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Posts Tagged ‘SOB’

In an interview on the Voice website, Kathleen McCleary indicates that Coffee@home, Ellen Flanagan’s coffee-and-home-funishings shop in the novel House & Home, is based on a local independent coffee shop in Virginia.  I wondered if “Hole in the Wall Books”, a setting in the novel,  had roots in a real bookstore.  Kathleen offered to write a guest post for She Is Too Fond of Books, sharing how real-life observations and her creative imagination combined to form this inviting bookstore (that I’d love to visit, if only it existed outside the novel!).  Read what she has to say about creating this fictional shop:

Several readers have mentioned that one of their favorite scenes in my novel is the scene that takes place in a little independent bookstore in Manning, Oregon, somewhere between Portland and Cannon Beach. While many of the places mentioned in the book are real (the Lazy Susan Restaurant, Paley’s Place, etc.), Hole in the Wall Books is completely a figment of my imagination. But as a lifelong bookstore aficionado, I used many bits and pieces of real bookstores in creating it.

I got the name “Hole in the Wall Books” from a used bookstore right here in Falls Church. I’ve never actually been inside Hole in the Wall, but I love the name. The exterior of the bookstore in my novel looks exactly like an antique store I used to visit in the Adirondacks, in upstate New York. The interior of the store, with comfy chairs for reading and little nooks of books, was taken from my memories of Annie Bloom’s, a lovely independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, where I used to live. My kids and I used to spend hours in Annie Bloom’s sitting on the floor and looking at books.

Another inspiration was Crawford Doyle bookstore on Madison Avenue in New York City, from which I took the old wooden floors, mix of new and used books, and friendly, knowledgeable sales people. Dottie, the bookseller in my novel, is based on my aunt, Dorothy McCleary, who has worked at Crawford Doyle for many years. (I gave Dottie some peculiarly northwest touches, though, like the nickname “Dottie” and wearing clogs!)

The idea of grouping books by place was entirely my own. As someone who has always been profoundly influenced by place – be it my house, the view out my window, my town, or my state – I loved the idea of categorizing authors by geography. The work of many writers is absolutely inseparable from the places those writers loved, in my mind. There are many authors who are so profoundly tied to places that I can’t think of them without their settings: Willa Cather (Nebraska), Isak Dinesen (Africa), James Joyce (Ireland), Mark Twain (Mississippi) – you could go on for forever. More recently, Stephanie Meyer and Washington’s Olympic peninsula seem forever intertwined now that I’ve read Twilight.

I’d love to hear about your favorite bookstores. And, I’d love to hear about the authors you associate strongly with particular places. Maybe they’ll provide fodder for my next novel!

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There’s still time to join us in planning “the week ahead”, and to enter to win a Page-A-Day Book Lover’s Calendar.  I picked up the calendar from our local bookstore, so I’m ready to send it out to the winner at the end of September.  Find the details here.

A snapshot of what may, or may not, happen in my life this week:

Monday 8/25/08 – To the Post Office to mail The Gargoyle to cheesygiraffe, the winner of the giveaway.  I’m sending my second (personal) copy to Kimberly at Fit at Forty Plus; Kimberly is unable to run (her passion) while she recovers from outpatient surgery, and really, really, really wants to read this book.  She has agreed to write a guest review for my blog and to mail back the book so I can read it … a win-win situation!

Tuesday 8/26/08 –If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for Tuesday Thingers … I wonder what the Boston Bibliophile has in store for us this week!?

Wednesday 8/27/08 – Whether you call it mid-week, hump day, or just plain ol’ Wednesday, in Boston it’s “Prince Spaghetti Day!” (Does anyone else remember those ads?!).  Wednesday means it’s time for an SOB – Spotlight on Bookstores.  Today Lori from Lori’s Reading Corner offers a guest post about the New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton.

Thursday 8/28/08 – The Upsilamba book group, my friends in Connecticut, are meeting tonight to discuss Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank.  I was hoping to arrange a “field trip” down to see them, but it doesn’t look like it will work out.  The library has a copy that I requested, so I’ll try to read the book before Thursday, and maybe call in to chat about the book and catch up with those that weren’t in Boston for our “girls’ night out” last Friday.

Friday 8/29/08 – On Friday I’ll post my review of Ellen Meister’s The Smart One.  I’m doing this review as part of an author tour for Blog Stop Book Tours, the first time I’ve worked with this group.  Click on the link to see a list of other blogs that have reviewed The Smart One as part of this tour.  Along with the review I have a surprise for one lucky reader, to be announced with the review!

The Weekend – Best wishes to all for a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend.  Enjoy this unofficial last weekend of summer!

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This series of posts was inspired by Lisa at Books on the Brain; she has submitted the first guest post (of sorts!).  It’s a bit of a mystery, and we’re looking for input from anyone who can help us fill in some blanks!

Lisa says, “I took a picture of a cute bookstore on Catalina Island last weekend where I picked up The Bee Season for 50 cents.”  Lisa didn’t spend much time in the bookstore, so she wasn’t able to share any more information, but we both agreed that this cute (and overflowing!) shop should be spotlighted … If I ever get to Catalina Island, I know I’ll want to stop in!

I gave it my best Nancy Drew and tried to find more information about R. Franklin Pyke Bookseller.  According an article in the January 7, 2007 issue of Los Angeles Times Magazine,

Ron Franklin Pyke came to Avalon as a teenage runaway in the ’60s, only to be shuttled home in a helicopter. In the ’80s, he opened R.Franklin Pyke Bookseller, which stocks antique books, maps and prints. Among them: a 1937 print by Wrigley’s gum wrapper artist Otis Shepard, and an Isthmus map made during an 1852 geodetic survey. 228 Metropole Ave., (310) 510-2588

An article on bnet gives a little more information about the building and its wares: “Along Metropole Avenue (3) between Beacon and the bay are an 1889 church, R. Franklin Pyke Bookseller (228 ) in a 1920s cottage (selling vintage travel and children’s books, Catalina memorabilia).”

So, how about it?  Have any of you visited R. Franklin Pyke Bookseller and have an anecdote (about the shop or its proprietor) to share?!

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The first bookstore I’ll highlight in this series is the Concord Bookshop, right on Main Street in Concord Center.  You have to picture what a Main Street would look like in a Norman Rockwell painting, modernize it just a tad, and you’ve got present-day Concord Center.  Truly, drivers stop for pedestrians not only when they’re in the crosswalk, but also when they’re on the sidewalk near the crosswalk! 

We can walk to the center from home, about a mile; often I have a parade of bikes and strollers with me, but we get there despite the circus!  If you’re driving, there are meters on the street, and a few municipal lots as well.  Unfortunately, public transportation is scarce, unless you consider the blue trolley that runs seasonally and stops at many historic sites around Lexington and Concord.

We have a routine of places to visit when we’re downtown; one of our favorite stops is the Concord Bookshop.  They have three huge plate glass windows in front, with eye-catching displays.  The windows are updated weekly, with themed windows, newly-published books, local interest, etc.  In nice weather, the sidewalk in front holds several wheeled carts with overstocks and remainders to lure you in.  You’ll find bookcases and tables in front, a large periodical section (have you noticed fewer and fewer outlets for periodicals these days?  I’m talking about more niche titles, that you can’t find in the check-out line at the grocery store!), and gift items such as journals, greeting cards and calendars. 

The center of the store has a small open area with some comfy chairs scattered about.  This is where they hold author events – usually on Sunday afternoons.  The current schedule is posted on their website.  I’ve been to readings of The Air We Breathe with author Andrea Barrett, The Rope Walk with Carrie Brown and What the Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy by local author Gregory Maguire … and I just learned he’ll be appearing again in December with his latest, A Lion Among Men.

The store has a wonderful children’s section toward the back; the booksellers here are as helpful and friendly as elsewhere in the store, able to put the fingers right on the book that I described as “the cat that is mistaken for a hat and travels the world” (The Three-Legged Cat by Margaret Mahy).  The area is bright and accessible, with many outward-facing low shelves, so kids can see the covers!  A back entrance leads from the municipal lot directly into the children’s section; this, coupled with a second register station makes it very convenient when I’m trying to keep the kids tethered to “their” section of the store. 

The Concord Bookshop offers free gift wrap (our local toy shop does too, isn’t this a great time and money saver?!?  The packages always look nicer when someone else wraps them!).  They have a nice customer loyalty program too, with a local twist, of course.  For every $25 spent, you get a Book Buck, which can be used toward a future purchase.  Check out the pictures on the Buck – that’s a book, Henry David Thoreau, and a Minuteman who has put down his musket to read!

Like everything else in this town, the bookstore has its own history – it was founded in 1940 as a bookstore and lending library!  There is a large section dedicated to local history and local authors, both classic and contemporary.  The Concord Bookshop is now owned by three families and employs other booksellers and seasonal help (would I like a part-time job when all the kids are in school?  Yes!)

One thing the bookshop doesn’t offer is any type of book discussion group.  I was disappointed and couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t have book groups, it seems they could hold them in the same spot that readings take place.  It occurred to me as I was finishing up this post – the sidewalks roll up and everything in the center closes at 6!

This isn’t a bookstore/café, but there are plenty of places to grab a cup of coffee and muffin (or more!) right on the block.  Main Streets Markets, Sally Ann Bake Shop and Helen’s to name a few (just get there before those sidewalks roll up!).  And ice cream, well, that’s another post in and of itself!  If you’re heading this way, let me know and I’ll give you the scoop (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) on ice cream in our town.  Just make sure you finish it before you head into the Bookshop!

Have any of you been to our town and visited the Concord Bookshop?  A month or so ago the Boston Bibliophile mentioned it in a post about a Sunday afternoon outing; she seconds my comments about the helpful and knowledgeable staff (and the antique shops in town, there’s another draw for you!)

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