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...

Alternately funny and heartbreaking, this book of inter-connected short stories depicts a South populated with characters I know and love.

This is a book made to be read aloud or dog-eared and underlined to celebrate its beauty.

More of This World or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson (Harper Perennial) Recommended by Elizabeth at Charis Books Decatur GA

When I started reading God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher I fell into a kind of reverie, induced by his mesmerizing descriptions of the northeast corner of Vermont, the beauty and simplicity of the language he uses, and the compelling story he tells.

Told from the viewpoint of 14 year-old Jim Kennison in the 1950's, it's a coming-of-age story, a morality play, and an adventure story, full of events and people that are horrible and wonderful and sometimes very funny.

God's Kingdom is one of those rare books, like To Kill a Mockingbird, that should become an American classic for all ages for many years to come.

God's Kingdom by Howard Frank Mosher (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

There's something so perfectly universal about a novel about family, and Let Me Explain You is no different.

Stavros Stavros Mavrakis--Greek immigrant, father of three, proprietor of the Gala Diner--believes that he will be dead in ten days. With this in mind, he writes an e-mail to his estranged ex-wife and three grown daughters, telling them exactly how they should "fix" their lives. His family writes off the email as a cry for attention, but when Stavros goes missing they begin to reevaluate their own lives and his place in them.

This is a hilarious and tender novel about fathers and daughters, love, loss, and the impact our decisions have on those we love. You'll laugh, you'll cry--it's a veritable Greek tragicomedy!

Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas (Scribner) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL
 

It takes a special talent to have a reader truly suspend disbelief, but Pulley succeeds spectacularly well in this debut.

In 1880s London, Thaniel Steepleton is a telegraphist whose life is saved by a very timely pocket watch. When he meets its maker, Keita Mori, his entire life is upended and made more beautiful -- and dangerous.

The clock is ticking on this new friendship, and Thaniel must use his ingenuity and previously untapped bravery to save Keita's life and his own future. Fans of David Mitchell and Erin Morgenstern will be intrigued, and I think it's safe to say that we can expect great things from Pulley.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley (Bloomsbury USA ) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

Resnick, a former writer for Late Night with David Letterman is anti-social and proud of it.

These stories explain in hilarious detail the who, what, when and how he came to be the funny man that hates parties and small talk. I read this one out loud to anyone that would listen and laughed myself silly. A memoir without pretense or self-congratulation. Just honest straight-up true stories of the dysfunction that shapes us all. You want a funny book? Read this.

Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick (Plume Books) Recommended by Stefani at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

This stunning novel falls into the category of so tragically sad but so true and beautiful that everyone ought to read it, kind of like Little Bee or What is the What.

It's story of seven-year-old Elijah who, after being taken from his Nigerian immigrant mother, bounces around London from foster home to foster home. When he lands with Nikki and Obi, a couple deeply committed to being Elijah's forever family, things seem hopeful. But as they delve further into Elijah's troubled past, and into the deeply rooted beliefs his mother has left him with, the success of the match and the safety of the family falls into question.

Watson gracefully walks the line between storytelling and tackling the difficult issues, and while she never comes off as preachy you walk away from this book with a deeper understanding of culture, race, and their possible implications on adoption.

Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson (Other Press), recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL.

Ian the Goldfish - narrator of this unique novel - is about to take a plunge from his watery prison on the 27th floor balcony of an apartment complex.

The Seville on Roxy houses a cross section of humanity that includes a pregnant lady on bed rest fantasizing about ice cream sandwiches, a home-schooled boy who thinks he’s a time traveler and a shut in with a penchant for quiche and dirty talk.

If you loved Garth Stein's Art of Racing in the Rain you will fall in love with Ian. He's able to move unobtrusively through his neighbor’s apartments telling their stories and ultimately helping them take risks beyond their wildest dreams.

Do not be fooled by the cover (looks a little like a kids' book) or my inability to express how a goldfish can tell a GREAT story. TWO FINS WAY UP!

Fishbowl by Bradley Somer (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Stefani at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

Quite simply, this collection reminds you just how jaw-droppingly awesome the short story form can be.

From realism to hyper-realism to post-modernism to post-post-modernism to so-far-after-modernism-that-we-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-it-anymore-modernism.

Everything in this anthology is pulsing and alive, and there’s not a story in here that won’t stick with you in the days to follow despite your best attempts to shake it off. Marcus does a phenomenal job finding the very best and stylistically diverse writers working today, and if you’re at all interested in where fiction’s going and just what amazing, weird, crazy awesome things it’s doing right now, then you have to read this book.

New American Stories by Ben Marcus (Vintage) Recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

Rarely do we get a triple recommendation so quickly. There must be something to this!

Donovan: This novel is sometimes spicy and sometimes sweet, but always well-done. Requisite food pun aside, Stradal crafts an array of characters that are vividly real and human and petty and just flat-out fun to read more and more about as the pages blow by...This is one of the most natural and fluid and evocative narratives I’ve read in a long time, and it far surpasses any simple plot summarization. This book is for anyone that enjoys the power of good writing and great story-telling...

Amanda: Stradal’s debut shines like a beacon of warm-hearted hope. Kitchens is the tale of Eva Thorvald, a young woman with a prodigious talent and otherwordly palate. We watch Eva grow from a girl who cultivates chocolate habanero peppers in her closet to the architect of the most exclusive pop-up dining experience in the world. A different character and a different dish narrate each chapter, and we are left with a beautiful image of food, culture, and family. Kitchens of the Great Midwest is the book I’ve been looking for.

Stefani: What Donavan and Amanda said. I just make the peanut butter bars…..and they are FREAKIN’ AWESOME!!!

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (Pamela Dorman Books) Recommended by Donovan, Amanda, and Stefani at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

Villa America is a beautifully crafted, thoroughly entertaining work of historical fiction about Sara and Gerald Murphy, part of the so-called Lost Generation of the 1920s.

As ex-pats living in the south of France, the Murphys strove to create an idyllic world for themselves and their circle of friends that included Hemingway, Picasso and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. This carefully researched book tells a story of the charmed, extravagant lives of these people who, despite their efforts to escape, found themselves vulnerable to the realities of misfortune and tragedy.

Klaussmann is a gifted writer with the ability to give voice to the most fundamental truths of humanity. There were passages I read again and again, marveling at their beauty and insight.

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann (Little Brown and Company) Recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

This should be required reading in any US history class for any age. Steve Sheinkin is a master at taking the most complex historical events and issues and rendering them personal and accessible. He not only makes the scope of this long, long war manageable, but personifies it in the evolution of Ellsberg from deeply patriotic analyst into an equally patriotic anti-war activist.

If you are too young to have lived during the Vietnam War era, you will soon appreciate what it did to this country. If you lived then and think you knew what was going on, you will be surprised by the revelations Sheinkin has unearthed.

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook Press) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

In her latest collection, Bonnie Jo Campbell taps into the lives of working class women to reveal truths that are raw and inspiring.

The women in these stories are victims, survivors, fighters, dreamers, providers and drifters. All of them vulnerable but incredibly tough, they navigate the complex and often baffling territory of relationships with men and with one another.

Touching but never sentimental, these stories are Campbell at her best.

Mothers, Tell Your Daughters by Bonnie Jo Campbell (W. W. Norton & Company) Recommended by CF at Square Books Oxford MS

Wedding bells ring in Jan Karon’s next Mitford installment!

Little Dooley Kavanagh is all grown up and intending to marry the love of his life, Lace Harper. Short on money, they’ve decided to keep their ceremony sweet and uncomplicated.

Elegant, even, in its simplicity. The whole family’s invited. If you’re at all familiar with the people of this quaint town, then you know that at best, this day will be sweet, but it will not be simple. Determined to have the beautiful day they deserve, Dooley and Lace do their best to roll with the punches all the way down the aisle.

A pleasant update on Karon’s lovable and unpredictable characters.

Come Rain Or Come Shine by Jan Karon (G.P. Putnam's Sons) Recommended by MM at Square Books Oxford MS

From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Sea and Ancient Light, a new novel about the intricacies of artistic creation and theft, and about the ways in which we learn to possess one another, and to hold on to ourselves.

Equally self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating, our narrator, Oliver Otway Orme, is a painter of some renown, and a petty thief who does not steal for profit. But he’s pushing fifty, feels like a hundred, and things have not been going so well lately.

Few contemporary English-speaking writers can match Banville’s style and brilliance. The way that complex emotions are revealed by such fluid, easy-going language is uncanny.

The Blue Guitar by John Banville (Knopf) Recommended by Square Books Oxford MS

 

Joy Williams has been writing the very finest stories for 42 years.

Carver called her simply "a wonder." Brodkey said she is "the most gifted writer of her generation." Bret Easton Ellis says she is "The rightful heir to the mastery, genius, and poetry of Flannery O’Connor," and Jim Harrison calls her stories, "chillingly astute."

I can’t add more to that, except to say that the publication of this collection is a major American literary event. Gathered here are 33 of her earlier stories, and 13 kick-ass new ones. They are all stunning, and because she deals with the most fundamental human themes--the old verities--as they are wrangled by seemingly ordinary characters, her work never seems dated, holding up powerfully against any writer on the scene now.

Don’t miss this one--as they say, destined to become a classic.

The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories by Joy Williams (Knopf) Recommended by LH at Square Books Oxford MS

Purity is a big novel that will support the existing view that one of our finest novelists is Jonathan Franzen.

The title character, Purity (Pip) Tyler, is a young woman of our time, a recent college graduate with no serious job prospects and a heap of debt. She becomes increasingly disturbed by not knowing who her father is, and signs up for an internship with The Sunlight Project, an internet outfit whose mission is to expose all sorts of secrets, because she thinks that TSP also might help locate her father.

The group is run by Andreas Wolf, who was born in Cold War East Germany, and his family relationships might seem to make Pip’s look like the Cleavers, but hers are not at all simple, either.

Psychological, political, and sexual constructs are formed by both state and personal dramas, and how they unravel forms a story with the sort of meaning one hopes for but does not often find in the modern novel.

Purity by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar Straus Giroux) Recommended by RH at Square Books Oxford MS