The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

African American & Black

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli

This is such a beautifully written story. The characters are so wonderfully honest and real. You are truly immersed in Eve’s world, you feel her pain and confusion. This is the story of one woman’s journey through grief and guilt after her husband takes his own life. Written like a memoir, straight from Eve’s thoughts and feelings, we follow her through every up and down, her highs and her lows. This is a beautiful reminder about the struggles of mental illness and the hidden pain of those around us. This is a must read!

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli, (List Price: $27.99, Graydon House, 9781525899805, September 2022)

Reviewed by Makayla Summers, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley

Cauley cleverly constructs a story about how disenfranchisement cultivates a daunting landscape. Anyone who has been forced to make a decision with limited choices will instantly connect with and root for the main character Aretha. Even if it’s a bit stressful to witness.

The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley (List Price: $27, Soft Skull, 9781593767273, January 2023)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

I Saw Death Coming by Kidada E. Williams

In school, we learned that the period of Reconstruction was a failure. In her book, Williams provides the reasons for that failure. With brutal personal testimonies from the Klan hearings of the 1870s and interviews documented by the Works Progress Administration, Williams illustrates the terror of nighttime raids and the trauma that resulted. Following the experiences of several Black families across the South, Williams reveals the extent of the injustices they endured, being robbed of land, family members, livelihoods, community, and their mental and physical health. Williams’ first-person accounts of Post-Civil War America provide a necessary component of our nation’s history, a history every citizen should know.

I Saw Death Coming by Kidada E. Williams, (List Price: 30, Bloomsbury Publishing, 9781635576634, January 2023)

Reviewed by Lera Shawver, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks

A January 2023 Read This Next! Title

Romantic love, familial love, and the love of place play out against the background of late 1950s – early 1960s civil rights era. After the loss of her last family member, Alice flees her former home and the overt racial and sexualized violence by the landowner. She disembarks by chance in an entirely Black town – and what is meant to be a brief stop on her way north becomes a new home. New Jessup rose back up from the swamp and from the ashes of a white race riot, and the town carefully maintains a very public anti-integration stance to protect itself from attention from the white side of town. When Alice falls for the son of a town founder, she slowly learns that her Raymond been involved in the civil rights actions in Montgomery – and his affiliation with a group that works towards desegregation elsewhere creates tensions within their love story. A beautifully written exploration of just some of the variety of opinions within the civil rights era Black community on freedom, equality, and safety.

Moonrise Over New Jessup by Jamila Minnicks (List Price: $28, Algonquin Books, 9781643752464, January 2023)

Reviewed by Ginger Kautz, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Grocery Shopping with My Mother by Kevin Powell

This will inspire sobbing and a phone call to your mama. Deeply accessible, beautiful work.

Grocery Shopping with My Mother by Kevin Powell (List Price: $24, Soft Skull, 9781593767433, December 2022)

Reviewed by Aimee Keeble, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Justice of the Pies by Maya-Camille Broussard

What a beautiful cookbook! It’s the perfect blend of stunning visuals, original and well-written recipes, dynamite prose in the talky bits, plus a strong social-justice mission. Broussard presents her sweet and savory recipes from the point-of-view of a Black, hearing-impaired, small business owner who has been giving back to her Chicago community through teaching, donating, and empowering others. Between the recipes (and inspiring many) are profiles of people she calls "Stewards": others who strive for equity. If that’s not enough inspiration, how about Salted Caramel Peach Pie, Chicken & Biscuit Pot Pie, Churro Whoopie Pies! Honoring her public defender late father’s memory, this book also makes a great family gift.

Justice of the Pies by Maya-Camille Broussard, (List Price: $30, Clarkson Potter, 9780593234440, October 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

I am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges

Elementary school. Ruby tells her story, as she experienced it, when she was just six years old. Adapted for the youngest readers, this edition has beautiful illustrations that demonstrate Ruby’s words. There is a glossary to help children learn key terms. For older readers, the author and illustrator have included their own personal notes of what inspired this version. This is an excellent book to help encourage family discussions about America’s history of education. This is a children’s book. It is told from the eyes of a child. It is illustrated showing the world through a child’s eye. It is beautiful! I loved Ruby’s sass, especially when it came to her very old name. I loved her innocence and her spunk. She is, indeed, Ruby Bridges, the First!

I am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges, (List Price: $18.99, Orchard Book, 9781338753882, September 2022)

Reviewed by Nicole McManus, My Sister’s Books in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

I loved the characters in this book especially Civil Townsend. She was my hero! I remember reading about the true story this book is based on and feeling what a tragedy that something like this could happen. This story brought to life the real-life trauma of the two young girls the story is based on. I loved the way Civil championed their cause, and I felt her pain when things would go sideways. I recommend reading this book to anyone who is interested in justice.

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, (List Price: $27.00, Penguin Random House, 9780593337691, April 2022)

Reviewed by Cheryl Lafaye Lee, 44th & 3rd Bookseller in Atlanta, Georgia

Alive at the End of the World by Saeed Jones

Alive at the End of the World might not save my life, but it’s perfect company here between the rock and the hard place. Saeed Jones’ poems mold my daily depressive spiral into a crystalline mobius strip, looping endlessly back around to how we are harmed and do harm as this planet slouches towards Bethlehem. By turns grievous and grieving, this collection is a much-needed snapshot of coping mid-apocalypse.

Alive at the End of the World by Saeed Jones, (List Price: $16.95, Coffee House Press, 9781566896511, October 2022)

Reviewed by Terrance Hudson, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm by Laura Warrell

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm reads like smooth jazz music, with a full cast of interlocking characters creating a complex harmony that I could not get enough of. Circus Palmer is our main character, an aging and floundering jazz musician who charms and cheats on the women in his life. Never have I wanted so badly to grab a character by the shoulders and shake some sense into him! The women truly take center stage in this story, loved and abandoned by Circus in turns. The narrative was full of angst, but the ending was sweet and redemptive. Fans of Luster and Red At The Bone will love this one.

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm by Laura Warrell, (List Price: $28, Pantheon, 9780593316443, September 2022)

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

On the Rooftop by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

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!

On the Rooftop by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, (List Price: $28.99, Ecco, 9780063139961, September 2022)

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

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery

A September 2022 Read This Next! Title

Jonathan Escoffery’s debut If I Survive You chronicles an American immigration story full of hope, heartbreak, promises broken, and most importantly the constant struggle. Told in interconnected stories, If I Survive You addresses class, race, and economic disparity but is also funny. Mark my words, Escoffery is a rising literary star.

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery, (List Price: $27.00, MCD, 9780374605988, September 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule

Bazawule swiftly drops you into an immediate and tumultuous love story between Bernadette and Melvin as they escape the States seeking a fantastical refuge in 1960s Ghana. This piece is deeply heartbreaking, yet manages to hold it together through its magical storytelling. “Queen and Slim” fans will love this novel as its deep cinematic influence encourages evocative visuals and sentient understandings of the character’s interiors.

The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule, (List Price: $27, Ballantine Books, 9780593496237, June 2022)

Reviewed by Eden Hakimzadeh, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Free at Last by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

Such an important message, beautifully told in Free at Last, A Juneteenth Poem. I hope this picture book depicting such an important part of our history is shared widely in homes and schools.

Free at Last by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, (List Price: $17.99, Union Square Kids, 9781454943747, June 2022)

Reviewed by Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC

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