Edited by Ronald Rice
Black Dog Books (2012)
Barry Moser’s reading of his essay about our bookstore was surely the highlight of Lemuria experience in 2012. Many old friends shared the evening toasting to bookselling. Barry’s reading of his heartfelt essay was sentimental and beautiful. I spent the last hundred days of 2012 reading this delightful book, drinking it in slowly, finishing the afterword on December 31st.
Emily St. John Mandel’s concluding essay reconfirms the importance of bookselling as a service and an art form. Mandel’s concluding thoughts on consumer responsibility and spending your money and time are ways that you influence your community. Your choices should reflect your concern for the future of your town. Mandel ends with “if it happens that you’re someone who enjoys having a bookstore in your town, I would argue that it’s never been more important”
My Bookstore includes essays about stores I’ve visited and ones I’ve just heard about. I’ve discovered new stores offering new horizons for me to hopefully experience. I’ve been reinforced by Ron Rice’s collection that bookselling as an occupation of choice is alive and kicking as 2012 comes to an end.
Here are some of my favorite comments from other bookstore essays:
Park Road Books (Charlotte, NC) by Carrie Ryan:
“Independent bookstores like Park Road Books are so much more than a place to buy books. They’re a place for gathering, for sharing, for learning, for meeting new people. They are a home. There have been times I’ve been far away traveling and I’ve become homesick and walked into an independent bookstore because that’s something they all have in common: a feeling of coming home.”
From Mike Cochrane’s essay, The self-stated goal of Talking Leaves Books (Buffalo, NY):
“. . . to make available life-changing books, books that ‘open us up to new worlds, or illuminate more clearly our own,’ books that ‘stretch and deepen our vision and our comprehension of the universe and its creatures, cultures and ways.’”
Stephen White’s essay about the great Tattered Covers Booksellers (Denver, CO):
“Intuition seemed to inform them when I was just looking, which was usually. But engage one of them on the floor with a question or a request for guidance and any staff member would talk books with you, patiently. Find books for you, eagerly. Ask what you liked, recently. Tell you about books they loved, passionately.”
I end this blog with comments from a great essay by Wendell Berry on books and bookselling from Carmichael’s Bookstore (Lousiville, KY):
“To me, it is not enough that a book is thought realized in language; it must also be the language further realized in print on paper pages bound between covers. It is a material artifact, a thing made not only to be seen but also to be held and smelled, containing language that can be touched, and underlined with an actual pencil, with margins that can actually be written on. And so a book, a real book, language incarnate, becomes a part of one’s bodily life. One’s bodily life, furthermore, is necessarily local and economic. And so to the life embodied in books must be added to the life of bookstores . . . 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 of friendly conversation–that is in every way a pleasure. A part of my economic life thus becomes a part of my social life. For that I need actual people in an actual place in the actual world.
Long live tangibility! Love live slow communication!”
Lemuria, just off the electric George Saunders event, is planning a big 2013 year. This year influence our work efforts, get involved and let us influence your reading interest.
If you haven’t gotten a copy of My Bookstore we still have some signed by Barry Moser.
Real books signed by real authors in a real bookstore for real readers that care.
Finally a piece on My Bookstore and memories of Mississippi bookstores by Jim PathFinder Ewing, our friend, journalist, author, writer, editor, and blogger living here in Jackson.
“I’m definitely browsing in My Bookstore — as well as all the bookstores I’ve known — and enjoying immensely the memories of them in the company of literary friends both found in the book as well as in my own recollections. At the current pace of reading, I’ll probably finish My Bookstore sometime in the next year, or two. But, you know what? I’m finding, it’s like being in a bookstore itself. Browsing is part of the experience.”