Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week

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Week of May 23, 2019
The Commonplace Book | Read This! | Okra Picks | Southern Indie Bestsellers | Events
{Putting a book in someone's hands can change a life}
In which Jeannette Walls rethinks why she is lucky, Ms. Jodi Smits explains summer reading, Southern-style, Ms. Nicole Yasinsky dreams of writing a bookseller musical, and her ladyship, the editor, turns on her air conditioning.

2019 Conroy Legacy Award 

Dearest Readers

"One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by." --Jeannette Walls

It is officially summer at her ladyship's house on the North Carolina coast. She knows this not because her sugar snap peas have died back, not because her sunflowers have started to bloom. Not even because Memorial Day weekend looms and the evenings are filled with the crashes and bangs of over-eager neighbors too impatient to wait to set off the truck load of fireworks they purchased for the occasion.

No it is summer because of one indisputable sign: her ladyship, the editor, was at last driven to turn on the air conditioning in the house.

It is a step she defers as long as possible, preferring instead to have open windows and ocean breezes. But when the temperatures climb towards the 90s she caves to the resigned drooping looks of her dogs and cats and her own insufficiency of fans, and thus she closes the screens and the windows, shuts the back door propped open to let the four-footed residents of the house come and go, and flips the hemostat from "Off" to "Cool." "Cool" being something in the mid-70s.

Book PileThe flipping of the thermostat switch has an unlooked-for and curious effect upon her ladyship's reading. Her "reading spots" have changed. No longer able to endure the heat of the sunny back deck (even under the deck umbrella), she has been forced indoors. But her usual reading chairs -- situated by windows to take advantage of cross breezes, are no longer as inviting. The closed windows offer no breezes and the windows themselves, her ladyship freely admits, could do with a wash and are not at the moment very nice to gaze through dreamily in between chapters.

Instead her ladyship finds herself settling to read in parts of the house she tends to avoid because they lack sunlight and windows. Her large library table is once again stacked with books she has been meaning to get to. The living room couch, normally of use only for watching television and providing the dogs a soft place to sleep, is now a place to stretch out and read in the evenings, as it happens to be the room with the thermostat, and thus the coolest room in the house. The dogs are not unduly put out by this new habit, as they are as perfectly willing to sleep on her ladyship's legs as the couch itself.

All this shuffling around of reading spots has also resulted in several new stacks of "books to read" in new locations -- interestingly enough more nonfiction on the library table, whereas the coffee table by the couch has piles of novels. Books piled by former reading chairs have remained where they are, waiting for the day her ladyship can turn off the air and open the windows again. Sometime in October, most likely.


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 Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Kentucky, 1936

The librarian and her mule spotted it at the same time. The creature’s ears shot up, and it came to a stop so sudden its front hooves skidded out, the pannier slipping off, spilling out the librarian’s books. An eddy of dirt and debris lifted, stinging the woman’s eyes. The mule struggled to look upward, backward, anywhere other than at the thing in front of it.

The book woman couldn’t keep her eyes off the spectacle as she shortened the reins and clamped her legs against the mule’s sides. Again, she prodded her mount. Baring tall sassing teeth, the beast lifted its muzzle into the balsam-sweetened air, the quivering brays blistering the sleepy mountain.

The woman stiffened, drawing the reins in tighter. In front of her, a body swayed back and forth below the fat branch from which it hung. A rope collared tight around the neck, creaked from the strain of its weight. A kettle of turkey buzzards circled above, dipping their ugly naked heads toward the lifeless form, their tail-chasing shadows riddling the dying grass.

From the scorched earth rose strange cries, and the librarian pulled her stunned gaze away from the corpse and toward the ground.

Beside a large toppled can a baby lay in the dirt, the tiny face pinched, scalded with fury.

Mountain breezes dipped lazily, shifting, carrying the stench of death and its soiling. The weighted branch crackled, groaning under its burden. A bloodied sock inched down from a limp, cerulean-blue foot. The librarian gawked at the striking blue flesh and cupped a trembling hand over her mouth. The stocking slipped off, landing beside the squalling baby’s head.

The wind rose higher, then plunged, skittering across the sock as if trying to lift it, but it stayed stubbornly put, rooted to the earth—too heavy to be sent off by a mere summer breeze.

The book woman looked up, lifted one darkening hand in front of her own blue-colored face as if comparing her color to that of the hanging corpse. She examined her cobalt blue flesh, then dared to peek back up at the dead body, bound, eternally rooted like the black oak, to the hard, everlasting Kentucky land so many tried so hard to escape.

--Kim Michele Richardson, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, (Sourcebooks Landmark, 2019) 9781492671527

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

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand
Furyborn was incredible. Kingsbane is even better! The second novel has even more magic, cliffhangers, and romance. So much packed into this book I want to sit with the author and understand how she can possibly make all this come together so eloquently. Already excited for the next one in this trilogy. This is a wild ride.

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand ($18.99*, Sourcebooks Fire), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

Camp Tiger by Susan Choi, John Rocco (Illustrator)
In his last week before starting first grade, a boy and his family set out for a week long camping trip. As they begin to unpack and set up camp, a tiger steps into the clearing. Thin but beautiful, the tiger asks the boy if there is possibly a tent for him. Through the week, the boy and the tiger hike to new places, paddle the lake, fish and watch the stars. They do things neither would risk on their own. And when the week is over, the two must go their own way, both better for their time together.

Camp Tiger by Susan Choi, John Rocco (Illustrator) ($17.99*, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell
Karen Russell's latest collection of short stories are as bizarre, haunted and exquisitely crafted as I hoped they would be. The collection begins with "The Prospectors," wherein two young women attempt to attend an elegant affair and end up dancing with a group of dead boys. In the titular story, a new mother nurses a devil every night and all the while Russell is dissecting the postpartum experience with grace and humor. And in what is possibly my favorite of the collection, "The Gondoliers," about a girl with the qualities of a bat who navigates a dangerous, drowned new world, Russell proves that no one can write south Florida quite like her.

Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell ($25.95*, Knopf), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

More bookseller recommendations


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Meet Nicole Yasinsky, novel.
Supporting literacy one little free library at a time!

Nicole YasinskyName: Nicole Yasinsky
Position at Store:Marketing Manager
Store and location: novel.  Memphis, TN

Website || Facebook || Instagram || Twitter

Number of years as a bookseller: I will celebrate 21 years as a bookseller in August! Wow. Has it really been that long?

Best part about being a bookseller? Putting books in people's hands, of course! There is nothing quite like finding the perfect book at the perfect time for a person -- there are so many variables, and it seems so unlikely, but this is what indie booksellers do all day, every day. I keep an old Candlewick mug on my desk at all times that has a quote from Kate DiCamillo at the 2010 Indies Choice Awards: "We forget that the simple gesture of putting a book in someone's hands can change a life. I want to remind you that it can. I want to thank you because it did."

The Yellow HouseWhat book(s) are you reading? I am currently reading Slay by Brittney Morris -- and I just picked up The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom and The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates!! SO much good stuff coming out this fall!!

Favorite handsell of 2019: I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott - this is funny and witty and happy and sad and inspiring and silly -- and exactly what so many of us need to hear and read in our lives these days!

Best thing you did this year at your store: It's a little over a year since we did it -- but it's still one of my favorite things --  and something I'm hoping to do more of in the future! We were fortunate enough to host Leslie Odom, Jr. at the Orpheum Theater. This, in and of itself, was a dream come true. BUT. The coolest part was that we were able to work with organizations and sponsors to bring 150 kids to this event - for free, transportation included! -- with a ticket that included a copy of the book AND a private backstage meet-and-greet book signing. We made a lot of public school theater kids incredibly happy -- and it's going to take a lot to top this event -- but we're working on it!!

What are some ways you work with your community? Something fun we did recently was to invite members of our community -- non-profit organizations, the mayor, long-time regular customers -- to submit shelftalkers for a special table display -- Friends of Novel. This allows us to highlight not just what we are reading, but what the rest of our city loves! Everyone seemed incredibly excited and honored to be a part of this, and we want to continue to forge strong and multi-faceted relationships with people in our community. We also work with schools and organizations to help raise funds through shopping nights in-store, selling books/sharing proceeds at offsite events, featuring organizations at in-store events and giving back a percentage of proceeds, in-school book fairs. We invite non-profit organizations to gift wrap during busy holiday times for donations. It has turned out that many of these are dog rescue groups (awwww!) and not only do they need donations, but they get TONS of doggos adopted by bringing them out to the store!

Do you have any community partners you work with regularly? Literacy Mid-South, Memphis Jewish Community Center, OUTMemphis, WKNO-FM, Memphis Public Library, Arts Memphis, Memphis Reads, Indie Memphis Film Festival, Books from Birth, St, Jude Children's Research Hospital, Lyceum Circuit

Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life? Well, since I haven't quite found a way to work my love of musicals into my bookselling life yet (but just WAIT until I write my musical about Indies v. Amazon!), I think that my passion  for my city has played a huge role in my decision to work in indie bookstores here. It was definitely key in my dedication to helping create a new bookstore, truly and finally locally-owned here in Memphis.


Top priority for 2019: This isn't a very flashy or exciting answer, but honestly, since we will only be celebrating 2 years in business, we are really just trying to focus on the numbers and make sure that we are doing everything in a way that we can ensure we will be around for many years to come. (Told you it was boring!) BUT...we do have a SUPER fun side project for 2019: We've got an old bookmobile we are in the process of fixing up, and we are hoping to get that up and running and take it to hospitals, schools, retirement homes, festivals, and anywhere else we can think of where there is a need for books!!

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News of a literary nature

The Overstory"there is no separate thing called humanity, and no separate thing called nature: we’re either in the world, or we’re in some abstraction that will never satisfy us."

keep reading: Richard Powers


"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 Poet of Tolstoy Park"What are the best books for someone who wants to understand the South?

“Dispatches From Pluto,” by Richard Grant, Sonny Brewer’s “The Poet of Tolstoy Park,” “My Southern Journey” by Rick Bragg. And Michael Knight’s “Eveningland” — that book sets you on the porch at sunset in the state of Alabama, that’s for sure.'

keep reading: Bookstores Pick Beach Reads

Half Broke Horses"Then one day the friend was drawing at the kitchen table. His father “smacked him upside the head for putting on airs and thinking he was an artist. And I remember thinking at that moment, I’m the lucky one. We don’t have food and we don’t have heat, but we have dreams and a vision,”"

keep reading: Jeannette Walls


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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.


"This novel combines history and fabulous storytelling to convey the history of the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians and the blue people of the same state. Cussy and her family have skin that is tainted blue. They sharply feel the prejudice of the people in their community of Troublesome Creek. Cussy's job is taking books on loan to the people in the isolated mountains. Through reading, these people start to find purpose to their lives, and Cussy starts to learn that even she can be loved."

recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything--everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome's got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.

Cussy's not only a book woman, however, she's also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy's family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she's going to have to confront prejudice as old as Appalachia and suspicion as deep as the holler.

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere--even back home.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
May 7, 2019 | Sourcebooks Landmark | 9781492671527


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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending May 19. 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. Redemption
David Baldacci, Grand Central, $29, 9781538761410

1. Educated
Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504
2. The Pioneers
David McCullough, S&S, $30, 9781501168680
3. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee
Casey Cep, Knopf, $26.95, 9781101947869
4. Becoming
Michelle Obama, Crown, $32.50, 9781524763138
5. The Second Mountain
David Brooks, Random House, $28, 9780812993264
Special to the Southern List

The Daughter's Tale Armando Lucas Correa, Atria, $27,  Spying on the South: Travels with Frederick Law Olmsted in a Fractured Land Tony Horwitz, Penguin Press, $30, The High Tide Club Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99, Red Notice Bill Browder, S&S, $16, 

FICTION of note

1. Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens, Putnam, $26, 9780735219090
3. Sunset Beach
Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's, $28.99, 9781250126108
11. The Daughter's Tale
Armando Lucas Correa, Atria, $27, 9781501187933
12. The 18th Abduction
James Patterson, Maxine Paetro, Little Brown, $29, 9780316420266
4. The Overstory
Richard Powers, Norton, $18.95, 9780393356687
14. Varina
Charles Frazier, Ecco, $16.99, 9780062405999
15. The High Tide Club
Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's Griffin, $16.99, 9781250126085


7. Spying on the South: Travels with Frederick Law Olmsted in a Fractured Land
Tony Horwitz, Penguin Press, $30, 9781101980286
8. Southern Lady Code: Essays
Helen Ellis, Doubleday, $22, 9780385543897
12. The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty

Susan Page, Twelve, $32.50, 9781538713648
14. All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters
Joe Namath, Little Brown, $30, 9780316421102
9. Red Notice
Bill Browder, S&S, $16, 9781476755748
13. The Hundred Story Home: A Memoir of Finding Faith in Ourselves and Something Bigger
Kathy Izard, Thomas Nelson, $16.99, 9780785219880
14. The Boys in the Boat
Daniel James Brown, Penguin, $17, 9780143125471
15. We Should All Be Feminists
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Anchor, $8.95, 9781101911761

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

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

Booksigning Spouse Calls: Messages from a Military Life  (author appearance)
Terri Barnes | 05/25/2019, 11:00 am | Main Street Reads | Summerville, SC

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

Eli & Bill Perras-Concert and Book Signing  (author appearance)
Elisabeth Perras | 05/27/2019, 02:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Derby Gisclair - EARLY BASEBALL IN NEW ORLEANS  (author appearance)
Derby Gisclair | 05/28/2019, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Julia Phillips with DISAPPEARING EARTH  (author appearance)
Julia Phillips | 05/28/2019, 05:30 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Mary Miller - Biloxi  (author appearance)
Mary Miller | 05/28/2019, 05:30 pm | Turnrow Books | Greenwood, MS

Natural Menopause Workshop  (author appearance)
Lorraine Miano | 05/28/2019, 07:00 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Irène Mathieu, Grand Marronage  (author appearance)
Irène Mathieu | 05/28/2019, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Mick Rock  (author appearance)
Mick Rock | 05/29/2019, 08:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Bev Saltzman Lewyn  (author appearance)
Bev Saltzman Lewyn | 05/29/2019, 07:00 pm | Tall Tales Atlanta | Atlanta, GA

Julia Phillips signs Disappearing Earth  (author appearance)
Julia Phillips | 05/29/2019, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Rick Atkinson - The British Are Coming (Reserved Seats Available)  (author appearance)
Rick Atkinson | 05/29/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Dorothea Benton Frank Author of Queen Bee  (author appearance)
Dorothea Benton Frank | 05/29/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Michael Knight author of At Briarwood School for Girls  (author appearance)
Michael Knight | 05/29/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Virginia Reeves - The Behavior of Love  (author appearance)
Virginia Reeves | 05/30/2019, 05:00 pm | Alabama Booksmith | Homewood, AL

Robert Bailey  (author appearance)
Robert Bailey | 05/30/2019, 06:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Mary Kay Andrews presents Sunset Beach - A Novel  (author appearance)
Mary Kay Andrews | 05/30/2019, 06:00 pm | Vero Beach Book Center | Vero Beach, FL

E L James - The Mister   (author appearance)
05/30/2019, 07:30 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Erica Witsell launches Give  (author appearance)
Erica Witsell | 05/30/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Author Event: Domenic Melillo  (author appearance)
Domenic Melillo | 05/30/2019, 04:00 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Susan McCarter presents Cooking to Get Lucky  (author appearance)
Susan McCarter | 05/30/2019, 06:30 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Afternoon Storytime  (author appearance)
05/30/2019, 04:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Author event with Layng Martine, Jr. author of Permission to Fly  (author appearance)
Layng Martine, | 05/30/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Tony Horwitz - SPYING ON THE SOUTH: An Odyssey Across the American Divide  (author appearance)
Tony Horwitz | 05/31/2019, 06:00 pm | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Thomas Rain Crowe’s Yvan Goll Collection  (author appearance)
Thomas Rain Crowe | 05/31/2019, 06:30 pm | City Lights Bookstore | Sylva, NC

Special Storytime with Bea Birdsong  (author appearance)
05/31/2019, 10:30 am | McIntyre's Books | Pittsboro, NC

A Day with Dorothea Benton Frank  (author appearance)
Dorothea Benton Frank | 05/31/2019, 07:00 pm | Hub City Books | Spartanburg, SC

Casey Cep  (author appearance)
Casey Cep | 05/31/2019, 07:00 pm | New Dominion Bookshop | Virginia, VA


Authors Round the South |
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