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Lady Banks Pick of the Week

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March 30, 2020

Reader, meet writer Grady Hendrix.
In which two women learn how to be fine after binge-reading 50 self-help books, the Spring Okra Picks are announced, along with a virtual author event series Reader Meet Writer, Okra Pick, and a woman faces herself in the mirror and contemplates death by book club.
Dearest Readers
lady banks roses

The Spring Okra Picks--the seasonal list of upcoming great Southern books selected by Southern indie booksellers -- was announced on April 1st, although the news was rather buried by other things. Thirteen fantastic new books, all coming out sometime between April and June, ready to make all those enforced hours at home pass quickly by.

One of the casualties of this new shelter-in-place existence has been the author tour, that chance for readers to meet, or at least listen to a writer in person talk about the book in their hands and how it came to be.

Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying VampiresAll the authors on the Spring Okra list had scheduled appearances at bookstores throughout the south, all of which have been canceled. So bookstores, in partnership with the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) have created a kind of virtual, and appropriately socially distant author event series called Reader Meet Writer.

Reader Meet Writer, Okra Pick will feature events with Grady Hendrix, Stephen Wright, Lee Smith, Kristy Woodson Harvey, Caroline B. Cooney, Carter Sickels, and Yaffa S. Santos.

The first event is April 7th at 3 pm with Grady Hendrix, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires. It is sure to be hilarious and fun.

To attend, you can contact one of the nearly 50 participating bookstores who partnered to bring Grady in front of his devoted readers:


Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers, Auburn
Ernest & Hadley Booksellers, Tuscaloosa
The Haunted Book Shop, Mobile
Page & Palette, Fairhope
The Snail on the Wall, Huntsville


Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda
Midtown Reader, Tallahassee
Mojo Books & Records, Tampa
Writers Block Bookstore, Winter Park


Bookmiser, Marietta
Charis Books & More, Decatur
E. Shaver, Bookseller, Savannah
Eagle Eye Book Shop, Decatur
Horton's Books, Carrollton
Read It Again, Suwanee
The Book House, Mableton
The Book Worm Bookstore, Powder Springs
The Bookshelf, Thomasville


Garden District Book Shop, New Orleans
Octavia Books, New Orleans
Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop, New Orleans


Lemuria Book Store, Jackson
Pass Books, Pass Christian
Square Books, Oxford

North Carolina

Adventure Bound Books, LLC, Morganton
Bookmarks, Winston-Salem
The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines
Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville
Page 158 Books, Wake Forest
Sassafras On Sutton, Black Mountain
South Main Book Company, Salisbury
Sugar Island, Surf City
Sunrise Books, High Point
Two Sisters Bookery, Wilmington

South Carolina

Buxton Books, Charleston
Fiction Addiction, Greenville
Hub City Books, Spartanburg
Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island
M. Judson, Booksellers and Storytellers, Greenville
Main Street Reads, Summerville
My Sister's Books, Pawleys Island
Turning Page Bookshop, Goose Creek


Novel., Memphis
Union Avenue Books, Knoxville


Books Bound2plz, Orange
Fountain Bookstore, Richmond
Prince Books, Norfolk
Read Books, Virginia Beach

Read independently, and shop local.

her ladyship, the editor

Lady Banks Pick of the Week

Lady Banks Commonplace Book

Lady Banks Commonplace Book

Excerpted noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Quirk Books, April, 2020
Buy it here

In 1988, George H. W. Bush had just won the presidential election by inviting everyone to read his lips while Michael Dukakis lost it by riding in a tank. Dr. Huxtable was America’s dad, Kate & Allie were America’s moms, The Golden Girls were America’s grandmoms, McDonald’s announced it was opening its first restaurant in the Soviet Union, everyone bought Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time and didn’t read it, Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway,
and Patricia Campbell got ready to die.

She sprayed her hair, put on her earrings, and blotted her lipstick, but when she looked at herself in the mirror she didn’t see a housewife of thirty-nine with two children and a bright future, she saw a dead person. Unless war broke out, the oceans rose, or the earth fell into the sun, tonight was the monthly meeting of the Literary Guild of Mt. Pleasant, and she hadn’t read this month’s book. And she was the discussant. Which meant that in less than ninety minutes she would stand up in front of a room full of women and lead them in a conversation about a book she hadn’t read.

Read This!

Reviewed by Booksellers

Books with Street Cred, Reviewed by Southern Booksellers

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor
Reviewed by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

Night Vale fans rejoice! Here is the latest offering from the talented offbeat minds of Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink – creators of the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale. I don’t want to give anything away because that would spoil your enjoyment of this book. However, I will say this much: If you are already listening to Welcome to Night Vale, get this book. If you aren’t already listening, you need to start listening!! While being a fan definitely helps, it is not ultimately a bar to reading and enjoying this book. It might even get you to start listening!

How to Be Fine: What We Learned from Living by the Rules of 50 Self-Help Books by Jolenta Greenberg, Kristen Meinzer 
Reviewed by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC

How to Be Fine is self-help book guide to reading self-help books. But also just a self-help book for the modern world. Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer have done the heavy lifting of reading and living by popular self-help books and then distilled them down into what worked, what didn't, and what they wished would be addressed more. Readers can use this as a stand alone self-help or a guide to finding more, but anyone with a desire to better themselves will be served by giving this a read. The authors frequently emphasize that "Only you are an expert in you," and that is a message we can all stand to hear more often.

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
Reviewed by Bookmiser, Roswell, GA

Laurie has been with her partner for 18 years. He's been her first and only and she's still just as much in love with him now. So she's shocked one evening when he gets home and he tells her that he doesn't want to have kids and he feels trapped. He wants to break up. Laurie is heartbroken and since they work together, she has to see him all the time. It gets worse when he immediately starts dating someone else. And then his new girlfriend is pregnant. Laurie is destroyed, but when she gets trapped in an elevator with Jaime, the office Lothario. They soon concoct a fake romance. She makes her ex jealous and he shows he's more serious to his bosses so he can hopefully snag a promotion. This is a fun romance. Laurie and Jaime are hilarious and fun together. This my first read from this author, but I hope to read many more now!

The Okra Picks

Okra Picks

Great new Southern books, picked by Southern booksellers.

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Quirk Books, April, 2020

"It's your typical southern suburbia of the 90s, complete with a middle aged women's book club. What could be more normal? Grady Hendrix's new book is a delightful mash up of "The Burbs" and "Fright Night". A nice, good looking, single man moves into his aunt's house after she mysteriously dies. This in itself is enough to create gossip in Patricia's neighborhood. But more and more strange things are happening -- black children are killing themselves, Patricia's ear is bitten off by her elderly neighbor, and her mother-in-law is attacked by a swarm of rats inside Patricia's home. Something sinister is lurking under the surface of this story. Who better to uncover it than Patricia and her book club full of middle age women who read true crime? What I love about this book is its deeper themes that readers can easily identify with today, making this 90s set novel feel very contemporary. Why are black children disappearing from the "other" side of town and no one is doing anything about it? Why can't the women in this neighborhood have the freedom to do and say things freely without hiding from their husbands? This is an utterly compulsive read. I loved every minute." Jamie Rogers Southern, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC

I flew through this book! It was a great depiction of Southern housewives in the 90's. The mixture of quirkiness, horror, and Hendrix's unique take on vampires made it hard to put down."
~ Amanda Bradley, Blytheville Book Company, Blytheville, AR

Steel Magnolias meets Dracula in this '90s-set horror novel about a women's book club that must do battle with a mysterious newcomer to their small Southern town, perfect for murderinos and fans of Stephen King.

Patricia Campbell's life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she's always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they're as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor's handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn't felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in.

Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia's life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won't surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.

More Okra Picks

The Southern Independent Bestseller List

southern bestseller list

For the week ending March 29, 2020


1. The Mirror & the Light Hilary Mantel, Holt, $30, 9780805096606
2. The Glass Hotel Emily St.John Mandel, Knopf, $26.95, 9780525521143
3. The Night Watchman Louise Erdrich, Harper, $28.99, 9780062671189
4. The Dutch House Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062963673
5. The City We Became N.K. Jemisin, Orbit, $28, 9780316509848


1. The Splendid and the Vile Erik Larson, Crown, $32, 9780385348713
2. Untamed Glennon Doyle, The Dial Press, $28, 9781984801258
3. Educated Tara Westover, Random House, $28, 9780399590504
4. Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown Anne Glenconner, Hachette Books, $28, 9780306846366
5. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone Lori Gottlieb, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328662057

See what's special to the Southern List!

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Lady Banks is sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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