National Independent Bookstore Day

This Saturday, May 2, is the inaugural National Independent Bookstore Day. Cue the confetti and the noisemakers. Across the country, 400 independent bookstores are teaming up to celebrate, and one of my favorite bookstores will be in on the party with special sales, activities and prizes.

Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh has long been my book haven. I haven’t found anything like it out here in the Sacramento area yet, though I have visited some great independent bookstores in San Francisco and Palo Alto. I’m still a member at Quail Ridge and am looking forward to their Readers’ Club Sale this weekend. And even though I can’t attend their Independent Bookstore Day party in person, I know it’ll be great. Maybe some of my Raleigh friends reading this will go celebrate for me?

In super exciting news, Quail Ridge contacted me last week to tell me they’ll sell my book on consignment. Yay! … That pause was so I could do another happy dance. For now, they’ll only carry a copy or two, and so if you want one, give them a call first. I’ll replenish their stock as they request.

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This is the perfect weekend to pick up a copy of the book. Not only will you be supporting a great bookstore and supporting me, you’ll also get a discount through their semi-annual Readers’ Club Sale, May 1-4. If you’re not a member, it’s easy and inexpensive to join (free if you’re an educator or senior citizen).

On a side note, any independent bookstore in the country should be able to order a copy of my book for you. They’re happy to place orders, and I’d be happy to send you a small token of my appreciation if you buy my book from an indie bookstore. Simply email me a photo of the receipt along with your name and mailing address, and I’ll pop a little gift in the mail to you.

Whether you’re a novice or a regular when it comes to indy bookstores, there are great reasons to support your local stores. And here are some great tips I found over at Book Riot for getting the most benefit from your local independent bookstore.

To give credit where credit is due, this whole event stemmed from California Bookstore Day and has expanded out across the country. Yay, California! In case you’re not in California or near Quail Ridge Books, here’s a handy map so you can find your closest independent bookstore for the party on Saturday. What books will you buy as part of the celebration?

Little Free Libraries and building community

When my husband and I came to California to house hunt, we had two days to look at 16 houses. One of the moments that stands out in my mind is passing by a Little Free Library on a street near one of the houses for sale. I got really excited, and I’m pretty sure my enthusiasm surprised both my husband and our agent. Any neighborhood that had a Little Free Library was more than all right with me.

Not familiar with the Little Free Library movement? Its basic premise is to share books within a community. People build a box to hold books, put it in their yard, and then their neighbors start sharing books. I love this!

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Exchanging books: The point of a Little Free Library

On Friday my husband reminded me of that Little Free Library by sending me an article about some small-minded folks who are hassling the owner of a Little Free Library. I read the article and immediately wanted to start building a Little Free Library of my own to stake in the front yard. Of course, I’d have to check with the homeowners’ association first (I recognize the irony). And, more to the point, I have no wood-working skills. So there went that idea.

My temper cooled when I skimmed the article’s comments, something I don’t normally do because, well … trolls. As I scrolled down, I saw a long comment from the director of marketing for Little Free Libraries. She asserted that most of these little neighborhood gems are not in trouble and pointed out the complexities of the specific (unofficial) library in question.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention in our own communities about how Little Free Libraries flourish, or stir up trouble, or bring neighbors together or bring out the trolls. We should know, and we should celebrate Little Free Libraries’ successes. If you read the first paragraph or two of the CityLab article, you’ll see why Little Free Libraries deserve positive attention and why they deserve our protection. They play a small part in creating community.

Little Free Libraries play a small part in creating community.

So to celebrate Little Free Libraries and get to know my way around my new community a little better, I drove around in search of Little Free Libraries near me. There’s a handy map of them all over the world, and I used the map and its more complete appendix to plan the places I would visit. The tour gave me a fun reason to learn my way around roads I might not otherwise ever see.

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Someone took a lot of care on the shingles for this cute Little Free Library

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A wide collection of reading material, but I was sad there weren’t any children’s books here.

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A happy yellow Little Free Library, this one with an asphalt shingled roof

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Yay for children’s books (especially Star Wars) and for adult lit books such as Toni Morrison’s Paradise, one of my favorite reads from last year

My favorite Little Free Library of the trip was this one for its whimsical decorations:

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Someone(s) must have had a lot of fun decorating this one.

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Not just books for adults and kids, but crayons and toys, too, along with a log book and a note pleading for the return of log book #1. Not cool, log book thief, not cool.

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I love that the octopus is reading two books at a time, both “classics.”

I encourage you to look at the map for Little Free Libraries to find some near you. Don’t have one? Consider building your own. What books would you most like to share in a Little Free Library?

Speaking of free books, Saturday is the last day to enter for your chance to win a free copy of The Flourishing Tree on Goodreads. I also need to figure out what to do with some copies of the book that arrived damaged—maybe add them to Little Free Libraries? What do you think?

Boston, books and broken toes

Wow – what a week this has already been. Easter on Sunday. The riveting Boston Marathon on Monday. A final celebration of the Girls on the Run season yesterday. And now today, World Book and Copyright Day.

Easter passed quietly for my husband and me. We celebrated at a sunrise service, a custom he brought to our marriage that I’ve tried to embrace, despite being the opposite of a morning person. We were out of town and celebrated at a lovely stone church where we sang the usual Easter songs and heard a message about the defiance in Jesus’ eyes after the resurrection. He had looked at death, and He triumphed over it.

Meb Keflezighi also had an air of defiance about him at Monday’s Boston Marathon. He turned and saw other competitors coming for him, and he triumphed over them. His victory ended a decades-long drought for Americans winning the Boston Marathon, and it came at the best possible moment for Boston and the United States, as we collectively breathed in the mantra “Boston Strong” and shouted for Meb’s victory (my dog didn’t know what to make of all the jumping up and down and yelling).

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Tuesday’s sports section led with Keflezighi’s win at Boston.

I’ve been a huge Meb fan for years and have celebrated his numerous running accomplishments. My husband and I met him at the 2012 US Olympic Track and Field Trials, when we ran into him in the courtyard of the inn where we were staying. He was waiting to meet friends and was so gracious as we interrupted his reverie.

In the picture from the paper, you can just see the top of his race bib, where he had written two of the four names of victims from the Boston bombers. The other two names were in the bottom corners of the bib. This simple act endeared him to many and tells you just a bit about the heart of this elite athlete. Continue reading

To hear the words of love

Where I live, we’re anticipating snow and an icepocalypse (thanks to eager weather forecasters who thrive on the drama of a scary forecast). Because of the amount of ice we may get, it’s likely we’ll lose power, not something that endears this winter to me any more than it already hasn’t.

But I thought you might like some book recommendations, in case you lose power and are cut off from TV and movies and the outside world in general. These three books are my first three library books in ages. Two of them made me wait months while they worked their way through the library hold list, and the other practically leapt off the shelf at me when I walked by. I’ll share them with you in the order that I read them. Continue reading

The new library card

When I was growing up, one of my favorite adventures was accompanying my parents to the library. There was a beautifully illustrated Cinderella (way superior to Disney’s version) that I checked out as much as possible and wish now I could find in a used bookstore somewhere.

I spent many happy hours reading at the library, and my parents always encouraged me to check out plenty of books. There’s still that one science fiction book from when I was in late elementary school or maybe already middle school, the one about the girl who finds out she’s actually a clone when she takes an unplanned detour that lands her face-to-face with one of her clones. I read it quite happily for 20 or 30 minutes and then set it back on the shelf, for some reason not checking it out. I regretted that decision because I wanted to find out what happened but had completely forgotten the name of the book. I searched the shelves for the book on many subsequent trips, never finding it again.

People flock in, nevertheless, in search of answers to those questions only librarians are considered to be able to answer, such as “Is this the laundry?” “How do you spell surreptitious?” and, on a regular basis, “Do you have a book I remember reading once? It had a red cover and it turned out they were twins.”
― Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

My dad was something of a hero at our local library. I had checked out a beautiful picture book on our state, and when the library thought I had lost it (despite my knowing and insisting I had returned it), my dad paid to replace the book. Months passed. The book turned up at the library, mis-shelved. The librarian called to apologize and asked if he wanted his money back. He told them they could consider it a donation. And so, he became a hero to them (which also helped get us out of a few overdue book fines). It’s wise to endear oneself to the local librarian.
Continue reading