The primary purpose of this blog is to highlight independent bookstores wherever we find them to encourage people to visit them and buy their books from them. We believe that bookstores are an essential part of a community, a place where ideas and thoughts are shared and explored. We’ll be writing about bookstores wherever we find them, books, literary events and people passionate about reading. Kim’s most recent thoughts on bookstores are included in an interview on the Eco-Libris blog.
Claire LaZebnik (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kim and I met around the turn of the century when our sons were in the same kindergarten class. I always thought I liked to read — it was pretty much all I did during my chidhood and I was an English Lit major in college — but compared to Kim, I was a reading amateur. I quickly learned that she read everything, from bestsellers to old classics, from kids’ books to sophisticated political essay collections. And me? I mostly read fantasy. Give me the most recent Robin Hobb or George R.R. Martin and I’m a happy camper. Of course I still love Austen, Bronte, and Dickens passionately–I did my senior thesis on Jane Eyre.
I’m a published author in my own right. I’ve written three novels and have my second non-fiction book (I co-wrote those two; they’re about autism) coming out this winter. Hop over to my website if you’re interested in learning more about that side of my life.
But this blog is about the love of books and bookstores. I’ve always taken the kids to bookstores the way other parents take their kids to parks. Who needs swings and dirts when you’ve got new worlds to explore shelf by shelf? Three out of my four kids love to read–that’s a decent percentage.
Not long ago our family had to waste some time in a city we’d never been to before. It was Sunday and most things were closed. We didn’t have enough time to do something major like a museum and we didn’t have a car. We were heading home later that day and realized we could use a fresh supply of books for the flight. We asked around and were directed down a couple of blocks, around the corner: and there it was: the perfect independent bookstore, with a wonderful selection that reflected the city’s heritage but with plenty of basic good books to satisfy all of us. Thousands of miles away from where we live and I was home.
Kim Allen-Niesen (email@example.com)
My husband says I read competitively. Currently, I’m in 6 bookgroups. It keeps me very busy, but luckily they don’t all read a book a month and they don’t all meet monthly. I keep a running list of what I’ve read throughout the year (which is becoming more important since I frequently can’t remember) and track how many books I’ve read compared to previous years. War and Peace killed my average in 2007. I admit it’s nutty.
Reading saved my sanity more than once. Several years ago I was being tested for MS (all tests came out negative) and I found relief from the stress over and over in the local bookstore. At one point I asked the clerk if there were any books that I could get lost in, nothing that ended too badly but enough plot to distract me. I almost chuckled when he kept recommending books and I’d say “no, I read that during a bad patch in 1991, no that series I read during the upheavels of 1999.” Finally we settled on a three book series about Empress Josephine, I loved them but I couldn’t read the end of the last book, I wasn’t in any shape to hear she died (which of course she did, she lived over 200 years ago).
I love bookstores and books. One of my favorite birthday evenings was when my husband, Keith, hired a babysitter for our young children and we just went to the bookstore. I wandered up and down the aisles without anyone telling me it was time to go. For my 40th birthday I asked all of the guests to give me a copy of a book that made a difference in their life, I gained so much insight into my friends from reading their choices.
My kids love to read, they accompany me to bookstores and wander around happily. There are downsides to having kids who read - I’m lonely in the car because no one will talk to me since they’re buried in a book; I can’t threaten to take away a favorite activity to motivate better behaviour (who ever told their kids “shape up or you can’t read”) and whenever we travel our luggage is very heavy. But the upside is terrific – interesting conversation, my kids visit other worlds in a book, our house is relatively quiet, and we all share the same passion.
I am a recovering lawyer. In 2007 I closed my trust and estates law practice. (Claire’s latest novel, to be published in Sept. 2008, features a badly dressed trust and estates lawyer, I’ve decided not to take it personally.) After 18 years I dared to find a career I loved. Right now that means writing.