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Week of August 19, 2019
The Commonplace Book | Read This! | {Book} Trailer Park | Okra Picks | Southern Indie Bestsellers | Events
{The books you remember best are the ones you read when you were eight.}
In which Ms. Jaki Shelton Green gets everyone to read James Baldwin; her ladyship, the editor, looks ahead to what is coming out next week; and Ms. Bobbie Pyron believes the books we remember best are the ones we read as children.

2019 Conroy Legacy Award 

Dearest Readers

"The act of making poetry is an act of hope. " -- Natasha Trethewey

 Is there anything more fun than contemplating the many possibilities of what to read next? Here are some books coming out in the next couple weeks that booksellers have been looking forward to pushing on anyone they can convince to give them a try. Her ladyship gives special recognition to the first, as "My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich" surely deserves it for being the best book title of the year:


My Life as an Ice Cream SandwichMy Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich 8/27/2019
"An adorable book about Ebony Grace NoFleet and all of her Star Trek nerdiness. A spacetastic coming of age story! Ebony struggles to fit in "No Joke City", Harlem on the planet "Boombox" with her father "Serious Julius", but she is misunderstood by the "nefarious minions", and her friendship with Bianca Pluto has changed. It is hard to find your place when the world seems to be filled with aliens who just don't understand you. A brilliantly written page turning book for all ages! " -- Ellen Jackson, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

The Ungrateful RefugeeThe Ungrateful Refugee 9/3/2019
"We hear so much talk today about the refugee crisis, but rarely if ever do we hear it from the perspective of the refugees themselves. Their voices are lost in poverty, isolation, fear, and shame. This book brings to life the realities of being an asylum-seeker and makes them real, visceral. As an immigrant myself, I found resonance in some of Nayeri's descriptions of complicated identity. As the daughter of a desirable immigrant surgeon, however, I am grateful to this remarkable book for helping me understand just a sliver of what my experience could easily have been had my circumstances been just slightly different. Insofar as this book helps to humanize an oft-dehumanized population, it is a hugely important book that should be read widely."-- Lucy Stoltzfusr, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA

The Ten Thousand Doors of JanuaryThe Ten Thousand Doors of January 9/10/2019
"Oh, I just loved this. It's a beautifully atmospheric novel with a fascinating new take on the portal trope. Every character was written so thoughtfully, even (perhaps especially) its villain. Ultimately, a beautiful exploration of other worlds, the importance of words, and what happens when you challenge power. " -- Kaley Lowman, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC



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.

MonumentSigns, Oakvale, Mississippi, 1941

The first time she leaves home is with a man.
On Highway 49, heading north, she watches
the pine woods role by, and counts on one hand
dead possum along the road, crows in splotches
of light -- she knows to watch the signs for luck.
He has a fine car, she thinks. And money green
enough to buy a dream
-- more than she could tuck
under the mattress, in a Bible, or fold between
her powdered breasts. He'd promised land to farm
back home, new dresses, a house where she'd be
queen. (Was that gap in his teeth cause for alarm?)
The cards said go. She could roam the Delta, see
things she'd never seen. Outside her window,
nothing but cotton and road signs -- stop or slow.


--Natasha Trethewey, Monument (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018)

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

The Blessing: A Memoir by Gregory Orr
I feel blessed having read Geoffrey Orr's memoir The Blessing. I was captivated by his opening confession that he feels blessed by a family tragedy. He avoids the usual cliches by not mythologizing the death of his brother and his struggle to regain his place in the world. The book lacks the "look at me" quality of many "overcoming adversity" memoirs and instead steps readers through the scenes building to and following the loss. His "big reveal" of how writing saved him is more of a soft landing on the far side of disaster. It carries the scars of the tragedy into a new place that is, obviously, a blessing.

The Blessing: A Memoir by Gregory Orr ($15.00*, Milkweed Editions), recommended by Book No Further, Roanoke, VA.


River of Fire: : My Spiritual Journey by Sister Helen Prejean
Sr. Helen Prejean's memoir of her spiritual life prior to Dead Man Walking has an engaging conversational tone which makes her journey accessible and interesting--particularly to those interested in the intersection of faith and social justice. Of special interest to Catholics will be the chapters on Vatican II and how the changes affected the life of nuns in convents, but this is highly recommended to people of all faith traditions.

River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey by Sister Helen Prejean ($27.00*, Random House), recommended by Wordsworth Books, Little Rock, AR.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
Odd—in the best way—and appealing, Drive Your Plow is equal parts mystery and environmental anthem. The novel’s protagonist is an older woman—bridge architect, English teacher, and translator of William Blake—whose love of animals and devotion to astrology lead her to blame the recent murders of hunters in her remote Polish village on the revenge of area wildlife. Olga Tokarczuk gives us a prickly, idiosyncratic character who resists pigeon-holing and slowly garners our sympathy and support, keeping us off balance and propelled toward the story’s resolution.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.


More bookseller recommendations


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News of a literary nature

Conjur Blues"Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina’s state poet laureate, will spend the year talking about the work of essayist, playwright and novelist James Baldwin."

keep reading: A year of reading James Baldwin






Overstory"Summer is a great time to sink into it, Rohn says, because - like a very large tree - it's got a massive circumference and lots of concentric rings. It's an interlocking story spanning more than a century and nine central characters, plus the trees, who are in trouble. "

keep reading: Summer Beach Reads with a Science Twist



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Author 2 Author: Bobbie Pyron








Bobbie PyronConstance Lombardo talks with Bobbie Pyron

Bobbie Pyron’s sixth middle grade novel, Stay, publishes on August 13. An NC resident as of last year, Bobbie is an incredible writer with a strong voice. Dogs are frequently featured in her novels (including Stay.) I once heard Bobbie refer to herself as a dog savant, so…:

CL: Why ‘dog savant,’ and what are the origins of your puppy love?

BP: Ha! I call myself a “dog savant” because I know pretty much every dog breed out there. When I was about nine, my mom bought us a set of World Book encyclopedias, which we could not afford. Being the passionate reader I am, I spent many hours reading and re-reading the section on Dogs in the D volume and studying the illustrations of all the different breeds. Like anything you learn at a young age, it stuck!

CL: Stay has received a starred review from Kirkus, it’s a Junior Library Selection, and an Okra pick. Did you know Stay would be a winner?

BP: You hope, hope, hope all your books will be “winners.” But all you can do as a writer is write what’s in your heart. That being said, it’s a pretty safe bet that a book featuring an adorable dog named Baby is going to get a little attention.

CL: Your move to the South from Utah is a kind of homecoming, right?

BP: Yes, I’m definitely a southern gal—sweet tea, pimento cheese sandwiches, and screened in porches! Utah was very good to me: my professional life as a public librarian really took off there, I made great friends, met my husband there, and wrote all my books there. But it never felt like home, even after 30 years. The minute I came back to western North Carolina, I felt right back home.

"I think kids are interested in the world in a way teens and adults aren’t."

Stay by Bobbie PyronCL: Stay deals with big topics, i.e., homelessness and mental illness. Why is it important to write about meaty issues?

BP: I think kids are interested in the world in a way teens and adults aren’t. If STAY makes just one reader look differently at someone living on the streets, or maybe the kid in their class who lives in a shelter, I’ll be very happy. I also want kids who live in shelters with their family, or whose life is touched by mental illness, to feel less alone when they read STAY.

CL: Stay switches POV between 12 year old Piper and a dog named Baby. Why did you choose to write Baby’s chapters in free verse?

BP: It seemed to me that dogs probably think this way: spare, yet with a lot of emotion and sensory detail too. And of course, in the present tense. Once I got going on it, it just worked!

CL: Your dog, Sherlock, became a Facebook sensation when he became separated from you during a hike and went missing for seven days. Was Sherlock inspired by your book A Dog’s Way Home?

BP: LOL, I think Sherlock was “inspired” to go off on his own in the woods by some intriguing scent! But yes, the irony was not lost on me that my life was imitating my art. My book A DOG’S WAY HOME, is about a Shetland sheepdog (sheltie) who gets separated from his family on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and has many harrowing adventures finding his way home. Like Tam in A DOG’S WAY HOME, Sherlock did make it home, thanks to the kindness of strangers.

CL: Why write for kids?

BP: When kids love a book, they love it passionately. They will write you long emails (and actual letters decorated with glitter) telling you exactly why they loved your book and the characters. And really, don’t you find that the books you remember best are the ones you read between the age of, like, eight and twelve?

Bobbie Pryon has worked in libraries and bookstores in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah and has been active in local animal rescue work for many years. She’s the author of A Pup Called Trouble, A Dog’s Way Home, and Stay. Bobbie lives in Ashville, NC, with her husband, Todd, and their dog, Sherlock.

Constance Lombardo is an author, illustrator, and cat expert who can say meow in several languages. She is the creator of a middle grade series, Mr. Puffball, about a clever group of Hollywood cats. Stick Dog creator Tom Watson called Mr. Puffball “freaky, furry, and first-rate fun!” When she isn’t drawing or writing, Constance likes to visit the many waterfalls in Western North Carolina or rummage through Asheville’s local indie bookstores. Plus, she likes carrot cake. Visit her at


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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.


""Everyone loves a good story, especially one with a dog in it" says Piper Trudeau's mom to her as Piper steps on stage at school to share the story of Jewel, a homeless woman, her dog, Baby, and their incredibly difficult situation. Bobbie Pyron, author of A Dog's Way Home and A Pup Called Trouble, brings a captivating story of hope, determination and just plain compassion that is just perfect for animal loving middle schoolers. " —Angie Talley, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Stay by Bobbie PyronFans of Pax and A Dog’s Way Home will love this heartwarming story of a girl living in a shelter and the homeless dog she’s determined to reunite with his family.

Piper’s life is turned upside down when her family moves into a shelter in a whole new city. She misses her house, her friends, and her privacy—and she hates being labeled the homeless girl at her new school.

But while Hope House offers her new challenges, it also brings new friendships, like the girls in Firefly Girls Troop 423 and a sweet street dog named Baby. So when Baby’s person goes missing, Piper knows she has to help. But helping means finding the courage to trust herself and her new friends, no matter what anyone says about them—before Baby gets taken away for good.

Told in alternating perspectives, this classic and heartfelt animal tale proclaims the importance of hope, the power of story, and the true meaning of home.

Katherine Tegen Books | 9780062839220 | 8/13/2019


Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations by Kelly Starling Lyons, Keith Mallett (Illustrator)Just in time for the 120th anniversary of the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing," this stirring book celebrates the Black National Anthem and how it inspired five generations of a family.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us.

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.

In 1900, in Jacksonville, Florida, two brothers, one of them the principal of a segregated, all-black school, wrote the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing" so his students could sing it for a tribute to Abraham Lincoln's birthday. From that moment on, the song has provided inspiration and solace for generations of Black families. Mothers and fathers passed it on to their children who sang it to their children and grandchildren. It has been sung during major moments of the Civil Rights Movement and at family gatherings and college graduations.

Inspired by this song's enduring significance, Kelly Starling Lyons and Keith Mallett tell a story about the generations of families who gained hope and strength from the song's inspiring words.

Nancy Paulsen Books | 9780525516095 | 8/6/2019


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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending August 11. 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. The Nickel Boys
Colson Whitehead, Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385537070
3. Chances Are . . .
Richard Russo, Knopf, $26.95, 9781101947746
4. City of Girls
Elizabeth Gilbert, Riverhead Books, $28, 9781594634734
5. The Turn of the Key
Ruth Ware, Gallery/Scout Press, $27.99, 9781501188770

1. Educated
Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504
2. Three Women
Lisa Taddeo, Avid Reader Press/S&S, $27, 9781451642292
3. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion
Jia Tolentino, Random House, $27, 9780525510543
4. The Four Sacred Secrets: For Love and Prosperity, A Guide to Living in a Beautiful State
Preethaji, Krishnaji, Atria, $26, 9781501173776
5. The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations
Toni Morrison, Knopf, $28.95, 9780525521037
Special to the Southern List

The Inn James Patterson, Little Brown, $28,Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others Barbara Brown Taylor, HarperOne, $25.99,The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood, Anchor, $15.95,Gather at the River: Twenty-Five Authors on Fishing David Joy (Ed.), Hub City Press, $16.95,The Day the World Came to Town Jim DeFede, Morrow, $16.99,How to Read Literature Like a Professor Thomas C. Foster, Harper Perennial, $16.99,

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

Ayse Papatya Bucak  (author appearance)
Ayse Papatya Bucak | 08/21/2019, 08:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Dr. Jaimela Dulaney  (author appearance)
Jaimela Dulaney | 08/21/2019, 06:00 pm | Copperfish Books | Punta Gorda, FL

Eugen Bacon Launches Claiming T-Mo  (author appearance)
Eugen Bacon | 08/21/2019, 07:30 pm | Charis Books and More | Decatur, GA

Margerita Jurkovic with MARGERITA'S GRIDIRON ADVENTURE  (author appearance)
Margerita Jurkovic | 08/21/2019, 05:30 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Minrose Gwin discusses her new historical family saga The Accidentals  (author appearance)
Minrose Gwin | 08/21/2019, 07:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC

Timothy Faust presents Health Justice Now: Single Payer and What Comes Next  (author appearance)
Timothy Faust | 08/21/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Mary Flinn presents Lumina  (author appearance)
Mary Flinn | 08/21/2019, 07:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Mat Best - Thank You for My Service  (author appearance)
Mat Best | 08/21/2019, 01:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Karl Marlantes - Deep River--in conversation w/ Wiley Cash  (author appearance)
Karl Marlantes | 08/21/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Book Launch, Reading & Signing • Wendy Rawlings  (author appearance)
Wendy Rawlings | 08/22/2019, 04:30 pm | Ernest & Hadley Booksellers | Tuscaloosa, AL

Richard Gergel, Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring  (author appearance)
Richard Gergel | 08/22/2019, 07:30 am | Atlanta History Center | Atlanta, GA

Cooking Demonstration with Reality Star Miss Quad  (author appearance)
Quad Webb | 08/22/2019, 07:00 pm | Eagle Eye Book Shop | Decatur, GA

Margaret McMullan - Where The Angels Lived Book Signing  (author appearance)
Margaret McMullan | 08/22/2019, 06:00 pm | Garden District Book Shop | New Orleans, LA

Melody Golding signs Life Between The Levees  (author appearance)
Melody Golding | 08/22/2019, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Eugen Bacon presents Claiming T-Mo, in conversation with Alexandra Duncan  (author appearance)
Eugen Bacon | 08/22/2019, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC

Tupelo Hassman - gods with a little g  (author appearance)
Tupelo Hassman | 08/22/2019, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

Lovejoy Boteler with Crooked Snake: The Life and Crimes of Albert Lepard   (author appearance)
Lovejoy Boteler | 08/22/2019, 06:00 pm | novel. | Memphis, TN

Howard Owen  (author appearance)
Howard Owen | 08/22/2019, 06:30 pm | Fountain Bookstore | Richmond, VA

Anna Fariello’s Folk Book on the John C. Campbell Folk School  (author appearance)
Anna Fariello | 08/23/2019, 06:30 pm | City Lights Bookstore | Sylva, NC

Leah Jordan Meahl Launch Party & Talk   (author appearance)
Leah Jordan | 08/23/2019, 06:00 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Lisa Howorth Author of Summerlings  (author appearance)
Lisa Howorth | 08/23/2019, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC

Yaniv Cohen  (author appearance)
Yaniv Cohen | 08/24/2019, 07:00 pm | Books & Books, Inc. | Coral Gables, FL

Ray Dan Parker Signs Fly Away: The Metamorphosis of Dina Savage  (author appearance)
Ray Dan Parker | 08/24/2019, 11:00 am | Sundog Books | Santa Rosa Beach, FL

Willie Moseley - Atlanta Rhythm Section: The Authorized History  (author appearance)
Willie Moseley | 08/24/2019, 06:00 pm | A Cappella Books | Atlanta, GA

Mountains Piled Upon Mountains Anthology  (author appearance)
Jessica Cory | 08/24/2019, 03:00 pm | City Lights Bookstore | Sylva, NC

Book Signing with Vernon Glenn  (author appearance)
Vernon Glenn | 08/24/2019, 10:30 am | Main Street Books | Davidson, NC

Latifahia Brown presents Vision Journal  (author appearance)
Latifahia Brown | 08/24/2019, 11:00 am | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

David Burnsworth presents Caught Up in It  (author appearance)
David Burnsworth | 08/24/2019, 02:00 pm | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Jonathan D. Voss - Imagine That: A Hoot & Olive Story  (author appearance)
Jonathan D. Voss | 08/24/2019, 02:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC

YA author event with Erin A. Craig, author of House of Salt and Sorrows  (author appearance)
Erin A. Craig | 08/24/2019, 02:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Book Signing - The Lies Beneath by Ann Eichenmuller  (author appearance)
Ann Eichenmuller | 08/24/2019, 11:00 am | Sundial Books | Chicoteague Island, VA

Authors Round the South |
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