Posted February 23, 2015 by in Literary Travels

In Praise of Square Books and the Indie Bookstore

Independent bookstores are awesome. I think it’s pretty safe to say that all book lovers appreciate their neighborhood bookstore. It’s where we go to escape the hustle and bustle of the outside world. The best of them are relatively quiet and have that old paper and ink smell. Often, you can even catch the aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee. These are the places where diverse sets of people come together and discuss art and culture. On occasion, you can catch a writer explaining his or her inspirations. Bookstores are where little kids dream that their own stories will one day live.

Bookstores are like my home away from home. They provide me with a feeling of belonging that the cold world rarely offers. Truly, I appreciate the time I have to spend inside these wonderful worlds.

I enjoy traveling, and I’ve been very lucky in being able to visit several different indies. Of all of the bookstores that I’ve visited in my lifetime, none can compare to Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi.

Courtesy of VisitOxfordMS.com

Courtesy of VisitOxfordMS.com

Square Books is the perfect bookstore. It’s on the corner of Oxford’s historic town square. Once you walk inside, signed books sit on a big, spacious table. You can look to either side of you and see books shelved (and stacked) everywhere. There are fiction, nonfiction, and regional titles. Gazing toward the back wall, books fill your vision. They are from the floor to the ceiling. It’s beautiful. Really.

As you browse, you notice a second floor, which, you guessed it, contains even more books. Walking up the stairs, you can feel the history of the bookstore. The creaks are like listening to voices of the past. I often catch myself just standing on them and taking a look at the store in its entirety. Workers below help those who need recommendations. Some fellow patrons crunch near the ground, and others stretch as far as their tiptoes will allow, trying to uncover a treasure.

When you get to the top stair and look ahead, you see a small coffee area, which leads to a balcony. You can sit outside and read. If books are your main focus, though, there are more shelves to explore.

This is a store that understands its purpose. It’s warm, inviting, and filled with recent and old titles. It offers everything. I dare any booklover to walk into Square Books and leave empty handed.

In the next few weeks, Square Books will host events with T. Geronimo Johnson, Tom Cooper, David Joy, Jamie Kornegay, Jacob Rubin, and M. O. Walsh. That, my friends, is a lineup that is absolutely amazing. It’s a good thing that I have a few saved vacation days. Oxford, here I come.

Is there a bookstore that you love? Which one makes you feel like you’re at home? Sound off in our comments below.

Bradley Sides

Bradley Sides holds an M.A. in English. His fiction appears in numerous print and online journals. He is a staff writer for Bookkaholic and a frequent contributor to Drunk Monkeys. He resides in Florence, Alabama, with his wife, and he is working on securing a release date for his debut novel, Leaving Today.