Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Whistling Loudly

Cold Water Books - #5 on my list
I haven't tweeted or even opened twitter in a long long time.  A few days ago I did and this tweet from Allison Devers @andevers caught my eye, probably because I love small, independent bookstores - cozy places, where book nuts are safe and warm and in the company of like-minded folk.

Here's the tweet:  I just paid my first two months "security" on my bookshop and that is just over £2,000 and I am whistling loudly, so please come shop at @secondshelfbks if you haven't yet. The most hidden bookstore in London, in a small Soho courtyard awaits you! pic.twitter.com/qrtxcwxuBI
In another lifetime, I turned down a number of opportunities to visit London and Stonehenge.  That was before I met Inspector Morse, and Endeavour, his younger self, and Dr. Who (all 13 of them).  When I looked at the picture of The Second Shelf, I was absolutely sure that the Tardis was parked just around the corner.  I immediately added The Second Shelf to my Bookstores To Visit List.

Besides being cozy, comfortable places; small bookstores have something else in common with each other and with every other small business on the planet.  They are owned and operated by people who are, as Allison so beautifully said, "Whistling in the dark."  Whether the bookstore is as new as the Second Shelf, or has been around a long time, like Otto Penzler's The Mysterious Bookshop, in New York,   - the second bookstore on my Bookstores To Visit list.

Unlike the Second Shelf, I have visited The Mysterious Bookshop, albeit virtually.  Adrienne Wall, a friend and one of my two lovely business partners, gave me a signed copy of The Promise by Robert Crais, in in so doing introduced me to the bookshop.  There are many traditions at The Mysterious Bookshop.  One of them is inviting a prominent mystery writer to write a Christmas short story.  Christmas customers then receive a copy of the current short story.  So, with The Promise, I received Secret Santa by Ace Atkins.  It is a delightful short story, and one I know I'll reread every Christmas.  The Mysterious Bookshop is also the place where I found a  signed and lettered copy of The Mysterious Disappearance of the Reluctant Book Fairy, a special Christmas gift for Christina.

Now, it's time for you and me to drive.  We are going to visit the next two bookstores on my list.  First, we will go to The Bookstore in Kilgore,  owned by a good friend, Stephen Woodfin.  Notice the temperature is hovering around freezing, just as it was in New York, but know inside it's warm and cozy and there is a faint, not unpleasant sound of whistling coming from somewhere.

I haven't been inside yet but I've made a point of checking all the photos posted and their web site, and I know it is one of the good places in the world because another friend, bestselling author Caleb Pirtle, told me so -
and if Caleb says its good, you can bank on it.

Just look at the place - a historic home, planted in the shade of tall Texas trees.  Heck partner, you know this place has been here since the beginning of time and you know for sure it's a place to pull up a chair, order a coffee and open a book.  It's also a place to spend the afternoon listening to Stephen spin tall tales as he keeps your cup and your heart full.

It's time to leave Kilgore, and head for the last bookstore currently on my list.  We're going to head mostly north and we aren't going to shut down until we get to Fairfield, Iowa.  Now, plug this address in the GPS, 112 North Main Street, and let's ride.  If you get tired, I'll drive.  That way we can make it in 12 hours.  It's only 782 miles, that's no "step for a couple of steppers like us."

When we shut this old boy down, we'll be in front of Revelations, a bookstore, cafe, and world renowned Scrabble Center.  Betsy, the world class owner of this world class establishment, will, on occasion, tell a joke. My pen friend, Jacqueline Signori, told me so, in confidence, and she also said that all the Scrabble players headquartered at Revelations, call Betsy's jokes, groaners but not when there is a chance Betsy, the owner of the greatest hangout in Fairfield can hear.

This whirlwind tour has been presented for your reading entertainment by my love for books, and places where they are served up... it's a gift for all you book lovers.  If you have a special book stop please share it in a comment - maybe there will be additional postings of "whistle stops for book lovers."  Thanks for being here.. and there.

Happy reading.