Under Harvey's Eye

Hurricane Harvey has cut a path through the South, much like when Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Gulf Coast in 2005. These catastrophic storms leave behind shambles, and some of the books below do justice at describing the horror. Read on in order to grasp the long (and still unfolding) road ahead for those in Texas.

Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones is a big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty. Winner of the 2011 National Book Award.

In The Great Deluge, bestselling author Douglas Brinkley finds the true heroes of the unparalleled Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, and lets the survivors tell their own stories, masterly allowing them to record the nightmare that was Katrina.

Five Days at Memorial uncovers the harrowing story of a hospital during the Katrina floodwaters where several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. 

Kiese Laymon's debut novel Long Division tells about YouTube sensation City Coldson, who moves away from home and is given a book that contains time traveling powers, which enables him to travel back in time and save his family from terrorism by the Ku Klux Klan.

Michael Farris Smith's devastating Rivers is a masterful tale of survival and redemption in a world where the next storm is never far behind. 

A decade later, Katrina: After the Storm traces the storm's immediate damage, the city of New Orleans's efforts to rebuild itself, and the storm's lasting effects not just on the area's geography and infrastructure--but on the psychic, racial, and social fabric of one of this nation's great cities.

America's Great Storm is the memoir from former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and details his experience with guiding the poorest state in the nation out of this tragedy.

The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly is a fictional account about murder and love during the Mississippi Flood of 1927. An extraordinary tale told with beautiful language from two Oxford writers.

Flight Behavior is a brilliant and suspenseful novel set in present day Appalachia; a breathtaking parable of catastrophe and denial that explores how the complexities we inevitably encounter in life lead us to believe in our particular chosen truths.

Drawdown is a collection of 100 solutions to reverse global warming, based on meticulous research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world.

The Madhouse Effect portrays the intellectual pretzels into which denialists must twist logic to explain away the clear evidence that human activity has changed Earth's climate. Because climate change is fact.

Truth to Power is a book companion to Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

The Sixth Extinction blends intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.


Please Forward is a collection of blog posts from a blogging community that was vital for rebuilding New Orleans.



Catherine Lacey on the season premiere of Thacker Mountain Radio

Thacker Mountain Radio returns to Oxford after a summer spent on the road. This week's author is Catherine Lacey, who is the University of Mississippi's 2017 Grisham Writer in Residence. The show will feature performances by the Memphis reggae band Chinese Connection Dub Embassy and local synth-pop duo And The Echo.

Catherine Lacey is the author of Nobody Is Ever Missing, winner of a 2016 Whiting Award and a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award. She was born in Tupelo, Mississippi and is based in Chicago.

Her latest novel, The Answers, follows a struggling Mary who lives in New York City and needs a certain health treatment she can't afford. She's in serious debt and out of options when she signs up for a mysterious job advertised as "The Girlfriend Experiment," which she learns is the creation of narcissstic actor Kurt Sky. Determined to find the perfect relationship, Sky hires several women to provide different girlfriend-like functions. Mary's role is to play the "Emotional Girlfriend" and she falls into Kurt's ego-driven and messy attempts at human connection.

Dwight Garner of the New York Times wrote, "In her new novel, The Answers, she sweeps you up in the formidable current of her thought, and then she drops you down the rabbit hole. She’s the real thing, and in The Answers she takes full command of her powers."

Told in her signature spiraling prose, The Answers is full of the singular yet universal insights readers have come to expect from Lacey.

August 31st - 6pm - Off Square Books

First Amendment Sales Tax Holiday

In celebration of the vital importance of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits, among other things, "the making of any law abridging the freedom of speech" or "infringing upon the freedom of the press," Square Books will offer our customers a 7% discount on book purchases all weekend, starting on August 25th through August 27th.

The discount effectively nullifies the amount of sales tax for customers, as Square Books is still required to collect and pay that tax.

This promotion celebrates the great traditions of free expression and free press in our nation and the rich tradition of Mississippi's literature.

It occurs on the same weekend that the State Legislature grants a sales tax holiday to anyone in Mississippi purchasing guns, a Second Amendment tax holiday initiated in Governor Phil Bryant's first term.

We encourage the Mississippi legislature to one day initiate a similar holiday for the sale of books.

An Interview with Richard Howorth

With the Tuesday release by Doubleday of Camino Island, a crime thriller about the heist of rare book manuscripts from Princeton University–and the cast of characters that sets out to find the robbers, recover the manuscripts, and ensure justice for all in just under 300 pages–Grisham will hit the road again on a much-anticipated book tour that will include a stop at Square Books on June 20. While much has changed since that initial book signing event in Oxford 28 years ago, Square Books owner Richard Howorth looks back fondly on memories that link Square Books to Grisham’s early career, and the special regard each still holds for the other. Interview by Jana Hoops. Special to Clarion-Ledger Sunday print edition (June 4). Click here to read the interview, or click the "read more" link below.

Order a signed copy of Camino Island

Camino Island opens with a Princeton library heist of valuable manuscripts, a charismatic bookstore owner (no, this resembles no one we know) whose sideline of antiquarian books might have a shady side, and a young woman, a struggling writer, who is hired by an insurance firm to find facts and play dumb. The recipe of interesting characters and a rollicking plot, sprinkled with literary treats, makes for Grisham at his best. Order a signed first edition of Camino Island.

Living in Mississippi: The Life and Times of Evans Harrington

Living in Mississippi: The Life and Times of Evans HarringtonA little over a year ago Robert Hamblin's excellent brief biography of William Faulkner, Myself and the World, appeared here. Recently we received another most welcome 148-page biography by Hamblin, Living in Mississippi: The Life and Times of Evans Harrington, the story of one of Mississippi's most courageous intellectuals and social activists. Harrington (1925-97) was one of the most popular professors on campus, teaching all creative writing classes (Poetry, the Short Story, and Expository Prose) and most modern literature courses (Modern American Drama, the Modern English Novel, and Modern Poetry) at a time when English departments almost universally taught the work of only dead writers. Harrington was active in important civil rights and free speech issues and cases. Upon receiving the ACLU's Civil Libertarian of the Year award, one of the writers Harrington was responsible for bringing to the University of Mississippi, Barry Hannah, said, "He is Emerson's 'American Scholar.' He is Whitman's 'man of the open road.' He is not just a supporter of of the arts, civil rights, and humanitarian enlightenment, but a great participator." We will celebrate Robert Hamblin's life of Evans Harrington at the close of this year's Faulkner Conference—of which Harrington was it's 1974 co-founder. The book is now available. -- RH

Celebration for The Mississippi Encyclopedia


We hope you'll join us this Saturday, May 20th, to celebrate the publication of The Mississippi Encyclopedia, the extraordinary 1,600-page result of years of scholarship by over 700 contributors and the tireless efforts of its Center for the Study of Southern Culture editors -- Jimmy Thomas, Ted Ownby, Ann Abadie, Charles Wilson, and Odie Lindsey. Beginning at 3 pm at Oxford City Hall Courtroom, some of its contributors will present "lecturettes" on their respective topics and, at 5 pm at Off Square Books, there will be a party and book-signing with all editors and contributors present.


The Mississippi Encyclopedia
edited by Ann J. Abadie, Odie Lindsey, Ted Ownby, James G. Thomas Jr., & Charles Reagan Wilson

Square Books' Mad, Mad Month of May

Mark your calendars for our event-filled month of May.


May 2Charles Eagles, author of the award-winning The Price of Defiance, talks about his new book, Civil Rights, Culture Wars (University of North Carolina Press, $34.95), in which the Mississippi school textbook banning of Mississippi: Conflict and Change and the subsequent federal lawsuit provide a landscape for this historian to delineate the fissures of Mississippi politics and culture.

May 11Yvette Johnson, born and raised in California, is the granddaughter of Booker Wright, who once was a waiter at Lusco’s, the famous Greenwood, Mississippi restaurant. When an NBC documentary film crew came through town in 1966 and asked him what it was like to live in Mississippi, his life changed at the moment he told them the truth. This loving memoir, The Song and the Silence (Simon & Schuster, $26.00), is the result of Johnson’s determined search for who her grandfather was, what happened, and why.

May 20 – Many here remember “The Encycloparty” of 1989, when we celebrated the publication of The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Now we will celebrate The Mississippi Encyclopedia (UP Mississippi, 1,481 pp., $70), with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture’s editors, James Thomas, Ann Abadie, Charles Wilson and Ted Ownby and as many of the over 700 contributors who are here. “Speed lectures” begin at 3 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of City Hall; reception and Monster Book Signing begin at 5 p.m. at Off Square Books.


May 3 – Many of you now know Bill Cusamano here, who says that Brain Van Reet (a former Marine and recipient of a James Michener fellowship) has written a first book, Spoils (Lee Boudreaux, $26.00), that will be to the second Gulf War what Going After Cacciato was to Vietnam, and that this “…high octane novel immediately hits high gear and never stops accelerating straight through to its conclusion.”

May 15Edan Lepucki, contributing editor at The Millions and author of first novel sensation California, makes her first visit to Square Books with Woman No. 17 (Hogarth, $26). A single mom takes on a young nanny to help out with her not-that-much-younger son and the toddler daughter, and things get tense, comical and complicated in this “family noir.”

May 18 – With perhaps the most talked-about first novel of 2017, Omar El Akkad will make a first visit to Oxford, bringing his American War along. The story occurs 60–80 years from now, the Mississippi River is the Mississippi Sea, and the state of Mississippi, along with Alabama and Georgia (“the Mag”) have seceded. Lisa Howorth, who ain’t scared of nuthin, calls it “scary and compelling.”



May 8 “To write a memoir, and to consider the importance of another human being is to try to credit what otherwise might go unremarked–partly by acknowledging that mysteries lie within us all, and by identifying within those mysteries, virtues.” So writes Richard Ford in his artful effort to bring to life his mother, father, and a young Richard, in Between Them: Remembering My Parents (Harper, $25.99). Generous in his appearances at Square Books over his career, Richard Ford has, every time, given a splendid, memorable reading.   

May 10 – Two days following Richard Ford’s visit, his old friend Curtis Wilkie will be here with his old friend and longtime partner in ink at the Boston Globe, Tom Oliphant. Together they have written a fascinating account of a five-year period in American history, from 1955 to 1960, showing exactly how a presidential campaign and its young candidate, John F. Kennedy, fashioned themselves and flourished to “the squeaker” of a victory, in The Road to Camelot (Simon & Schuster, $28.00).

May 17John T. Edge arrived in Oxford as a curious and enterprising student a couple of decades ago or so, and, through eager curiosity, industrious scholarship and several books, a case may be made that he now is the preeminent authority on just about anything having to do with food in the American South. That case is now closed with The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the American South (Penguin, $28).



May 4 – You might guess that, with a title like Your Killin’ Heart (St. Martin’s, $25.99), the book might deal with country music and be set in Nashville. And you’d be right about Peggy (Peden) O’Neal’s first novel, a Minotaur mystery with a slice of humor and winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Mystery competition.

May 16 – Some of our best events feature books about the natural world, and we can’t wait for Lynn Frierson Faust to come to Oxford to talk about summertime favorites in her book, Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs (Univ. of Georgia Press, $32.95). Yikes -- “Predatory Photuris versicolor complex females often mimic the flashes of other fireflies.”

May 23 – With a movie out and now on the Indie Bestseller list, A Dog’s Purpose reminds us of Bruce Cameron’s visit here when that novel first appeared. He returns to Oxford, where he has many dog-loving readers, with A Dog’s Way Home (Forge, 24.99), another great story based on dog-and-human relationships from the dog’s point of view. 



Note: All events are at Off Square Books beginning at 5 p.m. Visit our event page for a full listing of May's events.


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