The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Nature and Science

Animals by Will Staples

Riveting! This eco-thriller is made all the more terrifying by the research behind the work and just how much of the narrative is based in fact. He sought counsel from the likes of Jane Goodall and Leonardo DiCaprio and feels like this could be the next Blood Diamond, following how animal poaching and trafficking is a global practice, and a bigger global threat.

The book features an extensive cast of characters including an Asian police officer, a South African militant and anti-poacher, an exotic animal insurance agent and a CIA operative looking for a terrorist connection. They each are forced to juggle their self interests against those of the animals they’re meant to protect, from rhinos and elephants to tigers and more.

Animals by Will Staples (List Price: $27.99, Blackstone Publishing, 9781094065885, 3/30/2021)

Reviewed by Shari Stauch, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

All of Us by Kathryn Erskine, Alexandra Boiger (Illus)

This book would make a great bedtime story! I loved the pictures and the simple message of appreciating everyone’s unique contribution to the world.

All of Us by Kathryn Erskine, Alexandra Boiger (Illus) (List Price: $17.99, Philomel Books, 9780593204696, 5/18/2021)

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

The Well-Gardened Mind by Sue Stuart-Smith

I listened to this on audio (from and really loved it. I’m a longtime lover of being outdoors, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I started growing potted plants on my own in earnest. This book highlights the ways in which gardening, in all its forms, has a demonstrably positive impact on your mind, your body, your relationships, and the world. Just a lovely tome no matter if you’re never planning to take care of plants or if you’re a master gardener.

The Well-Gardened Mind by Sue Stuart-Smith (List Price: $28, Scribner, 9781476794464, 7/7/2020)

Reviewed by Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Migrations is for the lovers, the wanderers, and those who are drawn to the beauty of the earth. The main character, Franny Stone, might be the focus of the novel…but the ocean, the birds in the sky, and the arctic are all equally important. Franny convinces a fishing crew to let her hitch a ride on their ship in the North Atlantic so that she can conduct an individual study on Arctic Terns and their migration. The fish are in short supply, the crew is a band of misfits, and Franny has an ulterior motive stemming from a troubled past. Little by little, all of the truths revealed are colored by the settings of Galway, Ireland and Scotland, Newfoundland/Greenland and ultimately the Antarctic continent. For me, there are two stories in this book: 1) The wanderlust that exists in many of us looking for a place (or a person) to call home. And though we may find it, the need for exploration never ceases. And 2) The conservation of the natural world and all of it occupants should not be discarded by humanity. All in all, the writing was excellent; the settings were majestic; the epilogue was magnificent.

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy (List price: $26.99, Flatiron Books), recommended by novel., Memphis, TN.

Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton

If you only read one book this year, this should be the one. It really puts many current issues such as climate change, immigration, and racism into a perspective you can feel personally by immersing you in the story and letting you identify with the characters in the book. Waiting for the Night Song is a lyrical and amazing story about nature and what will happen if we continue to ignore climate change. It is the story of wonderful, productive and caring people who live in fear because of immigration laws, a story about childhood trauma and the effect it has on the three children involved, a story about determination and doing what you believe is right regardless of the consequences, and above all else it is a heartfelt story about family and friendship and just how far and how many lies one will tell or how many secrets one will keep to protect them. If you loved Where the Crawdads Sing, put this at the top of your list. My favorite quote from the book: “When someone says you’re overreacting, but you know you’re right, keep reacting until it’s over.”

Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton (List Price: $26.99, Forge Books, 9781250269188, 1/12/2021)

Reviewed by Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

The Center of Everything by Jamie Harrison

Alternating between Montana in 2002 after Polly has banged her head pretty badly and a local girl has disappeared on the Yellowstone River, and the consequential 1968 of Polly’s lush, swirling childhood on Long Island, Harrison shows us how the past and present intertwine and mirror each other. The stories and secrets tucked throughout generations emerge, reminding us how the loyal bonds of family are often inexpressible and revelatory.

The Center of Everything by Jamie Harrison (List Price: $26, Counterpoint, 9781640092341, 1/12/2021)

Reviewed by Ben Groner, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Marsha Is Magnetic by Beth Ferry, Lorena Alvarez (Illus.)

How does a scientist create a party that people want to come to? In Marsha’s case it takes experimentation and the scientific method to draw people to herself with “magnetic” personality! Or “magnets.” Cheerfully busy illustrations of a delightful young maker at work.

Marsha Is Magnetic by Beth Ferry, Lorena Alvarez (Illus.) (List Price: $17.99, HMH Books for Young Readers, 9780544735842, 1/26/2021)

Reviewed by Lisa Yee Swope, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

H is for Hawk made a searing impression on me, so I leapt at the chance to read Vesper Flights. It’s a collection of Macdonald’s  essays and musings about human interrelationship with the non-human natural world. From childhood, she loved all wildlife, particularly birds. This woman has trudged through muck and mire, briars and brambles, in every possible weather condition – all for the chance to observe and learn and marvel. Each essay reveals some remarkable experience, but underlying all of them  is a persistent fear for the survival of our planet as the ecosystem she cherishes. Macdonald is a scientist who is willing to expose her emotions and vulnerability: her humanity. Every essay is a breathtaking illumination of life.

Recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

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