Square Books Top 100!

01/18/2020

Before we get accustomed to saying twenty-twenty, we’d like to memorialize those books comprising our 100 bestsellers of 2019.  
So here ‘tis:

Two writers accounted for eight titles – Faulkner with three, led by his Selected Stories​ ​(24), the title we most often recommend to Yoknapaneophytes, and Grisham with five, The Guardians​ being No. 1. Following those, many more local or Mississippian scribblers, e.g. Voices from Mississippi​ (70), by the great Bill Ferris; Wyatt Waters, whose Oxford Sketchbook​ (29) has been on our list every year since 2012. Bill Boyle’s A Friend Is a Gift You Give Yourself​ (50) is a friend to us; Greg Iles’ Cemetery Road​ is up there (3), as are Wright Thompson with The Cost of These Dreams​ (7); our dear Larry Brown - Tiny Love​ (26), David Crews’ Mississippi Book of Quotations​ (93);  ​Sing, Unburied, Sing​ by Jesmyn Ward (36); the biography of Dick Waterman​ (87); Mary Miller’s Biloxi​ (32); Robert Khayat’s autobiography (49); Curtis Wilkie’s perennial seller, The Fall of the House of Zeus​ (38); the late David Sansing’s The Other Mississippi (35); the enigmatic Bill Eggleston’s The Beautiful Mysterious​ (58); Ace Atkins’ ​Shameless​ (22); that great memoir, Heavy​,  by Kiese Laymon (15); John Cofield’s Oxford, Mississippi​(13), for which we hope for a sequel before long.  Neil White’s – unusual as sports books go – Stories from 125 Years of Ole Miss Football​ ​(2), and his In the Sanctuary of Outcasts​(62) continue to find new readers.

Books on food, cooking and mixing are appetizing all year, including the new Last Call​ ​(48) and Ken Wells’ Gumbo Life​ (88); or, if you’re an old favorite, such as, ​Square Table​ (25), ​A Mississippi Palate​ (79), Potlikker Papers​ ​(47), or ​Big Bad Breakfast​ (15); and especially if your name is Elizabeth Heiskell (4 and 6).

Other standards among the hundred are Eudora Welty’s The Collected Stories​ (72), which her publisher smartly reissued this year in a pretty pink cover; Lisa Ho’s Flying Shoes​ (82), and whose Summerlings​ (18) also popped up.  Dispatches from Pluto​ remains in orbit (9); Lisa Patton’s Rush​ (11), the novel set at Ole Miss, continues to get bids; Dune​ ​(98), originally published in 1965, is still at it; and the irresistibly titled How Not to Be Wrong​ (90) repeats this year on our list, as does Tom Franklin’s ​Crooked Letter Crooked Letter​ (80); and Murder in the Grove​ (68) by Michael Henry, who also scored with Five Star​ ​(30).

On the national scene there are books that we expect you’d find on many other independent bookstore lists, such as Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine​ (53); The Nickel Boys​ (40) by Colson Whitehead; Before We Were Yours​ (42) by Lisa Wingate and, right next to her, A Gentleman in Moscow​ (43) by Amor Towles, who kindly came to Square Books when the book was first published, as did Sarah Broom this year, with her The Yellow House​ (54), which garnered the National Book Award. Little Fires Everywhere (46); Where the Crawdads Sing​ (8); Educated​, by Tara Westover (23); ​The Tattooist of Auschwitz​ (12); Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers​ (96); Girl, Wash Your Face​,​ by Rachel Hollis (85); the tireless bestseller by Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See​ (64); Norse Mythology​ (74), according to Neil Gaiman; The Testaments​ by Margaret Atwood (66); Becoming​ (53), by Michelle Obama; and Woman in the Window​ by A J Finn (63), all made our list, too; and let’s not forget The Dutch House​ (19) by Ann Patchett, who has visited us with, we think, every book she’s written – thank you, Ann.

More authors to whom we are grateful for visiting us in 2019 include the following: Helen Ellis, Southern Lady Code​ (10); Casey Cep, whose first book, ​Furious Hours​ ​(17) we could not stop recommending; Adam Makos, along with the hero of his book Spearhead​ ​(16), Clarence Smoyer; Dani Shapiro and her unforgettable Inheritance​ (92); Diane McPhail and The Abolitionist’s Daughter​ (86); Preston Lauterbach and Bluff City​ (99); Chris Cander with Weight of a Piano​ (91); Alex Kershaw and ​The First Wave​ (41) as well as Carlyle Harris with Tap Code​ ( ​49); Peter Heller, cruising along his The River​ (61); and Donald  Miller with Vicksburg​ ​and S. C. Gwynne’s ​Hymns of the Republic​, who not only came to Square Books do to a fascinating event, moderated by Andy Mullins – they tied​ at 71!   No. 100 goes to We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin, who we’ll be happy to see when he comes to teach at UM in the fall. 

New Directions published #28 -- Cat Poems​; R J Lee’s Grand Slam Murders​ hit 20; The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist​ by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington came out in paperback and made #89; Jim Weatherly’s Midnight Train​ is #83, and Natasha Trethewey’s Monument​ is 84. The Liberal Redneck Manifesto​ by Trae Crowder and them other boys is #39; and, speaking of… Rick Bragg just kills it, every time, this year with The Best Cook in the World​ (56). Staying with this part of the world, Jack Davis’ The Gulf​ (59) won’t stay put; same as Snowden Wright and American Pop​ (60); God love Julia Reed for South Toward Home​ (33) and that other one, her New Orleans​ ​(65).  Michael Ford got some vintage photos around here in  the early ‘70s and put them in North Mississippi Homeplace​ (67), a nice book, as did Will Jacks with Po’ Monkey’s​ (77); no one knows Dust in the Road​ ​(78) better ‘n Hank Burdine. Enough were interested in The Mueller Report​ (99) to squeeze it on the list; and Lovejoy Butler’s Crooked Snake​ was #74.

There’re another 100 books that came that close to making this list, but we’re out of room here, so come in or give us a call and we’ll tell you about them.
Happy New Year Y’all -- RH