Arts Calendar | STARS |Gossip | The Blogs | Read This! | found in Lady Banks' Commonplace Book | On her ladyship's bookshelf
For the first time in, well, ever, her ladyship, the editor has been enjoying her holiday shopping. She gives books, of course, as she is wont to do. But in seasons past the pleasures of the task were somewhat mitigated by the pressures of the season—in particular for finding the perfect gift for her various friends who…she feels inclined to drop her voice to a whisper at this point…do not read. Naturally, one feels, books are the best gifts for the non-reader. After all, they are in the most dire need of them. And oh, the world that will open before their eyes when they turn that first page!
Still, her ladyship has since discovered that quite a few of her book gifts in past seasons were never properly appreciated because her non-readers, apologetically but still quite consistently, never bothered to open them. So this year she has taken a slightly different approach. With each book she has also bought a second, somewhat related gift that she does not wrap. Instead, she includes, with the book and card, a very simple and gentle question regarding the story. Often, something so mundane as “What did you think of the ending?” When the recipient answers the question, she sends them the extra gift.
In other words, she has resorted to bribery. Desperate times, her ladyship feels, justify desperate measures.
Besides, she has discovered quite an entertaining pastime in finding gifts that compliment her favorite books, especially since she has determined that each extra gift will benefit some other favorite cause. Several years ago she would have been sending jars of her favorite locally produced honey along with Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees. The author’s current book Traveling with Pomegranates suggests a host of new possibilities, not all of which necessarily involve perishable items.
Most of her ladyship’s shopping list was suggested by the Okra Picks—a new program from southern independent booksellers that celebrates some of their favorite new titles of each season. Her ladyship has included the full list below. Sometimes, the associations were quite easy—such as a small framed print by the artist featured in The Secret World of Walter Anderson, or a pair of hand-made flip-flops with plastic flowers to go with Jill McCorkle’s story collection Going Away Shoes. Some required more care, like the donation to the Nature Conservancy in honor of Sonny Brewer’s moving story The Widow and the Tree.
Great books are gifts to our internal landscape. But this is the season to pass such gifts along, to let internal joys have external manifestation. Her ladyship finds the endeavor most rewarding. Bring peace and joy to the planet – read a book, and talk about it.
Her ladyship, the editor
Authors Round the South is the home of one of the most extensive listings of literary events in the South, including author readings & appearances, book club meetings, book & literary festivals, open mics, poetry slams and writing groups. No matter what part of the South you live in, you can find a bookstore and author appearance near you!
Ten years of great southern lit for $9.95!
How well do you know your Southern lit? We dare you to use a pen on these crossword puzzles, each inspired by one of the winning titles of the SIBA Book Award, honoring ten years of the very best in Southern literature as chosen by the people who would know...Southern Independent Booksellers! A great gift for your book club, for puzzle-lovers, and anyone who loves Southern literature.
$9.95 paperback. Available at Southern Indie Bookstores.
Play a sample puzzle online!
Reader, meet writer: STARS authors on the road
The following authors are traveling this month and open to meeting with book clubs, talking to schools and participating in library programs. Visit the STARS directory at Authors Round the South for more information.
Jayne Jaudon Ferrer Ozark, AL 3/5/2010
Hester Bass Atlanta, GA 2/26/2010
Donny Bailey Seagraves OCAF Writers Workshop, GA 1/30/2010
Philip Lee Williams Savannah, GA 2/5/2010 &Athens, GA 3/22/2010
Debra Moffitt Leslie Charleston, SC 1/15/2010
Batt Humphreys Columbia, SC 2/26/2010
Mary Alice Monroe Isle of Palms, SC 1/16/2010
Shellie Rushing Tomlinson Nashville, TN 3/25/2010
Tim Poland Charlottesville, VA 3/17/2010
|Christine Baker, author of Why She Plays at Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL (12/10/2009) |
John Besh, author of My New Orleans: The Cookbook at Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham, AL (12/10/2009)
Thom Bierdz, author of Forgiving Troy at Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse in Atlanta, GA (December 11 2009)
|Sheila Boneham, author of Rescue Matters: How to Find, Foster, and Rehome C at Pomegranate Books in Wilmington, NC (December 12 2009) |
|Rick Bragg, author of The Most They Ever Had at A Cappella Books in Atlanta, GA (December 11 2009) |
Joan Carris, author of Wild Times at the Bed and Biscuit at Dee Gee's Gifts & Books in Morehead City, NC (December 12 2009)
|William Ferris, author of Give My Poor Heart Ease at Cover to Cover Books & More in Natchez, MS (December 19 2009) |
|John Folse, author of Hooks, Lies & Alibis at Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL (12/15/2009) |
|Brett Friedlander, author of Chasing Moonlight at Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC (December 12 2009) |
|Stephanie Green, author of Sex, Drugs and Gefilte Fish: The Heeb Storytelling at Books & Books Inc(December 11 2009) |
in Coral Gables, FL
|John Grooms, author of Deliver Us from Weasels at Park Road Books(December 11 2009 in Charlotte, NC |
|Bill Haltom, author of Some Assembly Required at Rock Point Books in Chattanooga, TN (December 17 2009) |
|Beverly Hamel, author of Bethania:The Village by the Black Walnut Bottom at Old Salem Museums & Gardens in Winston-Salem, NC (12/12/2009) |
|Paul Hee, author of Three Centuries of Seafaring: The Maritime Art of at Dee Gee's Gifts & Books in Morehead City, NC (December 12 2009) |
|Rev Jack Hinson, author of Laughter Was God's Idea at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC (December 12 2009) |
|Hannah Huber, author of Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA (December 10 2009) |
|Celeste Joyner Hutchins, author of The Micest Gift of All at Old Salem Museums & Gardens in Winston-Salem, NC (12/12/2009) |
|John Hutton, author of Christmas Maus:Another Small Tale at Old Salem Museums & Gardens in Winston-Salem, NC (12/12/2009) |
|Lynne Jonell, author of EMMY AND THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING RAT at Inkwood Books in Tampa, FL (December 12 2009) |
|Cameron Kent, author of The Road to Devotion at Old Salem Museums & Gardens in Winston-Salem, NC (12/19/2009) |
|Eric Kimmel, author of Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins at Books & Books Inc in Coral Gables, FL (December 13 2009) |
|Ted and Matt Lee, author of Simple and Fresh at Litchfield Books in Pawleys Island, SC (12/11/2009) |
|Ben McC Moise, author of Ramblings of a Lowcountry Game Warden at Burry Bookstore in Hartsville, SC (December 11 2009) |
|Sylvester Murray, author of Down Home at Dee Gee's Gifts & Books in Morehead City, NC (December 12 2009) |
|Sara Odom, author of Precious Puddin'Burry Bookstore(December 18 2009) at in Hartsville, SC |
|Linda Busby Parker, author of Christmas Is A Season 2009 at Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL (12/11/2009) |
|Brad Parks, author of Faces of the Gone at Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA (December 17 2009) |
|David Plumb and Pablo Cano, author of Poetry on StringsBooks & Books Inc in Coral Gables, FL (December 10 2009) at |
|Anthony Rapp, author of Without You: A Memoir of Love, Loss and the Musica at Books & Books Inc in Coral Gables, FL (December 10 2009) |
|Patsy Riley, author of When the Dinner Bell Rings at the Governor's Mansi at Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL (12/17/2009) |
|Robert Roskind, author of Memoirs of an Ex-Hippie at Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe(December 12 2009) in Asheville, NC |
|J. Paige Straley, author of Jack's Christmas at Old Salem Museums & Gardens in Winston-Salem, NC (12/12/2009) |
|Anna Thomas, author of Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian RecipesBooks & Books Inc in Coral Gables, FL (December 12 2009) at |
|Nancy Thomas, author of Moravian Christmas in the South at Old Salem Museums & Gardens in Winston-Salem, NC (12/12/2009) |
|Kim Underwood, author of The Wonderful World of Sparkle Girl & Doobins at Old Salem Museums & Gardens in Winston-Salem, NC (12/12/2009) |
|Chris Warner, author of Professional Bone at Page & Palette in Fairhope, AL (12/22/2009) |
|Roy Williams, author of Hard Work: My Life On and Off The Court at Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe(December 13 2009) in Asheville, NC |
Perhaps you may not have noticed, but the current economy is a tad, well, volatile. One can hardly turn on the television without hearing news of a most distressing sort…unemployment rising, businesses closing, Mr. Woods’ apparently wandering eye. But behind these headlines there is news of a quieter, happier sort. New bookstores opening, (Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC and Avid Book Shop in Athens, GA). Stores moving and expanding
(Spellbound Books in Asheville, NC and Osondu Booksellers in Waynesville, NC) And stores that are not only not closing, but are celebrating some rather significant birthdays:
Happy 20th to the Gathering Awareness and Book Center, in Pensacola, Fla., and A Cappella Books in Atlanta, GA. And Happy 75th to Dee Gee’s Gifts and Books in Morehead City, NC. They claim to be the oldest continuously operating bookstore in their state.
From the Blogs
A Good Blog is Hard to Find:. I’d never lived in the country. Every time I stepped out our door to plod—in my spanking new LL Bean boots—through the muddy yard to the car, or shut the bedroom window against the odor of the aged cow manure that had been spread over the cornfield a few hundred feet from the house, the theme song from “Green Acres” started up in my head. No lie. But I wasn’t miserable. It was an adventure, and I came to love the place—especially after I dug and planted my own flower garden, had a baby, and broke my arm crashing into our storm door as I was running from a feral bitch whose puppy had strayed into our yard. We were there six years, and I’d move back in a heartbeat… read more
Janis Owens: I spring from a long line of hardy women warriors – southern church women who were never slow in the face of need, and quick to champion a worthy cause. They spent their lives baking pound cakes for missionaries, finding coats for the homeless, and ladling out love to neighborhood children. My dear friend Cassandra King is of the same ilk, and when we heard the details of the Afghan Women’s Writer Project, our southern hearts leapt in our chest. Here was a golden opportunity to reach across culture and half a globe to help give an Afghan sister a voice in this world; an authentic, woman’s voice, from a culture where women’s voices are not so often heard. I happened to have a signing at a dear friend’s house in the tiny town of Newberry, Florida, and turned it into a fundraiser for AWWP. The same friends who’d raised their children in village with mine – nurses, teachers, and a farmer’s wife – bought my books in support of this lap top. . . read more
A Reading Life: In the late fifties Bill Ferris did something that his parents, family and friends thought would guarantee he’d never see gainful employment. He got his doctoral thesis at the University of Pennsylvania in folklore studying the African American myth, music and culture of his native Mississippi Delta country. Much to the shock of everyone, even Ferris, he got a job right away, and he’s been studying it ever since. http://www.bibliobuffet.com/content/view/1147/193/
Consuming Books:Wyatt’s Revenge (2009), latest novel from H. Terrell Griffin, is an action-packed thriller. Retired trial lawyer Matt Royal lives on Longboat Key, FL, enjoying his laid-back life when he learns of the execution style killing of his dearest friend, Laurence Wyatt. Not one to turn his back on friends, Matt decides to find out why he was killed. And, most importantly, who killed Wyatt. The trail leads Matt from Florida to Germany and a decades old trail of Nazis and collaborators. This is the fourth novel in the Matt Royal series. Wyatt’s Revenge has been chosen as a SIBA OKRA pick.
Hooray for Books:The Dot, by famed illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, is a must-read for any child who thinks they are unable to do something. The book opens with a little girl named Vashti sitting at her desk with a blank sheet of paper on which she believes she cannot draw. When her teacher sees this, she tells her to make a mark to see what happens. Vashti, in frustration, angrily makes a dot in the center of the page. The teacher looks at it and asks her to sign the paper. The next day in class, Vashti walks in and sees her picture framed and hanging over her teacher’s desk. Irritated, Vashti looks at the picture and decides she can make a better dot than that one, starting her on a journey of drawing throughout the rest of the book. Due to her teacher’s clever encouragement, Vashti realizes she can draw. . . read more
Page 854:Remember typewriters? There is actually a working one about ten feet from where I am now sitting in the back room of Accent on Books. And yes, we still use it, which occasionally leads someone to stick their head into the back room and ask, "What's that strange noise?" read more
Bookchick - Unedited: To quote my best friend comedian Lord Carrett, "Welcome to Richmond! Where if you fell off a horse in the Civil War, you're somewhere blocking traffic." I'm cool with the driving hazards. My favorite image of the city which I see a few times a year is two birds perched on the ears of Stonewall Jackson's horse on his monument. . .read more
Word Hoarder: Peace is the intense story of the long night of the soul faced by three American GIs when their sergeant casually murders an Italian civilian while on patrol behind enemy lines in the last year of WWII. Their struggle to do the right thing, to understand whether one more killing makes a difference during the insanity of war, reflects our own uneasiness at the messiness of conducting a war, no matter how justified, and shows that though the technology of war and the speed of reporting it may have changed, the basic moral confusion and chaos remains. . . read more
Southern Indie Booksellers have a selected a basket full of books for the Fall 2009 Okra Picks. Thirteen books made the final list, and include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s and young adult titles. All the books have the following things in common: 1) They are Southern in nature. 2) They are Fall 2009 releases and 3) There is a SIBA member Bookstore who is really excited about this book. Southern booksellers love their Southern authors!
Lady Banks’ Commonplace Book
“On a page near the beginning of the second volume of his journal, her grandfather had written: Story keepers of the leather-faced tribes, the people of the land before white men came, told of a coppery cold night during the tenth moon when ten thousand fireflies folded their clicking casements and settled onto every branch of the slender young tree, from its low knotty arms to its high and skinny pointers.
But not one insect sparked its light.
Then, on some secret signal all the bugs caught their fires at once and they went on-and-off, on-and-off, on-and-off in perfect cadence. And from that time, when it had a living light in its limbs, the tree was called the Ghosthead Oak.”
--Sonny Brewer, The Widow and the Tree (Macadam/Cage, 2009
literati mundi meridianus americanus