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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{Writing the books that matter.}

In which Mr. Pat Conroy wanted to write books that matter, Ms. Kristy Woodson Harvey is an only child, which is why she likes writing about sisters, and Mr. Robert Croshon tells his friend Mr. Frye Gaillard a story.

October 25, 2016

In This Issue

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book | Read This! | Okra Picks | TRIO | The List | Event Calendar | Southern Indie Bestsellers | Book and Author Gossip


Dearest Readers


"It was my great-grandmamma who told me the story. She was old the, 'bout as old as I am now, and that's pretty old. She didn't remember much of it firsthand, but it had been told to her so many times, it seemed like she did. And of course she was there when the whole thing happened."

Dearest Readers,

In the oldest cemetery in her ladyship, the editor's town, family plots often come laid out with wrought iron benches and chairs, looking for all the world as though somebody's garden party had just been held. Nowadays those benches are rarely occupied, but back in the day it was the practice for a family to visit the family plot after church on a Sunday. And there, seated among the graves of their ancestors, the family matriarch would sit down and tell the children the stories of the people under their feet - their great aunts and uncles, their great great grandfathers, the scions of the family long since disappeared into history. Who married who, who went to war, who went to sea, who made something of themselves, who was a no account black sheep.

Before the age of the internet, this was how a family story was "published." It seems such a fragile fate, does it not? If our grandparents die before they have a chance to tell those stories, if the children aren't listing ... an entire family's history could just disappear in a breath. 

Go South to FreedomHer ladyship found herself thinking of those empty iron benches while she was reading Frye Gaillard's children's novel, Go South to Freedom.

Mr. Frye Gaillard is well aware of the ephemeral nature of our own family stories. Twenty-odd years ago, an elderly friend gifted him with one of his own -- a family story that had been passed along from generation to generation and was now in danger of being lost. Mr. Robert Croshon's great grandfather Gilbert Fields was an African, kidnapped and sold into slavery. Long before the Civil War, he led his family in a daring escape from the Georgia plantation where they were held in bondage. 

Runaway slaves usually fled north. But the night of their escape was stormy and the Fields family couldn't see the stars to follow their direction. They ended up fleeing south instead, towards the lands held by the Seminole tribes. Communities of escaped slaves -- Black Seminoles -- and a singular community of free African Americans in Mobile, Alabama absorbed runaway slaves into their ranks. Eventually, the descendants of these escaped slaves would be instrumental in the Seminole Wars. 

The story of Gilbert Fields (known as "The African") and his family's flight to escape their enslavement, the dangers they overcame, the people they met, and their eventual safe (relatively) landing in that same community of free African Americans in is too strong a story to be allowed to disappear because no one is left to tell it. With Robert Croshon's blessing, Mr. Gaillard has turned put the story down on paper -- turning it into a children's story told just as the Croshon children would have heard it in their time. With illustrations by Anne Ken Rush, Go South to Freedom is more than just a bedtime story for children. It is a piece of someone's history that should never be forgot.

"Parts of the story are sure enough sad, but all of it is part of who we are. That African and all those others--they aren't people who should ever be forgotten. So I want you to listen real close, and someday, when you have children of your own I want you to promise you'll tell it to them. 

You hear me on that?"

Be safe. Read Independently. And shop local.

her ladyship, the editor

Lady Banks' Pick of the Week

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book

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

Among the LivingYitzhak Goldah pressed his sallow brow to the glass and stared out at the slowing platform. It was late summer and he felt the beads of his sweat gather like warm rain on his skin. Down a ways a small black boy walked alongside the train. He was carrying a stack of newspapers and barked out the headlines in a voice that was far too low for his frame. Goldah had read the papers in New York. He had read them in Washington, in Richmond, in Raleigh. He would read them here. They all spoke of America and of confidence, and he marveled at their certainty.

Standing there, Goldah looked perfectly human. His suit hung crisply on his frame and lent it a heft that wasn’t his.

He was like a sail still holding its shape even after the wind has died away. He braced himself for the train’s final heave, then took his suitcase and hat and followed the line of passengers to the door. Down on the platform the smell quickly turned to coal dust and scorched metal. The cement and well-washed marble reminded him of distant places from before the war, the iron beams thick and vaulted. Goldah walked and peered ahead and waited for the first glimpse of his future.

--Jonathan Rabb, Among the Living (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 2016)

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Read This!

Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers

The Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty, Thomas Docherty

Fans of The Snatchabook will not be disappointed with this new picture book by the same author and illustrator team. The focus is again on the power of story as Leo, a gentle knight who much prefers reading to swordplay, is sent on a mission to conquer a fearsome dragon. On the way, he encounters other mythical monsters and is able to vanquish every threat by sharing his beloved books. The rhythmic, rhyming text lends itself easily to being shared aloud and the fun illustrations add even more charm to the story.

The Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.99), recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes

Before MorningBefore Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes (HMH Books for Young Readers $17.99). Who hasn’t wished for an overnight snowfall that transforms the next day? A minimal, pitch-perfect text is magnificently illustrated in scratchboard and watercolor. From endpaper to endpaper the entire city and surroundings gradually change shape and color as the snow falls. A little girl and her family revel in the unexpected, but welcome diversion, and there are many charming and amusing details in the art for readers to discover and follow. A quiet, but brilliant gem to share with everyone. 

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes (HMH Books for Young Readers $17.99), recommended by Carol at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.


Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

PondInteresting, contemplative, lovely, and full of exquisite prose, Pond is hard for me to define. It's low on plot but high on character development and imagery, and I appreciated how the lead character was revealed little by little through her actions and not-necessarily-reliable brand of honesty.  Also: THAT COVER! #swoon.

Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett (Pub, $00), recommended by Janet at the Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.



More bookseller recommendations

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Okra Picks: Among the Living

Among the LivingA moving novel about a Holocaust survivor’s unconventional journey back to a new normal in 1940s Savannah, Georgia

In late summer 1947, thirty-one-year-old Yitzhak Goldah, a camp survivor, arrives in Savannah to live with his only remaining relatives. They are Abe and Pearl Jesler, older, childless, and an integral part of the thriving Jewish community that has been in Georgia since the founding of the colony. There, Yitzhak discovers a fractured world, where Reform and Conservative Jews live separate lives–distinctions, to him, that are meaningless given what he has been through. He further complicates things when, much to the Jeslers’ dismay, he falls in love with Eva, a young widow within the Reform community. When a woman from Yitzhak’s past suddenly appears–one who is even more shattered by the war than he is–Yitzhak must choose between a dark and tortured familiarity and the promise of a bright new life.

Set amid the backdrop of America’s postwar south, Among the Living grapples with questions of identity and belonging, and steps beyond the Jewish experience as it situates Yitzhak’s story within the last gasp of the Jim Crow era. That he begins to find echoes of his recent past in the lives of the black family who work for the Jeslers–an affinity he does not share with the Jeslers themselves–both surprises and convinces Yitzhak that his choices are not as clear-cut as he might think.

What is unusual and so appealing about Jonathan Rabb’s Among the Living is that the novel takes two issues that separately we’ve heard so much about—the European Jewish experience and the Jim Crow era south—and blends them together in a way that demonstrates a fresh perspective. I found it powerful and engaging. -- Recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL.


Okra Picks

TRIO: Lies and Other Acts of Love

A Lowcountry HeartIt begins with a book.

One book is given to both a songwriter and a visual artist. They write a song and create a work of art inspired by the book they read fulfilling their Trio. Each Trio will be installed as part of an exhibit debuting at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance in September of 2015 and traveling to museums, galleries, and literary events throughout the following year.

See the full TRIO | The 2017 Exhibit Schedule

Where is Trio now? The San Marco Bookstore, Jacksonville, FL

Request TRIO for your town!

Kristy Woodson HarveyKristy Woodson Harvey is a born-and-bred North Carolina girl who loves all four seasons—especially fall in Chapel Hill, where she attended the University of North Carolina’s school of journalism and mass communication, and summer in Beaufort, where she and her family spend every free moment. She is the author of the forthcoming Slightly South of SimpleDear Carolina, which was longlisted for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize and has been optioned for film and Lies and Other Acts of Love, a Southern Indie Bestseller and Okra Pick. Kristy and her mom co-founded the popular interior design blog Design Chic, an inaugural member of Traditional Home’s Design Blogger Hall of Fame, where she writes daily about how a beautiful home can be the catalyst for a beautiful life. Between her four-year-old’s soccer games, she is working on her next novel.

Brittany BellBrittany Bell grew up in the quaint town of Pace, Florida. At 16 she moved to Birmingham Alabama to pursue a music opportunity in a church. That only helped bring her back to the south to make more musical connections and opened up many more venues for her music! She is currently signed with Baldwin County Records and recorded her self-titled album in Admiral Bean Studio, she also has several consistent restaurants and bars she performs in around the Orange Beach area in Baldwin County. Her sense of freedom and soul help create inspiring and moving songs and sounds.

Courtney AbernathyCourtney Abernathy is a photographer located in the small, but vibrant town of Claremont, NC. She thrives with a camera in her hands- from when she is capturing her client’s true beauty, to when she is helping others with their passion for photography. Courtney lives with her loving husband and inquisitive son in the house that she grew up in. She believes it is treasure to live life and love her own family within those same, memory-filled walls. On her weekends off, she loves to spend time in the mountains of NC, being lazy and sometimes a little adventurous. Courtney believes that Summer is for the birds, and that the crisp air of Fall, changing leaves, and aroma of everything Pumpkin Spice is what life is all about.


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The List: What Kristy Woodson Harvey is Reading

The Prince of Tides A House by the Bea The Language of Sisters


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Book & Author Gossip

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).

A Lowcountry Heart"I’ve had no other ambition in life than to write books that mattered.”

A Lowcountry Heart

“My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.”

Friends gather to remember Pat Conroy

Doubleday, the Dial Press and Penguin Random House will celebrate the life and legacy of Pat Conroy today (10/26) by donating $1 (up to $15,000) to the new Pat Conroy Literary Center for every photo, book, quote or memory shared to honor the late author on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag #PatConroyDay.

It says that we’ve got a thriving, strong literary heritage.

Louisiana Book Festival

A Lowcountry HeartI'm an only child. I think that's why I like writing about sisters. It's a life study.


What Kristy Woodson Harvey is reading

Our country’s most impoverished state is undeniably our richest when it comes to writing, lyrics, and stories

The Mississippi Book of Quotations

Over the Plain Houses“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” they say. But what of a woman silenced?

Julia Franks' Over the Plain Houses


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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending October 16. 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. Two by Two
Nicholas Sparks, Grand Central, $27, 9781455520695
2. Small Great Things
Jodi Picoult, Ballantine, $28.99, 9780345544957
3. Commonwealth
Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062491794
4. A Gentleman in Moscow
Amor Towles, Viking, $27, 9780670026197
5. Razor Girl
Carl Hiaasen, Knopf, $27.95, 9780385349741


1. Killing the Rising Sun
Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard, Holt, $30, 9781627790628
2. Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen, S&S, $32.5, 9781501141515
3. Hillbilly Elegy
J.D. Vance, Harper, $27.99, 9780062300546
4. Hero of the Empire
Candice Millard, Doubleday, $30, 9780385535731
5. Is This the End?
David Jeremiah, Thomas Nelson, $24.99, 9780718079864

Also of note: List debuts

8. Order to Kill
Kyle Mills, Atria Books, $28.99, 9781476783482
9. The Belly Art Project
Sara Blakely, St. Martin's, $29.99, 9781250121363
11. The Invention of Nature
Andrea Wulf, Vintage, $17, 9780345806291 

Special to the Southern List
News of the WorldBest State EverThe Japanese LovelNC Roadside Eateries

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

A Pat Conroy Tribute with Cassandra King and Rick Bragg  (other event)
10/27/2016, 07:00 pm | Alabama Booksmith | Birmingham, AL

Jerry Haar - Innovation in Emerging Markets - Gables  (author appearance)
Jerry Haar | 10/27/2016, 07:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Stuart Woods Booksigning  (author appearance)
Stuart Woods | 10/27/2016, 07:00 pm | Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore | Delray Beach, FL

Melissa Fay Greene- The Underdogs  (author appearance)
Melissa Fay Greene | 10/27/2016, 07:00 pm | Eagle Eye Book Shop | Atlanta, GA

Martin Hawkins: SLIM HARPO: Blues King Bee of Baton Rouge  (author appearance)
Martin Hawkins | 10/27/2016, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

The Mississippi Book of Quotations by David Crews  (author appearance)
David Crews | 10/27/2016, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Alexander Weinstein with CHILDREN OF THE NEW WORLD  (author appearance)
Alexander Weinstein | 10/27/2016, 06:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Author Event: A.J. Hartley contributor to Crime Plus Music  (author appearance)
A.J. Hartley | 10/27/2016, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Ilana Wiles - The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting  (author appearance)
Ilana Wiles | 10/27/2016, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Beth Macy - Truevine  (author appearance)
Beth Macy | 10/27/2016, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Dustin M. Hoffman  (author appearance)
Dustin M. | 10/27/2016, 07:00 pm | Hub City Bookshop | Spartanburg, SC

Author event with Brenna Yovanoff, Kathleen Glasgow and Teresa Toten in a conversation moderated by Jeff Zentner  (author appearance)
Teresa Toten | 10/27/2016, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Terry Wildemann - The Enchanted Boardroom - Gables  (author appearance)
Terry Wildemann | 10/28/2016, 08:00 am | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Author Christopher Pizzino: Arresting Development  (author appearance)
Christopher Pizzino | 10/28/2016, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Newt & Callista Gingrich  (author appearance)
10/28/2016, 07:00 pm | FoxTale Book Shoppe | Woodstock, GA

MEDEA BENJAMIN presents KINGDOM OF THE UNJUST  (author appearance)
Medea Benjamin | 10/28/2016, 07:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Author Event: Mark Wilson - Destructive Creation  (author appearance)
Mark Wilson | 10/28/2016, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Bruce Hillman - A Plague on All Our Houses: Medical Intrigue, Hollywood, and the Discovery of AIDS  (author appearance)
Bruce Hillman | 10/28/2016, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Frye Gaillard  (author appearance)
Frye Gaillard | 10/29/2016, 01:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

KIDS: Nora Trujillo - Miami Boo! - Gables  (author appearance)
Nora Trujillo | 10/29/2016, 11:00 am | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Changers Book Three Atlanta Release Party with T Cooper and Allison Glock-Cooper and Special Musical Guest Laurie Ray  (author appearance)
T. Cooper | 10/29/2016, 07:30 pm | Charis Books & More | Atlanta, GA

Erika Marks, The Last Treasure; Kim Wright, Last Ride To Graceland; Joy Callaway, Fifth Avenue Artists Society; Mary Beth Whalen, The Things We Wish W  (author appearance)
Kim Wright | 10/29/2016, 01:00 pm | FoxTale Book Shoppe | Woodstock, GA

Vivian Howard visits with her food truck and new cookbook! (ticketed: includes food & signed book)  (author appearance)
Vivian Howard | 10/29/2016, 04:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

STACY MCANULTY presents BEAUTIFUL  (author appearance)
Stacy McAnulty | 10/29/2016, 11:00 am | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Author Event: Robert Strauss - Worst. President. Ever  (author appearance)
Robert Strauss | 10/29/2016, 02:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Scott Brown - Active Peace  (author appearance)
Scott Brown | 10/29/2016, 04:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Bagels with Author Heidi Campbell - The Theological Implications of Digital Culture  (author appearance)
Heidi Campbell | 10/29/2016, 10:00 am | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Stuart Dischell - Standing on Z, & Allan Shapiro - Life Pig  (author appearance)
Allan Shapiro | 10/29/2016, 04:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

South Carolina Author Bucky Williams-Hooker to Sign Books at Fiction Addiction  (author appearance)
Bucky Williams-Hooker | 10/29/2016, 02:00 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Author event with Trey Holt author of Bottomland  (author appearance)
Trey Holt | 10/29/2016, 02:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Story Time with Jacqueline Davies  (author appearance)
Jacqueline Davies | 10/29/2016, 10:30 am | Hooray For Books | Alexandria, VA

Cassandra King presents A Lowcountry Heart by Pat Conroy  (other event)
10/30/2016, 02:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Robert Strauss discusses his history book Worst. President. Ever.  (author appearance)
Robert Strauss | 10/30/2016, 02:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

Peter Makuck & Shelby Stephenson - Poetry Afternoon  (author appearance)
Peter Makuck | 10/30/2016, 02:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Vivian Howard - Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South  (author appearance)
Vivian Howard | 10/30/2016, 01:00 pm | Regulator Bookshop | Durham, NC

The Author Rodeo, with T.L. Bailey, Mitchell Bloom, General J. R. Gorham, Lina Landess, Andrew Pan, Tanya Poole, and Michael Roels  (author appearance)
Tanya Poole | 10/30/2016, 02:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Tasting Event with Southern Chef Jennifer Brule!  (author appearance)
Jennifer Brulé | 10/30/2016, 02:00 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Rachel Hawkins with JOURNEY'S END  (author appearance)
Rachel Hawkins | 10/31/2016, 03:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

ANN HITE presents SLEEPING ABOVE CHAOS  (author appearance)
Ann Hite | 10/31/2016, 07:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Cassandra King presents A Lowcountry Heart by Pat Conroy  (other event)
11/01/2016, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

LEONARD CRUZ presents A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER  (author appearance)
Leonard Cruz | 11/01/2016, 07:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Donna Everhart - The Education of Dixie Dupree  (author appearance)
Donna Everhart | 11/01/2016, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Cynthia Graubart Book Talk & Tasting  (author appearance)
Cynthia Graubart | 11/01/2016, 05:30 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

An Evening with Geoff Calkins  (author appearance)
Geoff Calkins | 11/01/2016, 06:30 pm | Burke's Book Store | Memphis, TN

Author event with Kelly Oliver author of Wolf  (author appearance)
Kelly Oliver | 11/01/2016, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Special Non-Partisan Election Programming with Author Guy Terrell  (author appearance)
Guy Terrell | 11/01/2016, 05:00 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Authors Round the South


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