Library program offers holiday book gift suggestions

Lynn Roberts talks about book
Square Books manager Lynn Roberts talks about one of the books she suggested as gifts
November 21st, 2019     Leisure and entertainment

Square Books manager Lynn Roberts paid her annual visit to Luncheon With Books at the Union County Library Tuesday to talk about holiday gift book suggestions.

Roberts gave summaries and some background about dozens of books that have come out this past year to good reviews and wide readership. Included were a wide variety of fiction, non-fiction and books for young people but, as usual, a majority of the books had Southern connections.

She noted that the bookstore, which has become something of a literary icon itself, is adding a fourth store, Rare Square Books. This store is on the second flood of the Bishop Building, original location of Square Books. She said it offers some unusual, collectable and just “medium rare” books separate from the more traditional stock at the main shop.

The growth of Square Books may indicate that reading ink-on-paper books is not dead. Roberts said ebooks rose in popularity for a while but their sales is now declining. The exception may be for text books, which are something of a necessity for students.

“Book sales are OK, although everybody is reading less,” she said. The age range in which reading is particularly declining is from high school to early 30s, she said.

One irony is that the young adult market is seeing more and more publications out.

“The younger and older do read,” she said. “I hope those generations will increase reading. Otherwise that is a danger to our culture.”

Here are some of the books that Roberts displayed and recommended:


Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon.  In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson who experienced violence, hard times and complex relationships.

Rush: A Novel, by Lisa Patton. The book takes a look at the complexities and challenges related to rush for a fictional Ole Miss sorority. She compared it in style to The Help.

Tiny Love: The Complete Stories of Larry Brown, by Larry Brown. All his early short stories compiled in one book including some that have never been published before other than in magazines.

The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business, by Wright Thompson. Thompson is a writer for ESPN with several books under his belt, focusing on people as much as sports. He is working on a TV project with John T. Edge.

The Library Book, by Susan Orlean. A entertaining look at books and libraries tied to an investigation of a disastrous fire at the Los Angeles Central Library.

You’re Saying It Wrong: A Pronunciation Guide to the 150 Most Commonly Mispronounced Words–and Their Tangled Histories of Misuse, by Ross and Kathryn Petras. A witty guide to commonly mispronounced words. Along with That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means: The 150 Most Commonly Misused Words and Their Tangled Histories.

Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation, by Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw. A celebration of American history through music.

Southern Women: More Than 100 Stories of Innovators, Artists, and Icons, by the editors of Garden and Gun. A look at more than 100 brilliant women with the aid of interviews, essays and photos.

South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations, by Sean Brock. Winner of multiple awards, a cook book about Southern food.

The New Orleans Kitchen: Classic Recipes and Modern Techniques for an Unrivaled Cuisine[A Cookbook], by Justin Devillier and Jamie Feldmar. Contains 120 recipes for New Orleans cuisine by a James Beard Award-winning cook.

North Mississippi Homeplace: Photographs and Folklife, by Michael Ford. Photos of North Mississippi homeplaces from the 1970s, now gone.

For the Hog Killing, 1979, by Tanya Berry. An intimate photo look at the traditional community event that is a hog killing, once a staple of rural community life.

In the Southern Wild, by Joe Mac Jr. Hudspeth. “Crisp and glorious” color photos of native wildlife in the South.

Po’ Monkey’s: Portrait of a Juke Joint, by Will Jacks. An intimate photo look at the last rural juke joint in the state.

The Beautiful Mysterious: The Extraordinary Gaze of William Eggleston, edited by Ann Abadie. From University Press, words and photos about the artist.

The Mississippi Governor’s Mansion: Memories of the People’s Home, by Phil and Deborah Bryant. A look at the interior and furnishing of the Mississippi governor’s mansion.

125 Years of Ole Miss Football, edited by Neil White and Rick Cleveland. A coffee table book good for browsing or serious reading about the university’s teams over the years.

1,000 Places to See Before You Die (Deluxe Edition): The World as You’ve Never Seen It Before, by Patricia Schultz.  A coffee table book with more than 1,000 photos.

Hymns of the Republic: The Story of the Final Year of the American Civil War, by S. C. Gwynne. A spellbinding account of the dramatic conclusion of the Civil War by the author of Rebel Yell.

Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy, by Cassandra King Conroy. The award-winning author talks about her life with the legendary Southern writer.

Cemetery Road: A Novel, by Greg Iles. A thriller about mysteries in a small Mississippi town by the acclaimed Natchez native.

The Shameless(A Quinn Colson Novel #9), by Ace Atkins. The latest in the praised crime series.

This Tender Land: A Novel, by William Kent Krueger. Coming-of-age novel about runaways in the Depression-era Midwest.

The Guardian, by John Grisham. Roberts noted he is still writing all his own books. Enough said.

The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Explosive interactions and happenings 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale.

The Starless Sea: A Novel, by Erin Morgenstern. A love story set in a mystical underground world.

The Dutch House: A Novel, by Ann Patchett. The trials of a family as they go from poverty to wealth and back to poverty.

Metropolitan Stories: A Novel, by Christine Coulson. A series of linked short stories described as somewhat magical.

Haunting Paris: A Novel, by Mamta Chaudhry. A woman’s quest for knowledge of the past set in wartime Paris.

Solitary, by Albert Woodfox. The story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit and his remarkable attitude toward life.


For young people:

Do Your Ears Hang Low?by Jenny Cooper. The delightfully silly song comes to life in a picture book.

The Tale of the Tiger Slippers, by Jan Brett. A Middle Eastern folk tale with beautiful detailed illustrations.

The Crayons’ Christmas, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. The newest edition in the Crayons series.

Sofia Valdez, Future Prez(The Questioneers), by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts. Latest in the Questioneers series, focusing on occupations.

Lorraine, by Ketch Secor and Higgins Bond. About a girl seen with a musical view.

Sisters First, by Jenna Bush HagerBarbara Pierce Bushand Laura Bush. An ode to the magic of sisterhood by the former first daughters.

Stretchy McHandsome, by Judy Schachner. A picture book about a cat who wants to be something else.

Let’s Go Back Into History, a board book by Timothy Knapman and Wesley Robins. A layered seek-and-find trek back through history.

My Very Important World: For Little Learners who want to Know about the World(My Very Important Encyclopedias), by DK. An encyclopedia of discovery that entertains as it teaches.

Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls: From the Creator of Captain Underpants(Dog Man #7), by Dav Pilkey. Latest in the wildly popular Dog Man series from the author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart. Part of a series where children go on a secret mission, from the author who brought Lemony Snicket to the public.

Slay, by Brittany Morris. A girl who does not fit in copes by creating a secret video game.

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