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{I'm a sucker for a little bookstore.}

In which her ladyship, the editor, bakes cookies, Ms. Ann Patchett talks bookstores, Ms. Dot Jackson no longer has to worry about the dust under her refrigerator, and Mr. Tom Poland rides a mule, no saddle.

December 11, 2016


In This Issue

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book | Read This! | The List | Okra Picks | Trailer Park | Holiday Gift Guide | A New Heroine for Young Adult Fantasy | Event Calendar | Southern Indie Bestsellers


Dearest Readers

What is it about this time of year that makes one want to break out the cookbooks? Her ladyship, the editor, is not much of a person for sweets -- she prefers spice to sugar. But somehow, the moment the evening temperatures drop and she wakes to a glittery frost on the drooping fall leaves, her ladyship can suddenly think of nothing but cookies. And pie.  She orders milk and bittersweet chocolate in 2 pound bars. Buys sugar in ten pound sacks. And unsalted butter by the armful. And then she dutifully spends the the rest of the season making all the cookies she remembers her own mother baking at Christmas time: Pfeffernusse , Mexican Wedding Cakes, Date Pinwheels, orange- and anise-scented pizzelle. Here are the cookbooks that stay stacked open on her ladyship's kitchen counter between Thanksgiving and New Years:

Maida Heatter's Cookies King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion Rose's Christmas Cookies Italian Baker Wooden Spoon Dessert Book Cocolat

That last is because the season deserves a truly amazing cookbook devoted to chocolate.

Read Independently. And shop local!

her ladyship, the editor

Lady Banks' Pick of the Week

Georgialina"I rode a mule on Granddad’s farm. I rode it a lot, no saddle. My reward for riding that mule sans saddle was pain." 

The unremembered beast of burden


Lady Banks' Commonplace Book

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

Lowcountry ChristmasWith every step, I heard a crunch in the thick forest floor of leaves. The air was crisp and laden with the musky scent of autumn. In South Carolina the winters come slow. Not till December do the icy winds and frosts hit us, unlike in Chicago where my uncle lives. There are already inches of snow on the ground. Or even in the mountains of North Carolina, where the roads are already slick with ice. People from off always yammer on about how the seasons never change here. They're used to looking up into the trees to see the colors go from green to yellow, orange, then red. They just don't know where to look when they're in our neck of the woods. Mama says that the most magical changes of season occur in the wetlands, where the grass turns gold in the fall, then brown in the winter, then come spring you see the bright green stalks peeking out at the base of all the brown grass, until summer, when the vast expanse is a wonder of waving green dotted with white egrets. We look up and see the migrating birds that stream along our coast on their long journey south in the winter, then back north in the spring. Every fall Mama and I get our binoculars and make a list of all the migrating birds we spot. Yes, sir, here along the coast the change of seasons is a living, breathing miracle.

-- Mary Alice Monroe, A Lowcountry Christmas (Gallery Books, 2016)  

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Refuge"May you have dust under your refrigerator, sir!" 

Carolina columnist and novelist Dot Jackson has died


Read This!

Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers

Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone

Caleb loves Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone: Gladstone's Craft Sequence is the most finely-crafted Urban Fantasy I've seen in years. When money is your soul and corporations are gods and all-powerful skeleton men, who looks our for the little guys? (Magical necromancer lawyers.)

Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone (Tor Books, $27.99), recommended by Caleb at Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.



The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

The story is built around a family road-trip full of comic moments, but these aren’t the Griswolds, and they’re not headed to Walley World. Every member of the Wang family is fighting to hang onto his or her own very specific American dream as they journey from California to New York after the loss of the family fortune. Jade Chang’s voice is fresh, her take on the immigrant narrative is new, but her themes are timeless. A really fun read.

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang (Houghton Mifflin, $26), recommended by Mary Laura at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

Few of us know what to do when someone has lost a loved one, and when it's a child who has lost a sibling or parent or grandparent, the task is exponentially more difficult. I was searching for a book for a child whose mother had died and discovered the exquisite gem, The Fox and the Star, with arts and crafts style drawings by award-winning illustrator, Coralie Bickford-Smith. It is the story of Fox, who is guided through life by his Star until one day Star disappears. First he hides and grieves, and then he decides to go and find his Star. In the face of grief, we are all haunted stragglers, but this book will bring solace and hope to the child in all of us.

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith (Penguin, $20), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

At one point while reading this book, I yelled out loud: “Don’t do it!” (I can’t tell you when or why — that would spoil it.) A haunting story about a disappearance, it’s also a portrait of a family — and one of my favorite releases of this fall.

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin Books, $26.95), recommended by Mary Laura at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.



The North Water by Ian McGuire

Dark, brutal, and atmospheric, The North Water is the story of an ill-fated whaling ship, peopled with men of dark conscience or no conscience. Reminiscent of The Revenant in its stark story of survival and revenge against all odds, this book is chock full of men being men, doing manly things and occasionally murdering each other. A rip roaring tale of viscera and ice.

The North Water by Ian McGuire (Henry Holt & Company, $27), recommended by Steve at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.



More bookseller recommendations

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Two by Two“At last, a man gets it. You practically have to hit one over the head before he does."

Nicholas Sparks probes single fatherhood

The List: Great YA fiction from Lemuria Books, Jackson, Mississippi


The Sun is Also a Star The Serpent Kings Salt to the Sea Still Life With Tornado Christmas Days Another Brooklyn Replica The Weight of Zero The Movie Version

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"I believe a forced feeding of too much Faulkner might be the way to go" 

The Statue and the Fury


Okra Picks: Love, Alice

Virgin and Other Stories by April Ayers Lawson

One of New York Magazine's "45 New Books to Read This Fall" | One of The Millions' "Most Anticipated" for the second half of 2016 | One of The Huffington Post's "20 New Books You'll Need For Your Shelf in Fall 2016" |One of The Boston Globe's "most anticipated" for Fall 2016

Set in the American South, at the crossroads of a world that is both secular and devoutly Christian, April Ayers Lawson’s stories mine the inner lives of young women and men navigating sexual, emotional, and spiritual awakenings. In the title story, Jake grapples with the growing chasm between him and his wife, Sheila, who was a virgin when they wed. In “Three Friends in a Hammock” the tension and attraction is palpable between three sexy, insecure young women as they tug and toe the rope of their shared sack. “The Way You Must Play Always” invites us into the mind of Gretchen, young-looking even for thirteen, as she attends her weekly piano lesson, anxiously anticipating her illicit meeting with Wesley, her instructor’s adult brother who is recovering from a brain tumor. Conner, the cynical sixteen-year-old narrator of “The Negative Effects of Homeschooling,” escorts his mink-wearing mother to the funeral of her best friend, Charlene, a woman who was once a man. And in “Vulnerability” we accompany a young married painter to New York City, lured there by an art dealer and one of his artists. Both are self-involved and have questionable intentions, but nevertheless she is enticed.

Nodding to the Southern Gothic but channeling an energy all its own, Virgin and Other Stories is a mesmerizing debut from an uncannily gifted young writer. With self-assurance and sensuality, April Ayers Lawson unravels the intertwining imperatives of intimacy―sex and love, violation and trust, spirituality and desire―eyeing, unblinkingly, what happens when we succumb to temptation.


Okra Picks

Lady Banks {Book} Trailer Park: Truevine


"Somehow it came to Harriet Mews, an illiterate maid, she later told family and friends that it came to her in a dream, that her long lost sons were with the circus."

The true story of two African-American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks, and whose mother endured a 28-year struggle to get them back. The year was 1899 and the place a sweltering tobacco farm in the Jim Crow South town of Truevine, Virginia. George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day a white man offered them a piece of candy, setting off events that would take them around the world and change their lives forever. Captured into the circus, the Muse brothers performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace and headlined over a dozen sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. They were global superstars in a pre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even "Ambassadors from Mars." Back home, their mother never accepted that they were "gone" and spent 28 years trying to get them back. Through hundreds of interviews and decades of research, Beth Macy expertly explores a central and difficult question: Where were the brothers better off? On the world stage as stars or in poverty at home? TRUEVINE is a compelling narrative rich in historical detail and rife with implications to race relations today.


Commonwealth"I'm a sucker for a little bookstore" 

Ann Patchett's guide for Bookstore Lovers

The Holiday Gift Guide, Biographies & Memoirs

Holiday Gift Guide

At the end of the year her ladyship posts a holiday gift guide of books to be found in the gift catalogs of Southern indie bookstores. You can find the full guide here. Or ask for a catalog from your local bookshop.

Love and Relationships

If you are shopping this season for somebody that enjoys reading true stories about relationships, you should consider these two books featured in the Holiday Catalog: First, is a story about recovering after things go wrong in your marriage. Glennon Doyle Melton, bestselling author of Carry on Warrior, thought she was on top of the world. She had just established an incredible career as an author, with 3 beautiful children and a doting husband. And then her world shattered when her husband confessed to being unfaithful. In Love Warrior Melton tells the story of how healing can be possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on.
On a lighter note, When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins is a laugh-out-loud funny and surprising memoir about the lengths we go to for love. When Collins is in her 30s she falls in love with a Frenchman who she eventually marries. Their entire relationship has been in English and she’s always wondered if she is missing out on knowing part of her husband by not knowing his native tongue. This story is about her learning French while living abroad. This is sure to be a hit with anyone who loves a good laugh.


If you are shopping for any non-fiction fans this year who also happen to be foodies, you should check out Miss Ella of Commander's Palace by Ella Brennan or Generation Chef: Risking It All for a New American Dream by Karen Stabiner.  In Miss Ella of Commander’s Palace Brennan shares her life starting from her childhood in the Great Depression to opening esteemed eateries. She candidly describes the drama, the disasters, and the abundance of love, sweat, and grit it takes to become the matriarch of New Orleans’ finest restaurant empire.
In Generation Chef journalist and food writer Karen Stabiner takes us inside 24-year-old Jonah Miller’s roller-coaster opening of the Basque restaurant Huertas in New York City. Miller is a rising star who has been named to the 30-Under-30 list of both Forbes and Zagat and a popular sous chef at a very young age. This story is fast-paced narrative filled with suspense giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse at drive and passion in one of today’s hottest professions.


If you’re looking for a fun read for that history buff on your list, we’ve got four great books for you to consider! Indestructible: One Man's Rescue Mission That Changed the Course of WWII by New York Times bestselling author John R. Bruning is a story about a renegade American pilot who fights against all odds to rescue his family. This hit book takes readers from the blistering skies of the Pacific to the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines to one of the war's most notorious prison camps. It’s a page turning adventure of one man's bare-knuckle journey to free the people he loved.
Another great book to consider is The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel. In this elegantly written story you’ll find excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs revealing the hidden history of a group of remarkable women who, through their hard work and groundbreaking discoveries, disproved the commonly held belief that the “gentler sex” had little to contribute to human knowledge. This is the captivating, true story, of a group of women whose remarkable contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed our understanding of the stars and our place in the universe.
The third book you might want to look at is also about to be in a theater near you: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. Set during the height of the civil rights movement we find the untold true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now.


The fourth book you should check out is called Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South by Beth Macy. This story takes us back to 1899 and follows the fascinating true story of two African-American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks, and their mother who endured a 28-year struggle to get them back.

Country Music

If you’re still hunting for the perfect gift for someone who likes to get an inside glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous, we’ve got three great autobiographies for you to put under their tree! Waylon: Tales of My Outlaw Dad, by Terry Jennings with David Thomas, delves into the crazy life of mega-famous country music singer Waylon Jennings. This inside look is written by his son Terry who was directly affected by Waylon's successes--critical acclaim, bestselling albums, sold-out tours, and even TV stardom on The Dukes of Hazzard—and his demons-- three divorces, crippling debt, and depression. Through it all, Terry worked on the touring crew, helped manage Waylon's career, and became one of his father's closest confidantes.
Another great option is River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope by Naomi Judd with Marcia Wilkie. In this autobiography by famous country music singer Naomi Judd, she describes the agonizing toll depression took on her and shares her message of hope after surviving the most painful period in her life. This story follows her life following the successful 2010 and 2011 music tours she made with her daughter Wynonna when she fell into a debilitating and terrifying depression that seemingly came out of nowhere. Naomi truly believed she had every reason to end her life. Facing severe depression, terrorizing panic attacks, PTSD, toxic drug poisoning, and addiction, she spent the next two and a half years in psychiatric hospitals undergoing treatments and searching for answers.
The final book you might want to check out isn’t about one specific famous person but about the lives of many football players in Texas. Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Texas: A Year in the Life of Lone Star Football, from High School to College to the Cowboys by Nicholas Eatman gives us an inside look at Texas football written by a veteran Texas sports writer. This book offers us a lively, up-close look at football in arguably the most serious football state in the country. Combining the power of Friday Night Lights and the inspiring insight of Remember the Titans, this read offers a fresh perspective on this beloved sport, and is a must for football fans.


Winner of the National Book Award and the author of numerous highly praised works of fiction and nonfiction, Ellen Gilchrist brings us Things like the Truth: Out of My Later Years, a collection of nonfiction essays. Gilchrist is a daughter, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother who takes delight in her large, wonderful family. In her collection of short stories, you’ll find a mixture of topics from family, home, work, aging, and the fun of fighting to stay healthy in an increasingly undisciplined culture.

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Southern Indie Bestsellers

For the week ending December 4. Books on the Southern Indie Bestseller List that are southern in nature or have been recently recommended by southern indie booksellers.

- The Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize | Okra Pick! - A SIBA Okra Pick 
See the full list here
Printable versions: Hardcover | Paperback | Children.


1. The Whistler
John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385541190
2. Moonglow
Michael Chabon, Harper, $28.99, 9780062225559
3. The Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead, Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385542364
4. The Whole Town's Talking
Fannie Flagg, Random House, $28, 9781400065950
5. Night School
Lee Child, Delacorte, $28.99, 9780804178808


1. Hillbilly Elegy
J.D. Vance, Harper, $27.99, 9780062300546
2. Killing the Rising Sun
Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard, Holt, $30, 9781627790628
3. Born a Crime
Trevor Noah, Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9780399588174
4. Thank You for Being Late
Thomas L. Friedman, FSG, $28, 9780374273538
5. Deep Run Roots
Vivian Howard, Little Brown, $40, 9780316381109

Also of note:

15. Two by Two
Nicholas Sparks, Grand Central, $27, 9781455520695
8. A Lowcountry Heart
Pat Conroy, Nan A. Talese, $25, 9780385530866
7. Serafina and the Black Cloak
Robert Beatty, Disney/Hyperion, $7.99, 9781484711873

Special to the Southern List

Click on a book to purchase from a great indie bookstore! See the full Southern Indie Bestseller list and the books that are Special to the Southern List here.

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Events at Southern Indie Bookstores

See the full calendar | Find a Southern Indie Bookstore near you

Meet George Wilgus  (author appearance)
George Wilgus | 12/15/2016, 11:00 am | MacIntosh Books and Paper | Sanibel, FL

Avi Bash  (author appearance)
Avi Bash | 12/15/2016, 07:00 pm | Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore | Delray Beach, FL

Author Event  (author appearance)
Joe Mobley | 12/15/2016, 06:30 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food with Contributing Writers  (author appearance)
Bridgette Lacy | 12/15/2016, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

The Heaven of Animals  (author appearance)
David James Poissant | 12/16/2016, 07:00 pm | Writer's Block Bookstore | Winter Park, FL

The Punany Poets Present: The Secret of the Pearl  (author appearance)
Jessica Holter | 12/16/2016, 07:30 pm | Charis Books & More | Atlanta, GA

A Time Remembered: Ole Miss 1945-1970 by Al Povall  (author appearance)
Al Povall | 12/16/2016, 05:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Conversation with David James Poissant & Paula Whyman  (author appearance)
Paula Whyman | 12/16/2017, 06:00 pm | Writer's Block Bookstore | Winter Park, FL

Harvey J. Lewis - A LEGACY PRESERVED: Contemporary Louisiana Decoy Carvers (Signing)  (author appearance)
Harvey J. | 12/17/2016 | Octavia Books | New Orleans, LA

Richard Grant signing Dispatches from Pluto  (author appearance)
Richard Grant | 12/17/2016, 12:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

John Currence signing Big Bad Breakfast and Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey  (author appearance)
John Currence | 12/17/2016, 12:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

David Crews signing The Mississippi Book of Quotations  (author appearance)
David Crews | 12/17/2016, 02:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Jim Dees signing The Statue and the Fury  (author appearance)
Jim Dees | 12/17/2016, 02:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Donald Davis Storytelling   (author appearance)
Donald Davis | 12/17/2016, 11:00 am | McIntyre's Fine Books | Pittsboro, NC

Storytime/Author Event  (author appearance)
Dano Parrish | 12/17/2016, 12:00 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Author Event  (author appearance)
Ashley Christensen | 12/17/2016, 02:00 pm | Page 158 Books | Wake Forest, NC

Author Event: Landis Wade - Legally Binding Christmas  (author appearance)
Landis Wade | 12/17/2016, 11:00 am | Park Road Books | Charlotte, NC

Author Sheryl Monks, Monsters in Appalachia: Stories  (author appearance)
Sheryl Monks | 12/17/2016, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

Donald Davis Storytelling  (author appearance)
Donald Davis | 12/18/2016, 01:00 pm | McIntyre's Fine Books | Pittsboro, NC

Leonard Poppe, Ramone's Tale  (author appearance)
Leonard Poppe | 12/18/2016, 07:00 pm | Scuppernong Books | Greensboro, NC

In Conversation With Elizabeth Poliner- As Close to Us as Breathing  (author appearance)
Elizabeth Poliner | 12/18/2017, 04:00 pm | M. Judson, booksellers and storytellers | Simpsonville, SC

Meet Writer & Cartoonist Doug MacGregor  (author appearance)
Doug MacGregor | 12/19/2016, 11:00 am | MacIntosh Books and Paper | Sanibel, FL

Trans and Friends: A Project of the Feminist Outlawz  (other event)
12/19/2016, 07:00 pm | Charis Books & More | Atlanta, GA

Susan Schadt signing Reel Masters, Wild Abundance, A Million Wings, First Shooting Light  (author appearance)
Susan Schadt | 12/19/2016, 04:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Marilyn Markel In-Store Signing & Tasting  (author appearance)
Marilyn Markel | 12/19/2016, 12:00 pm | Fiction Addiction | Greenville, SC

Local Authors Tyffani Clark Kemp & Victoria Bright   (author appearance)
Tyffani Clark Kemp | 12/19/2016, 04:00 pm | Joe's Place | Greenville, SC

Author event with Joyce Blaylock author of Adelica  (author appearance)
Joyce Blaylock | 12/19/2016, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Wyatt Waters  (author appearance)
Wyatt Waters | 12/20/2016, 02:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Author event with Andrew Maraniss author of Strong Inside  (author appearance)
Andrew Maraniss | 12/20/2016, 02:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN

Natalie West signing 100 Things to Do in Jackson Before You Die  (author appearance)
Natalie West | 12/21/2016, 01:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

Matthew Guinn signing The Scribe and The Resurrectionist  (author appearance)
Matthew Guinn | 12/21/2016, 04:00 pm | Lemuria Books | Jackson, MS

The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt--Book Signing  (author appearance)
12/22/2016, 05:00 pm | Charis Books & More | Atlanta, GA

Diane Williams with MISSISSIPPI FOLK AND THE TALES THEY TELL  (author appearance)
Diane Williams | 12/26/2016, 06:00 pm | Square Books | Oxford, MS

Jack Hanna  (author appearance)
Jack Hanna | 12/29/2016, 06:00 pm | Bookstore 1 Sarasota | Sarasota, FL

Reading/Signing for When She Was Bad by Gabrielle Freeman (with Kathleen Nalley)  (author appearance)
Gabrielle Freeman | 12/29/2016, 07:00 pm | M. Judson, booksellers and storytellers | Simpsonville, SC

Meet Chris Bowron  (author appearance)
Chris Bowron | 12/30/2016, 02:00 pm | MacIntosh Books and Paper | Sanibel, FL

Authors Round the South


Lady Banks is sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South.
SIBA | 3806 Yale Dr. | Columbia, SC 28409

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