I’m so pleased to welcome Tess Hardwick to She Is Too Fond of Books today! Tess is a novelist and playwright with a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. In 2000 she wrote her first full-length play, My Lady’s Hand, which subsequently won the 2001 first place prize for new work at the Burien Theatre. Her first novel, Riversong, was published by Booktrope in April 2011 and became the #1 Bestselling Nook Book in October.
Like her main character in Riversong, Tess is from a small town in Southern Oregon. She currently lives in Snoqualmie, Washington with her husband, two small daughters and a teenage stepson. She is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window. Find more at www.tesshardwick.com, on Tess Hardwick on twitter, and on Facebook.
Tess is shining her Spotlight on Cannon Beach Book Company, which she calls – simply and affectionately – “the bookstore.” It’s so nice to read that her children feel as welcome and “at home” there as she does, and that Tess can travel back to Cannon Beach in her memories simply by reading a book she purchased there, or by using the bookstore’s bookmark to mark her place in her current read.
I discovered my favorite small bookstore, Cannon Beach Book Company, fifteen years ago, while vacationing in Cannon Beach, a popular beachside tourist retreat for Seattle and Portland residents. Situated between Tillamook and Astoria, the town of Cannon Beach is the ultimate Oregon beach experience, resplendent with taffy, ice cream, and kite shops, next to a long stretch of sandy beach overlooking the famous Haystack Rock. For the past eleven Augusts, my husband and I spend one week there, hoping for good weather, but packing in layers, as we do here in the northwest. As a writer that week has become my muse. Each time the waves crash onto the beach and the breeze brings salty air into my lungs there is an emptying, like I imagine people find during meditation, until I expand into inspiration.
And then, there is my other vocation. I am a reader. The first day we’re in Cannon Beach, I often sneak away to what we regular visitors call, the bookstore, but its proper name is the Cannon Beach Book Company. One of my favorite places in the world, it’s nestled in the middle of downtown Cannon Beach, a gentle haven for book lovers, smelling of new paper and book covers, and full of like-minded people, all readers, milling about, leafing through books or chatting quietly about favorite reads to their companions or asking the staff questions. Sometimes, captured by an opening paragraph, they remain standing, reading page after page of a book they will soon purchase and read long into the summer night, or in the light of the afternoon, feet buried in sand, the roar of waves hitting jagged rocks in the near distance.
I’ve been known to disappear into the bookstore for hours, without consciousness, like a book lover’s blackout, only to emerge with bags of books, mostly novels. Some I decide on because of the recommendation by the bookstore’s knowledgeable staff, and others because I open that first page and read that first sentence and always, inevitably, if the writing is crafted in a certain way, I get chills or goose bumps, and I’m done. I’ve decided. This is a book for me. As all readers will tell you, it only takes that first sentence to draw you into story. And we are lost.
Readers agree, too, there is nothing better than an afternoon spent prowling through stacks and shelves of books, knowing that within the pages, depending on the book one chooses, looms an unknown world of new friends and enemies, or a humorous escape, sometimes an adventure, maybe an epic love story, and perhaps, best of all, illumination and understanding of our own lives. All these riches are within those crisp pages in the lines of words crafted by great writers. At Cannon Beach Book Company, there is a book, or in my case, books, for all of us.
These days, my daughters, eight and five, are book lovers too, and when we amble into the store, before hands become sticky from ice-cream and taffy, they go straight to the children’s section in the back corner, and sit cross-legged, thumbing through treasures, persuading me to purchase many more books than I have budget for. They take after me that way.
For months after my annual trip, I read the books I’ve purchased, using the bookmark from Cannon Beach Book Company, often fingering the logo, remembering my time there, knowing I’m merely marking days until I can return once again and become lost amongst the stacks.