A Season for Reading Booksellers

Everybody knows booksellers love to read books; it's basically the job description. That they sometimes love to write books, too, is perhaps less apparent, but I was happily reminded of this fact recently during a panel called "Books: We Sell Them & We Write Them!" at an independent booksellers trade show in Florida.

The realization has launched what I'd have to call my Season for Reading Booksellers, which had already gotten off to a fine start not long ago with the novel Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub (Riverhead), who works at BookCourt in Brooklyn.

During the Florida panel, Wendy Welch--co-owner of Tales of the Lonesome Pine Bookshop, Big Stone Gap, Va., with her husband, Jack Beck--talked about the adventures and misadventures of launching their biblio-dream life, which she chronicles in her delightful new book, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community & the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book (coming from St. Martin's October 2).

Maureen D. Lee, another panelist and former owner of Lee's Book Attic, Columbia, S.C., shared highlights from the extraordinary life of a distinguished turn-of-the-century African American soprano who is the subject of her book, Sissieretta Jones: "The Greatest Singer of Her Race," 1868-1933 (University of South Carolina Press).

And then there was Cliff Graubart, who gained national fame a few years ago when he and his Old New York Book Shop were featured in Pat Conroy's My Reading Life. "He wanted me to succeed," Graubart observed regarding his longtime friendship with the author.

Conroy "believes everybody should write; everybody has a novel in them," said Graubart, whose engaging new collection, The Curious Vision of Sammy Levitt and Other Stories (Mercer University Press), fulfills one of his own biblio-dreams.  

Have you read any good booksellers lately? --Robert Gray, contributing editor, Shelf Awareness

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