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Lady Banks Pick of the Week



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Week of April 25, 2019
The Commonplace Book | Read This! | Okra Picks | Southern Indie Bestsellers | Events
{On the benefits of "woods time."}
In which Mr. Tim Dorsey admits he likes Florida cheese, her ladyship, the editor, takes requests, and Ms. Jo Hackl takes care packages to her local booksellers and extols the benefits of spending time in the woods.


Dearest Readers

Little Free LibraryThe other morning as her ladyship, the editor, was strolling down to retrieve her morning paper, she happened to meet one her neighbors coming up the driveway. "I wanted to tell you," she said, "how much I love your little library down there. I stop by almost every day on my morning walk. I'm reading more books than I ever have because of it."

It's hard to imagine a more gratifying way to begin a day. Her ladyship's Little Free Library has been up for seven years now. It's red, white and blue paint has weathered and faded. It's wooden roof had to be covered with tin, and the original glass in its latched door has been replaced once. It has withstood yearly hurricanes and storms, not to mention the doubtful navigating talents of neighbors attempting to pull in and park their boat trailers along the side of the road and the, well, let's say "overly enthusiastic" driving of electric golf carts on any given holiday.

Nevertheless, it has become a fixture in the neighborhood, with patrons adding books as often as they take them. Her ladyship, who used to restock its shelves several times a week in the beginning, now finds herself looking at what has been added as often as she adds books to its shelves herself.

Occasionally she gets specific requests, which she does her best to honor. Such as the child who left a letter in the library asking for books about magical ducks. This particular morning, her neighbor had started up towards the house to ask her ladyship for more "Amish books." "I like to read about the Amish," she said while her ladyship dug through her pockets for a pen and piece of paper. "I like inspirational fiction. You know...not trash." Her ladyship promised to watch for non-trashy Amish novels, and in return got a few recommendations:

The Healing Quilt  The Patient One The Wish The Amish Spinster's Courtship The Tinderbox  



Read independently, and shop local.

her ladyship, the editar
her ladyship, the editor
Lady Banks' Pick of the Week
Lady Banks' Commonplace Book
Excerpted noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.


The Magnetic Girl

I had been a town girl once, when Daddy clerked at the hardware store. Momma and Daddy and I lived upstairs. Leo hadn't been born. What I remember is that inside our home, the curtains fluttered in a breeze that I tried to catch in my hand, and when I walked on the sidewalk with Momma the sun made the world too bright at the edges and hard to see. The fresh-cut pine smell from the boards in the sidewalk made me want to inhale all the air all at once.

I taught myself to read before I turned four, pronouncing words from the sides of grain sacks and the labels on medicine bottles at the store. Saying the black and gold lettering's alchemy aloud, I practiced my words. "Hoofland's Bitters for the Liver," I said. "We sell everything from horse shoes to hats." For the longest time I believed the store only sold objects that started with the letter "H."

A few months before God brought Leo, we packed up and moved to a big white house and acreage outside town, where Daddy said a man could be himself and not feel like other people and their avarice--he spit the word in a way that frightened me--shadowed him at every turn.



--Jessica Handler, The Magnetic Girl, (Hub City Press, 1997) 9781938235481

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Read This! Books with Street Ced
Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers

The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters
Like Poe's stories, The Raven's Tale is dripping in mood and the macabre. We first meet a 17-year-old Poe as he sits in the Allan pew at Monumental Church, a church that sits on remains of 72 Richmonders who perished in a theater fire in 1811. It's there that Poe spies his muse beginning to form out of the shadows of his imagination, and she's no longer satisfied with mere crumbs of his attention. But the young poet is a week away from leaving for college and his guardian, John Allan is threatening to withdraw financial support if Poe doesn't silence his morbid muse. Absolutely delightful, morbid, and creepy!

The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters ($17.99*, Amulet Books), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.


Normal People by Sally Rooney
In Normal People, Sally Rooney has created an exquisite character study in Connell and Marianne's relationship. Like a slow-burning fuse that is destined to detonate, the dynamic between the two manages to be irresistible, infuriating, and all too relatable. Young people will find themselves in these pages, and, believe it or not, feel normal. Great for those who loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Modern Lovers.

Normal People by Sally Rooney ($26.00*, Hogarth), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.


The Problem of Democracy by Nancy Isenberg, Andrew Burstein
For most of history, John Adams and his son, John Quincy, have been given a bad rap for being unpopular at their times (both one term presidents) as well as skeptics of democratic government. I used to be one of the haters myself. But as the political situation has progressed (or regressed) over the years and a lot of the problems the Adams's foresaw have come true, we realize maybe the bad rap was a unjustified. This dream team of Isenberg and Burstein dig deep into the political thinking of this father and son who deserve far more credit then they've ever received. Excellent stuff.

The Problem of Democracy by Nancy Isenberg, Andrew Burstein ($35.00*, Viking), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.


Read This Next: Books to look forward to
Recommended forthcoming books from Southern Indie Booksellers

The books you see on the the bookstore shelves may have just been published, but the booksellers who put them there probably read them months ago. Read, reviewed, and talked about with their bookseller friends and colleagues. Below are some of the books coming out next month they are really looking forward to. You won't find them on the shelves just yet, but pre-orders are always welcome.

Furious Hours Furious Hours 5/7/2019
"Rarely has a non-fiction book kept me awake with its beautiful prose and compelling perspective. Furious Hours interweaves 3 equally compelling stories - that of a murderer, of his lawyer, and of the novelist who investigated them - with deftness and empathy. Casey Cep's curiosity is so contagious that I found myself caring deeply about the history of dams and insurance! Un-put-down-able." -- Lucy Stoltz, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA

Flight PortfolioThe Flight Portfolio 5/7/2019
"For sheer page-turning readability, The Flight Portfolio's on point. My husband and I took turns reading the massive arc, our bookmarks in a mad race to the finish. Orringer did a terrific job: based on a lot of truth, this is a story that deserves to be remembered. It's hard to tell the facts from the fiction which, I don't know about you, but I like that in a novel. Cinematic writing: watch for the movie. ." -- Erica Eisdorfer, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

Shouting at the RainShouting at the Rain 5/7/2019
"Its the first day of Summer and Delsie is over the moon about her best off-island friend Brandy is returning to the Cape. But the winds of change are blowing and things just seem different this season as Brandy would rather have mani-pedis than build mermaid house, and the gap between townies and tourists grows wider, Delsie becomes more aware of just who and what is truly important. Hunt, author of Fish in a tree has written the book that is perfect summer reading for that 12-14 year dealing with changing friendships." -- Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Pie in the SkyPie in the Sky 5/14/2019
"If books came in cake form (and WHY NOT, I ask?), PIE IN THE SKY would be the apple mille-feuille of the bunch. Lai masterfully mixes a story of grief, familial love/discord, and feeling alienated that will have readers both biting their nails and loudly guffawing. Jingwen helps us remember that growing up means forgiving yourself and others--even if letting go is the one thing you don't want to do. A delicious confection that will be devoured by fans of Raina Telgemeier, Vera Brosgol, and Shaun Tan." -- Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

GlitchGlitch 5/14/2019
"A great take on the trend of characters entering video games! I loved this middle grade graphic novel -- Sarah Graley's writing is hilarious, and it was a fun romp through the pixel world of Dungeon City. I also love that it's two girls playing video games, which isn't featured enough in books like this. Definitely something we'll have on our shelves. " -- Amber Brown, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC


More bookseller recommendations


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News of a literary nature

Above the Waterfall"His stories are powerful and have hit home with some of the issues my students face,” Hatheway said. “This is one of the best experiences I’ve had with the kids’ reactions."

keep reading: The Big Read, Ron Rash


"Owning a small business in East Tennessee is “a labor of love” for Bunnie Presswood, who owns independent bookstore Union Avenue Books with her mother, Flossie McNabb."

keep reading: Who Runs the World? Small Businesses


No Sunscreen for the Dead"“I love Florida cheese,” he said. “Weeki Wachee, Cypress Gardens, all those mom-and-pop motels that were out there before all the chains. They were great. But somebody said, ‘Make it a mystery. It’ll sell better.’” The result was a story of “dirtbags on a crime spree."

keep reading: Tim Dorsey, No Sunscreen for the Dead




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Authors on Indies: Celebrating Independent Bookstore Day with Jo Hackl


Jo HacklAs Southerners, we’re known for our connection to place and independent bookstores are an enormous part of our landscape. Independent bookstores serve as the backbone of many of our communities. In every town I’ve visited this last year of touring for my book, I’ve seen indie bookstores in action, helping readers connect with the power of story and providing a place to gather, a place to learn, and a place to explore. I’ve witnessed the way indie booksellers continue to guide readers to the perfect book at the perfect time.

So it’s only natural to have a holiday celebrating the role of independent bookstores.  April 27 is Independent Bookstore Day and I hope that the day will be celebrated by readers across the country with the same level of energy and creativity that independent booksellers bring to their work every day.

Smack Dab in the Middle of MaybeAs for me, I’ve gathered up a few of my book-loving friends to caravan to our three local indie bookstores. We’ll volunteer to help out in any way, we’ll buy lots of books for local children in need, and we’ll deliver bookseller care kits.

I’m a big believer in the power of the outdoors to spark creativity and renewal and my book contains a family tradition called “Woods Time.” I wanted to create a custom “Woods Time” experience for my local booksellers by providing them with a Bookseller Woods Time Care Kit.  The kit includes supplies for a picnic including snacks to help while away an afternoon, prompts for engaging with nature, and a notebook to record all the great ideas that time spent in nature inspires.

Every day indie booksellers are making our communities better, book by book, and reader by reader and I look forward to hearing of the ways that communities honor their independent booksellers.

Jo Watson Hackl’s debut novel, Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe (Random House Children’s Books), was awarded the Southern Book Prize and named an Indie Next Pick and an Okra pick. The book combines outdoor adventure with an art mystery clue trail. Free resources for readers and educators are available at


The Okra Picks: The Spring season


Make a New Year’s Resolution to read more Okra! Southern Independent booksellers have chosen the 2019 Spring Okra Picks – a collection of the best forthcoming Southern books of the season. Add a bit of tasty reading to your literary diet. Serve yourself a helping of Okra Picks.


"A grand, dark, mysterious historical novel filled with dark power and ambivalence, The Magnetic Girl captures a time and place, not only in the life of a teenage girl but in our country as well. Filled with the shifting longings of adolescence against a vaudeville backdrop, Handler's novel explores the dangerous journey from childhood to adulthood when our budding powers both enthrall and terrify us." --Brian Lampkin, Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC

The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handler
In rural north Georgia two decades after the Civil War, thirteen-year-old Lulu Hurst reaches high into her father's bookshelf and pulls out an obscure book, The Truth of Mesmeric Influence. Deemed gangly and undesirable, Lulu wants more than a lifetime of caring for her disabled baby brother, Leo, with whom she shares a profound and supernatural mental connection.

"I only wanted to be Lulu Hurst, the girl who captivated her brother until he could walk and talk and stand tall on his own. Then I would be the girl who could leave."

Lulu begins to "captivate" her friends and family, controlling their thoughts and actions for brief moments at a time. After Lulu convinces a cousin she conducts electricity with her touch, her father sees a unique opportunity. He grooms his tall and indelicate daughter into an electrifying new woman: The Magnetic Girl. Lulu travels the Eastern seaboard, captivating enthusiastic crowds by lifting grown men in parlor chairs and throwing them across the stage with her "electrical charge."

While adjusting to life on the vaudeville stage, Lulu harbors a secret belief that she can use her newfound gifts, as well as her growing notoriety, to heal her brother. As she delves into the mysterious book's pages, she discovers keys to her father's past and her own future--but how will she harness its secrets to heal her family?

Gorgeously envisioned, The Magnetic Girl is set at a time when the emerging presence of electricity raised suspicions about the other-worldly gospel of Spiritualism, and when women's desire for political, cultural, and sexual presence electrified the country. Squarely in the realm of Emma Donoghue's The Wonder and Leslie Parry's Church of MarvelsThe Magnetic Girl is a unique portrait of a forgotten period in history, seen through the story of one young woman's power over her family, her community, and ultimately, herself.

The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handler
April 9, 2019 | Hub City Press | 9781938235481


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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending April 21. Books on the Southern Indie Bestseller List that are southern in nature or have been recently recommended by southern indie booksellers.


Southern Indie Bestsellers

See the full list here.
The Southern Book Prize | A SIBA Okra Pick
Special to the Southern List | Read This Next!
Printable versions (PDF): Hardcover | Paperback | Children's

1. Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens, Putnam, $26, 9780735219090
2. Normal People
Sally Rooney, Hogarth, $26, 9781984822178
3. Redemption
David Baldacci, Grand Central, $29, 9781538761410
4. Cemetery Road
Greg Iles, Morrow, $28.99, 9780062824615
5. Circe
Madeline Miller, Little Brown, $27, 9780316556347

1. The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life
David Brooks, Random House, $28, 9780812993264
2. Educated
Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504
3. Becoming
Michelle Obama, Crown, $32.50, 9781524763138
4. Save Me the Plums
Ruth Reichl, Random House, $27, 9781400069996
5. I Miss You When I Blink: Essays
Mary Laura Philpott, Atria Books, $25, 9781982102807
Special to the Southern List

The Reckoning John Grisham, Doubleday, $29.95,  Southern Lady Code: Essays Helen Ellis, Doubleday, $22, The Gulf Belle Boggs, Graywolf Press, $16, Me Talk Pretty One Day David Sedaris, Little Brown, $16.99, 

FICTION of note

1. Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens, Putnam, $26, 9780735219090
10. The Reckoning

John Grisham, Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385544153
14. Unsheltered
Barbara Kingsolver, Harper, $29.99, 9780062684561
2. The Overstory
Richard Powers, Norton, $17.95, 9780393356687
6. Varina
Charles Frazier, Ecco, $16.99, 9780062405999
8. All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr, Scribner, $17, 9781501173219
11. Rules of Civility
Amor Towles, Penguin, $17, 9780143121169
15. The Gulf
Belle Boggs, Graywolf Press, $16, 9781555978341


5. I Miss You When I Blink: Essays
Mary Laura Philpott, Atria Books, $25, 9781982102807

8. Southern Lady Code: Essays
Helen Ellis, Doubleday, $22, 9780385543897
9. Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others
Barbara Brown Taylor, HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062406569
6. The Last Castle
Denise Kiernan, Touchstone, $17, 9781476794051
7. Theft by Finding
David Sedaris, Back Bay, $17.99, 9780316154734
8. How to Relax
Thich Nhat Hanh, Parallax Press, $9.95, 9781941529089
9. Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy
Anthony Harkins, Meredith McCarroll (Eds.), West Virginia University Press, $28.99, 9781946684790
12. When You Are Engulfed in Flames
David Sedaris, Back Bay, $16, 9780316154680
14. The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South
Osha Gray Davidson, University of North Carolina Press, $18, 9781469646602
15. Me Talk Pretty One Day
David Sedaris, Little Brown, $16.99, 9780316776967

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What's happening at Southern Indies across the South?
See the full calendar | Find a Southern Indie Bookstore near you.

Claudia Lucero presents One-Hour Dairy Free Cheese  (author appearance)
Claudia Lucero | 04/26/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Joseph Finder - Judgment  (author appearance)
Joseph Finder | 04/26/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Frances Mayes Author of See You in the Piazza  (author appearance)
Frances Mayes | 04/26/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Independent Bookstore Day with William L. Garner   (author appearance)
William L. | 04/27/2019, 12:00 pm | Bayou Book Co. | Niceville, FL

Renee Linnell - The Burn Zone   (author appearance)
Renee Linnell | 04/27/2019, 02:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Helen Ellis: SOUTHERN LADY CODE  (author appearance)
Helen Ellis | 04/27/2019, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Latricia Taylor  (author appearance)
Latricia Taylor | 04/27/2019, 12:00 pm | Tall Tales Atlanta | Atlanta, GA

Belle Boggs, The Gulf, and Theresa Anne Fowler, A Well-Behaved Woman  (author appearance)
Belle Boggs | 04/27/2019, 11:00 am | McIntyre's Books | Pittsboro, NC

Marilyn Lueking presents Mikey and Tom Cat  (author appearance)
Marilyn Lueking | 04/27/2019, 02:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

David Burnsworth Launch Party  (author appearance)
David Burnsworth | 04/27/2019, 02:00 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Author R J Jacobs in Conversation  (author appearance)
04/27/2019, 02:00 pm | Star Line Books | Chattanooga, TN

Independent Bookstore Day - Featured Author: Heath Lee, League of Wives  (author appearance)
Heath Lee | 04/27/2019, 01:00 pm | Book No Further | Roanoke, VA

Maureen Pilkington & Kevin Pilkington  (author appearance)
Maureen Pilkington | 04/28/2019, 04:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Randal Maurice Jelks - Faith and Struggle  (author appearance)
Randal Maurice | 04/28/2019, 07:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Dr. Qiana Johnson - No Way, No How, I Say No!  (author appearance)
Qiana Johnson | 04/28/2019, 02:00 pm | Tall Tales Atlanta | Atlanta, GA

Ann B. Ross presents Miss Julia Takes the Wheel  (author appearance)
Ann B. Ross | 04/28/2019, 03:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Author Event: Frank Harmon - Native Place: Drawings as a Way to See  (author appearance)
Frank Harmon | 04/28/2019, 02:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Rob Merritt, View from Blue-Jade Mountain & Terry Kennedy, New River Breakdown  (author appearance)
Rob Merritt | 04/28/2019, 03:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Mary Norris in conversation with Ann Patchett at the Parthenon  (author appearance)
Mary Norris | 04/28/2019, 04:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Offsite Event: The Lee Bros. Hotbox Book Party at The Durham Hotel  (author appearance)
The Lee Brothers | 04/29/2019, 06:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

Bryant Holsenbeck - The Last Straw  (author appearance)
Bryant Holsenbeck | 04/29/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Author event with Lynne Olson author of Madame Fourcade's Secret War  (author appearance)
Lynne Olson | 04/29/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Nathaniel Rich in conversation with Rafe Pomerance  (author appearance)
Nathaniel Rich | 04/30/2019, 08:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Black Food Geographies with Ashanté Reese  (author appearance)
Ashanté Reese | 04/30/2019, 07:30 pm | Charis Books & More | Decatur, GA

Timothy Duffy - BLUE MUSE  (author appearance)
Timothy Duffy | 04/30/2019, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Diana McPhail with THE ABOLITIONIST'S DAUGHTER   (author appearance)
Diana McPhail | 04/30/2019, 05:30 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Austin Kleon discusses creativity & his book Keep Going  (author appearance)
Austin Kleon | 04/30/2019, 07:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

Merina Ty-Kisera launches Accupressure with Essential Oils  (author appearance)
Merina Ty-Kisera | 04/30/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Author Event: John Sean Doyle  (author appearance)
John Sean | 04/30/2019, 06:30 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Kate T. Parker - The Heart of a Boy: Celebrating the Strength and Spirit of Boyhood  (author appearance)
Kate T. Parker | 04/30/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Jack Kennard - D-Day Journal  (author appearance)
Jack Kennard | 04/30/2019, 05:00 pm | The Country Bookshop | Southern Pines, NC

Educator Happy Hour  (author appearance)
Jo Hackl | 04/30/2019, 04:00 pm | M. Judson Booksellers | Greenville, SC

Author event with Helen Ellis in conversation with Mary Laura Philpott  (author appearance)
Helen Ellis | 04/30/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

YA authors e.E. Charlton-Trujillo & A.S. King  (author appearance)
05/01/2019, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Salon@615 Special Edition presents an evening with Melinda Gates in conversation with Ann Patchett  (author appearance)
Melinda Gates | 05/01/2019, 06:15 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Helen Ellis  (author appearance)
Helen Ellis | 05/02/2019, 06:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

T. Kira Madden  (author appearance)
T, Kira | 05/02/2019, 06:30 pm | Oxford Exchange | Tampa, FL

Pervis Taylor: SURTHRIVAL MODE  (author appearance)
Pervis Taylor | 05/02/2019, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Lydia Fenet Book Talk & Signing  (author appearance)
Lydia Fenet | 05/02/2019, 06:30 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Author event with Dr. Terry Klefstad author of Crooked River City  (author appearance)
Terry Klefstad | 05/02/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

An Evening with Photographer Timothy Duffy  (author appearance)
Timothy Duffy | 4/30/2019, 6:00 PM | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

An Evening with Doug and Susan Segal  (author appearance)
Doug Segal | 4/30/2019, 7:00 PM | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA


Authors Round the South |
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