The Southern Bookseller Review 8/9/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of August 9, 2022

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The week of August 9, 2022

What independent bookstores mean to us

Matthew Quick

Recently one of our favorite book blogs, Advance Reading Copy, interviewed Outer Banks author Matthew Quick about his new novel, We Are the Light. At one point in the interview, Quick describes attending an author reading event (not his own) at his local bookstore, Downtown Books on Manteo Island, NC:

"As I watched and listened to authors of all ages proudly read from their novels and picture books and in one case a deceased spouse’s secret poetry stash, I was struck by how captivated the audience was. Everyone was standing—on concrete—for an hour, listening respectfully in 2021 to writers doing nothing more than reading aloud. People applauded generously. They did not seem restless. They were not looking at their phones. They seemed fully present and glad to be listening to local authors read on a Saturday morning. Shortly after the event began, I got a good tingling sensation in my body that reminded me of when I used to be a teacher of literature and my young students were fully participating—when they were supporting each other not for grades, but because they really were starting to believe in the necessary and transformative power of the written word."

Downtown Books

We often talk about the importance of independent bookstores to their communities. Perhaps people think of the role they play as small businesses, the local charities they donate to, the local authors they support. But what they are doing at the most fundamental level, is helping to grow a community of readers. Of people who believe in the transformative power of the written word.

"It’s tempting to focus on the transactional handselling aspect of the above story," Quick goes on to say, "Believe me, we are very grateful for the sales. But that Saturday morning when a small crowd willingly stood on unforgiving concrete for an hour to listen to local writers read—that’s a testament to the true power and beauty of the local bookshop. And I think we need that now more than ever."

Yes we do.

Read the full interview

We Are the Light

What Jamie Anderson of Downtown Books has to say about Matthew Quick’s new novel:

We Are the Light is the book we all need to be reading in 2022. In one headline after another we’ve been reading about mass shootings in our malls, our schools, our small towns, our communities… but what happens to those communities in the weeks, months, years after these tragedies occur- changing so many lives forever? Matthew Quick takes on this subject and explores the question through the eyes of Lucas Goodgame, a Christmas-time movie house shooting survivor who lost his wife, friends and neighbors in a scene that is all too familiar to us now- but shouldn’t be…We Are the Light is a book to read slowly, with big inhales, taking in every feeling of every character no matter how painful. It is a book everyone everywhere should be reading – because as we have been reminded all year, what happens in Quick’s book, in the little town of Majestic, PA, can happen anywhere. –Jamie Anderson, Downtown Books | BUY

And just in case you think she’s biases (she is, but in the best kind of way), here are what some other booksellers think:

Written as letters to Lucas’s Jungian analyst, We Are the Light is a moving story of love and hope in the midst of grief and despair, and how much of a difference loving support can make on a journey of healing. — Melissa Oates, Fiction-Addiction in Greenville, SC | BUY

Where do I begin? Matthew Quick’s We Are the Light is an extraordinary story that struck me to the core. This remarkable novel is overflowing with emotion…joy and despair, loneliness and hope — so, so much hope. It is an unforgettable, heartfelt tribute to the many ways in which our communities can lift us up and help us heal. –Anderson McKean, Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL | BUY

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Fox Creek by William Kent Krueger


Fox Creek by William Kent Krueger
Atria Books / August 2022

More Reviews from Wordsworth Books

This fast-paced story is told through alternating perspectives of the hunters and the hunted as mercenaries seek a woman for reasons unknown to her, Cork and his wife. At the center of the story a wise and elderly healer helps the hunted survive in the Boundary Waters wilderness. Another great addition to the Cork O’Conner mystery series.

Reviewed by Lia Lent, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Shutter by Ramona Emerson


Ramona Emerson

It was important to me to share a contemporary story of a Navajo woman living today. Being Navajo is a small part; the book is about a woman and her work. That’s what’s different. It’s not about creating a Navajo persona, or about delegating myself to show a certain way of life for a woman. I have a responsibility to Navajo people, and to all people, to tell the truth. I want people to see that Navajos are dynamic and that they do a million different things. I show some of them.” –Ramona Emerson, Interview,

What booksellers are saying about Shutter

Shutter by Ramona Emerson
  • Rita Todacheene has seen ghosts since she was a child growing up in the Navajo Nation. Now a forensic photographer, Rita’s life is upended by these spirits seeking justice for their murders, while her friends and coworkers question her sanity. This thrilling mystery left me hoping to see more of Rita Todacheene in future novels. ―Lia Lent from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas
    Buy from Wordsworth Books

  • I really enjoyed this story about an indigenous crime scene photographer who can see ghosts. Dark and atmospheric! I’ll recommend Shutter to mystery and psychological suspense readers. Loved the dual timeline of present day and main character’s childhood.
      ―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • What a stunner! I couldn’t put down this story of a young Navajo forensic photographer in Albuquerque, New Mexico who can also communicate with the lost spirits of the dead. A mystery mixed with the myth and mysticism of the Navajo people with was a page turner that almost had me calling in sick to work because I wanted to read this from cover to cover, and almost did much to my boss’s chagrin.  ―Pete Mock from McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina
    Buy from McIntyre’s Books

About Ramona Emerson

Ramona Emerson is a Diné writer and filmmaker originally from Tohatchi, New Mexico. She has a bachelor’s in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. After starting in forensic videography, she embarked upon a career as a photographer, writer, and editor. She is an Emmy nominee, a Sundance Native Lab Fellow, a Time-Warner Storyteller Fellow, a Tribeca All-Access Grantee and a WGBH Producer Fellow. In 2020, Emerson was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Film and Media Industries for the State of New Mexico. She currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she and her husband, the producer Kelly Byars, run their production company Reel Indian Pictures. Shutter is her first novel.

Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs


Sugar and Salt by Susan Wiggs
William Morrow / July 2022

More Reviews from Bookmiser

I so enjoyed reading this book. The story centers around Margie Slinas/Margo Salton and jumps from present to past to see how Margie evolved into a first rate barbecue chef named Margot. She decides to open a barbecue restaurant and names it Salt. Margot shares the building with a bakery named Sugar. She begins a relationship with one of the owners, Jerome. As their relationship progresses and Margot starts to fall in love with Jerome, she know it’s time to tell him about her past as Marjorie Salinas. While some of the parts of the book were a bit rough, it was a great story filled with love and redemption.

Reviewed by Pam Crawford, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Flip It Like This! by David Hayward,


Flip It Like This! by David Hayward
Broadleaf Books / July 2022

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

David Hayward, @NakedPastor, has brought his wit, his artistic skill, and his frankness into Flip It Like This! This book is for anyone who has ever questioned their faith, been undermined by their experiences, or turned away because of who they are. Within these simple pages holds the passion and love of an artist that is screaming out: I See you and I love you.

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Lord of the Fly Fest by Goldy Moldavsky


Lord of the Fly Fest by Goldy Moldavsky
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) / August 2022

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

A modern retelling of Lord of the Flies, set in a trash fire of a hipster festival? YES PLEASE. Rafi is a true-crime podcaster on the trail of a hot story who finagles tickets to the exclusive Fly Fest. The headliner is an adored indie musician who may have had something to do with the mysterious disappearance of his first girlfriend and Rafi is determined to get to the bottom of the case. Arriving on the island, hordes of spoiled influencers realize they’ve been set up – there is no food, no shelter, and (gasp!) no wifi! Can they all get out safely? Can Rafi uncover River Stone’s secrets? Can they survive without the constant reassurance of IG likes? Moldavsky has crafted an ingenious update on a classic mini-society gone wrong and I loved every second of it.

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back by Jonathan Stutzman


The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back by Jonathan Stutzman
Candlewick / August 2022

More Reviews from Books and Books

Whimsical and sweet, The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back is about acts of kindness and generosity. Beautifully illustrated, and written like a classic fable, this one will make a lovely read-aloud and gift. We should all be so lucky to come across the mouse with boots on his feet, a hat on his head, and a house on his back when we’re in need.

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Silk Hills by Ryan Ferrier


Silk Hills by Ryan Ferrier
Oni Press / June 2022

More Reviews from Foggy Pine Books

Something weird is happening in Silk Hills and it’s not just the local obsession with Mothman. However, the unique, hallucination inducing moths that are native to this region of Appalachia are central to the story & the eccentric researcher who studies them assists our main character, Beth, who has been hired to find a missing man. Absolutely nothing goes to plan though and there’s more hiding in these hills than Beth was counting on. Fans of The X-Files will really enjoy this graphic novel & I really appreciated the Appalachian setting. I’d love to see more from these authors & artists!

Reviewed by Max Ruthless, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Stories from The Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana


Stories from The Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana
 Riverhead Books / August 2022

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

An August 2022 Read This Next! Title

Sidik Fofana’s first book is a series of connected stories written from the perspectives of the tenants of a residential building in Harlem. The chapters in Stories From the Tenants Downstairs are solely unique as each tenant’s struggles with rising rent cause different outcomes and each person tells their story in different formats and styles. This book shines a light on what millions of Americans are experiencing today: the exhausting, funny, desperate, and hopeful human experience.

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Portrait of an Unknown Woman Leadership: Six Studies in the World Strategy Ugly Love
This is Your Mind on Plants Mister Seahorse

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night.”
– Isabel Allende

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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