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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

Take 5: Great Deep South Bookstores

There’s so many wonderful independent bookstores in the South we have to break it down by region. Here’s five of my favorites of the Deep South, with the award going to Mississippi, the state known for some of the finest American literary figures.

Square Books of Oxford, Miss. (photo at right), began in 1979 by Lisa and Richard Howorth, the latter a former president of the American Booksellers Association. Today, the three-in-one bookstore is a city landmark, offering book signings by local and nationally known authors, programs, Camp Square Books for adults and the Thacker Mountain Radio. The 3,500-square-foot Square Books, Jr. is devoted to children’s selections; Off Square Books features lifestyle topics such as cooking and gardening; and the main store celebrates regional history and literature. This year, Square Books won Publisher Weekly’s Bookstore of the Year Award.

In Jackson, there’s the oversized Lemuria Books, offering not only a fabulous selection, but a blog, first editions club and great book events. Some of the best names travel through Lemuria, but so do the little guys just starting off selling great titles as well. The staff is helpful, their email newsletters well done and professional, and did we mention the great selection? And there’s an awesome coffee shop and bistro downstairs so you can enjoy your purchase with a cup of Joe.

Danny Plaisance runs Cottonwood Books in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, an unassuming place that’s stocked with great finds. In addition to 35,000 used and rare books are first editions, rare titles on Louisiana and the Civil War and new books by locals. Give yourself lots of time to peruse the aisles of this special place.

Mystery lovers have to sample Mystery by the Book in Houston, one of the nation's oldest and largest mystery specialty bookstores. The store packs in more than 25,000 new and used books, first editions, collectibles, gift items, mystery magazines, and more, plus hosts numerous booksignings by mystery authors every year.

Page and Pallette family-owned bookstore is located in the heart of charming Fairhope, Alabama. The independent store run by the third generation features a great selection of Alabama and Gulf Coast writers and hosts regular book signings and events such as story time, open mics and book discussions. There’s a coffee shop attached so it’s easy to enjoy a good book, a comfy chair and a hot cup of coffee. In addition, the shop offers a used book section.

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