The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of 13 November, 2020

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December 1, 2020

Welcome to The Southern Bookseller Review


Designed to showcase the breadth of our book culture in the South, the heart of SBR is in its book reviews from Southern independent booksellers. Independent booksellers put their reputations on the line when they recommend a book -- their customers are not screen names or avatars, but neighbors and friends.

Of the hundreds of books on their store shelves, these are the ones booksellers have chosen to write and talk about, and put into the hands of those same neighbors and friends. Independent booksellers are the most avid of avid readers, their enthusiasm for the books they love is irresistible. Nancy Olson, the late beloved owner of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC once told Angela Davis-Gardener, “I just want to stuff books down their throats!” SBR is built on bookseller excitement and the belief that independent booksellers are experts in the art of “You’ve got to read this!


Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies...

The Thirty Names of Night


The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
Atria Books / November, 2020

Adult Fiction | Coming Of Age | LGBTQ
More Reviews from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

Enormous in scope and theme, this book is a force. Weaving past and present into a lyrical world, Joukhadar uses a multi-generational cast to explore what it means to belong to a society, a community, and to oneself. It’s in this narrowing of belonging that the novel truly soars, literal ghosts and the ghosts of self populating the story of a young trans boy as he sheds the confines of his traditional community-at-large and finds himself in the immigrant, working-class, LGBTQ , artists’ underground of NYC. The characters are imperfectly human. They experience everything from grief to joy, their lives full of loss and love, of heartbreak and the comfort of others, of seeing their world anew and of being seen for who they are. This isn’t a novel about suffering; this is a novel about being in the world.

--Miranda Sanchez, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews, Chapel Hill, NC

The Good Girls


The Good Girls by Claire Eliza Bartlett
HarperTeen / December, 2020

Young Adult | Mysteries & Thrillers | Girls & Women
More Reviews from Page 158 Books

"The thing is, girls can tell. There's a little voice in our heads that says 'get out, get out,' but men spend years convincing us to ignore it. To tell ourselves we're wrong."In small-town Colorado, everyone knows Anna's Run. It's where a witch named Anna was killed and now the 'bad kids' go to hang out, where teens dare one another to walk, where girls regularly turn up dead. This December the dead girl is Emma Baines, a cheerleader and daughter of the police chief, but the only evidence that exists is a grainy video of her fall into the turbulent river and the fact that she is missing. Three classmates are suspected, but as the investigation continues the situation becomes more complicated. All anyone knows for sure is that they need this case solved fast before another girl ends up dead. The Good Girls is a gut punch of a thriller. Written as a narrative that is peppered with police interview transcripts, blog posts, and newspaper articles, the story presents puzzle pieces that the reader cannot quite place until the final reveal. While various plot elements may feel familiar, Bartlett does an admirable job of spinning them in a way that is almost realistic but continues to push the reader's suspension of belief. This is a great updated comp for readers who loved Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. Content warnings for general elements of peril, violence, gaslighting, grooming, sexual assault, drug and alcohol use, slut shaming, abuse.

--Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Winter 2021 favorites from Southern indies...

Happily Ever Afters


Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
Balzer + Bray / January, 2021

Young Adult | Romance | African-American
More Reviews from Bookmiser

Tessa and her family have just moved 400 miles south from her best friend and all she knows. Her dad got a promotion a d Tessa got a spot at an Arts magnet high school and she's simultaneously excited and petrified. Tessa has always loved to write. But the only person she'll show her words to is her best friend. She feels like her romance writing isn't nearly good enough for her new school. But there are upsides. At her old school, there were only a few black kids, but this new school has a big mix of races and that thing that usually happens where people self-segregate based on race? It's not happening here. That's not to say that there aren't problems though...This sweet story was a fun read. The author included many issues in Tessa's story and integrated them in a very real way. Tessa makes mistakes, but don't we all.

--Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on Bryan Washington's Memorial

Bryan Washington

Every season one or two books seem to come out of nowhere to become the books that everyone is talking about. Except, they don't really come out of nowhere. In the weeks and months before a book is published, reviewers and booksellers with an early peak start posting their opinions and reviews. That early swell of chatter and excitement is an indication of good things to come for a book.

Among Southern booksellers, the early chatter about Bryan Washington's new novel, Memorial, was enthusiastic -- marking it as one of the books not to be missed this Fall.


What booksellers are saying about Memorial

  • Washington has achieved something beautiful: a chill novel you want to hang out with. Like a good friend, this novel invites you in, cooks up a great meal, and opens up its heart. --Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

  • Washington's exploration of the bonds between family and lovers (and between one's lover's family) is incredible -- super relatable, often hilarious, and deeply touching. I wanted this book to last forever. --Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

  • With razor sharp humor, heartbreaking truths, and multi-dimensional characters that fly off the page, Bryan Washington's novel is a virtuosic triumph. As I cried through the last pages, I only wished I could live with in his story for as long as possible. -- Greg Tarlton, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

  • I couldn't put this book down. This world that Bryan Washington created felt so deeply personal that I felt like I was the one living with my boyfriend's mother without said boyfriend being around. --Aimee Rankin, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS

About Bryan Washington

Bryan Washington is a National Book Award 5 Under 35 honoree, and winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His first book, the story collection Lot, was a finalist for the NBCC’s John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Lot was a New York Times Notable Book, one of Dwight Garner’s top ten books of the year, and on best-of-the-year lists from Time, NPR, Vanity FairBuzzFeed, and many more. He has written for The New YorkerThe New York TimesThe New York Times MagazineBuzzFeedVultureThe Paris ReviewMcSweeney’s QuarterlyTin HouseOne StoryBon AppétitGQThe Awl, and Catapult. He lives in Houston.


Southern Bestsellers

What's popular this week with Southern Readers.

Law of Innocence A Promised Land Olive, Again
My Own Words Unicorns Are the Worst!

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

Reading is an act of civilization; it’s one of the greatest acts of civilization because it takes the free raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities. —Ben Okri

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance /
Editor: Nicki Leone /
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett /
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805
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