The Southern Bookseller Review 9/6/22

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of September 6, 2022

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The week of September 6, 2022

Read banned books.

Banned Books Shelf by Jane Mount
Banned Books Shelf by Jane Mount

Last week a Virginia Judge dismissed two petitions to have two books, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, declared in violation of the state’s obscenity law. Books are usually challenged by parents who don’t think they should be in a school or public library’s collection. The Virginia ban, however, would have meant private businesses — like bookstores — could be criminally charged for selling books to a minor. If the petition had been successful, it would have meant the books could not be given or sold to children 16 and under, even by their parents. Independent booksellers celebrated the judge’s decision as "a total victory" for freedom of speech.

Gender Queer was the most challenged book in the country last year, was part of what PEN America calls an "alarming spike" in the number of book challenges (over 1500).

You can read what booksellers have to say about it in this week’s "Book Buzz." In the end, the only way to judge a book is to read it and decide for yourself.

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

On the Rooftop by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton


On the Rooftop by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
Ecco / September 2022

More Reviews from Copperfish Books

Vivian tries to live her dream of becoming a star through her three daughters, who’ve become a local sensation as a singing trio. She’s spent years training them vigorously on the roof top of her home and booking performances at nearby venues, when one day she gets a promising offer that could change their lives. But the girls have dreams of their own, and one by one each unfolds, threatening the vision Vivian has built for them all. At the same time, and the neighborhood is about to change as developers descend on Vivian’s community to buy up homes and business properties. Set in 1950’s San Francisco, I enjoyed this family drama and each member’s search for individual fulfillment, in the midst of their collective struggle to keep their community together. Intimate, emotional – a pleasure to read!

Reviewed by Cathy Graham, Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe


Maia Kobabe Photo Credit Maia Kobabe

I spent a lot of time not knowing what I was, not having a label for how I felt. I can’t tell you how many countless pages of journal entries I wrote asking, “Am I gay, am I bi, am I a lesbian, am I a boy, am I a girl, am I neither, am I half and half” etc. This questioning took up a huge amount of my mental space, and I definitely wanted to hold the readers in that period of uncertainty, in that undefined grey area. ” ―Maia Kobabe, Interview, Geeks Out

What booksellers are saying about Gender Queer

TGender Queer by Maia Kobabe
  • Gender Queer is Maia Kobabe’s autobiography about eir journey to identifying as nonbinary and asexual, and coming out to eir family and society. It’s an essential read for everyone – whether you’re looking for beautiful representation or a path to learn more about our nonbinary and asexual friends. Gender Queer deals with so many issues that every young person goes through in life, no matter how they identify. It is an award-winning book for a reason! ―Emily Lessig from The Violet Fox Bookshop in Virginia Beach, Virginia
    Buy from The Violet Fox Bookshop

  • I think the thing I admired most about this book was the tender honesty with which Kobabe shares eir most intimate and private moments. This book shares with us the story of a brilliantly unique life while also inviting the reader in and bridging the gap between author and reader in the most personal ways. E leaves no detail of eir story unexplored or unexposed. How gracious e is with us, to be so truthful. Excellently done. Highly recommend to anyone curious to understand and learn more about the lived experiences of genderqueer individuals, or to anyone genderqueer themself looking to see themselves in literature.
      ―Juliet Rosner from E. Shaver, bookseller in Savannah, Georgia
    Buy from E. Shaver, bookseller

  • A beautiful memoir of self-discovery and what Maia overcame as a teen/young adult to finally feel at home in eir body, and things e *still* struggles with to this day. Captures the confusing and overwhelming experiences of young LGBTQ persons in a relatable, sometimes humorous(!) way  ―Mallory Sutton from Bards Alley in Vienna, Virginia
    Buy from Bards Alley

About Maia Kobabe

Maia Kobabe is a nonbinary, queer author and illustrator from the Bay Area, California. Eir first full length book, Gender Queer: A Memoir, was published in May 2019. Maia’s short comics have been published by The Nib and in many anthologies including The Secret Loves of Geek, Faster That Light Y’All, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love, Shout Out, Advance Death Saves and Be Gay, Do Comics. Before setting out to work freelance full-time, e worked for over ten years in libraries. Eir work is heavily influenced by fairy tales, homesickness, and the search for identity.

The Woman Who Killed the Fish by Clarice Lispector


The Woman Who Killed the Fish by Clarice Lispector
New Directions / September 2022

More Reviews from Square Books

These animal stories are masterpieces of skill in the narratorial voice, shining jewel-like displays of how much characterization can be snuck in the smallest choices in diction. Lispector is like Thurber and Saint-Exupery in that she can write a story as enthralling for children as adults.

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy,


I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
Simon & Schuster / August 2022

More Reviews from Fountain Books

Just wow. I said something a lot more explicit when I finished this one but oh my GOD. From the boldest title I’ve seen in years to a page opener that just makes your jaw drop, Jennette McCurdy is changing what it means to have a "celebrity memoir". I don’t even want to call it that, this isn’t your typical ghost-written light gossipy fluff read, this is a shattering story of a young woman robbed of her childhood and innocence while being 100% transparent about the abuse she suffered throughout her career. Heavy trigger warning of addiction and eating disorders with this one, but please put this one on your TBR. No competition my favorite nonfiction of the year.

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Problem with the Other Side by Kwame Ivery


The Problem with the Other Side by Kwame Ivery
Soho Teen / August 2022

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

Uly and Sallie don’t let their differing races (or anything, for that matter) get in the way of their relationship. That is, until the school election rolls around and they find themselves working against each other to benefit their siblings’ opposing campaigns, one of which is built of a bigotry capable of tearing Uly and Sallie–and the entire school–apart. Ivery has managed to craft the perfect mix of funny humor and serious social justice in this engaging read. His entertaining writing style brings Uly and Sallie to life in their dual perspectives. If you’re looking for a lighthearted contemporary read which doesn’t fail to highlight the racial and social injustices that continue to plague our nation, look no further than The Problem With the Other Side.

Reviewed by Ethan, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Blue Baboon Finds Her Tune by Helen Docherty


Blue Baboon Finds Her Tune by Helen Docherty
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky / September 2022

More Reviews from Page 158 Books

Love this rhyming, colorful book full of fun! Your child will quickly fall under the spell of Blue Baboon. When you find your place on Earth you can do anything.

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

My Aunt Is a Monster by Reimena Yee


My Aunt Is a Monster by Reimena Yee
Random House Graphic / September 2022

More Reviews from Foggy Pine Books

Such a wonderful, well-drawn, and well-written graphic novel! A girl learning how to be herself and loving all the oddities of the world, surrounded by supernatural family and daring adventures brings warmth to my heart. I also love that being blind isn’t the focus of this story, that having a disability is not all that she is, that kids who are blind can have just as many wacky adventures as those who are not. Overall, such a heartfelt graphic novel – I can’t wait for the next one (gives me Beetle & the Hollowbones vibes too!)

Reviewed by Grace Quinn, Foggy Pine Books in Boone, North Carolina

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Artemis Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer


Artemis Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer
 Central Avenue Publishing / September 2022

More Reviews from Bookmarks

A September 2022 Read This Next! Title

Trista Mateer punched me directly in the chest with this poetry collection. Carved my heart out and served it back to me with a sprig of parsley on top. Every page of this book is chock full of beautiful, enchanting words that dig in deep and tear up the soil to reveal things you might not have thought about in years. Even if a poem doesn’t directly connect with you, it will in fact, ruin you.

Reviewed by Caitlyn Vanorder, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

Babel Path Lit By Lightning Circe
The Splendid and the Vile Lightlark

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper. ”
– David Quammen

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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