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Spring Break in Oxford & Square Books


     If you haven’t made your spring break plans, listen up. It’s not exactly a secret that this is an ideal time (March 7 – 14 this year) to visit Oxford. The weather can be glorious, and by virtue of a dramatic population decrease, you pretty much have the place to yourself: traffic is light, restaurant seating is noncompetitive; there are Ole Miss tennis matches Thursday and Friday; Southside Gallery and other Square establishments are open; and the many splendid sites of the town and the University of Mississippi are open regular hours, including the the University Library and its Archives and Special Collections, with its permanent exhibits representing Faulkner and James Meredith, and the current exhibit, “Entertainment Collectors, Authors, and Critics.” A room there is dedicated to the late publisher, Seymour Lawrence, displaying material related to the authors he published – among others, Barry Hannah, Susan Minot, Tim O’Brien, Jayne Anne Phillips, Jim Harrison, and Tom McGuane (more on him in a sec).

      The University Museum also features Seymour Lawrence’s modern art collection, as well as the remarkable Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, as well as the works of Theora Hamblett, and a temporary exhibition of the work of African American self-taught artists, not to mention 19th century scientific teaching instruments and, yes, dressed fleas. Those who have been here know this museum is a pleasant walk through Bailey’s Woods to Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s home, which also will be open regular hours.

     But this ain’t the tourism office, so why are we telling you this? Simple: we have three fabulous author events this week, all beginning with an author reception at 5.  

     Tuesday, March 10 – Kevin Sessums, author of Mississippi Sissy, will be here to talk about his memoir, I Left It on the Mountain, a chronicle of a low life to redemption from the Mississippian who worked with Andy Warhol, was a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Allure, and interviewed and/or hung out with everyone from Madonna and Courtney Love to Jessica Lange.

     Wednesday, March 11 – Jamie Kornegay, Batesville native, Ole Miss grad, owner of Turnrow Books in Greenwood and longtime bookseller here at Square Books and one-time producer of Thacker Mountain, which he pulled out of the ditch more than a time or two, has finally done what he meant to do all along: write a novel. And it is simply great. Called Soil, published by Simon & Schuster, the story features Jay Mize, who has vague notions of a coming apocalypse and seeks to establish a sustainable farm, a place where he can shelter his wife and young son. But a flood and Jay’s building paranoia complicate their lives, and when floodwaters recede Jay finds a body in his field. If you have been missing Larry Brown or William Gay, Jamie is to the rescue.

     Thursday, March 12 – Tom McGuane, once published by Seymour Lawrence and a visitor to Oxford and Square Books on a few occasions, but not in a good while – will be here with his splendid new book of stories, Crow Fair, published by Knopf.  “…while it’s true that the farther you get from an actual product the better your chances of economic success, I and many of my classmates wanted more physical evidence of our efforts. I had friends who’d trained as historians, literary scholars, and philosophers who were now shoeing horses, wiring houses, and installing toilets. There’d been no suicides so far.” Such are the narrators and characters who populate Tom McGuane’s new book, an assemblage of seventeen stories, many set in the modern West outdoors, something the author – not only a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters, but also the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame and the National Cutting Horse Hall of Fame – knows about.

     And if you can’t make it, you are more than welcome to order signed copies of these and many other books from us.

Patton Oswalt Signing and Discussion

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 11, 5 p.m. at Off Square Books

New York Times
bestselling author, comedian, and actor Patton Oswalt shares his entertaining memoir about coming of age as a performer and writer in the late '90s while obsessively watching classic films at the legendary New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles.

*Purchase the book in advance from Square Books to receive reserved seating

Oswalt will be performing at The Lyric at 7 p.m. Click here for details.

New Harper Lee Novel to be Published July 14, 2015

Word reached Square Books today that a second Harper Lee novel -- Go Set a Watchman -- is to be published by HarperCollins this summer.  The approximately 300-page book is set to arrive at Square Books July 14 and is available for pre-order at the price of $27.99. Or call or email Square Books now to reserve a first edition copy.  We look forward to celebrating this event with all readers who have loved To Kill a Mockingbird.  For further information a press release is attached here.

Christopher Scotton With THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH - Thursday the 15th, 5pm

Thursday, January 15, at Off Square Books, Christopher Scotton will be on hand to talk about The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, the number 1 national Indie Next pick for the month of January.   14-year-old Kevin,  whose younger brother's death has torn his family apart, moves to his grandfather's house in a small town which is itself torn apart by mountaintop removal mining.  Booksellers and critics across
the country have been heaping praise on this powerful debut novel.

Shortly before Lyn Roberts introduces Mr. Scotton, Square Books owner Richard Howorth will give a VERY brief “State of Square Books” report to the public which will include an acknowledgment of local writers who contributed to the bookstore and the community in 2014.

As is the custom at special events, a special punch will be served.  Be there and be Square. 

Young Adult Bestsellers

2014 was another great year for teen, or young adult, literature with a few authors dominating the scene.  No surprise that John Green's The Fault in Our Stars was number 1 and his Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines were numbers 5, 8 and 10 respectively.  Maze Runner (#2) by James Dashner, Divergent (#3) & Insurgent (#4) & Allegiant (#7)  by Veronica Roth, and If I Stay (#6), Gayle Forman, The Book Thief (#12), Markus Zusak,all were popular even before the movies premiered.  Thirteen Reasons Why (#11) was bolstered when Jay Asher came to Oxford on his 50 states tour.  Kiera Cass, The Selection (#13) and Ally Condie, Matched (#15), Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games (#16) & Catching Fire (#14), Cinder (#17), Marissa Meyer, all evidenced the continuing popularity of dystopian and speculative fiction in young adult fiction  as it is enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Jr. Chapter & Middle Grade Bestsellers

Obert Skye's first in a series of chapter books of wacky book mash-ups, Wonkenstein, was the top middle grade seller at Square Books Jr. for 2014 followed by Jeff Kinney's 9th Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Long Haul, John Grisham's 4th Theodore Boone, The Activist, was number 3.  Tim Green held number 4 with New Kid and Sheila Turnage, who will be back in March, followed with Three Times Lucky.  Jon Scieszka's visit put his Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor at number 6.  A regular on the list, Kate DiCamillo had Flora & Ulysses at number 7 followed by Rick Riordan, The Heroes of Olympus: The Blood of Olympus, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch, and Andy Griffiths, who traveled here all the way from Australia for the 13 Story Treehouse.

Square Books Jr. Picture Book Bestsellers

Our number one 2014 book in the picture category at Square Books Jr, was a 2013 favorite as well, Where Do They Go On Gameday?, Laurie Fisher's delightful story of the squirrels in the Grove, and number 2 Goodnight Ole Miss by Courtney Solon Brown, Andrea Lee and Matt Gardner made for a nice pairing.  Chris Van Allsburg's visit moved his latest, Misadventures of Sweetie Pie, to number 3, and his classic, Jumanji, made a return to the top 20 as well.  Aided by Drew Daywalt's visit during the Oxford Conference for the Book, The Day the Crayons Quit finished at number 4.  Sarah Frances Hardy's second book, Paint Me!, made number 5.   Judy Schachner's visit for Skippyjon Jones Snow What spurred sales and excitement about Adam Rubin's forthcoming visit in March put Dragons Love Tacos put them on the list.  "Frozen" books of all sorts were popular, and store favorites, The Pout-Pout Fish, Pete the Cat, and How Rocket Learned to Read, appeared on the list, and perennial classics like  Seuss's Oh the Places You'll Go, Green Eggs & Ham, The Giving Tree, The Real Mother Goose and Pat the Bunny were at the top of the list reminding us that good books never expire.


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