Lady Banks' Commonplace Book is a newsletter for people interested in Southern literature, sponsored by booksellers who are members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and featuring an overview of the literary news and events found on Authors 'Round the South.


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{There's just no dull people.}

In which her ladyship, the editor, wraps presents, Ms. Shellie Rushing Tomlinson thinks we should look up from our phones and talk to people, and Ms. Fannie Flagg concurs. She is of the opinion that there's just no dull people.

December 6, 2016

In This Issue

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book | Read This! | The List | Okra Picks | Trailer Park | Holiday Gift Guide | A New Heroine for Young Adult Fantasy | Event Calendar | Southern Indie Bestsellers


Dearest Readers

Her ladyship, the editor, is wrapping presents and packing boxes. Gift giving is never the stressful task for her as it often is for so many others. Aside from her usual donations in honor of her family and friends (cows or goats via Heifer International; trees, turtle nests and tracks of land via The Nature Conservancy), her ladyship always gives books. There is always a book for every reader, and it is a pleasure and a joy to match the perfect book to the reader. 

No, this year, her ladyship's holiday stress is entirely logistical -- her far-flung family is particularly flung afar this year, and thus she has to arrange that the proper package reaches the proper person in the proper place, on the proper date.  She is gazing at the delivery schedules of the post office with a doubtful eye.

Her ladyship wants one of the transporters like they have on Star Trek, so she can simply step through and hand her various family members their gifts, and perhaps share a cup of non-virtual coffee. Why don't we have transporters yet?

Read Independently. And shop local!

her ladyship, the editor

Lady Banks' Pick of the Week

Hungry is a Mighty Fine Sauce"Everyone has a story. Our challenge is to take time to listen and connect instead of zoning out with our earphones and iPhones when we’re in public places." 

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson on tour

Nicholas Sparks"Sparks is perhaps the best writer when it comes to communicating the emotional lives of men." 

A father's love: the new Nicholas Sparks novel


Lady Banks' Commonplace Book

Noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.

Writing to Save a LifeMamie Till remembers fixing Louis a sandwich. She wraps it in waxed paper, folds the edges like you gift wrap so edges even  and neat. She's out of rubber bands. Rubber bands not around like before the war. Hopes the sandwich will hold together. Tucks it into a brown paper bag, adds an apple, creases the bag's top tightly shut. What kind damn sammich dat. She does not respond What the hell damn kind do you think, Louis Till. A T-bone steak sammich, hands ready to fly up to protect her face. No. Don't start. She is Louis Till's wife. Her mother's good daughter. Her daddy's sweet girl. Raised in Argo Temple Church of God in Christ. Baloney, she answers. A baloney sandwich for your lunch today, Louis. Thank goodness Louis not listening for an answer, not looking for a fight this morning. Brown bag in hand he's out the door. Slams it behind him. She can allow her arms to relax, her hands to drop to her sides. Wipe her fingers on her apron. Finish her thought. A baloney sandwich for your lunch break at Argo Corn Products, Louis, with my daddy and all the other colored men carrying sammiches fixed by wives, mothers, women who buy cold cuts from the A&P with money from Corn Products paychecks.

-- John Edgar Wideman, Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File (Scribner, 2016) 9781501147289 

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All Over But the Shoutin'"The thing that is most interesting about Southerners is that everybody’s a character. There’s just no dull people." 

An interview with Fannie Flagg

Alabama Gold"It will surprise many to learn there actually was some gold in the American South" 

Book focuses on little known piece of Alabama history


Read This!

Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson

We usually think of 'all men are created equal' when considering the start of our country. Ashes, which completes Anderson's Seeds of America trilogy set during the Revolutionary War, reminds us jarringly that this was not the case. Through the trilogy, we experience the hardships, hypocrisies, and always-cherished bonds of friendship from the perspective of Isabel, an escaped slave. Anderson always writes compelling, complicated characters for whom we care deeply. Ashes brings deep satisfaction to the trilogy. Ages 9+.

Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy $16.99), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books. Raleigh, NC.


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This fascinating novel opens in 18th century Ghana, whose residents are not just victims, but sometimes willing participants, in the slave trade with the English. Two sisters from different villages never meet, but they start a family tree whose branches are chronicled into the 20th century. Gyasi presents the stories of these characters so vividly; even as the decades race by you will feel an intimate connection with each one.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf Publishing Group, $26.95), recommended by Karen at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.



I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors

I Will Find You is not light reading, but it is necessary reading for a culture that seems unable to talk reasonably and openly about sexual violence. This nonfiction account of her own rape is filled with unrelenting honesty about sexual violence, race in America, and the realities of incarceration and poverty.

I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25), recommended by Brian at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

Who Killed These Girls?: Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders by Beverly Lowery

Beverly Lowry looks deep into the horrors of four unsolved killings in Austin in the early 1980’s with a detective’s mind and a novelist’s heart. The result is a book that is gripping, moving, and as good as any depiction of a murder case that’s been published since In Cold Blood. Is true crime not your thing? It isn’t my thing either, but this transcends the genre. Brilliant.

Who Killed These Girls?: Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders by Beverly Lowery (Knopf Publishing Group, $27.95), recommended by Ann Patchett at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Part rap style poetry, part love story to a father and to basketball; good young adult fiction about 12-year-old twin boys.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (HMH Books for Young Readers $16.99), reader recommendation by Martha at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.


More bookseller recommendations

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Serpent King“Zentner’s “The Serpent King” is among five nominees for the William C. Morris Award"

Jeff Zentner up for literary prize

The List: Gift suggestions from Charis Books, Atlanta, Georgia

From the last Charis Books and More Store newsletter

The Whole Town's Talking The Glorious Heresies The Underground Railroad Hag-Seed Christmas Days Another Brooklyn Homegoing Moonglow Before We Visit the Goddess

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Lowcountry Heart"He writes with a prose style that has teeth and venom and beauty"

The writers Pat Conroy liked



A Question of Mercy"For anyone who makes noise about making America great again, show them A Question of Mercy"

Elizabeth Cox's new novel is uncomfortably true.


Okra Picks: Love, Alice

From the author of Summer at Hideaway Key comes a sweeping new Southern women’s fiction novel about forgiving the past one letter at a time...

The truth lies between the lines...

A year ago, Dovie Larkin’s life was shattered when her fiancé committed suicide just weeks before their wedding. Now, plagued by guilt, she has become a fixture at the cemetery where William is buried, visiting his grave daily, waiting for answers she knows will never come.

Then one day, she sees an old woman whose grief mirrors her own. Fascinated, she watches the woman leave a letter on a nearby grave. Dovie ignores her conscience and reads the letter—a mother’s plea for forgiveness to her dead daughter—and immediately needs to know the rest of the story.

As she delves deeper, a collection of letters from the cemetery’s lost and found begins to unravel a decades-old mystery involving one of Charleston’s wealthiest families. But even as Dovie seeks to answer questions about another woman’s past—questions filled with deception, betrayal, and heartbreaking loss—she starts to discover the keys to love, forgiveness, and finally embracing the future…


"A classic old-fashioned shop that'll get you feeling nostalgic."

What indie bookstore are you?

The Holiday Gift Guide, the children's books

Holiday Gift Guide

At the end of the year her ladyship posts a holiday gift guide of books to be found in the gift catalogs of Southern indie bookstores. You can find the full guide here. Or ask for a catalog from your local bookshop.

If you’re shopping for some non-southerners who likes to cook, a fabulous gift option for you to consider is Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways: Traditional, Contemporary, International by Jennifer Brule. It’s also a great gift option for those beginner cooks on your list! Jennifer Brule’s line-up of beloved southern dishes is irresistible, from Classic Chicken and Dumplings and Vegetarian Mushroom Stew with Sweet Potato Dumplings to dishes like Hungarian Chicken Paprikash with Dumplings. Featuring step-by-step instructions designed to teach basic cooking techniques, Brule shows cooks how to whisk, chop, slice, simmer, saute, fry, bake, and roast their way to seventy-five wonderful tasty dishes.

Chicken is a staple in many households and Cynthia Graubart takes what can often be perceived as a boring dish to a whole new level in her book Chicken: A Savor the South® cookbook. This is a celebration of one of America’s favorite birds which not only offers incredible recipes, it also takes-a-peek at the chicken’s culinary history. There are a lot of ways to cook chicken and preparations in this cookbook range from Country Captain to Carolina Chicken Bog to Chicken and Parslied Dumplings to many more.


In Bacon: A Savor the South® cookbook, Fred Thompson takes us through the history of how our country came to love bacon while also teaching us fabulous ways to prepare it! By Thompson's count, fifty different styles of bacon exist worldwide and in this fifty-six recipe cookbook you’ll find dishes that range from southern regional to international, from appetizers to main courses, and even a very southern beverage. This book also includes a do-it-yourself section full of recipes for making bacon from fresh pork belly in five different styles. So, if you’re shopping for any lover of America’s favorite pork, this cook book is bound to be a hit!

In Shrimp Country: Recipes and Tales from the Southern Coasts Anna Marlis Burgard takes cooks on a tour of southern coastlines, offering us some delicious regional recipes. Burgard gathers more than 100 tempting recipes from regional classics like pilau, creole, and bog to global fare such as shrimp empanadas, shrimp saganaki, and tom kha gai. This is more than just a cookbook though, it’s also full of interesting stories about the people who share their wonderful family recipes with us from crawler captains, food truck masters, diner cooks, and award-winning chefs all celebrating one of America’s favorite food staples.

Shopping for any gardeners? If the answer is yes, you must check out The All New Ball Book of Canning And Preserving: Over 200 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes by Jarden Home Brands. This 368-page guide covers everything from water bath and pressure canning, pickling, fermenting to freezing, dehydrating, and smoking. Recipes range from delectable flavors like Tart Lemon Jelly, Tomato–Herb Jam, Ploughman's Pickles to fresh flavors such as Asian Pear Kimchi, Smoked Maple Juniper Bacon, and homemade Kombucha. This beautifully illustrated book is full of color photographs and is bound to inspire a host of new home cooks.

Attention cake bakers: In the sweet new cookbook American Cake, Anne Byrn takes a look at the stories and recipes behind more than 125 of the best-loved cakes. This book is more than a cookbook, it takes readers on a delicious coast-to-coast journey inspiring us to savor our nation's history of cake baking. From the dark, moist gingerbread and blueberry cakes of New England and the elegant English-style pound cake of Virginia to the hard-scrabble apple stack cake home to Appalachia and the slow-drawl, Deep South Lady Baltimore Cake, readers will learn the stories behind their favorite cakes and how to bake them.

Another great gift option for someone who likes to bake is Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life by Kate McDermott and photographs by Andrew Scrivani. Kate McDermott has taught thousands of people across the country how to make pies at her Pie Camps and now she brings the simple methods to all of us in her beautiful new book. Over the years she has also developed more than a dozen crusts, half of which are gluten-free, and in this book she gives detailed instructions for making, rolling, and baking those crusts. The recipes include desserts such as Blackberry Pie for Julia Child, The Best Peach Pie in the World and Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Pie.

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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending November 27. Books on the Southern Indie Bestseller List that are southern in nature or have been recently recommended by southern indie booksellers.

- The Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize | Okra Pick! - A SIBA Okra Pick 
See the full list here
Printable versions: Hardcover | Paperback | Children.


1. The Whistler
John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385541190
2. Moonglow
Michael Chabon, Harper, $28.99, 9780062225559
3. Commonwealth
Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062491794
4. The Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead, Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385542364
5. Night School
Lee Child, Delacorte, $28.99, 9780804178808


1. Hillbilly Elegy
J.D. Vance, Harper, $27.99, 9780062300546
2. Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations
Thomas L. Friedman, FSG, $28, 9780374273538
3. A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life
Pat Conroy, Nan A. Talese, $25, 9780385530866
4. Appetites
Anthony Bourdain, Laurie Woolever, Ecco, $37.50, 9780062409959
5. Settle for More
Megyn Kelly, Harper, $29.99, 9780062494603

Also of note:

14. Two by Two
Nicholas Sparks, Grand Central, $27, 9781455520695
3. A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life
Pat Conroy, Nan A. Talese, $25, 9780385530866
7. Serafina and the Black Cloak
Robert Beatty, Disney/Hyperion, $7.99, 9781484711873

Special to the Southern List

Click on a book to purchase from a great indie bookstore! See the full Southern Indie Bestseller list and the books that are Special to the Southern List here.

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Events at Southern Indie Bookstores

See the full calendar | Find a Southern Indie Bookstore near you

David France - How to Survive a Plague - Gables  (author appearance)
David France | 12/08/2016, 08:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Agatha, Poirot and Me - Sophie Hannah  (author appearance)
Sophie Hannah | 12/08/2016, 07:00 pm | Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore | Delray Beach, FL

Gavin Edwards | THE TAO OF BILL MURRAY  (author appearance)
Gavin Edwards | 12/08/2016, 07:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Local Author Meet and Greet at Avid Bookshop  (author appearance)
Mandi Mathis | 12/08/2016, 05:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Local Author Meet and Greet  (author appearance)
Melia Keeton-Digby | 12/08/2016, 05:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

No More Heroes: Grassroots Responses to the Savior Mentality by Jordan Flaherty  (author appearance)
Jordan Flaherty | 12/08/2016, 07:30 pm | Charis Books & More | Atlanta, GA

David Lee Campbell - THE DOUBLE LIFE: A Survivor's Guide to Transcend Success and Tragedy  (author appearance)
David Lee | 12/08/2016, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Mostly Today by Bee Donley  (author appearance)
Bee Donley | 12/08/2016, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

David Wharton with THE POWER OF BELIEF  (author appearance)
David Wharton | 12/08/2016, 05:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Cooks & Books: Dinner with Ashley Christensen  (author appearance)
Ashley Christensen | 12/08/2016, 06:30 pm | McIntyre's Fine Books | Pittsboro, NC

Author Event: “The Reluctant Intuitive,” by Dr. Tatiana Irvin  (author appearance)
Dr. Tatiana Irvin | 12/08/2016, 06:30 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Holly Rogers - The Mindful Twenty-Something: Life Skills to Handle Stress... & Everything Else  (author appearance)
Holly Rogers | 12/08/2016, 07:00 pm | Regulator Bookshop | Durham, NC

Ngwah-Mbo Nkweti  (author appearance)
Ngwah-Mbo Nkweti | 12/08/2016, 07:00 pm | Hub City Bookshop | Spartanburg, SC

Author event with Former U.S. Congressman Bob Clement author of Presidents, Kings and Convicts  (author appearance)
Bob Clement | 12/08/2016, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Mark Wolynn - It Didn't Start with You - Gables  (author appearance)
Mark Wolynn | 12/09/2016, 06:30 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Langdon Clay / Cars: New York City, 1974-1976  (author appearance)
Langdon Clay | 12/09/2016, 06:30 pm | Turnrow Books | Greenwood, MS

Marilyn Markel & Chris Holaday - Southern Breads (signing only)  (author appearance)
Marilyn Markel | 12/09/2016, 04:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Jean Bolduc: African Americans of Durham & Orange Counties: An Oral History  (author appearance)
Jean Bolduc | 12/09/2016, 07:00 pm | Regulator Bookshop | Durham, NC

Marjory Wentworth Author of We Are Charleston  (author appearance)
Marjory Wentworth | 12/09/2016, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Robert Buschel - By Silent Majority - Gables  (author appearance)
Robert Buschel | 12/10/2016, 07:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Jordan Rothacker - And Wind Will Wash Away  (author appearance)
Jordan Rothacker | 12/10/2016, 07:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Okra Pick!The King of the Birds by Acree Graham Macam  (author appearance)
Acree Graham Macam | 12/10/2016, 10:00 am | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

In Search of Walker Wells by Culpepper Webb  (author appearance)
Culpepper Webb | 12/10/2016, 12:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Blues @ Home: Mississippi's Living Blues Legends  (author appearance)
H.C. Porter | 12/10/2016, 02:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

A Sister's Love by Joe Maxwell  (author appearance)
Joe Maxwell | 12/10/2016, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Gary Phillips – The Boy The Brave Girls  (author appearance)
Gary Phillips | 12/10/2016, 11:00 am | McIntyre's Fine Books | Pittsboro, NC

Author Event: Scott Fowler - Panthers Rising  (author appearance)
Scott Fowler | 12/10/2016, 11:00 am | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Author Event: Tracy Curtis - Holidazed  (author appearance)
Tracy Curtis | 12/10/2016, 02:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Marilyn Markel & Chris Holaday: Southern Breads  (author appearance)
Marilyn Markel | 12/10/2016, 01:00 pm | Regulator Bookshop | Durham, NC

Author event with Winfield Dunn and Walter Knestrick author and illustrator of How the Bluebird Got Its Color  (author appearance)
Winfield Dunn | 12/10/2016, 02:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Julie Marie Wade - SIX: Poems - Gables  (author appearance)
Julie Marie Wade | 12/11/2016, 04:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Kaitlyn Goalen - The Short Stack Cookbook (signing only)  (author appearance)
Kaitlyn Goalen | 12/11/2016, 02:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Ashley Christensen - Poole's: Recipes and Stories (signing only)  (author appearance)
Ashley Christensen | 12/11/2016, 02:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Annie Hallinan - The Sweetest Christmas Eve Storytime  (author appearance)
Annie Hallinan | 12/12/2016, 04:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Michael Chabon - MOONGLOW - Gables  (author appearance)
Michael Chabon | 12/12/2016, 08:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Cars by Langdon Clay  (author appearance)
Langdon Clay | 12/13/2016, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Salon@615 Special Edition with Robbie Robertson at Blair School of Music  (author appearance)
Blair School | 12/13/2016, 06:15 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Catfish Days by Mike McCall  (author appearance)
Mike McCall | 12/14/2016, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Avi Bash  (author appearance)
Avi Bash | 12/15/2016, 07:00 pm | Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore | Delray Beach, FL

Author Event  (author appearance)
Joe Mobley | 12/15/2016, 06:30 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Authors Round the South


Lady Banks is sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South.
SIBA | 3806 Yale Dr. | Columbia, SC 28409

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