The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Biography & Autobiography

Dickens and Prince by Nick Hornby

This was a quick and fun read about two seemingly incredibly different individuals who actually had much more in common than I knew. Hornby’s writing is engaging and funny as always. I came away with some fantastic trivia knowledge and a greater appreciation for both Charles Dickens and Prince. This will be a hit with the pop culture nerds.

Dickens and Prince by Nick Hornby, (List Price: $18, Riverhead Books, 9780593541821, November 2022)

Reviewed by Melissa Taylor, E. Shaver bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

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

Boldly Go by William Shatner

I love William Shatner but for reasons other than his literary talents. Which he has! This memoir is adorable. He’s got a David Attenborough save the planet kind of vibe, with like, a grandpa who can’t use Zoom twist. You’ll read this in an afternoon. His incredulity and his sense of wonder is infectious, although there’s only so far the reader can go before they hit their head on the Successful Elderly White Man Door. A short, sweet read. He’s just so ridiculous and wonderful.

Boldly Go by William Shatner, Joshua Brandon, (List Price: $28, Atria Books, 9781668007327, October 2022)

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

Muhammad Najem, War Reporter by Muhammad Najem

A Syrian kid living through the Syrian civil war decides to interview other kids his age using his phone to document what’s going on. He shares it on social media like YT Tw and FB. He felt like he was being targeted by bombs for his news videos. Tense, informative, serious, sad, but also has happy moments. Read it all in one sitting. Hard to put down.

Muhammad Najem, War Reporter by Muhammad Najem, (List Price: $12.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780759556904, September 2022)

Reviewed by Eliza, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

All the Women in My Brain by Betty Gilpin

Hilarious and bittersweet, Betty Gilpin’s memoir about her life as an actress is a bit chaotic at times, but in a funny way. She writes as a very successful actress who also struggles with self-doubt and depression. The reader gets to go behind- the -scenes with Gilpin as she stars in various TV shows and movies, describing her work from a feminist perspective and as a veteran of the entertainment industry. Loved it!

All the Women in My Brain by Betty Gilpin, (List Price: $28.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250795786, September 2022)

Reviewed by Lisa Uotinen, Book No Further in Roanoke, Virginia

Solito by Javier Zamora

This is one of the most riveting memoirs I have ever read- Zamora captures his experience as a child migrant with extraordinary detail and emotion. It feels special to read a memoir that manages to stay true to the confusion of childhood in a very adult scenario and the uncertainty of migration while also not shying away from the kindness he was shown and the gratitude he so clearly feels towards those that helped him.

Solito by Javier Zamora, (List Price: $28, Hogarth, 9780593498064, September 2022)

Reviewed by Cat Bock, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

One Hundred Saturdays by Michael Frank

Stella Levi is a reluctant narrator. But Saturday after Saturday she allows pieces of her story to begin to form the charming, haunting, lively, tragic, tale of life and loss and art and survival that is One Hundred Saturdays. This is absolutely the best book I’ve read all year, and with the added bonus of Maira Kalman’s brilliant illustrations of life on Rhodes, in Auschwitz, and in New York, it may very well be the best book of the decade.

One Hundred Saturdays by Michael Frank, (List Price: $28, Avid Reader Press, 9781982167226, September 2022)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Maybe An Artist, A Graphic Memoir by Liz Montague

This graphic memoir should be put into every middle and high school library in the country! As kids we are often told to do what we love, but there’s so much pressure on kids to succeed before they get a chance to figure out what success may look like for them. In this book Liz Montague documents the stress of trying to become something she wasn’t and how she eventually acknowledged and achieved her dreams of becoming an artist. I loved her illustration style — it is so simple and so effective!

Maybe An Artist, A Graphic Memoir by Liz Montague, (List Price: $17.99, Random House Studio, 9780593307823, October 2022)

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

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

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.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy, (List Price: $27.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982185824, August 2022)

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld

From the very first chapter in Acceptance you feel Neitfeld’s urgency to change her future and outrun the circumstances of her childhood. A memoir of mental health, foster care and homelessness, abuse, and this book is also the story of the struggle for education, for a way out, and to find one’s true path. Not since Educated have I felt as compelled by a memoir as I did by Acceptance; highly recommended for all readers.

Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld, (List Price: $17.95, Penguin Press, 9780593489475, August 2022)

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

Yoga by Emmanuel Carrère

The latest journey into the mind of Emmanuel Carrere, Yoga, is just as self-effacing, intelligent, and probing as his previous work. But what begins as a book about yoga and meditation soon turns into a book about personal tragedy, making for a surprisingly bittersweet, tender memoir.

Yoga by Emmanuel Carrère, (List Price: $28, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374604943, August 2022)

Reviewed by Justin Souther, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina

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

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

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