In which Barry Hannah scares the hell out of someone, a woman does not get either her pearl necklace or her heart broken, Mr. Tom Campbell reflects on the importance of holiday traditions, andher ladyship does not put up a Christmas tree.
Authors Round the South
For the first time in many years, her ladyship has decided not to put up a Christmas tree this holiday season. She is also forgoing other decorations, such as lights strung in the windows, paperwhites and amaryllis on tables, ribbons and candles on the mantel, long-leaf pine wreaths and sprays for the door and for the table center pieces.
The reason is not that she is lacking in holiday spirit, but rather that she is a pragmatic person who believes in choosing her battles. Her ladyship, you see, has a new puppy. A wonderful, happy, and very excitable and energetic puppy. Lucy is not quite a year old, but she is a fifty pound bundle of eternal motion, who loves to jump and to chew on things. Her ladyship regarded this habit with some thought, and decided to forgo having glass ornaments and poisonous flower bulbs within easy reach this year.
Instead, her ladyship decided to indulge her holiday impulses in the kitchen, and has been marking up her cookbooks and cleaning up her pie dishes, cookie sheets, and cake pans.
And what cookbooks are lying cracked open on her counters?
Jean Anderson’s From a Southern Oven: The Savories, the Sweets
The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook
and, of course, an extremely battered copy of Rose Levy Beerenbaum’s Christmas Cookies
Because books are better with cookies. Happy Reading!
1. Flight Behavior
Barbara Kingsolver, Harper, $28.99, 9780062124265 2. The Black Box
Michael Connelly, Little Brown, $27.99, 9780316069434 3. The Racketeer
John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385535144 4. Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn, Crown, $25, 9780307588364 5. The Art Forger
B.A. Shapiro, Algonquin, $23.95, 9781616201326 6. The Round House
Louise Erdrich, Harper, $27.99, 9780062065247 7. Cold Days
Jim Butcher, Roc, $27.95, 9780451464408 8. Sweet Tooth
Ian McEwan, Nan A. Talese, $26.95, 9780385536820 9. The Forgotten
David Baldacci, Grand Central, $27.99, 9780446573054 10. The Casual Vacancy
J.K. Rowling, Little Brown, $35, 9780316228534 11. Dear Life
Alice Munro, Knopf, $26.95, 9780307596888 12. Back to Blood
Tom Wolfe, Little Brown, $30, 9780316036313 13. Merry Christmas, Alex Cross
James Patterson, Little Brown, $28.99, 9780316210683 14. The Last Man
Vince Flynn, Atria, $27.99, 9781416595212 15. Winter of the World
Ken Follett, Dutton, $36, 9780525952923
1. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
Jon Meacham, Random House, $35, 9781400067664 2. Help, Thanks, Wow
Anne Lamott, Riverhead, $17.95, 9781594631290 3. Killing Kennedy
Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard, Holt, $28, 9780805096668 4. Barefoot Contessa Foolproof
Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780307464873 5. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965
William Manchester, Paul Reid, Little Brown, $40, 9780316547703 6. Killing Lincoln
Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard, Holt, $28, 9780805093070 7. My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop
Ronald Rice (Ed.), Black Dog & Leventhal, $23.95, 9781579129101 8. I Could Pee on This
Francesco Marciuliano, Chronicle, $12.95, 9781452110585 9. Dogfight: The 2012 Presidential Campaign in Verse
Calvin Trillin, Random House, $16, 9780812993684 10. No Easy Day
Mark Owen, Dutton, $26.95, 9780525953722 11. Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012
Carol Loomis, Portfolio, $27.95, 9781591845737 12. The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days
J.J. Virgin, Harlequin, $25.95, 9780373892716 13. Unbroken
Laura Hillenbrand, Random House, $27, 9781400064168 14. The Patriarch
David Nasaw, Penguin Press, $40, 9781594203763 15. The End of Your Life Book Club
Will Schwalbe, Knopf, $25, 9780307594037
Trade Paperback Fiction
1. Life of Pi
Yann Martel, Mariner, $15.95, 9780547848419 2. The Paris Wife
Paula McLain, Ballantine, $15, 9780345521316 3. Rules of Civility
Amor Towles, Penguin, $16, 9780143121169 4. Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell, Random House, $15, 9780812984415 5. Wolf Hall
Hilary Mantel, Picador, $16, 9780312429980 6. The Sense of an Ending
Julian Barnes, Vintage, $14.95, 9780307947727 7. The Great Gatsby
F.Scott Fitzgerald, Scribner, $15, 9780743273565 8. Fifty Shades Freed
E.L. James, Vintage, $15.95, 9780345803504 9. State of Wonder
Ann Patchett, Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780062049810 10. The Language of Flowers
Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Ballantine, $15, 9780345525550 11. Fifty Shades of Grey
E.L. James, Vintage, $15.95, 9780345803481 12. The Healing
Jonathan Odell, Anchor, $15.95, 9780307744562 13. Fifty Shades Darker
E.L. James, Vintage, $15.95, 9780345803498 14. The Innocent
David Baldacci, Grand Central, $14.99, 9781455519002 15. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky, MTV Books, $14, 9781451696196
Trade Paperback Nonfiction
1. Team of Rivals
Doris Kearns Goodwin, S&S, $21, 9781451688092 2. Proof of Heaven
Eben Alexander, M.D., S&S, $15.99, 9781451695199 3. In the Garden of Beasts
Erik Larson, Broadway, $16, 9780307408853 4. Unlikely Friendships
Jennifer S. Holland, Workman, $13.95, 9780761159131 5. The Old Farmer's Almanac 2013
Old Farmer's Almanac, $6.95, 9781571985736 6. Wreck This Journal
Keri Smith, Perigee, $13.95, 9780399533464 7. All In: The Education of General David Petraeus
Paula Broadwell, Vernon Loeb, Penguin, $17, 9780143122999 8. Arguably
Christopher Hitchens, Twelve, $18, 9781455502783 9. How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You
Matthew Inman, Andrews McMeel, $14.99, 9781449410247 10. The Devil in the White City
Erik Larson, Vintage, $15.95, 9780375725609 11. Bossypants
Tina Fey, Reagan Arthur Books, $15.99, 9780316056878 12. Citizens of London
Lynne Olson, Random House, $17, 9780812979350 13. F in Exams
Richard Benson, Chronicle, $9.95, 9780811878319 14. The Untethered Soul
Michael A. Singer, New Harbinger, $16.95, 9781572245372 15. The Table Comes First
Adam Gopnik, Vintage, $15.95, 9780307476968
1. To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee, Warner, $7.99, 9780446310789 2. The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkien, Del Rey, $8.99, 9780345534835 3. A Feast for Crows
George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $8.99, 9780553582024 4. A Clash of Kings
George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $8.99, 9780345535429 5. A Storm of Swords
George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $8.99, 9780553573428 6. Animal Farm
George Orwell, Signet, $9.99, 9780451526342 7. 1984
George Orwell, Signet, $9.99, 9780451524935 8. Fall of Giants
Ken Follett, Signet, $9.99, 9780451232854 9. A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $8.99, 9780553593716 10. Three-Day Town
Margaret Maron, Grand Central, $7.99, 9780446555777
1. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
Eric Litwin, James Dean (Illus.), Harper, $17.99, 9780062110626 2. The Elf on the Shelf
Carol Abersoldt, Coe Steinwart (Illus.), CCA and B, $20, 9780976990703 3. Safari: A Photicular Book
Dan Kainen, Carol Kaufmann, Workman, $24.95, 9780761163800 4. Goodnight Moon
Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (Illus.), Harper, $8.99, 9780694003617 5. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
Sherri Duskey Rinker, Tom Lichtenheld (Illus.), Chronicle, $16.99, 9780811877824 6. This Moose Belongs to Me
Oliver Jeffers, Philomel, $16.99, 9780399161032 7. Olivia and the Fairy Princesses
Ian Falconer, Atheneum, $17.99, 9781442450271 8. Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
Eric Litwin, James Dean (Illus.), Harper, $16.99, 9780062110589 9. The Polar Express
Chris Van Allsburg, Houghton Mifflin, $18.95, 9780395389492 10. Skippyjon Jones Cirque de Olé
Judy Schachner, Dial Books, $17.99, 9780803737822
1. Who Could That Be at This Hour?
Lemony Snicket, Little Brown, $15.99, 9780316123082 2. Lego Ninjago: Character Encyclopedia
Claire Sipi, DK Publishing, $18.99, 9780756698126 3. The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit
Emma Thompson, Eleanor Taylor (Illus.), Frederick Warne and Company, $20, 9780723269106 4. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Barbara Robinson, HarperTrophy, $5.99, 9780064402750 5. The Fault in Our Stars
John Green, Dutton, $17.99, 9780525478812 6. Lincoln's Last Days
Bill O'Reilly, Dwight Jon Zimmerman, Holt, $19.99, 9780805096750 7. Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story
Salina Yoon, Walker Childrens, $12.99, 9780802728432 8. Wonder
R.J. Palacio, Knopf, $15.99, 9780375869020 9. The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book
Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $12.95, 9780810989955 10. The Phantom Tollbooth
Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer (Illus.), Yearling, $6.99, 9780394820378
Lady Banks' Commonplace Book
Noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.
To my pearl of great price
Libba is forty-five the year Howard dies. Every morning before she leaves for the hospital, she dresses in a snug skirt and a freshly pressed blouse and fastens on the pearl necklace he gave her for their first anniversary. “To my pearl of great price,” he wrote on the tag in his elegant, beveled script. Three days earlier, coming up from under the anesthesia, he’d grabbed the pearls and held on so tightly she’d thought he would break them. It is one of the stories she will tell the grandchildren, who will know him only thorough stories: how she had to pry his fingers loose that day, else he would have broken her necklace, and that would have broken her heart.
—Pam Durban, The Tree of Forgetfulness (LSU Press, 2012) 9780807149720
Literary News & Gossip passed along from the readers, the writers, the reviewers, the resellers, the riff raff, and dutifully repeated here by her ladyship (who falls into the last category).
The removal of Alan Moore's graphic novel Neonomicon from the shelves of a library in South Carolina has been described as "censorship" by free speech campaigners. The award-winning horror comic has been at the centre of a long-running row at Greenville County public libraries, after a 14-year-old borrowed the novel in June and her mother objected. Alan Moore’s Neonomicon pulled from library shelves
Veteran stage and screen actor Bill Oberst, Jr. commemorates Southern writer and humorist Lewis Grizzard in this one-man tribute show. Like Mark Twain before him, Grizzard used the scenes of his youth to weave tales that told the truth, even if they weren’t always fact. Lewis Grizzard in his own words, a tribute show
STARS Authors on tour:
What are "STARS" authors? These are authors listing in the Southern Traveling Authors Registration Service--a directory of authors who live in, or are traveling in the South and are interested in meeting with book clubs, civic groups, classrooms, and readers of all kinds. The STARS directory is brought to you by Southern Indie Booksellers, who want to connect readers with their favorite writers.
see the full list online here and find the authors touring in your area here
“Eleven-year-old Darwen Arkwright has spent his whole life in a tiny town in England. So when he is forced to move to Atlanta, Georgia, to live with his aunt, he knows things will be different--but what he finds there is beyond even his wildest imaginings.”
Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact by AJ Hartley
Okra Picks and Recommended Reading from Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA
Okra Picks: Teacakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons
A young boy helps his beloved grandmother remember an important family story.
Tosh loves listening to Grandma Honey tell family stories. His favorite is about the special tea cakes that smell like vanilla and sunshine. They were great-great-great-great-grandma Ida's specialty when she was a cook in the big house of a plantation. Unlike Tosh, the slave children weren't allowed to have any of the treats, though Grandma Ida always found a way to put the sugary sweetness into their hands anyway. It was a promise and taste of freedom to come. Tosh knows this is an important story and he takes care to remember every word. And when grandma Honey begins to forget, he can return the gift of tea cakes and stories. A touching family tale, Tea Cakes for Tosh celebrates the important bond between grandchild and grandparent and the stories that make a family strong.
This is a time of years when certain traditions need to be upheld. For me these include decorating a Christmas tree, watching "It's a Wonderful Life," and re-reading "The Polar Express," and "A Christmas Carol." This year I've come across a new book that I'm going to have to add to my short list of annual holiday reading: Donald Hall's marvelous, moving tale of Christmas at Eagle Pond.
Christmas at Eagle Pond tells of time Hall spent at his grandparents New Hampshire farm in 1940. This was a place where most of the food the family ate was grown or raised on the farm; where the farm provided all of the wood that was the only source of heat and fuel for cooking. Cut and split by hand. Ten cords a year.
Hall's grandmother's older brother Luther served as the minister at the small rural church where the family went for a Christmas Eve gathering. Born in 1856, Uncle Luther remembers neighbors "walking home from Virginia" when he was a nine-year old, and remembers folks talking of the "Poverty Year" of 1816, when there was a freeze every single month.
Donald Hall's storytelling combines a child's sense of wonder and enjoyment of life at the farm (he lived most of the year with his parents in suburban Connecticut), with his grandparent's matter-of-factness and kindness. The book is beautifully made, with woodcut illustrations by Mary Azarian. At age 84 former U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall has given all of us a Christmas gift to cherish for years to come. —Tom Campbell
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook by Deb Perelman (Knopf, hardback, $35.00) is showing up on all the lists of the year's best cookbooks. Our customers certainly seem to be taken with the book as well-it is easily our top selling cookbook of the season. Based on week-night friendly recipes and extending to inspiration for potlucks and the occasional "if you are daring, try this," there's an opinionated enthusiasm here that just makes you want to get cookin'.
A favorite of book of mine from earlier in the year, The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet by Jim Robbins (Spiegel and Grau) just got a rave review as an "absorbing, eloquent and loving book" in the New York Times.
The book tells the story of a man who is going around the world taking cuttings of "champion" trees--especially large, strong, tall, old, resilient specimens-in order to plant protected groves of these trees. The idea is that someday humanity might need "seed stock" to replant our forests, and the best stock would come from the best trees. A straightforward enough idea. Each chapter of the book is about a different species of tree, and as the story of finding the "champion" is told, we learn about each tree.
But parts of this book are, marvelously, not so straightforward. The man who has undertaken this quest to clone champion trees is not a scientist, but rather a "redneck Northern Michigan farmer" named David Milarch. Formerly a hard drinker, Milrach's liver pretty much shut down about twenty years ago, and he almost died. On regaining consciousness, he announced that beings "on the other side" had sent him back to earth with a mission-to create a kind of Noah's ark of tree genetics. This book is his story as well as the story of the trees and his tree panting project.
A little bit out there, perhaps? Oh yes, but Milrach's quest, his persistence (and success), and the amazing trees themselves make for quite a story.