The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Friendship

The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad

So often, when people are asked what they would wish for, they reply “World Peace.” In The Kindest Red, Faizah wishes for “World Kindness,” and isn’t that really the first step to world peace? This simple picture book with a big message is just perfect for families or classrooms looking to celebrate diversity and personal responsibility.

The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad, (List Price: $19.99, Bloomsbury YA, 9780759555709, February 2023)

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

Spotlight on: Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn

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Kate Clayborn, photo credit Kate Clayborn

I have to be honest—I had a friend fic! It was a notebook I shared with two close friends during my first year of high school. We would write these stories to each other and pass the book back and forth. In Georgie, All Along, she and her best friend do the same, although their version of it is a little more focused than mine was—young Georgie and her best friend are very focused on imagining the perfect versions of their lives once they get to the new high school they’ll be attending. My friends and I, I’m embarrassed to say, were far more focused on our celebrity crushes! But I was really inspired by that hopeful, imaginative experience of my teenaged self—I wanted to think about what that notebook represented about the experience of growing up.” ―Kate Clayborn, Interview, Above the Treeline

 

Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn

What booksellers are saying about Georgie, All Along

  • Clayborn, All Along! She never disappoints. With supportive, but odd-duck parents, Georgie has always had a “soft” place to land and as a result is “expansive”, so much so that she has a hard time focusing in on what she wants in her life and her future. Levi had no such parents, with no support network from his family when he needed them most, and as a result has made himself tight and small in his life and his wants/needs. When they meet, they learn to let go of their past and with her as his “soft place to land” and he allows himself to expand into himself and she learns to trust her own self and what she truly wants.
      ―Angela Trigg from The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, AL | Buy from The Haunted Book Shop

  • Kate Clayborn’s books come with high expectations of an excellent story. She always delivers, and Georgie, All Along is no different. The writing is engrossing and diverting and it’s impossible not to relate to or love Georgie as she finds herself and her way. January is rich with romance, and this is an excellent winter read to curl up with.
      ―Preet Singh from Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur, GA | Buy from Eagle Eye Book Shop

  • Kate Clayborn hits a home run with Georgie, All Along. I loved this relatable story about a woman coming home to find herself and reconnect with the dreams she had in high school. She’s a quirky mess who puts everyone’s needs before her own and she meets Levi, the brooding older brother of her high school crush, who also has a past he’s working through. I enjoyed the small town setting, the cast of characters and the nostalgia of revisiting high school escapades.
      ―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

  • A charming and witty story about how our pasts can shape us. Unexpectedly, Georgie, a personal assistant that has just lost her job and Levi, onetime town troublemaker, find themselves as roommates. They are both trying to reinvent themselves and use Georgie’s high school diary as a blueprint for their transformation. Georgie did not write in her diary about what was happening then, but her dreams and wishes for the future. Georgie and Levi have great chemistry and of course there is a great dog, Hank.
      ―Pam Crawford from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, GA | Buy from Bookmiser

About Kate Clayborn

Kate Clayborn is the critically acclaimed author of contemporary romance novels. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Bookpage, and more. By day she works in education, and by night (and sometimes, by very early morning) she writes contemporary romances about smart, strong, modern heroines who face the world alongside true friends and complicated families. She resides in Virginia with her husband and their dog.

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Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli

Over seven days in a psychiatric ward in 1994 in Italy, the main character Daniele Mancarelli (who shares the author’s name and some life experiences) documents his involuntary committal. We spend most of our time on the ward itself with occasional flashbacks of the six patients’ and staff’s pasts. Mencarelli (author and character) is also a poet, and the language is beautiful and delicately translated by Wendy Weathly. While not dismissing the need for the truly suffering or dangerous to be treated, the author presents much to be considered about the way society categorizes those who are simply different or passing through a difficult phase of life.

Everything Calls for Salvation by Daniele Mencarelli, (List Price: $22, Europa Editions, 9781609458065, January 2023)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

A Pinch of Love by Barry Timms

A Pinch of Love is an adorable picture book about spreading love and overcoming hard times through baking. With diverse characters, an emphasis on community, and a colorful quirky art style that is incredibly appealing, this tender book will be perfect to share with little loved ones with a love of baking (or baked goods)!

A Pinch of Love by Barry Timms (List Price: $18.99, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 9780711280199, December 2022)

Reviewed by Julia Lewis, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat

Christina Soontornvat’s graphic memoir depicts the challenges & joys of middle school life as a Thai-American in Texas centering around her dream of making the school’s cheer squad. For fans of Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl, Jerry Craft’s New Kid or any of Raina Telgemeier’s many graphic novels.

The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat (List Price: $24.99, Graphix,, 9781338741308, November 2022)

Reviewed by Elese Stutts, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase

A pastoral fall pick for dog and animal lovers: this quick read throws you into the 5-year journey of Tamon, a German Shepherd, as he wanders in and out of the lives of his many different grief-stricken, down-and-out owners. This is the first translated works of Seishu Hase, a veteran of the Yakuza crime genre, whose teeth are bared in simple but sweet prose with moments of striking intensity. Struggle, plight, and grief are mirrored between human and animal as each character contends for their own survival and place in the world. Bittersweet, but ultimately a story of returning home in both place and spirit.

The Boy and the Dog by Seishu Hase (List Price: $23, Viking, 9780593300411, November 2022)

Reviewed by Amanda Depperschmidt, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

We Are the Light by Matthew Quick

We Are The Light is the book we all need to be reading in 2022. In one headline after another we’ve been reading about mass shootings in our malls, our schools, our small towns, our communities… but what happens to those communities in the weeks, months, years after these tragedies occur- changing so many lives forever? Matthew Quick takes on this subject and explores the question through the eyes of Lucas Goodgame, a Christmas-time movie house shooting survivor who lost his wife, friends and neighbors in a scene that is all too familiar to us now- but shouldn’t be. Worst of all, his Jungian therapist Karl, a tremendous support to him, isn’t seeing patients or responding to Lucas’ frequent calls, letters or visits to his house. So frequent in fact, that the police have had to step in and create some boundaries for him. His wife’s best friend is trying to run the local diner and keep him sane; the shooter’s younger brother, a student Lucas had been helping in his role as the high school guidance counselor, has set up camp in Lucas’ back yard and his dead wife is visiting him every night shedding feathers from her giant wings by the handful. We Are The Light is a book to read slowly, with big inhales, taking in every feeling of every character no matter how painful. It is a book everyone everywhere should be reading – because as we have been reminded all year, what happens in Quick’s book, in the little town of Majestic, PA, can happen anywhere.

We Are the Light by Matthew Quick, (List Price: $27.99, Avid Reader Press, 9781668005422, November 2022)

Reviewed by Jamie Anderson, Downtown Books in Manteo, North Carolina

Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander

Meredith is a completely lovable and complex character that has faced and survived some unspeakable things. Claire Alexander beautifully creates characters that exude resilience in their own ways. I found myself cheering on Meredith, Fee, Celeste, and Tom…and hoping for their happiness. Meredith, Alone is a quick read that explores the hardships of life and the value of community, family and friendships. While some of the topics are quite heavy, there is also joy and hope and laughter and triumph. I thoroughlyloved this book and have already started recommending it to folks who loved Eleanor Oliphant and Where’d You go Bernadette!

Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander, (List Price: $28, Grand Central Publishing, 9781538709948, November 2022)

Reviewed by Lynne Phillips, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

Freestyle: A Graphic Novel by Gale Galligan

Gale Galligan is THE BEST! I have been so excited to see her first post-BSC graphic novel and Freestyle surpasses all expectations. It’s quirky, inclusive, inspiring, and so very real. And what a concept! Competitive B-boying yo-yo-ing was fun and interesting to read about and I love the way that Galligan captured motion in her art. This will likely be my favorite kids book of the year!

Freestyle: A Graphic Novel by Gale Galligan, (List Price: $12.99, Graphix, 9781338045802, October 2022)

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

Chirri & Chirra, In the Night by Kaya Doi

I don’t know how Kaya Doi does it, but even though this is EIGHTH book in the Chirri & Chirra series, it’s still just as magical and enjoyable to read as the first. The formula, rather than being tiresome, is soothing and reassuring—you know from the first “dring-dring!” that you are setting off on a charming adventure with tasty treats and friendly animals. This one, with a full moon festival in the forest, works particularly well for bedtime reading.

Chirri & Chirra, In the Night by Kaya Doi (List Price: $16.95, Enchanted Lion Books, 9781592703845, November 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Etta Invincible by Reese Eschmann

Kids turned superheroes. A lost dog. A magical train. A friendship that can save the city. Etta Invincible, told in scenes of written chapters and comic book pages, tells the story of Etta and Eleazar as they search for a lost dog and face the overwhelming sights and sounds, quirky characters, and magical foes all in their city of Chicago.

Etta Invincible by Reese Eschmann, (List Price: $17.99, Aladdin, 9781534468375, July 2022)

Reviewed by Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Brave Every Day by Trudy Ludwig

A great reminder that our hearts are bigger than our worries. As adults we sometimes forget how kids struggle with big feelings they don’t always understand. This book is great to start the conversation about emotional awareness and other social emotional skills that are important for kids to be successful in school and life.

Brave Every Day by Trudy Ludwig, (List Price: $18.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780593306376, June 2022)

Reviewed by Lupe Penn, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too by Jason Reynolds

Calling this the coolest most creative young adult book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, just wow! Powerhouse Jason Reynolds teams up with longtime best friend and artist Jason Griffin to bring the most interesting memoir I’ve ever read. Originally published in 2009 as Reynolds’s first book, this tiny but mighty memoir follows the two as they chase huge aspirations in New York City. Worlds, collages, and paint splatters cover the pages rather than paragraphs and it works so perfectly. Almost like a zine nonfiction novella, and if that wasn’t a thing it is now and I want more!

My Name Is Jason. Mine Too by Jason Reynolds, (List Price: $10.99, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 9781534478220, June 2022)

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Spotlight on: Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

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Douglas Stuart

I think when you’re talking about queerness at that time and you’re also intersecting it with class or with poverty or social mobility, then the stakes are very different for the characters. You know, they can’t just up and leave and go find a different place where they belong in the world. They really have to face the world outside their door because that’s the only world they know.” –Douglas Stuart, interview, NPR

 

 

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

What booksellers are saying about Young Mungo

  • Douglas Stuart has done it again with this heartbreaking, breathtaking, and hopeful story of young love between two boys in working-class Glasgow. I will patiently wait for Middle-Aged Mungo and Old Mungo…I want more! ―Gaël LeLamer from Books & Books in Coral Gables, FL
    Buy from Books and Books

  • From Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, this often bleak coming-of-age story shares some of the themes of his winning novel Shuggie Bain, including the darkly lyrical descriptions of a working class childhood at the mercy of an alcoholic mother. A heart-breaking story, with vividly drawn characters, dangerous situations, and forbidden love.   ―Anne Peck from Righton Books in St Simons Island, GA
    Buy from Righton Books

  • This is beautiful and hard, a gem hewn from the harshest pressure of Scottish discord and weather. Catholics vs Protestants, children vs adults, adults vs drink, all of them trying to survive under the apathetic Glaswegian skies. Young Mungo drags you down in the mire, and holds your face to the ruin of this community, but also reminds that no matter how dark, there is always love. A brutal, brutal read, but staggeringly empathetic and wonderful. Mungo is our hero, our baby we want to shield, our man we want to see grow up and conquer. He is our queer king whom we want love to keep and to make him greater. I can’t recommend this book enough, I understand know why Stuart won the Booker for Shuggie Bain. This too, deserves the praise it will get, a classic in the making.   ―Aimee Keeble from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • Douglas Stuart novels have a particular ache to them…you cannot help but love and be in pain for his characters. Poor, alcoholic, living in dire, drab straits, isolated in their worlds, their will to live and love takes my breath away. “Young Mungo” is a tough read, but Mungo himself will tear at your heart…along with lovely James, caring Jodie, violent Hamish and selfish Mo-maw. A sad Romeo and Juliet story for modern times. Violent, tough and absolutely beautiful.   ―Andrea Ginsky from Bookstore Number 1 LLC in Sarasota, FL
    Buy from Bookstore 1 Sarasota

About Douglas Stuart

Douglas Stuart is a Scottish-American author. His New York Times-bestselling debut novel Shuggie Bain won the 2020 Booker Prize and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It was the winner of two British Book Awards, including Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, Kirkus Prize, as well as several other literary awards. Stuart’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker and Literary Hub.

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Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari

Madison is a full-on Disney nerd. When she wins a trip to a new, fully immersive Disney vacation full of cosplay and magical Disney magic, she’s beyond excited. But when her girlfriend breaks up with her, she convinces her best friend to come instead. Lanie is not a Disney fan. She’s not a hater, she just is way less familiar than Madison. But she throws caution to the wind and goes anyway. Hopefully they’ll both get their Happily Ever After. This story was fun and crazy and this Disney nerd enjoyed every minute.

Happily Ever Island by Crystal Cestari, (List Price: $18.99, Disney-Hyperion, 9781368075473, June 2022)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

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