestseller list?

Kelly Justice from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA about Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris

"Sedaris has always been dark, but this is the master at his darkest….Few things are better than a few moments spent looking at the world through Sedaris’ eyes. Beyond bittersweet, this book bites back."

Serena Wyckoff from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL about The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks

"Is Tom Hanks is a good writer? He really IS! I really enjoyed Hanks’ love letter to his industry and the unsung production folks who keep the wheels on the track."

Adah Fitzgerald from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC by Good Night Irene by Luis Alberto, Urrea

"Exquisite. Cathartic. Brilliant. Unlike any WW2 novel I have ever read. Urrea gives these women power, purpose, poise, intimacy, joy, and complex desires that shatter the mold of the 1950s woman, and frankly the 1950s man."

Lauren Colby from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA about Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

"I sat down to read this and didn’t look up from the pages until it was over! This was the perfect second chance romance. Heartwarming, honest, and sentimental, and I’m so ready to see what Carley Fortune does next!"

Lady Smith from The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, AL on The Book of Charlie by David Von Drehle

"I wish I had known him. Charlie White didn’t believe you could be too old for anything, and I hope some of his spirit can live on in me."

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

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig


Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig
Bloomsbury Publishing / June 2023

Adult FictionPsychologicalThrillers
More Reviews from Bookmarks

Chang-Eppig’s debut novel is a thriller from the first page – reading this book is like watching a pirate battle come to life! The perfect blend of action and historical fiction, Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea is a thriller from the very first page! Rita Chang-Eppig brings Chinese pirate Shek Yeung to life in such vivid detail that you can’t help but feel like you’re fighting alongside this ruthless warrior. The story is so gripping you won’t want it to stop, but you’ll be dying to know how it ends. A must-read for anyone who loves a historical thriller!

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: The Memories of Animals by Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller, photo credit the author

[Memories] are absolutely vital! Just look at what happens with those suffering from dementia. Lose your memory and you lose a fundamental part of who you are. But memories are an illusion. They become more fixed the more you think of them, and each time you remember, you are recalling remembering the memory rather than the memory itself. This is why Revisiting is so addictive for Neffy. She’s gets to see everything, not just her circumscribed memory. ― Claire Fuller, Interview, Bookanista

What booksellers are saying about The Memories of Animals

The Memories of Animals by Claire Fuller
  • An eerie, strangely satisfying pandemic story. A study in human behavior and interaction that Fuller weaves into a compelling story with surprising twists. An engrossing read with rich characters and drama.
      ― Jamie Fiocco from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Flyleaf Books

  • Undoubtedly, COVID-19 inspired a whole host of dystopian pandemic novels—but none like this. Neffy, a 27-year-old marine biologist, finds herself volunteering for an experimental vaccine trial that was previously never tested on humans. While in-clinic, she writes letters to her octopus muse amid her frightening, disorienting experience in captivity. Imagine The Soul of an Octopus meets How High We Go in the Dark.
      ― Sydney Bozeman from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN | Buy from Parnassus Books

  • Neffy is a disgraced marine biologist obsessed with octopuses since childhood. She and four other people are trapped on an upper floor of a hospital in London as a mysterious plague causing memory loss, sensory damage, and death sweeps the world. They are volunteers in an experimental vaccine trial, but all the hospital staff have disappeared leaving them alone with with an air conditioning system broken at the coldest setting, little food, and each other. All are there escaping or searching for something. What would you do to protect yourself and those you love, especially when there is almost nothing left?   
      ― Kelly Justice from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

About Claire Fuller

Claire Fuller is the author of Our Endless Numbered Days, which won the Desmond Elliott Prize; Swimming Lessons; Bitter Orange; and Unsettled Ground, which won the Costa Novel Award and was a finalist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in Hampshire with her husband.

The Surviving Sky by Kritika H. Rao


The Surviving Sky by Kritika H. Rao
 Titan Books / June 2023

More Reviews from A Novel Escape

It is a slow burn in the beginning because the surroundings and terms are unfamiliar and confusing. However, even though it remains confusing, it is a gripping story different from anything I have read. The characters are difficult but interesting. It is wonderful to think of a flying city but sad to think of a world in violent turmoil that doesn’t allow them to land. It has a surprising ending that is ‘eyebrow raising.’

Reviewed by Robin, A Novel Escape in Franklin, North Carolina

The Wounds That Bind Us by Kelley Shinn


The Wounds That Bind Us by Kelley Shinn
West Virginia University Press / June 2023

More Reviews from Book No Further

I did not want this book to end. Shinn is a true adventurer who is willing to take risks to find insight, inner peace, help others and have a good time along the way. She has suffered more than a few wounds that could have wrecked any normal person, but Shinn wrestles her way through each blow with incredible courage, sharing what she’s learned along the way. She is funny, extremely wise and super brave. Read this.

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

You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron


You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron
Bloomsbury YA / June 2023

Action & AdventureHorrorLGBTQ+PsychologicalSurvival StoriesThrillers & SuspenseYoung Adult Fiction
More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

Read This Next!

A June 2023 Read This Next! Title

I automatically love a creepy-camp scenario and Bayron’s first horror novel knocks it out of the park! Charity and her friends run the immersive horror game at Camp Mirror Lake, the site where a slasher movie was filmed years ago. The scares become all too real as her team starts to disappear without a trace and odd strangers show up at the camp. The disinterested owner is no help so Charity and her gang are left to find out what is going on – and to try to escape with their lives. Can this Final Girl save the day? This tense, scary book keeps you riveted until the last page!

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Our Pool by Lucy Ruth Cummins


Our Pool by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Atheneum Books for Young Readers / June 2023

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

A delightful homage to the neighborhood swim spot, Our Pool is the perfect summertime read! The onomatopoeias, bright colors, and strong lines will draw readers in and keep them rapt as the narrator delights in sharing about their day at the pool.

Reviewed by Chelsea Stringfield, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Diana: My Graphic Obsession by Sivan Piatigorsky-Roth


Diana: My Graphic Obsession by Sivan Piatigorsky-Roth
Street Noise Books / June 2023

More Reviews from E. Shaver, Booksellers

A unique perspective on Princess Diana’s journey and the fine line between idolizing a person for all the good they did and what could have been and honoring their life by remembering that they too were a human. Also, a very interesting insider’s look at how special interests can be for neurodivergent people.

Reviewed by Lana Repic, E. Shaver, Bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

Decide for Yourself

Books that appear on PEN America’s list of challenged books.

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado


In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
 Graywolf Press / December 2020

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

An engrossing and necessary work of memoir, queer perspective, and groundbreaking from examining a history of abuse through a series of prismatic episodes dissecting road trips, meetings with parents, Disney villains, and gaslighting. Stumbling through each new layer you delve deeper into the unshakable, irrational hold of abuse. At times what seemed like romance transforms in the next page into folklore, raw emotion, queer theory, criticism, and horror. I am immensely grateful for the work Carmen Maria Machado has done in writing as generous a book as In the Dream House.

Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece Pageboy: A Memoir The Mountain in the Sea
Happy-Go-Lucky The One and Only Ruby

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read to a child.”
— Anita Merina

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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