The Southern Bookseller Review 9/26/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of September 26, 2023

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The week of September 26, 2023

A harvest of great books for Fall

Read This Next! October Books

What better thing to talk about at the end of the month than all the great books coming out in the month coming up? Fall is a big season for new books by your favorite and soon-to-be-favorite authors. Read This Next! October is no exception, with books from Erica Waters, Bryan Washington, Margaret Renkl, Jesmyn Ward, and Jason Reynolds. If you start reading now, you may finish in time for Read This Next! November!

Read This Next! highlights new books that are receiving exceptional, and exceptionally enthusiastic, buzz from Southern indie booksellers. Each of the selected books has several enthusiastic cheerleaders among Southern indie booksellers. Here’s a glimpse at the some of the future goodness!

The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year by Margaret Renkl
Margaret Renkl has given us a remarkable gift. With keen observations of nature in her backyard, she helps us become better observers in our world.
– Lia Lent from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, AR

Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward
History, family, community, and the all encompassing power of life in the face of brutality are abundant in Ward’s work, no less here in Let Us Descend. Jesmyn Ward has delivered another amazing novel and gift to readers.
– Michelle Cavalier from Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, LA

All That Consumes Us by Erica Waters
Erica Waters never disappoints with her dark and queer tales. I loved every bit of this dark academia story.
– Katlin Kerrison from Story on the Square in McDonough, GA

Family Meal by Bryan Washington
There are two things I expect from a Bryan Washington narrative: food rendered so exquisitely I could lick the page and an emotional excavation so expansive it swallows the book and me with it. Family Meal delivered
– Miranda Sanchez from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC

There Was a Party for Langston by Jason Reynolds, Jerome Pumphrey (Illus.)
This is a stunning picture book — Jason Reynolds has a way with words that maybe no one has had SINCE Langston Hughes. Poetic yet approachable; his style is unique.
– Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

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

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

The Caretaker by Ron Rash


The Caretaker by Ron Rash
Doubleday, Wednesday Books, / September 2023

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

In The Caretaker, set in 1950s Appalachia, acclaimed Southern author Ron Rash examines the power of love and how it can drive us to reckless actions or can transform us into stronger versions of ourselves. Rash’s title character, Blackburn Gant, will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book and I’m campaigning for a sequel.

Reviewed by Jill Hendrix, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: North Woods by Daniel Mason

Daniel Mason, photo credit the author

“You know, even though I’ve – I love writing about nature, I had previously really mostly written about nature as a kind of setting. And this time around, I thought, I want to write about it as a kind of protagonist. What would it be like to treat it like I treat my human characters? And, of course, all the good stuff that makes up the stories that we want to hear about human characters – all the drama, the sex, the violence, the treason – are ones that we can find in the natural world, as well.”
― Daniel Mason, Interview, NPR

What booksellers are saying about North Woods

North Woods by Daniel Mason
  • Daniel Mason’s North Woods is a masterful literary art form exploring the four-hundred-year history of the woods surrounding a particular house in western Massachusetts. Mason uses songs, journals, letters, medical notes, and other techniques to share the lives of those who live, love, suffer, create, and die there. The manner in which this book reveals the life cycles of flora and fauna is lyrical, respectful, and full of wonder and awe. Throughout North Woods humanity shapes and changes the environment, but the natural world very much reveals itself to be omnipotent.
      ― Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia | Buy from Avid Bookshop

  • In times like these, art’s what gets us through. In North Woods, Mason meets us head-on: our fear of change, our place in nature, what it is we owe to the ancestors. It’ll be compared to The Overstory but its similarity to Lincoln in the Bardo ― the stories of those who came before us ― is what it recalls. That said: Mason’s his own man and his own master and doesn’t really need to be compared to anyone at all. He sits, at the top of the mountain, with the those to whom we give our eternal thanks for books we love.
      ― Erica Eisdorfer, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina | Buy from Flyleaf Books

  • Majestic and sprawling and a grand ol’ adventure through time of one singular, special place starring as the ultimate main character with deep ties that bind these stories into one. Incredible.
      ― Jill Naylor from Novel in Memphis, TN | Buy from Novel.

  • I read Daniel Mason’s book, North Woods, on a trip across the country. In the car, when I finished the last page, I turned to my husband and said, “Oh my gosh—I’ve got to start reading this again immediately!” Spanning around 400 years of inhabitants of a house in Massachusetts, this novel is haunting and haunted. Mason makes use of many literary forms, including the loveliest poetry and epistolary writing, to tell the story of the intertwined lives of the people who lived in the yellow house with the orchard of Wonder apples.
      ― Mamie Potter from Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC | Buy from Quail Ridge Books

About Daniel Mason

Daniel Mason is the author of The Piano Tuner, A Far Country, The Winter Soldier, and A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages, adapted for opera and the stage, and awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Joyce Carol Oates Prize, the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, and a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His short stories and essays have been awarded two Pushcart Prizes, a National Magazine Award, and an O. Henry Prize. He is an assistant professor in the Stanford University department of psychiatry.

A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel by KJ Charles


Adult Fiction, Fiction, Historical, Regency, Romance
 Sourcebooks Casablanca / September 2023

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

Read This Next!

A September 2023 Read This Next Book!

This review is just me screaming to anyone who will listen what an absolute joy it is to read KJ Charles. The newest Doomsday book has us returning once again to Romney Marsh and cheering like crazy for Luke and Rufus to get their well deserved HEA. Hijinks, hilarity and heart stopping charm, Charles is a must read for historical romance lovers.

Reviewed by Katie Garaby, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Leslie Fcking Jones* by Leslie Jones


Leslie F*cking Jones by Leslie Jones
 Grand Central Publishing / September 2023

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

I will forever love Leslie Jones and this book just solidified that for me. It’s equal parts hilarious and touching and there are so many laugh-out-loud moments I could not keep it together. Jones has always been true to herself and who she is and I love the example that she sets in standing up for herself and her coworkers. This book is a true gem by a true gem.

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Night of the Witch by Sara Raasch


Night of the Witch by Sara Raasch
Sourcebooks Fire / October 2023

More Reviews from Page 158 Books

My favorite aspect of this book is the way magic works in this world. It takes inspiration from paganism and I love how this book shows the real aspects of witchcraft through fantasy. It’s always very refreshing to see a book portray magic in a way that showcases real traditions and spiritual beliefs. I also loved how this book also stayed true to the historical aspects of when it was written. Even though this is a fantasy it’s set in a world that reflects our own and it takes place in the Holy Roman Empire which means that a lot of history is strewn across the book. I also love how the book doesn’t back down from discussing some of the harsh realities that people had to face during the period, especially when it focused on the catholic church and how its reign murdered hundreds of innocent people by burning them at the stake. It criticized the way the church was corrupted at that time by mentioning how paying the church got on out of accusations, and how the people burned at the stake did nothing wrong, other than be accused. This is a topic that is not often talked about in books like these so it was nice to have such information acknowledged. I loved reading about how magic in this world was used. I’m excited to read more from this series and its authors.

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

Dogtown by Katherine Applegate


Dogtown by Katherine Applegate
Feiwel & Friends / September 2023

AnimalsChildrenDogsJuvenile Fiction
More Reviews from South Main Book Company

My eight-year-old daughter and I are savoring this sweet book. What a lovely tale of friendship triumphing in the face of competition for scarce resources. Very short chapters, and adorable characters, make this a great confidence booster for a reluctant reader. Wonderful messages about adopting animals into family for life as well.

Reviewed by Alissa Redmond, South Main Book Company in Salisbury, North Carolina

Mall Goth by Kate Leth


Mall Goth by Kate Leth
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers / September 2023

Comics & Graphic NovelsComing of AgeYoung Adult Fiction
More Reviews from Bookmarks

A charming YA graphic novel that perfectly captures mid-2000s culture, friendships, and tackles some tough subjects along the way. Leth’s bright art brings the story to life and I loved seeing her become more confident.

Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Decide for Yourself

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

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell


Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Wednesday Books / July 2021

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Following Simon and his friends, Rowell’s fantasy centers their fight against the Insidious Humdrum, an evil that’s sucking magic out of the world and Simon is prophesied to defeat (and they’re trying to finish their last year of magic school at Watford). Featuring a ghost story, a love story, and an epic arc, this book has everything a book should have! Inviting queer characters to the forefront of the fight, Simon Snow discovers himself and his limitations, tackles his worst fears, copes with the trauma that comes with being Chosen, and falls in love, working through the pitfalls of a relationship built in the rubble of a war. His journey is incredibly poignant for anyone who has had to face their nightmare and came away scarred, only to discover that wasn’t the end of it. A wonderful, approachable, and shockingly personal fantasy trilogy that’s completely different from what you’d expect, Carry On stole my heart from the first page, and I hope it makes your heart sing the way it makes mine.

Reviewed by Shae Jordan, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Vaster Wilds Scattershot The Marriage Portrait
Stay True Freewater

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Books don’t offer real escape, but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw.”
— David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance /
Editor: Nicki Leone /
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett /
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