This week saw two articles mentioning Square Books and Oxford. One in Smithsonian magazine "The 20 Best Small Towns in America" and the other in Canada's second largest newspaper The Globe and Mail, "The Best Bookstores in North America." They both said really nice things about Square Books that caused us first to blush, then to worry that we would live up to the promise, then to begin tallying all the great bookstores not mentioned. After further reflection, we wondered if these mentions of Square Books and Oxford in the same week really coincidental? Independent bookstores all over North America are essential, active, contributing members of their communities helping make their home, be it city or town, the best place to live.
We're delighted we are the Bookstore of the Month in McSweeny's online newsletter. Square Book's Cody Morrison has endorsed two McSweeny's books, HOT PINK by Adam Levin, and MAGIC HOURS: ESSAYS ON CREATORS AND CREATIONS, by Tom Bissell.
And as many of you know, Mary Marge Locker, freshman English major at Ole Miss, has a column of essays published on the McSweeny's site. To read her work, please click here.
It is always entertaining to listen to the authors who appear on Thacker Mountain Radio each Thursday here at Off Square Books, but sometimes we lose sight of the fact that author appearances are also intended to be educational. In furtherance of this educational mission we were lucky last night to have David Rees, "the number one #2 pencil sharpener" and author of HOW TO SHARPEN PENCILS (Melville House, $19.95) give us a demonstration straight from Chapter 14 on "Sharpening Pencils for Children." It was a fun learning experience for all and Mr. Rees made it look so easy, but remember, he is a professional and has spent years honing his craft, so it would be advisable to purchase a copy of his book (which we now have copies signed by David Rees with a pencil he sharpened himself!)
Richard Howorth, the owner of Square Books in Oxford, John Evans of Lemuria in Jackson, Jamie Kornegay of TurnRow Book Company in Greenwood and Emily Gatlin of Gum Tree Book Store in Tupelo make up a panel that will discuss the state of the book selling trade and the ongoing national war between the big box stores and the independents. They will share their survival secrets at 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 20th at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.
Howorth, a former Oxford mayor and a frequent host to some of the nation’s best-known authors, operates three book stores within a short stroll of each other on the town square. His Off-Square Books annex hosts the town’s popular Thacker Mountain Radio show.
Evans started Lemuria in a small converted apartment in 1975 saw it grow into a much larger store just off I-55 in Jackson. It has since expanded, with LemuriaBooks.com occupying an adjacent warehouse-like space where authors can speak and customers sip beer.
Before opening TurnRow and its popular sandwich shop in downtown Greenwood, Kornegay got his start writing for the Oxford Eagle. He got the book bug, started writing fiction and took a job at Square Books. He also found time to produce Thacker Mountain Radio.
Emily Gatlin’s frequent book reviews and her “bookseller Barbie” blogs on the book trade have become well known to aficionados. Her book events at Gum Tree have helped the store, housed in Tupelo’s legendary Reed’s department store, become a regular on the author circuit.
Overby Fellow Bill Rose will moderate the panel, which is free and open to the public.
For more information please visit www.overbycenter.org
Square Books' owner, Richard Howorth, relives his time as the Man in the Yellow Hat and speaks about the upcoming exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art and the phenomenon of Curious George!