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.


Click Here to Subscribe


click here to view in your browser

{Read, my child, read.}

In which Mr. Donald Culross Peattie pens an ode to the Mountain Magnolia, a couple bookstores are prettified, Mr. Corey Mesler talks to his imaginary book buying friends, and Mr. John Lewis gets some very good advice from a teacher.

November 20, 2016

In This Issue

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book | Read This! | The List | Okra Picks | Trailer Park | Holiday Gift Guide | The Writer. The Reader. The Bookseller | Event Calendar | Southern Indie Bestsellers


Dearest Readers

Enjoy your day tomorrow with family and friends. And the following day as well, because family and friends are the only true treasures and we should be thankful for every moment we have with each.

And on Saturday, if you are venturing out to shop the sales, remember it is Small Business Saturday, so shop small, and shop local.

Shop Small

Here's a link to Southern indie bookstores, many of whom have special events and sales on Saturday. Some of them have got all dolled up for the occasion. Here's a peek at the new facade at  Gottwals Books in Macon, Georgia:

Gottwals Gottwals

"The artist's name is Val Elliott," says store owner Shane Gottwals, "we think she did a fantastic job!"

And down in Punta Gorda, Florida, Copperfish Books has made their front door almost as magical as the shop inside:

Copperfish Books  Copperfish Books

"This amazing artwork was imagined and created by Ron Bates, a freelance graphic artist, muralist, set designer, and illustrator, says Serena Wycoff, one of the shop's owners. "We are so fortunate to have such talent -- and a genuinely nice guy -- in our community."

Nothing like a bit of bookstore pretty to make one's day.

Read Independently. And shop local -- especially this weekend!

her ladyship, the editor

Lady Banks' Pick of the Week

The Hundred Story HomeWhen Stanley was 12, he told a friend in carpool, "My mother loves to type! That's all she does! That's what she does all day long!" 

Katherine Clark wins Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book

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

A Natural History of North American TreesMountain Magnolia
Magnolia fraseri Walter

Other names: Fraser Magnolia, Ear-leaved Cucumbertree
Range: From southwestern Virginia to the high country of Georgia, and from northeastern Kentucky to Alabama. Ascends to 4000 feet altitude

In the covers of the southern Appalachians, cooled by the breezes set astir by ever-falling water and fresh with fern and saxifrage, this lovely tree is most at home, its flowers shining forth serenely as water lilies floating in the forest green. Its leaves are borne all at the ends of the branches, which gives the Mountain Magnolia a wilder and more careless look than the cultivated species familiar in the garden. Indeed, it has proved too tender for gardens as far north as Massachusetts  and is happiest in the rich, humid soils to which it is native. There it rises some 18 to 30 feet in height, in many stems from one source, its "crooked wreathing branches arising and subdividing from the main stem without order or uniformity, until their extremities turn upwards, producing a very large rosaceous, perfectly white double or polypetalous flower, which is of a most fragrant scent."

So it was described by the lucky naturalist who discovered it, William Bartram, the first American botanist who ever explored the southern Appalachians. On the headwaters of the Keowee in the mountains of South Carolina he found it, in that morning of exploration when this wand was young and half its wealth unnamed. The month was May, the year that in which a young nation was to declare independence, but the happy naturalist was far from any human struggle but the toil up the mountains.

-- Donald Culross Peattie, A Natural History of North American Trees (Houghton Mifflin, 2007) 

top | share this fb tw

A Mysterious Life & Calling"I saw this particular book that was bound in cardboard which caught my attention." 

A Mysterious Life and Calling


Read This!

Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers

Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear . . . and Why by Sady Doyle

At its best, pop culture criticism forces us to reconsider a familiar product by placing it in a new context and, in doing so, imbuing it with new meaning. Trainwreck is just that. Doyle effectively and entertainingly litigates her case: that Western culture's fascination with 'fallen' female starlets—AKA trainwrecks--is simply a modern form of the patriarchal silencing and marginalization of women that has been going for centuries. With sly humor and lively prose, Doyle systematically punches through all the familiar straw-man arguments and convincingly illustrates that the 'harmless fun' of Internet clickbait and TMZ gossip are merely modern forms of public shaming. A must-read.

Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why by Sady Doyle (Melville House, $25.99), recommended by Matt at The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN.


Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride

In the hands of such a great writer (and fellow musician) the story of The Godfather of Soul becomes not just a portrayal of one of the most important figures in musical history but in American history.

A book that will make you crave that unmistakable James Brown sound.

Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride (Spiegel & Grau) Recommended by Frank at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA


Damaged by Lisa Scottoline

Mary DiNunzio is a successful attorney and a partner at the Rosato & DiNunzio firm. Her schedule has gotten complicated, due to her wedding being a few weeks away. However, when an elderly man named Edward comes in for a free consultation, Mary’s world is turned upside down. Edward’s grandson, Patrick, is being sued by a teacher’s aide for assault. Sadly, it is this shy, dyslexic boy who bears the markings of abuse. As Mary becomes more involved in finding out the truth, she becomes the only chance Patrick has at surviving and leading a healthy life. Is Mary going to lose everything she has in order to protect Patrick, or will the evidence prove Mary wrong?

Lisa Scottoline packs a powerful punch in this novel. Despite it being the fourth in a series, the plot works well as a stand-alone story. Readers, like Mary, will be drawn in right from the moment they meet Patrick and they will be kept guessing as they try to figure out the truth through all the multiple twists and intense secondary storylines. Damaged is a book that weaves its way into readers’ hearts. The author does an excellent job at showing the current struggles children with learning disorders face on a daily basis. Filled with a large family, human emotions, and one dramatic courtroom scene, readers of literature and mysteries will devour this book.

Damaged by Lisa Scottoline, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.


More bookseller recommendations

top | share this fb tw

Carolina Table“We are talking about expressions of love, not the sentimental, Hallmark-card version, but material, immediate, unambiguous demonstrations that you care, that you are there.” 

The Carolina Table

The List: The Regulator Bookshop eats local

There's a bumper crop of good books about local and Southern food this year. Give one of these to the right person and you might find you get something (tasty) back!

Deep Run Roots Poole's Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways Southern Breads North Carolina's Roadside Eateries The Carolina Table

top | share this fb tw


The King of the BirdsO’Connor began her avian collection at the age of five with a backward-walking chicken 

The King of the Birds


{Book} Trailer Park: "Read, child, read."

John Lewis

John Lewis at the Nation Book Award Ceremony

"One of the Best Books of 2016" - Publishers Weekly 

March Book ThreeWelcome to the stunning conclusion of the award-winning and best-selling MARCH trilogy. Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today's world.

By the fall of 1963, the Civil Rights Movement has penetrated deep into the American consciousness, and as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is guiding the tip of the spear. Through relentless direct action, SNCC continues to force the nation to confront its own blatant injustice, but for every step forward, the danger grows more intense: Jim Crow strikes back through legal tricks, intimidation, violence, and death. The only hope for lasting change is to give voice to the millions of Americans silenced by voter suppression: "One Man, One Vote." 
To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative campaigns, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and an all-out battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television.
With these new struggles come new allies, new opponents, and an unpredictable new president who might be both at once. But fractures within the movement are deepening ... even as 25-year-old John Lewis prepares to risk everything in a historic showdown high above the Alabama river, in a town called Selma.

Okra Picks: Robert Walker

"Readers will find something gentle, wise and moving in these pages."

“Robert Walker, the main character of Corey Mesler’s book of the same name is a man adrift in Memphis. Walker is homeless and he moves through the city connecting with both his own past and the city’s needy and vulnerable. Readers will find something gentle, wise and moving in these pages.”

—Darcey Steinke, author of Sister Golden Hair and Suicide Blonde

Robert Walker is homeless. He awakes one morning in his box to find half his face paralyzed. In perplexity, in anguish, he moves. He walks to mimic normality and he walks because it is what he does. Walking for Robert Walker is life. The novel follows two crucial days in his journey while he traverses the city of Memphis, encountering the familiar, the foreign, the desolate and the joyous. During these two days Robert Walker is forced to face himself and, in opposition to his dedication to a desired anonymity, he is forced to rejoin the world.


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.

It’s that time of year again, the jolliest of them all and we’re here to help you add some great books to your shopping list! The first genre we’re going to look at is for the youngest little book lovers out there. So, if your shopping for any tiny tyke between the ages of 3-8, check out these books!

Give Please a Chance is a collaboration between Bill O'Reilly and James Patterson where they kindly remind us that a single word has a thousand possibilities. With a collection of beautiful illustrations from different artists, this charming book teaches children the power of the tiny word please. This book is best suited for children between the ages of 3-5.

Another great option for children between the ages of 3-5 is The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas. This is a beautiful story that adults will enjoy reading with their little ones about a man whose job is to deliver all of the letters he finds within bottles washed ashore. The story, which is beautifully illustrated by Erin E. Stead, is one about making friends when you least expect it.

Hot off the press this Christmas is a new children’s series by the bestselling and beloved Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes author Eric Litwin, and bestselling artist Tom Lichtenheld, illustrator of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site. In this debut, we meet a captivating new canine character, Groovy Joe who embodies positivity, creativity, and kindness. This is a great Christmas idea for children between the ages 3-6.


If you have any little lover of the zoo on your list, between the ages of 4-8, be sure to check out River Rose and the Magical Lullaby! Written by Grammy award winner Kelly Clarkson, this book includes a link to an original lullaby which accompanies the book. This whimsical and rhyming little book is full of charm and is the perfect new bedtime story to add to someone’s bedtime reading collection.   

I just love this funky take on Mother Goose. Mary Had a Little Glam is the perfect book for the little fashion lover on your list. Mary is a spunky fashionista who is there to help her friends at school, including Jack, who breaks his crown but gets a great new one, and the kid who lives in a shoe dons some fab footwear too, who both learn how to live in style. This book is fun and perfect for any child between the ages 4-8 who loves dressing up.

If your shopping for any Disney fans between the ages of 6-9, check out these two releases featuring The Disney Channels newest princess, Elena of Avalor; Elena of Avalor: Elena and the Secret of Avalor and Elena of Avalor: Feliz Navidad. These books include the fun adventures and beautiful illustrations that you can always count on from Disney.

top | share this fb tw

The Writer and the Reader. And the Bookseller.

Corey MeslerListen: I wrote a novel once. Some nice people said some nice things. It sold considerably fewer copies than The DaVinci Code. It sold considerably fewer copies than The Satanic Verses, and The Land that Time Forgot, and The Poky Little Puppy

You may not know that publishers send out sales reports as detailed as a medical record, and as chilling.  It not only lists every bookstore that ever ordered your book, it lists their subsequent returns. Dreams dashed!

What does a writer do with such a document? He or she sets it aside, along with wills and that letter from the bank that is as confusing as algebra. He or she tries to forget it, tries to argue marketplace vs. creativity. Tries to remember sales figures for early Faulkner or early Woolf. Then, if he or she has any intestinal fortitude, he or she begins another story, or poem, or essay.

But, that’s not really what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about all the conflicting reports about the death of the novel, the death of the book, the recrudescence of the novel, the rebirth of the book, the losses at major houses for fiction and poetry titles, the gains at midsize houses for fiction and poetry titles. And the reports about how the Browser is obsolete, the bookstore browser, not the little electronic other-self that one employs in virtual reality. Apparently there are fewer people who go to bookstores just to poke around, hoping for inspiration to hit them, a novel, say, by an Eastern-European fabulist, or a slim volume of poems by a stranger.

Reuben Reuben This shopper, let’s try to imagine this chimera of myth. He or she obviously has time on his or her hands. He goes to a bookstore in the middle of the week with a café au lait in his hand, a BookPage under one arm, and just piddles around. His expression is dreamy. He is drawn to Fiction, meaning Bellow and Murdoch and Rick Powers. He spends an inordinate amount of time reading jacket copy, looking at author’s photos (posed B&W eidolons of imaginary erudition). He takes 32 minutes to pick one paperback: Peter DeVries’ Reuben, Reuben. When he finishes this delicious item he will say, “He is unjustly neglected.” Ok.

Or: She enters the store having just come from the gym. She looks good in her stretchy leotard. She smiles at the book clerk (a papuliferous mooncalf with a passion for Bukowski, now in love with our female browser, just like that) and heads for Biography. She wants something as good as Ellmann’s Joyce. Today she may find it. She may find another 500 page tale of writerly angst and wandering affections that just clicks with her. She is optimistic. But maybe this isn’t the day. Maybe she goes home without a new book and chooses to reread Ellmann. Yet, her time in the bookstore was not a waste. She has been enriched, if that is not overstating it, because she has engaged with the culture, if that is not overstating it, and she is contented. 

Now, is the Browser a ninnyhammer, a person out of step with his or her fellow man? Would he or she be happier punching a CC number into B&, or calling ahead to have a chick-lit waiting at the counter so there is no wasted time involved?

No, I say. No, I shout from the housetop (later my wife will coax down a sheepish me and put me to bed with a warm Updike). The Browser will always be. And not just as some retro-hipster who insists on vinyl over digital. Nothing will ever replace boards and paper, just as the web-surfer will never replace the instinctive Browser.

Listen: I’ve written many novels since my first. They passed through the public consciousness the way castor oil—well, you get it. Don’t, please gentle reader, check their numerical rankings on Amazon. Instead use this inspirational message—that there is still a place in American letters for little trickles of storytelling talent like Yours Truly—to spur you out of your chair, into the bustling thoroughfares of the modern city, and through the portals of your nearest INDEPENDENT bookstore. Once there, decelerate, friend, and look around. And say hi to the book clerk. He or she is as lonely as a cloud.

COREY MESLER has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and Esquire/Narrative. He has published 9 novels, 4 short story collections, and 5 full-length poetry collections. His novel, Robert Walker, is just out from Livingston Press.  He’s been nominated for the Pushcart many times, and 2 of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. With his wife he runs a 140 year-old bookstore in Memphis. He can be found at

Okra Picks


Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending November 13. 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. Night School
Lee Child, Delacorte, $28.99, 9780804178808
3. Commonwealth
Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062491794
4. A Gentleman in Moscow
Amor Towles, Viking, $27, 9780670026197
5. All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr, Scribner, $27, 9781476746586


1. Hillbilly Elegy
J.D. Vance, Harper, $27.99, 9780062300546
2. A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life
Pat Conroy, Nan A. Talese, $25, 9780385530866
3. Upstream
Mary Oliver, Penguin Press, $26, 9781594206702
4. Appetites
Anthony Bourdain, Laurie Woolever, Ecco, $37.50, 9780062409959
5. Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South
Vivian Howard, Little Brown, $40, 9780316381109

Also of note:

6. Two by Two
Nicholas Sparks, Grand Central, $27, 9781455520695
2. A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life
Pat Conroy, Nan A. Talese, $25, 9780385530866
13. Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta
Richard Grant, S&S, $16, 9781476709642
5. 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.

top | share this fb tw


Events at Southern Indie Bookstores

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

Aaron Becker - Return  (author appearance)
Aaron Becker | 11/25/2016, 03:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC

Children's Author Reading: Bethany Burt - I am NOT a Princess  (author appearance)
Bethany Burt | 11/26/2016, 11:30 am | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Holiday Story Time with Melinda Long   (other event)
11/26/2016, 10:00 am | M. Judson, booksellers and storytellers | Simpsonville, SC

Wild South Carolina Author Signing  (author appearance)
Liesel and Susan Hamilton | 11/26/2016, 04:00 pm | M. Judson, booksellers and storytellers | Simpsonville, SC

Small Business Saturday  (author appearance)
Mark de Castrique | 11/26/2016, 11:00 am | My Sister's Books, Inc. | Pawleys Island, SC

Small Business Saturday: Newbery Award-winning author Kwame Alexander!  (author appearance)
Kwame Alexander | 11/26/2016, 01:00 pm | Hooray For Books | Alexandria, VA

Chris Tusa - IN THE CITY OF FALLEN STARS  (author appearance)
Chris Tusa | 11/28/2016, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Sue Hitzmann - The Melt Method - Gables  (author appearance)
Sue Hitzmann | 11/29/2016, 08:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL

Linda Fairstein presents Devlin Quick - Into the Lion's Den  (author appearance)
Linda Fairstein | 11/29/2016, 06:00 pm | Vero Beach Book Center | Vero Beach, FL

Local Author Sara Baker Book Launch Party  (author appearance)
Sara Baker | 11/29/2016, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Ashton Lee with QUEEN OF THE COOKBOOKS  (author appearance)
Ashton Lee | 11/29/2016, 05:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Belle Boggs discusses her memoir The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood  (author appearance)
Belle Boggs | 11/29/2016, 07:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

Local Author Event: Lorraine Miano "The Magic of Menopause"  (author appearance)
Lorraine Miano | 11/29/2016, 06:00 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Elizabeth Cox - A Question of Mercy: A Novel  (author appearance)
Elizabeth Cox | 11/29/2016, 07:00 pm | Regulator Bookshop | Durham, NC

Author Nicole Sarrocco, Ill-Mannered Ghosts  (author appearance)
Nicole Sarrocco | 11/29/2016, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

J. Drew Lanham  (author appearance)
J. Drew Lanham | 11/29/2016, 07:00 pm | Hub City Bookshop | Spartanburg, SC

Jan Brett with Gingerbread Christmas  (author appearance)
Jan Brett | 11/29/2016, 04:00 pm | Hooray For Books | Alexandria, VA

Thomas Swick Book Signing  (author appearance)
Thomas Swick | 11/30/2016, 07:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Bill Lascher - EVE OF A HUNDRED MIDNIGHTS  (author appearance)
Bill Lascher | 11/30/2016, 07:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

News of the World by Paulette Jiles  (author appearance)
Paulette Jiles | 11/30/2016, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Author Event: H. Stephen Shoemaker - Jesus Stories  (author appearance)
H. Stephen Shoemaker | 11/30/2016 | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Elizabeth Cox - A Question of Mercy  (author appearance)
Elizabeth Cox | 11/30/2016, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, 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

You are receiving this email at @@email@@. If you wish to stop receiving email from us, you can simply remove yourself by replying with "unsubscribe" in the subject or by visiting: @@unsubscribe_url@@