The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Adult Nonfiction

Flip It Like This! by David Hayward

David Hayward, @NakedPastor, has brought his wit, his artistic skill, and his frankness into Flip It Like This! This book is for anyone who has ever questioned their faith, been undermined by their experiences, or turned away because of who they are. Within these simple pages holds the passion and love of an artist that is screaming out: I See you and I love you.

Flip It Like This! by David Hayward, (List Price: $19.99, Broadleaf Books, 9781506484723, July 2022)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

We’re Not Broken by Eric Garcia

As a neurotypical person, I learned so much from We’re Not Broken. Given that Eric is a reporter for a living, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this is such a well-researched book. The author is also a friend, and I’m so proud of this fantastic book he’s written — not only for bravely telling his story, but also for, as he writes in the book, bringing as many autistic people along with him as he can.

We’re Not Broken by Eric Garcia, (List Price: $16.99, Harvest, 9780358697145, August 2022)

Reviewed by Emily Liner, Friendly City Books in Columbus, Mississippi

Do the Work! by W. Kamau Bell

I’ve been a W. Kamau Bell fan for a while, so seeing that this book was coming was really exciting! It delivers exactly the combination of smart racial commentary and screwball energy that he brings to his comedy, packaged in endearing cartoons, graphics, and even activities like Mad Libs and crosswords. The informational parts of the book are well-cited with great further reading recommendations and benefit greatly from the conversational form between Bell and co-author Kate Schatz, both of whom are very good at maintaining levity while getting their points across crystal clear. This would be an excellent gift!

Do the Work! by W. Kamau Bell, (List Price: $22.95, Workman Publishing Company, 9781523514281, July 2022)

Reviewed by Akil Guruparan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Back to the Prairie by Melissa Gilbert

“There is no better pillow than one filled with hope and dreams.” writes Melissa Gilbert (the Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder) as she relates the latest years of her story of living through the COVID-19 pandemic. The reader will travel with Melissa as she transitions from dyed red hair and designer wear to granny gray hair and comfortable clothes. We meet her family and her husband Timothy Busfield as they decide on buying and living in a Catskills area ramshackle cabin/cottage (cabbage) and the struggles and work that go into their new home. We experience her pain and surgeries and her happiness with nature, her chickens, her cooking, and her new life. We all relive the lockdown fears and worries with the pandemic with the day-to-day reality of our situation and celebrate the vaccines and the freedom after our shots. Back to the Prairie will inspire all readers to evolve into our true selves and the happiness and comfort in finding who we are naturally meant to be.

Back to the Prairie by Melissa Gilbert, Timothy Busfield (foreword), (List Price: $28.00, Gallery Books, 9781982177188, May 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

The World As We Knew It by Amy Brady

A phenomenal collection of essays from fiction writers reflecting on the existential crisis that is climate change. It’s all excellent writing and full of the attention to the human condition you might expect from these literary powerhouses, but what really strikes me is how in every one of these essays I felt a deep sense of love, curiosity, and excitement about the natural world. These writers do not let their profession stop them from being interested in the natural sciences, and the inspiration they draw from them, even in the face of inevitable doom, is a gift to read.

The World As We Knew It by Amy Brady, (List Price: $16.95, Catapult, 9781646220304, June 2022)

Reviewed by Akil Guruparan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Dirtbag, Massachusetts by Isaac Fitzgerald

Darkly funny and brutally honest, this memoir about surviving a chaotic childhood is a page-turner. The author is a natural storyteller who also offers insight into his motivations and those of his parents. (And I can attest to the accuracy of his descriptions of high school, since we attended the same one, though at different times!)

Dirtbag, Massachusetts by Isaac Fitzgerald, (List Price: 27, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635573978, July 2022)

Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia

The Crane Wife by CJ Hauser

A July 2022 Read This Next! Title

This book! I loved it! Hauser made me feel less alone in the world, with her wit and frank yet conversational tone, she lets the reader know that life is messy and doesn’t always go as planned, and not only is that ok, it can be wonderful.

The Crane Wife by CJ Hauser, (List Price: $28, Doubleday, 9780385547079, July 2022)

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

A Girlhood by Carolyn Hays

While I suppose no book is perfect, I think A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter is about as perfect as they come.

It’s part memoir, part research project, part confessional. The writing is personal, tender, and fierce. I found so much that resonated about parenting in general, the way we love our kids and try to help them find the most joy possible in this life. And, as the wife of a trans guy, I also found kinship in the experience of watching someone transition and find their true selves. It’s beautiful. Sometimes frightening. And often hard for a host of reasons. But ultimately, joyful.

A Girlhood will be my go-to recommendation for anyone trying to understand gender identity or transness. And for parents of gay kids, trans kids, cis kids, gender non-conforming kids–parents of humans. I cannot think of anyone I wouldn’t recommend it to. As a person in the queer community who didn’t have a stellar coming out experience with my parents, I find narratives about parents who support and champion their LGBTQ kids to be a balm. Because I always believed I deserved better than I got–and seeing other kids get that kind of support is healing and hopeful. Because I was right. We do deserve better. And always have.

There’s lots of LGBTQ history mixed in to the narrative. And the writer is Catholic–so there’s also this gorgeous arc of what Catholicism can be. There’s a lot of hype there. But also a lot of realism. The author is constantly acknowledging her privilege and unpacking difficult social construction and religious dogma.

I am 100% enamored of Carolyn Hays’ intellect, compassion, and fierce love for her kid. This is a must read.

A Girlhood by Carolyn Hays, (List Price: $28.95, Blair, 9781949467901, September 2022)

Reviewed by Kendra Gayle Lee, Bookish Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia

Blood Orange Night by Melissa Bond

The deeply personal story of a journalist and young mother who is given a long-term prescription for drugs (benzodiazepines) that are meant for short time use only. Her descriptions of life as an addict are deeply personal and harrowing.

Blood Orange Night by Melissa Bond, (List Price: $27.99, Gallery Books, 9781982188276, June 2022)

Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in Memphis, Tennessee

Also a Poet by Ada Calhoun

Calhoun had a complicated relationship with her famous art critic father Peter Schjeldahl. This book started as an attempt to write a biography of poet Frank O’Hara that her father never finished. Having inherited his obsession with the poet, the author wrestles with creating a narrative with answers when obstacles (time, fire, other people) keep them hidden. I felt the frustration of her and her subjects as it infected me with its incessant whispers of almosts and near misses. Ultimately, the author gifts us with wise lessons of kindness and acceptance. An extraordinary, raw read!

Also a Poet by June Gervais, (List Price: $27, Grove Press Books, 9780802159786, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby

A searing meditation on identity and place, Boys and Oil captured my heart and opened my eyes. My husband is from North Dakota, and I thought I understood what it meant to have grown up in that state, but Taylor Brorby’s memoir showed me a different perspective. His writing on place is some of the most evocative I’ve read since Terry Tempest Williams; his love for his home state is evident despite the pain of growing up gay in a community that didn’t understand or welcome him. An important book and a must-read!

Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby, (List Price: $27.95, Liveright, 9781324090861, June 2022)

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

Learning Korean by Peter Serpico

Born in South Korean, Peter Serpico was adopted by an American family when he was two, and only started to discover the cooking of his native country as an adult. Full of practical home cooking for American families, this cookbook is a great introduction to one of the world’s most wonderful cuisines.

Learning Korean by Peter Serpico, (List Price: $35, W. W. Norton & Company, 9781324003229, May 2022)

Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in St Simons Island, Georgia

Middlemarch and the Imperfect Life: Bookmarked by Pamela Erens

A modern-day writer’s engaging appreciation of George Eliot’s Middlemarch and what she’s gained both as a writer and a woman from reading the iconic 19th-century novel over the years. Pamela Erens argues that Eliot’s sophisticated insights into human nature, her boundless compassion for her characters’ frailties, and her acceptance of their inevitable contradictions make her an especially wise guide to the struggles we face today. Erens is most thoughtful in discussing Eliot’s belief in the central role of community in society and of the responsibilities required of its members, and persuades us of its practicality today.

Middlemarch and the Imperfect Life: Bookmarked by Pamela Erens, (List Price: $14.95, Ig Publishing, 9781632461315, April 2022)

Reviewed by Clara Boza, Malaprop’s in Asheville, North Carolina

My America by Kwame Onwuachi

Kwame Onwuachi went from Top Chef Kwame to Author Kwame for me with Notes from a Young Black Chef, one of my favorite books of 2019. My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef blends chef and author to create a rich exploration of the food that influenced Onwuachi and he has been inspired to create. Featuring not just recipes but family history, travel stories, and anecdotal tales, My America is a celebration that deserves in place in everyone’s cookbook collection.

My America by Kwame Onwuachi, (List Price: $35, Knopf, 9780525659600, May 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Child by Judy Goldman

In her lovely memoir, Judy Goldman reflects on what it was like to be a young Jewish girl raised by a Black nanny in the 1940s and 50s south. Mattie Culp became a part of the Kurtz family: sleeping in young Judy’s bedroom, using the family bathroom, celebrating holidays with them—things unheard of in the Jim Crow south. Now in her 80s, Goldman reflects on what Mattie had to give up—including her own child—in order to make the Kurtz family’s life so much easier.

Child by Judy Goldman, (List Price: $28, University of South Carolina Press, 9781643362830, May 2022)

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

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