The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of April 6, 2021

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April 6, 2021sbr logo

Read This Next! Spring Edition

Read This Next!


The change of seasons is marked by many things -- changes in the weather, in the flowers blooming in the garden, in the birds appearing at the feeder, in the transition from football to baseball games on television, in the release of new seasons of favorite shows.

And new readings lists. Every season Southern indie booksellers come up with a list of anticipated books. The 2021 Spring Read This Next! List is a selection of spring new releases generating extra buzz and excitement. Each of the fifteen titles in the list received multiple high ratings and enthusiastic reviews, marking them as hand-sell favorites for the forthcoming season:

"I was not expecting to get sucked into this book so thoroughly, but sure enough I blinked and my Sunday was gone and I had read the entire thing."  --Jamie Southern from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC about Joshilyn Jackson's novel, Mother May I.

"It made me laugh, it made me angry, it made me think, and it made me look up old clips from Soul Train on YouTube." --Chelsea Bauer from Union Ave Books in Knoxville, TN on A Little Devil in America.

"Goofy and sweet, full of love and loss, and of course, a deep, nerdy love for movie soundtracks. Better Than the Movies will have you squealing and swooning."--Brittany Bunzey from Read With Me, A Children's Book & Art Shop in Raleigh, NC on Lynn Painter's new novel.

See the full Spring list. Your questions about what to read next have been answered.

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Coming up on the Reader Meet Writer Author Series:

Whisper Down the Lane with Clay McLeod ChapmanWhisper Down the Lane with Clay McLeod Chapman
Thu Apr 8th 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

Clay McLeod Chapman writes novels, comic books, and children’s books, as well as for film and TV. He is the author of the horror novels The Remaking and Whisper Down the Lane. Visit him at

The Salt Fields with Stacy D. FloodThe Salt Fields with Stacy D. Flood
Tue Apr 13th 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

Originally from Buffalo, and currently living in Seattle, Stacy D. Flood's work has been published and performed nationally as well as in the Puget Sound Area. Having received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, he has also been an artist-in-residence at DISQUIET in Lisbon, as well as The Millay Colony of the Arts. In addition, he is the recipient of the Gregory Capasso Award in Fiction from the University at Buffalo, along with a Getty Fellowship to the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies...



Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri
Knopf / April 2021

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

The unnamed protagonist in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts reflects on moments of a life lived in solitude, understanding what it means to observe the world around her, and find herself in the context of any given part of it. Even though hers is a mild life with subtle joys, walking the piazza or sitting in cafés when not in the classroom, there are still moments when being alone feels more lonely, enveloping her no matter where she goes. Whereabouts is a contemplative and beautiful story for the introverted, the blissfully isolated, or at the very least, those who, when alone, are able to truly find themselves.

--Cat Chapman, The Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny

Katherine Heiny

Katherine Heiny had her first short story published in 1992 when New Yorker editor Roger Angell fished it out of a slush pile and published it, unedited. It would be almost 20 years before she published a book, and now, 30 years later, she has published three. She talks about procrastination in an early Longform interview. Also, about the likability of unlikeable characters, and her affinity for people with dirty secrets, which she credits to her husband, who was in MI6.

Early Morning Riser

What booksellers are saying about Early Morning Riser

  • I love Katherine Heiny's voice in her novels and she surpassed my expectations in Early Morning Riser! I fell in love with the characters and their ultimate acceptance of what life has thrown their way. I laughed all the way through the novel and did not want it to end! --Flossie McNabb,  Union Ave Books in Winston-Salem, NC

  • But Early Morning Riser is her best work yet! I instantly fell in love with Jane, Duncan, and Jimmy -- flaws and all -- and even Aggie and Gary had grown on me by the end of the book. Heiny's observations are laugh-out-loud funny because they are so true to the mundanity of real life. I adored this book! -- Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

  • Early Morning Riser is the love child of Anne Tyler's books in the mid-to-late-1980s and the TV show Northern Exposure. Katherine Heiny has written a funny book that is full of quirky characters that absolutely delight. --Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA

About Katherine Heiny

Katherine Heiny is the author of Standard Deviation and Single, Carefree, Mellow, and her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and many other magazines. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and children, and is a former resident of London, The Hague, and Boyne City, Michigan.



Animals by Will Staples
Blackstone Publishing / March 2021

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More Reviews from Main Street Reads

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.

--Shari Stauch, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

The Book of Difficult Fruit


The Book of Difficult Fruit by Kate Lebo
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / April 2021

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More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

Lovers of early Diane Ackerman, Michael Pollan, and possibly Ruth Reichl will enjoy this collection of alphabetically saluted fruits! Essayist, poet, and pie lady Kate Lebo expertly blends the culinary, medical, and personal in a book of essays, accompanied by recipes that you will probably never use but are fascinating to read! Lebo’s chops both literary and gustatory are fully exercised in this fascinating collection. It’s full of surprises! One page you’ll be drooling and the next will make you nauseous, even fearful for our intrepid explorer of all things fruit. Much of the book is personal and shares some common ground with Cheryl Strayed. Great gift for a young chef, plant lover, or poet!

--Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Creatures of Passage


Creatures of Passage by Morowa Yejidé
Akashic Books / March, 2021

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More Reviews from Bookmarks

A fantastic new novel from an incredible writer. I loved every moment of Creatures of Passage and was hooked from the first page. Full of myth and mysticism, this is a complex web of stories that intersect in a way that slowly and gracefully unfolds. Complicated family relationships, systemic poverty and privilege, the transformative destruction of abuse, all of these themes and more create a beautiful and tragic look at the Anacostia neighborhood of DC.

--Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls


Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera
HarperCollins / April, 2021

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More Reviews from Lemuria Books

CECE RIOS is a beautiful story about finding your inner strength and standing up for what you believe in. Cece witnesses the kidnapping of her older sister, Juana, and vows to rescue her from the realm where dark criaturas live. But it’s discouraging when her entire village thinks she’s cursed with a spirit like Water, in a place where Fire is preferred. Rivera’s world-building is marvelous and her writing hits straight to your heart. As someone who was told “You’re too sensitive,” growing up, this story is so important. Cece loves and feels deeply, she cries when she’s upset, and she is strong because of all of these things. Being fearful doesn’t make you weak, nor does being angry make you strong.

--Miriam Meeks, Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies...



Malice by Heather Walter
Del Rey / April, 2021

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More Reviews from Books and Books

Maleficent is one of the ‘villains’ of literature who has seen the most retellings in pop culture but I can confidently say that this is my favorite thus far. There is so much to love about this feminist, sapphic take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. Alyce & Aurora are glorious, nuanced characters and their romance is a darkly glittering thing of beauty. This one is perfect for fans of Naomi Novik’s retellings & Holly Black’s Folk of the Air books.

– Cristina Russell, Books and Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Southern Bestsellers

What's popular this week with Southern Readers.

Klara and the Sun Code Breaker The Rose Code
Sapiens Legendborn

[ See the full list ]

lady banks bookshelf

Parting Thought

“I love books. I adore everything about them. I love the feel of the pages on my fingertips. They are light enough to carry, yet so heavy with worlds and ideas. I love the sound of the pages flicking against my fingers. Print against fingerprints. Books make people quiet, yet they are so loud.”
– Nnedi Okorafor in The Book of Phoenix 

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

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