Man's Best Friend (In books and on the screen)

One might believe, with the current popularity of Marley and Me, that man-and-dog memoir is a new genre.  However, there is a great deal of wonderful writing that preceded Marley about canine companionship.  One such was My Dog Skip, the moving tribute by Willie Morris, which went on to achieve even greater fame once it was adapted into a movie.  Willie Morris himself,  gave his book that title in homage to a book published in the mid-1960s called My Dog Tulip.  In it, the distinguished British author and editor J.R. Ackerley recounts his relationship with Tulip, an Alsatian (what I believe  we would call a German Shepherd).  Mr. Ackerley, already a middle-aged bachelor when he came into possession of Tulip,  lovingly and humorously recalls his sixteen years with her in what remains, more than forty years later, one of the finest examples of  canine-man literature. 

Wylie World Deflates

  From news reports around the world today it is now known that Random House and literary agent Andrew Wylie have reached an agreement over the control of digital publishing rights of authors represented by the Wylie agency and published in the U. S. by Random House.  Apparently Random House controls those rights.

But whether this agreement occurred as a result of legal authority or through Random House's threat not to do business with Wylie's clients we do not know.  Wylie's overnight enterprise, Odyssey Editions, still apparently has digital rights to the works of Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, William Burroughs, and Oliver Sacks.

The day we heard at Square Books that Wylie had created an exlusive arrangement with Amazon to publish e-book editions, we immediately created a window display of Wylie authors' books, all tagged with a "This book NOT for sale" bookmark, as a way of demonstrating the harmful potential that such a monopoly held for readers.

In Celebration of James Dickey

    Dwight Garner has an interesting article in today's New York Times--a piece written about James Dickey on the occasion of  the 40th anniversary of Deliverance.  It reminded us of the visits that this writer, who had a sort of deliberately constructed larger-than-life personna, literary and otherwise, made to Oxford and to Square Books.  Lisa and I first met Dickey in 1977 when we were booksellers in Washington, D. C., and attended a public reading by all the then-former poetry consultants to the Library of Congress.   

Square Books is teaming up with the Southern Foodways Alliance

This fall the SFA will be releasing a new cookbook simply titled The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook (University of Georgia Press, 24.95). Editors Sara Roahen and John T. Edge picked over 170 recipes for the collection with a foreword by "Good Eats" host Alton Brown. The recipes span over 12 chapters and cover a wide range of the best of southern cooking. Sections like Gravy, Garden Goods, Roots, Greens, Rice, Grist, Yardbird, Pig, The Hook, The Hunt are all here. You’ll find recipes for chicken and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, chess pie, and many more.

Junior Parties Like Rock Stars

Square Books JrStyling themselves after the A Team, the "Square Books Jr Team" hosted a Back-To-School Bash at Off Square Books last night, from 7 - 10 p.m.  Sixty to seventy "adults, kids, and teens," according to one observer, grooved to the "progressive rock" sound of The Tape Ghosts -- Jas Sandlin, Brayden Berry, and, on drums, Jr. bookseller Marterrious McClain.

The event was the brainchild of longtime Jr. staffer Paul Fyke and his cohort Sami Thomason, both of whom are officers of the Yoknapatawpha Youth Literacy Council, which co-sponsored the evening with coordination from Jr's Ramona Wanlass, a director on the "big" Literacy Council.  Ramona said that the greatest enjoyment came from "dancing to the band, and also making paper airplanes.  The planes," she added, "were based on Flying Lessons by Gilbert Ford, who visited Jr this past April.

Sustainable & Unsustainable Books (now at Off Square Books)

It is logical that the amount of books published about the environment continues to increase in relation to the environment's worsening. Finding the proper category in our bookstore for these books has proved difficult. Many are closely related to nature, and have been shelved in our NATURE section, but a book on, say, solar power more aptly belongs in SCIENCE. A lot of the new books on the "slow" and "go local" movements are in some way related to environmental studies, but many of those have been categorized in GARDENING or HOME LIVING. As our inventory on these sorts of books has grown they have spread throughout various sections of the bookstore.

Calling all Reading Groups

Starting a Book Club:

We offer a 15% discount for book clubs on books ordered through the store. Read on for more information.

At Square Books we are happy to stock books for your book club and provide your members with a discount. Here’s how:

Write up the selection of books you’ll be reading each month, as far in advance as possible. Email your list to

We’ll order in the books approximately one to two months ahead of time, based on when we receive your information, and place them on our Book Club section for your club members to purchase.


Book Club Tips

-How big should a group be? Try to keep it around 10-12 to ensure that there will be at least 6 at each meeting. The room should be small enough to be comfy.

-Keep selections diverse. Read works that one might not normally read.

-Try to get a variety of participants (age, experience, etc). Avoid groups that are too uniform in background and make-up. Invite members to bring their friends.

-Encourage interaction! Share contact information with each member of the group to enhance communication.

-Listening is as important as talking. A group leader can assist in allowing everyone to participate in a discussion.

-Everyone’s opinion is important. Try beginning with a ‘whip around’ question, to which everyone must respond quickly and spontaneously before settling into a more detailed discussion. Or, hand out paper and pencils and give a minute for participants to think about their answer before speaking.

-Ask participants to avoid using “I like” or “I hate” – a discussion should be an exchange of ideas, rather than emotional responses.

-Read only books readily available from the library or bookstore and try to stick with paperback editions.

-Utilize the library! Libraries are a great way to find information and recommendations, and librarians have ways of finding groups for individuals to join.

-Do you need a facilitator? A facilitator is not necessarily a part of the group, but exists to keep the discussion going smoothly and to bring in materials, which add to the discussion.

-Food is not necessary, but water is! If food is going to be a part of the meeting, set aside half an hour before or after eating and socializing. Socialization can be just as important to a group as discussion!

*Thanks to our friends at King’s English in Salt Lake City for sharing these tips with us.

Square Books Podcast: Howard Norman reads from WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER at Off Square Books

Howard Norman read from his latest novel, What is Left the Daughter, at Off Square Books on Wednesday, July 28. To listen to the reading please click the play button below.

Here is a review of What is Left the Daughter from the current issue of our Dear Reader newsletter.

To purchase a signed copy of What is Left the Daughter please click here

Howard Norman at Square Books


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