At Square Books Jr., the classic GOODNIGHT GORILLA (#6) is as likely to show up on its bestseller list as the latest picture book from Michael Kaplan, BETTY BUNNY DIDN’T DO IT (#16), and there are always surprises. The number 1 spot, which one would expect to be occupied by John Grisham’s fourth Theodore Boone novel, THE ACTIVIST (#2) was WHERE DO THEY GO ON GAME DAY? (a.k.a. the squirrel book) by newcomer Laurie Fisher. In fairness, we have to point out that the third installment of the Theodore Boone series was at #14. FANCY NANCY THE FANCIEST DOLL IN THE UNIVERSE (#3) was boosted by a visit from the illustrator, Robin Preiss Glasser. Others who visited were Ree Drummond, CHARLIE GOES TO SCHOOL (#12), John Marciano Bemelmans, MADELINE AND THE OLD HOUSE IN PARIS (#25), Loren Long, AN OTIS CHRISTMAS (#18). 

Teens and adults alike took home John Green’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (#10) and interest in the forthcoming movie spurred sales for DIVERGENT (#21). Middle graders were glad to see the release of the 8th in the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID series (#5), and Dan Gutman’s new series THE GENUIS FILES (#7), while the intrigue factor for THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET (#17) remains. But picture books ruled, with Leita’s pick LITTLE BEAR’S LITTLE BOAT (#8), Sarah Frances Hardy’s PUZZLED BY PINK (#25) and Manning fan favorite FAMILY HUDDLE (#11). For another year PETE THE CAT: I LOVE MY WHITE SHOES (#9) showed, with other Pete books holding places at #s13,15,19. A huge new favorite is THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT (#4), which all find clever, meaningful, and funny. The significance of a bestseller list for Square Books Jr. is a bit different than it is at what we call "the big store," as the staff at Jr. hand sells the books they love. That passion is as timeless and unregulated as are the interests and enthusiasms of the children who visit Square Books Jr. They know better than the rest of us that Square Books Jr. is a world unto themselves.

Old friends returned to Square Books with new books in 2013, and many made our year-end top 100 list – Jonny Miles and his brilliant novel, Want Not (23); Bob Shacochis (91); Jill McCorkle (19); Nell Dickerson and Porch Dogs (62); Lisa Patton (70); Clyde Edgerton (79); Molly Crosby (97); Jeff Shaara (35); Ann Patchett and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (26); Jayne Anne Phillips and Quiet Dell (28); Daniel Woodrell with The Maid’s Version (20); and Philipp Meyer with his Western epic, The Son (16).


Staff picks often find their way up the list, like Rules of Civility (55), Mary Hamilton’s Trials of the Earth (60), Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (61), Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (73) and William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow (54). Humor has its appeal, in Julia Reed’s But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria (29); How Not to be a Dick (50); Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die by Willie Nelson (46); Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book (32); and I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar (65).


Congratulations to John Hailman, whose From Midnight to Guntown continues to find readers (6) and to Robert Khayat, who, upon retiring as University of Mississippi Chancellor, sat right down and wrote his memoir, The Education of a Lifetime, our number 1 book of the year – and to Neil White, his publisher at Nautilus.


New to Square Books this year were some huge favorites – The Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (67); Jamie Quatro and I Want to Show You More (25); Kristopher Jansma and The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (30); Damien Echols, off death row with his memoir, Life After Death (58); Ree Drummond, whose The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays (67) + 2 other books, made our list; a memorable visit from Gail Godwin with Flora (22); Bill Cheng and Southern Cross the Dog (17), and Anton DiSclafani and The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls (15).


Our heartfelt thanks go to these authors, the many publishers who helped them make it here, and to Square Books friends from near and far – for giving us our best year ever.


For a report on top titles at Square Books Jr, check this blog Tuesday.

2013 was a banner year for Square Books, due largely to the many books by writers connected to Oxford. Our top ten bestselling authors all signed books for us, only three of whom are not connected to Oxford – Pat Conroy and The Death of Santini (10), George Saunders’ Tenth of December (7), and David Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls (8) – although all three of those writers have appeared here in past years, too.  

Cookbooks and other lifestyle categories were hot: perennial seller Square Table (11); Are You Ready? (13) from Ole Miss Department of Nutrition & Hospitality Management; Treme: the Cookbook (64); An Italian Palate, by Robert St. John and Wyatt Waters (14); Garden & Gun’s Southerner’s Handbook (12); Southern Living’s Tailgating Handbook (18); and at #2, John Currence hit a home run in his first at bat in a big, bad way with Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey.

Other Oxford and Mississippi writers dominated our list, some with more than one book: Ace Atkins (42, 90); William Faulkner, of course, Selected Short Stories (31, + 3 other titles); the King twins (52 + 71); John Grisham, with Sycamore Row at #3 (+ 5 and 99); Julie Cantrell (66 + 95); Jesmyn Ward (74 + 83); Curtis Wilkie (27); Donna Tartt (24); Michael Henry (77); Ann Fisher Wirth (98); Sam Haskell (9); William Winter’s biography (45); Michael Farris Smith’s debut, Rivers (63); Steve Yarbrough (64); Neil White (34); and Bill Ferris (40). Tom Franklin’s Crooked Letter Crooked Letter (33) was bested by his collaborative novel with Beth Ann Fennelly, The Tilted World (5).


For more top 100 Square Books titles, check this blog Monday


Bruce Cameron, author of the bestselling books, A Dog's Journey and A Dog's Purpose, teamed up with Square Books this year when his new book, The Dogs of Christmas, was published. The author and the bookstore agreed to dedicate $2 each for every copy sold -- a total of $4 for every book, 25% of the $15.99 hardcover gift book. With animal lovers in Oxford having now purchased 263 copies since Bruce Cameron's October 15th appearance on Thacker Mountain radio at Off Square Books, that makes $1,052 total that will go to OLCHS. Square Books still has a few signed copies in stock.

This time of year people like to buy gifts that are fun, and often consider a book that is funny a go-to item for the person they may not know so well, or, perhaps, the person they do -- like a brother or sister. Humor books also make good stocking stuffers.   

   This year we seem to have a better selection than usual. Two have been tickling our bestseller list for weeks now -- Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book (9.95), which uses art from your old favorite Golden Books and is a bona fide Golden Book (it has the little gold band on the spine); the other is actually a sort of useful, modern-day etiquette book that has a funny title, How Not to be a Dick (16.99), with Dick-and-Jane-ish drawings.

Married folks will find something to laugh about for sure in The Married Kama Sutra: The World's Least Erotic Sex Manual (16.00, illustrated) by Simon Rich and Farley Katch. "When the man is loading the dishwasher and the woman must come over because he is loading it wrong, it is called 'the dishwasher position'." And, after Christmas dinner, families can sit around laughing over Awkward Family Holiday Photos (15.00).

"Trattoria Amazonia" and "The Royal and Ancient Galapogolf" are just two of the illustrated chapters by David Letterman and Bruce McCall in This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me) (25.95), who poke fun at how the planet is the playground of the filthy rich, an excellent gift for anyone who isn't, though no one will laugh louder than those who are. We just received "the autobiography every true American has been waiting for: a shockingly candid and raw confessional from a national treasure" -- by Ron Burgundy, entitled Let Me Off at the Top! My Classy Life and Other Musings (22.00). Ron's book jacket carries his own blurb: "I wrote a hell of a book!" with a large picture of his handsome, mustachioed face and anchorman smirk.

Finally, for those who take humor seriously, there's the new fifth edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (35.00). "A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections" -- George Eliot.  RH  

25 Days of Grinchmas will spread good deeds throughout the community, building a sense of togetherness and holiday spirit while supporting local retail shops during the holiday season.

Stop by Square Books, Jr. from November 16 through December 14 to pick up a Grinchmas bingo card. Mark off good deeds done at home, in the community, and at 1 of 28 participating stores around the Square. After you've bingoed, take the card back to Square Books, Jr. and you will receive a "grow your heart three sizes button."

Another way to do good deeds is to purchase a book at 20% discount for Leapfrog and place a heart ornament on the Grinchmas tree. We will have a special storytime on Saturday, December 14th to celebrate all the good deeds done and the Grinch himself will be in attendance.