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Lady Banks Pick of the Week



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Week of May 16, 2019
The Commonplace Book | Read This! | Okra Picks | Southern Indie Bestsellers | Events
{When a walk in the woods is "research."}
In which Mr. Robert Macomber goes on a little free library tour, Ms. Erica Witsell survives an awkward social situation, and her ladyship, the editor, has not read as many books as Mr. Richard Powers.

2019 Conroy Legacy Award 

Dearest Readers

"What was really lovely about doing the research this time was that it didn’t feel like research. It felt like literally a walk in the woods. I did end up reading copiously. I read more than 120 single-volume books about trees, but unlike many of the other topics I’ve written about in the past, I was able to do a lot of the emotional research for the book just by being in the forest, in the woods."

--Richard Powers

Elegies for Small GameIn a recent interview with The Guardian, Mr. Richard Powers admits that in researching his wonderful novel, The Overstory, he went on a lot of walks in the woods, and read 120 books on trees.


120 books on trees. Her ladyship, the editor, was vastly impressed. She is fond of trees, and fond of reading about them, but can scarcely claim to be so well-read. In fact, she does not believe she has in her possession, much less has read, 120 books on any given subject. But just to be sure, she immediately went over to the bookcase she has reserved for science and nature subjects, and started counting.


Her ladyship, the editor, found that she has 18 books in her possession that could be said to be "about trees," including the fields guides and not including Mr. Powers' own worthy novel.


Like most avid readers, her ladyship's library is built of smaller collections of books representing past and current interests and obsessions. She has 32 different books about Shakespeare (not to mention the 4 different collections of his plays.) She has 5 different translations of The Iliad, and about a dozen books about the poem itself. 15 books on baking bread. 10 books on color theory. 8 books about the city of Venice. 14 books on 18th and 19th century naturalist-explorers. Around 20 books that fall under the category of "world mythologies." She even has 16 books on her shelves scrunched up next to the tree books that are about "rivers."


Elegies for Small GameBut she doesn't have 120 of anything. More to the point, as enjoyable as it was to walk around her bookshelves counting titles as minor passions became apparent, it quickly became clear to her that in every case, there was a first book -- the one that set her off on that particular obsession until the impulse spent itself. The Iliad collection was the result of reading Caroline Alexander's The War That Killed Achilles. The tree books mostly owe their places to the anniversary edition of Donald Culross Peattie's Natural History of North American Trees (which her ladyship originally purchased for the engravings). Having whetted her taste for its subject, those first books were soon followed by others. By many others in some cases. But still, if she had to save only one from the shelf, it would be that first -- the one that drew her in to the topic. The one that caught her imagination.


Mr. Richard Powers, as is clear to anyone who has read any of his books, is a scholar as well as a story teller. Her ladyship, alas, is an addict, with unfettered access to an unlimited number of gateway drugs and happy to drift from one high to the next.


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.


Elegies for Small Game

A Dog Shub Sings

Cricket's mooches, stretches, scratches
Identify her mostly as brazen;
Yet she lies around, docile, most all day,
Until Truth blends instinct out, and, alert,
She arrests motion quickly as a dart.

She often takes me for long walks,
Part of me, a shadow by my side,
Until a squirrel jars a limb and balks
At sight of her and like a shot she's off.
She almost catches a tangle--what a sight.
Mama's Vinca major fights her, mid-waist,
Just as the squirrel escapes her taste.

In the house, what comfort, she loves to rest.
She correctly measures ten inches long
At the whithers, her dream-whimpers a test
Dog-gods might have given her--full of zest
For snippet-yips, as it she were being wronged.
I shall never know a tincture her dreams
Might spin; she's up, shakes them off--that seems her aim.


--Shelby Stephenson, Elegies for Small Game, (Press 53, 2016) 9781941209417

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

Gather at the River edited by David Joy with Eric Rickstad
What a catch this book is! Every story tugs at your emotions as you enjoy a ride upstream. In a world that is surviving on espresso we all need to remember to stop, breathe, pick up a fishing pole, and tune into nature and the quiet you need to fish. This original book is a must have for every home.

Gather at the River edited by David Joy with Eric Rickstad ($16.95*, Hub City Press), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

 A 2019 TRIO Title

Hot to the Touch by Jaci Burton
I have always enjoyed Jaci Burton's books but was glad to see her step into a new setting outside of sports. This romance with a firehouse setting really works. There is just enough romance and drama to keep the book interesting and the story's incorporation of juvenile homelessness and the foster care system adds depth. I was hooked until the end!

Hot to the Touch by Jaci Burton ($16.00*, Berkley), recommended by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA.

Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler
Nedda Papas is eleven and space-obsessed in Easter, Florida, when Challenger explodes in the sky overhead, sending shock waves through the small NASA-adjacent town. Nedda’s father, a scientist grieving the death of his infant son, the passing of his daughter’s youth, and the degeneration of his hands, has been conducting fragile and dangerous experiments, sent over the edge and altering the fabric of time in wondrous and tragic ways after Challenger’s demise.

Years later, Nedda has achieved her dream of spaceflight, hurtling toward a distant planet when a dire malfunction causes her to reckon with her past in order to preserve the possibility for a future. Light from Other Stars is a thrilling journey through space and time and a deeply moving exploration of the bond between parent and child.

Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler ($27.00*, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by Underground Books, Carrollton, GA.

More bookseller recommendations


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Robert Macomber's LFL Tour
Supporting literacy one little free library at a time!


Little Free Library

Usually, when authors go on tour they visit bookshops, libraries, and schools, not to mention the occasional bar, coffee shop, and restaurant along the way. Last year Mr. Robert Macomber augmented his own book tour with something extra, and extra fun: he made a point of visiting Little Free Libraries in all the towns he passed through on his tour.


As might be imagined, the Little Free Library tour was wildly successful on social media. What is it about little houses filled with books that is so appealing? Because let's be honest, it's not just that the books are free. A plastic crate of free books wouldn't evoke the same enthusiasm, even if the books were all pristine editions of the week's bestsellers. No there is just something about the little houses, with their little windows and doors, and their shelves filled with a random and unpredictable selection of books that calls to readers. Little Free Libraries aren't just boxes of books, they are a little reading adventure on a post.


Macomber conceived of his tour because believes that having a literate electorate is a cornerstone of democracy. To that end, he wanted to support the Little Free Libraries organization so for one year, in every town he passed through on a book or lecture engagement, he donated one of his Honor Series books to a Little Free Library, then posted a photo on Facebook and on his website to promote awareness of the library and the movement. The tour kicked off on July 4th, Independence Day in 2017 and ended one year later. Within each donated book, he wrote an inscription to that particular LFL so whoever used the books or wherever the books traveled, people would know that each was dedicated to a Little Free Library, emphasizing how literacy matters.


Some of the tour highlights*

Bokeelia, Florida
Bokeelia, Florida
“I kicked off my one year quest at a LFL on the north end of the island where I live, celebrating Independence Day and the principles of democracy and literacy for all.”

Dade Battlefield HIstoric Park

Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, Florida
Within two hours of leaving the LFL at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Bushnell, a couple, who are readers of my work, emailed me that they missed me at that LFL by an hour! They were traveling to historic sites around FL and were using LFLs to find reading material, then leaving finished books behind.

Read more

Robert N. Macomber is an award-winning and internationally recognized Florida author, lecturer, and TV commentator. He is best known for the "Honor Series" of naval thrillers centered around the life and career of "Peter Wake" an American naval officer in 1863. The most recent book in the series is Honoring the Enemy, published in March, 2019.

*Photo credit Nancy Glickman


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News of a literary nature

The Overstory"What was really lovely about doing the research this time was that it didn’t feel like research. It felt like literally a walk in the woods."

keep reading: Richard Powers: "I've read more than 120 books about trees"



"The early bird may get the cup of coffee at Page and Palette in Fairhope, but the night owl gets the craft cocktail. "

keep reading: Reader's Digest List of America's most love bookstores in every state



The Dog of the South"Beginning with True Grit, the author arranged an uncomfortable marriage between traditional narrative tropes and evolving post-colonial sensibilities, his work reflecting an America whose overwrought sense of self had over time gone from point of pride to postmodern joke."

keep reading: Charles Portis' The Dog of the South



Give"I joined a lesbian social group as soon as I moved here—I was twenty-nine and single—and was a bit dismayed to find myself among a dozen very nice, middle-aged couples and one bi-curious twenty-year-old. "

keep reading: Jon Mayes talks to Erica Witsell


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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.


"It's adorable! It's about a mill in Slater, SC that wove material for Neil Armstrong's spacesuit."

Papa Put a Man on the Moon by Kristy Dempsey ($17.99*, Dial Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

Papa Put a Man on the Moon by Kristy Dempsey, Sarah Green (illustrator)
In time for the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, this father-daughter story celebrates a small community's big contribution to one of America's greatest accomplishments.

Marthanne and her father sit side by side, looking out over their mill village as the moon glows in the sky. Marthanne hopes that one day, man will walk on the moon, and she knows her father is helping America accomplish this mission: The fabric he weaves forms one layer in the astronauts' spacesuits. Papa insists he's only making a living, but Marthanne knows his work is part of history, and she's proud. She tries to be patient, but she can't stop imagining the moon mission: the astronauts tumbling through space, the fabric her papa made traveling all the way up into the sky. When the astronauts blast off and Neil Armstrong finally takes his first steps on the moon, Marthanne watches in wonder. She knows her papa put a man on the moon.

Papa Put a Man on the Moon by Kristy Dempsey, Sarah Green (illustrator)
May 7, 2019 | Dial Books | 9780735230743


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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending May 12. 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. Sunset Beach
Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's, $28.99, 9781250126108
4. The Guest Book
Sarah Blake, Flatiron Books, $27.99, 9781250110251
5. Circe
Madeline Miller, Little Brown, $27, 9780316556347

1. The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West
David McCullough, S&S, $30, 9781501168680
2. Educated
Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504
3. Becoming
Michelle Obama, Crown, $32.50, 9781524763138
4. Southern Lady Code: Essays
Helen Ellis, Doubleday, $22, 9780385543897
5. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
Casey Cep, Knopf, $26.95, 9781101947869
Special to the Southern List

Finding Dorothy Elizabeth Letts, Ballantine, $28,  Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow Henry Louis Gates, Penguin Press, $30, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek Kim Michele Richardson, Sourcebooks Landmark, $15.99, The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Southern Table Rick Bragg, Vintage, $17, 

FICTION of note

1. Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens, Putnam, $26, 9780735219090
12. The Reckoning
John Grisham, Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385544153
13. Finding Dorothy
Elizabeth Letts, Ballantine, $28, 9780525622109
1. The Overstory
Richard Powers, Norton, $18.95, 9780393356687
4. Varina
Charles Frazier, Ecco, $16.99, 9780062405999
10. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Kim Michele Richardson, Sourcebooks Landmark, $15.99, 9781492671527


4. Southern Lady Code: Essays
Helen Ellis, Doubleday, $22, 9780385543897
12. Madame Fourcade's Secret War

Lynne Olson, Random House, $30, 9780812994766
15. Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow
Henry Louis Gates, Penguin Press, $30, 9780525559535
8. The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Southern Table
Rick Bragg, Vintage, $17, 9781400032693
12. Just Mercy
Bryan Stevenson, Spiegel & Grau, $16, 9780812984965
13. The Last Castle
Denise Kiernan, Touchstone, $17, 9781476794051
15. The Power of Now
Eckhart Tolle, New World Library, $15, 9781577314806

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

Nina Moreno  (author appearance)
Nina Moreno | 05/19/2019, 04:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Robert Dean Lurie: BEGIN THE BEGIN: R.E.M.'s EARLY YEARS  (author appearance)
Robert Dean Lurie | 05/19/2019, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Errol Barron - TULANE OBSERVED - book launch  (author appearance)
Errol Barron | 05/19/2019, 02:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Cooking School: A Taste Of Italy for Early Summer with Sheri Castle  (author appearance)
Sheri Castle | 05/19/2019, 03:00 pm | McIntyre's Books | Pittsboro, NC

Ashleigh Fields presents Caged & Mind Over Matter  (author appearance)
Ashleigh Fields | 05/19/2019 | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Author event with Jay Farrell author of Abandoned Nashville  (author appearance)
Jay Farrell | 05/19/2019, 02:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Fountain Bookstore Presents Matt & Ted Lee at Longoven   (author appearance)
The Lee Brothers | 05/19/2019, 11:00 am | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Book Club Giveaway Frenzy with Tif Marcelo   (author appearance)
Tif Marcelo | 05/19/2019, 12:00 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Chris Grabenstein  (author appearance)
Chris Grabenstein | 05/20/2019, 06:30 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Picturing Apollo 11 with JL Pickering & John Bisney  (author appearance)
John Bisney | 05/20/2019, 06:30 pm | Oxford Exchange | Tampa, FL

Wendy Wax My Ex-Best Friend's Wedding  (author appearance)
Wendy Wax | 05/20/2019, 02:00 pm | Bookstore 1 Sarasota | Sarasota, FL

Author Wendy Wax  (author appearance)
Wendy Wax | 05/20/2019, 06:00 pm | Copperfish Books | Punta Gorda, FL

Tony Horwitz - Spying on the South   (author appearance)
Tony Horwitz | 05/20/2019, 07:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Mary Miller with BILOXI (in conversation with Jack Pendarvis)  (author appearance)
Mary Miller | 05/20/2019, 05:30 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Juliet Grames - The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna  (author appearance)
Juliet Grames | 05/20/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Debby Irving Lecture & Discussion  (author appearance)
Debby Irving | 05/20/2019, 06:00 pm | The Country Bookshop | Southern Pines, NC

Jordan Lee Dooley - Own Your Everyday  (author appearance)
Jordan Lee Dooley | 05/21/2019, 07:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Barry Gifford - SOUTHERN NIGHTS  (author appearance)
Barry Gifford | 05/21/2019, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Mary Miller signs Biloxi  (author appearance)
Mary Miller | 05/21/2019, 05:30 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Evan Williams, Ripples  (author appearance)
Evan Williams | 05/21/2019, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Debby Irving Workshop & Discussion  (author appearance)
Debby Irving | 05/21/2019, 09:00 am | The Country Bookshop | Southern Pines, NC

Diane McPhail Author of The Abolitionist's Daughter  (author appearance)
Diane McPhail | 05/21/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

The Best Cook in the World by Rick Bragg w/ Ronni Lundy  (author appearance)
Rick Bragg | 05/21/2019, 07:00 pm | Union Avenue Books | Knoxville, TN

Ken Woodley The Road to Healing  (author appearance)
Ken Woodley | 05/21/2019, 06:30 pm | Book No Further | Roanoke, VA

Backyard Farming with Kim Pezza  (author appearance)
Kim Pezza | 05/22/2019, 06:00 pm | Copperfish Books | Punta Gorda, FL

Earl Higgins - 100 CATHOLIC THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE  (author appearance)
Earl Higgins | 05/22/2019, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Barry Gifford signs Southern Nights and Sailor & Lula  (author appearance)
Barry Gifford | 05/22/2019, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Carrie Knowles - Black Tie Optional: 17 Stories  (author appearance)
Carrie Knowles | 05/22/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Peter Guzzardi, Emeralds of Oz  (author appearance)
Peter Guzzardi | 05/22/2019, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Michelle Gable: Reading Between the Wines  (author appearance)
Michelle Gable | 05/22/2019, 06:00 pm | Hub City Books | Spartanburg, SC

Author event with David Maraniss author of A Good American Family  (author appearance)
David Maraniss | 05/22/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic  (author appearance)
Lynn Vincent | 05/23/2019, 06:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic  (author appearance)
Lynn Vincent | 05/23/2019, 06:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Scott Pelley - Truth Worth Telling  (author appearance)
Scott Pelley | 05/23/2019, 07:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Asher Elbein  (author appearance)
Asher Elbein | 05/23/2019, 07:00 pm | Tall Tales Atlanta | Atlanta, GA

Mary Miller - Biloxi  (author appearance)
Mary Miller | 05/23/2019, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Friends of the Library event with David Joy  (author appearance)
David Joy | 05/23/2019, 07:00 pm | Blue Ridge Books & News | Waynesville, NC

Belle Boggs and Joanna Pearson discuss their latest books  (author appearance)
Belle Boggs | 05/23/2019, 07:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

In Conversation With Michelle Gable  (author appearance)
Michelle Gable | 05/23/2019, 07:00 pm | M. Judson Booksellers | Greenville, SC

YA author event with Breeana Shields, author of The Bone Charmer  (author appearance)
Breeana Shields | 05/23/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Meredith McCarroll - Appalachian Reckoning  (author appearance)
Meredith McCarroll | 05/24/2019, 07:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Shamala Gallagher and Colette Arrand  (author appearance)
Shamala Gallagher | 05/24/2019, 06:30 am | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Author Event: Peter Reinhart - Perfect Pan Pizza  (author appearance)
Peter Reinhart | 05/24/2019, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Meet Nicole Sarrocco  (author appearance)
Nicole Sarrocco | 05/24/2019, 07:00 pm | Burry Bookstore | Hartsville, SC

Renee Rosen Author of Park Avenue Summer  (author appearance)
Renee Rosen | 05/24/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Tim Hollis  (author appearance)
Tim Hollis | 05/25/2019, 02:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Rubens Riol  (author appearance)
Rubens Riol | 05/25/2019, 05:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Brian Noyes with RED TRUCK BAKERY COOKBOOK  (author appearance)
Brian Noyes | 05/25/2019, 05:30 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Ann Melton  (author appearance)
Ann Melton | 05/25/2019, 03:00 pm | Blue Ridge Books & News | Waynesville, NC

Dana Wildsmith & Susan O’Dell Underwood Poetry Reading   (author appearance)
Dana Wildsmith | 05/25/2019, 03:00 pm | City Lights Bookstore | Sylva, NC

Diane C. McPhail presents The Abolitionist's Daughter  (author appearance)
Diane C. McPhail | 05/25/2019, 02:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Saturday Storytime  (author appearance)
05/25/2019, 10:30 am | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Elizabeth Cobbs & THE TUBMAN COMMAND  (author appearance)
Elizabeth Cobbs | 5/21/2019, 6:30:00 PM | Bookmarks | Winston-Salem, NC


Authors Round the South |
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