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...

The world is a beautiful place, don't you think? Not because it is, but because I see it that way.

The title is the first thing I noticed about this book, but it definitely wasn't what kept me reading it--the writing itself took care of that.

This entire novel is ONE sentence. This is a book meant to be devoured in one sitting--you may not stop to catch your breath. Hrabal is a master and he does something really special here. 

Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age By Bohumil Hrabal ($14, NYRB Classics) Recommended by O.B. at Scuppernong Books Greensboro NC

This charming novel is a character study of an elderly Swiss man who loves life, loves people—his wife especially—loves to walk, and loves to talk, but struggles to make a connection with his son.

This is just the book to read on a rainy day, perhaps in front of a fire with a cup of cocoa. Or if you want to slow yourself down to enjoy more of your life.

Zbinden's Progress by Christoph Simon ($15.95, And Other Stories), recommended by Sue at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

After a famous mathematician’s death, her colleagues and rivals from all over the world gather along with the family to sit shiva and honor her memory.

Certain that the late Rachela Karnokovitch has solved the Navier-Stokes problem and taken the solution to her grave, the group looks for clues under floorboards, interrogates her pet parrot, and searches the house.

Readers, whether they have an appreciation of mathematics or not, will appreciate the love, family, and beauty of this novel.

The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer ($16, Penguin), recommended by Lyn at Square Books Oxford MI.
 

Lila is a good reminder of why I love Marilynne Robinson's rich writing.

The main character, Lila, becomes the wife of the Reverend Ames (a wonderfully gentle and sympathetic man who appears in Robinson's other two books set in Gilead). When we first meet Lila, she is an untamed creature, but through the love of her rescuer, Doll, and Ames, she matures and finds a sense of security.

Lila By Marilynne Robinson ($26, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

When A. inherits a large estate after the sudden suicide of his cousin, he is thrust into the middle of a mystery with deadly consequences.

Ghosts, cultists, and dreams of unspeakable acts are only the beginning for A. as he tries to uncover the secrets of Acton House.

A mystery in the tradition of Lovecraft, King, Henry James, and Edith Wharton (who lends this book its title), this book will leave you wanting more because once Cantero has you hooked you won't want to put it down.

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero ($26.95, Doubleday) Recommended by Andrew at Square Books Oxford MI

Brown Girl DreamingEvery now and then, a book comes along that you love and know that you MUST share. Jacquline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming is one of those. We here at the Booksellers know that books have the power to change lives. We also believe that sharing books like this one fosters empathy, while empowering readers young and old to tell their stories, and listen to -- and learn from -- each other. We invite you to read Brown Girl Dreaming with us this October, and hope that this book moves you same way it has moved us.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson ($17.99, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis TN.

A Deadly WanderingI know we're all tired of hearing phrases like that about books, but I really believe this book can change lives and save lives. Matt Richtell has written an investigative book on the use of cell phones while driving. It is as compelling as it is damning.  

A Deadly Wandering shows that there is now enough scientific evidence to support that driving while texting and talking on the phone (even speaker phone) can be as deadly or even more deadly than driving drunk. I have personally almost been hit several times while walking by a texter or phone user. You probably have too. This book proves that no one can both drive and use their phone at the same time and not be a danger to others and themselves.

We can move the needle on this one, my friends.

Please read it.

Because, really: what a stupid way to die.

A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel ($28.99, William Morrow & Co.), recommended by Kelly, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond VA.

Tape is an outstanding debut. Told with crackling prose, shimmering with humor and deeply moving, it will haunt anyone who reads it.

Record a voice and it lasts forever. In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother's death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn't even know he exists.

In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy's voice on it a voice she can't quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape. This is their story.

Tape by Steven Camden (HarperCollins), recommended by Victoria, Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs LA.

Set on the idyllic campus of a women's college in the mountains of Virginia, Small Blessings is a charming first novel with characters who are both sympathetic but also deeply wounded by life's arbitrary injustices. Woodroof has written a poignant story about the lives of lovely, imperfect people and their difficult choices.

Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof ($25.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Sarah, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

In this utterly delightful debut by Swedish author Backman we meet a grumpy, opinionated curmudgeon who thinks he has nothing left to live for after the loss of his wife and his job.

His attempts to end his misery are continually thwarted by the annoying new neighbors who drag him begrudgingly back to his life and into theirs. This bittersweet tale might well make you cry, will definitely make you laugh, and may even make you want to drive a Saab for the rest of your life.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ($26, Atria Books), recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Looking to dive into a world of witches, vampires, and demons?

Deborah Harkness' All Souls trilogy, which concludes with The Book of Life, is the richest portrayal of that universe since Dark Shadows (and I say that with pleasure and affection). I don't want to leak any spoilers here – you have to read the trilogy in sequence – but Harkness has invented a fascinating history for her creatures.

This is literary adult fantasy that stays deeply attached to the real world. And if you've read A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night, you'll be very satisfied with the passion, terror, and (yes) humor Harkness uses to bring the saga of the Bishops and Clairmonts to a conclusion.

The Book of Life By Deborah Harkness ($28.95, Viking Adult), recommended by Rosemary, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time was everything a Picoult fan could want and more. Told from four different points of view, it is a story of a young girl searching for her mother, a missing elephant researcher, and the two people she has enlisted to help her: a once famous psychic who has lost her ability to communicate with the dead, and a down on his luck private investigator.

Picoult employs the use of the elephants, as she has done with many different subjects throughout her novels, to further the story while teaching the reader countless new facts about the majestic creatures, mainly how they grieve. Time has the familiar Picoult tone but is vastly different from her previous novels. Picoult's uncanny ability to get inside the head of each character, man or woman, child or adult, keeps us connected to each character, hanging on every word to find out what each individual fate will be.

Even Picoult's biggest fans, who have come to expect shocks, won't see the twist ending coming and that is perhaps the most impressive thing about the consistently unpredictable Jodi Picoult.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult ($28, Ballantine), recommended by Chelsea, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Two-time Man Booker Prize Winner Hilary Mantel amazed me with her new collection of stories, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher. She sees with literary vision that doesn't miss a single detail; her writing makes me laugh, cringe,
and ache. I believe Mantel is one of our finest 21st century writers.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher: Stories by Hilary Mantel ($37, Henry Holt & Company), recommended by Mamie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

In the first Strike Mystery, The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) creates an intriguing P.I.,
Cormoran Strike, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who lost a leg to an IED.

This second in the series has a universally disliked novelist murdered after writing a libelous book maliciously satirizing many people in the publishing world. Galbraith is a masterful storyteller and this book doesn't disappoint; I read it every spare minute I could get.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith ($28 Mulholland Books), recommended by Trish, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

When Riley MacPherson takes on the task of executor of her father's estate, she finds evidence that causes her to doubt virtually everything she'd believed about her family. What ensues is a fast paced, engrossing story of her determination to learn the truth - no matter what that might be. There are so many twists and turns in this plot, I was up half the night to find out how it would end. I never saw it coming!

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain ($27.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Samantha, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Jimm Juree, first-person narrator of this excellent mystery, is a crime reporter out of work. Her mother, with early dementia, sold the family home and business and relocated to southern, rural Thailand. Jimm's grandfather, a retired cop, rarely talks and her younger brother who wants to be a world-class body builder moved with the family; her older brother, a transgendered former beauty queen now computer hacker stayed in the city.

Suddenly, things begin to happen in their new village: A Volkswagon van, complete with two skeletons, is discovered by a well-digger then a visiting Buddist abbott is violently murdered shortly after Jimm meets a nun and a monk who become suspects in the case. As Jimm works the case hoping to break back into news, she finds allies in unexpected places.

The charm of Whim isn't the crime story. It's the characters, the whimsey, and the humor woven subtly through the novel that make it a cut above the rest. Of course, the chapter headings, quotes from President Malaprop, are well worth the read. Don't miss the beginning of this excellent new series!

NOTE: Many readers will remember Cotterill's wonderful series about Dr. Siri, a 70-something Laotian county coroner.
I predict even more fans for Jimm!

Killed at the Whim of a Hat: A Jimm Juree Mystery by Colin Cotterill ($18.99, Minotaur), recommended by Molly, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.