Lady Banks' Commonplace Book is a blog for people interested in Southern literature, sponsored by booksellers who are members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) and featuring the latest literary news and events around the South from Her Ladyship, the Editor.

 

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

The Magnetic Girl I had been a town girl once, when Daddy clerked at the hardware store. Momma and Daddy and I lived upstairs. Leo hadn't been born. What I remember is that inside our home, the curtains fluttered in a breeze that I tried to catch in my hand, and when I walked on the sidewalk with Momma the sun made the world too bright at the edges and hard to see. The fresh-cut pine smell from the boards in the sidewalk made me want to inhale all the air all at once.

I taught myself to read before I turned four, pronouncing words from the sides of grain sacks and the labels on medicine bottles at the store. Saying the black and gold lettering's alchemy aloud, I practiced my words. "Hoofland's Bitters for the Liver," I said. "We sell everything from horse shoes to hats." For the longest time I believed the store only sold objects that started with the letter "H."

A few months before God brought Leo, we packed up and moved to a big white house and acreage outside town, where Daddy said a man could be himself and not feel like other people and their avarice--he spit the word in a way that frightened me--shadowed him at every turn.

--Jessica Handler, The Magnetic Girl, (Hub City Press, 2019) 9781938235481

Little Free LibraryThe other morning as her ladyship, the editor, was strolling down to retrieve her morning paper, she happened to meet one her neighbors coming up the driveway. "I wanted to tell you," she said, "how much I love your little library down there. I stop by almost every day on my morning walk. I'm reading more books than I ever have because of it."

It's hard to imagine a more gratifying way to begin a day. Her ladyship's Little Free Library has been up for seven years now. Its red, white and blue paint has weathered and faded. It's wooden roof had to be covered with tin, and the original glass in its latched door has been replaced once. It has withstood yearly hurricanes and storms, not to mention the doubtful navigating talents of neighbors attempting to pull in and park their boat trailers along the side of the road and the, well, let's say "overly enthusiastic" driving of electric golf carts on any given holiday.

Nevertheless, it has become a fixture in the neighborhood, with patrons adding books as often as they take them. Her ladyship, who used to restock its shelves several times a week in the beginning, now finds herself looking at what has been added as often as she adds books to its shelves herself.

Occasionally she gets specific requests, which she does her best to honor. Such as the child who left a letter in the library asking for books about magical ducks. This particular morning, her neighbor had started up towards the house to ask her ladyship for more "Amish books." "I like to read about the Amish," she said while her ladyship dug through her pockets for a pen and piece of paper. "I like inspirational fiction. You know...not trash." Her ladyship promised to watch for non-trashy Amish novels, and in return got a few recommendations:

The Healing Quilt The Patient One The Wish The Amish Spinster's Courtship The Tinderbox

Independent Bookstore Day  

Saturday, April 27 is Independent Bookstore Day--a national day of recognition of the importance of locally-owned, neighborhood bookshops. Bookstores across the country are hosting special events (aka "parties"), sales of books and gifts, and a gamut of creative (and sometimes crazy) other things as part of their celebrations.

They'll have exclusive and collective stuff (her ladyship has a thing for the tea towels). They will be offering special pricing and sometimes even free copies of books and audio books. They'll be handing out cookies and dressing up their local authors in store staff t-shirts.

There are something like 70 different events listed for Independent Bookstore Day on the Calendar of Events below. Dozens of author readings. A near-universal listing of story times, not to mention the open mics, writers' workshops, raffles, door prizes and drawings, and...

...just to cite a few of the 70+ events on the list. Note that if you are planning to hit up the Horton's Books donut hour (who could blame you) you might want to get there early.

The books you see on the the bookstore shelves may have just been published, but the booksellers who put them there probably read them months ago. Read, reviewed, and talked about with their bookseller friends and colleagues. Below are some of the books coming out next month they are really looking forward to. You won't find them on the shelves just yet, but pre-orders are always welcome.

Furious Hours Furious Hours 5/7/2019
"Rarely has a non-fiction book kept me awake with its beautiful prose and compelling perspective. Furious Hours interweaves 3 equally compelling stories - that of a murderer, of his lawyer, and of the novelist who investigated them - with deftness and empathy. Casey Cep's curiosity is so contagious that I found myself caring deeply about the history of dams and insurance! Un-put-down-able."
-- Lucy Stoltz, The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA

Flight PortfolioThe Flight Portfolio 5/7/2019
"For sheer page-turning readability, The Flight Portfolio's on point. My husband and I took turns reading the massive arc, our bookmarks in a mad race to the finish. Orringer did a terrific job: based on a lot of truth, this is a story that deserves to be remembered. It's hard to tell the facts from the fiction which, I don't know about you, but I like that in a novel. Cinematic writing: watch for the movie..."
-- Erica Eisdorfer, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

Shouting at the RainShouting at the Rain 5/7/2019
"Its the first day of Summer and Delsie is over the moon about her best off-island friend Brandy is returning to the Cape. But the winds of change are blowing and things just seem different this season as Brandy would rather have mani-pedis than build mermaid house, and the gap between townies and tourists grows wider, Delsie becomes more aware of just who and what is truly important. Hunt, author of Fish in a tree has written the book that is perfect summer reading for that 12-14 year dealing with changing friendships."
-- Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC

Pie in the SkyPie in the Sky 5/14/2019
"If books came in cake form (and WHY NOT, I ask?), PIE IN THE SKY would be the apple mille-feuille of the bunch. Lai masterfully mixes a story of grief, familial love/discord, and feeling alienated that will have readers both biting their nails and loudly guffawing. Jingwen helps us remember that growing up means forgiving yourself and others--even if letting go is the one thing you don't want to do. A delicious confection that will be devoured by fans of Raina Telgemeier, Vera Brosgol, and Shaun Tan."
-- Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA

GlitchGlitch 5/14/2019
"A great take on the trend of characters entering video games! I loved this middle grade graphic novel -- Sarah Graley's writing is hilarious, and it was a fun romp through the pixel world of Dungeon City. I also love that it's two girls playing video games, which isn't featured enough in books like this. Definitely something we'll have on our shelves. "
-- Amber Brown, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC

Odd Leaves from the Life of a Louisiana Swamp DoctorExcerpted noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.

The old lady was a shrewd, active dame, kindhearted and long-tongued, benevolent and impartial, making her coffee as strong for the poor pedestrian with his all upon his back as the broadcloth sojourner with his "up-country pacer." She was a member of the church, as well as the daughter of a man who had once owned a race horse; and these circumstances gave her an indisputable right, she thought, to "let on all she knew" when religion or horseflesh was the theme. At one moment she would be heard discussing whether the new "circus rider" (as she always called him) was as affecting in Timothy as the old one was pathetic in Paul, and anon (not anonymous, for the old lady did everything above board, except rubbing her corns at supper) protecting dad's horse from the invidious comparisons of some visitor who having heard, perhaps, that such horses as Fashion and Boston existed, thought himself qualified to doubt the old lady's assertion that her father's horse "Shumach" had run a mile on one particular occasion. "Don't tell me," was her never failing replay to their doubts, "Don't tell me 'bout Fashun or Bosting or any other beating 'Shumach' a fair race, for the thing was unfeasible: didn't he run a mile a minute by Squire Dim's watch, which always stopt 'zactly at twelve, and didn't he start a minute afore and git out, jes as the long hand war givin' its last quiver on ketchin' the short leg of the watch?" 

--Henry Clay Lewis, in Odd Leaves from the Life of a Louisiana Swamp Doctor, edited by Edwin T. Arnold (Louisiana State University Press, 1997) 9780807121672