The Southern Bookseller Review: The Art of Memoir

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for January, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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January 2023

Our own stories: the art of the memoir.

The month’s special edition of The Southern Bookseller Review is dedicated to the art of the memoir — a genre that is as unique and diverse as each person’s story. Of all the nonfiction books reviewed in SBR, those that come under the heading "personal memoirs" are by far the most numerous and most popular. Perhaps that is because in these stories we see our own stories, with the added comfort that they are not imagined, but real.

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”
–J.M. Barrie

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Southern Book Prize Finalist!

What’s the best Southern book of the year?

This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris


This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris
Catapult / January 2022

More Reviews from Blue Cypress Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

This Boy We Made is heart-wrenching. I couldn’t put it down. As a mother I was absolutely enveloped in the author’s journey through this incredibly difficult time in her life. At every turn I was in awe of her grace in dealing with what life continued to throw at her.


This Boy We Made by Taylor Harris, (List Price: $26.00, Catapult, 9781948226844, Hardcover, January 2022, Paperback, January 2023)

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan


Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir by Iliana Regan
Agate Midway / December 2022

More Reviews from Novel

Fieldwork is an exploration into the author’s passion for the natural world and her chosen place in it. She delves into the beginning of her love for food and foraging as a child growing up on a homestead and she expands upon it in the unsteady present as a chef/restaurant owner during a global pandemic. In doing so, she views topics such as her addictions, sexuality, and personal growth through the lens of how her family history and the forests are beautifully intertwined. This memoir is heartfelt, honest, and perfectly written.

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Drinking Games by Sarah Levy


Sarah Levy, photo credit Sarah Levy

You know, I think that my lies were always designed to make everyone think that I was okay, and to make it seem like I had it all figured out, and that everything was perfect. The meat of the book — the story that I really set out to tell — was the truth. It was that I wasn’t okay, I was not perfect, and that I was struggling. I think that my friends and family, even now, if I say, “I’m fine. Everything is good,” that’s usually when I’m not telling the truth, because I’m a human being, and there’s usually something going on.” ―Sarah Levy, Interview, Shondaland

What booksellers are saying about Drinking Games

Drinking Games by Sarah Levy
  • Drinking Games is an unflinchingly honest look at how alcohol influenced almost every part of Sarah Levy’s life as a twenty-something living big in New York City. Levy shares her experiences like sharing with a friend, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always with insight and grace. A must read for anyone who’s questioned not only choices about alcohol but about anything that makes their life feel out of control.
      ―Beth Seufer Buss from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

  • I loved Sarah’s very frank and honest recount of her relationship with alcohol. Her self aware and candid writing will be a much needed voice for many who are re-considering the way we look at drinking as a culture. It is also a fantastic memoir about making hard changes for a better life.
      ―Laura Taylor from Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL | Buy from Oxford Exchange

  • Sarah Levy brings you on her journey of why she got sober, how she found help, and celebrating her new sober life. It felt like chatting with a close friend as she shared her fears about dating while sober and how is she going to celebrate life milestones without a glass of champagne. It was relatable and honest! I would recommend this memoir to anyone that was sober curious and wanted to discuss drinking culture in your 20s.
      ―Juliana Reyes from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Sarah Levy

Sarah Levy is a writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York. Her work examines the intersection of sobriety, relationships, and identity and has been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine/The Cut, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vogue, Elle, and other publications. She holds a B.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University and pursued a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from The New School. Drinking Games is her first book.

Unraveling by Peggy Orenstein


Unraveling by Peggy Orenstein
Harper / January 2023

More Reviews from Bookmiser

While reading Unraveling, not only did I find out about sheering sheep and spinning and dyeing wool, I learned much more about climate sustainability and fire dangers and go bags in California. I also lived some of the pandemic through Peggy Orenstein’s eyes and felt her sadness over the loss of her parents and her daughter Daisy going off to school and all of our eventual aging. This book covered much of the history of women and women’s rights and making clothing from fairy tales to knitting today’s pussy hats. I also learned that we discard 80 pounds of clothes a year per person with most of it ending up in landfills. This book has made me determined to buy less and think about my purchases and our climate emergencies. Rarely have I read a book that has affected me so deeply as I also felt I had made a new friend by reading the author’s story. I look forward to reading this over with friends and my book club.

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Weightless by Evette Dionne


Weightless by Evette Dionne
Ecco / December 2022

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Thank you, Evette Dionne, for being honest, funny, and straight-up real about what it’s like to be not ‘thin’ in today’s world! From doctor visits to being obsessed with reality TV about weight loss, I felt relief knowing I wasn’t alone. Her memoir takes you through her journey with agoraphobia, motherhood, online dating, and living her life to her fullest after being diagnosed with heart failure in her late twenties. I can’t wait for more people to read it!

Reviewed by Juliana Reyes, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Ducks by Kate Beaton


Ducks by Kate Beaton
Drawn and Quarterly / September 2022

More Reviews from One More Page

As an avid fan of Kate Beaton since her days slinging snarky, hilarious comics in Hark, A Vagrant!, I have been waiting for her graphic memoir for years!! Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands is a stunningly beautiful story of Kate’s time working in the male-dominated Alberta oil industry to pay off her student loans, full of gorgeous, melancholy art and powerful emotions just under the surface. It’s an exceptional book about loneliness, labor, survival in a male-dominated world, and finding your way home.

Reviewed by Rebecca Speas, One More Page Books in Arlington, Virginia

Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire


Once Upon a Tome by Oliver Darkshire
W. W. Norton & Company / March 2023

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

I believe that Oliver Darkshire could turn any non-reader into a bibliophile. Darkshire writes a wonderfully hilarious and witty banter about the unique and rather unknown process of selling rare books. I was traveling to London in the spring anyways, but now Sotherean’s is first on the stop all thanks to Oliver. 

Reviewed by Lena Malpeli, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

B.F.F. by Christie Tate


B.F.F. by Christie Tate
Avid Reader Press / February 2023

More Reviews from Snail on the Wall

As kids, we focus so much of our time and energy on friendships, and then as we become adults, everything changes. It’s hard to make new friends, and it’s often harder to keep old ones. In B.F.F. Christie Tate bares her soul about female friendship in the same way she did about her therapy sessions in Group. It’s refreshing and reassuring to find out that other women feel isolated, alienated, and hurt by the people they claim as friends. And, though Tate doesn’t have any easy answers, she does let us accompany her on the journey to heal old wounds and become a better friend.

Reviewed by Lady Smith, The Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

Zig-Zag Boy by Tanya Frank


Zig-Zag Boy by Tanya Frank
 W. W. Norton & Company / February 2023

More Reviews from Main Street Books

A harrowing memoir about a mother doing all she can to help her son as he navigates a psychiatric diagnosis. I could feel author Tanya Frank’s desperation and determination to help her child, and I was left feeling her frustration over our flawed mental healthcare system.

Reviewed by Jessica Nock, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

God’s Ex-Girlfriend by Gloria Beth Amodeo


God’s Ex-Girlfriend by Gloria Beth Amodeo
 Ig Publishing / February 2023

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

I’m always interested in a good memoir about religious experience. God’s Ex-Girlfriend did not disappoint. Amodeo’s time with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) was full of revelations about how the movement can trap young people at their most vulnerable time: college and the days beyond. Amodeo seriously adopted the evangelical ideas, but found it wasn’t the support she needed to find her true self. A real eye-opener!

Reviewed by Linda Hodges, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Parting Thought

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”
– Lois Lowry

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