Hello and Happy New Year. Her ladyship, the editor, hopes that her readers have a healthy stack of reading resolutions for the upcoming months. Here are a few her ladyship has scribbled down in the wee hours before midnight at the end of the last year:
- Spend more time reading than watching television
- Take more chances on new, unknown authors
- Don't be afraid of graphic novels
- Read more short stories
- Read dangerously -- try some books you would normally not pick up
As her readers can see, her ladyship's reading resolutions are all about pushing her own boundaries and exploring a little. (Except for the television one, but then every list of resolutions should include at least one promise that will be easy to keep.)
And her ladyship has a little help in keeping her resolutions, because Southern indie booksellers have just announced their new list of 2017 Winter Okra Picks -- forthcoming southern literature they are especially excited about. Just reading through the dozen book they've picked would check off each of her reading resolutions nicely, and since indie booksellers generally know what they are talking about when they recommend a book, any one of the titles on the Okra Pick list can be picked up with confidence by the adventurous reader.
her ladyship, the editor
Lady Banks' Pick of the Week
"One of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read."
Best Books of 2016 from South Many Book Co.
"She could talk about anything from books to music to low-down gossip."
Remembering Nancy Olson
Lady Banks' Commonplace Book
Noteworthy poetry and prose from her ladyship's bedside reading stack.
Angels' share: the quantity of whiskey lost to evaporation during the aging process.
The house was quiet, even the baby, who'd been crying all evening from teething. His father was on the road and not due back until the weekend. So what were those noises out the window? Hushed voices? He knelt on his bed and eased the drapes apart enough to see his father's fedora below; he was dragging another man across the driveway. Six men walked alongside him. One man led them all: a giant dressed in white, using a baseball bat like a cane.
The man with the bat looked up and the boy quickly closed the drapes. He slid under the covers and squeezed his eyes shut, and he stayed that way until he had to pee. By that time the voices were gone, along with the footsteps. He snuck another look outside. It was only a dream.
James Markert, The Angels' Share (Thomas Nelson, 2017) 9780718090227
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". . . his fiction often has the feel of a dark, Grimm fairy tale"
The Risen a twisted tale of loss and longing
Open the old, creaking door to nothing but used and collectable books packed in a very dark, quiet, and very large room, the only sound is your footsteps. I opened a book with an inscription composed in 1901. This is the kind of room that might make you wonder about ghosts if you were here late at night.
A visit to Poor Richard's Books, Frankfurt, KY
Recommended reading from Southern Indie Booksellers
I never stop recommending Thad Carhart's memoir of the second time he moved to France, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, which is a primer on the workings of pianos, and a sheer delight to read. Now, Carhart goes back to 1954, when his family of seven moved into a charming old mansion near the Château de Fontainebleau (his father was a NATO official), and immersed themselves in a France still recovering from WWII. His rich experiences as a kid alternate with chapters on the history of the chateau and the assorted French kings who inhabited it. And when he has returned to Fontainebleau as an adult, he gets to share in a restoration of the chateau, and retrace the steps of his childhood in a way we all sometimes wish we could. A perfect book for a summer escape to a very different place and time.
Finding Fontainebleau: An American Boy in France (Viking $27), recommended by Kent at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
Possibly to my parents chagrin, I've always had an intense fascination with dangerous places and conflicts, and the men and women who risk their lives to share them with the world. Tim Hetherington was one such man. A immensely talented and singular photojournalist, he managed not only to record some of today's most dangerous conflicts, but he did so in such a way as to put a human face to these faraway wars. Here I Am chronicles his time in Liberia, his celebrated work with the soldiers of Afghanistan (as well as his involvement with Sebastian Junger and the documentary Restrepo) and the months leading up to his tragic death in Libya in 2011. Huffman, like Hetherington did before him, has taken a larger-than-life figure and contained him within one concise, emotional and inspiring portrait.
Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer by Alan Huffman (Grove Press) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL
In The Garden of Burning Sand, Corban Addison weaves a wonderful tale of a power struggle in an African city. Centered on a case of child molestation, Addison introduces characters from all walks of life to give you the perspective of what child molestation does to everyone. The child in this story has Downs Syndrome and she finds people to help her in the court system. They are limited in what they can legally do, but they still work to bring justice to the child. Addison wants to show how we as Americans have to be willing to help these children by bringing DNA labs to African courts This is definitely a novel with a message , but with skill he gives us an excellent story to surround the issues that he wants us to be aware of. If this book had been tackled by a less skilled author, it would have been a book that you thought you should read and you would struggle through. Corbin was able to weave a beautiful story through the difficult issues that he brings to the front in this excellent novel. I encourage you to read it.
In The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison (Quercus) Recommended by Molly at Fountainhead Bookstore Hendersonville NC
While Fuller’s first book, Cocktails Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, paints an exquisite picture of her early life in Africa, this memoir portrays her later life as she tries to navigate the world outside her African experience. She marries an American in the hopes that he will take her away from her unorthodox upbringing only to discover that her life does not fit as she had hoped. She confronts her life and its difficulties, revealing the complexity of her family as they deal with suffering and loss. A poignant narrative that is worth reading.
Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller (Penguin Press) Recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette Fairhope AL
What a delicious memoir of a New Yorker, now married to a Frenchman and living in the south of France! The couple impulsively buys a quirky old house that belonged to famous poet. They become parents, Gwendal leaves his job, and they open a specialty ice cream shop. This fascinating combination of history, cultures, cuisine (wonderful recipes included) and small town life is at once funny, touching, honest, and totally engaging. I loved it.
Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Ellizabeth Bard (Little Brown and Company) Recommended by Carol at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh
In this haunting coming of age story, we meet a young Moroccan named Lakhdar who spends his days in Tangier watching girls, reading French detective novels, and gazing across the water at the elusive lights of Spain. When he is kicked out of his house for an improper relationship with his cousin, he begins a journey that takes him from the streets of Tangier to the Straits of Gibraltar, and finally to Barcelona, where he finally finds some semblance of a home despite the squalor and chaos of his surroundings. Set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and the collapse of the European economy, Street of Thieves is a dark and beautiful portrait of a boy's fateful path to manhood.
Street of Thieves by Mathias Enard (Open Letter Books) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC
More bookseller recommendations
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“. . .opening the book. . .it is like turning a doorknob and entering a stately home in Charleston”
A return visit to Karen White's Tradd Street
The List: Best of 2016 from Betsy Teter
"Larry, along with your glasses, put on your XXX filter – Greg Iles’ writing is good, but rough! Enjoy."
Larry Walker's Best Books of 2016
Okra Picks: An Easy-to-Keep Reading Resolution
The 2017 Winter Okra Picks have been selected: a flavor-filled collection of new Southern books hand-picked by Southern indie booksellers–people with impeccable taste in books...
All Winter Okra picks have a strong Southern focus and publish between January and March, and all have fans among Southern indie booksellers: the people who are always looking out for the next great writer to fill your reading plate. So the next time you visit your local Southern indie bookstore and someone says, "You've got to read this!" and hands you one of these tasty titles, dig in and ask for a second helping. Great books are always good for you!
The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis
Hogarth, Hardcover, 9780451495648, 368pp.
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish
HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780062433381, 368pp.
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Eveningland: Stories by Michael Knight
Atlantic Monthly Press, Hardcover, 9780802125972, 304pp.
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell; Shadra Strickland (illus.)
Chronicle Books, Hardcover, 9781452125909, 260pp.
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Mercies in Disguise by Gina Kolata
St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9781250064349, 272pp.
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King
Henry Holt & Company, Hardcover, 9781627795982, 368pp.
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
One Good Mama Bone by Bren McClain
University of South Carolina Press, Hardcover, 9781611177466, 280pp.
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Pure Heart: A Spirited Tale of Grace, Grit and Whiskey by Troy Ball
Dey Street Books, Hardcover, 9780062458971, 288pp.
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
The River of Kings by Taylor Brown
St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9781250111753, 336pp.
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
Algonquin Books, Hardcover, 9781616205812, 272pp.
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Signals: New and Selected Stories by Tim Gautreaux
Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780451493040, 384pp.
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9781250135995, 240pp.
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
TRIO: The Way I Used to Be
It begins with a book.
One book is given to both a songwriter and a visual artist. They write a song and create a work of art inspired by the book they read fulfilling their Trio. Each Trio will be installed as part of an exhibit debuting at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance in September of 2015 and traveling to museums, galleries, and literary events throughout the following year.
See the full TRIO | The 2017 Exhibit Schedule
Where is Trio now? Page and Palette in Fairhope, Alabama
Request TRIO for your town!
Amber Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be. Fueled by a lifelong passion for the arts, story, and creative expression, she graduated from art school with a BFA in painting and went on to earn her master’s degree in art history. When she’s not writing she’s usually reading, but can also be found in her studio making art or working as an art consultant.
A native of Buffalo, NY, Amber now lives in Charlotte, NC with her two dogs. She has also written on the topics of art history and modern and contemporary art. The Way I Used to Be is her first novel.
“Honey, you ain’t got nothing to say. Go out there and live a little—come back to me in 10 years.” Those stinging words from a Nashville music executive years ago couldn’t have stung more. But Mary Bragg took that blow-off advice into a journey that transformed the south Georgia native from pop-country wannabe into the striking, vulnerable voice she wears on “Edge of This Town”, drawing comparisons to Americana luminaries Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin.
Winner of the BandPage/Zoo Labs Music Residency contest, and finalist in the 2015 Kerrville New Folk and Telluride Troubadour songwriting competitions, Bragg spent 10 years in New York City after studying music and journalism at the University of Georgia. Now based in Nashville, where two songs she co-wrote have been released by Americana artists Michaela Anne and Sarah Aili, she’s been warmly welcomed into the circle of songwriters at The Bluebird Café after a 60-second audition. Her acclaimed 2015 release and earlier studio albums have earned from USA Today, CBS New York, and No Depression, which called her 2011 release, “Tattoos and Bruises”, “a magnificent collection of Americana.”
Like many artists, Karen Schwettman is a reluctant one contemplating how do you define art? How can one part with art so personal and intimate? How will it make other’s feel? Having raised three children with husband Gene, and blessed with a mess of granddaughters, Karen has reinvented herself repeatedly throughout her life and participation in TRIO marks her first formal art showing.
Karen is a proud native Georgian who has co-owned indie favorite, FoxTale Book Shoppe for the past ten years, following her life-long passion for the written word. Karen took a leap of faith opening a bookstore at a time when books sales were on the decline. She is excited to participate in TRIO which combines her love of the written word and art. Embracing her mixed media art feeds her soul, fills her heart and keeps her on the path of living a joyful life.
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"He gives us a hard time but only because he knows we’re capable of doing great things"
John Gregory Brown receives outstanding faculty award
Southern Indie Bestsellers
For the week ending December 25. 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 | - A SIBA Okra Pick
See the full list here
Printable versions: Hardcover | Paperback | Children.
1. The Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead, Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385542364
2. The Whistler
John Grisham, Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385541190
Michael Chabon, Harper, $28.99, 9780062225559
Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062491794
5. All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr, Scribner, $27, 9781476746586
1. Hillbilly Elegy
J.D. Vance, Harper, $27.99, 9780062300546
2. The Undoing Project
Michael Lewis, Norton, $28.95, 9780393254594
3. Born to Run
Bruce Springsteen, S&S, $32.50, 9781501141515
4. Atlas Obscura
Joshua Foer, et al., Workman, $35, 9780761169086
5. Born a Crime
Trevor Noah, Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9780399588174
Also of note:
11. Two by Two
Nicholas Sparks, Grand Central, $27, 9781455520695
10. A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life
Pat Conroy, Nan A. Talese, $25, 9780385530866
8. 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
Glenn Mullin - Mongolian Shaman - Gables (author appearance)
Glenn Mullin | 01/04/2017, 08:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL
Tom Gabor signs Confronting Gun Violence in America (author appearance)
Tom Gabor | 01/04/2017, 07:00 pm | Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore | Delray Beach, FL
Greg Hansbrough - Enduring Strength (author appearance)
Greg Hansbrough | 01/04/2017, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC
Kayla Itsines - The Bikini Body 28-Day Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Guide - Gables (author appearance)
Kayla Itsines | 01/05/2017, 07:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL
ROBERT HICKS presents THE ORPHAN MOTHER (author appearance)
Robert Hicks | 01/06/2017, 06:00 pm | Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe | Asheville, NC
Brenda Bevan Remmes Author of The Quaker Café (author appearance)
Brenda Bevan Remmes | 01/06/2017, 11:00 am | Litchfield Books | Pawleys Island, SC
Author event with Lydia Peelle author of The Midnight Cool (author appearance)
Lydia Peelle | 01/06/2017, 06:30 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN
Raul Ramos Y Sanchez - The Skinny Years - Gables (author appearance)
Raul Ramos Y Sanchez | 01/07/2017, 07:00 pm | Books & Books Inc | Coral Gables, FL
Author event with Lori Zanini author of Eat What You Love Diabetes Cookbook (author appearance)
Lori Zanini | 01/07/2017, 02:00 pm | Parnassus Books | Nashville, TN
Karen White Book Talk & Signing (author appearance)
Karen White | 01/09/2017, 11:30 am | Bookmiser | Roswell, GA
Watt Key (author appearance)
Watt Key | 01/10/2017, 06:00 pm | Page & Palette | Fairhope, AL
Karen White - The Guests on South Battery (author appearance)
Karen White | 01/10/2017, 06:30 pm | FoxTale Book Shoppe | Woodstock, GA
Susan Rivers discusses her debut novel The Second Mrs. Hockaday (author appearance)
Susan Rivers | 01/10/2017, 07:00 pm | Flyleaf Books | Chapel Hill, NC
Nick Bruel - Bad Kitty Takes the Test (author appearance)
Nick Bruel | 01/10/2017, 07:00 pm | Quail Ridge Books & Music | Raleigh, NC
Steve Bradshaw signs Evil Like Me (author appearance)
Steve Bradshaw | 01/10/2017, 06:30 pm | Booksellers at Laurelwood | Memphis, TN
Authors Round the South