Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week


Read This Now: The Index

What if there were an army of indie booksellers enthusiastically reading and reviewing practically every new book coming out in the next year, and what if the books they were the most excited about, the books they couldn't wait to push into their customers' hands with a breathless "You've GOT to read this!" (virtually or otherwise), the ones with all the nine- and ten-star ratings were carefully curated and collected in a handy list? Well, all we can say is...KEEP READING!

Browse the whole list!


What if there were an army of indie booksellers enthusiastically reading and reviewing practically every new book coming out in the next year, and what if the books they were the most excited about, the books they couldn't wait to push into their customers' hands with a breathless "You've GOT to read this!" (virtually or otherwise), the ones with all the nine- and ten-star ratings were carefully curated and collected in a handy list? Well, all we can say is...KEEP READING!

Browse the Read This Now Index!


RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...

Drink Like a Geek: Cocktails, Brews, and Spirits for the Nerd in All of Us by Jeff CiolettiDo you or someone you love like sci-fi? Comic books? Wizards? Genre TV? B-movies? Videogames? Cosplay and conventions? Space?!? Let's say this person (or you) happen to also like cocktails? Let's just get this out of the way first: YOU ARE MY PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND THIS IS YOUR BOOK!!!!!!!! Butter Beer (for grown-ups only, folks), The Doctor, James Bond, Star Trek (Romulan Ale, anyone?) are all covered and loads more.

Drink Like a Geek: Cocktails, Brews, and Spirits for the Nerd in All of Us by Jeff Cioletti ($19.95*, Mango), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

My Jasper June by Laurel SnyderA summer story soaked in magic, My Jasper June is a beautiful exploration of friendship, loss, and family. Feeling neglected by her parents and lost in her own sadness, Leah finds an instant kindred spirit in Jasper and for the first time, begins to see the luster in life again. Jasper also knows a thing or two about abandonment, and as the girls bond over one magical summer, they realize they can't hide from reality forever. Luckily, Snyder is the perfect writer to tackle these tough subjects and does so with astounding grace and brilliance. My Jasper June is soon to be a beloved classic of book clubs everywhere.

My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder ($16.99*, Walden Pond Press), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

 A Summer 2019 Okra Pick

Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? by Brock ClarkeInspired by Graham Greene’s Travels with my Aunt, Brock Clarke’s new novel is a delightful journey (physically and emotionally) that constantly keeps us guessing at the final destination. This can be said of the narrator, Calvin Bledsoe, as well as the reader. At his mother’s funeral, Calvin meets an aunt he never knew he had, and embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery he didn’t know he needed. A thoughtful coming-of-age story wrapped in a screwball mystery caper, Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? may inspire questions of your own. It may inspire you to learn about John Calvin, the pellet stove, or even small animal pornography. It will most certainly make you smile.

Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? by Brock Clarke ($26.95*, Algonquin Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

The Passengers by John MarrsYikes, y'all. This is a gripping suspenseful tale of what happens when autonomous cars go wrong. Eight people are in transit to various places when their routes get canceled and a strange voice announces that they have a little less than three hours to live. There is a jury of their peers set to choose who lives and who dies (and in what order) and this is just as grisly as you'd expect. As we get to know each passenger, we learn that each has dark secrets and the jury is left to learn their secrets and decide who merits saving. Don't read this if you have somewhere to be. You won't want to put it down!

The Passengers by John Marrs ($26.00*, Berkley), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy LefteriLefteri has written a powerful story of a family who has suffered mightily during the Syrian war as they watched their city and country being decimated. Their journey to escape the devastation is in itself a harrowing experience. Beautifully written and heartbreaking, Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife Afra struggle to maintain hope as forces pull them apart. It was difficult to read but so poignant and I couldn’t put it down! This story speaks to the power of love, loss and the strength of family.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri ($27.00*, Ballantine Books), recommended by Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

Everything Inside by Edwidge DanticatEverything Inside transported me into the distant, unknown worlds of Haitian, Caribbean, and Haitian-American culture. Each story explores the tenuousness of relationships--how things can change in an instant, or how a fuzzy detail about someone we feel close to becomes clearer and more telling in retrospect. These are beautifully written and moving that will linger with me in the weeks and months to come.

Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat ($25.95*, Knopf), recommended by Bards Alley, Vienna, VA.

Dead Voices by Katherine ArdenKatherine Arden tells a great spooky story, one that remembers the personhood of her characters, no matter their age. Genuinely scary without being too scary or leaving her characters agentless against the dark and terrifying. I look forward to the next in the series!

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden ($16.99*, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers), recommended by Sundog Books, Santa Rosa Beach, FL.

The Warlow Experiment by Alix NathanTerrific. Grade A-plus historical fiction. Customers who are champing at the bit for Mantel's next can be quietened for a bit with The Warlow Experiment. I love this mix of research and imagining, and I toast Nathan for taking that long-ago advertisement and fanning it out for us so well.

The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan ($26.95*, Doubleday), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. KendiIn the follow up to his essential Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi has given us another indispensable book in How to Be an Antiracist. Blending personal memoir with history, social science, law, and social justice, Kendi continues to reframe and redefine what it means to be “antiracist” in the world today. Accessibly written and constantly engaging, How to Be an Antiracist is a perfect book for our historical moment and one that I hope will continue to reshape my own and others’ thinking.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi ($27.00*, One World), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy ColbertThis is a story I think many teens will relate to. There is so much pressure to achieve and succeed now for kids, and it starts so early. In addition, one in three Americans is personally affected by addiction. On top of that, every family has its own secrets and challenges. And then you think about how much harder it is to achieve when you start life as a person of color in an incredibly prejudiced and segregated society. Birdie's story is complex, but when you boil it down, it's the normal story of a present-day girl trying to grow up in America.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert ($17.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

The Last Widow by Karin SlaughterWOW! I think the last few times I have read Karin's new books I think they are the best yet. This book is no exception to that pattern. The plot of an epidemic is incredibly real and the continued unfolding of Will and Sara's relationship during extreme duress is spellbinding. The focus on things, like domestic terrorism, that are sometimes swept under the rug are front and center in this book. I have a hard time imagining how much research was involved to reach the level of detail in so any complex medical and scientific situations in this book. The pace is fast and if you skip a page you will miss something important. There are perfect examples of evil hiding in plain sight, but also wonderful examples of sacrifice and heroism. Don't miss this journey with Will and Sara.

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter ($27.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

Stolen Things by R. H. HeronA crazy thrill-ride from the first page, I was so absorbed that I read the entire book in a day. Every time I thought I had everything figured out Herron threw in another twist I was not expecting. Her detailed knowledge of 911 dispatch gave this book a layer of realism that a lot of thrillers don't have, and the mother/daughter relationship at its heart filled me to the brim with all the feels. In a crowded field, this is not a debut to miss!

Stolen Things by R. H. Heron ($26.00*, Dutton), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

Black Light by Kimberly King ParsonsIs Friday Night Lights meets Ottessa Moshfegh a thing? Because this collection is kind of like that: unafraid of being dark or weird or gross, and set within the wandering, vacant emptiness of Texas, or anyplace far enough away for you to feel like there's no one else around. These are my favorite kinds of stories, with sharp, surprising sentences and characters full of wanting and loneliness, resourcefulness and humor.

Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons ($15.00*, Vintage), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

The Blessing: A Memoir by Gregory OrrI feel blessed having read Geoffrey Orr's memoir The Blessing. I was captivated by his opening confession that he feels blessed by a family tragedy. He avoids the usual cliches by not mythologizing the death of his brother and his struggle to regain his place in the world. The book lacks the "look at me" quality of many "overcoming adversity" memoirs and instead steps readers through the scenes building to and following the loss. His "big reveal" of how writing saved him is more of a soft landing on the far side of disaster. It carries the scars of the tragedy into a new place that is, obviously, a blessing.

The Blessing: A Memoir by Gregory Orr ($15.00*, Milkweed Editions), recommended by Book No Further, Roanoke, VA.

River of Fire: : My Spiritual Journey by Sister Helen PrejeanSr. Helen Prejean's memoir of her spiritual life prior to Dead Man Walking has an engaging conversational tone which makes her journey accessible and interesting--particularly to those interested in the intersection of faith and social justice. Of special interest to Catholics will be the chapters on Vatican II and how the changes affected the life of nuns in convents, but this is highly recommended to people of all faith traditions.

River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey by Sister Helen Prejean ($27.00*, Random House), recommended by Wordsworth Books, Little Rock, AR.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga TokarczukOdd—in the best way—and appealing, Drive Your Plow is equal parts mystery and environmental anthem. The novel’s protagonist is an older woman—bridge architect, English teacher, and translator of William Blake—whose love of animals and devotion to astrology lead her to blame the recent murders of hunters in her remote Polish village on the revenge of area wildlife. Olga Tokarczuk gives us a prickly, idiosyncratic character who resists pigeon-holing and slowly garners our sympathy and support, keeping us off balance and propelled toward the story’s resolution.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.