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A Quick Look at a Very Good Year for Square Books – Part 1

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


Square Books Helps Raise over $1,000 for Oxford Lafayette Humane Society

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.

Funny Things About the Holidays at Square Books

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  

29 Days of Grinchmas

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.

Late November Events at Square Books

Square Books prepares to close out a record year of author events as we approach Thanksgiving and the holidays.  Mississippian Snowden Wright is here Wednesday, November 20, with Play Pretty Blues (Engine Books, 14.95); Jayne Anne Phillips returns to Square Books on Thacker Mountain Thursday, November 21 to read from her brilliant new novel, Quiet Dell (Scribner, 28.00); and on Friday, November 22, Wright Thompson (who has just appeared in Best American Sports Stories 2013 for an unprecedented eighth consecutive years) will interview Nicholas Dawidoff, sportswriter nonpareil, with his just-released Collision Low Crossers (Little Brown, 28.00), an inside look at the NFL that readers already are comparing to Paper Lion, and saying that it is the best book ever written on professional football.

We will finish November celebrating Small Business Saturday and featuring four guest authors -- who will be booksellers! Sarah Frances Hardy at Jr, and Beth Ann Fennelly, Deborah Johnson, and Ace Atkins will be helping us help you -- and they might sign a book or two of their own. While we always tell publishers we do not do events in December, we will break our rule for Ann Patchett, Joshilyn Jackson, Melissa Townsend, Ken Wooten, and -- how could we resist -- The Grinch. More on that in a later post.  -- R.H.