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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

I Want to Share Some of My Favorites With You

Summer Woodland, Michigan
Okay, you know I’m a devoted re-reader of my favorite books. I’ve said it often enough, and you've heard it before, so blah-blah-blah, yadda-yadda. What, however, does personal re-reading mean to me as a bookseller?

Come on in and browse!
Well, my old favorites are one reason I began my bookselling career in used books, and it’s also a reason why, when I am putting together an order for new books – things customers have asked me to get for them, as well as new titles I believe will appeal to my clientele – I often check to see which authors and titles I’ve loved are still in print so I can share them with my Northport public, locals and visitors.

For example, I’m always re-ordering Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn because – well, it is a beautiful story, told with elegant simplicity, wonderfully accessible, and it also offers a window into an early time in our nation’s history, with horse-drawn peddler wagons, singing waiters, tenement buildings without elevators, and much, much more, all seen through the wide eyes of a young girl. It is a coming-of-age story, not a children’s book, and one I would list as an American classic. Have you read it yet? – A young woman came in as I was writing a draft of this post and asked if I had the book! It should arrive today! She’ll come back! This is the kind of thing that makes me so glad I am a bookseller!

Monarch time
Mark Rashid is a very different kind of author, and his nonfiction books are worlds away from fictional Brooklyn. Since I’ve written extensively about him already, I only want to say today that I am expecting delivery of a couple more of his books soon – and that you don’t have to have a horse (though how I wish I did!) or be training a horse, and maybe you don’t even have to be horse-crazy, to get a lot out of Rashid’s anecdotes and lessons about working with horses. When I read about Rashid working with horses, I am flooded with a feeling that the world is beautiful, not only because it has horses in it (see the poem by Alice Walker – and I need to re-order that book, too!) but also because there are good, decent people in it like Mark Rashid.

Now for another switcheroo: from fiction to horse training to interpersonal communication. Does the name Suzette Haden Elgin mean anything to you? I have handled and recommended and sold many copies of her original book, The Gentle Art of Self-Defense, which I absolutely love because it teaches us (1) how to recognize sneaky, indirect verbal attacks and (2) how to deflect the attack without going on a counter-attack. Brilliant! I don’t have that first title in stock and couldn’t order it new, but thank heaven The Last Word on the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense was not the last word, because here are books I was able to stock, and I think the one on …Communicating with Kids will be one all parents will want to reference. 

Defend yourself gently without counter-attacking

But a full and complete discussion of books I’ve read more than once and highly recommend would be a book in itself. Do you live in or live elsewhere but love Michigan? If so, and you have yet to read Bruce Catton’s history of Michigan and his memoir, Waiting for the Morning Train, put those on your list today! What about anything by Studs Terkel? All his books of interview with Americans, on a variety of subjects, are worth your time. 

Michigan's own Bruce Catton

Chicago's own Studs Terkel

Mildred D. Taylor’s novels are too good to be restricted to YA readers. Historians and lovers of good essays should not miss books by Tony Judt. If I were to begin listing books from the past decade alone, we would be here all day, though, and I know you have other things to do. Whatever you read, do make time for reading, because especially in this glorious summer of our discontent, getting lost in a good book (outdoors if possible) is good medicine for us all. As for me, I'm happy to realize that my bookshop is a Treasure Island, and if you are a booklover and know how to browse, you will never have to leave empty-handed. Only this morning, a repeat customer from Wisconsin told me, "The best part of the trip is coming to this bookstore." 

Just before this morning opening "bell"

But now -- oh, my goodness, the UPS delivery came! Another box of treasures have arrived!

And we are off to the races!


Angie said...

If only...if only...I lived close enough to visit your store! I'm in northeast TN and a bit far to travel...but I would love to browse your store, find a book, sit on a bench outside with a great cup of coffee and a great goes one delicious fantasy! :D

P. J. Grath said...

Well, I appreciate the fantasy, Angie. For now, we can visit this way, and it's better than nothing.