Square Books's blog
In 1946, a young female attorney
from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a
black man in the Deep South.
Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.
As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun’s The Secret of Magic, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.
Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past. The Secret of Magic brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.
About the Author
Deborah Johnson is the author of The Air Between Us, which received the Mississippi Library Association Award for fiction. She now lives in Columbus, Mississippi, and is working on her next novel.
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.