Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week

Read This Now: The Index

What if there were an army of indie booksellers enthusiastically reading and reviewing practically every new book coming out in the next year, and what if the books they were the most excited about, the books they couldn't wait to push into their customers' hands with a breathless "You've GOT to read this!" (virtually or otherwise), the ones with all the nine- and ten-star ratings were carefully curated and collected in a handy list? Well, all we can say is...KEEP READING!

Browse the whole list!

  • Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols

    Blue Mind

    Marine biologist Nichols reveals groundbreaking neuroscience that proves what we intuitively know: We are emotionally, physically and spiritually healthier when we are near or in the water.

    He  presents the evidence in terms easily accessible to non-scientists and reminds us that it is imperative that we humans protect the waters of our planet for the good of all of the beings who inhabit it.

    Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, & Better at What You Do by Wallace J. Nichols (Little, Brown and Co.) Recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

    In the late nineteenth century, one of the last unmapped places of the globe was the North Pole. The United States and the world was obsessed with news of Arctic exploration. In 1879, American naval officer and explorer George De Long set sail with a crew of 32 men on the U.S.S. Jeanette only to disappear in the Arctic waters of Russia. Their fate was not to be discovered until years later. Hampton Sides vividly reconstructs the time period and the expedition itself.

    In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides (Doubleday) Recommended by Square Books, Oxford MS.

  • The Kindness Diaries by Leon Logothesis

    The incredible journey of one man who sets out to circumnavigate the globe on a vintage motorbike fueled by kindness.

    Follow the inspirational journey of a former stockbroker who leaves his unfulfilling desk job in search of a meaningful life. He sets out from Los Angeles on a vintage motorbike, determined to circumnavigate the globe surviving only on the kindness of strangers. Incredibly, he makes his way across the U.S., through Europe, India, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and finally to Canada and back to the Hollywood sign, by asking strangers for shelter, food, and gas. Again and again, he's won over by the generosity of humanity, from the homeless man who shares his blanket to the poor farmer who helps him with his broken down bike, and the HIV-positive mother who takes him in and feeds him.

    At each stop, he finds a way to give back to these unsuspecting Good Samaritans in life-changing ways, by rebuilding their homes, paying for their schooling, and leaving behind gifts big and small. The Kindness Diaries will introduce you to a world of adventure, renew your faith in the bonds that connect people, and inspire you to accept and generate kindness in your own life.

    The Kindness Diaries: One Man's Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World by Leon Logothesis (Reader's Digest) Recommended by Jamie at Ducks Cottage Manteo NC

  • Listen to This by Alex Ross

    From the acclaimed New Yorker music critic comes a collection of essays covering both early classical and popular music and a worthy follow-up to his successful THE REST IS NOISE.

    As a youth, Mr. Ross was a dedicated classical music lover but at the late age of 20, after purchasing his first pop album, became intrigued by the sound, noise and power of popular music and found his perspective of classical music changed forever.

    The essays are powerful and passionate and a wonderful read for those willing to expand their listening boundaries.

    Listen to This By Alex Ross ($20, Picador USA) Recommended by Tim at Quail Ridge BooksRaleigh NC


  • Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

    Astrophysicist Tyson, through a collection of previously written essays, passionately reminds us of our need for space exploration, and rejuvenates the joys of discovery we experienced during the accomplishments of NASA in the 60's and 70's.

    We were at our best in science and science education at the peak of the space program, but with the end of the shuttle missions, the interest has waned and important discoveries, in space exploration and technology, are few and far between.

    Tyson offers a persuasive argument for the need to further fund a program: that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Well written, informative and accessible.

    Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil DeGrasse Tyson ($16.95, WW Norton & Co.), recommended by Tim at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse by Robin Hutton

    Once in a rare while, you hit on a true story so good you wonder that someone hasn't written a book about it. Robin Hutton struck gold with the life and times of Sgt. Reckless.

    Race horse, combat soldier, war hero, mom – this petite filly did it all. No one told HER females didn't belong in combat. So sit back with a beer (Reckless enjoyed the occasional brew) and just absorb what this equine Marine accomplished.

    Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse by Robin Hutton ($27.99, Regnery History), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson

    Brown Girl DreamingEvery now and then, a book comes along that you love and know that you MUST share. Jacquline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming is one of those. We here at the Booksellers know that books have the power to change lives. We also believe that sharing books like this one fosters empathy, while empowering readers young and old to tell their stories, and listen to -- and learn from -- each other. We invite you to read Brown Girl Dreaming with us this October, and hope that this book moves you same way it has moved us.

    Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson ($17.99, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis TN.

  • A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel

    A Deadly WanderingI know we're all tired of hearing phrases like that about books, but I really believe this book can change lives and save lives. Matt Richtell has written an investigative book on the use of cell phones while driving. It is as compelling as it is damning.  

    A Deadly Wandering shows that there is now enough scientific evidence to support that driving while texting and talking on the phone (even speaker phone) can be as deadly or even more deadly than driving drunk. I have personally almost been hit several times while walking by a texter or phone user. You probably have too. This book proves that no one can both drive and use their phone at the same time and not be a danger to others and themselves.

    We can move the needle on this one, my friends.

    Please read it.

    Because, really: what a stupid way to die.

    A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel ($28.99, William Morrow & Co.), recommended by Kelly, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond VA.

  • Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall

    Seeing an African American man in Carol Wall's neighborhood is uncommon, and when she stops to watch what he is doing,
    she finds herself talking to a master of horticulture and philosophy.

    The book is gracefully written and more the memoir of a unique and treasured friendship than a gardening book. Wall and Giles Owita find they can trust each other with secrets no one else could understand.

    Walls explores the transformation Owita makes in her life as well as her yard and how she, in turn, becomes the student who teaches the master.

    Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall ($25.95, G.P. Putnam's Sons a Member of Penguin Group), recommended by Marilyn, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Crapalachia: A Biography of Place by Scott McClanahan

    Scott McClanahan's minimalist pseudo-memoir is a funny, clever, touching and honest book about growing up in rural West Virgina. A book about being proud of and finding beauty in where you come from, even when there's no glamour in it.

    Crapalachia: A Biography of Place by Scott McClanahan ($16, Two Dollar Radio), recommended by Justin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • Astoria: Astor and Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by Peter Stark

    After John Jacob Astor makes a fortune in New York, he plans Astoria, a trading post on the Pacific coast.

    His explorers face storms, mutinies, shipwrecks, starvation, murders and insanity, and finally give up. Astor's vision of Pacific Rim trade is put on hold for a couple of centuries. Astonishing history!

    Astoria: Astor and Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival  By Peter Stark ($27.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Helen, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • A Train in Winter by Carolina Moorehead

    How could these women be so brave? This is the story of women who risked everything to do what they felt they must--resist the German occupation. Captured, imprisoned and then deported to Ausch­witz they were subjected to unspeakable atrocities. What saved 49 of them was luck and their determination to face their situation together. Their story is gut-wrenching and their heroism is inspiringg

    A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France By Caroline Moorehead ($15.99, Harper Perennial), recommended by Rene, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill by Gretchen Rubin

    I love this collection – quick read that you can pick up and start from any chapter. The author deftly shows you one side of this historic man and then in a flash, shows the conflicting side. There is so much information about Winston Churchill in the literary world, this book breaks it down simply into the man that was an artist, a father, a husband and a world leader. You gain a little glimpse into the contradictions that ruled his world.

    Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life By Gretchen Rubin ($17, Random House Trade), recommended by Linda, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena

    Mr. Ellena is the exclusive perfumer for the House of Hermes, the book is a little gem.

    While reading the book my mind tricked me into actually smelling orange blossom and bergamot and other lush and exotic scents. For anyone that loves luxury for the sake of luxury this is it.

    The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena ($24.95, Rizzoli Ex Libris), recommended by Linda, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • The Allure of Chanel by Paul Morand

    A little known treasure I discovered, this book is written by a close companion of Chanel and the story tells of her life in her words. The author and Coco spent many years together traveling and entertaining. It’s an insight into the personal life of Chanel, her politics, fears, desires and dreams. The book is beautifully illustrated by Karl Lagerfeld, Head Designer and Creative Director for House of Chanel.

    The Allure of Chanel by Paul Morand, Euan Cameron ($29.95, Pushkin Press), recommended by Linda, Books and Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball

    Ball’s tell-all book of his family’s entwinement (in every conceivable manner) in antebellum slavery is a thoroughly researched history specific to the Ball family of South Carolina.

    It’s well-written and heroically candid. But more than all that, it is a look at contemporary America, forcing us to examine the aftermath (for both races) of slavery and its legacy into the 21st century.

    Slaves in the Family By Edward Ball ($17.95, Ballantine Books), recommended by Connie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

    Rick Bragg reveals the raw bone of southern poverty in which he grew up; a culture of  violence, grinding pain and humiliation – delivered as a blow-by-blow assault his poor- white class endures every day. You can taste the anger and determination that propelled him, through bold honest storytelling, to the Pulitzer Prize in 1996. I didn’t want to like this book. Instead, I fell in love with it – and its author.

    All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg ($16, Vintage Books USA), recommended by Connie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus by Dean N. Jensen

    What an astonishing book! It shines a spotlight on Leitzel and Alfredo, the two most famous stars in circus history. Leitzel, tiny with golden hair, did one hundred flips on Roman rings, and Alfredo did The Triple, three somersaults while flying between trapezes. Queen of the Air recounts their hard beginnings, their star-crossed love, and their tragic ends. You'll feel like you have a seat under the Big Top!

    Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus  by Dean N. Jensen ($26, Crown), recommended by Helen, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

    I read this my first year of college when I was still trying to decide if I wanted to write.

    Chapter 3 is titled SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS.

    It's full of good advice and encouragement for the beginning writer and would make a great gift. It's less an instruction book than a series of stories focused on the process. It's informal and funny and I was better for it.

    Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (Anchor) Recommended by Dottie at Square Books Oxford MS 

  • Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine by Steve Parker

    Beginning with early healers, chance discoveries, technological advancement, and wonder drugs, and using panels, timelines, and thematic spreads, Kill or Cure highlights information about human anatomy, surgical instruments, and medical breakthroughs while telling the dramatic tale of medical progress.

    Diaries, notebooks, and other first-person accounts tell the fascinating stories from the perspective of people who witnessed medical history firsthand.

    Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine By Steve Parker (DK Adult) Recommended by Lynn Marie at Fountain Bookstore Richmond VA

  • The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition by Charles Darwin

    After the Bible, this is the most important book in Western culture.

    Genius, groundbreaking and ultimately astonishing, Darwin's observations set the tone for the last 150 years of biology and natural science. Free of jargon, it's an easy read - little more than a man alone with his thoughts, profound as they may be compatible with religion, in my opinion.

    The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition (Signet Classics) Recommended by Beckett at Square Books Oxford MS

  • Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku

    Physics of the Future

    In Physics of the Future, Kaku describes what future technologies might allow the human race to accomplish.

    Interestingly (and mind blowing) all of the technologies Kaku explains already exist in some form, including: teleportation, fusion power and time travel. A super exciting read.

    Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 (Anchor) Recommended by Zach at Square Books Oxford MS.


  • The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

    I'm not a big fan of absolutes, but I am adding this book to my small list of things I think everyone should experience. The introduction by David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) evoked tears. Higashida's writing races along the skin, swims in the blood, jumps skyward.

    For anyone who has struggled understanding and anyone who has struggled to be understood.

    The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism By Naoki Higashida, Translators: Ka Yoshida, David Mitchell (Random House)

    The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida ($23.00, Random House), recommended by Lynne Marie at Fountain Bookstore, Richmond VA.

  • The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer

    Australian philosopher Peter Singer has written a book that is short, provocative, and both philosophical and practical.

    He tackles the thorny questions of why we should give to charity, to whom we should give, and even how much each of us should give. His ideas on the psychological barriers to giving, and the philosophical reasons for doing so, are especially compelling.

    The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty by Peter Singer ($16.00, Random House Trade Paperbacks), recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King

    This book is a behind-the-scenes look at one of the great masterpieces of art, Leonardo's painting of The Last Supper.

    Leonardo painted this despite war, political and religious turmoil around him and through his research King reveals much about this fascinating period in European history as well as dozens of stories embedded in the painting.

    Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King (Walker & Company), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting by Alan Greenspan

    Perhaps because of his great failure to predict the 2008 crash, Alan Greenspan, former chair of the Federal Reserve Board, has turned his attention to the history of economic prediction and the future of economic forecasting. Comparing the old models of risk management with the new technologies of economic behavior, Greenspan rewrites the map of prediction.

    The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting by Alan Greenspan (Penguin Press), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines NC.

  • The Letters of John F. Kennedy by John F. Kennedy, Martin W. Sandler (editor)

    This collection is the first to present significant conversations in their entirety between JFK and his correspondents, including historical giants like Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Harry Truman and Nikita Khruschev as well as his school friends, Navy comrades and everyday Americans.

    The book includes images from his presidential library and facsimiles of many letters!

    The Letter of John F. Kennedy by John F. Kennedy, Martin W. Sandler (editor) ($30.00, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by Kimberly, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines NC.

  • Mud Season by Ellen Stimson

    Imagine living in the middle of the country and you decide to pick up your family (your husband and three children) and move to Vermont with no job in sight. 

    Because you've always wanted to live in a beautiful place. 

    And then imagine that although you're now living in the beautiful country, you haven't a clue because you're a city family.  This book will explain how it all settles out, with lots of laughter and tears along the way.  And you've got to read this book if for no other reason than to find out why they have so much mud in Vermont in the spring.

    We met this fantastic and vibrant woman recently in New Orleans. I think that she might have the best laugh in the book world. Read her book... it will no doubt make you laugh as well.

    Mud Season by Ellen Stimson (Countryman Press), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Rude Bitches Make Me Tired by Celia Rivenbark

    Celia Rivenbark is the bestselling author of We're Just Like You, Only Prettier, and now writes a mildly profane etiquette manual for the modern age.

    She addresses real life quandaries ranging from how to deal with braggy playground moms to correctly grieving the dearly departed. Good Manners have never been so wickedly funny!

    Rude Bitches Make Me Tired by Celia Rivenbark (St. Martin's Griffin), recommended by The Country Bookshop Southern Pines NC.

  • Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman

    Weisman wrote the wildly popular book The World Without Us, making the point that if we humans were to disappear, the world would do exuberantly well without us.

    He wrote this book, Countdown, to ask if there's a way that the world could do exuberantly well with us. The book grew on me. After each story, I'd say, just one more...just one more. Now that I've finished the whole book, to my surprise I realize that I'm well-educated and hopeful about something I'd pretty much given up on. What a writer! I highly recommend this book.

    Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman (Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Sue at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.