Intrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. Join us for the journey…
OXFORD, Mississippi — If the opposite of the Bermuda Triangle exists, it is undoubtedly situated among the three bookstores adorning Oxford’s town square. With Square Books (Publisher Weekly‘s Bookstore of the Year), Off Square Books (specializing in gift books and author events), and Square Books Jr. (the bookstore of your child’s dreams) all just seconds away from each other, you are much more likely to find happiness inside this triumvirate than to lose anything at all. (You might lose yourself in all the books.) It is officially the unofficial Adumreb Triangle—Where Only Good Things Happen.
You’ve probably heard this before, but everything does move a tick slower when you’re in Mississippi. The walks are leisurely, the conversations parceled out in pieces. Heck, even the gas pumps at a crawl. But the thing you don’t always hear is that the slow-down makes sense. When you’re surrounded by beautiful wooden structures and friends calling out your name, there’s no reason to quicken your stride or put your head down. When you’ve got a mouth full of delectable fried catfish, you’ll need pauses in conversation to savor the flavor. And when you’re standing outside with the sun gently spilling onto your face, you’ll end up wishing that your gas tank was a little bigger.
Owner Richard Howorth sat down with me to answer the Algonquin questionnaire.
What inspired your store’s name?
Well, we decided to name it Square Books because our original location (where Square Books Jr. is now) was tucked away upstairs and wasn’t easily noticeable. So by calling it Square Books we were able to identify our location to early customers.
What is the rarest/oddest non-book item on the shelves right now?
There are plenty of odd items in Off Square Books but one of my favorites is a wind-up, fire-spitting nun doll.
What is your favorite handselling recommendation for the summer? And what is your favorite handselling Algonquin title?
It’s not a new release by any stretch, but I’ve loved selling William Maxwell’s So Long See You Tomorrow after it was mentioned in two of our author events. I’d say The Art Forger is my favorite Algonquin title to hand sell.
What is the staff’s cocktail of choice?
Anything that’s left over.
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked in the store?
One customer came in and asked my son, Beckett, to read a short piece of erotic literature that she had written. The last line was “Do you wanna go outside and make out?” Beckett declined.
Next stop: Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi.
*Note: The Lucky Tour posts are not in real time. David and Lucky have returned from their travels with great tales and many, many books. Stay tuned for more road stories…