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St. Louis booksellers share their top summer reads


Summer is coming and for many, that may mean extra motivation or free time to delve into a novel. But where to start? Local booksellers joined Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air to share their top summer reads.

St. Louis booksellers share their top summer reads

Ymani Wince is opening The Noir Bookshop off St. Louis’ Cherokee Street this weekend. She said her bookstore will be the first concept shop in the area and will focus on the Black experience. She plans to curate books for each educational concept she explores, starting first with “Who are the Black Panthers?”

Here’s Ymani Wince’s list:

  • ASSATA” by Assata Shakur, a former Black Panther member who fled to Cuba and was granted political asylum after escaping from U.S. police custody during her murder trial in 1979.
  • The Marathon Don't Stop” by Rob Kenner, a biography of rapper Nipsey Hussle.
  • Power Hungry” by Suzanne Cope tells the story of how women in the Black Panther Party fed more than 20,000 children and how the FBI fought to stop it.
  • The Compton Cowboys” by Walter Thomas-Hernandez profiles Black cowboys on a horse ranch in the middle of Los Angeles and how they’re working to save their ranch and legacy.
  • The Black Book” is what Ymani Wince calls an essential coffee table read “to understanding over 400 years of the Black experience in America.” With a forward and preface by acclaimed author Toni Morison, the book features hundreds of historical images of Black life in American history, from proclamations by Frederick Douglass, trial transcripts of fugitive slaves to movie posters of “Black Hollywood.” 
  • Beautifully Me” by Nabela Noor is a children’s book that teaches kids about body image.

Mark Pannebecker owns Spine Bookstore and Cafe in Benton Park in St. Louis, which solely sells independent authors. He said he has no rules on censorship and wants to give new authors a fair shot. His following book recommendations are from authors based in Missouri and Illinois.

 Pictured (from left): Ymani Wince of the Noir Bookshop, Mark Pannebecker of Spine Bookstore and Café, Joice Carrawell of Little Readers
Kayla Drake
Pictured (from left): Ymani Wince of the Noir Bookshop, Mark Pannebecker of Spine Bookstore and Café, Joice Carrawell of Little Readers

Here’s Mark Pannebecker’s list:

  • "St. Michael Poker & Drinking Club" by Ned Randle, is a fiction novel about a social club for a group of clergymen. The book delves into their friendships, doubts in God and how they find renewal.
  • "P.A.W.S." by Debbie Manber Kupfer, is a young adult fantasy novel about how a Jewish teenager uses her grandmother’s magical charm to ward off an evil werewolf. 
  • "The Big Cinch" by Kathy L. Brown is a mystery set in St. Louis following a young veteran of the 1922 Irish Civil War. 
  • "Colorful Realities" by Levi A. Lancaster, is an art therapy guide for caretakers facing burnout and people coping with trauma. 
  • "Farm Boy, City Girl" by John "Gene" Dawson, an award-winning memoir about Dawson’s life growing up gay in Iowa during the Depression Era and moving to St. Louis later, finding his drag identity as “Miss Gina.” 
  • "A Beekeeper's Diary" by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a reference book for anyone looking to get into beekeeping.

Joice Carrawell, co-owner of children’s bookstore Little Readers in Southampton in St. Louis, focuses on representing diverse perspectives in her selection. She and her husband, Sir, plan to open a youth center in August to accompany the bookstore.

Here’s Joice Carrawell’s list:

  • Why?” By Taye Diggs is for ages 3 to 6. It’s a picture book about race, injustice and anger in communities of color and helps families talk about racism with kids.
  • “Sunflower Sisters” by Monika Singh is for ages 4 to 8. It’s about colorism and helps young people embrace the color of their skin.
  • “The Color Collector” by Nicholas Solis is for ages 7 to 8. The book starts off in black and white and slowly adds more color to each page.
  • “Desmond Ghost Patrol” by Andres Miedoso is for ages 5 to 9. This adventurous series challenges readers to join Desmond and his friends to solve a mystery in each book. Joice Carrawell called it “R.L. Stine meets Nancy Drew.”
  • “Miss Quines” by Kat Fajardo is for ages 8 to 12 and is available in both Spanish and English. It’s a graphic novel that centers on a girl who doesn’t want to celebrate her quinceanera.
  • “Room to Dream” by Kelly Yang is for ages 8 to 12 and is the third book in the “Front Desk” series. In this book, Mia and her family vacation in China, and she’s introduced to a different culture.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Emily Woodbury, Kayla Drake, Danny Wicentowski and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Kayla is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
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