The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Adult Nonfiction

Spotlight On: So Long As It’s Wild by Barbara Jenkins


Barbara Jenkins, photo by author

I remembered my granny who traveled to Arkansas as a child in a covered wagon, and then spent her whole life scratching a living out of the rocky hills of the Ozarks. She didn’t have more than a cotton dress and a tattered apron, but I never heard her whine about being poor, cooking on a hot wood stove or making 100 biscuits each morning for her large family. Between my new husband insisting I shape up and memories of her endurance, I walked on and kept my mouth shut.
― Barbara Jenkins Interview, Huff Post

So Long As It's Wild by Barbara Jenkins

What booksellers are saying about So Long As It’s Wild

  • So Long As It’s Wild is a book about walking the same way The Odyssey is a book about sailing. Barbara’s story is incredible, and one that many women can relate to – that of being overlooked and sidelined in favor of her male partner. Her voice rings loud and clear in this memoir, telling not only her side of the story but her story alone. The writing is graceful, at times reading like an adventure novel, at times like poetry. I loved this one.
      ― Ellen Woodall, Blacksburg Books in Blacksburg, VA | Buy from Blacksburg Books

  • A fascinating story of the trials and tribulations of not only a walk across the country, but a young marriage finding its way.
      ― Kelley Dykes, Main Street Reads in Summerville, SC | Buy from Main Street Reads

About Barbara Jenkins

Barbara Jenkins grew up in the wild beauty of the Ozarks with no running water and homemade clothes. The first in her family to go beyond an 8th grade education, she received her Master’s from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She shot to fame in 1976 with her then-husband for their ambitious walk across America. That journey became the inspiration for their New York Times bestseller The Walk West, selling over 12 million copies. She has since published a number of other books, including The Road Unseen, a Gold Medallion Book Award winner. Her writing and entrepreneurship has been featured on Good Morning America, Reader’s Digest and more. Jenkins now travels the country, speaking at universities, conventions, and other events about her story. When she is not writing, speaking, or traveling, Jenkins loves spending time with her granddaughters, Josephine and Lyla. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.


Airplane Mode by Shahnaz Habib

A December Read This Next! Title

It’s interesting to me that the subtitle of this book describes it as an “irreverent” history of travel, because I found this to be some of the most moving travel writing I’ve read in recent years — it’s funny, witty, sometimes scathing, but it’s also deeply sincere, personal, and imbued with a love of the world and the people who inhabit it. Each chapter is perfectly constructed and packed with gorgeous sentences. I really appreciated the perspective that the author shares in this book; it will change how I think about traveling. I want to push this book into everyone’s hands!

Airplane Mode by Shahnaz Habib, (List Price: $27, Catapult, 9781646220151, December 2023)

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

Being Henry by Henry Winkler

I wanted to reach through the pages and hug this little boy who wasn’t loved by his family. Henry was born to Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. The trauma must have been horrible for them, but a child is innocent. Henry was a funny kid who got away with so much outside his home and was grounded for life always inside it His parents called him dumb dog in German. He had no idea he had dyslexia until his early 30’s but was able to complete college and ended up gettin into Yale Theater Group for his masters. He is not to be kept down. They took a chance on him with Happy Days but what happened on that show and after leaves you cheering him on. I can’t wait to meet him again. Last time he stole my wine and I want it back.

Being Henry by Henry Winkler, (List Price: $30, Celadon Books, 9781250888099, October 2023)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Emperor of Rome by Mary Beard

Mary Beard is a legend among historians, and a queen to history lovers. As both, I need everyone to know that this book is the perfect way to explore the psychology of what it meant to be THE Emperor of Rome. What it meant to the historical figures around them. Everything. It’s such a fascinating look at such complex figures that we realistically only know a limited amount about due to how long ago Rome was, and how often their successors attempted to erase them from history, even casually so after their deaths. If you’re looking for further exploration into the archetype of the Roman Emperor, you’ll delight in this book.

Emperor of Rome by Mary Beard, (List Price: $39.99, Liveright, 9780871404220, October 2023)

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

The Farmer’s Wife by Helen Rebanks

Jointly, The Farmer’s Wife and The Shepherd’s Life (written by Helen’s husband James), provide a unique look at both the travails of small farm life and married life. On its own, The Farmer’s Wife reminded me of Laurie Colwin with deep insights into daily life and the joys of cooking good food. Thoughtful, challenging with delicious recipes and beautifully illustrated, this will be a go-to gift book for me.

The Farmer’s Wife by Helen Rebanks, (List Price: $29.99, Harper Horizon, 9780785290483, September 2023)

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Class by Stephanie Land

Land once again takes readers into the lived experience of poverty and class divides. She calls out the emotional and physical cost of being a single parent and a student and the bizarre barriers courts and agencies throw up. An education in inequality and perseverance, you will never think of resilience in the same way again.

Class by Stephanie Land, (List Price: $28, Atria/One Signal Publishers, 9781982151393, November 2023)

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

We Are Too Many by Hannah Pittard

We Are Too Many is a memoir of the end (and beginning) of a marriage. Told hilariously over three parts, Hannah Pittard invites readers to follow her through ten years of time-jumped remembered conversations. Her story is written with a refreshing amount of honesty as she leads the reader through her discovery that her husband and best friend have had sex, along with what came before and after. Unfinchingly honest and hilarious, Pittard seamlessly blends fact with fiction to make an unforgettable memoir. I finished this in one afternoon. I could not put it down — nor did I want to. A gem for anyone who loves memoir, language play, a book that reads like a documentary, or a delightful and entertaining read.

We Are Too Many by Hannah Pittard, (List Price: 26.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250869043, May 2023)

Reviewed by Deva, The Snail On the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl

An October Read This Next! Book!

Margaret Renkl’s writing is the literary equivalent to being wrapped in a soft blanket in your favorite chair with a cup of tea on a crisp day. The Comfort of Crows continues her beautiful way with words (after her stellar Late Migrations) with 52 essays of her observations that take the reader through the seasons of the year…from the beauty of nature and all it encompasses to the varying human emotions and stages of life. You will want to plant something, feed something, preserve something, and protect something all at the same time. You don’t have to be a nature lover to read this book, but you will be by the time you finish it.

The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl, (List Price: 32, Spiegel & Grau, 9781954118461, October 2023)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

This Isn’t Going to End Well by Daniel Wallace

Daniel Wallace’s newest work is a combination memoir and biography, telling his own story alongside that of friend and brother-in-law, William Nealy. This Isn’t Going To End Well begins in 1970s Alabama capturing llaissez-faire parenting, and the idleness and creativity of childhood at the time. Fast forward to our beloved Chapel Hill, the book moves from adolescence to adulthood, asking the question: How well do we ever really know someone? Wallace makes you feel like you are sitting with an old friend, reminiscing. The people rattle around in your head, and the writing is clean and clever. An especially great read for outdoor enthusiasts and artists, writers and lovers. Wallace has written a story of family, adventure, following your dreams, and sadly, tragedy. This Isn’t Going To End Well is gentle and kind, even when life is not.

This Isn’t Going to End Well by Daniel Wallace, (List Price: $28, Algonquin Books, 9781643752105, April 2023)

Reviewed by Peggy Mulqueen, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Omega Farm by Martha McPhee

When you return home, everything looks smaller. When you go home after a messed up childhood, you go back to an almost fetal position. You feel like the child you were-not the adult who has been successful. This memoir by Martha McPhee will lead you down her rabbit hole grieving for what she lived through while taking care of her mother during the pandemic. It is not all sad though, there are so many layers of hope, love and forgiveness.

Omega Farm by Martha McPhee, (List Price: 28, Scribner, 9781982197995, September 2023)

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

How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair

    This is the best book I’ve read this year, certainly one of the best books I’ve ever read. Sinclair is a poet’s writer who also delivers a thriller, a fascinating history of her religion and country and a call to social justice all at the same time. Vivid imagery, elegance and brilliance are on every page. Please don’t miss this!

    How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair, (List Price: 28.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982132330, October 2023)

    Lisa Uotinen from Book No Further in Roanoke, Virginia

Against Technoableism by Ashley Shew

If this is what we can expect from the very extensive planned series "Norton Shorts", sign me up for life! Ashley Shew is a professor of science, technology, and society at Virginia Tech and specializes in ethics in tech and disability studies. This intro to disability studies is aggressively frank, passionate, and a real wake up call for those who do not live with a disability…yet. The author’s own personal story of being a self-described "hard-of-hearing, chemo-brained amputee" challenges the medical model of physical and neurodiversity disabilities and argues for a social model based on the fact that the disabled don’t need to be "improved" to make the abled feel better. With life-expectancies lengthening, post-COVID illnesses for many, and climate related health problems, most of us can count on being part of the largest minority in the world for some portion of our lives. Essential reading!

Against Technoableism by Ashley Shew, (List Price: 22, W. W. Norton & Company, 9781324036661, September 2023)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

While You Were Out by Meg Kissinger

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.

While You Were Out by Meg Kissinger, (List Price: $30, Celadon Books, 9781250793775, September 2023)

Reviewed by Horton’s Books in Carrollton, Georgia

The Six by Loren Grush

A September 2023 Read This Next Book!

I dressed up as Sally Ride in the fourth grade after visiting the Johnson Space Center, and I’ve been a fan ever since! I have spent hours reading books and watching documentaries about all things NASA for years of my life, but I still learned so many new things reading this book. The new insight that Grush brings to this era of NASA history is fascinating; by telling the story though the perspectives of the first six women astronauts she situates the space shuttle in a way I have not seen before. She also has a knack for explaining complicated engineering or scientific concepts in very clear, short paragraphs, which I really appreciated! This will be a great addition to any space fan’s library.

The Six by Loren Grush, (List Price: $32.5, Scribner, 9781982172800, September 2023)

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

Move Like Water by Hannah Stowe

Beautifully evocative, Stowe’s memoir captures the emotional and physical pull of open waters in a visceral and compelling way. A book that can be read on many levels– memoir, a natural history guide, a call to care–with it’s strength in the intersection of all. If you love oceans, women explorers and artists, or just a book to challenge your mind and soul, this one is for you.

Move Like Water by Hannah Stowe, (List Price: 24.95, Tin House Books, 9781959030102, September 2023)

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

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