The Southern Bookseller Review 9/5/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of September 5, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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The week of September 5, 2023

Booksellers on the Bestsellers


The Southern Indie Bestseller List that appears in this newsletter is compiled from sales made at independent bookstores in the Southeast, compiled by the American Booksellers Association. There are always interesting differences compared to other national bestseller lists such as that of the New York Times (which does not include Good Night Outer Banks on its list this week.) As such, it is a reflection of what Southern readers are reading. And because some of those Southern readers are booksellers, here is what they have to say about some of the books on this week’s list:

The Last Ranger by Peter Heller
Peter Heller, where have you been all my life?! Clearly, I’ve been living under a rock. This is my first Peter Heller and I’m hooked. I love the commentary on conservation and national parks and how we, as a society, interact with our natural world.
– Jill Naylor from Novel in Memphis, TN

Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond
Without cynicism or defeatism, Matthew Desmond dismantles every excuse, every stammering, faux-sympathetic rationalization for not just the severity of American poverty, but its existence at all.
– Sam Edge from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC

Trust by Hernan Diaz
Hernan Diaz’s second novel Trust is an example of genuinely spectacular literature. Diaz has woven a story within a story within a story in this novel. Do yourself a favor: dive in and immerse yourself.
– Rachel Watkins from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA

I Will Read to You by Gideon Sterer, Charles Santoso (illus.)
This truly original picture book turns the tables on reading aloud at bedtime. A heartwarming story paired with delightful illustrations.
– Rae Ann Parker from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
An absolutely incredible, insightful, and clear eyed look at our limited time on this earth and the ways we use it. Funny and brilliantly wise, Burkeman has fundamentally shifted the way I think about my to-do list.
– Caleb Masters from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

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…

My Shadow Is Yours by Edoardo Nesi


My Shadow Is Yours by Edoardo Nesi
Other Press / September 2023

More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

It is rare that I burst into tears reading the last sentence of a novel. I can count the number of times it has happened on one hand. Bawdy, ballsy, and brainy, My Shadow Is Yours is also tender and wise. A recent college graduate is hired to accompany a reclusive middle-aged novelist on a road trip to Milan. There he is scheduled to speak to an audience for the first time in 25 years when his one and only cultural landmark of a novel was published. As they travel across Italy, they bond over women, wine, and have violent, intensely personal arguments about life. Crushing and raw, caustic and funny. For me, it was perfection!

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White

Andrew Joseph White, photo credit Alice ScottAn August 2023 Read This Next! Title

“I think the best horror is a combination of the fear of something inside themselves and something external, especially when one of them inherently feeds the other. However, external horror is what speaks the most to me as both a writer and reader. I can’t speak for all marginalized identities, obviously, but external horror for a lot of marginalized identities is terrifying because it’s real. The world is always lurking, waiting to make a horror movie of our lives or the lives of those we love. It doesn’t care about your internality. You’re different, and therefore a target. For me, the best horror acknowledges that, illustrates that, and allows the internality of both the character and the audience to expand from there.” ― Andrew Joseph White, Interview, Scifi Pulse

What booksellers are saying about The Spirit Bares Its Teeth

The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White
  • White’s brutal tale of a reimagined 1880s London where some people can commune with the dead is harsh and captivating. Silas wants nothing more to escape his family’s plan to marry him off to the highest bidder and force him to behave like the girl they think he is. But he has other plans. However, when his plan blows up and he’s sent to a sanitarium/finishing school to heal his sickness, he finds that things can always be worse. But there are a few bright spots in the cast ugliness.
      ― Jennifer Jones from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser

  • Andrew Joseph White’s phenomenal debut, "Hell Followed With Us," would seem like a tough act to follow but White’s fans won’t be disappointed: "The Spirit Bares Its Teeth" is just as incredible. White tackles the overlapping ways in which misogyny, transphobia, and ableism manifest in society through a ghost-infested finishing school where protagonist Silas Bell must work with the spirits of deceased students to expose the school’s medical and psychiatric abuses and break free of the system’s tyrannical rule. 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 | Buy from Square Books

  • Absolutely amazing gothic exploration of ableism and transphobia in a Victorian context. Heartwarming, vindictive, and vicious.
      ― Minna Banawan from Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC | Buy from Park Road Books

About Andrew Joseph White

Andrew Joseph White is a queer, trans author from Virginia, where he grew up falling in love with monsters and wishing he could be one too. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University in 2022  and has a habit of cuddling random street cats. Andrew writes about trans kids with claws and fangs, and what happens when they bite back.

Wellness by Nathan Hill


Wellness by Nathan Hill
 Knopf / September 2023

More Reviews from E. Shaver, bookseller

Nathan Hill has done it again! Wellness is so good, I think my heart both broke and grew at the same time, while reading it. Hill’s ability to capture both the beauty and horror of life are astounding. There is so much more I could say about this book, but I don’t want to spoil the magic of it for other readers! "Behind curtains, this, he thinks, is what lovers do-they are alchemists and architects; they invent the world around them." Indeed, this is what lovers do. Thank you for this wonderful book!

Reviewed by Jessica Osborne, E. Shaver Bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

While You Were Out by Meg Kissinger


While You Were Out by Meg Kissinger
Celadon Books / September 2023

More Reviews from Horton’s Books

Meg Kissinger begins with an intimate portrayal of a family silently battling mental illness and ends with an exploration of the mental health system that failed them. Her writing is both compassionate and thought provoking. She evokes sympathy for the plight of those with mental illness and anger at the failings of our mental health system.

Reviewed by Horton’s Books in Carrollton, Georgia

Curious Tides by Pascale Lacelle


Curious Tides by Pascale Lacelle
Margaret K. McElderry Books / October 2023

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

Curious Tides centers a lush magic system unlike anything I’ve seen before. The celestial lore was beautifully crafted, and Lacelle’s prose is as captivating as a high tide. I deeply appreciated the subtle LGBTQIA rep and the care with which each interpersonal entanglement was treated. I’ve no doubt that Curious Tides will become a staple in the dark academia/fantasy niche, and I cannot wait for the sequel.

Reviewed by Isabel Agajanian, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Stuff Kids Should Know by Chuck Bryant


Stuff Kids Should Know by Chuck Bryant
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) / August 2023

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

Long gone are the days of perusing encyclopedias for fun random information, but Information Junkies unite! Now we have Stuff Kids Should Know, a spin off from the wildly popular podcast of the same name that provides curious kids a place to discover amazing random information. Stack them up. These make the perfect holiday gift.

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Roaming by Jillian Tamaki


Roaming by Jillian Tamaki
Drawn and Quarterly / September 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Mariko and Jillian Tamaki are back with another slam-dunk of a graphic novel, this time their adult debut. I was captivated! This story of three friends visiting New York for the first time in 2009 after their first year of college was so relatable, especially the way they captured the different pairings between the trio. Zoe and Dani are long-time best friends who are reuniting after a year apart, but Fiona is the Dani’s new friend from college. I loved seeing the way tensions rose and dissipated. And as usual, Jillian Tamaki’s art is gorgeous!

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

Decide for Yourself

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

Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love


Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Candlewick / April 2018

More Reviews from McIntyre’s Books

A beautiful and light-hearted story for every kind of fanciful and imaginative kid! Jessica Love’s illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and so easily portray Julian’s wish to be a magical creature. This is a delightfully simple story that explores gender expression and individuality. Careful details also help communicate Julian’s fear of revealing his identity to his Abuela, an important representation that kids need for all kinds of situations.

Reviewed by Johanna Albrecht, McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Last Ranger Baking Yesteryear West with the Giraffes
Killers of the Flower Moon Warrior Girl Unearthed

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.”
— S.I. Hayakawa

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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