Lit In JXN: A Booklover's Itinerary
Mississippi's rich literary history precedes itself, with authors like William Faulker, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, John Grisham, and Angie Thomas hailing from the state, to name but a few.
The capital city has plenty of bookish spots to celebrate literature, whether you want to kick back with a good read or have a writer-inspired cocktail.
Upstairs, a book lover's oasis awaits at Lemuria Books, where towering shelves and cozy nooks are home to thousands of fictional and non-fictional worlds to be discovered. First opened in 1975, Lemuria has been selecting books for its original First Editions Club for almost as long. For the list price of the selected work(s), you can join and receive a handpicked novel by an emerging or collectible author each month to read, enjoy and discuss. Oz is the bookstore's young readers section, with new and classic stories for children through young adults.
Down the street at Canton Mart Square, The Book Rack has been a part of the Jackson community for over 50 years. A delightful place to find and sell new and used books, you can spend hours exploring the shelves in a quest to discover a new favorite. Don't know what kind of book you're in the mood for? We recommend purchasing one of their "Mystery Bundles," which are covered in kraft paper and include 3-4 novels of a particular genre.
The Mississippi Library Commission offers a wide variety of direct and indirect services to libraries, government agencies and the citizens of Mississippi. Their collection is extensive as the "capital's library," and, the building - designed by renowned Jackson firm Duvall Decker - is worth the visit alone.
At Jackson State University, the Margaret Walker Center is a cultural preservation and resource center for African American history and culture. Open to the public, browse influential records like the papers of the late Margaret Walker Alexander; those of the former U.S. Secretary of Education, Roderick Paige; and a large oral history department that includes over 2000 interviews. Don't miss the additional exhibits and literacy projects showcasing the Center's collections and history of the university.
Cross over to Midtown and take a seat at Coffee Prose, where coffee and books collide in a community space perfect for studying and hanging out. If comics, graphic novels, and Manga are what you're looking for, Offbeat is Jackson's foremost shop for alternative reads, art, and cultural finds.
Take a walk on Belhaven University's historic campus before hitting up The Shoe Bird Cafe, named after Eudora Welty's only children's book, The Shoe Bird. Proudly serving up Jackson's own Northshore Specialty Coffee for as little as $1 per cup, it's a quiet spot to curl up with a book or play a game with a friend from their board game collection.
A literary tour of Jackson wouldn't be complete without a visit to Belhaven and the Eudora Welty House & Gardens. Once home to the prolific, Pulitzer-prize winning writer and photographer, it pays homage to her works and life through guided tours, interpretive museum exhibits, and a walk through her historic botanical garden full of Southern blooms.
Happy hour awaits at the Historic Fairview Inn and Library Lounge, where the original library from 1908 has been transformed into a relaxing, intimate lounge and bar. Take a seat amongst a collection of vintage Civil War novels, as well as fiction and nonfiction works from renowned Southern writers. If you fancy a drink, look to their author-inspired cocktail specialties for inspiration. We love the "Eudora Welty," a refreshing concoction of Jackson's Cathead Vodka, Cucumber, Dr. Brown's Cel-Rey Soda, and Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur.
Grab a bite at Hal & Mal's before you turn in for the night. A storied watering hole, it has been a well-loved part of Jackson's literary and artistic crowd for decades. Even Eudora Welty has frequented the space (it was the site of her 90th birthday!) Be sure to explore all of the historic memorabilia and poster art on the walls to learn more about one of the city's most artistic and cultural establishments.
Make sure to be in town during August, when the Mississippi Book Festival brings visitors from around the nation and world to the State Capitol grounds for its annual "literary lawn party." Free and open to the public, book lovers enjoy hundreds of visiting authors, panel Q&A's, book signings, Capitol tours, food trucks, and family-friendly fun.