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.”