Slice of Life Story Challenge – March 23 – Books, Coffee, Campuses, and Authors

Throughout the month, I’ve been inviting the participation of others on my blog. Today’s post is by my sister-in-law, Dr. Bethany Johnson, who is also my friend and travel buddy. She shares about her recent trip to Mississippi.

Books, Coffee, Campuses, and Authors

My sister-in-law and I began taking much needed girl trips together after the pandemic. We both felt the need to get out, explore, be immersed in nature, and simply connect and have fun. We have been to beautiful gardens, historic hotels, stayed in outdated but comfy cabins in the mountains. We have walked around beautiful towns shopping, sought out confectionery treats, eaten in cute cafes and, of course, always found a coffee shop.

Square Books – Oxford, Mississippi

When deciding how we pick our trips, we look at what we love the most and begin centering ideas for places that satisfy one, if not more, of these criteria. We both say a bookstore is our second home, so it’s always a given that books need to be involved. However, we like to go to unique, privately owned bookstores with personality, so no large chain bookstores for us. We both love coffee, so a coffee shop is a must. She is a writer, so any place that has a connection to an author makes her giddy – and for me, being a professor, I love to walk around college campuses.

Square Books – Oxford, Mississippi

Kim and I never return from one of these trips without discussing our next
adventure. One of these discussions led us to a possible trip to Oxford, Mississippi. Why
Oxford? Because all four of our must-haves are in this quaint, beautiful Southern town. It has a campus – Ole Miss. It features two American authors – John Grisham and the late William Faulkner. It has several coffee shops, and it has one of the most unique bookstores in the country … Square Books.

Unfortunately, due to conflicts in our work schedules, we were not able to take that trip together. However, my adventurous sister-in-law, who has taken many solo trips, encouraged me to go by myself when an opportunity to attend a conference in Oxford arose.

So, off I went!

The square in Oxford, alone, is worth the trip. Walking around the square, I found myself slowing down and meandering into the many shops. But I must admit my slowing down wasn’t the first thing I did because I had one destination in mind, the sole goal of the trip (no, the conference wasn’t even the true reason) … Square Books. There are four Square Books stores all within walking distance of each other and each offering something unique. I chose to visit the original and main store. This multi-floored bookstore has everything from rare books to best selling books to books signed by the authors. Each floor offers so many possibilities for a book lover like me. It was only within the aisles of these floors that I finally slowed down while looking at the books, just waiting for that one book to speak to me. I ran my finger along the spines of the books as I took in the smell. I wandered to the rare book section, taking in the history behind them. I stood looking in wonder at how something so small has within its pages something worth so much!

I sat in one of the antique chairs nestled in a corner on the third floor simply listening to the hushed sounds of other people chasing the infinite possibilities within the pages of a book. I smelled the coffee from the small coffee shop and wished it wasn’t raining because I really
wanted to sit on the balcony overlooking the square. That will be my reason for going back.

I lost myself within the first few pages of several potential books trying to decide if I should only buy one. I sat there for a long time finding peace in my heart and letting the rest of the world stay outside of those brick walls.

This bookstore has been written up in many articles nationwide. My favorite article about it is in Southern Living. In this article, it describes Square Books so perfectly: “The little independent bookstore that could has made quite the name for itself, while somehow managing to remain true to its roots.”

So, if you love sweet southern towns and especially love books, I hope you find yourself walking around the streets of Oxford and especially among the floors of Square Books.

9 Replies to “Slice of Life Story Challenge – March 23 – Books, Coffee, Campuses, and Authors”

  1. Kim,
    I’d love to visit Square Books, but I really want to visit William Faulkner’s home. I am a huge fan of his, and “Absalom, Absalom!” is my favorite modernist novel. I’ve read eight Faulkner novels. Square Nooks as you describe it reminds me of Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. It’s the world’s largest bookstore. I really need to start doing solo travel so I can see some places like Oxford..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sweet southern towns and books – and coffee! – are in my blood, Kim. I’d love this bookstore. These photos, along with your narrative, are full of welcoming warmth. “I sat there for a long time finding peace in my heart and letting the rest of the world stay outside of those brick walls” – it is almost reverent, and I loved sensing this even as a child combing the school library shelves. I shall have to visit!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kim, I must make a few plans for May. We are traveling to the panhandle region. I hope to make a few stops along the way. I am so jealous of the wonderful coffee shops everyone is blessed to enjoy. We have some nice coffee shops around the area, but nothing like I’ve seen in your or Glenda’s posts. So cool!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kim and Bethany – what a great post and a wonderful bookshop. So many bloggers write about bookstores/cafes, and I make lists of them so when I’m on the road I can check them out. Now, I have to make plans for Oxford, Mississippi!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kim and Bethany, what a great post. Thank you for sharing about this unique book store. I love the first picture of the old building of the Square Book store. I hope you two get to go back to Oxford someday and sit on the balcony in sunshine and enjoy the view of the square.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I do love southern towns, and I love bookstores. I love the idea of “bookstores as a second home.” This one looks particularly awesome – love the lofted second floor, looking down and over the main floor. I hope to check this out, one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed reading your slice. I visited Square Book Store in Oxford last spring with my sister, niece and great niece (2 years old and loves it). We toured the Faulkner House and grave site. I can’t wait to return. We stayed at the Chancellor House, a quaint hotel that was amazing. It’s cheaper during the week.

    Liked by 1 person

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