In case you weren’t aware, April 27 is a national holiday: it’s Independent Bookstore Day. Only five years old, you might not have heard of it and that’s okay… because you have now! What could be more exciting than discovering we have a new holiday to bedazzle on our calendars?
In my humble opinion, we don’t have enough true holidays. I.e. Unadorned celebrations without the stress of gift giving, event planning, cooking complicated meals, decorating, and contending with the in-laws. Too often, holidays don’t feel like the definition of the word and more like its antithesis. So here I present one day that is entirely, wholeheartedly, unequivocally designed for a communal book lovers’ jamboree. And that, my friends, is not to be missed, particularly by our kind—writers and readers.
Don’t be fooled by the facades of social media, we are living in an age of community. The big and little main streets of America are being reinvigorated by their citizens’ commitment to supporting one another and thriving despite all obstacles against our diverse democracy. No place is this more apparent than with booksellers. I travel from coast to coast doing book events, and it never fails that at the heart of each city is an independent bookstore.
For nearly a decade, I lived in El Paso, a beautiful city with wonderful readers but no independent bookstore. I watched as friends from across the country shared their photos, events, interviews, and most significantly, their memories with independent bookstore staffs, patrons, and fellow authors. The dynamic relationship between these people was more than professionalism. They were a book family committed to strengthening the bonds of their literary village. You know the saying, It takes a village to raise a child? Well, I argue it’s even truer written, It takes a book village to raise a person.
The minute I planted roots in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, I went in search of that village. For me, it’s a beautiful, bustling indie called Bookmarks in the epicenter of the city. It’s my privilege to support their growth and impassioned work connecting community members through reading. Bookmarks is not merely a brick-and-mortar business; it’s a place that encourage young and old to seek out stories and find magic. It’s a safe haven with caring booksellers who help us believe again in the goodness of our neighbors—who help enrich minds, bodies, and spirits every day. They are my friends, some of the best I’ve made in my adult life. Independent bookstores are where we come together to share, celebrate, learn, and connect. They are places that endeavor to fill us with reliable head knowledge, and more importantly, reliable heart knowledge.
I didn’t grow up with an independent bookstore. [Read more…]