Meet Emily, our shopsitter, who wrote this guest blog about her arrival.

I love rainy days. We don’t get many in California. We don’t get more than one or two a year, actually… so when I get them, they remind me of the luxury of being able to stay inside.

Shelves and shelves of books do that, too. So many books that it takes a whole afternoon to read all the titles on just one of the walls, because you keep getting distracted by the ones you pick up just to read the backs of. So many books that look loved here, and some that look pristine.

I’m shopsitting off and on this summer for Wendy and Jack as a preliminary way to get to know the area in preparation for my dissertation research. I’m an anthropologist, and my research has brought me back here, back from California, to the South, to the mountains, relatively closer to where I grew up, closer to where it feels like a comfortable space inside from the rain.

My dissertation fieldwork officially begins next summer, and it isn’t going to remain in such comfy-cozy spaces. I’m studying the social lives of print books, or how print books work as social media among people who might not otherwise be connected – particularly, how print books work as social media in prison.

Eventually, whenever Richmond gives me the okay, I hope to be in touch with people in prisons about their experiences with books, both employees and inmates. People who love to read books, people who are paid to teach books, people who mail books, move books from place to place, and think they’re too heavy or think they smell nice. I’m interested in how all those experiences make people feel about the world of words, about one another, and about themselves.

Anthropology is slow work, so for now, it’s just me and my personal experiences sitting in a shop, staying inside because of a little weather, literally surrounded by books. My favorite kind of book for a rainy day is a nice and slow ghost story. I’m pretty loose with that definition – I might even include in it The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, one of my all-time favorites. There’s a scene when our two heroes are watching a regular summer storm and Huck says to Jim, “Jim, this is nice. I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else but here.”

Pretty much.


  1. Emily,

    I loved your guest post today! I like anthropology and esp sociology(I studied both in comm college). I’m a huge Bibliophile. I (for many yrs now) collect rare antiquarian books (but I won’t spend big bucks on them, I seek them out at thrift stores, book sales for instance). Since I became permanently disabled 3 1/2 yrs ago, can’t drive, multiple surgeries and am mostly homebound…I have the most awesome library that mails my choices of books to me. I keep them very busy! I was a big reader before I got hurt but I am an even bigger reader now. Books help me deal with chronic pain. I am not on Facebook or any social media, never have wanted to be. I read mostly non fiction, memoirs, and history. I have broken out and read THREE fiction books this summer! Two by Toni Morrison and another, “Our Souls at Night” by Kent Haruf. The latter was very cool cause it was about two seniors (widow and widower) wanting to have companionship (not necessarily for the “boom chicka wow wow”) and how much their adult children AND others resented that. I took care of seniors mainly for 30 yrs and I saw a lot of that. I am LOVING the book I am currently reading, “A Piece of Cake” by Cupcake Brown. Have you ever read it? It’s a memoir about a girl from CA whose mother died when she was 11, and the girl then went thru a lot of different things incl abusive foster homes, drugs, prostitution, gangs, you name it. I’m also reading other books incl another Kent Haruf book. I like Anne Lamott also.

    Thanks for reading this…and I hope you have a lovely time shopsitting for Wendy and Jack off and on this summer!


    • Hi Elizabeth! Thank you for your kind welcome! (It took me a while to realize I got responses on here.)

      And thanks for sharing your story. Books helping with chronic pain is incredible but doesn’t surprise me too much — I know I find it easy to forget the time when I’m really into a story. I haven’t read Cupcake Brown but I’ve seen her name before (hard to forget!) Thanks for the recommendation. I’m a big fan of Anne Lamott as well, and it sounds like she might be a kindred spirit.

      Hope you’re doing well!


  2. Emily, Oh, boy, you’ ve found your life’s work. Have fun! When I had a book store, one of the guards came in for romances for the girls, but finding something that was not violent for the guys was difficult. Jan

    • That’s funny, Janice, because I have decided that I think war novels are the men’s version of romance, as far as I can tell — they seem to be similar in style! Being all about fighting and strategies of war does seem problematic…

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