What We’re Reading: Read This! (No, seriously)
This book is like the batch of homemade granola I just made; healthy, good for my soul, and damn delicious.
Each section starts with a brief overview of the bookstore, then a little bit about one of its booksellers. Finally, we get their list of recommendations, with a couple of more in-depth descriptions and reasoning. And, conveniently, each book recommendation is accompanied by an open check box next to it, just calling to you to get out your pen and mark off the book you’ve just encountered, thanks to a certain bookseller. It’s interesting to see the different tastes change from bookseller to bookseller, and I found myself nodding along with the lists of quite a few.
The roots of Read This! began at Micawbers Books, a loveable, friendly bookstore in St. Paul, MN. Hans Weydant, co-owner, started this list on the Micawbers blog. In the preface, Hans nails what I think is the point of this book on the head: let’s talk about how independent bookstores are succeeding, let’s talk about the ways in which they are thriving, instead of talking about how print is dying, and bookstores are a thing of the past. Perhaps, we’ll be able to thwart our culture’s tendencies to self-fulfill our own depressing prophesies. Let’s celebrate the books, and the people that bring us together over those very same books.
As someone who reads a book a week, and is constantly overwhelmed by my choices, this book is something I am going to put on my work desk shelf, a shelf that is reserved for books I refer to daily, whether for fact-checking or inspiration. My aunt once told me that she heard a quote somewhere that went something like this: even if you average a book a week for your entire life, that’s only 52 books in a year. While that number panics me in ways unfathomable (only 52 a year?!), this book helps me keep the nightmares about all the books I haven’t read at arm’s length.
Want another reason to go out right now and invest in your copy of Read This!? One hundred percent of the book’s royalties go straight to the American Booksellers Foundation for FreeExpression (ABFFE). So in a slightly roundabout, but still sensible way, when you buy this book, you are giving back to the very industry of books, the bookstores that hold them on their shelves, and of the booksellers who recommend them to you and me.
Here’s one last final note, from Ann Patchett in her introduction to this book: “The desire to share books is the natural outcome of loving them.” This is the same founding principal of this very blog series, What We’re Reading. We hope to keep this cycle going, in our small way, and encourage you to get out to your nearest independent bookstore and discover something new. Engage with the books, and the people who know them better than any of us.
What’s your favorite indie bookstore in the U.S. (or beyond, for that matter)? Why? What book would be #1 on your list?