Southern Bound to Reading

What is a book shop?

Is it just a place to buy books or to take your old books for store credit? Independent book shops stretch far beyond this box, if they are true to their purpose and nature; for they are meant to be a hub of ideas, discussions, imagination and thinking, nerve centers of the community regarding literature and ideas, and encouragement toward literacy and reading. Every community should have an indie book shop.

Our community is blessed to have an indie book shop in Biloxi, MS.

Since 2013, Southern Bound Book Shop has been the only indie book shop in Biloxi (and also Ocean Springs). Shereen Markowitz Kostmayer dreamed of opening a community book shop and after 17 years in her chosen profession and a personal tragedy three years ago, she took her life into a different direction – to create space for real books to thrive in a digital world.

The book shop opened with nearly empty shelves, but it quickly grew and now spills over with books. In fact, a second location will soon open as the only book shop in Ocean Springs, Miss.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is filled with talented writers and authors.

From the ocean, words seem to drip upon the shores and hang from the palm trees, inspiring the many who write. It’s a place known for artists, creativity and writers. Southern Bound Book Shop features the work of local and regional authors, from the well-known like Greg Iles and Carolyn Haines to the new and novice authors. Regional authors frequently visit the book shop to host Book Signings, readings, and receptions sometimes coined as “Wine & Signs.”

Southern Bound Book Shop has many loyal customers who order books and frequently stop by to peruse the menagerie of genres lining the bookshelves in the cozy boutique atmosphere. It’s the kind of place that overwhelms your desire to pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and read all day. You can also chat with Shereen about books as you meet new and interesting  people. In the children’s area is a reading rug and bean bag for the kiddos; in the back of the shop, Mom & Dad can plop into one of the funky and cushioned chairs.

The book shop also carries a large collection of used books,

many of which come from patrons who receive a store credit. The used books are in such great condition, one never guesses that most are used. Prices are reasonable and when in doubt about which book to choose, Shereen is happy to recommend one or two.

In addition to books, Southern Bound Book Shop offers vintage jewelry and recycled art by local artists. There is a small collectible books section for the true book collectors. Don’t forget to check out the Okra Picks Books, which are nominated by the Southern Independent Bookstores Alliance (SIBA). Members of SIBA nominate new books quarterly. Their motto is “Great Southern books, fresh off the vine.” Trisha Yearwood’s cookbook has been nominated, as well as many other great books for all ages.

Every Tuesday is New Release Day.

Lucy (from the “I Love Lucy” show) has become the unofficial mascot of New Release Day, and her image – a face of surprise and wonder- announces what new books have been released.

Southern Bound Book Shop encourages the community to read

by sponsoring a Little Free Library located at The Greenhouse on Porter in Ocean Springs, which has gotten great feedback from visitors who take a book and leave a book. This past summer, Southern Bound held several story time events for children.  They also offered a free activity for children at the Downtown Ocean Springs Artwalk at which kids could draw, write and make their own book to take home. Other recent events relate to local history, container gardening, and a benefit concert.

This corner book shop is truly a treasure for the community! Stop by and check it out… and bring a friend!

Southern Bound Book Shop
280 Eisenhower Drive (Biloxi, MS) in the Hobby Lobby Shopping Center
(second location coming soon to Ocean Springs, MS)

Visit Webpage

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Instagram & Twitter @ReadLocalBiloxi

By Kristina Mullenix

Columbus, Mississippi – Home of Tennessee

The 14th Annual Tennessee Williams Tribute & Tour of Victorian Homes

will take place from September 6-13, 2015 and pays tribute to one of the most important playwrights in American history, Tennessee Williams who was born in Columbus. Many of the struggles in Williams’ own life show are portrayed in A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Glass Menagerie.  He was awarded The Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955, both of which were successful as films.

This annual event celebrates the life and work of Mr. Williams. During the festival week, attendees will enjoy special performances, educational presentations, and a 5k race.








Reading – Your Civic Duty


Many people think literacy a simple question of being able to read,

but there is more to the issue. A person who is able to read but rarely does is not much better off than one who has never learned to read. Whether you can’t or can, but don’t read, you are functionally illiterate.

Many people love to read because it’s entertaining, fun and takes them to places they’re never been. Reading teaches us about the world and helps us develop empathy. According to Scholastic “each time you turn a page, your brain lights up — reading is a workout for the mind, body and soul.” In addition, Dr. Robert S. Wilson of the Rush University Medical Center states that, “reading has strong, positive effects on the brain. It increases concentration and memory, improves language abilities and grows brain cells in children.” Also, when children read, they are able to plan out an action in their heads and solve new problems in real life. Children are encouraged to read to find out more about the world in which they live and use that information to improve their lives.

Information from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development says, “Reading is the single most important skill necessary for a happy, productive and successful life.”

It’s not just children who benefit. Reading slows the process of cognitive decline in adults. Reading has a positive effect on the body as well. Reading can relieve stress better than listening to music or taking a walk.

Reading skills are essential to function in our society.

The world requires that adults are able to read and understand basic texts; function in the workplace; pay bills; understand legal and financial documents, and navigate technology. Advanced reading comprehension skills are needed to figure out the technological advances being made everyday in our society. Try figuring out how to program an I-phone, for instance.

Widespread illiteracy not only leads to lower education and employment rates, it is also linked to increased crime and incarceration with a high social and economic cost. In the National Adult Literacy Survey, participants completed a series of literacy tasks and received proficiency scores in prose, document, and quantitative literacy. Higher scores were associated with being employed, working more weeks during the year, and having higher wages. Lower levels of literacy correlated with high levels of poverty, unemployment and incarceration. The National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) found that between 21% and 24% of U.S. adults performed at the lowest level on all three scales. Illiteracy has profound effects on society.

Duane Alexander, director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found when there is a large number of adults whose literacy skills are too low to perform normal, day-to-day tasks, communities suffer. On average, adults at the lowest levels of literacy earn about $230-$245 per week, work only 18-19 weeks each year, are more than three times as likely to receive food stamps as compared to of those who read at the highest levels. They are almost ten times more likely to be living below the poverty line (41%-44% as compared to 4%-8%). Alexander further found and that many children living in poverty lack the skills that will allow them to become lifelong readers. A person with low reading ability may not be able to read signs, understand medical information or prescription directions, or apply for jobs that require basic skills tests.

Readers think critically about what they’ve read and make connections to their own lives.

As a result, they are likely to have a better life.

What’s a Person To Do? Get a good book and read!

Libraries have plenty of them. Read to yourself, your children, grandchildren and anyone you can get to be part of this experience. It’s a bonding experience that also cements the love for reading and its life long value.

  • Read to your children and have them read out loud to you. They’ll get better with time and your listening ears.
  • Become a tutor at a nearby school. Teaching helps you to learn.
  • Take or teach an Adult Education Classes. They’re fun.
  • Share books with others. Sharing experiences is contagious.

By Dr. Rachell Anderson

Check out Rachell’s website for more articles and books.

Jessie “The Blues Boss” Howell

Jessie “The Blues Boss” Howell might arguably be one of the hardest working musicians in the Hub City. There is hardly a weekend where he’s not playing either solo or with his band, The Cowboy Blues Band.

What bands do you perform with?

I am currently the lead singer of The Cowboy Blues Band, as well as, I perform a popular solo show.

When and why did you start playing?

I have been singing since I was three. I started out with my family’s gospel music group. I then switched to drums in the sixth grade and learned the basics and such. In my senior year of High School, I needed one more credit to graduate so I started taking guitar class with a borrowed guitar from my sister Becky. I liked the class. Since then I have worked to learn the Piano, Bass Guitar, and Cowbell.

Which instruments do you play?

My first love will always be the drums and guitar. I do play several other instruments.
What was the first tune(s) you learned? On drums the first tune I learned was “Wipeout” by the Surfaris. On guitar the first tune I learned was “ As Tears Go By “ by The Rolling Stones.

Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

So many musicians to choose from. I love music from a holistic standpoint. It depends on what particular mood I’m in. I love Buddy Rich, BB King, Albert King, Joe Bonnamassa, Jeff Healey, Glenn Miller, John Williams, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Drifters, Joss Stone, Nora Jones, the Neville Brothers, and on and on. During my younger years, I was all about Elvis.

Which famous musicians have you learned from?

I have had the fortune of working with some famous musicians in my life. I have been really good friends with Jeff Healy and had gotten to play drums with him a few times. We remained friends until he passed away. He gave me advice all the time. I have been fortunate to work with Al “Fish” Herring who is a three time Grammy award winner and he provides great support and great advice. I have also learned from some negative musicians on the proper way NOT to do things. I have had conversations with John Popper from Blues Traveler, Alanis Morissette, Chris Young, Charlie Daniels, and Joe Nichols. I also love having “Shop Talk” with local musicians on songwriters nights and performances. The Hattiesburg Community is a great support system.

Describe your first instrument.

Many people will be surprised to know that my first instrument was a trombone. I didn’t play it very well and moved to drums quickly. Most times our neighbors thought a cow was dying at our house.

What are your fondest musical memories?

In 1993 I had a farm accident and turned a John Deer tractor over on myself. Lots of things broken, horrific scene, and I almost died. I had a broken back, I had a punctured lung, and my arm was in a sling and needed physical therapy. I became really depressed. I thought that I would never play drums again. I was angry. I had been saving up to buy a used drum set from my friend and I had saved half of it. I thought for sure that My music days were done. My sister Lenae went and bought that drum set. She told me that I was going to play it and that I didn’t have a choice. I sat down behind it and started to play with one arm. As my arms and body got better so did my playing. She may never know how significant that one act of kindness was to my future as a musician, but I’ll always be grateful and love her for buying me that old and worn-out drum set. About a year later, I would start my first band and name it after one of my other sisters, Audrey and the rest is history.

Who are your favorite musicians?

Buddy Guy, BB King, Albert King, Freddy King, Jeff Healey, The Commitments, Johnny Cash, Ricky Van Shelton, George Jones, Tito Puente, Buddy Rich, Les Paul, Brad Miller, Johnny Glover, Al Herring, B.C. Dueitt, Joe Dueitt, Johnny Dickens, Lori Dickens, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, Eddie Van Halen, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, George Harrison, John Lennon, John Legend, Bruno Mars, and WAY too many others …

Do you get nervous before a performance?

I get very nervous at new venues. Every time I play a new place I get nervous. Older venues seem like family, so I don’t get quite as nervous. If I’m playing guitar and an awesome musician walks in to my show, like someone I really look up to, then I will get nervous, as well. I don’t want to mess up in front of someone I really admire. I’ve been playing a long time, but I still respect people who can really bring it.

What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous?

Take a breath, learn the song, play the song, and know that you are going to mess up from time to time. I had a music teacher tell me one time that it’s not about how bad you mess up, but how well you recover. That has proven to be so true.

How often and for how long do you practice?

I try to practice guitar at least daily. I will also take two to three days a week to try to learn new material and words to a song. My goal is for you never to see the same show twice.

What do you practice – exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.?

I practice all of those things. I work on easy tunes first, then work on a hard tune. I try to learn a new chord every week and then learn a song with that chord in it so that it forces me to use it.

How do you balance your music with other obligations?

It’s very hard to do that. Music is a cruel mistress. There are some things that get neglected, however, I take at least one to two days a week to spend doing whatever the family wants to do. I also try to take them to as many shows as I can.

If someone wanted to book you or your band how could they get in contact with you?

They can check out the website, find me on Facebook, find the Cowboy Blues Band on Facebook, or email us at cowboybluesband@hotmail.

Do you have a website? Our website is

  • Downtown Music Media

Interview by Downtown Music Media