The Southern Bookseller Review 8/29/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of August 29, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of August 29, 2023

Read These Next! September Sneak Peak

Read These Next!

Read This Next! September takes readers on adventure after adventure, from outer space to the wilderness of an American continent menaced by colonizers. From regency romance to the horror-tinged Victorian marriage market. Sink your teeth into these five books, because they will certainly sink their teeth into you!

What SIBA Booksellers have to say:

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White
Gut-wrenching yet gorgeous, The Spirit Bares Its Teeth is a necessary and impressive addition to both LGBTQ and horror lit.
– Charlie Williams from Square Books in Oxford, MS

The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff
I kept turning the pages wondering when she was going to be rescued, live happily ever after with her Native husband? This is not that story. What this is, is an amazing meditation on what it means to be alive, to want to stay alive, and the big question, why do we live at all.
– Jessica Osborne from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA

The Six: The Untold Story of America’s First Women Astronauts by Loren Grush
I have spent hours reading books and watching documentaries about all things NASA for years of my life, but I still learned so many new things reading this book.
– Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

Rouge by Mona Awad
Reading this book felt a lot like moving through a dream. The surreal horror and red-soaked imagery stuck with me long after finishing.
– Hallee Israel from Pearl’s Books in Fayetteville, AR

A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel by KJ Charles
This review is just me screaming to anyone who will listen what an absolute joy it is to read KJ Charles. Hijinks, hilarity and heart-stopping charm.
– Katie Garaby from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN

Read This Next! highlights new books that are receiving exceptional, and exceptionally enthusiastic, buzz from Southern indie booksellers.

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

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The Land of Lost Things by John Connolly


The Land of Lost Things by John Connolly
Atria/Emily Bestler Books / September 2023

More Reviews from Garden District Bookshop

The Land of Lost Things is a extraordinary work, filled with both the original spirit of the Grimm fairy tales, and environmental concerns. Phoebe, an eight year old girl, has been severely injured in a car accident, and has been left in a comatose state. Her mother, Ceres, constantly reads to her, especially fairy tales. When the hospital can no longer help her, Phoebe is transferred to a chronic care facility, funded by the legacy of the missing author of The Book of Lost Things, and located very close to his deserted home. When Ceres explores the house, she somehow finds herself transported into the world of The Book of Lost Things. What then transpires is a joy to read, filled with both wonderful characters, and ones that are pure evil. Always stressing the importance and the meaning of books and stories. There are many allusions and characters taken from history and folktales/fairy tales/legends that make appearances, and also some wonderful touches of humor. Throughout the story you are constantly hypnotized by life’s fragility. It is impossible to put down, and you will dream about it if you do.

Reviewed by Amy Loewy, Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans, Louisiana

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Those We Thought We Knew by David Joy

David Joy, photo credit Ashley T. Evans

“I think there’s a great deal of that blend of horror in the tradition where my work is rooted. I think about a writer like William Gay and a story like “The Paperhanger,” O’Connor and a character like the misfit or McCarthy’s Lester Ballard. That’s to say that is the tradition. With this book specifically, though, it was very much a treatise on violence. I wanted there to be moments the reader put the book down because they couldn’t face what was happening on the page. I wanted there to be moments that very same reader cheered the violence on with a fiery sense of vengeance and justice. I wanted the reader to recognize those moments and reactions and question the difference. Those were lofty goals that may very well have been unreached, but that was the intent. The difference in those two reactions speaks a great deal to our humanity.” ― David Joy, Interview, Daily Yonder

What booksellers are saying about Those We Thought We Knew

Those We Thought We Knew by David Joy
  • As another white North Carolinian tired of the nodding heads and silent, complicit racism dominating each environment I’ve ever lived in, I am so proud to know works like this can come from here. David Joy has reached a new level of expertise with this stunningly crafted work of art. He creates so many fully-fleshed voices and turns out a story that can only come from this place and this time. By the last line, I was ready to nominate him for a Pulitzer.
      ― Alissa Redmond from South Main Book Co in Salisbury, NC | Buy from South Main Book Company

  • David Joy understands the human condition and, in particular, the complexities, pain, love, and loyalty that live in so many rural areas of our country. His latest novel is a brilliant exploration of the things we cherish and the things for which we fight, the way we hold memories close, and the lies we tell ourselves to ensure the past remains pure.
      ― Leslie Logemann from Highland Books in Brevard, NC | Buy from Highland Books

  • I love David Joy’s books. They are raw and gritty and always give me a different perspective. His books can be quite full of violence (always fits well into the story), and this one at first did not appear as violent. However, I did reflect on what transpired in this new novel and realized it was actually full of racism and violence; it reminds the reader that whether you are in a big city or a small town, the same things are happening. His attention to detail, his ability to capture the talk of western NC locals, and his use of historical events all made me thoroughly enjoy and appreciate Joy’s newest novel.
      ― Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books

About David Joy

David Joy is the author of When These Mountains Burn (winner of the 2020 Dashiell Hammett Award), The Line That Held Us (winner of the 2018 SIBA Book Prize), The Weight of This World, and Where All Light Tends to Go (Edgar finalist for Best First Novel). Joy lives in Tuckasegee, North Carolina.

TThe Free People’s Village by Sim Kern


The Free People’s Village by Sim Kern
 Levine Querido / September 2023

Adult FictionLGBTQ+Nature & EnvironmentScience Fiction
More Reviews from Underground Books

In an alternate 2020, in which Al Gore once won the presidency and Democrats have held court for 20 years…we still live in an economically and racially unjust, imperialist, carceral state (now with more greenwashing!), and teacher and punk band guitarist Maddie Ryan finds herself and her community forever changed when she stands against the building of a new hyperway through the Black 8th Ward she’s inadvertently helped gentrify and gets swept up in a revolution. Achingly real, bitterly funny, and deeply moving, The Free People’s Village is a commentary, both compassionate and cutting, on the woke white activist’s journey and, above all, a full-throated ode to resistance and the found family that fuels it.

Reviewed by Megan Bell, Underground Books in Carrollton, Georgia

Move Like Water by Hannah Stowe


Move Like Water by Hannah Stowe
Tin House Books / September 2023

More Reviews from Main Street Books

Beautifully evocative, Stowe’s memoir captures the emotional and physical pull of open waters in a visceral and compelling way. A book that can be read on many levels– memoir, a natural history guide, a call to care–with it’s strength in the intersection of all. If you love oceans, women explorers and artists, or just a book to challenge your mind and soul, this one is for you.

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

The Brothers Hawthorne by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


The Brothers Hawthorne by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / August 2023

More Reviews from Page 158 Books

Set in the same world as the Inheritance Games this book focuses on fan favorites Grayson and Jameson Hawthorne. They are in pursuit of a dangerous winner take all game. Less brutal than the Hunger Games it does evoke the eagerness to win and you won’t be able to put it down.

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead


The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead
Feiwel & Friends / August 2023

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

Read This Next!

An August 2023 Read This Next! Title

The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass is a middle grade mystery that celebrates the power of a good book. Evan has grown up in a town without a library and none of the adults talk about the fire that destroyed such a beloved place. A librarian, a cat, a few ghosts, and a handful of mice put in motion an unraveling of a collective puzzle that may make you gasp! Highly recommend.

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Infinity Particle by Wendy Xu


The Infinity Particle by Wendy Xu
Quill Tree Books / August 2023

More Reviews from Story on the Square

Every time you pick up a novel by Wendy Xu, you’re guaranteed a beautiful and wonderful story. The Infinity Particle is no different. A loving glance into the future where we have terraformed Mars and now have robotic companions, this is the story of Clementine and Kye. Clementine is running from pain and loneliness on Earth to work with her idol. When she arrives on Mars, she meets her idol’s AI robot who isn’t what he seems. Determined to help Kye despite going against her mentor, Clementine and Kye discover so much more. This was a beautiful story of love, loss, loneliness, and of course sci-fi! Put this on your radar because the art and the story aren’t one to be missed!

Reviewed by Katlin Kerrison, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Decide for Yourself

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

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde


Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Penguin Classics / February 2020

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

Essential reading for all humans — insightful, brilliant, and emotive writing from Audre Lorde.

Reviewed by RC Collman, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Those We Thought We Knew The Underworld Midnight Library
Killers of the Flower Moon Look Both Ways

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper.”
— David Quammen

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

SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805
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