The Southern Bookseller Review 6/28/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of June 28, 2022

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Editor’s note: This newsletter was accidentally sent with the wrong book cover for the review of Girlhood: A Letter to My Transgender Daughter by Carolyn Hays. The correct cover has been included below.

The week of June 28, 2022

The Freedom to ReadBook Bans

On July 4th this country celebrates its 246th birthday, a time of picnics and fireworks and patriotic feeling. We call it our Independence Day and honor the freedoms we enjoy and that are the founding principles of the nation. In fact, most Americans are more familiar with the First Amendment than they are with the Constitution itself. As a nation, we treasure the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment; our ability to say what we think, believe what we want. Right now, bookstores in Virginia are facing a legal challenge to their businesses and their freedom of expression. A motion has been filed with the Virginia Beach circuit Court to declare two books "obscene."

The books are Gender Queer, a Memoir, by Maia Kobabe, an autobiographical graphic novel that depicts the author’s experience as a non-binary person; and the fantasy novel A Court of Mist and Fury, by Sarah J. Maas.

If the motion is upheld, it could open anyone distributing the books, such as schools or libraries, and possibly anyone selling them, such as bookstores, to criminal charges. The scope of the petition reaches not only public institutions, but privately-owned businesses. In fact, the petitioners who filed the original complaint have requested an injunction against Barnes and Noble and other bookstores to prevent sales of these books.

Among the bookstores fighting the injunction are The Violet Fox Bookshop Prince Books, Read Books, One More Page Books, and bbgb tales for kids, as well as American Booksellers for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, Inc., Authors Guild, Inc., American Library Association, Virginia Library Association, and Freedom to Read Foundation.

The American Library Association has noted that 2022 is already a record year for book ban attempts. Book bans are nothing new, of course. But whereas in the past most bans were initiated by individuals (often parents), this year they have become a political tool.

What can you do? The Violet Fox Bookshop has a page with links and resources, including a petition and a place to report censorship. Naturally, you can support Virginia bookstores, and the targeted authors, by buying their books. And even better, by reading them:

The Most Challenged Books of 2021

"Education demands a certain daring, a certain independence of mind. We have to teach young people to think," says James Baldwin in an interview with Studs Terkel, "And in order to teach young people to think you have to teach them to think about everything. There mustn’t be something they cannot think about. If there’s something, if there’s one thing they can’t think about then very shortly they can’t think about anything."

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Girlhood by Carolyn Hayes


A Girlhood by Carolyn Hayes
Blair / September 2022

More Reviews from Bookish Atlanta

While I suppose no book is perfect, I think A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter is about as perfect as they come.

It’s part memoir, part research project, part confessional. The writing is personal, tender, and fierce. I found so much that resonated about parenting in general, the way we love our kids and try to help them find the most joy possible in this life. And, as the wife of a trans guy, I also found kinship in the experience of watching someone transition and find their true selves. It’s beautiful. Sometimes frightening. And often hard for a host of reasons. But ultimately, joyful.

A Girlhood will be my go-to recommendation for anyone trying to understand gender identity or transness. And for parents of gay kids, trans kids, cis kids, gender non-conforming kids–parents of humans. I cannot think of anyone I wouldn’t recommend it to. As a person in the queer community who didn’t have a stellar coming out experience with my parents, I find narratives about parents who support and champion their LGBTQ kids to be a balm. Because I always believed I deserved better than I got–and seeing other kids get that kind of support is healing and hopeful. Because I was right. We do deserve better. And always have.

Reviewed by Kendra Gayle Lee, Bookish Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Metropolis by B. A. Shapiro


B. A. Shapiro

One of the things about writing fiction is that you get to learn a lot about things you don’t know. I had always wanted to write a book about people who are from all different walks of life and then, because of a single event, are thrown together … One day, I opened the newspaper and there was an article about this big storage-unit building that looked like a medieval castle and how people were moving out of it. I said, that’s it.” –B.A. Shapiro, interview, Columbus Dispatch

What booksellers are saying about Metropolis

Metropolis by B. A. Shapiro
  • Shapiro has created six of the most interesting characters I have encountered in quite awhile. Each has a story so intense and intriguing and unique that it is hard to imagine where the novel is going. The magic happens when all six lives intersect at the Metropolis. All of the stories are expertly tied together in one of the best books I have read this year. ―Nancy McFarlane from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC
    Buy from Fiction Addiction

  • I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a cast of characters more than those whose lives are connected within the walls of the quirky Metropolis. Brilliant, tense, and perfectly paced!   ―Damita Nocton from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC
    Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • I loved the menagerie of characters and the storage-unit setting! Creative, propelling – a pleasure to read!   ―Cathy Graham from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL
    Buy from Copperfish Books

About B. A. Shapiro

B. A. Shapiro is the author of the award-winning New York Times bestseller The Art Forger, as well as The Muralist, and The Collector’s Apprentice. She has taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University and lives in Boston with her husband, Dan.

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro


Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro
Knopf / June 2022

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Three women have shared a bond for decades. When they are reunited for one of their daughter’s weddings, the past comes back in a rush. The story is told in flashbacks and present day in a way that helps them reconcile where they have ended up and where they once dreamed they’d go. A timeless examination of all the dreams you hold for yourself, the dreams your parents and others have for you, and how much you are able to follow your heart.

Reviewed by Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Drunk on All Your Strange New Words by Eddie Robson


Drunk on All Your Strange New Words by Eddie Robson
Tordotcom / June 2022

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

This book features a young woman who is a translator for an alien species that has come to Earth but that doesn’t have a spoken language. She translates their thoughts into English so other humans can understand them. She finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and she wants to keep her job and stay out of jail. I found this short novel charming and it’s a real love song to the written word and paper books. For lovers of Douglas Adams and John Scalzi.

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo


TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo
Viking Books for Young Readers / June 2022

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

Powerhouse debater and soccer star TJ is considered one of the most beautiful girls at her school. But when a meme starts circulating comparing her flawless beauty to her Sikh cousin’s natural hairiness, TJ decides to ditch her hair-removal routines to show herself and the world that it’s possible to be both hairy and beautiful. The world, though, seems determined to prove her wrong — except her debate rival Charlie, who doesn’t seem to care at all. A fun, flirty story that couches a cutting criticism of societal beauty standards, handled in a way that will win over readers regardless of personal opinions.

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

I Am a Baby by Bob Shea


I Am a Baby by Bob Shea
Candlewick / June 2022

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

A June 2022 Read This Next! Title!

If ever a book has gotten new parenthood spot on, its I am a Baby. This one should be a required gift at every baby shower, because when there’s a new baby around, you’ve got to laugh at all the ways the world changes for everyone!

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh


Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh
Penguin Press / June 2022

More Reviews from Union Ave Books

A June 2022 Read This Next! Selection

Whew, what a ride. If you are an Ottessa Moshfegh fan, you will love this propulsive and constantly shocking story. The inequality of the medieval fiefdom that serves as the setting and the characters that populate this book are both utterly alien and depressingly familiar. In Lapvona, Moshfegh continues to do what she does best: illustrate unvarnished humanity in all its beauty and depravity.

Reviewed by Chelsea Bauer, Union Ave Books in Knoxville, Tennessee

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Horse CRiver of the Gods The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
The Bomber Mafia Moon

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Reading brings us unknown friends.”
– Honoré de Balzac

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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