Friday, September 29, 2017

The Best Author Tales Are About Bookstores

How appropriate that I bought a book about bookstores from a nice indie bookstore in Woodstock, New York, a town that has memorialized the 1960s like no other place can.  The book came with a bookmark from the store, the Golden Note Book, that offered a quote from Doris Lessing:

“There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you.  Reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag – and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement.

The book that I purchased, My Bookstore:  Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse Read, and Shop, edited by Ronald Rice and Booksellers Across North America, takes a terrific approach to talking about books and the stores that sell them.  

We hear from scores of established and successful writers, from New York Times best-selling authors to award-winning writers, including Ann Patchett, John Grisham, Pete Hamill, Paolo Mancuso, Nancy Thayer and Fannie Flagg.  They talk about their positive experiences in going to indie bookstores.  

I’ve been to a number of them and can attest to their unique qualities, including Denver’s Tattered Cover Book Store, Carol Gables Books & Books, Mystic’s Bank Square Books, Cambridge’s Harvard Book Store, Vineyard Haven’s Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Portland’s Powell’s City of Books, Austin’s Book People, NYC’s Strand Bookstore, McNally Jackson Books, Millerton’s Oblong Books & Music, and so many others.

The authors write glowingly of particular bookstores:

“places of genuine wonder.”
“physical manifestation of the wide world’s longest, best, most thrilling conversation.”
“the cultural soul of a large community.”
“bookshop as both a community center and a tabernacle of ideas.”
“is the hub of everything good and wise”
“kind of a sanctuary”

Author Jan Clinch wrote of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT:

“The main thing was that the instant you stepped inside the door you knew that this was a place where books were honored.  There was a kind of respectful intelligence behind everything, and to make your way down the aisles was to engage in a conversation with whoever it was who’d arranged them.”

I conclude with words from Wendell Berry, who wrote of his beloved Louisville Store, Carmichaels Bookstore:

“Sometimes I go to buy a certain book.  Sometimes I go with no purpose but to see what books may be there and to visit a little while with the people who work there.  The place has the quietness, the friendliness, the smell and the tangibility that a bookstore ought to have. It is a fair incarnation of the manifold life of books.  To go there and find a book I didn’t expect or didn’t expect to want, to decide I want it, to buy it as a treasure to take home, to conduct the whole transaction in a passage or friendly conversation –that is to every way a pleasure.  A part of my economic life thus becomes a part of my social life.”

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby

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