Reviews for My Bookstore : Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop


Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
One could do worse than to plan a road trip based solely on the bookstores featured in this unabashed paean to what may be a vanishing part of the American landscape, the independent bookstore. "May" because the art of bookselling seems to be experiencing a Darwinian resurgence. If it is, then it is thanks to the valued works and even more valuable support of a host of writers who recognized that bookstores are more than places to sell their wares. Bookstores can be the soul of a neighborhood, the heart of a city. There are places with resident cats (like Brooklyn's Community Bookstore) and places without (Birmingham's Alabama Booksmith). Places where three-year-olds can cajole the owner into opening early, and others where fledgling writers find solace and inspiration. Publishing professional Rice invited 84 outstanding writers to contribute to this essay collection. And the fact that Richard Russo and Tom Robbins, Francine Prose and Ann Patchett, Wendell Berry and Rick Bragg take such a sincerely humble and exuberantly proprietary interest in their local bookstores speaks, well, volumes. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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ForeWord Clarion Reviews 2013 January

In the conclusion to My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop, Emily St. John Mandel says, "Things happen in independent bookstores that don't happen in the other places where we buy books." Perhaps that phenomenon is what inspired eighty-four authors to write essays about their most beloved bookstores. Edited by Ronald Rice, this collection offers odes, anecdotes, thank-you notes, and even a comic, all hailing different independents. Part salutation and part call to action, the pieces vary as widely as the stores they celebrate, but each one strives to prove that, yes, it does matter where one's books are purchased.



The modern world is defined by immediacy and impatience, while an independent bookstore embodies the opposite characteristics. As Ann Patchett says, "A very good bookstore feels a little nostalgic, a place out of time. Look at all those people looking at books! It is at once both rare and beautifully ordinary." How wonderful to be given the chance to slow down and browse. Though the stores across the nation differ in size, arrangement, and whether or not they have a café or a feline-in-residence, they all encourage this sacred slowing-down. Of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, Ron Carlson says, "Stepping through the door changed the world; here was art, solace, a thousand hardback conversations." These bookstores cast a spell that draws readers through their doors time and again, sometimes even across great distances, and that has as much to do with the stores themselves as the people who run them.



Rick Bragg says, "Maybe the reason I say Alabama Booksmith is my favorite is because Jake Reiss gives me hope that my craft will endure." These are tough times for writers and booksellers alike, and yet it's clear from this collection that neither is throwing in the towel. Ian Frazier says, "Like a poet writing to make the rent, an independent bookstore exists at that heart-quickening juncture of love and need." People who own and work in bookstores aren't in it for the money. They sell books because they love them, and they want others to love them, too. Numerous authors note hand-selling as a key component of the independent's modus operandi, and as Ann Haywood Leal says, "Finding a book in someone's heart is a talent." Essay after essay speaks of booksellers so familiar with their customers' tastes that they stock titles with specific readers in mind. That kind of personal attention is something the superstores can never offer.



Another quality unique to independent bookstores is the sense of community they cultivate. Richard Russo says, "Bookstores, like libraries, are the physical manifestation of the wide world's longest, best, most thrilling conversation." These authors speak of the town bookstore as a readers' mecca, a gathering place for the like-minded to discuss the works of writers both from down the street and half a world away. As Jon Clinch says, "Folks here understood that books are things that you talk about. Things you need to talk about, because the more you talk about books, the more you understand the people you're talking about books with. It's as simple as that." Several essays pay homage to bookstores that have been forced to close shop, and when this happens, the community mourns and, in some cases, revolts, working together to bring the store back to life. It's clear that independent bookstores are about so much more than "just" books.



"My bookstore," Pico Iyer says, "is the place where I find myself, as well as my home, my passion--and my reason for trying to do what I do." While some may only see a bookstore as a place to make a purchase, the writers of this collection assert that these independents, their owners, and employees are essential for far deeper reasons. They are resurrecting a consumerism defined by human relationships rather than convenience and speed, as well as getting books to those who need them. The collection celebrates these champions of literature while also recognizing how much writers and readers are indebted to them. Of the triumphant independents, Liam Callanan says, "We ask everything of them. Save this date for my reading. Save this pink princess book for me. Save us all."


© 2013 ForeWord Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

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ForeWord Magazine Reviews 2013 - Spring Issue: March 1, 2013

In the conclusion to My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop, Emily St. John Mandel says, "Things happen in independent bookstores that don't happen in the other places where we buy books." Perhaps that phenomenon is what inspired eighty-four authors to write essays about their most beloved bookstores. Edited by Ronald Rice, this collection offers odes, anecdotes, thank-you notes, and even a comic, all hailing different independents. Part salutation and part call to action, the pieces vary as widely as the stores they celebrate, but each one strives to prove that, yes, it does matter where one's books are purchased.



The modern world is defined by immediacy and impatience, while an independent bookstore embodies the opposite characteristics. As Ann Patchett says, "A very good bookstore feels a little nostalgic, a place out of time. Look at all those people looking at books! It is at once both rare and beautifully ordinary." How wonderful to be given the chance to slow down and browse. Though the stores across the nation differ in size, arrangement, and whether or not they have a café or a feline-in-residence, they all encourage this sacred slowing-down. Of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona, Ron Carlson says, "Stepping through the door changed the world; here was art, solace, a thousand hardback conversations." These bookstores cast a spell that draws readers through their doors time and again, sometimes even across great distances, and that has as much to do with the stores themselves as the people who run them.



Rick Bragg says, "Maybe the reason I say Alabama Booksmith is my favorite is because Jake Reiss gives me hope that my craft will endure." These are tough times for writers and booksellers alike, and yet it's clear from this collection that neither is throwing in the towel. Ian Frazier says, "Like a poet writing to make the rent, an independent bookstore exists at that heart-quickening juncture of love and need." People who own and work in bookstores aren't in it for the money. They sell books because they love them, and they want others to love them, too. Numerous authors note hand-selling as a key component of the independent's modus operandi, and as Ann Haywood Leal says, "Finding a book in someone's heart is a talent." Essay after essay speaks of booksellers so familiar with their customers' tastes that they stock titles with specific readers in mind. That kind of personal attention is something the superstores can never offer.



Another quality unique to independent bookstores is the sense of community they cultivate. Richard Russo says, "Bookstores, like libraries, are the physical manifestation of the wide world's longest, best, most thrilling conversation." These authors speak of the town bookstore as a readers' mecca, a gathering place for the like-minded to discuss the works of writers both from down the street and half a world away. As Jon Clinch says, "Folks here understood that books are things that you talk about. Things you need to talk about, because the more you talk about books, the more you understand the people you're talking about books with. It's as simple as that." Several essays pay homage to bookstores that have been forced to close shop, and when this happens, the community mourns and, in some cases, revolts, working together to bring the store back to life. It's clear that independent bookstores are about so much more than "just" books.



"My bookstore," Pico Iyer says, "is the place where I find myself, as well as my home, my passion--and my reason for trying to do what I do." While some may only see a bookstore as a place to make a purchase, the writers of this collection assert that these independents, their owners, and employees are essential for far deeper reasons. They are resurrecting a consumerism defined by human relationships rather than convenience and speed, as well as getting books to those who need them. The collection celebrates these champions of literature while also recognizing how much writers and readers are indebted to them. Of the triumphant independents, Liam Callanan says, "We ask everything of them. Save this date for my reading. Save this pink princess book for me. Save us all."


© 2013 ForeWord Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 December #2
A celebration of the independent bookstore by 84 authors who consider them personally and culturally indispensable and who find the ones they favor thriving and vital, despite common impressions to the contrary. Early on, it might seem that too many of these short pieces are repetitive, praising the stores that have hosted and nurtured them as "home," as the "soul of the community" and other phrases that suggest a bygone era in these days of discount mega-stores and cybershopping. Yet the cumulative impact of this handsomely published anthology is not that of a series of survival stories, holdouts against the tidal wave of technology, but of a literary community that continues to flourish and needs these havens of revelation and sharing. The contributors write of being introduced to the work of other included authors by savvy booksellers and forging lifelong friendships. At least two different authors fell in love and ultimately married because of their interactions at an indie bookstore. Two of the more famous novelists (Louise Erdrich and Ann Patchett) own bookstores but write of someone else's as "their" store. (And someone else in turn writes of Patchett's.) Many tell of never leaving an indie bookstore without purchasing something, and most write of discoveries they have found there and/or the thrill of their first reading there. Dave Eggers strikes a characteristic chord: "Maybe it's the feeling that if a bookshop is as unorthodox and strange as books are, as writers are, as language is, it will all seem right and good and you will buy things there. And if you do, it will persist, and small publishers will persist, and actual books will persist. Anyone who wants anything less is a fool." Some of the other contributors include Rick Atkinson, Wendell Berry, Ian Frazier, John Grisham, Pico Iyer, Ron Rash, Tom Robbins, Terry Tempest Williams and Simon Winchester. Everyone who really loves books loves bookstores, and anyone who loves bookstores will appreciate this labor of love. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Journal Reviews 2012 November #2

This is more than just a celebration, more than just a compendium of bookstore kudos. This is like each of your favorite writers (84 of them!) penning a love letter to their favorite bookstore. Names you may recognize include Dave Eggers, Louise Erdrich, Francine Prose, Lisa See, and Simon Winchester. Editor Rice, a publishing professional, has recruited new pieces that illuminate the quirks and many intangibles that make a great bookstore. From the owner who will trek across town to help out at a library signing, to the fierceness with which some owners protect their customers' privacy, to the overall comfort of stepping into a world that you just know is full of compatriots, the beautiful stories in these pages tell of those things that make any neighborhood bookstore great. VERDICT There are other collections that focus on bookstores, such as the recent Read This!: Handpicked Favorites from America's Indie Bookstores, edited by Hans Weyandt, and the short story collection, Shelf Life: Fantastic Stories Celebrating Bookstores, edited by Greg Ketter, but this one is a personal peek into the hearts of the contributing writers as well as into the bookstores they love. Sure to please any bibliophile, even if borrowed from the library!--Linda White, Maplewood, MN

[Page 86]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 September #3

Edited by publishing professional Rice, with an introduction by Richard Russo and an afterword by Emily St. John Mandel, this anthology features essays by 84 writers waxing passionate about their favorite independent bookstores and about the importance of supporting and nurturing these bricks-and-mortar purveyors in an increasingly electronic age. As the tradition of personalized hand-selling is threatened by chain stores and the Amazonian Internet, this cozy collection of love letters to dozens of still-operating independents (from such behemoths as Powell's in Portland and the Strand in New York to more hidden gems in corners of Kansas, Utah, and Pennsylvania) offers voracious readers hope for the future. The all-star contributors include John Grisham, Chuck Palahniuk, and Ann Patchett, but the true protagonists are the bookstores and the dedicated professionals who bestow them with novel-worthy character. There is Howard Frank Mosher's Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, Vt., the only American bookshop to have once had a drive-thru window, and San Francisco's Booksmith, memorialized in comic strip format by the author/illustrator duo Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown. Though there are moments in the book in which sentimentality rules, the overall goal prevails: to thank, protect, and preserve these cherished spaces. (Nov.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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