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My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop Hardcover – November 13, 2012
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Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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One could do worse than to plan a road trip based solely on the bookstores featured in this unabashed paean to what may be a vanishing part of the American landscape, the independent bookstore. “May” because the art of bookselling seems to be experiencing a Darwinian resurgence. If it is, then it is thanks to the valued works and even more valuable support of a host of writers who recognized that bookstores are more than places to sell their wares. Bookstores can be the soul of a neighborhood, the heart of a city. There are places with resident cats (like Brooklyn’s Community Bookstore) and places without (Birmingham’s Alabama Booksmith). Places where three-year-olds can cajole the owner into opening early, and others where fledgling writers find solace and inspiration. Publishing professional Rice invited 84 outstanding writers to contribute to this essay collection. And the fact that Richard Russo and Tom Robbins, Francine Prose and Ann Patchett, Wendell Berry and Rick Bragg take such a sincerely humble and exuberantly proprietary interest in their local bookstores speaks, well, volumes. --Carol Haggas
This is more than just a celebration, more than just a compendium of bookstore kudos. This is like each of your favorite writers (84 of them!) penning a love letter to their favorite bookstore. Names you may recognize include Dave Eggers, Louise Erdrich, Francine Prose, Lisa See, and Simon Winchester. Editor Rice, a publishing professional, has recruited new pieces that illuminate the quirks and many intangibles that make a great bookstore. From the owner who will trek across town to help out at a library signing, to the fierceness with which some owners protect their customers' privacy, to the overall comfort of stepping into a world that you just know is full of compatriots, the beautiful stories in these pages tell of those things that make any neighborhood bookstore great.
VERDICT: There are other collections that focus on bookstores... but this one is a personal peek into the hearts of the contributing writers as well as into the bookstores they love. Sure to please any bibliophile, even if borrowed from the library!
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"My Bookstore" is an engaging read which allows readers to get a glimpse as to which bookstores 84 well-known authors like to browse in. Every author has his or her particular favorite and though I'm not familiar with all of these authors' works, I can certainly appreciate their love of books, bookstores, and the craft of bookselling. Many of these writers explain that their choice of a favorite bookstore leans heavily on how well-read and friendly the booksellers are and this is true in my case. Nothing turns me off more than walking into a (usually) chain bookstore and being passed around from one purported bookseller to the next, who has no clue as to where I might find a certain , less popular title (but boy do they know the bestsellers!). No, like most of the writers featured here, my favorite bookstores are those where I can walk in and ask about an old, less familiar title and be directed to it or given helpful hints as to where I might find it. In this digital age, finding hard to come by titles is much easier, but that personal experience of engaging with a bookseller is altogether priceless(though I admit online book shopping has its advantages).
In "My Bookstore", authors such as Isabel Allende, Jeanne Birdsall, Dave Eggers, Louise Erdrich, Fannie Flagg, Ian Frazier, John Grisham, Elin Hildebrand, Pico Iyer, Laurie R. King, Ann Packer, Ann Patchett, Francine Prose, and many more wax lyrical about why a certain bookstore resonates with them more than most. Albert Goldbarth's pick is the Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita, KS and he describes the environment in the bookstore as one of "a neighborhood of - you'll know what I mean - unalike like minded-ness". Ahh, yes, I understand well what he means - that shared love of all things books, an unadulterated passion for musty old tomes and new treasures alike. This is a book for bibliophiles, and is a joy to read.
store. I love to read about Powells Bookstore in Oregon, but living in Tennessee it feels pretty remote. I imagine everyone
in northern California, Oregon and Washington State have found Powells by now. There are common
themes throughout: readers looking for a well-stocked friendly bookstore that is easily l accessible, willing to order book and
anxious to pair readers with books they will enjoy. Except for one reviewer who requested "Please - no store Cats!", most of
these store do feature a cat or dog and that adds to the attraction for several readers. I , for one, would stop in to pet the
cat and undoubtedly purchase at least 2 books.
From my own local Portland's Powell's, the most voluminous and in many ways the greatest bookstore in the English speaking world to some tiny ones like my town's Artifacts--Good Books and Bad Art where I volunteer without pay, I always assumed that like me, the founder had entered the world of books as a calling to educate and serve fellow readers who might come to share their own love of Truth and scrupulous factuality; I may be mistaken, but I cannot remember being shown I was ever wrong about that much.
Many of these stores, like Artifacts, have to sell "rubber chickens" to be able to get $4 Grapes of Wrath to high school kids, and many have suffered outright attack by predatory chains and now uncaring price cutters, but they soldier on as long with new enthusiasm every morning to spread their love of books and of reading.
They, WE, believe that good reading makes good thinking and we can make the world better by means of the only tool that has been successful in improving thinking for the last 500 years. (A customer at Artifacts, Kelli, said, "There's a reason they burn books you know.")
I bought this book as soon as I heard about it--couldn't get it fast enough. It is, almost every little essay, as inspiring as visiting these stores and seeing young and excited clerks whose greatest wish growing up was to work in a book store, one of these stores and the others which we will never hear about unless we live in their town but which mean so very much to their local communities.
We are lucky, blessed, when we stop somewhere and find one open; I think they should charge admission--I'd pay; wouldn't you?