Friday, January 03, 2014

My Bookstore edited by Ronald Rice and Booksellers Across America

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.

12 comments:

Nancy said...

This obviously was the perfect book for you, Lesa. I do think I'd enjoy it, however, but not as much as you did. It's a sad thing to see bookstores closing down in our neighborhood and nearby. Hopefully, the pendulum will swing the other way and there will be bookstores for future writers to reminisce about. Bookstores and libraries are the best places.

Lesa said...

It was the perfect book for me, Nancy. And, I knew I'd enjoy it, but I thought I'd pick it up here and there. I was hooked. It was fun to read since the authors all had different styles, and different ways of talking about the bookstores. I hope there are bookstores and libraries at least as long as I'm alive. (smile)

Libby Dodd said...

My all time favorite independent book store that has withstood the ravages of "big book stores" is Books of Wonder in NYC. They were studied as the prototype for the movie "The Little Store Around the Corner". But in their case, the little store won!

Naomi Johnson said...

The Book Loft is a fun bookstore to browse, isn't it? With all those rooms and narrow passages and posters and music. We've lost two indie bookstores just north of Columbus, in Westerville, of late. The Book Harbor, which sold only used books, closed after the passing of its owner; and as of Jan 1, Foul Play, the mystery bookstore has closed its doors (more or less). The owners are about to embark upon a richly deserved retirement.

Lesa said...

Libby, I'm so glad Books of Wnder won! I hate to see independent bookstores close.

Lesa said...

Oh, Naomi! I'm glad the owners of Foul Play are retiring, but I so wanted to visit that bookstore. Darn, darn, darn. Yes, The Book Loft is fun. Everyone in my family bought multiple items while were there.

Kaye Barley said...

okay - so. You've added yet another book to my list of books to look into (NOT a bad thing!). Donald and Harley and I will be in Nashville in August for Killer Nashville and one of the things on my "Want to Do!" list is visit Ann Patchett's Parnassus Books. Some of my favorite bookstores are Malaprop's in Asheville, NC, Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC and Quarter Moon Books on Topsail Island, NC.

Rosemary said...

Oh I love the sound of this book - I will definitely look out for it.

I don't have a great local bookstore to recommend, but in Alnwick in Northumberland (the first county you enter as you cross the Scottish/English border from here) there is Barter Books, which is housed in the old railway station and is huge - it is such a great place.

I've just been in to one of the specialist charity bookshops in Edinburgh to hand in books I'd decided I no longer needed - this one is run by Oxfam. There are more of these nowadays than there are commercial bookshops, and some of them are very good.

Lesa said...

I haven't been to Parnassus Books yet, Kaye, but it's 2 1/2 hours from my place to the bookstore. I mapped it earlier this week because I was talking about it with a friend. We want to go when the weather is better. So, you, Don & Harley will be there in August? Hmmm. I don't want to go to Killer Nashville, but I might think about making a trip down there on Saturday or Sunday.

Lesa said...

Rosemary, Barter Books sounds fascinating. An old railway station sounds great for a bookstore!

Melissa @ My Recent Favorite Books said...

This sounds like a perfect book for booklovers! =)

Lesa said...

It is, Melissa. It's a fun book.