In which her ladyship, the editor, thinks that truth may not always be stranger than fiction, but it is always as interesting.
December 22, 2013
What books were under your tree? Here are some of the books her ladyship, the editor, has either put under hers, or made sure to put under the trees of friends and family.
THE STORIED SOUTH by William Ferris. The Storied South features the voices of 26 of the most luminous artists and thinkers in American southern culture. University of North Carolina Press (9781469607542) $35.00
Her ladyship is a great fan of Bill Ferris’s mission to preserve the voices of the culture of our American South. His earlier book on the Mississippi Delta Blues was a wonder. This, which captures the voices of the storytellers as well as the singers, is just as beautiful a project.
A THOUSAND MORNINGS: POEMS by Mary Oliver. Oliver returns to the imagery that has come to define her life’s work, transporting readers to the marshland and coastline of her beloved home, Provincetown, Massachusetts. Penguin Books (9780143124054) $16.00
The truth is, her ladyship never can’t resist the poetry of Mary Oliver. At the moment the book on everyone’s coffee table is “Dog Songs” -- Oliver’s paean to her own four footed best friend. But A Thousand Mornings is the farther-reaching collection.
A FIELD GUIDE TO AMERICAN HOUSES by Virginia Savage McAlester. A fully expanded, updated, and freshly designed edition of the most widely acclaimed guide to American houses—for any and all interested in domestic architecture. Knopf Publishing Group (9781400043590) $50.00
Her ladyship grew up down the block from a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Such an experience breeds in one more than a passing interest in architecture and historic neighborhoods. Alas, at the time there was no such thing as a field guide to American Houses. How wonderful that oversight has been rectified.
SHAKESPEARE’S RESTLESS WORLD by Neil MacGregor. The New York Times-bestselling author of A History of the World in 100 Objects brings the world of William Shakespeare and the Tudor era of Elizabeth I into focus. Viking Adult (9780670026340) $36.00
I suppose it is entirely possible to love Shakespeare without loving everything about the era in which he wrote. But if you are the kind of reader to likes to immerse yourself into the ambiance--even the fragrant ambience of Elizabethan England--then books like Shakespeare’s World are a source of hours of entertainment.
MEN WE REAPED by Jesmyn Ward. A stirring memoir from the 2011 National Book Award-winning author of Salvage the Bones. Kirkus Reviews calls it, “A modern rejoinder to Black Like Me, Beloved, and other stories of struggle and redemption—beautifully written.” Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (9781608195213) $26.00
Jesamyn Ward could write a grocery list and it would still be something her ladyship would want under her Christmas tree. But her recent memoir, a powerful and intense memory of her brothers, offers so much more food for thought.
BACKCOUNTRY MAKERS by Betsy K. White. “Of great value to museum curators, collectors, scholars, and dealers for identifying the makers of early decorative arts in Virginia and Tennessee.” —Mike Bell, Curator of Furniture, Tennessee State Museum. University of Tennessee Press (9781572338760) $39.95
Okay, so the description reads “of great value to museum curators” -- which, her ladyship acknowledges, is a somewhat narrow target audience. But it is also the perfect book for kind of person who can’t resist hunting through the crowded shelves in roadside antique shops or scour the tables set up for yard sales, moving sales and weekend flea markets. Which, let us be honest, is a much much wider target audience.
MISSISSIPPI HILL COUNTRY BLUES 1967 by George Mitchell. More than 100 black-and-white photographs by Mitchell capture the musical discovery and the geniuses of Mississippi’s Hill Country blues. University Press of Mississippi (9781617038167) $40.00
We all know what the blues sound like. But what do they look like?
A READER’S BOOK OF DAYS by Tom Nissley. A witty and addictively readable day- by-day literary companion filled with memorable and surprising tales from the lives and works of such authors as Martin Amis, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Zadie Smith, Hunter S. Thompson, and many more. W.W. Norton & Company (9780393239621) $24.95
A myriad of great moments in literature, both off and on the page, make A Reader’s Book of Days an irresistible “reader’s diary.” But the most appealing thing about the book isn’t the gossipy tone it takes towards our favorite writers, it’s the reading lists that are included for every month of the year. Because books should always lead us to….more books.
Happy reading, and shopping, independently!
her ladyship, the editor
Lady Banks' Commonplace Book
Noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.
We would work from sunup to sundown in flat lands of cotton. Just as far as you could see would be cotton. It would be hot, and you would be doing this repetitive thing. You would do from one end of a row to the other, and what would be just unbelievably long. You had to do something, something to keep your mind occupied. I would look up at the clouds, and I got to a place where I could make pictures out of clouds. I would be picking cotton, hoeing cotton, or whatever we would be doing, and I would be making pictures up. Sometime s I would stop and draw in the sand. And at night--when I would go home--I would draw some of those things I had seen in the clouds. Even now, I can look up and make up whole illustrations across the sky. That had to do with that raw, austere thing to survive.
--Benny Andrews, in The Storied South by William Ferris (UNC Press, 2013)
The books lying open on her ladyship's kitchen counter.
Hoppin’ John Bake
1/2 (16 oz) package dried black-eyed peas 4 cups chicken broth, plus additional for rice 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice 3 bacon slices 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped 1 yellow onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese
1. Rinse and sort peas according to the package directions. Cover with water 3 inches above peas; let soak 8 hours. Drain and rinse well.
2. Combine peas and 4 cups broth. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer 1 hour and 30 minutes. meanwhile, cook rice according to package directions, using chicken broth instead of water.
3. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat, turning once, 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons dripping in skillet. Crumble bacon. Cook bell pepper and next 2 ingredients in hot drippings, stirring often. 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in salt and pepper.
4. Preheat oven to 350F. Grate cheese on the large holes of a box grater.
5. Remove black-eyed peas from broth using a slotted spoon. (You should have about 3 cups peas.) Discard broth. Add peas to bell pepper mixture. Add rice, crumbled bacon, and 1 cup of cheese. Stir gently to combine. Transfer to a lightly greased 11x7 baking dish or 6 lightly greased ramekins. Top with remaining cheese.
6. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
The 1793 Old Farmer's Almanac, first published in 1792
An almanac, by definition, records and predicts astronomical events (the rising and setting of the Sun, for instance), tides, weather, and other phenomena with respect to time. So what made The Old Farmer's Almanac different from the others? Since his format wasn't novel, we can only surmise that Thomas's astronomical and weather predictions were more accurate, the advice more useful, and the features more entertaining.
Based on his observations, Thomas used a complex series of natural cycles to devise a secret weather forecasting formula, which brought uncannily accurate results, traditionally said to be 80 percent accurate. (Even today, his formula is kept safely tucked away in a black tin box at the Almanac offices in Dublin, New Hampshire.)
Thomas's last edition, in 1846, was not much different from his first, over 50 years earlier. However, in that time he established The Old Farmer's Almanac as America's leading periodical by outselling and outlasting the competition. He died in 1846 at the age of 80, supposedly reading page proofs for the 1847 edition.
House and Home Superstitious (File under, “it can’t hurt”)
Scatter Solomon's seal on the floor to banish serpents and venomous creatures from the room.
To protect your house from lightning, gather hazel tree branches on Palm Sunday and keep them in water.
Add caraway seeds to chicken feed to keep poultry from wandering. Feed the seeds to homing pigeons to help them find their way back.
Stuff fennel in your keyhole or hang it over your door to protect against witches.
Never carry a hoe into the house. If you do so by mistake, carry it out again, walking backward to avoid bad luck.
Never walk under a ladder, which is Satan's territory. If you must do it, cross your fingers or make the sign of the fig (closed fist, with thumb between index and middle fingers).
If you give a steel blade to a friend, make the recipient pay you a penny to avoid cutting the friendship.
Never give a knife as a housewarming present, or your new neighbor will become an enemy.
Never pound a nail after sundown, or you will wake the tree gods.
Nail an evergreen branch to new rafters to bring good luck. An empty hornets' nest, hung high, also will bring good luck to a house of any age.
When you move to a new house, always enter first with a loaf of bread and a new broom. Never bring an old broom into the house.
William Faulkner said that if the life of a writer was walking around New Orleans with fellow writer Sherwood Anderson, talking to people and drinking, then being a writer was the thing to be. Faulkner wrote about the city often during the year he lived in the French Quarter, and he's one of many authors, visitors and natives who found a muse in the Crescent City. That interest in the city is the centerpiece of N.O. Lit: 200 Years of New Orleans Literature, a new anthology of plays, poems, fiction and essays compiled by writer and Dillard University professor Nancy Dixon. 200 Years of NO Lit
New American Library announces the publication of “Return to Tradd Street” by New York Times Bestselling author Karen White. The fourth and final book in White’s national bestselling Tradd Street series featuring fan favorites Melanie Middleton and Jack Trenholm. Karen White
In 1918, Zelda Sayre, later Zelda Fitzgerald, won a prize for this story, which she published in the Sidney Lanier High School Literary Journal. She was seventeen or eighteen years old when she wrote it; she would soon meet F. Scott Fitzgerald, her escape hatch from the restrictive world of Montgomery, Alabama, into a tumultuous life of literary striving. The story was recently unearthed, and the Fitzgerald estate was surprised to learn of its existence. Zelda Fitzgerald
The Western North Carolina Historical Association is pleased to announce that writer, Wiley Cash, is the 2013 winner of its Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. Wiley Cash is being honored for his book A Place More Kind than Home published by William Morrow. The book has already achieved status as a New York Times best seller and has received several other major literary awards. More awards for Wiley Cash
Conroy doesn't focus as much on his father's cruelty in this book as he does with his evolution into humanity. A bridge was crossed in their relationship and this is the main portrait that is painted. Don Conroy was a mess as a father but he became a loving and attentive grandparent. His conversion awakened a realization in his children that perhaps he could be loved. The Death of Santini
1962. Beaufort, S.C. Eighteen-year-old Pat Conroy boards a Greyhound bus for his first year at the Citadel. In the seat next to him is a pretty girl in a paisley dress. She's reading The Feminine Mystique, bound for Berkeley. The bus pulls into the Greyhound station on Wentworth Street. Pat looks out the window. The basketball coach is there, as are a row of fellow knobs sweating in the August sun. Red-faced upperclassmen are screaming their heads off at them. Pat sits back down, the girl passes him a cigarette, they head out for the West Coast. What if?
The early days of my youth were lived on my grandparents’ farm. Winters were often harsh, and I remember times when the wind whipped the snow into great drifts that reached the eaves of the barn. On brutally cold nights I’d wear thermals and pull a flannel nightgown over my head. Then I’d go into the kitchen and stand on the floor grate by the stove. While the heated air billowed my nightgown, I would talk with my mom and grandma while they prepared supper. Beth Hoffman remembers
The world of William Faulkner will come to life when the Pascagoula Public Library hosts the national traveling exhibit, "Faulkner's World: Photographs of Martin Dain." Faulkner Exhibit
STARS Authors on tour:
What are "STARS" authors? These are authors listing in the Southern Traveling Authors Registration Service--a directory of authors who live in, or are traveling in the South and are interested in meeting with book clubs, civic groups, classrooms, and readers of all kinds. The STARS directory is brought to you by Southern Indie Booksellers, who want to connect readers with their favorite writers.
That Bookstore In Blytheville is now under a new management that has a long history with the historic local shop. Chris Crawley and Yolanda Harrison, not to be confused with Dr. Yulanda Harrison from Osceola, have taken over the management of That Bookstore In Blytheville, an opportunity Crawley, who spent his childhood in the store, said he had been looking for, for more than three decades. TBIB
For two and a half years, Mitchell Kaplan taught English literature at Southridge Senior High School, never really knowing the impact he would leave on his students. But on Saturday he was greeted by some of his students from the classes of 1983 and 1984 in the courtyard of his Books & Books store in Coral Gables, which he founded 32 years ago. Books & Books
Read This! Recommended Reading from Southern Indie Holiday Catalogs: Nonfiction
THE DEATH OF SANTINI by Pat Conroy. In this powerful and intimate memoir, the beloved bestselling author of The Prince of Tides and his father, the inspiration for The Great Santini, find some common ground at long last. Nan A. Talese (9780385530903) $28.95
“In this powerful, superbly written memoir, Conroy tells the story of his family - the violence, the estrangements, the divorces, the mental breakdowns, and the suicide. This tumultuous tale is also full of love, reconciliations, and lots of humor. But most of all, in The Death of Santini, Conroy brilliantly brings his intense, combative father to life. I stayed up all night reading this book!” Helen at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, NC
THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE by Ann Patchett. From the bestselling author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto, a collection of autobiographical writings going back across Patchett’s entire life, covering her early writing and friendships, travel, marriage, and opening a bookstore. Harper (9780062236678) $27.99
“Patchett, whose novels are known for their insight and stark truths, tells the deeply personal story of her own relationship with love in this collection of essays.” Linda, Malaprop’s
DAVID AND GOLIATH by Malcolm Gladwell. The #1-bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw offers his most provocative—and dazzling—book yet, drawing upon history, psychology, and powerful storytelling to reshape the way we think about the world around us. Little, Brown and Company (9780316204361) $29.00
“From the bestselling author of Outliers, The Tipping Point, and Blink, Malcolm Gladwell's newest book bases its premise on the ancient battle between David and Goliath. He argues that a smaller opponent can defeat a larger opponent when they begin to think unconventionally. To succeed, the small guy doesn't need to play by the same rules as the big guy. He cites examples from business to guerilla warfare to a below average basketball team that went nearly undefeated with the full court press. Yet another incredibly interesting, inspiring and informative must-read from Gladwell.” Christian at Inkwood Books
1. The Goldfinch Donna Tartt, Little Brown, $30, 9780316055437 2. Sycamore Row John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385537131 3. The First Phone Call From Heaven Mitch Albom, Harper, $24.99, 9780062294371 4. The Gods of Guilt Michael Connelly, Little Brown, $28, 9780316069519 5. Aimless Love Billy Collins, Random House, $26, 9780679644057 6. The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion Fannie Flagg, Random House, $27, 9781400065943 7. Guests on Earth Lee Smith, Shannon Ravenel Books, $25.95, 9781616202538 8. The Good Lord Bird James McBride, Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594486340 9. Dog Songs Mary Oliver, Penguin Press, $26.95, 9781594204784 10. The Signature of All Things Elizabeth Gilbert, Viking, $28.95, 9780670024858 11. Someone Else's Love Story Joshilyn Jackson, Morrow, $26.99, 9780062105653 12. The Valley of Amazement Amy Tan, Ecco, $29.99, 9780062107312 13. S. J.J. Abrams, Doug Dorst, Mulholland, $35, 9780316201643 14. The Luminaries Eleanor Catton, Little Brown, $27, 9780316074315 15. Command Authority Tom Clancy, Putnam Adult, $29.95, 9780399160479
1. Things That Matter Charles Krauthammer, Crown Forum, $28, 9780385349178 2. The Death of Santini Pat Conroy, Nan A. Talese, $28.95, 9780385530903 3. The Southerner's Handbook: A Guide to Living the Good Life Garden & Gun Magazine, HarperWave, $27.99, 9780062242389 4. David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell, Little Brown, $29, 9780316204361 5. The Bully Pulpit Doris Kearns Goodwin, S&S, $40, 9781416547860 6. George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger, Sentinel, $27.95, 9781595231031 7. One Summer: America, 1927 Bill Bryson, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780767919401 8. Killing Jesus Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard, Holt, $28, 9780805098549 9. I Am Malala Malala Yousafzai, Little Brown, $26, 9780316322409 10. I Could Pee on This Francesco Marciuliano, Chronicle, $12.95, 9781452110585 11. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062236678 12. Stitches Anne Lamott, Riverhead, $17.95, 9781594632587 13. Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls David Sedaris, Little Brown, $27, 9780316154697 14. The Men Who United the States Simon Winchester, Harper, $29.99, 9780062079602 15. History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time Brad Meltzer, Workman, $24.95, 9780761177456
TRADE PAPERBACK FICTION
1. Dear Life Alice Munro, Vintage, $15.95, 9780307743725 2. Where'd You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple, Back Bay, $14.99, 9780316204262 3. The Aviator's Wife Melanie Benjamin, Bantam, $15, 9780345528681 4. Flight Behavior Barbara Kingsolver, Harper Perennial, $16.99, 9780062124272 5. The Light Between Oceans M.L. Stedman, Scribner, $16, 9781451681758 6. Me Before You Jojo Moyes, Penguin, $16, 9780143124542 7. The Dinner Herman Koch, Hogarth, $14, 9780385346856 8. The Round House Louise Erdrich, Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780062065254 9. The House Girl Tara Conklin, Morrow, $14.99, 9780062207517 10. The Orphan Master's Son Adam Johnson, Random House, $15, 9780812982626 11. Life After Life Jill McCorkle, Shannon Ravenel Books, $14.95, 9781616203221 12. The Art Forger B.A. Shapiro, Algonquin, $14.95, 9781616203160 13. This Is How You Lose Her Junot Diaz, Riverhead, $16, 9781594631771 14. Beautiful Ruins Jess Walter, Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780061928178 15. The Last Runaway Tracy Chevalier, Plume, $16, 9780142180365
TRADE PAPERBACK NONFICTION
1. Hyperbole and a Half Allie Brosh, Touchstone, $17.99, 9781451666175 2. Unlikely Loves Jennifer S. Holland, Workman, $13.95, 9780761174424 3. Proof of Heaven Eben Alexander, M.D., S&S, $15.99, 9781451695199 4. Wild Cheryl Strayed, Vintage, $15.95, 9780307476074 5. Orange Is the New Black Piper Kerman, Spiegel & Grau, $16, 9780812986181 6. Rude Bitches Make Me Tired Celia Rivenbark, Griffin, $14.99, 9781250029232 7. The World Almanac and Book of Facts Sarah Janssen (Ed.), World Almanac, $13.99, 9781600571824 8. Awkward Family Holiday Photos Mike Bender, Doug Chernack, Three Rivers Press, $15, 9780307888136 9. The Old Farmer's Almanac 2014 Old Farmer's Almanac, $7.95, 9781571986030 10. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot, Broadway, $16, 9781400052189 11. Think Happy, Be Happy Workman, $8.95, 9780761177579 12. Dog Shaming Pascale Lemire, Three Rivers Press, $15, 9780385349345 13. The Monuments Men Robert M. Edsel, Back Bay, $17, 9780316240055 14. Heaven Is for Real Todd Burpo, Thomas Nelson, $16.99, 9780849946158 15. Brain on Fire Susannah Cahalan, S&S, $16, 9781451621389
1. A Dance With Dragons George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $9.99, 9780553582017 2. Ender's Game Orson Scott Card, Tor, $7.99, 9780765370624 3. A Game of Thrones George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $9.99, 9780553593716 4. To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, Grand Central, $7.99, 9780446310789 5. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger, Little Brown, $6.99, 9780316769488 6. A Feast for Crows George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $9.99, 9780553582024 7. A Clash of Kings George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $9.99, 9780345535429 8. The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, 4th Edition Merriam-Webster, $7.50, 9780877799290 9. A Storm of Swords George R.R. Martin, Bantam, $9.99, 9780345543981 10. The Racketeer John Grisham, Dell, $9.99, 9780345530578
1. The Day the Crayons Quit Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illus.), Philomel, $17.99, 9780399255373 2. Santa! A Scanimation Picture Book Rufus Butler Seder, Workman, $14.95, 9780761177258 3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas Dr. Seuss, Random House, $15, 9780394800790 4. Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses James Dean, Kimberly Dean, Harper, $17.99, 9780062275561 5. The Polar Express Chris Van Allsburg, Houghton Mifflin, $18.95, 9780395389492 6. Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (Illus.), Harper, $8.99, 9780694003617 7. What Does the Fox Say? Ylvis, Svein Nyhus (Illus.), Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9781481422239 8. Pete the Cat Saves Christmas Eric Litwin, James Dean (Illus.), Harper, $17.99, 9780062110626 9. The Night Before Christmas Clement Clarke Moore, Holly Hobbie (Illus.), Little Brown, $18, 9780316070188 10. An Otis Christmas Loren Long, Philomel, $17.99, 9780399163951
1. The Book Thief Markus Zusak, Knopf, $12.99, 9780385754729 2. Wonder R.J. Palacio, Knopf, $15.99, 9780375869020 3. The Fault in Our Stars John Green, Dutton, $17.99, 9780525478812 4. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Barbara Robinson, HarperTrophy, $5.99, 9780064402750 5. Frog Trouble . . . and Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs Sandra Boynton, Workman, $16.95, 9780761171768 6. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures Kate DiCamillo, K.G. Campbell (Illus.), Candlewick, $17.99, 9780763660406 7. Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims Rush Limbaugh, Threshold Editions, $19.99, 9781476755861 8. Fortunately, the Milk Neil Gaiman, Skottie Young (Illus.), Harper, $14.99, 9780062224071 9. The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $12.95, 9780810989955 10. God Got a Dog Cynthia Rylant, Marla Frazee (Illus.), Beach Lane, $17.99, 9781442465183
CHILDREN'S FICTION SERIES TITLES
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck Jeff Kinney, Amulet, $13.95, 9781419711329 2. Divergent Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, $9.99, 9780062024039 3. Allegiant (Divergent, #3) Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, $19.99, 9780062024060 4. Mockingjay (The Final Book of the Hunger Games) Suzanne Collins, Scholastic, $17.99, 9780439023511 5. Insurgent (Divergent, #2) Veronica Roth, Katherine Tegen Books, $17.99, 9780062024046 6. The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins, Scholastic, $12.99, 9780545425117 7. The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, Book Four) Rick Riordan, Hyperion, $19.99, 9781423146728 8. Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) Suzanne Collins, Scholastic, $12.99, 9780545586177 9. When Did You See Her Last? (All the Wrong Questions) Lemony Snicket, Seth (Illus.), Little Brown, $16, 9780316123051 10. Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1) Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca (Illus.), Random House, $4.99, 9780679824114