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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{Her honor, the mayor.}

In which Ms. Karin Wilson has a new job, Mr. Tunde Wey invents discomfort food and Mr. John T. Edge thinks we are ready to eat it, and Ms. Ann Patchett thinks working in a bookstore is like being in a sitcom. Such is life.

August 21, 2016

In This Issue

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



Dearest Readers,

Karin WilsonIt is official. Ms. Karin Wilson, the owner of Page and Palette Bookstore in Fairhope, Alabama, is now mayor of her fine city. There is something of a rising tradition of booksellers stepping into political office -- Mr. Richard Howorth, owner of Square Books, also served as mayor for his town of Oxford, Mississippi. Other owner-mayors include the owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz, the owner of the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Mr. Tom Lowry of Lowry's Books in Michigan, and the co-owner of Bank Street Book Nook in New Milford, Connecticut.

Perhaps the earliest bookseller-mayor was Sir Thomas Davies, who was Samuel Pepys's bookseller and who became Lord Mayor of London in 1676. But he is rare among Lord Mayors, there being some speculation that bookselling, as satisfying a calling as it may be, is nevertheless not a known as a career likely to  the kind of income needed to support a campaign for political office. Sir Thomas only managed it by virtue of a lucky inheritance.

It is traditional to think of booksellers as rather cantankerous, mysterious types. Presiding over their little shops of arcane knowledge with little regard for the bustle of the world outside their doors. But that is not what a bookseller looks like in the South, where shops are often town centers, meeting places for the community, and where their owners, like any and every small business owner, are intimately acquainted with local politics, local ordinances, local concerns. Far from being retiring, they are often active, visible, (and opinionated.)

Her ladyship has a great affinity for the bookseller-curmudgeon buried in his cavernous den of rare and odd literature. Truly. More at ease with books than people, it was an early childhood desire of hers to grow up to be just such a person.

But she must admit, the Southern incarnation, passionate and opinionated, is rather more interesting to know.

Read independently. And shop local.

her ladyship, the editor

Liane MoriartyTruly, Madly, Guilty

Read Savannah#ReadSavannah! with Liane Moriarty, author of Truly Madly Guilty

#ReadSavannah is a ticketed event open to the public, a Readers' Afternoon Delight that will include lunch with authors, panels and other programs to allow readers to meet and mingle with presenting authors. Including:


Robert Beatty

The Hilton DeSoto Savannah | September 18, 2016 | 12 noon - 5 PM

Register Here

Lady Banks' Pick of the Week

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book

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

In This Season of Rage and Melancholy, Such Irrevocable Acts as These"Elizabeth Jane Anderson! Open the goddamn door!"

Because it was Leeta, just Leeta, she didn't bother putting the jeans back on.

As soon as she twisted the lock, she started to sneeze.

Leeta had no sympathy, no pity.

"Serves you right, living in the middle of a cornfield."

She'd rented the trailer because it sat in the middle of a cornfield--not despite. Anyone who  came looking for her had to, first, know the way. When the corn was high, the trailer couldn't be seen at all from the secondary road. Once the corn had been picked, a hedge of overgrown bay bushes hid where she slept.

Leeta jiggles a square of newsprint.

"Did you see this ad?"

"At the speed you're jiggling, I can't see it now."

"Okay, smarty pants. I'll be brief. Sales and gobs of them. At the mall. Jackson City. Get dressed."

"Sales on what?"

"Bunches of stuff."

"Bunches of what kinds of stuff?"

"Shoes, clothes, pocketbooks, sundresses, the works."

She hadn't stepped aside; Leeta squeezed into the trailer sideways.

"Hurry up!" Leeta harangued. "We're on a mission."

--Kat Meads, In This Season of Rage and Melancholy, Such Irrevocable Acts as These (Mongrel Empire Press, 2016) 9780997251746

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Read This!

Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers


The QuickJesse Ball’s novel, How to Set a Fire and Why (Pantheon $24.95), features Lucia, a character with everything working against her. Her mother is in a mental institution, her father is dead. She lives with her aunt who is always in need of some cash. Her most prized possession is her father’s Bic lighter. She’s fascinated by fire and joins a group of like-minded teen arsonists. Though the novel spends a great deal of time talking about her desire to burn things, she is a sympathetic character with deep moral fiber. Through her conversations with her aunt, her manifesto on setting fires, and her visits to her mother in the institution, I came to care deeply for this unusual character. --Mamie, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC  9781101870570

HexI love to be scared--big Stephen King fan for decades. In Hex(Tor $25.99), author Thomas Olde Heuvelt outcreeps the King, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. I'm also from the Hudson Valley area (where the American version of Hex is set). Heuvelt nails it, getting the feel of a region where you sense something very old can still exist not too far away from your modern world. Social media versus a centuries-old curse--it sounds as though it'll be a lark, but you'll be keeping the lights on long before you finish Hex.(signed copies available) --Rosemary, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC 9780765378804

Ms. Bixby's Last DayA kids' book that the world needs to read, Ms. Bixby's Last Dayby John David Anderson (Walden Pond $16.99), is an affirmation of the immeasurable difference that the 'Good Ones' can make in a life. Told in alternating chapters by Steve, Brand, and Topher, it is a story about friendship, the power of a teacher, and the challenge of facing grief with strength and hope. With touches of humor, each boy reveals elements of himself and Ms. Bixby's imprint, as the trio responds to her illness. A perfect choice for fans of Rob Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt, this book will spur you to profess and practice the doing of 'good things' and to leave your footprint on the paths of those with whom you are making the journey of life. For readers age 11 and up. --Cindy, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC 9780062338174

Barbarian DaysTwo from Jim: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Penguin $17, Pulitzer Prize for Biography, 2016). This book was a very pleasant surprise! I bought it because it sounded novel and it received very good reviews. What I didn't expect was such a thorough indoctrination into the surfing world: its jargon, culture and life philosophy. Finnegan is an excellent writer, but how he ever developed the skill while spending most of every waking moment chasing the perfect wave is beyond me. His story is the epitome of the Surf Bum's life, tramping round the globe surfing, living on almost nothing and usually the kindness of people he meets in foreign lands.  --Jim, a Quail Ridge Books customer in Raleigh, NC 9780143109396

The GeneThe Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner $32). This is the follow up to Mukherjee's 2011 Pulitizer Prize winner, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. Again, he makes complicated science very readable for a layperson, starting at the dawn of creation and incorporating numerous personal stories to emphasize the momentous milestones in genetic science. It's an insightful read for anyone whose family has been touched by a genetic disease, or who simply wants to understand genetics better. It comes in at almost 500 pages--but is well worth the time invested.  --Jim, a Quail Ridge Books customer in Raleigh, NC 9781476733500

More bookseller recommendations

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Okra Picks: The Fire This Time

Cotton“Fires destroy things…burns them up…makes ashes for us all…But fires also keep us warm…give us a glow to sit by…

to tell ancestry stories to the children against the rhythmic crackle of history…to make love to against the glow. The generation of segregations gave us The Fire Next Time…we broke down those walls…The generation after segregation gives us the water to mix with the ashes to build…something…anything all…in the words of Margaret Walker…our own. This is a book to pick up and tuck under our hearts to see what we can build.”
—Nikki Giovanni, poet

National Book Award–winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.

In light of recent tragedies and widespread protests across the nation, The Progressive magazine republished one of its most famous pieces: James Baldwin’s 1962 “Letter to My Nephew,” which was later published in his landmark book, The Fire Next Time. Addressing his fifteen-year-old namesake on the one hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Baldwin wrote: “You know and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.”

Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward knows that Baldwin’s words ring as true as ever today. In response, she has gathered short essays, memoir, and a few essential poems to engage the question of race in the United States. And she has turned to some of her generation’s most original thinkers and writers to give voice to their concerns.

The Fire This Time is divided into three parts that shine a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestle with our current predicament, and envision a better future. Of the eighteen pieces, ten were written specifically for this volume.

In the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essay was published, entire generations have dared everything and made significant progress. But the idea that we are living in the post-Civil Rights era, that we are a “post-racial” society is an inaccurate and harmful reflection of a truth the country must confront. Baldwin’s “fire next time” is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about.

Contributors include Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Garnette Cadogan, Edwidge Danticat, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Mitchell S. Jackson, Honoree Jeffers, Kima Jones, Kiese Laymon, Daniel Jose Older, Emily Raboteau, Claudia Rankine, Clint Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Wendy S. Walters, Isabel Wilkerson, and Kevin Young.


Okra Picks

The List: The Crooks Corner Book Prize for Debut Fiction Long List

(the winner receives a cash prize of $5000, and more importantly, a free glass of wine every day for a year from the Crooks Corner restaurant.)

Mulberry Out of the Blues Over the Plain Houses The Drunken Spelunker's Guide to Plato Hide Homegoing The Cherokee Rose Only Love Can Break Your Heart Landfall

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Book & Author Gossip


The Girl with the Tattoo On Her Back “I’m not scared about writing that or making those people mad, because I know for a fact that no one who lives there has ever read a book”

Inkwood Books discovers Amy Schumer thinks people in Tampa don't read, by reading it in her new book.


Southern Foodways Alliance“America is ready for that.”

John T. Edge thinks Americans are ready for Tunde Wey's discomfort food.



TCommonwealth"For a novelist, for somebody who is used to working alone all the time, it's incredible to dip in and out of that world. They are my dearest friends, and it's like being in a sitcom."

Ann Patchett loves working in a bookstore.

Cultivator Bookstore opens in NC

"The actual humans who work in those stores probably give better recommendations than some algorithm, anyway"

The seven best independent bookstores in America -- four of which are in the South

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Meet Ann Ipock

Clay StaffordAnn Ipock is an award-winning Southern author, humorist and speaker whose writings have appeared in Sasee Magazine, Salt Magazine, Georgetown Times, Columbia County Magazine, and others. She lives in Wilmington, N.C., with her husband, Russell. Ann has published three humor books: Life is Short, I Wish I Was Taller, Life is Short, So Read This Fast! and Life is Short, But It’s Wide. Ann’s hobbies include gardening, cooking, walking, dancing, painting, decorating, and traveling. In addition she— • Was a featured speaker at “The Best of Our State,” Our State Magazine • Was a featured speaker at the Southern Women’s’ Show in Raleigh, Charlotte and Savannah • Performed in community theatre productions of Steel Magnolias, Other People’s Money, Annie, and Life Is Short, a three-act, one-woman play • Was the first Sasee Magazine hat recipient • Was selected as cover/feature story for Grand Strand Magazine • Was chosen Woman of the Month, for S.C. WOMAN Magazine “Ann Ipock’s writing is at once hilarious, and in the next breath, poignant…” —Dorothea Benton Frank, NY Times best-selling author of All the Single Ladies and 15 other NYT best-selling novels

Life is Short, I Wish I was Taller

Life is Short, I Wish I Was Taller"Ann Ipock’s writing is at once hilarious, and in the next breath, poignant…"
—Dorothea Benton Frank, N.Y. Times best-selling author of Lowcountry Summer 

54 stories, 2-minute escapes from an award-winning Southern humorist, previously published in Georgetown Times, Sasee, Myrtle Beach Herald and Columbia County Magazine. This book completes the "Life is Short" trilogy, joining "Life is Short, So Read This Fast!" and "Life is Short, But It's Wide"

Request a visit from Ann Ipock via your local bookstore!

Okra Picks


Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending August 14. 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 Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead, Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385542364
2. The Girls
Emma Cline, Random House, $27, 9780812998603
3. Truly Madly Guilty
Liane Moriarty, Flatiron, $26.99, 9781250069795
4. The Woman in Cabin 10
Ruth Ware, Gallery/Scout Press, $26, 9781501132933
5. The Black Widow
Daniel Silva, Harper, $27.99, 9780062320223


1. White Trash
Nancy Isenberg, Viking, $28, 9780670785971
2. Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Spiegel & Grau, $24, 9780812993547
3. Hillbilly Elegy
J.D. Vance, Harper, $27.99, 9780062300546
4. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Carlo Rovelli, Riverhead, $18, 9780399184413
5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondo, Ten Speed Press, $16.99, 9781607747307

Also of note - debuts on the list:

10. Bright, Precious Days
Jay McInerney, Knopf, $27.95, 9781101948002
12. The Muse
Jessie Burton, Ecco, $27.99, 9780062409928
6. The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen, Grove Press, $16, 9780802124944

Special to the Southern List
Hillbilly ElegyAbove the WaterfallImmortal Life of  Henrietta Lacks

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

Lynda Lippman-Lockhart - The Laundry Room  (author appearance)
Lynda Lippman-Lockhart | 08/25/2016, 11:00 am | Bookstore 1 Sarasota | Sarasota, FL

Liana Krissoff & Rinne Allen: CANNING FOR A NEW GENERATION: UPDATED AND EXPANDED EDITION  (author appearance)
Liana Krissoff | 08/25/2016, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Jack B. McGuire: Win the Race or Die Trying: Uncle Earl's Last Hurrah  (author appearance)
Jack B. McGuire | 08/25/2016, 06:00 pm | Garden District Book Shop | New Orleans, LA

Ed Croom with THE LAND OF ROWAN OAK  (author appearance)
Ed Croom | 08/25/2016, 05:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

WORKS IN TRANSLATION discusses INNOCENCE  (author appearance)
08/25/2016, 07:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

SUSAN BOYER presents LOW COUNTRY BOOK CLUB  (author appearance)
Susan M. Boyer | 08/25/2016, 07:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Jennifer L. Collins  (author appearance)
Jennifer L. Collins | 08/25/2016, 05:00 pm | Hub City Bookshop | Spartanburg, SC

Author event with Jason Miller author of Red Dog  (author appearance)
Jason Miller | 08/25/2016, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Linda Chafin | 08/26/2016, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

James Carville - WE'RE STILL RIGHT, THEY'RE STILL WRONG: The Democrats' Case for 2016  (author appearance)
James Carville | 08/26/2016, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

T.D.Johnston Author of Friday Afternoon and Other Stories  (author appearance)
08/26/2016, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Author event with Linda Thompson author of A Little Thing Called Life  (author appearance)
Linda Thompson | 08/26/2016, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Ann Hite - Sleeping Above Chaos Launch Party  (author appearance)
Ann Hite | 08/27/2016, 01:00 pm | FoxTale Book Shoppe | Woodstock, GA

Danny Johnson reads from The Last Road Home  (author appearance)
Danny Johnson | 08/27/2016, 11:00 am | McIntyre's Fine Books | Pittsboro, NC

Children's Author Reading with Kyle Webster  (author appearance)
Kyle Webster | 08/27/2016, 11:00 am | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Steve M. Miller & J. Timothy Allen: SLAVE ESCAPES  (author appearance)
Steve M. Miller | 08/27/2016, 04:00 pm | The Country Bookshop | Southern Pines, NC

Judy Fogarty In-Store Signing   (author appearance)
Judy Fogarty | 08/27/2016, 02:00 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Book Talk & Signing with Clemson, SC, Author Kelly Durham  (author appearance)
Kelly Durham | 08/27/2016, 12:00 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Author event with Marjorie K. Eastman author of The Frontline Generation  (author appearance)
Marjorie K. Eastman | 08/27/2016, 02:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Terry Cagle  (author appearance)
Terry Cagle | 08/28/2016, 03:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Reading with Danny Johnson  (author appearance)
Danny Johnson | 08/28/2016, 03:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Shane Simmons and Robert Sorrell  (author appearance)
Shane Simmons | 08/28/2016, 02:00 pm | Union Avenue Books | Knoxville, TN

Craig Werner -We Gotta Get Outta This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War  (author appearance)
Craig Werner | 08/29/2016, 07:00 pm | Regulator Bookshop | Durham, NC

Author event with Brooke Minor author of R.A.W.  (author appearance)
Brooke Minor | 08/29/2016, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Lara Naughton - THE JAGUAR MAN  (author appearance)
Lara Naughton | 08/30/2016, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Young Adult Author Panel Talk & Signing  (author appearance)
Lauren Gibaldi | 08/31/2016, 05:30 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Author event with Serena Burdick author of Girl in the Afternoon  (author appearance)
Serena Burdick | 08/31/2016, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Henry Cole with Eddie the Bully  (author appearance)
Henry Cole | 08/31/2016, 05:00 pm | Hooray For Books | Alexandria, VA

New Town Revue: Rob Spillman, Garrard Conley, and Erin Lovett  (author appearance)
09/01/2016, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Robin Kirk - Peculiar Motion  (author appearance)
Robin Kirk | 09/01/2016 | Regulator Bookshop | Durham, 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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