Interesting Indies

One might think that an independent bookstore held the same level of excitement as the ubiquitous cat sunning itself in the window. One would be wrong. I have two books to prove it. The first, which I read some time ago is Shelf Life by Suzanne Strempek Shea. The second, recently loaned by my friend Jane, is The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch.

Shelf Life's cover advertises, "romance, mystery, drama, and other page-turning adventures from a year in a bookstore." It is the story of a year in the life of the author who begins her own recovery from a bout with breast cancer by volunteering in her local bookstore. The Little Book Store of Big Stone Gap calls itself "a memoir of friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasures of a good book." It is Wendy Welch's account of following a dream with her husband of owning a bookstore in a most uncommon place. Pay attention to both advertisements. They do not lie.

Shelf Life, set in Massachusetts and The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap set in Appalachia, tell stories of love, loss, humor, and frustration brought into their respective doors. Both books are good reads for those who find human beings fascinating.  You can't make this stuff up, nor can you find it in the big box stores. (Pardon my cynicism, but in my experience, the harried employees of the big box stores can only answers questions with information found on the big computers in the front.)

I'm sure the stories in both books are true as well as entertaining. We have our own independent bookstore (Main Street Books) right here in Hattiesburg, complete with the cat. The owners either have or can find anything you want in a book. In my recent request for all the books both written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, they found every one at less than collector prices including one signed by the author and one printed in Japan where he was popular with the young set. I did have to reassure Jerry that it was not supposed to have words in it!

Just saying . . . if you have an independent bookstore nearby, go visit. If not, at least read about what fun they have.