Square Books wants you to know that on April 11 the Lafayette County Oxford Library will sponsor The Book Lives On Art Show, with an auction of handmade books created by University of Mississippi students.  Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Friends of the Library, a group that helps make many things happen at our library.  For more information go to:

William Gay

William Gay (on the right) pictured with Richard Flanagan
William Gay
On October 28, 1999, William Gay came to read at Square Books soon after his first novel, The Long Home, had been published by MacMurray & Beck; he was then fifty-five years old.   One could say Gay was a shy man, but he easily found company among the literary and music subculture in Oxford, as well as in its many watering holes.   Oxford was a short drive from William's home in Hohenwald, Tennessee, where he had been a laborer, mostly hanging drywall, in this small town of fewer than 4,000.   He made frequent visits to Oxford, often staying many days at a time.   He was unassuming and soft-spoken, and had, in addition to his broad acquaintance with literature, an encyclopedic knowledge of music and a wry, subtle sense of humor.   We immediately took to him as one of our own.   Likely because he came to writing late in life, and for so long had been such an avid reader, his novels and stories were perhaps greater than those of many more experienced authors.   William appeared at Square Books -- and gave wonderful readings -- for all his subsequent books: Provinces of Night (2000), I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down (2002), Wittgenstein's Lolita / The Iceman, and Twilight (2006).   Hohenwald will be remembered as the place where Meriwether Lewis ended his own life, the location of The Elephant Sanctuary (the largest natural habitat area for elephants in the U. S.), and the home of William Gay, a great writer and a dear friend to many of us in Oxford.


Square Books is participating in World Book Night. 
We need book-loving volunteers to fan out across America on April 23, 2012! Just take 20 free copies of a book to a location in your community, and you just might change someone's life. Please sign up by Feb. 1.
The goal is to give books to new readers, to encourage reading, to share your passion for a great book. The entire publishing, bookstore, library, author, printing, and paper community is behind this effort with donated services and time.


The first World Book Night was held in the UK last year, and it was such a big success that it's spreading around the world! Please volunteer to be a book giver in the U.S.

Twenty-Twelve Breaks Out at Square Books in late January

Square Books’ 2012 event schedule got off to a nice start last night (January 17) with Mac Gordon, at Off Square, talking about his Hometown: A Remembrance – how a small town newspaper and ordinary citizens joined together in the 1960s to end racial violence in McComb, Mississippi.

January 23 will bring a crowd to meet historian John Barry (author of Rising Tide), who will talk about his new work – Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty (Viking, 35.00).

January 24Educators’ Night.  In all three stores we will celebrate our teachers with discounts and giveaways.

January 26 – Novelist Adam Johnson will be here to read from his brilliant new novel that several of us are wild about, The Orphan Master’s Son (Random House 26.00).  The fastidious Michiko Kakutani wrote in the New York Times that “Mr. Johnson has written a daring and remarkable novel, a novel that not only opens a frightening window on the mysterious kingdom of North Korea, but one that also excavates the very meaning of love and sacrifice."

January 27 – The Neelys will be here!

January 27 – Yes, later the same day, Nevada Barr will return with The Rope (Minotaur, 25.99), her latest Anna Pigeon novel.  It’s always good to see Nevada back in town.

January 30Joshilyn Jackson (Gods in Alabama) will be back with A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty (Grand Central, 25.99), which Sara Gruen said “feels a lot like falling in love: giddy and enthralling and a little bit dangerous,” suggesting “book clubs take note.”

January 31 – We will close these two great weeks with Oxford’s Julie Cantrell’s first book, Into the Free.

Sam Haskell talks about PROMISES I MADE MY MOTHER on CBS News

Sam Haskell was interviewed on CBS this morning (Dec. 28, 2011) about his successful career and his book, Promises I Made My Mother, which has been and continues to be one of Square Books'  top bestsellers since its publication in April, 2009.   A popular fixture on the speaker circuit, Sam and his wife Mary manage very busy careers but have settled comfortably into the moderately paced life of Oxford since moving here in recent years.   Signed copies of Promises I Made My Mother (Random House, $24) are available from Square Books.

Jesmyn Ward's SALVAGE THE BONES wins 2011 National Book Award

Jesmyn Ward's excellent novel, Salvage the Bones, took home this year's National Book Award for fiction.  Ward grew up and currently lives in DeLisle, Mississippi.  She was the 2010-2011 John and Renée Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi.  She was also a Stegner Fellow at Stanford.  Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, received many awards and excellent reviews. 
Watch Ward's acceptance speech below (she gives a shout out to Mississippi Indipendent bookstores): 

“Ranchero” Hits On All Cylinders

We were primed to meet Rick Gavin on Wednesday, November 9.  His debut novel, Ranchero, published earlier this month, is set in the Delta.   Lisa had read an advance copy and was excited by Gavin’s “keen perception and gritty humor,” as she wrote in Dear Reader.  Randy Wayne White called the book “a kick-ass, backcountry novel.”   We thought that Gavin, described on the book jacket as a Sheetrocker and who clearly is either from or at some point has lived in the Delta, might be the next Larry Brown or Lewis Nordan.

Imagine our surprise when, at the scheduled time of the event, T. R. Pearson, who was to accompany Gavin, his friend and apparently something of a protégée, showed up alone.   He explained that as they were headed out of town Gavin, who’d had a rough night before and was “green around the gills,” had to stop at the grocery store “for a quart of milk.”  When Pearson got back to the car, he found Gavin unconscious in a shopping cart in the Kroger parking lot, and ultimately was forced to leave Gavin behind.

Pearson did an admirable job presenting Gavin’s book and told us how they had met – in a convenience store.  A nice crowd was disappointed not to meet Gavin, but the event was successful never the less.

Ranchero was featured in the November 12, 2011, Wall St Journal review, which called the book “irresistible,” and a “gritty, earthy, and often hilarious debut crime novel.  Ranchero has the humor of a tall tale told by Mark Twain, but beneath its comic bravado is hard knowledge of what the locals are up against.”

A limited number of signed copies remain available.
  We look forward to reading more work by Rick Gavin, and hope to see him at Square Books with his second novel.