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Mom's the Bomb

Happy Mother's Day! Show your mother you love her with the gift of a good book.

Circe by Madeline MillerCirce by Madeline Miller (signed)
Madeline Miller gives vibrant life to ancient Greece and its classical mythology. In a world where people created gods very much in their own image the deities are just as petty, jealous, vindictive and violent as their human worshipers. The tale of Circe and her relationship with Odysseus is viewed from a fresh perspective and puts the ancient hero in a different light. Most of all, the author lends a human touch to the mythological tale, taking it out of the realm of fantasy into one that probes the deeper meaning of existence. - BC

What Can I Bring? by Elizabeth HeiskellWhat Can I Bring? by Elizabeth Heiskell (signed)
It is usually the first question you ask after receiving an invitation to a gathering or event: "What can I bring?" Now you'll have the answer. Based on the popular monthly feature "What Can I Bring?" in Southern Living magazine, no matter what the occasion, you'll have the perfect dish.

The Woman's Hour by Elaine WeissThe Woman's Hour by Elaine Weiss (signed)
The passage of the Nineteenth Amendment required decades of battle and Elaine Weiss brilliantly depicts the final efforts of suffragettes to secure ratification in 1920. She vividly illuminates the efforts of vested interests in business, society and politics to deny the vote to women and relates it to history of established groups who have consistently tried to prevent the United States from actually being a democracy. This is both important history and a cautionary tale that is relevant to today's world and efforts to limit voting. - BC

The Best Cook in the World by Rick BraggThe Best Cook in the World by Rick Bragg (signed)
From the beloved, best-selling author of All Over but the Shoutin', a delectable, rollicking food memoir, cookbook, and loving tribute to a region, a vanishing history, a family, and, especially, to his mother. Includes seventy-four mouthwatering Bragg family recipes for classic southern dishes passed down through generations.

You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis SittenfeldYou Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
This short story ensemble gets its title from the story, “The World Has Many Butterflies” in which a man and woman play a little game they’ve invented, “You Think It, I’ll Say It,” candidly sizing up their peers whenever they get bored at the tiresome parties thrown by local grown-up friends. But it is more apt as a remark Curtis Sittenfeld (PrepAmerican WifeEligible) poses to her readers, as she teases one’s imagination with the inner lives of her characters, people she understands we know, in their complicated, sweet, and often messy lives. Sittenfeld adroitly unfolds her tales to create drama that touches the reader’s experience, imagined or real, in a way that vividly answers the challenge of literature: to open that window that allows us to see and measure ourselves. Call to reserve a signed copy ahead of her reading on May 10th. - RH

The Nanny Connie Way by Connie SimpsonThe Nanny Connie Way by Connie Simpson
From the beloved nanny to stars like Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, and Cash Warren and Jessica Alba comes a loving yet no-nonsense guide to the first four months of parenthood so you can raise a happy baby—and be happy parents. Call for signed copies before she reads on a special Thacker at the Graduate Hotel and a separate event the following night.

Dear Madam President by Jennifer PalmieriDear Madam President by Jennifer Palmieri (signed)
Redefine the expectations for women in leadership roles with this New York Times bestselling volume of inspiring advice by the former communications director for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Framed as an empowering letter from Mississippian Jennifer Palmieri to the first woman president, and by extension, to all women working to succeed in any field, Dear Madam President is filled with forward-thinking, practical advice for all women who are determined to seize control of their lives-from the boardroom to the living room.

Mrs. by Caitlin MacyMrs. by Caitlin Macy (signed)
Caitlin Macy has written a modern-day version of The House of Mirth, not for the age of railroads and steel but of hedge funds and overnight fortunes, of scorched-earth successes and abiding moral failures. A brilliant portrait of love, betrayal, fate and chance, Mrs. marries razor-sharp social critique and page-turning propulsion into a memorable tapestry of the way we live in the 21st century.

Look Alive Out There by Sloane CrosleyLook Alive Out There by Sloane Crosley (signed)
From the New York Times-bestselling author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake comes Look Alive Out There -- a brand-new collection of essays filled with her trademark hilarity, wit, and charm. The characteristic heart and punch-packing observations are back, but with a newfound coat of maturity.

What You Don't Know About Charlie Outlaw by Leah StewartWhat You Don't Know About Charlie Outlaw by Leah Stewart (signed)
Stewart, author of several acclaimed novels and a longtime friend of Square Books, has written an insightful show business story full of intriguing detail, suspense and an intimate understanding of her characters: Charlie Outlaw, a newbie TV star coming undone by the pressures of success, and his recent ex-girlfriend, Josie Lamar, star of a cult TV show whose shine has tarnished over twenty years. Charlie seeks to get a grip by retreating to a remote island, while Josie plots a comeback and tries to forget Charlie, but can't. It's a great read -- a bit like sneaking a look at grocery tabloid features like Us Weekly's "Stars: They're Just Like Us!" Are Charlie and Josie? Check it out -- Stewart offers a convincing glimpse into the weird world of celebrity. - LH

Rick Bragg at Square Books on Saturday

Rick Brag

Best Cook in the World by Rick BraggRick Bragg's readers love his writing about family, and when this writer starts talking about food, and his mama's cooking, best to just get out of the way. Or his granddaddy, for that matter: "He crumbled fried cornbread into two glasses, poured in cold buttermilk, put in a dash of salt and pepper, and stuck in two blades of fresh green onion and two spoons. It was funny how such a simple thing could be so good." Rick Bragg has been coming to Square Books -- thankfully -- since All Over But the Shoutin', and we always leave his events happy and a bit awestruck. Don't miss him on this one when reads on Saturday, May 5th, or give us a call for a signed copy.

Criminal Justice and Incarceration at Square Books

Zachary Lazar in conversation with Kiese Laymon at Square Books

As one of several important threads of current national concern and conversation, it is perhaps no coincidence that four authors would appear at Square Books within a one-week period to discuss three books that pointedly reveal the issue of criminal justice and incarceration. What is remarkable, however, is how all three resonated so convincingly and deeply with their audience.

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist by Radley Balko and Tucker CarringtonThe Cadaver King and the Country Dentist, written by Radley Balko and University of Mississippi Law School Innocence Project director Tucker Carrington, offers two eye-opening stories on the exoneration of murder convictions that meant years of wrongful imprisonment as the result of a broken and corrupt system. The book is published by the distinguished imprint of Public Affairs ($28.00), a non-profit company whose mission is dedicated to the legacy of I. F. Stone, Benjamin Bradlee, and Robert Bernstein.

An American Marriage by Tayari JonesAtlanta writer Tayari Jones came here Feb. 28 to read from and discuss new Oprah pick An American Marriage—a brilliant and important novel of a couple who, after twelve years in the penal system for a crime the husband did not commit, struggle to relocate their relationship. Published by Larry Brown's great Chapel Hill imprint, Algonquin (26.95). 

Vengeance by Zachary LazarVengeance is the title of Zachary Lazar's novel—based on prisoners' stories gathered from the author's experience behind the walls of Angola prison. The author read from the book and then entertained questions from host Kiese Laymon and the audience. Published as a paperback original by the relatively new independent press, Catapult (16.95), who also published the recent novel by Simeon Marsalis, who visited us in November, and Cries for Help, by Padgett Powell, last here in 2015.

All three books, as Kiese Laymon said of Vengeance, make "...the reader reckon with the questions of what's real, what's imagined, and why these questions matter more in 2018 than at any other time in our nation." The authors of these books devoted years of their lives to helping us understand these stories and their implications today. We at Square Books and the Oxford audiences astonished by these three events and their respective books, feel fortunate—blessed—for the opportunity to receive them, meet them, and thank them.

Signed first edition copies at list price available upon request.

Tayari Jones reading at Square BooksZachary Lazar in conversation with Kiese Laymon at Square Books

Square Books' Top 100 of 2017

Thanks to loyal local support from those who attend our events, our Signed First Editions subscribers, and the many great authors connected to this area, our 2017 bestseller list is dominated by books written by those close to home, such as Ace Atkins, The Fallen (29), Erin Abbott, How to Make It (92), Alexe Van Beuren and Dixie Grimies’ perennial The BTC Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook (88), Heating & Cooling (28) by Beth Ann Fennelly, and Mary Ann Connell’s An Unforeseen Life (7), as well as those from far away who visited here, such as Joe Hagan & Sticky Fingers (72); Omar El Akkad (who got lost while trying to walk to the Square and was found by a man named Ronzo on a bicycle) and American War (15); George Saunders, a long-time SB friend, & Lincoln in the Bardo (8); Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow (24), and his Rules of Civility (66); Mark Bowden, Hue 1968 (46); Michael Connelly, Two Kinds of Truth (62); Denise Kiernan, The Last Castle (55); and Peter Heller, also an SB favorite, with Celine (98).

Jackson, Mississippi natives Jimmy Cajoleas and Angie Thomas contributed significantly with their novels for young readers, Goldeline (30), with following just behind The Hate U Give (32). We were blown away by What Can I Bring? (3) by Elizabeth Heiskell, closely followed by John Cofield’s simply fabulous Oxford, Mississippi: The Cofield Collection (4), and we’re always grateful to John Grisham for supplying us signed copies, especially when he writes two books in the same year – The Rooster Bar (2) and Camino Island (1), when he returned for an event – the first in a good, long while. Michelle Kuo returned to Mississippi for Reading with Patrick (73), and Charlene McCord and Judy Tucker, with several contributors, signed A Year in Mississippi (90).

Poetry matters! with Rupi Kaur’s Milk & Honey (22) and The Sun and Her Flowers (65); Stripper in Wonderland (76) by Derrick Harriell; and Molly Brown’s prize-winning Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded (35).   

Literary Oxford’s all-time homie, Bill Faulkner, hit about par with five books on the list. Robert Hamblin’s book about Faulkner, Myself and the World (70), his bio of Evans Harrington, Living in Mississippi (79), and Ed Croom’s pretty The Land of Rowan Oak (33), all made the list. Oxford native Allen Boyer’s history of war in the South Pacific, using his father’s diary as a source, Rocky Boyer’s War (47), remains popular. Other bestseller ghosts of Christmases past include Wyatt WatersAn Oxford Sketchbook (50), plus his new winner with Robert St. John, Mississippi Palate (13). Curtis Wilkie is also a twofer with his 7-year-old The Fall of the House of Zeus (38) and this year’s book on JFK, coauthored with honorary Oxonian Tom Oliphant, The Road to Camelot (11). The queen of this multiple-hit parade is Mississippian and former John and Renee Grisham Visiting Writer Jesmyn Ward, who, with Sing, Unburied, Sing (10) became the first woman to win the National Book Award for Fiction twice and the first African American to win twice, with her Salvage the Bones (93) having won in 2011 – but not the first Mississippian to win twice, as the previously mentioned William Faulkner did that, in 1951 and ’55. Current Grisham writer-in-residence and Tupelo native Catherine Lacey made the list with The Answers (20).

Southern Foodways Alliance folks did well – nice going, John T. Edge & The Potlikker Papers (9), Sarah Camp Milam’s SFA Guide to Cocktails (16), and Jessica Harris’s memoir, My Soul Looks Back (84). John Currence continues to reside on our list with Big Bad Breakfast (21), and other chefs include Hugh Acheson, The Chef and the Slow Cooker (64); Square Table, on our list for the thirteenth straight year (28); and Gumbo Love (85) by Lucy Buffett, who visited us this year.

More writers we thank for coming here include a memorable appearance from Daniel Sharfstein with Thunder in the Mountains (82); Kevin Wilson with Perfect Little World (19); those crazy and, if not cuddly, lovable rednecks and The Liberal Redneck Manifesto (40); and that great Mississippi historian David Sansing and Mississippi Governors (59).   

Thanks to the great contributors and editors who came to our excellent event for what is definitely the year’s biggest book – 8 ½ lbs & 1,451 pp -- of 2017, The Mississippi Encyclopedia (14) – Ann Abadie, Charles Wilson, Jimmy Thomas, Ted Ownby and Odie Lindsey, as well as to David Dibenedetto, John T. Edge, Donna Levine, John Currence and Vanessa Gregory, who showed nicely by talking well about S Is for Southern (54).

Many paperbacks make the list, including Jennifer Ackerman’s marvelous The Genius of Birds (48); 2-fer Tom Franklin with his perennial Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (68) and, as editor, Mississippi Noir (37); two Greg Iles titles; Hidden Figures (69) by Margot Shetterly; Neil White’s In the Sanctuary of Outcasts (31); Dispatches from Pluto (6) by Richard Grant; Murder in the Grove (83) by Mike Henry; Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth (86); The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (56); Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife (81), Anthony Doerr’s tireless All the Light We Cannot See (44), Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies (75); Just Mercy (45) by Bryan Stevenson; and The Sarah Book (95) by Scott McClanahan, and we thank him for his reading here.

Biographies do well, depending on their subject or author, and winning combinations came in Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo Da Vinci (86); the Bush girls in Sisters First (91); and the late, great Ron Borne’s book about Jim Carmody, The Big Nasty (52). Hubert McAlexander’s From the Chickasaw Cession to Yoknapatawpha: Historical and Literary Essays on North Mississippi (50) is superb and is certain to be on this list again next year. Killers of the Flower Moon (78) by the great writer David Grann, a fascinating account of the unusual origins of the FBI, was a fall favorite, as were Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (89) by Neil Tyson and Hillbilly Elegy (34) by J. D. Vance. Not biography but still books we love: Norse Mythology (94) by Neil Gaiman maintained interest throughout the year, as did 2016 NBA winner, Colson Whitehead and The Underground Railroad (97), this book’s second year on the list here, and Joan Didion’s South & West (49).

More Mississippians: Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles (5); Mary Miller and her fine stories, Always Happy Hour (57); Jeff McManus and Growing Weeders into Leaders (39) a great event; Charlie Spillers with Confessions of an Undercover Agent (42); John Marszalek and his two co-editors of The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant (64), David Nolen and Louis Gallo, who came here from Starkville and made a fabulous presentation this year; Pike County native, now living here in Oxford, Michael Farris Smith, with his searing Desperation Road (12), and whose new novel, The Fighter, will be out in March; Jim McCafferty and The Bear Hunter (60); On Being Afraid of the Dark (71) by Ken Wooten; Oxford’s Kathleen Wickham’s excellent book on the Ole Miss desegregation crisis and twelve journalists who covered it, We Believed We Were Immortal (61); The Goat Castle (67) by Karen Cox; David CrewsMississippi Book of Quotations (15); our friend, Richard Ford, and his stirring memoir of his parents, Between Them (41); and Oxford’s Julie Cantrell, whose Perennials (46) is set here.

Along with #50, 7, 15, 52, 71, 59, and #43, The Statue and the Fury by Jim Dees, we express special thanks to our friends here in Oxford at Nautilus Publishing, for bringing these titles top life and for all you’ve done for your authors and for Square Books, too.

From afar but not for the first time here, thanks to Robert Olmstead and Savage Country (23) and Nathan Englander, Dinner at the Center of the Earth (25), and, here for the first time, Laura Lee Smith with The Ice House (30) and Ladee Hubbard and The Talented Ribkins (27) also. Other appreciated appearances include those by Brian Van Reet with Spoils and Lydia Peele with The Midnight Cool (99 & 100) as well as Maile Meloy and Do Not Become Alarmed (18); Hannah Tinti and her Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley (17); Tim Tyson and his memorable appearance with The Blood of Emmett Till (36); Nate Blakeslee and American Wolf (77), one of our favorite books this year; special thanks to Mary Lindsay Dickinson for appearing on Thacker Mountain on behalf of her late husband and author of I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone (68), Jim Dickinson – love those Dickinsons. Finally, certainly not least, let us thank Square Books’ well known secret ingredient, Lisa Howorth, for not just yet trying out her Flying Shoes (58).   

Thanks to these books and their authors, and thousands more not named here, for giving Square Books its best year yet.    

Happy New Year, all – RH

Happy Holidays from Square Books

We're open until dusk on Christmas Eve and closed on Christmas Day. We open at 9am on December 26th. On December 31st, Square Books is open 9am - 6pm and Off Square Books & Square Books, Jr. are open 12pm - 5pm. Square Books is open on New Year's Day from 10am - 5pm and Square Books, Jr. & Off Square Books are closed.

May we recommend last minute gift ideas? Gift cards work at all three locations. We also offer a signed first subscription for fiction and nonfiction books.

Signed Gift Books Position Square Books For Brisk Holiday Sales

Led by several Mississippi-related gift books, booksellers at Square Books head into the holiday season eager to please many shoppers looking for interesting and appealing gift books.   

What Can I Bring? by Today Show regular Elizabeth Heiskell from here in Lafayette County, and Oxford's John Cofield with his marvelous Oxford, Mississippi: The Cofield Collection lead the pack, while Oxford's Sarah Camp Milam's Southern Foodways Alliance Guide to Cocktails and Mississippian foodie Robert St John and artist Wyatt Waters, who have teamed up again, this time for A Mississippi Palate, are close behind, as is the instantly classic The Mississippi Encyclopedia, signed by editors Ann Abadie, Charles Wilson, Ted Ownby, and James Thomas.

Garden & Gun editor-in-chief David Dibenedetto recently visited with several other contributors to sign copies of S is for Southern, an armchair compendium of classic and obscure pieces on all the sorts of things that make us what we are, y'all. We may have a few signed copies of The Chef and the Slow Cooker, signed by the Georgia restaurateur originally from Canada, Hugh Acheson, as well as John T. Edge's Potlikker Papers

Beth Ann Fennelly's Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro Memoirs, a great literary stocking stuffer, and Perennials by Julie Cantrell, have been hot, and we have perhaps more signed titles in stock than ever, including John Grisham's latest three -- The Rooster BarCamino Island, and The Whistler; Jesmyn Ward's National Book Award winning novel, Sing, Unburied, SingThe Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, signed by its three editors -- John Marszalek, David Nolen, and Louie Gallo; plus The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead; My Soul Looks Back, Jessica Harris; Joe Hagan's excellent account of Jann Wenner's Rolling StoneSticky Fingers; Kathleen Wickham's great account of twelve reporters who covered the Ole Miss desegregation crisis, We Believed We Were Immortal; and Mark Bowden's epochal account of the American war in Vietnam, Hue 1968.

Oman National Day


Danielle (far left), Richard (center), and Sarah (far right) of Square Books were surprised November 21st in the late afternoon with roses given to them by Alla and Shamsa, University of Mississippi students from Oman celebrating Oman's National Day. Sometimes this troubled world surprises us with gifts of joy and love.

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