Tag Archives: book reviews

Those Lovely Moments

rosesFrom time to time authors get incredibly humbling messages about what their books have meant to people. Balancing out the egotism that follows these moments are the one-star reviews and snarky private messages. So please don’t get the idea that it’s all teacups and roses once you publish. 😉

But it is lovely to know that at some point in other people’s lives you’ve said something that counts. And this post from a Facebook friend this morning made me cry:

You saved my life last night! I got some bad news from a family member and I was really upset and could feel my heart pounding in my teeth so I figured there was not calmness going on in my body. It was bedtime and I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep. My favorite things to do before bed is to read but I was just agitating too much! I thought, I need a good book that is all about hope, courage, persistence and yes scary times but coming out on the other side after walking with faith and hope to a new life. So I thought of rereading your book, “The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap.” It was a great decision because I became calm and hopeful that all would work out. Powerful stuff at midnight on an ordinary Thursday night! So thank you and I am looking to continuing the story today. Peace.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, publishing, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing

The Romantic Code

This morning Jack prepared to depart into the basement and pursue renovations, but before he headed down the stairs he updated me on the boxes and bags of trade-ins people had brought, that he “hadn’t had time” to get to yet.

Among them were a bag of romances from one of our regular customers, a woman we call “The Lady.” Always well-turned-out, this elderly woman brings in her exchanging romances in rubber-band-wrapped bundles of five, and takes her time going through the stash to see what she’s read.

“We had that dinner on last night [The SOUL FOOD OF LOVE] so I didn’t have time to help her look, and I asked her to come back today. It would take for bloody ever for her to go through our romances.”

I gave him an odd look. “She only has to look for her initials.”

He gave me a befuddled look, as if I had suddenly spoken in Yiddish with a lisp.

“Don’t you know how women keep track of which romances they’ve read?” I asked, laughing. “Six years in the book business and you haven’t got this?”

“I rather left them to get on with things at that end of the shop,” Jack said, looking at the floor.

So I have now let him in on the secret codes, ladies, and I realize normally we don’t share the rules with men, but heck, he’s a bookslinger, so it’s in your best interest.

And in case anyone else didn’t know about this, think of it as the equivalent of that intricate hobo hieroglyphic system, the one that distinguishes nice women from people with mean dogs, etc. Women initial, or leave stickers, or write a shortened version of their first name, in romance paperbacks they have read, before returning them to second-hand book shops.

IMG_3605“The Lady” actually looks for the initials D.J. in the books she reads; as she said, “If D.J. liked it, so will I.” But she eschews ARD (a scrawl run together).

“That ARD woman.” The Lady said, shaking her head over a Sandra Brown mystery. “I don’t understand her tastes. Who wants to read such garbage?”

Follow the signals, and you can’t get too far off the trail.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, humor, small town USA