The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Personal Memoirs

Boldly Go by William Shatner

I love William Shatner but for reasons other than his literary talents. Which he has! This memoir is adorable. He’s got a David Attenborough save the planet kind of vibe, with like, a grandpa who can’t use Zoom twist. You’ll read this in an afternoon. His incredulity and his sense of wonder is infectious, although there’s only so far the reader can go before they hit their head on the Successful Elderly White Man Door. A short, sweet read. He’s just so ridiculous and wonderful.

Boldly Go by William Shatner, Joshua Brandon, (List Price: $28, Atria Books, 9781668007327, October 2022)

Reviewed by Aimee Keeble, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

All the Women in My Brain by Betty Gilpin

Hilarious and bittersweet, Betty Gilpin’s memoir about her life as an actress is a bit chaotic at times, but in a funny way. She writes as a very successful actress who also struggles with self-doubt and depression. The reader gets to go behind- the -scenes with Gilpin as she stars in various TV shows and movies, describing her work from a feminist perspective and as a veteran of the entertainment industry. Loved it!

All the Women in My Brain by Betty Gilpin, (List Price: $28.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250795786, September 2022)

Reviewed by Lisa Uotinen, Book No Further in Roanoke, Virginia

Solito by Javier Zamora

This is one of the most riveting memoirs I have ever read- Zamora captures his experience as a child migrant with extraordinary detail and emotion. It feels special to read a memoir that manages to stay true to the confusion of childhood in a very adult scenario and the uncertainty of migration while also not shying away from the kindness he was shown and the gratitude he so clearly feels towards those that helped him.

Solito by Javier Zamora, (List Price: $28, Hogarth, 9780593498064, September 2022)

Reviewed by Cat Bock, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Just wow. I said something a lot more explicit when I finished this one but oh my GOD. From the boldest title I’ve seen in years to a page opener that just makes your jaw drop, Jennette McCurdy is changing what it means to have a "celebrity memoir". I don’t even want to call it that, this isn’t your typical ghost-written light gossipy fluff read, this is a shattering story of a young woman robbed of her childhood and innocence while being 100% transparent about the abuse she suffered throughout her career. Heavy trigger warning of addiction and eating disorders with this one, but please put this one on your TBR. No competition my favorite nonfiction of the year.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy, (List Price: $27.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982185824, August 2022)

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld

From the very first chapter in Acceptance you feel Neitfeld’s urgency to change her future and outrun the circumstances of her childhood. A memoir of mental health, foster care and homelessness, abuse, and this book is also the story of the struggle for education, for a way out, and to find one’s true path. Not since Educated have I felt as compelled by a memoir as I did by Acceptance; highly recommended for all readers.

Acceptance by Emi Nietfeld, (List Price: $17.95, Penguin Press, 9780593489475, August 2022)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Yoga by Emmanuel Carrère

The latest journey into the mind of Emmanuel Carrere, Yoga, is just as self-effacing, intelligent, and probing as his previous work. But what begins as a book about yoga and meditation soon turns into a book about personal tragedy, making for a surprisingly bittersweet, tender memoir.

Yoga by Emmanuel Carrère, (List Price: $28, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374604943, August 2022)

Reviewed by Justin Souther, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, North Carolina

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

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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.

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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

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