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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March 30, 2020

A johnboat ride through the subconscious.
In which a neighborhood cooperates to adapt to a new situation, a girl takes a johnboat ride in the bayou at night, and the Lady Banks roses have begun to bloom.
Dearest Readers
lady banks roses

The Lady Banks roses for which this newsletter is named have begun blooming in her ladyship, the editor's neighborhood this week. They are a comforting sight in this strange time, when small comforts are dearly needed.

One of the more inspiring things is seeing how communities work together to in support of each other to adapt to the new regulations. Today North Carolina's stay-at-home order goes into effect, essentially shutting down most of the things we consider "community." Yet in her ladyship's neighborhood not only are people sharing -- not hoarding -- skills and resources, they are working together to support all the local restaurants and markets that deliver or have curbside pick up. They share news of favorite local businesses and services and have assigned themselves the responsibility of posting updates from schools, the town, and the county. Local businesses, in turn, are coming up with creative ways to stay in business and serve their community. On the heels of the shelter in place order, her ladyship, the editor's local bookstore announced free shipping and free home delivery.

If you happen to live in the Greater Atlanta area, here is some information about the bookstores there, with thanks to The Georgia Center for the Book:

Little Shop of Stories is closed but is available for pickup at the shop, home delivery, and online sales. You can order online or by calling the shop Mondays through Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. They are also doing same day delivery to 30030 and neighboring zip codes: 30002, 30306, 30307, 30317, 30322, 30329, 30032, 30033, and 30079.

Charis Books & More is available for online book sales with reduced shipping costs, and they have digital gift cards available as well.

A Cappella Books' Inman Park store is closed and all author programs are postponed until further notice. You may still shop their inventory via the online store. They will deliver purchases to customers within a 10-mile radius of the Inman Park location, and all other orders will be shipped.

Eagle Eye Book Shop is closed to in-store browsing, but available for online ordering, phone ordering, and curbside pick-up.

Tall Tales Books is still open, and you can call if you need books. They are available for curbside pick up, shipping, and limited delivery is available.

FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock is available by phone for ordering items to be shipped, using their 1 dollar Media Mail shipping costs. They are working on getting a full online store set up which will allow you to order pretty much any book.

While the store is closed, Bookish in East Atlanta Village is available for online shopping and in-town home delivery (contact-less). They focus on used books but also have new, and will order books on request. See their Facebook and website for the best ways to get in touch with them.

Brave + Kind Bookshop in Decatur has a webshop ready and open for online shopping. Check their Facebook for other things they're doing for the community at this time.

Underground Books in Carrollton is currently closed, but you can buy from their rare & antiquarian website. You can also buy new books and have them delivered straight to your door by shopping at You can also buy audiobooks from them at Just choose Underground Books as your bookstore of choice!

If you’d like to order a book from Hills & Hamlets (in Serenbe) online, visit the website mentioned above for their sister store, Underground Books in Carrollton:

The store is closed, but Avid Bookshop in Athens is open online and are doing free shipping for orders over 50 dollars. They also have a new service: Avid Snail Mail Surprise! Visit their website or Facebook for more information.

You can order books by phone and email from The Book Tavernin Augusta, and they have free shipping for orders over 30 dollars, as well as curbside pick-up options. You can also support them online through their partnerships with and for audiobooks. They are also currently still open for regular hours in Augusta. Find them on Facebook for more information.

The Book Lady Bookstore in Savannah is available to ship you all the books you need, and can offer call ahead curbside takeout and door to door delivery for those who need it. Call them at 912-233-3628 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to order for students, teachers, or general readers.

"Shop local now, so you can shop local later" has become a mantra of small businesses, most of which face serious challenges as the spread of COVID-19 prevents them from normal business operations. If you want something new to read, your local bookshop can get it to you.

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 Boatman's Daughter by Andy Davidson
Buy it here

It was after midnight when the boatman and his daughter brought the witch out of Sabbath House and back onto the river. Old Iskra sat astride the johnboat's center plank, wearing a head scarf and a man's baggy britches damp with blood, their iron reek lost to the night-fragrant honeysuckle that bowered the banks of the Prosper. In her lap: a bread bowl, wide and deep and packed with dried eucalyptus sprigs and clods of red earth broken around a small, still form covered by a white pillowcase. The pillowcase, like the old woman's clothes, stained red.

They angled off-river at the mouth of a bayou and were soon enclosed by the teeming wall of night. Cried of owls, a roar of bullfrogs, the wet slopping of beaver among the stobs. Miranda Crabtree faced into the wind, lighting Hiram's way with the Eveready spot mounted on the boy. The spotlight shined on branched closing in, cypress skirts scraping like dry, bony fingers along the johnboat's hull. Spiders int he trees, their webs gleaming silver. A cottonmouth moccasin churning in the shallows. Miranda help up arms to guard her ears and cheeks from the branches, thinking of Alice down the rabbit hole, one small door opening upon another, and another, each door smaller than the last.

MCD x FSG Originals | 9780374538552 | February 2020

Read This!

Reviewed by Booksellers

Books with Street Cred, Reviewed by Southern Booksellers

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin, 3/24/2020
Reviewed by Zach Claypole, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC

The awakened soul(s) of New York City vs. an unspeakable eldritch terror? Sign me up!With this startlingly imaginative whirlwind of a novel, N.K. Jemisin once again proves she is the reigning queen of all things sci-fi. Delightfully insane and unlike anything I’ve read before, THE CITY WE BECAME is a love letter to NYC wrapped in multicultural re-imaginings of cosmic horror… served with a huge dose of kickass fantasy fun.Seriously, why haven’t you read this book yet?

The Everlasting by Kathy Simpson Smith, 3/24/2020
Reviewed by Ben Groner, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

Ambitious and strikingly original, the four lives that play out in four time periods of Rome interlock in subtle ways, and they explore the different ways desire shapes and haunts our human hearts. Also, a heartbroken and relatable Satan interjects his thoughts throughout the book, which is a tad weird but generally entertaining and thought-provoking.

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix, 4/7/2020
Reviewed by Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA

So much fun! This screamingly funny take on the vampire-next-door genre will have you turning the pages at breakneck speed! Hiding in plain sight between the grisly action and the offbeat humor is a sweet and heartfelt tribute to the tough and tender nature of Southern women. Hendrix's characters will stop at nothing to defend their families and friendships from being destroyed by this sly and dangerous invader! Not even an all-powerful supernatural being is any match for a bunch of Southern book club women. I can't say I'm surprised.

The Okra Picks

Okra Picks

Great new Southern books, picked by Southern booksellers.

The Boatman’s Daughter is like a johnboat ride through the depths and darkness of the subconscious, under the canopy of the bayou. For each of the characters, no deed (be it good or bad) goes unpunished and every consequence resonates long after it has happened. The superb writing combines components of magical realism, the southern gothic, straight-up horror, and a dose of Slavic mythology. I found myself feeling wonderfully uncomfortable throughout the novel and I eagerly anticipated the climactic conclusion, which was both beautiful and extreme.– Stuart McCommon, Novel, Memphis, TN

The Boatman's Daughter by Andy Davidson
Buy it here

A "lush nightmare" (Paul Tremblay) of a supernatural thriller about a young woman facing down ancient forces in the depths of the bayou.

Ever since her father was killed when she was just a child, Miranda Crabtree has kept her head down and her eyes up, ferrying contraband for a mad preacher and his declining band of followers to make ends meet and to protect an old witch and a secret child from harm.

But dark forces are at work in the bayou, both human and supernatural, conspiring to disrupt the rhythms of Miranda's peculiar and precarious life. And when the preacher makes an unthinkable demand, it sets Miranda on a desperate, dangerous path, forcing her to consider what she is willing to sacrifice to keep her loved ones safe.

With the heady mythmaking of Neil Gaiman and the heartrending pacing of Joe Hill, Andy Davidson spins a thrilling tale of love and duty, of loss and discovery. The Boatman's Daughter is a gorgeous, horrifying novel, a journey into the dark corners of human nature, drawing our worst fears and temptations out into the light.

MCD x FSG Originals | 9780374538552 | February 11, 2020

More Okra Picks

The Southern Independent Bestseller List

southern bestseller list

For the week ending March 22, 2020


1. The Mirror & the Light Hilary Mantel, Holt, $30, 9780805096606
2. The Dutch House Ann Patchett, Harper, $27.99, 9780062963673
3. American Dirt Jeanine Cummins, Flatiron Books, $27.99, 9781250209764
4. Such a Fun Age Kiley Reid, Putnam, $26, 9780525541905
5. The Night Watchman Louise Erdrich, Harper, $28.99, 9780062671189


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. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone Lori Gottlieb, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328662057
5. The Body Bill Bryson, Doubleday, $30, 9780385539302

See what's special to the Southern List!

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Authors 'Round the South |

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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