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...

This is the first in a series featuring a policeman who is sent to his childhood home of Lewis Island in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, -a formidable and forbidding world where tradition rules and people adhere to ancient ways of life- to investigate a grisly murder involving islanders he's known all his life.

It's riveting and beautifully written.

The Blackhouse By Peter May ($14.99, Quercus Books) Recommended by Nancy, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Seeing an African American man in Carol Wall's neighborhood is uncommon, and when she stops to watch what he is doing,
she finds herself talking to a master of horticulture and philosophy.

The book is gracefully written and more the memoir of a unique and treasured friendship than a gardening book. Wall and Giles Owita find they can trust each other with secrets no one else could understand.

Walls explores the transformation Owita makes in her life as well as her yard and how she, in turn, becomes the student who teaches the master.

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall ($25.95, G.P. Putnam's Sons a Member of Penguin Group), recommended by Marilyn, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

I came across this brilliant little gem of a novella in a used bookstore while traveling, and it immediately became one of my favorite Southern folk tales.

Though perhaps diamond in the rough would be a more fitting epithet, as its climactic battle is fought not by the noble knights or graceful gods of traditional epics, but rather by the comically gothic – almost grotesque – celebrities of an isolated Southern town. McCullers writes with such a vivid intensity of detail that the history of this short-lived cafe (like many of her short stories, especially Wunderkind) dwells in my memory more like a film than a story in a book.

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe: Carson McCullers' Novella Adapted for the Stage by Edward Albee, Carson McCullers ($12.95, Scribner), recommended by Vicki, Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

Two best friends raise their children to be perfect mates. Until the kids are three, they are constant companions. Then they are separated. The plan is that they will meet someday, and since they have so much in common, they will fall in love and be happy. This is wild, edgy, creative fiction!

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer ($25.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

Beach trip checklist:
- sunscreen
- sunglasses
- lounge chair
- great summer

A talented young florist tries to make a go of her business in Savannah and finds more than her share of challenges along the way. This latest from Mary Kay has everything you could want: Romance; break ups; drama; intrigue. Oh, did I mention Goldendoodles? A total escape! I had so much fun reading this book!

Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews ($26.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Samantha, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Scott McClanahan's minimalist pseudo-memoir is a funny, clever, touching and honest book about growing up in rural West Virgina. A book about being proud of and finding beauty in where you come from, even when there's no glamour in it.

Crapalachia: A Biography of Place by Scott McClanahan ($16, Two Dollar Radio), recommended by Justin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

A legitimate masterpiece, mixing antiseptic, dystopian sci-fi with reflections on aging, love and lonlieness.

Hoeullebecq's genius is on full display, switching between philosophical musings and caustic misanthropy while somehow retaining a lowkey humanity. A singular bit of fiction.

The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq, Gavin Bowd ($16, Vintage Books USA), recommended by Justin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

His first book and my favorite.

I admit, although I don't like how he portrays most women in this book, I appreciate his descriptions, his words, how real and raw many parts are, how I can feel a moment described.

I pick up this book every year at different seasons because it feels changed to me depending on the time of the year, my age in life. It's hard to describe a book I always go back to, to attempt an explanation on why I love it, I just do.

Happy Death By Albert Camus ($15, Vintage), recommended by Erin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

In 1953, Boy Novak runs away from her home on the Lower East Side of New York and ends up in a small town in Massachusetts.

She marries Arturo Whitman, a widower with an adored daughter named Snow, and the three live happily until the birth of Bird, whose dark skin exposes the Whitmans as African-Americans passing for white.

Oyeyemi is a stunning talent who examines the disparity in how we perceive ourselves and how we allow others to perceive us. Boy, Snow, Bird is a bewitching and beguiling tale with unforgettable characters.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi ($27.95, Riverhead Books), recommended by Amanda, Inkwood Books Tampa, FL.

A beautifully told coming of age story that takes an amazing turn you won't see coming. Andrew Smith is a genius and you won't believe how much you love this book. Oh...and then there are the six foot tall praying mantises!

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith ($18.99, Dutton Juvenile), recommended by Christine, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville NC.

After John Jacob Astor makes a fortune in New York, he plans Astoria, a trading post on the Pacific coast.

His explorers face storms, mutinies, shipwrecks, starvation, murders and insanity, and finally give up. Astor's vision of Pacific Rim trade is put on hold for a couple of centuries. Astonishing history!

Astoria: Astor and Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival  By Peter Stark ($27.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Helen, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Eden, a world where no sunlight reaches the surface, illuminated only by the lantern flowers hanging from the trees above, is home to descendents of the two survivors of a crash-landed ship, generations removed from Earth.

Beckett masterfully brings this strange and alien world to life as a small group pushes out from their small valley of light. Highly recommended for fans of well-written science-fiction.

Dark Eden by Chris Beckett ($15, Broadway Books), recommended by Ted, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

The year is 2073 when a visitor comes to a very remote island. 

In seven stories going back, way back, in time we see a painter, vampire, Viking, and others that are connected to this island and bound in some way by an agonizing love. The writing is breathtaking and powerful art. You won't be able to put this book down or stop thinking of it. Ages 14+

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick ($17.99, Roaring Brook Press), recommended by Carol, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

How could these women be so brave? This is the story of women who risked everything to do what they felt they must--resist the German occupation. Captured, imprisoned and then deported to Ausch­witz they were subjected to unspeakable atrocities. What saved 49 of them was luck and their determination to face their situation together. Their story is gut-wrenching and their heroism is inspiringg

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France By Caroline Moorehead ($15.99, Harper Perennial), recommended by Rene, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Redeployment is a powerful debut by an exciting new voice.

With their realistic and sometimes brutal details, these stories by a former Marine captain and Iraq war veteran are not always easy to read. But ultimately they proved to be harder to stop reading.  Klay gives voice to a variety of viewpoints through nuanced characters and prose that strikes a balance between bitter irony and real emotional depth.

Redeployment By Phil Klay ($26.95, Penguin), recommended by Tony, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

I love this collection – quick read that you can pick up and start from any chapter. The author deftly shows you one side of this historic man and then in a flash, shows the conflicting side. There is so much information about Winston Churchill in the literary world, this book breaks it down simply into the man that was an artist, a father, a husband and a world leader. You gain a little glimpse into the contradictions that ruled his world.

Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life By Gretchen Rubin ($17, Random House Trade), recommended by Linda, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.