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So, You Want to be a Writer? Keep Reading!

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I’m sampling canapés at a party when someone walks up with a J.K. Rowling gleam in their eye. “I hear that you’re an editor. I have this great idea for a book, but I’m not sure how to get started. What do you recommend?” As I stifle the urge to fling the hummus in their general direction, I recommend those classics that I’ve long used for classes, writing workshops and myself: On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction (Harper Perennial, 2006) by William Zinsser, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (Anchor, 1995), and Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg (Shambhala, 2005). For guys, I’ll usually toss in Stephen…

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Going South: 3 Books That Explore Life Below the Mason-Dixon Line

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In The World’s Largest Man: A Memoir author Harrison Scott Key tries to explain the southern United States: “The South is a strange place, one that can’t be fit inside a movie, a place that dares you to simplify it, like a prime number, like a Bible story, like my father.” For our latest round of Shelfie picks, we return to our friends at Square Books, located in the historic town square of Oxford, Mississippi and boasting three separate buildings and its own café. Back in September, they gave us three great books to keep you up past your bedtime. This week manager Lyn Roberts is focusing on the rich tapestry of the South. South Toward Home: Travels in Southern…

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The Martian: Where Science Fiction Meets Science Fact

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On Friday, Matt Damon’s long-awaited sci-fi suspense film The Martian hits the big screen. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Andy Weir, it tells the story of astronaut Mark Watney, who is stranded on the Red Planet during an expedition, and the furious efforts of his fellow astronauts and NASA to rescue him. The movie promises to be a thrill-inducing jaunt for movie audiences. On Monday, however, NASA announced that it has “the strongest evidence yet” that salty water may be flowing on Mars. That announcement affirms the possibility that life may exist on another planet—and its implications may be a thrill greater than any movie can provide. It also may push the space agency, U.S. policy…

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Can’t Put It Down: 3 Books to Keep You Up Past Your Bedtime

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We’ve all been there. The hour is late but the book is SO good. You tell yourself, “I’ll read for a half-hour and then it’s lights-out.” But that half-hour turns into one hour, then two. We might regret it when we’re downing coffee at an alarming rate the following morning but when lost in those riveting pages, we think of nothing but the story. That’s what Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi recommends this week: Books to Keep You Up Past Your Bedtime. Known for its great selection of literary fiction, excellent children’s section, and books on the American South, Square Books plays host to more than 150 author events each year and hosts the popular Thacker Mountain radio show. Here’s…

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