Category: About (Page 1 of 3)

2015, I’d like to kiss you on the mouth.

dbdb37f2-a00d-4114-b5d6-1e42a0bc65cfThis year was a doozy. I consumed everything from nonfiction about animal consciousness to the modern classic Fates and Furies by Lemuria’s new best friend, Lauren Groff. I can’t even get into the second paragraph without telling you that The Godfather was hands down my favorite read of the year. You can read my blog about it here. I had the chance to sit down and talk to Garth Risk Hallberg about his meteoric rise in the literary world. Jon Meacham made me cry.

I personally made the move from the hub that is Lemuria’s front desk to the quieter fiction room, where I now am elbows deep in the mechanics of our First Editions Club; and am coincidentally even more in love with fiction than I was before. My TBR pile has skyrocketed from about 10 books to roughly 30 on my bedside table. It’s getting out of control and I love it.

[Sidebar: This year, I fell even more in love with graphic novelsNimona surprised us all by making one of the short-lists for the National Book Award, and we were so pleased to see it get the recognition that it deserves. Go Noelle Stevenson! You rule!]

As a bookstore, we were able to be on the forefront of some of the most influential books of 2015 (see: Between the World and Me– when we passed that advance reader copy around, the rumblings were already beginning). Literary giants Salman Rushdie, John Irving, and Harper Lee put out new/very, very old works to (mostly) thunderous applause, and debut novelists absolutely stunned and shook up the book world. (My Sunshine Away, anyone? I have never seen the entire staff band behind a book like that before. We were/are obsessed.) Kent Haruf’s last book was published; it was perfect, and our hearts ache in his absence.

We marched through another Christmas, wrapping and reading and recommending and eating enough cookies to make us sick. We hired fresh new faces, we said goodbye to old friends, we cleaned up scraggly, hairy sections of the store and made them shiny and new. We had the privilege of having a hand in Mississippi’s first ever book festival. We heaved in the GIANT new Annie Leibovitz book, and spent a few days putting off work so that we could all flip through it. In short, this year has been anything but uneventful; it’s been an adventure. So here’s to 2016 absolutely knocking 2015 out of the park.

Read on, guys.



Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: Willie’s House

This blog originally ran last year just before the release of Lemuria’s book Jackson: Photographs by Ken Murphy. We’ve been so grateful for the outpouring of love and hope for our great city that you’ve shared with us over the past year and a half; and we’re enormously proud of this book. Our hope is that every time you flip through its pages, you’re reminded of the Jackson you have loved, and join us in dreaming to achieve a great future for our home.

Written by Chris Ray

We always felt that the house chose us as much as we chose it. Carolyn and I had been to a couple of JoAnne’s parties, the last one being the celebration of the movie release of My Dog Skip after Willie died. I was always struck with how real their home felt, surrounded by genuine laughter, someone playing the piano, curiosities and ephemera, and of course, a library’s worth of books.

When JoAnne decided that the house was too big for her to keep up, I believe that she not only wanted to find someone to buy the house, but also to honor it. Which brings up an interesting challenge: how do you make a home yours, while honoring those who came before you?

We’ve tried to do both – and I think that Willie would be happy to see that the cats from the neighborhood still hang out in the crawl space. Curious literary fans still drive by slowly. There are dozens of assorted balls and sports gear scattered about the house, garage, and yard. In fact, our son John keeps a collection of baseballs in the same small closet where Willie kept his. And the books, my gosh, the books. They are everywhere.

We have Willie’s highway map of Yazoo County framed upstairs and a photo downstairs of Willie taken by his son, David Rae. And every now and then, we will find some odd treasure that Willie had hidden or misplaced. I think Willie would like the fact that our neighbors, Governor Winter and Dick Molpus, still tell Willie stories every time we see them. Dick told me recently that Willie would walk down to his house every Christmas to say hello as part of his “once-a-year exercise.”

But I don’t think Willie would want his former home to be a shrine. Or something too precious. I think he would appreciate that the paint is peeling here and there and there’s a patch where we just can’t get grass to grow. I think he’d be happy to see it alive, with the same kind of love and laughter that you felt and heard when he lived there.

To order a copy of Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy , call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or order online here

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: My dream of reliving the Farish Street of my youth

This blog originally ran last year just before the release of Lemuria’s book Jackson: Photographs by Ken Murphy. We’ve been so grateful for the outpouring of love and hope for our great city that you’ve shared with us over the past year and a half; and we’re enormously proud of this book. Our hope is that every time you flip through its pages, you’re reminded of the Jackson you have loved, and join us in dreaming to achieve a great future for our home.

Written by Jimmie E. Gates, political writer/columnist at The Clarion-Ledger

When I was in my teens, one of my biggest thrills was coming to Farish Street in downtown Jackson.

It was the sight and sounds of a hustling mecca of black life. There were snappy dressed females with their hats. There were men dressed in classy suits, which made you think of The Apollo Theater or the old Cotton Club in Harlem. We had our Crystal Place on Farish Street, and for good measure, we had our Alamo Theater, which was a movie theater. I will never forget going to the Alamo Theater to watch Bruce Lee movies, Godzilla versus the Three-Headed Monster, and most of all watching actress Pam Grier in films.

Those were the days for me growing up. Farish Street was like a whole new world to me. There would be Mr. Armstrong selling Jet Magazines on Farish Street and vendors selling roasted peanuts in small bags and other items. The shoe shine guy, “Bear Trap,” would stay busy; there was a bakery/donut shop, but my favorite was the ice cream plant. Whenever we would be on Farish Street, we would always go by the ice cream plant. The ice cream man, whose name escapes me today, would give us ice cream bars. He would always be dressed in a white uniform and wearing a hat to match.

We would always come to Farish Street and shop. Although Farish Street was the mecca of black life in the 60s and 70s, many of the clothing stores and shoe stores were Jewish-owned.

I will never forget my Farish Street days. I don’t know when Farish Street began to deteriorate, but it probably occurred after the first mall opened in the city. Jackson Mall opened in 1969 followed by  Metrocenter in 1978. Farish Street stores and other stores began to leave the downtown area for the malls.

We longed for the bygone days of our youths; sometimes wondering if we can recreate those years.

I pass the empty shell of the buildings lining Farish Street today wondering if the hustle and bustle of the street will ever live again.

Decades have gone by since Farish Street was the place to go. There have been talk about reclaiming the area as an entertainment district, but the talk hasn’t materialized into returning Farish Street to its heydays.

I know others have their own fond memories of places and things in Jackson that were once special to them. Farish Street was that place for me.

There was a song by the late Luther Vandross  called “Dance With My Father” that was one of my favorites. The lyrics were based upon Vandross’ childhood  memories of  his late father and mother often dancing together. Vandross knew his dream could never come true when he wrote the song because his father was deceased. We all have our dreams; the dreams that would make us happy. Seeing Farish Street alive again with life and vitality would be a dream come true for me.


Ken Murphy will be joining us in the store all day today (December 23) and will be signing copies of all of his books!

Repost: Christmas in Small Business, Mississippi

Originally posted during the intoxicating rush of Christmas season 2014.

“Why are there 10 people behind the desk right now?!”

It’s a frequently asked question here during the holidays at Lemuria. You could say that we prepare for Christmas the way armies prepare for war…but it’s less terrible and way more fun. We beef up the staff, pump up the inventory, order pizza for the troops, and wait at the front lines to take special orders, ship presents to your cousins in L.A., and find you the perfect novel for your best friend.

Working at Lemuria during the holidays is undoubtedly my favorite time of year. Tis the season for Kelly and myself to don dresses and blazers, lovely earrings and kitten heels, sore feet be damned. It’s when I can put my favorite classics into the hands of parents to give to their children. Classics for Christmas! I can’t explain it, but it’s definitely a thing. It’s when we get to reflect on all of the books that we read in the past year and tell you all about them. Me? I killed some pretty incredible middle grade this year. Oh and graphic novels? Don’t even get me started, it’s been 12 months of nothing but wonderful discovery in that area.

Christmas in a bookstore is when we’re stretched both mentally and physically. Those boxes of of the Jackson book are definitely heavier than they look. Christmas is about lifting with your legs, not your back. We get asked some pretty weird questions around this time of year, too. You guys love your friends and family so much that you’re willing to go to almost any lengths possible to get them what they want for Christmas, and we appreciate that. Still, there’s only so much we can do when you ask for books by “Jill Lasagna”. (not a real person)

Anywhere else in the world, working retail during the holidays can truly be a nightmare, but here at this little bookstore, we are so lucky to be selling something that we all love so much to people who have kept us in business all these years. A lot of times, I tell my friends that it’s like something from a movie with all the bustling about with wrapped packages and the warm coziness of being surrounded by books. The store is full, and although we wish it was this full all year long, we cherish the few weeks leading up to Christmas. We love talking to you all. We love recommending books that will spread joy and imagination.

Get to know Jamie

unnamedHow long have you worked at Lemuria? Two Years this January.

What do you do at Lemuria? Just a part-time bookseller.  I spend a lot of time in the poetry section, and I do a lot of the literal heavy lifting in the store.

Talk to us what you’re reading right now. Matthew Guinn’s The Scribe, Derrick Harriel’s Cotton

How many books do you usually read at a time? At least two, and always of differing genres.  If I’m deep into a novel, for instance, I like to take a break and read some poems or nonfiction.

Favorite authors? Oh, jeez. Hang on.  This is going to take a while.

Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Robert Pinsky, Major Jackson, Kiese Laymon, Mark Twain, Mark Doty, Beth Ann Fennelley, Tom Franklin, Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner.  I’ll quit now, but I could go on for pages.

Any particular genre that you’re especially in love with? I unabashedly love the poems.  I’ve been reading it all my life–always drawn to the density and economy of words.  My master’s degree is in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry, and I’m currently slinging a book manuscript around hoping for a publisher to pick it up.

What did you do before you worked at Lemuria? I was (and still am) a high school English teacher.  I love it as much as I love selling books.

If you could share lasagna with any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you ask them? Hmmmm.  I’m starving right now, so I’m having trouble thinking past the lasagna.  Isn’t it just lovely stuff?  Either the Irish poet Seamus Heany or Eudora Welty.  I wouldn’t ask anything, really.  I’d just shut up and listen.  And eat lasagna.  Mmmmm.

If we could have any living author visit the store and do a reading, who would you want to come? The poet Edward Hirsch.  His book-length poem Gabriel is a book that everyone needs to read—even if you’re not into poetry.  Y’all, just trust me on this, please.

If Lemuria could have ANY pet (mythical or real), what do you think it should be? My 5-year-old son kind of is the store pet already.  Also, a talking yellow Labrador Retriever with a British accent.  I’d like to have tea and scones with him in the booth.


Get to know Lisa

unnamed (2)How long have you worked at Lemuria? Eight years.

What do you do at Lemuria? I look after Lemuria’s First Editions. We have two rooms of collectible books plus the first editions we have in the Dot Com building next to Banner Hall. I take care of the first editions we have, and I also take special orders for ones we do not have. I maintain Lemuria’s First Editions page on the website, and since our new website went up this year, I have slowly been adding our first editions to the website. I also write a column about book collecting for The Clarion-Ledger’s Sunday Book Page and look after our two book clubs, Atlantis and Cereus Readers.

Talk to us about what you’re reading right now. I just finished reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami for Lemuria’s Atlantis book club. He’s one of my favorite authors. I’m a fan of magical realism for total escape! A few others:

The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

Love and Other Ways of Dying by Michael Paterniti

Looking at Pictures by Robert Walser

M Train by Patti Smith

A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk

What’s currently on your bedside table (book purgatory)?

The Early Stories of Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (reading for book club)

Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster (reading for book club)

Hemingway in Love by A. E. Hotchner

The Mare by Mary Gaitskill

How many books do you usually read at a time? One to five books at a time.

I know it’s difficult, but give us your current top five books. I could list my favorite books according to different stage of life. A book can mean everything to at one stage of life and then it means less in another stage until another book takes its place. But here are some of my all time favorites:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

The Prime of Life by Simone de Beauvoir

Anything by Robert Walser

What did you do before you worked at Lemuria? I taught English as a Second Language, mostly at the university level, in the United States and in Austria. I worked about a year at Davis-Kidd booksellers in Jackson, Tennessee during college.

Why do you like working at Lemuria?  The books, new and old—for the way they smell and feel, for the beautiful craftsmanship of some of the finest and rarest books. The people—everyone comes to the bookstore looking for something different and I like helping them find it.

If we could have any living author visit the store and do a reading, who would you want to come? Alice Walker.

If you had the ability to teleport, where would you go first? A quiet tropical island.

Get to Know Pat

FullSizeRender (9)How long have you worked at Lemuria? 25 years, I think.

What do you do at Lemuria? Inventory, sales, talk to customers, to myself and to anyone who will listen, yoga.

What’s currently on your bedside table (book purgatory)? Man in the Woods by Scott Spencer, Nepo’s Book of Awakening, Jesus Calling, Daring Greatly, H is for Hawk, Circling the Sun, Time magazine, We are Completely Beside Ourselves, Natchez Burning, Ted Kooser’s Splitting an Order, Silence by Thich Nhat Hahn, and Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

I know it’s difficult, but give us your current top five books. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald, We are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, the Bible, and Circling the Sun by Paula McClain.

Any particular genre that you’re especially in love with? Fiction with strong moral dilemma.

What did you do before you worked at Lemuria? Raised children, went to nursing school, took lots of enrichment classes, and played lots of tennis.

If we could have any living author visit the store and do a reading, who would you want to come? Thich Nhat Hahn

If Lemuria could have ANY pet (mythical or real), what do you think it should be? Easy question for me. Dogs galore.


Philip Roth’s Nemesis for book club pick

A couple of years ago, I read Philip Roth’s Everyman and became intrigued with his ability to get inside a character’s mind, my favorite characteristic of  my favorite kind of writing: psychological realism. So, when Roth’s new Nemesis was published last fall, I knew that I would probably choose it for book club once it was out in paperback.

Set in the 1940s and early 1950s, the novel  Nemesis explores the effects of the devastating disease of polio and how it chose at random young innocent children, snatching them from their families and friends, often with the result of a quick demise, if not life long paralysis. My own paternal grandfather suffered the effects of polio as a young man. He walked with a limp his entire life because of the disease. This made me so sad as a child, his limp, and his shorter leg. The older brother of one of my childhood friends contracted polio only months before the vaccine was available to his sister and to me and my family, as well as other families in my south Mississippi hometown. On Sunday afternoon, we all went to the local high school and swallowed our “sugar” pills which protected us for life. I remember the day well. I was about five or six years old. And we were the lucky generation. We were born at the right time and were protected from the debilitating disease which affected, as we all know, President Roosevelt. So, this novel had a personal interest to me before I picked it up.

The protagonist, a young twenty something, is prevented from going to WWII due to his poor eyesight. He sadly failed the test, that is in his opinion, and, therefore, was prevented from going overseas with his buddies. His grandparents with whom he lived, were relieved, thinking him safe at home teaching  grammar school and junior high school children during the school year and supervising the playgrounds during the summer……until, his special loveable young boys began contracting the disease. They fell, one by one. The New York and New Jersey communities were devastated, scared, and angry. Was the physical education playground person in charge, letting their children get too hot, or too tired? Was that why these boys got polio?

Scared to death herself, the protagonist’s fiance persuaded her future husband to leave the playground and join her at a  polio-free summer camp in up state New York. He arrived to find happiness and no polio, at least for the first two weeks. Then a boy in his cabin woke in the middle of the night sick, very sick, and within days was dead. The verdict: polio. It turns out that the protagonist was a symptom free carrier.

I am not going to tell “the rest of the story”, as my childhood radio star Paul Harvey would say. You, reader, must read this incredible novel, AND come join us for book club on Thursday, March 1, at noon at our building. The book is short, so there is still time to read it before next Thursday if you have not already started.   The discussion will certainly prove to be lively and thought provoking. It always is!  -Nan

Ghost Light: “Atlantis” book club February selection

For all you avid book readers who made a New Year’s resolution to read more challenging novels, here is the answer: Lemuria’s book club which meets at noon on the first Thursday of each month. So, next Thursday, February 2, we will meet at our building, just outside of Broadstreet Bakery’s north side door, just across the parking lot.

“Drawing of Molly Allgood (Maire O’Neill) by Ben Bay, in the title role of Deirdre of the Sorrows by J.M. Synge, circa 1910. From the collection of the National Library of Ireland.”

We will be discussing Irishman Joseph O’Connor’s novel Ghost Light. This thought provoking novel opens in the early 1900s in Dublin. The reader meets W. B. Yeats who is writing a play with inspiration from popular playwright John Synge, a “real” playwright who was the author of Playboy of the Western World and Tinker’s Wedding. Synge becomes romantically involved with Molly Allgood, who is a much younger strong willed, talented actress who often stars in his plays. Their love affair is played out in the novel so very beautifully. (Author Joseph O’Connor grew up in Dublin “watching” the house on the hill where playwright John Synge wrote his plays.)

The reader is then propelled forward to 1950s London where Molly reflects on her lost love John Synge who died an early death. Through a series of flashbacks, the reader gets to experience Molly’s tumultuous life during and after Synge’s death. Her love memories, which float from Dublin to London to New York,  keep her alive even though her depleted life becomes horribly sad. Still, the power of the love story grows as the reader turns each page, becoming more and more involved in this novel.

As the author of Redemption Falls, and the world wide sensation Star of the Sea, Joseph O’Connor and his incredible talent as a writer rank at the top of my most admired present day authors. I heard him read at Lemuria  from Redemption Falls in 2007, and  I also heard him read last year from Ghost Light. His readings were both mesmerizing and energizing. It would be hard to find another author who reads his own work with such passion and love. The Irish accent does not hurt either!

Come join us when we discuss Ghost Light next Thursday. If you want more information about our book club, please email me at:  Click here to see a full listing of everything our book club has read since 2007. Come join us for challenging discussions each month.

See a listing of all of Joseph O’Connor’s books here.

Enjoy a guest post by Joseph O’Connor here.


Lemuria’s Atlantis Book Club Going Strong

In the winter of 2006-2007, Lemuria’s book club, named “Atlantis”, came onto the scene at our book store. Created to give Lemuria readers a forum in which to delve into cutting edge literary releases, primarily fiction, the club has grown as each year passes. When I first came to work at Lemuria, I had asked our owner, John Evans, to tell me about the Lemuria book club. His response was, “We don’t have one. Why don’t you start it, Nan?” I was thrilled, having once been a member of a very vigorous book club, sadly disbanded when one of our primary members had moved from Jackson.

So, we began with maybe two or three members in attendance for each meeting. Our first title chosen was Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx and Crake. From there we moved to other great titles, primarily literary or contemporary fiction, with a sprinkling of some noteworthy non-fiction titles such as Three Cups of Tea.

Our members show diversity both in their literary taste, as well as in their professional and personal lives. Age is not an issue, nor is gender. The common feature that we all share is a love of noteworthy literature. Multiple cities and states of origin promote interest and create diversity in thought and comment. Though primarily composed of local Mississippians, especially native Jacksonians, we also have members who are natives of Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan. To add to the mix, two members give us an international flair with their countries of origin being Germany and Brazil. Therefore, we gain a cultural diversity of thought and opinion and experience which adds to the richness of the group.

We meet the first Thursday of each month, year round, at 12 p.m. Discussions around a table or two kick off at 12:15 p.m, so being a little late creates no problem. Meeting at our building, which is just outside of the Broadstreet Bakery north, side door, we meet for an hour. Members are free to bring a snack or beverage of choice. Centered around tables, our diverse group of around 10-12 members thoroughly enjoys our provoking literary discussions.

Atlantis members also receive a 10% discount on Atlantis selections.

Contact Lisa Newman at Lemuria (601-366-7619), or by email:

2007 Atlantis Book Club Selections

2008 Atlantis Book Club Selections

2009 Atlantis Book Club Selections

2010 Atlantis Book Club Selections

2011 Atlantis Book Club Selections

2012 Atlantis Book Club Selections


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