Lady Banks Bookshelf

Lady Banks Pick of the Week


Like every thinking, feeling person in this country, her ladyship, the editor has spent the last week becoming more and more horrified by the violence that has erupted across the country. "The violence," she writes, as if it were some sort of natural disaster, like a hurricane, when in truth it is OUR violence. The burning cars, destroyed shops, bleeding protesters. These things are not the fault of a virus racing through the population. These are the terrible acts of violence people have committed upon each other. There is no escaping the reality of that.

Her ladyship was left reeling between grief and anger, each so entangled with the other it was sometimes hard to know which emotion she we feeling. It seems to her there should be some other word which encompasses both.

As she has done her entire life when troubled or in turmoil, her ladyship, the editor, revisited the books that have helped her to understand and make sense of a senseless world. This past weekend, she re-read every book she owned by James Baldwin. In particular an interview he had with Studs Terkel in 1961:

"I'm not mad at this country anymore: I am very worried about it. I'm not worried about the Negroes in the country even, so much as I am about the country. The country doesn't know what it has done to Negroes. And the country has no notion whatever--and this is disastrous--of what it has done to itself. North and South have yet to assess the price they pay for keeping the Negro in his place; and, to my point of view, it shows in every single level of our lives, from the most public to the most private."
--James Baldwin to Studs Terkel, 1961

You can listen to the full interview here

Of course in a crisis book people turn to books. Our faith that books can change our lives for the better and build bridges between people remains a core belief. "Books are good. Books help. We believe that." posted Scuppernong Books in Greensboro, SC after their windows were broken. "What's the last book that shifted your worldview?" asked Michelle Cavalier of Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, Louisiana in the store newsletter this morning. Hers was Born a Crime by Trevor Noah:

Read about our world -- Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs, GA

An Antiracist Reading List -- Ibram X. Kendi

Black Lives Matter -- The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, MN

Read independently, and shop local now so you can shop local later.