The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Nature

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

An Immense World by Ed Yong

Like many readers, I was introduced to Ed Yong’s clear and measured writing during the Covid-19 pandemic, and I was instantly drawn to his deep-thinking approach. An Immense World is (thankfully) not about Covid-19, but it does hold true to Yong’s journalistic method: big questions, acknowledgements of what we don’t know, and a sense of wonder at the complexity of life. This is such a beautiful exploration of the world as experienced by other animals—here you will learn that there are so many more senses on Earth (and in humans!) than just the Aristotelian basic five (Nociception! Magnetoreception! Proprioception! And so many more!), and Yong’s conversational, wide-eyed tone wriggles readers free of their human Umwelt, even if just for a moment. This is a transformative book, essential for anyone looking open windows in their mind to a wider, more empathic world.

An Immense World by Ed Yong, (List Price: $30.00, Random House, 9780593133231, June 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Graceland, At Last by Margaret Renkl

Margaret’s weekly New York Times columns about culture in The South call out our many failures while describing in beautiful detail what makes our part of America so beautiful. Just when I think there’s no possible way to capture the tension between the terrible and the special, Margaret’s words are there to express what I am feeling.

Graceland, At Last by Margaret Renkl, (List Price: $26.00, Milkweed Editions, 9781571311849, September 2021)

Reviewed by Sissy Gardner, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee


Bird Brother by Rodney Stotts

Bird Brother is the fascinating journey of Rodney Stotts from growing up in the projects of Southeast DC to becoming a conservationist. inner-city youth mentor, and one of the few Black master falconers in the U.S. The book is written in a conversational style, and though reading his history can be emotional/difficult at times, it’s easy to see that his love for nature is the reason that he’s alive today. He’s also very honest about his mistakes, his perseverance in avian education/rehabilitation, and the obstacles that he overcame with the help of his friends & family. Most importantly, he champions the responsibility that we humans have as caretakers of the nature/wildlife around us… and in his own words, to serve something bigger than ourselves.

Bird Brother by Rodney Stotts, (List Price: $26.00, Island Press, 9781642831740, February 2022)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee


Funny Farm by Laurie Zaleski

Once you open this book, this story will never leave your heart. Laurie Zalenski tells of her mother’s love as the family escapes an abusive husband and father and attempts life with zero money. As the family scrapes by, they adopt and care for others including neglected animals. The love of people and animals shine on every page as the tale leads to the Funny Farm and the 600 abused and neglected animals that thrive on the New Jersey farm. You will fall in love with Laurie, the many animals, and the book as you plan your trip to see for yourself the Funny Farm.

Funny Farm by Laurie Zaleski, (List Price: $27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 97812502728366, February 2022)

Reviewed by Nancy Pierce from Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia


The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

I don’t know that I’ve ever come across a book more satisfying to my inner-misanthrope than The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven. Anyone who constantly longs for quiet, feels prickly in an overcrowded space, loves the idea of unfettered alone time: this book is for you. Set in the early twentieth century, The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven follows a man who literally goes to the edge of the earth and settles in the Arctic with a loyal dog as his only companion. Nathaniel Ian Miller has written a novel that, in showing us extreme isolation, reminds us how vital our bonds to this world are. I adored it.

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven by Nathaniel Ian Miller, (List Price: 28, Little, Brown and Company, 9780316592550, October 2021)

Reviewed by Lindsay Lynch, Parnassus Books in Nashville, North Carolina


On Animals by Susan Orlean

On Animals is absolutely hilarious at times and a little heartbreaking at times, but it is mainly filled with love for animals of all kinds. It’s a collection of several of Orlean’s articles that were written for The New Yorker and Smithsonian magazine over the last few decades. She covers backyard chickens, racing pigeons, Moroccan donkeys, and even a real-life Lion Whisperer. If you enjoy animals and conservation, you’ll highly enjoy this love letter to the natural world.

On Animals by Susan Orlean, (List Price: $28, Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster, 9781982181536, October 2021)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee


Sparrow Envy by J. Drew Lanham

I found myself underlining something on nearly every page of this slim volume—Lanham’s distinctive voice sings with awe of the natural world and clear-eyed candor of the obstacles a Black man faces in engaging this awe. Here is a writer who can perfectly express the emotive effect of a wood thrush’s 3-part song, someone who finds joy the exuberance of wrens, someone who finds solace in (and solidarity with) winged beings. This is a beautiful, necessary book.

Sparrow Envy by J. Drew Lanham (List Price: $16, Hub City Press, 9781938235818, 4/13/2021)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

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