Success! Now Check Your Email

To complete Subscribe, click the confirmation link in your inbox. If it doesn’t arrive within 3 minutes, check your spam folder.

Ok, Thanks
For Sale: Used Books, Gently Worn 2 min read
Wright Thompson

For Sale: Used Books, Gently Worn

For $3 at a library used book sale, I got a masterclass in journalism and top-notch writing.

By Cary Littlejohn

Who doesn't love a good library used book sale?

Look at this haul.

Semi-Tough by Dan Jenkins, North Toward Home by Willie Morris, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans.

One timeless work of journalism. One memoir of a hugely influential force in magazine journalism. One piece of fiction by one of our greatest sports journalists ever. All for $3.

I gasped just a bit when I saw North Toward Home by Willie Morris, the famed editor of Harper's magazine. It's one of those books that's been recommended to me countless times over the years—because of my love of magazines and good writing and my connections to Mississippi, and I've just never done the work to get a copy.

I remembered its praises being sung by Wright Thompson, a producer of good writing for magazines with an even stronger connection to Mississippi. It was mentioned roughly 100 pages into his book Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last.

On Bourbon, Books, and Writing Your Way Out of Small-Town America
For years I drove back and forth between Mississippi and Kentucky to spend time with the bourbon guru Julian Van Winkle III, sometimes for a day or two, sometimes just for a dinner. We talked about…

That section was excerpted for LitHub back in 2020, and though an enterprising editor at the site (far from a Willie Morris-caliber editor, that's for sure) did him no favors by adding an -s to the title of Morris's book that doesn't belong, it's a great encapsulation of what makes the book so appealing for me. I can't wait to dig in.