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Chapter 24 - Did I Mention I Miss You?

It has been a year since Norma and I sold Bookends to Mindy and Walt Romanosky. It has been a new and different experience for me. I have found that while I have not completely forgotten authors' names, they no longer roll off my tongue as before. Where I used to consume books, I now savor them. I still keep up to date on new books but don't race out to gather them up as I might have done in the past. If I don't get a chance to read as we travel or do other things, I am mostly okay with that.

While it has been fun traveling and visiting with family and friends, I find that I miss the daily companionship and stories the store brought. I didn't actually have to go anywhere to see my bookstore friends, they came to me! I'd have weekly visits from many customer friends. I kept up to date with their news of family and what they were doing. It was always fun to see northern and Canadian friends in the winter and regular seasonal friends in summer and fall. This is the part of the store I miss the most.

Most people who come into a book store are friendly and love books. Periodically we'd get a grouch, unhappy because we didn't have a particular book or because almost new used books were more that the $1.00 beat-up ones found at a flea market. We learned our customers' likes or dislikes, knew not to recommend certain authors, and spent time talking about our latest reads or favorite books. This formed a bond that I don't think you can find in any other retail environment.

So to scratch my book shop itch here are some terrific books about bookstores I've read and enjoyed.

Weird Things Customers Say in Book Shops by Jen Campbell - Jen Campbell is a British author and poet and has worked in or around books for over 15 years. A good part of her story is as a bookseller. This book is based on her experiences in that job. I'm sure Norma and I could add to her book. Some of the gems in Jen's book include, "Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?" and "Is this book edible?" While I haven't read her followup book More Weird Things Customers Say in Book Shops, I am sure it is just as funny as the first.

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin - This is a wonderful story which starts in 1939 London. As the war escalates for the British people, one bookseller finds out how stories can unite a community even through blackouts and the London Blitz.

Shakespeare and Company by Sylvia Beach - Sylvia Beach, an American ex-pat moved to Paris in 1901 when her father, a minister, took over as the assistant minister of the American Church in Paris. While only there for 4 years, Paris intrigued her so much that she established an English book shop, Shakespeare and Company. This is the story of her experiences and the memories she had of celebrity authors.

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book by Wendy Welch - If you are familiar with Big Stone Gap, it is probably because Adriana Trigiani has set many of her books in that town. This memoir is about how Wendy Welch and her husband left high powered jobs and became booksellers in this very small Appalachian town. Not only did they establish a successful business but also built a community around their store.

The Bookshop of Second Chances by Jackie Fraser - This is a terrific book for the beach. Thea Mottram is hit with losing her job and her husband declaring he wants a divorce on the same day. Learning that a Scottish uncle has passed away leaving her his house and his antique book collection she decides to head off to the small coastal town where nobody knows her name. All is good until she meets the curmudgeonly rare book dealer in town.

I am enormously happy that Mindy and Walt have done such a great job of making Bookends their own and am excited to see them grow it into even a better store for our community! Please go and visit when you are in town, tell them Vicki sent you!


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