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Spotlight on Bookstores: *Park Road Books* in Charlotte, NC

This week’s Spotlight on Bookstores is written by Kim Wright, an author I know through her Fodor’s Walt Disney World for Kids guide.  Kim has recently published a memoir, Love in Mid Air, “an intelligent, sexy, absorbing tale and an honest look at modern-day marriage, [which] offers the experience of what it’s like to change the course of one’s own destiny.”  I’m looking forward to reading more of her writing, and invite you to start with this lovely essay about her local indie (yes, I’m ready to hop a plane to Charlotte, y’all!):

The local indie bookstore in Charlotte is Park Road Books which has been around forever and has all the quirky charm that independents seem to have…they have a masking tape outline of a dead body in the mystery section, a staff that greets 90% of the customers by name, and a cute dog named Yula trotting around.   Park Road Books hosted the launch party for my debut novel Love in Mid Air, which had for me the surrealistic effect of bringing together all elements of my life together in one place.  (There’s my therapist!  Standing beside an old boyfriend!  And my mother’s best friend!)  Thank God the staff of PRB was on hand with an endless supply of sharpie pens, cheese spread, and encouragement. 

But the coolest thing about Park Road Books is the owner, Sally Brewster, who reminds me of the bookmobile lady who used to come around in the summer.  I grew up in a really small town and on Tuesday afternoon from 2-5 the bookmobile would park at the crossroads near my house.  I would ride my bike there and be greeted by Miss Donna, who always had a recommendation of what I should be reading next.  (I remember she once gave me a child’s edition of The Iliad and said “This will last you.”)  Back then, readers could check out four books at a time and they had to last you all week, so choosing your books was serious business, but Miss Donna never led me astray and Sally is very like her. 

I recently spoke to a Friends of the Library meeting and Sally preceded me on the docket.  She entranced the audience with a series of books that she and her husband Frazier had selected as their ten picks of the month, ranging from serious fiction like Matterhorn to a new pop-up version of Peter Pan.  It was a real pleasure to watch her pleasure, presenting the books with love and enthusiasm, and with an unfailing eye of who should be reading what.  When people moan and groan that customer service is dead, you can only assume they haven’t been to an indie bookstore lately where an owner like Sally exhibits nearly psychic skills in literary matchmaking.  Choosing books has always been a serious business and we’re lucky to have people like Miss Donna and Sally to say “This….this one’s perfect for you.”

10 comments to Spotlight on Bookstores: *Park Road Books* in Charlotte, NC

  • It is my dream to be able to do that for people…recommend the perfect book for them! I love the idea of taping the outline of a body in the crime section!!!

  • I just opened up my Shelf Awareness newsletter and saw the article on you, your blog, and your directory of New York City bookstores. WOW — congratulations on such deserved recognition!!

  • I’ve been to Park Road Books and it is fabulous! They really know how to do it right there. Now I wish I’d made the trek up for Kim’s book launch.

  • What a cool sounding store! I love the personal recommendation when someone really knows your taste. It sounds like this is another one of those great stores that really caters to their customers!

  • I put your bookstore on my wish list. Halfway through Love in Mid Air and loving it!

  • Kay

    First of all, wonderful essay on this very nice bookstore. I love this sentence: we’re lucky to have people like Miss Donna and Sally to say “This….this one’s perfect for you.”

    That is such a testimonial. The best part of my job at the library was reader advisory. I absolutely loved finding just the right book for someone. Sometimes it took time, but it was well worth it.

    Next, I’ve read so many good things about LOVE IN THE AIR and I have my own copy here to read soon. I’m excited about it.

    Third, I am just now realizing that Kim is the author of the Disneyworld with Kids books. And I think she was writing them long before they were prefaced with Fodor. I read my copies front to back and back to front. I practically memorized them for our family trips to Florida. My daughter loved Disneyworld more than life itself and those books were the best things ever. What a wonderful connection that has been made here. :-)

  • I miss those bookstores that have recommendations or that have staff on hand that know you well enough to offer recommendations. This is such a wonderful guest spotlight. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Thanks for the replies, everyone. I can’t say enough about Sally and the rest of the staff at Park Road Books. They are so supportive of first time authors and that means the world to someone like me!

  • Speaking of Park Road Bookstore…

    I’ll be staring age right in the eye and mocking it as I read from my recent novel, OUT OF THE PUMPKIN SHELL, at

    Park Road Bookstore
    Friday, May 21, 7:00 p.m.

    Best friends Hat and Elise have an irrational fear of menopause. A journey to the town where Elise’s mother grew up reveals family secrets and inspires the two to embark on their boldest, zaniest escapade ever. “I laughed and I cried,” many readers are saying.

    As an unknown author published by a small feminist press, I’ve come to love independent bookstores. Unlike the big chains, they know what their customers read and buy accordingly. They give authors like me a chance to promote our work.

    I hope to see you Charlotte women at Park Road Bookstore next Friday.

    Nancy Werking Poling
    http://www.nancypoling.com

  • Charlotte North Carolina

    Hello,

    Great post about Charlotte. I was looking for blogs about Charlotte in general. I am a realtor and have interest to invest in Charlotte property.

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