The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Personal Memoirs

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

Blood Orange Night by Melissa Bond

The deeply personal story of a journalist and young mother who is given a long-term prescription for drugs (benzodiazepines) that are meant for short time use only. Her descriptions of life as an addict are deeply personal and harrowing.

Blood Orange Night by Melissa Bond, (List Price: $27.99, Gallery Books, 9781982188276, June 2022)

Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in Memphis, Tennessee

Also a Poet by Ada Calhoun

Calhoun had a complicated relationship with her famous art critic father Peter Schjeldahl. This book started as an attempt to write a biography of poet Frank O’Hara that her father never finished. Having inherited his obsession with the poet, the author wrestles with creating a narrative with answers when obstacles (time, fire, other people) keep them hidden. I felt the frustration of her and her subjects as it infected me with its incessant whispers of almosts and near misses. Ultimately, the author gifts us with wise lessons of kindness and acceptance. An extraordinary, raw read!

Also a Poet by June Gervais, (List Price: $27, Grove Press Books, 9780802159786, June 2022)

Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby

A searing meditation on identity and place, Boys and Oil captured my heart and opened my eyes. My husband is from North Dakota, and I thought I understood what it meant to have grown up in that state, but Taylor Brorby’s memoir showed me a different perspective. His writing on place is some of the most evocative I’ve read since Terry Tempest Williams; his love for his home state is evident despite the pain of growing up gay in a community that didn’t understand or welcome him. An important book and a must-read!

Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby, (List Price: $27.95, Liveright, 9781324090861, June 2022)

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

Spotlight on: The Year of the Horses by Courtney Maum

ad

Courtney Maum

It’s no longer the time for women to be selfless. Whether you’re a woman who has children, or has aging parents to care for, whatever your situation is, we need to put ourselves first. It’s more than self care….We deserve to let people know, and show them what it looks like when we are cracking. To me, it was like an act of sisterhood, this memoir. The best thing I could possibly hope for is that this encourages people—women, men, people of all genders—to start admitting to people around them, “I’m not okay. Actually, I could use some help. I could use some support.” ”Courtney Maum, interview, Electric Lit

 

 

The Year of the Horses

What booksellers are saying about The Year of the Horses

  • A lovely memoir touching on mental health, motherhood, marriage, and more, all contextualized through Courtney Maum’s lifelong love of horses. I so appreciated Maum’s candor. She is aware of the privileges she’s enjoyed throughout her life, but she is honest about the struggles she and her family have faced. ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • If there’s an empty space in your heart where joy is not present. Go out and find that thing- that thing for just you that makes your heart sing. For Courtney Maum, it was horses. This story of family, fortitude and fur will be at the top of all the book club lists for 2022.   ―Angie Tally from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC
    Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • Add Courtney Maum to the talented voices speaking to the power of the natural world to heal trauma. In the vein of Silvia Vasquez-Lavedo’s In the Shadow of the Mountain, this moving memoir details the darkness of depression and a slow struggle not only to face fears but also to find and embrace joy. Evocative, funny, deeply moving, every chapter a lesson worth learning.   ―Jan Blodgett from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC
    Buy from Main Street Books

  • Maum finds herself at 37 disinterested in life, sleepless, and lost. She is loved by her husband, blessed with a healthy child, but still feels adrift. She knows she is depressed, but feels unable to justify it given her success and good fortune. Having not been near a horse in decades, she feels compelled to renew that connection. I rode and trained in my younger years and I have also felt the deep desire to be with horses again. The author explores her emotions with the animals and the people who love them and finds her way back to herself. You do not need to be a horse lover to love this book. Anyone who has felt lost can get something from it. This book is just flawless.   ―Kelly Justice from Fountain Books in Richmond, VA
    Buy from Fountain Bookstore

About Courtney Maum

Courtney Maum is the author of the novels Costalegre; Touch; and I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You; and a guide for writers, Before and After the Book Deal. Her writing and essays have been widely published in such outlets as The New York Times; O, the Oprah Magazine; Interview Magazine; and Modern Loss. She lives in Litchfield County, Connecticut, where she founded the learning collaborative The Cabins.

ad

Child by Judy Goldman

In her lovely memoir, Judy Goldman reflects on what it was like to be a young Jewish girl raised by a Black nanny in the 1940s and 50s south. Mattie Culp became a part of the Kurtz family: sleeping in young Judy’s bedroom, using the family bathroom, celebrating holidays with them—things unheard of in the Jim Crow south. Now in her 80s, Goldman reflects on what Mattie had to give up—including her own child—in order to make the Kurtz family’s life so much easier.

Child by Judy Goldman, (List Price: $28, University of South Carolina Press, 9781643362830, May 2022)

Reviewed by Linda Hodges of Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Magic Season by Wade Rouse

They say truth is better than fiction and with Magic Season I completely agree. Wade and his rigid engineer father had a contentious relationship for quite awhile. When Ted learns he is dying Wade returns home for one final season of the one thing the men share a passion for-The St Louis Cardinals. This is inspiring and heartwarming and told with Wade’s poignant sense of humor. It gives hope to any one suffering from a desire to have a close relationship with a parent. There is always a chance for your team in baseball and a relationship with your parent.

Magic Season by Wade Rouse, (List Price: $27.99, Hanover Square Press, 9781335475176, May 2022)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

Wired for Love by Stephanie Cacioppo

Wired For Love is part neuroscience and part memoir… but it is ultimately a love story between the world’s foremost authority on the brain’s response to love/loss and the world’s foremost authority on loneliness. Cacioppo includes a lot of scientific information and hard data pulled from years of her research, but she also guides the reader through her own personal story of falling in love and eventually her grief surrounding her husband’s death. She has a way of getting the reader to thoughtfully reevaluate the “common beliefs” surrounding incredibly complex (but purely human) emotions. This book is fantastic.

Wired for Love by Stephanie Cacioppo, (List Price: $28.99, Flatiron Bookss, 9781250790606, April 2022)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon from Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott

An April Read This Next! Book

It’s more tempting than ever to want to build a bomb shelter and retreat from the upheavals of life. But with this memoir, Mary Laura Philpott convinces us that, like Frank the turtle, we have to poke our heads out from time to time, confront the challenges, and keep going. Thank you, MLP, for making all of us worriers feel seen, and for helping us put into words the emotions (so very many emotions) that go along with being not just a parent but a person.

Bomb Shelter by Mary Laura Philpott, (List Price: $27, Atria Books, 9781982160784,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Lady Smith, Snail on the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

In Love by Amy Bloom

When Amy Bloom’s husband of 15 years is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he decides to end his life on his own terms – “to die on his feet, not live on his knees”. In Love is an account of how the couple made that happen, as well as a celebration of their love. It’s by turns honest, raw, unsentimental, funny, captivating, powerful and utterly devastating. I devoured it in less than a day – an experience that left me emotionally wrung out, but also very glad to have done so.


In Love by Amy Bloom, (List Price: $27.00, Random House, 9780593243947,  March 2022)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

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


Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo

To many people – myself included – Bernardine Evaristo’s 2019 Booker Prize win for Girl, Woman, Other appeared to come out of the blue. But, as Manifesto reveals, her apparent overnight success was actually 40 years in the making. Recounting her life and career with the characteristic humor and insight that made Girl, Woman, Other such a success, Manifesto is a passionate paean to the power of persistence.

Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo, (List Price: $27.00, 9780802158901, January 2022)

Reviewed by Jude Burke-Lewis, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz

An exquisite view into the inextricable relationship among love, grief, and hope, Kathryn Schulz’s Lost & Found is a masterpiece. It’s been a while since I’ve underlined so many sentences and created marginalia—from page one, it felt as if I myself was part of Schulz’s story. Her metaphors are spot-on and stunning; her fondness for research and etymology manage to deepen our relationship to the work instead of distancing us. Five stars. I’ve already created a mile-long list of loved ones who will, like me, treasure this memoir.

Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz, (List Price: 27, Random House, 9780525512462, January 2022)

Reviewed by Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


Scroll to Top