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Week of August 3, 2019
The Commonplace Book | Read This! | Okra Picks | Southern Indie Bestsellers | Events
{Steadfastness against all that is hollow}
In which the finalists for the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction are announced, Ms. Joshilyn Jackson steps outside her comfort zone, and Ms. Andrea Bobotis considers the creative potential of Mason jars filled with keys to long-forgotten locks.

2019 Conroy Legacy Award 

Dearest Readers

"It took me years to understand that words are often as important as experience, because words make experience last. " -- Willie Morris

The 2018 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction has just announced it's shortlist: four Southern books that embody the spirit what the late Willie Morris called a "hope for belonging, for belief in a people’s better nature, for steadfastness against all that is hollow or crass or rootless or destructive."

  • Minrose Gwin, Promise (William Morrow)
  • Silas House, Southernmost (Algonquin)
  • Tayari Jones, An American Marriage (Algonquin)
  • Tiffany Quay Tyson, The Past is Never (Skyhorse Publishing)

PromiseAn American MarriageThe Past is Never

It may seem like it is asking a lot, this demand for "steadfastness against all that is hollow," but is that not what art is for? is it not why we tell stories at all? Literature--good literature -- is our defense against the dark.

The Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction over a decade old. Past recipients include One Good Mama Bone by Bren McClain, Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright, Long Man by Amy Greene, A Short Time to Stay Here by Terry Roberts, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, and The City of Refuge by Tom Piazza. "Those who wish to be considered for the prize," say the directions for submitting to the award, "should read previous winners."

So should everyone else.


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.

Never Have I EverThe game was Roux's idea. More than an idea. A plan. She made it up herself this shotgun of a game. She packed it tight with salt and metal, counting on collateral damage, too, but she aimed it straight at me. She said it was like Never Have I Ever, but not any version I'd ever played. It began innocently enough, with everyone confessing the worst thing they'd done that day.

None of us had ever heard of Roux's rules, so it was possible she invented them that night, for us. For me. Or perhaps she'd played this way before, spreading it, so that her game now cropped up at slumber parties when Truth or Dare or Two Truths and a Lie had lost their shine. Only middle-school girls could safely play it, children whose worst thing was, I showed my bra to that boy I like, or I called my sister the b-word.

We should have known better.


--Joshilyn Jackson, Never Have I Ever (William Morrow, 2019)

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

The Year They Fell by David Kreizman
The Year They Fell recounts the lives of Josie, Jack, Archie, Harrison, and Dayana. They went through childhood together as the Sunnies, but eventually became more self-contained and broken after everybody's parents (except for Dayana's) die on the same plane crash. Life is forever changed and they all need time to heal. However, Harrison refuses to accept the validity of the plane crash, and convinces his friends to travel to the site of the crash to find how and why their parents died. Kreizman is such a powerful writer; the perspectives of the five main characters each feel so alive and authentic. So many events are packed into such a hefty plot that will surely leave you breathless in the end. I recommend this book to anyone going through a loss, or some other grief, because they are guaranteed to relate to one of the Sunnies and maybe even leave their tear stains on the pages.

The Year They Fell by David Kreizman ($17.99*, Imprint), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena
I would read Shari Lapena's grocery list, y'all. She's so skilled at the twisty mystery and this new book is as good as her others. When suburban mom Olivia finds out that her teenage son has been breaking in to the homes of their neighbors, she is terrified that he'll be in serious legal trouble despite his assurances that he never steals, only snoops. When a pretty young wife - who happens to live in one of the houses he broke into - turns up dead, no one is free of suspicion. As we dive deeper into the private lives of the neighbors, we learn that everyone is hiding something, and anyone could have done it.

Someone We Know by Shari Lapena ($27.00*, Pamela Dorman Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

More bookseller recommendations


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News of a literary nature

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt"I grew up in a Southern home crowded with heirlooms and curiosities—lots of porcelain dolls missing arms, mason jars filled with skeleton keys and tiny vials of old tinctures with labels like “Toothache Drops.”  "

keep reading: Andrea Bobotis makes a list


Black Ink, Charleston’s African American Book Festival, is looking for authors to display their books. The festival this year will take place on Saturday, October 5. For the first time, it is included as a part of the MOJA Arts Festival and will be presented at Memminger Auditorium

keep reading: Black Ink Book Festival seeks authors


“Whether you’re someone who likes to interact socially or not, there are things you can be involved in (at Wild Fig),” Taylor said. “We’re definitely a hub for community organizing and community activity. We’re a way to plug into what’s going on in the pulse of the community.”

keep reading: A week at Wild Fig Bookstore


Never Have I Ever


"I've stepped a little outside my comfort zone"


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The Okra Picks: The Summer Season


Southern Independent booksellers have chosen the 2019 Summer 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.


" In the very first pages of NEVER HAVE I EVER, a mysterious new neighbor shows up to the neighborhood book club, clearly there to shake things up. Book talk turns to drinking games, and it's clear this new addition has an ulterior motive--blackmail for an accident and cover-up long hidden. Jackson kept me on my feet as a reader, and I never saw the ending coming!" —Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson In this game, even winning can be deadly...

Amy Whey is proud of her ordinary life and the simple pleasures that come with it—teaching diving lessons, baking cookies for new neighbors, helping her best friend, Charlotte, run their local book club. Her greatest joy is her family: her devoted professor husband, her spirited fifteen-year-old stepdaughter, her adorable infant son. And, of course, the steadfast and supportive Charlotte. But Amy’s sweet, uncomplicated life begins to unravel when the mysterious and alluring Angelica Roux arrives on her doorstep one book club night.

Sultry and magnetic, Roux beguiles the group with her feral charm. She keeps the wine flowing and lures them into a game of spilling secrets. Everyone thinks it’s naughty, harmless fun. Only Amy knows better. Something wicked has come her way—a she-devil in a pricey red sports car who seems to know the terrible truth about who she is and what she once did.

When they’re alone, Roux tells her that if she doesn’t give her what she asks for, what she deserves, she’s going to make Amy pay for her sins. One way or another.

To protect herself and her family and save the life she’s built, Amy must beat the devil at her own clever game, matching wits with Roux in an escalating war of hidden pasts and unearthed secrets. Amy knows the consequences if she can’t beat Roux. What terrifies her is everything she could lose if she wins.

A diabolically entertaining tale of betrayal, deception, temptation, and love filled with dark twists leavened by Joshilyn Jackson’s trademark humor, Never Have I Ever explores what happens when the transgressions of our past come back with a vengeance.

William Morrow | 9780062855312 |7/30/2019 

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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending July 28. 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. The Nickel Boys
Colson Whitehead, Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385537070
2. Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens, Putnam, $26, 9780735219090
3. The New Girl
Daniel Silva, Harper, $28.99, 9780062834836
4. City of Girls
Elizabeth Gilbert, Riverhead Books, $28, 9781594634734
5. Normal People
Sally Rooney, Hogarth, $26, 9781984822178

1. Educated
Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504
2. Becoming
Michelle Obama, Crown, $32.50, 9781524763138
3. Three Women
Lisa Taddeo, Avid Reader Press/S&S, $27, 9781451642292
4. The Pioneers
David McCullough, S&S, $30, 9781501168680
5. The Second Mountain
David Brooks, Random House, $28, 9780812993264
Special to the Southern List

Queen Bee Dorothea Benton Frank, Morrow, $27.99,Whisper Network Chandler Baker, Flatiron Books, $26.99,Southernmost Silas House, Algonquin Books, $15.95,The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke Andrew Lawler, Anchor, $17,The Genius of Birds Jennifer Ackerman, Penguin, $17,The Glass Castle Jeannette Walls, Scribner, $17,The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World Amy Reed, Simon Pulse, $19.99,Sisters Raina Telgemeier, Graphix, $10.99,

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

Laura Lippman - Lady in the Lake  (author appearance)
Laura Lippman | 08/05/2019, 05:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Former Navy Seal and author Jack Carr presents True Believer - A Thriller  (author appearance)
Jack Carr | 08/05/2019, 06:00 pm | Vero Beach Book Center | Vero Beach, FL

No Encore! author Drew Fortune in conversation with drummer Jon Wurster  (author appearance)
Drew Fortune | 08/05/2019, 07:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

L. Chance Shiver presents Oberlin’s Anomaly, in conversation with Tommy Hays  (author appearance)
L. Chance Shiver | 08/05/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Tamara Pizzoli - Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO  (author appearance)
Tamara Pizzoli | 08/05/2019, 06:30 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

The Magnetic Girl at Buxton Books  (author appearance)
Jessica Handler | 08/05/2019, 05:30 pm | Buxton Books | Charleston, SC

Bella Thorne  (author appearance)
Bella Thorne | 08/06/2019, 07:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Mary Pearson presents Vow Of Thieves - A Novel  (author appearance)
Mary Pearson | 08/06/2019, 06:00 pm | Vero Beach Book Center | Vero Beach, FL

Book Launch Party for Joshilyn Jackson's Never Have I Ever  (author appearance)
Joshilyn Jackson | 08/06/2019, 07:00 pm | Eagle Eye Book Shop | Decatur, GA

Brian Noyes signs Red Truck Bakery Cookbook  (author appearance)
Brian Noyes | 08/06/2019, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Lisa Howorth with SUMMERLINGS   (author appearance)
Lisa Howorth | 08/06/2019, 05:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Book Launch: The Hotel Neversink by Adam O'Fallon Price  (author appearance)
Adam O'Fallon Price | 08/06/2019, 07:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

Doug Waller - Lincoln’s Spies: Their Secret War to Save a Nation  (author appearance)
Douglas Waller | 08/06/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

YA Night with Anna Bright and Sarah Glenn Marsh!   (author appearance)
Anna Bright | 08/06/2019, 06:30 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Mary E. Pearson  (author appearance)
Mary E. Pearson | 08/07/2019, 07:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Dani McClain  (author appearance)
Dani McClain | 08/07/2019, 08:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Bon Voyage Barry!  (author appearance)
Barry Rothman | 08/07/2019, 05:00 pm | Bookstore 1 Sarasota | Sarasota, FL

Cooking Demonstration with Reality Star Miss Quad  (author appearance)
Quad Webb | 08/07/2019, 07:00 pm | Eagle Eye Book Shop | Decatur, GA

Join Us for a Special Meet & Greet and Book Reading with Krystal Redman  (author appearance)
Krystal Redman | 08/07/2019, 06:00 pm | Charis Books and More | Decatur, GA

Lisa Howorth signs Summerlings Doubleday   (author appearance)
Lisa Howorth | 08/07/2019, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Elwood Watson, Ph.D. presents Keepin' It Real: Essays on Race in Contemporary America  (author appearance)
Elwood Watson | 08/07/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Rochelle Riley  (author appearance)
Rochelle Riley | 08/08/2019, 06:30 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Cara Robertson tackles true-crime legend in The Trial of Lizzie Borden  (author appearance)
Cara Robertson | 08/08/2019, 07:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

Christina Proenza-Coles presents American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World  (author appearance)
Christina Proenza-Coles | 08/08/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Author Event: CD Murray  (author appearance)
CD Murray | 08/08/2019, 06:30 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

J.A. Walsh presents Purpose of Evasion  (author appearance)
J.A. Walsh | 08/08/2019, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Philip Gerard, Cape Fear Rising  (author appearance)
Philip Gerard | 08/08/2019, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Author event with Caroline Louise Walker author of Man of the Year  (author appearance)
Caroline Louise Walker | 08/08/2019, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Richmond's Beloved Harry Kollatz, Jr.   (author appearance)
Harry Kollatz | 08/08/2019, 06:30 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Erin A. Craig with HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS   (author appearance)
Erin A. Craig | 08/09/2019, 05:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Special Storytime with Jonathan Voss, Imagine That: A Hoot & Olive Story  (author appearance)
Jonathan Voss | 08/09/2019, 10:30 am | McIntyre's Books | Pittsboro, NC

George Hovis - The Skin Artist  (author appearance)
George Hovis | 08/09/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Words and Music with Singer-Songwriter, Author Rod Picott  (author appearance)
Rod Picott | 08/09/2019, 06:00 pm | Buxton Books | Charleston, SC

Betty Brown Drop-In Signing   (author appearance)
Betty Brown | 08/09/2019, 02:00 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Kristan Higgins Author of Life and Other Inconveniences  (author appearance)
Kristan Higgins | 08/09/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Thomas Oliver Ott - Saturday and the Witch Woman  (author appearance)
Thomas Oliver Ott | 08/10/2019, 02:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL

Susan Rebecca White - We Are All Good People Here  (author appearance)
Susan Rebecca White | 08/10/2019, 06:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Hannah Shaw - Tiny But Mighty   (author appearance)
Hannah Shaw | 08/10/2019, 07:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Jim Acosta - Enemy of the People   (author appearance)
Jim Acosta | 08/10/2019, 11:00 am | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Book Signing: Armando Rings  (author appearance)
Armando Rings | 08/10/2019, 10:30 am | Main Street Books | Davidson, NC

Jamie Mason launches The Hidden Things, in conversation with Joe D'Agnese  (author appearance)
Jamie Mason | 08/10/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe | Asheville, NC

Wake Forest Mini Comic Con  (author appearance)
Ware Wilkins; | 08/10/2019, 10:00 am | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

A. D. Hopkins, The Boys Who Woke Up Early  (author appearance)
A.D. Hopkins | 08/10/2019, 04:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Meet the Author: Deborah Van Dyken  (author appearance)
Deborah Van Dyken | 08/10/2019, 11:00 am | Page After Page Bookstore | Elizabeth City, NC

Lauren Morrill  (author appearance)
Lauren Morrill | 08/10/2019, 06:00 pm | Union Avenue Books | Knoxville, TN

Book Release and Signing - Amy Schisler: Island of Hope   (author appearance)
Amy Schisler | 08/10/2019, 11:00 am | Sundial Books | Chicoteague Island, VA

Laura Lippman Book Signing  (author appearance)
Laura Lippman | 8/6/2019, 6:00 PM | Garden District Book Shop | New Orleans, LA

Fugitives & Rabbits: A Collaborative Literary Tour  (author appearance)
8/6/2019, 6:30 PM | Bookmarks | Winston-Salem, NC

Ben Folds: The Man Behind the Music  (author appearance)
Ben Folds | 8/7/2019, 7:00 PM | Bookmarks | Winston-Salem, NC

Lisa Howorth Book Signing  (author appearance)
Lisa Howorth | 8/8/2019, 6:00 PM | Garden District Book Shop | New Orleans, LA

Authors Round the South |
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