Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week



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Week of June 27, 2019
The Commonplace Book | Read This! | Okra Picks | Southern Indie Bestsellers | Events
{On Brunswick stew and fried bologna sandwiches.}
In which Ms. Virginia Dare did NOT transform into an albino deer, Mr. Colson Whitehead contemplates arson, with justification, Mr. Guy Davenport could stand to improve his diet, and her ladyship, the editor receives an education on the history and importance of Brunswick Stew.

2019 Conroy Legacy Award 

Dearest Readers

"She celebrated all kinds of cooks and articulated very clearly that cooking is what brings us together, and she had no prejudice about whether this kind of food was better than that kind of food." -- Ruth Reichl on Molly O'Neill

1987 was a banner year for the residents of Brunswick Country, Virginia. After 160 years of dispute, Brunswick, Georgia at last conceded that the Virginia county was the mostly likely place of origin of that humble yet ubiquitous Southern dish known as "Brunswick Stew."

A tad ungracious in victory, the Virginia General Assembly promptly issued a proclamation and hosted a cook off at the state capital. Virginia residents claimed that the stew had been invented by an African-American camp cook named Jimmy Matthews in 1825, and the primary ingredient was squirrel. But Brunswick stew soon became a standard fare at hunting camps, church picnics, community celebrations and firehouse barbecues. "Stewmaster" became a hallowed honorific, a title that took years to earn and was rather more rigorous than training to be a sommelier. The stewmaster that served up the best Brunswick Stew on that day was volunteer fireman John Clary with his "Proclamation Stew Crew." (It did not include squirrel). They still travel serving Brunswick Stew at community gatherings all around Virginia.


One Big TableThe Proclamation Crew's Brunswick Stew -- and the attendant history of the dish --is one of the recipes included in Molly O'Neill's cookbook One Big Table, one of her ladyship, the editor's most-loved and most-used cookbooks in her kitchen. So loved and used, in fact, that the pages containing her favorite recipes have long since come loose and are now held in place by paper clips, the book itself held together with twine when not in use. Several years ago, her ladyship purchased a back up copy, just in case the originals fell to pieces beyond repair.


Molly O'Neill passed away this week, a loss her ladyship feels acutely. A food journalist and chronicler of New York City's neighborhoods and boroughs, she can hardly be called a Southern cook. But she had this in common with a Southerner's approach to food and table: it may be the food on the plate we eat, but it is the hands that serve it that are really important. Cooking is about people.


That was the inspiration behind her..."quest" does not seem too small a document the great home cooks of America in an era when fast-food and franchise restaurants suggested that Americans no longer bothered to cook.


One Big TableOne Big Table was O'Neill's ringing, definitive answer to that spurious assessment. And while it is indeed a book that travels all over the country, the South is well-represented in both historic and modern ways. Kahn Pearson's Indonesian Tuna Salad from Key West, Elizabeth Wilson's "Three-Generation Olive Salad" from New Orleans, Bubba Frey's Famous Rooster Stew, from Frey Louisiana, Thomas Jefferson's Vanilla Ice Cream, Jill Sauceman's Apple Stack Cake from Johnsonville, Tennessee. Every recipe has its story -- some traditional, like the history of Brunswick Stew, and some personal, like Louise Etoch of Fayetteville, Arkansas, learning to cook Lebanese food for her new husband under the watchful eye of her mother in law.

Molly O'Neil was not "a cookbook writer" -- she was a chronicler of America's, well, soul.

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 TravelersJust as an historian of medieval France must keep in the front of her mind that in the Middle Ages there was no France, only a smattering of feudal lands that would one day become France, so a student of Reconstruction must be cognizant that the firm racial binary Americans accept to this day is a result of Jim Crow, not a cause of it. The one-drop rule--the concept that any trace of African ancestry at all makes an American "a negro"--was not even conjured until the 1850s and was not widely accepted until the early twentieth century. It is only because mixed-race activists were defeated in their valiant effort to stop a regime of race-based rights that contemporary Americans view society through the racial blinders that we do. Today, decades after the dismantling of Jim Crow, Americans still see our society and ourselves in binary terms of "white" and "colored." That our racial system is second nature to us but incomprehensible to the rest of the world--even to people from other New World societies that once practiced slavery but never instituted Jim Crow--should highlight for us how peculiar it is.


--Daniel Brook, The Accident of Color: A Story of Race in Reconstruction (W. W. Norton& Company, 2019)

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The Southern Bookstore: What to Read Next

Forthcoming books that Southern booksellers can't wait for


Under the Cold Bright Lights Swipe Right for Murder The Passengers 
American Royals
 Grace Goes to Washington 

Under the Cold Bright Lights by Gary Disher (July)
"This book is like riding a roller coaster: there's a leisurely build up to the top, but once the heads start rolling it's a wild ride." -- Lizy Coale, Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL


Swipe Right for Murder by Derek Milman (August)
"Quirky, murdery, and fast paced!. . . Chock full of death rays, drone attacks, and Daft Punk looking assassins, Swipe Right for Murder is the definitive dark comedy of the summer!"-- Kate Townsend, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA


The Passengers by John Marrs (August)
"I would say this is absolutely one of the best books I've read in a long time. I read it so quickly that my husband wanted to read it right after." --Courtney Dziadul, Gottwals Books, Macon, GA


American Royals by Katherine McGee (September)
"A ridiculous, effervescent joyride of a novel. " -- Cristina Russell, Books & Books, Coral Gables, Florida


Grace Goes to Washington by Kelly DiPucchio (September)
"Gorgeous illustrations full of life back up an interesting story about leadership, citizenship and compassion. I'd love to see this in school libraries!!" -- Dwan Dawson-Tape, Sundog Books, Santa Rosa, FL

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

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
When Linda Holmes announced on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast that she was writing a book I squealed with delight, made a note, and stalked pre-order and review pages until I could find a copy. Anyone who has spent time reading her work as a contributor to NPR will recognize the way in which one can almost hear her smile in her writing. The story of Evvie is compelling, and the fact that it is a romance novel feels secondary to the story of these characters and how they deal with the losses that have brought them together. I cannot wait to see what Holmes does next.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes ($26.00*, Ballantine Books), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson's beloved and often beleaguered detective, Jackson Brodie, is back in another twisty and darkly comic literary mystery. Jackson is bumming around Yorkshire with his teenage son and a dog while his former partner Julia shoots her TV show. He stumbles into the dark underbelly of the town and helps to mete out some much-needed justice. Part of the joy of reading Kate Atkinson is her ability to fit so much in few words. Brodie's reflections on the state of the world will make you laugh while breaking your heart. I absolutely loved this and cannot recommend it highly enough.

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson ($28.00*, Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Union Ave Books, Knoxville, TN.

Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
For those who have not yet caught on to the magic that is Antoine Laurain, Vintage 1954 is a lovely introduction. His trademark uniqueness is on full display here as he weaves a tale of wine, time-travel, UFOs, and international cooperation that becomes remarkably believable the more you read. Through many celebrity cameos and subtle descriptive flourishes, the world of Paris in 1954 leaps off the page. Grab a good glass of wine and a comfy chair and immerse yourself in the quirky creativity that is Antoine Laurain.

Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain ($14.95*, Gallic Books), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

More bookseller recommendations


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News of a literary nature

Going Down Home with Daddy"A sort of cult arose around Virginia Dare, the first white child born in the colony. Victorian poets pictured her growing up, hunting in the woods and perhaps being transformed into an albino deer. "

keep reading: Lost but definitely not forgotten


The Nickel BoysLady Code"The further I got into the book, the more depressed and angry I got about going to the place, until I would only go there if I had a can of kerosene and a match."

keep reading: Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys

Twelve Stories"He was a modernist scholar, one of the earliest, and for decades a leading translator of ancient Greek poetry; but he also wrote with authority on the social history of the pear, Mother Ann Lee and Shaker aesthetics, Dogon cosmogony, the anthropology of table manners, 2 Timothy and the Pauline doctrine, Louis Agassiz, Eudora Welty, geodesic domes, the paintings of Balthus, and the behavior of wasps—which he fed in his home from a saucer of sugar water. He himself subsisted on fried bologna sandwiches and Marlboros."

keep reading: Coming up with Guy Davenport

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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.


"[A] valuable history [that] goes a long way to injecting thoughtfulness into popular notions of the history of race and racism in America." —

The Accident of Color: A Story of Race in Reconstruction by Daniel Brook
In The Accident of Color, Daniel Brook journeys to nineteenth-century New Orleans and Charleston and introduces us to cosmopolitan residents who elude the racial categories the rest of America takes for granted. Before the Civil War, these free, openly mixed-race urbanites enjoyed some rights of citizenship and the privileges of wealth and social status. But after Emancipation, as former slaves move to assert their rights, the black-white binary that rules the rest of the nation begins to intrude. During Reconstruction, a movement arises as mixed-race elites make common cause with the formerly enslaved and allies at the fringes of whiteness in a bid to achieve political and social equality for all.

In some areas, this coalition proved remarkably successful. Activists peacefully integrated the streetcars of Charleston and New Orleans for decades and, for a time, even the New Orleans public schools and the University of South Carolina were educating students of all backgrounds side by side. Tragically, the achievements of this movement were ultimately swept away by a violent political backlash and expunged from the history books, culminating in the Jim Crow laws that would legalize segregation for a half century and usher in the binary racial regime that rules us to this day.

The Accident of Color revisits a crucial inflection point in American history. By returning to the birth of our nation's singularly narrow racial system, which was forged in the crucible of opposition to civil rights, Brook illuminates the origins of the racial lies we live by.

The Accident of Color: A Story of Race in Reconstruction by Daniel Brook
June 18, 2019 | W. W. Norton & Company | 9780393247442


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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending June 20. 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. City of Girls
Elizabeth Gilbert, Riverhead Books, $28, 9781594634734
3. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Ocean Vuong, Penguin Press, $26, 9780525562023
4. Summer of '69
Elin Hilderbrand, Little Brown, $28, 9780316420013
5. Queen Bee
Dorothea Benton Frank, Morrow, $27.99, 9780062861214

1. Educated
Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504
2. The Pioneers
David McCullough, S&S, $30, 9781501168680
3. Furious Hours
Casey Cep, Knopf, $26.95, 9781101947869
4. Becoming
Michelle Obama, Crown, $32.50, 9781524763138
5. Spying on the South
Tony Horwitz, Penguin Press, $30, 9781101980286
Special to the Southern List

Sunset Beach Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's, $28.99,  Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog Dave Barry, S&S, $26, Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War Ray Lambert, Jim DeFelice, Morrow, $26.99, The Summer Wives Beatriz Williams, Morrow, $16.99, 

FICTION of note

1. Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens, Putnam, $26, 9780735219090
15. Sunset Beach
Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's, $28.99, 9781250126108
2. The Overstory
Richard Powers, Norton, $18.95, 9780393356687
5. Before We Were Yours
Lisa Wingate, Ballantine, $17, 9780425284704
11. Florida
Lauren Groff, Riverhead Books, $16, 9781594634529
13. The Summer Wives
Beatriz Williams, Morrow, $16.99, 9780062660350
15. Good Omens
Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Morrow, $17.99, 9780060853976


7. Southern Lady Code: Essays
Helen Ellis, Doubleday, $22, 9780385543897
11. Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog
Dave Barry, S&S, $26, 9781501161155
14. Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War
Ray Lambert, Jim DeFelice, Morrow, $26.99, 9780062937483
2. Keep Going
Austin Kleon, Workman, $12.95, 9781523506644
8. The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke
Andrew Lawler, Anchor, $17, 9781101974605
9. Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved
Kate Bowler, Random House, $16, 9780399592089
12. Hillbilly Elegy
J.D. Vance, Harper, $16.99, 9780062300553
14. Gather at the River: Twenty-Five Authors on Fishing
David Joy (Ed.), Hub City Press, $16.95, 9781938235528

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

Erin L. Richman: Mary Blair Destiny  (author appearance)
Erin L. Richman | 06/28/2019, 06:30 pm | Avid Bookshop | Athens, GA

Daniel Brook with THE ACCIDENT OF COLOR: A STORY OF RACE IN RECONSTRUCTION   (author appearance)
Daniel Brook | 06/28/2019, 05:30 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Author Event: Olive Balla  (author appearance)
Olive Balla | 06/28/2019, 06:30 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Mary Edna Fraser & Cecelia Dailey Author of The Batik Art of Mary Edna Fraser  (author appearance)
Mary Edna Fraser | 06/28/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Irène Mathieu (Grand Marronage) and Annie Kim (Into the Cyclorama)  (author appearance)
Annie Kim | 06/28/2019, 08:00 pm | New Dominion Bookshop | Virginia, VA

Evidence of Being 50 Years After Stonewall: Black Gay Cultural Legacies in Times of Terror  (author appearance)
06/29/2019, 07:00 am | Charis Books & More | Decatur, GA

Josh Foreman and Ryan Starrett sign The Hidden History of the Mississippi Sound  (author appearance)
Josh Foreman | 06/29/2019, 02:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Michael Croley (in conversation with Michael Farris Smith) with ANY OTHER PLACE: STORIES  (author appearance)
Michael Croley | 06/29/2019, 05:30 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Daniel Brook / THE ACCIDENT OF COLOR  (author appearance)
Daniel Brook | 06/29/2019, 02:00 pm | Turnrow Books | Greenwood, MS

Erin Osetek  (author appearance)
Erin Osetek | 06/29/2019 | Main Street Books | Davidson, NC

Kristy Dempsey presents Papa Put a Man on the Moon  (author appearance)
Kristy Dempsey | 06/29/2019, 11:00 am | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Author event with Lauren Maddox, Tennessee Michael Langston Tomlin and Richard Tomlin  (author appearance)
Lauren Maddox | 06/29/2019, 02:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Author event with Karman Meyer author of Eat to Sleep  (author appearance)
Karman Meyer | 06/29/2019, 05:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Rooted: Central Arkansas Farm & Table Author Event  (author appearance)
Sara Mitchell | 06/30/2019, 03:00 pm | Wordsworth Bookstore | Little Rock, AR

David Eicher - How Life Spirited Me from Mennonite to Man O' Night  (author appearance)
David Eicher | 06/30/2019, 07:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Chazeray Jackson presents Live, Learn and Lead Powerfully  (author appearance)
Chazeray Jackson | 06/30/2019, 03:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

A Familiar Wilderness by SJ Dahlman  (author appearance)
SJ Dahlman | 06/30/2019, 03:00 pm | Union Avenue Books | Knoxville, TN

Meet and Treats With Romance Author Mary Ann Marlowe   (author appearance)
Mary Ann Marlowe | 06/30/2019, 11:30 am | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Author Event: Steven B Epstein  (author appearance)
Steven B. Epstein | 07/02/2019, 06:30 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Poet Susan Schmidt, Let Go or Hold Fast  (author appearance)
Susan Schmidt | 07/02/2019, 06:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Author event with Simon Tam author of Slanted  (author appearance)
Simon Tam | 07/02/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Launch Party For Bruce Holsinger   (author appearance)
Bruce Holsinger | 07/02/2019, 06:30 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Join us for a reading with writers Cary Holladay (Brides in the Sky) and Bruce Holsinger (The Gifted School)  (author appearance)
Cary Holladay | 07/03/2019, 08:00 pm | New Dominion Bookshop | Virginia, VA

David Aaron Richey - The Dad Book  (author appearance)
David Aaron Richey | 07/05/2019, 06:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Rick Speight - The Boys From Hicks Drive  (author appearance)
Rick Speight | 07/05/2019, 06:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Daphney Antoine Booksigning  (author appearance)
Daphney Antoine | 6/28/2019, 6:00 PM | Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore | Delray Beach, FL

Meet Photographer John Alexander Dersham  (author appearance)
John Dersham | 6/29/2019, 11:00 AM | Ernest & Hadley Booksellers | Tuscaloosa, AL

Teacher & Media Specialist Party - with Kristy Dempsey  (author appearance)
Kristy Dempsey | 6/30/2019, 2:00 PM | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Authors Round the South |
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