Serendipity. I was standing on a step inside The Book Loft of German Village in Columbus, Ohio, waiting to go upstairs. There was quite a crowd flowing down the narrow staircase, as if an entire busload of people were leaving all at once. So, while I waited with my mother and sister, I picked up a book from a pile beside the stairs. My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop included a piece by Jeff Smith, creator of the graphic novel Bones, about The Book Loft itself. I don't know when I've received so much pleasure from an accidental purchase.
My Bookstore is an ode to independent bookstores written by authors who love local bookstores. It may be the bookstore in their neighborhood, the store they grew up with, or the store that first allowed them to read there. In John Grisham's case it's That Bookstore in Blytheville, the Blytheville, Arkansas bookstore that first took a chance on an author selling books out of his trunk. Louise Erdrich tells of Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis, where she went on a first date. Lisa See's story of Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena brought tears to my eyes, as she told about her family. Richard Russo wrote an introduction to the book that is a love letter to independent bookstores and the people who run them. Leif Parsons' illustrations of each bookstore celebrate their diversity.
Eighty-four authors write of their love of a bookstore in this wonderful book. Anyone who appreciates authors and local bookstores will admire this collection. These love letters are actually comments about the wonderful people who love books, and share that passion, welcoming everyone into their world of books. The bookstores may be wonderful because of their character, their eccentricity, but they are always welcoming because of the knowledgeable people who own and run the stores.
I've only been to two of the bookstores in this collection, Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, and The Book Loft of German Village. That's going to change. I can already see a spring road trip to Ann Patchett's Parnassus Books in Nashville. I'd love to spend time in the others as well.
My favorite bookstore isn't in the collection, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona. But, there are authors I know who spoke about bookstores they love. At one time or another, I've hosted Douglas Brinkley, Robert N. Macomber, Les Standiford. And, I've met some of the other authors. My Bookstore became a very personal book, a love letter from people I knew about places they love. This book welcomed me with open arms.
Not everyone will want to read eighty-four essays about bookstores. I appreciated every piece, seeing each of them as an introduction to a world where books are talked about and loved. My Bookstore invites readers to feel at home.
My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop edited by Ronald Rice and Booksellers Across America. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. 2012. ISBN 9781579129101 (hardcover), 378p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I bought this book.