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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{Books and bookstores are good medicine.}

In which Ms. Bell Hooks explains what matters, Ms. Betsy Teter thinks bookstores are "a survival thing," Ms. Emoke B'Racz believes books are good medicine, and Mr. Mike Orenduff thinks they are the most important invention of the human race. He is correct.

July 17, 2016

In This Issue

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


Dearest Readers,

Reading by firefly light.Welcome to the more concise edition of Lady Banks' Commonplace Book, wherein her ladyship, the editor, attempts with doubtful success to reign in her chatty tongue and spare her readers the consequences of overly-full email in boxes.

What has changed? Some of the longer parts of this newsletter have been trimmed with loving care: Highlights of Southern Indie Bestsellers and the books that are special to the Southern list, with links to the full lists (which, let's be honest, are very long because Southerners read) for those who would like to see them. The calendar of events at southern bookstores is now a showcase of some featured author events around the South. The full calendar -- which has dozens, if not hundreds of author readings, book club meetings, book festivals and writers groups -- her ladyship has decided is deserving of its own dedicated email, which her readers will receive in due course. Naturally, it is possible to opt out of either the calendar or the Commonplace Book at any time via the links at the bottom of email, but then, why would anyone wish to?

What has not changed? All the front porch gossip and good book talk to be found among Southern folk. The staff picks from Southern booksellers, the reading lists from Southern authors. The South is a land of stories and storytellers, they surround us like fireflies in the tall grass on a summer's eve. 

Read Independently! And shop local.

her ladyship, the editor

Read Savannah Liane MoriartyTruly, Madly, Guilty

#ReadSavannah! with Liane Moriarty

#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.

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.

"What mattered was the line separating country and city - nature mattered."

BelongingMy life in Kentucky, my girlhood life, is divided into neat lines demarcating before and after. Before is the isolated life we lived as a family in the Kentucky hills, a life where the demarcations of race, class, and gender did not matter. What mattered was the line separating country and city -- nature mattered. My life in nature was the Before and the After was life in the city where money and status  determined everything. In the country our class had no importance. In our home we were surrounded by hills. Only the front windows of our house looked out on a solitary road constructed for the men seeking to find oil, all other windows faced hills. In our childhood, the rarely traveled road held no interest. The hills in the back of our house were the place of magic and possibility, a lush green frontier, where nothing man made could run us down, where we could freely seek adventure.

--bell hooks, Belonging: A Culture of Place (Routledge, 2009) 9780415968164

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Lady Banks' {Book} Trailer Park

Art Taylor on Murder under the Oaks

Murder Under the OaksArt Taylor talks about “Murder Under the Oaks,” the short mystery compilation he had the honor of editing at the 2015 Bouchercon mystery writers convention. He also talks about the art of writing short stories – which he teaches - & how he learns from his students as well as vice versa.

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Read This!

Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers

HomegoingHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Artfully constructed with the imperfect symmetry of a family tree, this novel unearths the historical and embraces the emotional. Gyasi tackles the facets of blackness as they evolve, creating a story steeped in prophecy, love, and loss. Her prose is seamless, volatile, and yielding, as heartfelt as if these were her stories handed down, all her lives. An exercise in empathy-- a consuming experience. --Amanda, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC 


Green IslandGreen Island by Shawna Yang Ryan

A great generational saga about a Taiwanese family, suffering and surviving the White Terror-- decades of repression inflicted by a (shamefully) U.S.-sponsored dictatorship. The characters are sympathetic, the scope is enormous, and the novel sheds light on a little-understood time and place. Above all, a highly readable epic from a promising author.  --HankFlyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC


Underground AirlinesUnderground Airlines is the most important book of the summer. Ben H. Winters has managed to aim a giant magnifying glass at the problem of institutionalized racism in America in a way that has never been done before. This Orwellian allegory takes place in present day, but in this United States Lincoln was assassinated before he ever became president and slavery still exists in four states, known as the Hard Four. A former slave calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with law enforcement, keeping his freedom in exchange for infiltrating an abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. In agile prose, managing to see the darkest of humors, Winters has us follow Victor as he confronts demons both inner and outer in a fast-paced, heart-pounding narrative. He tackles even the most sensitive of issues such as the motivations of misguided liberal whites' involving themselves in racial politics, profiling, the influence of racism on the very young. Read it. — Kelly at Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

More bookseller recommendations

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Okra Picks: Underground Airlines

Underground AirlinesUnderground Airlines is the most important book of the summer.

-Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred.

A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshal Service. He's got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called "the Hard Four." On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn't right--with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself.

A mystery to himself, Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation, and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. Tracking Jackdaw through the back rooms of churches, empty parking garages, hotels, and medical offices, Victor believes he's hot on the trail. But his strange, increasingly uncanny pursuit is complicated by a boss who won't reveal the extraordinary stakes of Jackdaw's case, as well as by a heartbreaking young woman and her child who may be Victor's salvation. Victor himself may be the biggest obstacle of all--though his true self remains buried, it threatens to surface.

Victor believes himself to be a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he has worked so hard to earn. But in pursuing Jackdaw, Victor discovers secrets at the core of the country's arrangement with the Hard Four, secrets the government will preserve at any cost.

Underground Airlines is a ground-breaking novel, a wickedly imaginative thriller, and a story of an America that is more like our own than we'd like to believe.


Okra Picks

The List: 280 Steps Press' 10 Novels set in the Carolinas that everyone should read

via 280 Steps Press

Hashtag Alphabet Land Where All Light Tends to Go They Don't Dance Much Joyland Serena A Land More Kind than Home Redemption Road The Devil's Right Hand Legwork

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Book & Author Gossip

The Unfinished World"I’m fascinated by the way in which women’s literature has always drifted into the mythological yet always returns us to the kitchen table." 

One writer explores "domestic fabulism" (a term she made up) in Southern women's poetry, and why we love it.


 “They are the most important invention of the human race"

Why someone is opening a bookstore in Valdosta, Georgia. Also, Possman's Books is coming to the Ponce City Market in Atlanta.


“We are a place where freedom of speech is honored”

Emoke B'Racz, owner of Malaprop's Books in Asheville, NC, calls books and bookstores "good medicine" for whatever ails us. But it didn't inoculate the store from "the bathroom bill."


The Unfinished World"It was a survival thing for us"

Betsy Teter of Hub City Books talks about why a small press would open a bookstore. “It was a survival thing for us,” Teter explained. “Without a place for people in Spartanburg to buy our books, we were going to have trouble.”



A Thousand Miles from Nowhere"So my childhood home was destroyed"

John Gregory Browne says he didn't set out to write a Katrina novel, he was trying to write about redemption.

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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending July 17. 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 Girls
Emma Cline, Random House, $27, 9780812998603
2. All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr, Scribner, $27, 9781476746586
3. Sweetbitter
Stephanie Danler, Knopf, $25, 9781101875940
4. First Comes Love
Emily Giffin, Ballantine, $28, 9780345546920
5. The Nest
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, Ecco, $26.99, 9780062414212


1. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
Nancy Isenberg, Viking, $28, 9780670785971
2. Hamilton: The Revolution
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter, Grand Central, $45, 9781455539741
3. Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Spiegel & Grau, $24, 9780812993547
4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondo, Ten Speed Press, $16.99, 9781607747307
5. Tribe
Sebastian Junger, Twelve, $22, 9781455566389

Also of note:

okra9. Dimestore: A Writer's Life
Lee Smith, Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616205027
siba book award finalist10. Go Set a Watchman
Harper Lee, Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780062409867
okra8. Raymie Nightingale
Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763681173

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

okraDonald Ray Pollock with THE HEAVENLY TABLE  (author appearance)
Donald Ray Pollock | 07/20/2016, 05:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Author Event: Hilda Gurdian - Discover Your Path to Success  (author appearance)
Hilda Gurdian | 07/20/2016 | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

okraJulia Franks, Over the Plain Houses  (author appearance)
Julia Franks | 07/20/2016, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Shared Worlds: Nnedi Okorafor and Jeff VanderMeer  (author appearance)
Nnedi Okorafor | 07/20/2016, 06:30 pm | Hub City Bookshop | Spartanburg, SC

Mark Landler Book Signing  (author appearance)
Mark Landler | 07/21/2016, 06:30 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Kerry Hamilton: Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Mann Hamilton  (other event)
07/21/2016, 06:00 pm | Garden District Book Shop | New Orleans, LA

Robert Hamlin with MYSELF AND THE WORLD *At main SB location*  (author appearance)
Robert Hamblin | 07/21/2016 | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Coffee with the Poet Featuring Newton Smith  (other event)
07/21/2016, 10:30 am | City Lights Bookstore | Sylva, NC

Author Event: Charlotte Corbin Barnes - Tom Dooley Files  (author appearance)
Charlotte Corbin | 07/21/2016, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

okraJulia Franks, Over the Plain Houses  (author appearance)
Julia Franks | 07/21/2016, 07:00 pm | Regulator Bookshop | Durham, NC

Free Book Talk & Signing with J.R. Thornton at Trade Route  (author appearance)
J.R. Thornton | 07/21/2016, 04:00 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Brad Watson with MISS JANE  (author appearance)
Brad Watson | 07/22/2016, 06:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

okraJulia Franks Author of Over The Plain Houses  (author appearance)
Julia Franks | 07/22/2016, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Joseph Finder  (author appearance)
Joseph Finder | 07/23/2016, 05:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Parapalooza  (author appearance)
various authors | 07/23/2016, 06:00 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Jane Green, Falling: A Love Story  (author appearance)
Jane Green | 07/23/2016, 01:00 pm | FoxTale Book Shoppe | Woodstock, GA

Sheila Grinell - Appetite  (author appearance)
Sheila Grinell | 07/23/2016, 02:00 pm | Tall Tales Book Shop, Inc. | Atlanta, GA

Tyler Cook Presents His New Fantasy Novel  (author appearance)
Tyler Cook | 07/23/2016, 03:00 pm | City Lights Bookstore | Sylva, NC

WILL FREY presents EASE INTO FREEDOM  (author appearance)
Will Frey | 07/23/2016, 07:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Ace Atkins – The Innocents: A Quinn Colson Novel  (author appearance)
Ace Atkins | 07/23/2016, 11:00 am | McIntyre's Fine Books | Pittsboro, NC

Author Event: Ericka Spradley- 30 Min. Career Coach  (author appearance)
Ericka Spradley | 07/23/2016, 11:00 am | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Adam Jones: Fate Ball  (author appearance)
Adam Jones | 07/23/2016, 04:00 pm | The Country Bookshop | Southern Pines, 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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