The Southern Bookseller Review 9/27/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of September 27, 2022

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The week of September 27, 2022

What we talk about when we talk about the National Book Awards.

National Book AwardsOne of the purposes of The Southern Bookseller Review is to showcase independent booksellers as a trustworthy, knowledgeable source for "what to read next" no matter what kind of reader you happen to be, or what kind of books you like. So it is really no surprise as we come into "awards season" for books (National Book Awards, The Nobel), the titles on the lists are already familiar because booksellers had marked them first. Finalists for the National Book Award will be announced next week, but on the Fiction Long List are If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery, a September Read This Next! book, and Ramona Emerson’s Shutter, which was a "Book Buzz" feature in SBR.

Here are what southern booksellers have to say about some of the other novels on the long list:

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela

A full-hearted homecoming story of reckoning with the past as it hits you hard and fast all while trying to carve a way forward–when for so long it looked like the only way was straight. — Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Georgia

Nobody Gets Out Alive : Stories by Leigh Newman

This collection of occasionally-interlinking stories simmers with personalities hardened by the harsh wilderness, by the survival of the everyday and the illusion of escape. –Miranda Sanchez, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Rabbit Hutch by Tessa Gunty

Brought sharply to life by Tess Gunty’s intricate, precise, dishy prose; It’s dark, but funny. It’s tragic, but affirming. And I didn’t want to skim over a single sentence. –Kat Leache, Novel, Memphis, Tennessee

Independent booksellers. When they talk about books, they know what they are talking about.

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult


Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult
Ballantine Books / September 2022

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

A thought-provoking and riveting look at the difference between keeping things secret and keeping things private. Mad Honey is told in alternating voices and timelines by Olivia, the mother of Asher, and Lily, Asher’s new to town girlfriend. Both Olivia and Lily are familiar with starting over. Olivia by leaving an abusive husband and Lily by moving for her last year of high school. When Lily is found dead, all eyes focus on Asher as a likely suspect. The layers of both Lily and Olivia’s lives are revealed as the investigation and trial bring long-held secrets to light. This is a page-turner that will leave you wondering how far you would go to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Reviewed by Mary Jane Michels, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Lucy By the Sea by Elizabeth Strout


Elizabeth Strout Photo Credit C. Williams

One of the biggest conundrums was to get the sense of time,” Strout said of the grocery-washing era of 2020, when calendars went blank and sinister. “It’s like time just imploded. The sense of a day was strange and the sense of a week was even stranger, because what was a week? I wanted to get that down on the page somehow.” ―Elizabeth Strout, Interview, New York Times

What booksellers are saying about Lucy By the Sea

Lucy By the Sea by Elizabeth Strout
  • This is a story of loss, and coming to terms with it, and realizing that we are all just trying to do the best we can and get through it all. Another fabulous Elizabeth Strout novel!
    ―Beth Carpenter from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina | Buy from this store

  • I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Lucy Barton! Set in the early days of the COVID pandemic, Elizabeth Strout puts Lucy and her ex-husband (and still close friend) William together in a cabin in Maine. William is “saving Lucy’s life” by getting her out of Manhattan. For her part, Lucy doesn’t know what the big deal is. The two of them navigate this new world, and we are drawn back to that uncertain time when so much was unknown. In Lucy’s singular voice, Strout continues Lucy’s story with a keen eye and sharp prose.
      ―Lynne Phillips from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas | Buy from this store

  • “I could not stop feeling that life as I had known it was gone. Because it was. I knew this was true.” Lucy Barton feels this as the global pandemic took over all our lives… and didn’t we all feel this? Reading Lucy by the Sea leads the reader through the horrors and hopes of this strangest and most horrifying time of our collective lives. The unknown was with us every minute of lockdown and, as all our lives changed, we changed forever.  ―Nancy Pierce from Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia | Buy from this store

  • Strout explores grief in a new way in this pandemic-era novel. ‘Lucy By the Sea’ centers around the outbreak of COVID and everything that followed during the year after. I instantly fell deeply immersed in this story because I (and we all) lived through that year. I felt emotionally involved with Lucy and her world. I struggled with Lucy while she came to grips of the new reality that was COVID, my heart broke as her relationship with her daughters changed, and I rolled my eyes along with her at William. You are not invisible Lucy, we see you. 
    ―Jenny Gilroy from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georgia | Buy from this store

  • Elizabeth Strout brings her character, Lucy, back just as the world is shut down by the pandemic. Lucy finds herself quarantining with her ex-husband William in a small town in Maine and begins to see him from a different point of view. Lucy’s fresh outlook extends to her two daughters and their own life challenges. Told in Lucy’s clear, no-nonsense voice, the lockdown provides the backdrop for how to deal with a world in turmoil without losing hope.  ―Mary Jane Michels from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina | Buy from this store

About Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Oh William!Olive, AgainAnything Is Possible, winner of the Story Prize; My Name Is Lucy BartonThe Burgess BoysOlive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine.

The Invincible Miss Cust by Penny Haw


The Invincible Miss Cust by Penny Haw
Sourcebooks Landmark / October 2022

More Reviews from Bookmiser

Aleen Cust was born an English noblewoman in 1868 but developed a love for animals and a strong desire to be educated and become a veterinary surgeon. This ambition was unheard of in a woman, and it resulted in her mother and her siblings shunning her for life. Despite her family’s hatred of her desire to be educated and many societal obstacles, Aleen successfully trained in Scotland but was prohibited from qualifying because of her sex. She persisted in the field working with an Irish vet, Willie Byrne, with whom she developed an intense love relationship. She practiced veterinary science for 22 years before she was granted her diploma. Where would women be today if not for the brave, independent women who paved the path?.

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Alive at the End of the World by Saeed Jones


Alive at the End of the World by Saeed Jones
Coffee House Press / October 2022

More Reviews from Epilogue Books

Alive at the End of the World might not save my life, but it’s perfect company here between the rock and the hard place. Saeed Jones’ poems mold my daily depressive spiral into a crystalline mobius strip, looping endlessly back around to how we are harmed and do harm as this planet slouches towards Bethlehem. By turns grievous and grieving, this collection is a much-needed snapshot of coping mid-apocalypse.

Reviewed by Terrance Hudson, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra


Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra
Wednesday Books / October 2022

More Reviews from Story on the Square

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove is absolutely breathtaking! I had just been complaining to a colleague that I feel like too many books these days have lost a sense of lightness and whimsy in the canon. While this novel would be far from whimsical, there’s a lovely balance of humor and sweetness to the characters that balance out the darkness within the world and the story. Ultimately a story of deciding one’s birth isn’t what’s important, but what you choose to do, I fell in love with all the characters and had to immediately contact everyone I knew as soon as I finished to tell them to put this on their TBR. Katyani is relatable, talented, and has a sense of humor that had me smirking and laughing to myself without even realizing. Don’t miss out on this wonderful Indian inspired fantasy!

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

Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie


Still This Love Goes On by Buffy Sainte-Marie
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers / August 2022

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Super cute story that balances English and Spanish! Perfect for Halloween but really you can read this one year-round — witches are cool! And I’m always a fan of any picture book that requires you to rotate the book to see the words.

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

It Took Luke by Mark Bouchard


It Took Luke by Mark Bouchard
Oni Press / October 2022

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

If this is going to be a single volume story, then what a ride it was. The art style is great! I love how the only color on the pages are that of blood and gore. Gives the work a bit of uniqueness. Nothing I love more than a main character with a dark past and a giant sword (Berserk Inspiration 100%).

Reviewed by Ethan Davis, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

We Spread by Iain Reid


We Spread by Iain Reid
 Gallery/Scout Press / September 2022

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

A September 2022 Read This Next! Title

I adore the way Iain Reid can make you feel so clueless and enthralled at the same time. During most of We Spread I had no idea what was going on and it was completely fine by me. The way he writes, even the most horrifying feeling, is soothing. I found myself trying to read slower as I neared the end because the experience passed too quickly.

Reviewed by Mary Salazar, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Fairy Tale Solito Love on the Brain
Fox and I Southern Baby

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“A good book is an event in my life.”
– Stendhal

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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