My Bookstore, with an introduction by Richard Russo, is a wonderful 'dip into' book. In it, eighty-four writers describe their favorite bookstores. So the reader gets to visit many places he or she might never get to in real life. A great armchair travel book for those of us who love to read.
I first read the entries on the five or six stores that I had visited - one here in my hometown by Wendell Berry who writes, [Carmichael's] has the quietness, the smell, the tangibility that a bookstore ought to have.
I would have to agree.
Then I read about all the bookstores in North Carolina, and there are six featured, in preparation for what just might be The Second Grand Southern Literary Tour.
Next, I started reading by writer. So I discovered that Rick Bragg (All Over But the Shoutin') likes The Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham for the simple reason that there are no cats here. Ann Patchett (State of Wonder), on her first visit to McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Michigan, fell in love with the town - a dreamy, shady place on the lake - and then immediately its bookstore. Isabelle Allende (The House of the Spirits), calls Book Passage in Corte Madera, California, her personal book store and writes, The only place as comforting as a friendly bookstore is probably your grandmother's kitchen.
Of course, these authors are preaching to the choir and yet it is a cozy way to get a bookstore fix. Some are located in strip malls. Some are urban, while others are suburban. Some bookstores are brand new, others are quite ancient. There are those where one can sip espresso while reading and others that offer bottles of maple syrup for sale at the register. But however quirky, all the store owners have books and a love of reading in common.
One of the nice aspects of the book is that there an illustration of each store at the beginning of its chapter. And in the back of the book, there is a list by state of each store featured. Very helpful for anyone planning a trip.