The Southern Bookseller Review 9/12/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of September 12, 2023

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The week of September 12, 2023

We’re with the banned.

Read Banned Books T-Shirt

Banned Books Week is on the horizon, October 1-7, with the theme of "Let Freedom Read." Always an event that booksellers feel passionately about, in 2023 Banned Books Week has taken on extra significance for Southern indie bookstores. Stores have found their communities, customers, and even their businesses targeted by an upsurge of book bans and book challenges, most of which are directed at stories by and about people of color and LGBTQ+ persons. Yet, the fact remains that most Americans, about seventy percent, are opposed to banning books.

The chances are, your local bookstore will be hosting events, displays, and discussions for Banned Books Week, so now is a good time to check in with them and make your plans for the first week of October. Many stores have also created merchandise for people to wear/pin/drink from/put in their car windows to show support and solidarity for the right to read. Copperfish Books in Tampa, Florida (a state with one of the highest numbers of book challenges in the country for the past school year) has created t-shirts in support of Florida writers whose books have been targeted. If you order yours by the 15th, you should have it in time to wear it to the shop for their Banned Books Week events.

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

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff


The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff
Riverhead Books / September 2023

More Reviews from E. Shaver, bookseller

Read This Next!

A September 2023 Read This Next Book!

Full confession, I adore Lauren Groff, her writing and subject matter are exactly my cup of tea, so it is unlikely that I would not like this book. That said, I was a little skeptical, 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. What if everything you have learned about life in your time on earth is stripped away and you are left with a more beautiful and brutal understanding of God and the world? (I also love that she wrote a draft in iambic pentameter just for fun and to get into the rhythm of the language of the time, it makes my nerdy heart go pitter pat!). Thank you Lauren Groff for writing books for book lovers like me.

Reviewed by Jessica Osborne from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, GA

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Godkiller by Hannah Kaner

Hannah Kaner, photo credit Hannah Kaner

“I remember being a furious child. Small and blonde, bookish and talkative, I hated how often I was “baby,” how often I was “cute.” I wanted to be loud, strong, and powerful. I wanted to fight my brothers and my cousins, strength to strength, arm to arm, bloody noses and bruises.

Worse was when they started getting bigger, taller, stronger. Worse is that being as loud as the lads was ‘annoying’ (them), ‘boisterous and unladylike’ (adults), ‘disruptive’ (teachers). I’m sure I was all of those things, but it was early that I understood that there was one expectation for ‘girls’, one for ‘boys’, and you were expected to fit neatly into one or the other.” ― Hannah Kaner, Interview, Fantasy Book Cafe

What booksellers are saying about Godkiller

Godkiller by Hannah Kaner
  • Godkiller is an excellently written fantasy novel. We follow a host of characters as they reluctantly join together to solve their individual quests: saving the heart of a king, finding a shrine to call home, parting with a god of white lies, and god killing revenge. The characters are well developed and the world building is immersive with a digestible pace of folklore and history placed throughout. Godkiller also includes fantastic disability representation that fits seamlessly into the story. The final pages packed a punch and I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series.
      ― Madeline Newstead, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee | Buy from Novel

  • Godkiller is a cinematic masterpiece. Kaner’s world building is exquisite, and her characters vibrant and intriguing. The story concept had me hooked right from the beginning (I have a soft spot for plots built around complex religious systems) and Kissen’s narration pulled me right along. I really enjoyed the descriptive flow of the prose and Kaner’s ability to be flawlessly inclusive was a refreshing change as well. Absolutely devoured this book.
      ― Morgan Holub from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georga | Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller

  • Godkiller is like The Witcher and The Last of Us but for wlw. For the sapphics. For those of us craving a grumpy older sister instead of a grumpy father figure. Godkiller is a queer, dramatic, lush affair full of some of the most beautiful, unique world building ever seen on page. It’s sure to absolutely rock your world.
      ― Reviewed by Caitlyn Vanorder, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina | Buy from Bookmarks

  • This is my #1 read of the year and I didn’t even see it coming. This book has the best vibes I have read in a long time, it transports you to a world that feels like the setting of The Witcher while having all the action and travel timeline of American Gods. It feels Nordic and Enchanting in all the best way like if a Viking and a Fairy had a child. Hands down a 5 star read for me, and one of the only times I have actually enjoyed multiple POVs. The writing is captivating and the characters are both abrasive and loveable while the setting makes you feel like an adventurer.This book alone has added Hannah Kaner to my instant author purchase list!
      ― Reviewed by Charlotte Beck, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina | Buy from Main Street Reads

About Hannah Kaner

Hannah Kaner is the #1 internationally bestselling author of Godkiller. A Northumbian writer living in Scotland, she is inspired by world mythologies, angry women, speculative fiction, and the stories we tell ourselves about being human.

Chenneville by Paulette Jiles


Chenneville by Paulette Jiles
 William Morrow / September 2023

More Reviews from Sundog Books

Paulette Jiles has written another amazing book on post civil war Texas. John Chenneville comes home to Missouri after a devastating head injury that left him hospitalized for over a year. Upon returning home he finds that his beloved sister, her husband and new baby have been murdered. Chenneville sets out on a journey to bring the killer to justice. Along the way he encounters all types of people trying to make their way in the world after the devastation of civil war. The author does an outstanding job of bringing these characters to life, the same as she did in News of the World.

Reviewed by Kathy Clemmons, Sundog Books in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

The Book of (More) Delights by Ross Gay


The Book of (More) Delights by Ross Gay
Algonquin Books / September 2023

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

Ross Gay is an ambassador of pure joy—not the sugar-coated, roll-your-eyes kind of happiness, but the subversive, wink-and-nod kind of delectation. Whether he is comparing clusters of harvested sweet potatoes to snuggled bunnies or finding beauty at his aunt’s funeral, Gay’s eye for the oft-overlooked wonders of life is unrivaled, and his conversational, familiar delivery is perfection. Each tiny essay in this beautiful book digresses again and again, which, no surprise, makes it all the more delightful. Do we need a book of more delights? Yes, yes, yes. This book is a ray of sunshine, a juicy peach, a warm hug, a sunflower growing out of a crack in the sidewalk.

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

All the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr


All the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr
Amulet Books / September 2023

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

All the Fighting Parts is a much needed book. The verse format makes it a quick read, but it spares no punches, delving deep into the heart of one sexual assault survivor’s journey through grief, guilt, resistance, and reclamation. Healing is a journey through, not a journey’s end; and while the powers of her local church are stacked against her, her loved ones (whom she withdraws from in the aftermath) learn how to support her through every step. It’s poignant and oh-so relevant. Amina’s story is unlike anything I’ve read before, and I hope with all my might that All the Fighting Parts falls into the hands of those who need it most.

Reviewed by Isabel Agajanian, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

There’s Always Room for One More by Robyn McGrath


There’s Always Room for One More by Robyn McGrath
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books / August 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

This picture book is so sweet. It would make the perfect book for a child whose family is going through same changes (in this case, making room for a grandfather coming to live with them). I love the message that it is OK to feel a sense of loss for the parts of life that will be different, but that making space for those we love sometimes requires us to give up things we loved in the past and replace them with things we can learn to like even more. Both the story and the pictures are filled with heart!.

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Phoebe’s Diary by Phoebe Wahl


Phoebe’s Diary by Phoebe Wahl
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / September 2023

More Reviews from Main Street Books

Incredibly earnest, honest account (in graphic novel form!) of a teenage theatre kid navigating the move to public high school from an unschooling/homeschool education in a smallish city in the Pacific NorthWest. I love Phoebe Wahl’s art and children’s books (she illustrates and writes), and I adored her peek into the boy-obsessed, music-loving, art-driven world she creates from her own teenage diaries. I laughed out loud, cringed, cried, and cheered. If you loved Judy Blume’s Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, you’ll love Phoebe’s Diary.

Reviewed by Adah Fitzgerald, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Decide for Yourself

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

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki


This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki
First Second / May 2014

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

This poignant story paints those subtle shifts from childhood to adulthood for Rose as she spends time at a lake house with her parents, who are going through a rough patch, and her younger friend Windy, who suddenly seems immature. It’s a quiet story, full of melancholy and growing pains, but still so lovely and achingly honest.

Reviewed by Julie Jarema, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Fraud Tell It Like It Is Our Missing Hearts
The Little Frog's Guide to Self-Care Garlic and the Vampire

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“What a blessing it is to love books.”
— Elizabeth von Arnim

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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