The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Literary Collections

The Book of (More) Delights by Ross Gay

Ross Gay is an ambassador of pure joy—not the sugar-coated, roll-your-eyes kind of happiness, but the subversive, wink-and-nod kind of delectation. Whether he is comparing clusters of harvested sweet potatoes to snuggled bunnies or finding beauty at his aunt’s funeral, Gay’s eye for the oft-overlooked wonders of life is unrivaled, and his conversational, familiar delivery is perfection. Each tiny essay in this beautiful book digresses again and again, which, no surprise, makes it all the more delightful. Do we need a book of more delights? Yes, yes, yes. This book is a ray of sunshine, a juicy peach, a warm hug, a sunflower growing out of a crack in the sidewalk.

The Book of (More) Delights by Ross Gay, (List Price: $28, Algonquin Books, 9781643753096, September 2023)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, 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

The Unwritten Book by Samantha Hunt

With a heavy heart and a recently missing cat (wringing out the old year, hearing the ringing of the new through my poorly insulated walls), I started a book that followed me home from work. For years, Samantha Hunt novels, on glancing and flipping, have always looked to be in the “Alley (up my)” or “Wheelhouse (in my)” genres, but this is my first and, by golly, I can’t stop rambling, deleting, rambling, deleting this review. She lets grief, family, empathy, childhood, alcohol, a boy band, authority, loss, parenthood, faith (and much much more) drop, all at once, into the top of the Plinko board, amazingly not jamming the derned thing up. What settles at the bottom is a nice, orderly, call for all to relish the unknown, hold tight to loss, and madlib the half-assed answers to life’s half-asked questions. I, for one, am retooling “rut” and giving a new shine to “stuck in a.” However, as newly-formed fanboy insecurities blossom, the Samantha Hunt in my mind says “well, YOU sure missed the point on the head.” But surely the fact that I got what I wanted out of [the book, which I forgot to mention is a work of nonfiction] was surely the point of it exactly. Or at least that’s what I got out of it. Surely.

The Unwritten Book by Samantha Hunt, (List Price: $28, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374604912,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

You Don’t Know Us Negroes by Zora Neale Hurston

The gift of Zora Neale Hurston and her multifaceted works shine beyond decades. You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays covers the timelessness of her work. Zora Neale Hurston’s work holds an essential space in piecing the histories of America and the visibility of the lives of Black Folk. Hurston honors the language, spirit, and progressive movements that are exhibited in our history and heritage. This book gives us a deeper understanding of Hurston and her legacy.

You Don’t Know Us Negroes by Zora Neale Hurston, (List Price: $29.99, Amistad, 9780063043855, January 2022)

Reviewed by Jasmine from Cafe Noir, in Memphis, Tennessee

Letter to a Stranger by Colleen Kinder

As the season changes, I find myself drawn to books that I can pickup, read however much I want whether it be a page or fifty, and then put back down and not worry about losing my spot or anything like that. I want digestible, but not fluff, I still want the grit and strong storytelling. This book is the cure for this predicament. Colleen Kinder sent out an email to authors everywhere, simply asking them to write a letter to a stranger who haunts them. The result is this intimate collection of letters from some of the most beloved authors of our time, and perfect is an understatement. The book is broken up by emotional prompt, which I like but was wary as books similar to this can be sort of repetitive with the themes of stories in them, but this next level. The sections are symmetry, mystery, chemistry, gratitude, wonder, remorse and finally, farewell. This is what makes this book so strong, it’s not just emotions of love or pain, it’s so much more than that. It’s funny, startling,and at times heartbreaking. A book that has earned a permanent spot on my bookshelf, and one I do not think I will ever get tired of skimming through.

Letter to a Stranger by Colleen Kinder, (List Price: $19.95, Algonquin Books, 9781643751245,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Between the Lines by Uli Beutter Cohen

From the creator behind Subway Book Review, this is the newest Humans of New York, but for book lovers. This is a collection of short interviews Cohen conducted on the subway of New York City, documenting not only everyone’s reading list but also creating a conversation and connection. From beloved classics to niche dog-eared, worn books, this covers just about every genre you could think of. What I really love about this book is that it could’ve just as easily been a book full of tiny book reviews, but it’s something much more intimate. Cohen does a great job of telling these people’s stories all in about 400 words each. There’s representation of everyone; queer, trans, all races, all occupations. It’s raw, gorgeous and executed so flawlessly I can’t get enough of it.

Between the Lines by Uli Beutter Cohen, (List Price: $24.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982145675, October 2021)

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

American Christmas Stories by Connie Willis

So grateful for this collection of 70 diverse and extraordinary stories from our friends at Library of America and editor Connie Willis. This collection features voices from across the American experience an centuries and contains stories of mystery, horror, western, inspirational, fantasy, humor, and more! This would make a great gift and is long overdue. Shirley Jackson and Jack London, Amy Tan and Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain and Nalo Hopkinson. Very excited to put this into the hands of those who celebrate.

American Christmas Stories by Connie Willis, (List Price: 29.95, Library of America, 9781598537062, October 2021)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

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