This week, in the front windows
at Point Reyes Books in Point Reyes Station, Calif., a certain title has pride
of place: Emotional Currency: A Woman's
Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money (Celestial Arts/Ten
Speed Press, $14.99, 9781587610684) by Dr. Kate Levinson, who owns the store
with her husband, Steve Costa. "My own mini celebration for the book is
taking over the storefront windows," she said. "As a bookseller I get
to do that."
Along with being a
bookseller and serving on the board of the Northern California Independent
Booksellers Association, Levinson holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and
is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She maintains a private practice
in Oakland and also leads Emotional Currency workshops that encourage women to explore
and understand their emotional ties to money.
Inspired by the powerful
stories of workshop participants and patients in her practice, as well as
drawing on her own experiences with money, Levinson began drafting a book
proposal more than a decade ago. "I wanted to encourage others to become
curious about their own money stories--stories that we often even aren't aware
of ourselves, let alone ever share with one another because it's taboo to talk
about money," she said.
Levinson worked on the
proposal intermittently and then looked for an agent, a search that proved
unsuccessful. At Costa's suggestion they bought the bookstore in 2002, after
which her time was taken up helping to run the retail business and conducting
her practice. "I thought I was over and done with the fantasy of writing
this book," she said. But the idea "kept coming to mind, kept returning,"
and eventually she revisited the proposal.
"Despite not thinking
about or working on the proposal for the first six years of owning the store,
it was actually because of the store that the book got published," noted
Levinson. "Something I did only because my husband wanted to led me to
something I'd been wanting in my own life--even though I couldn't see the
connection at the time."
What happened next was "synchronistic,"
Levinson said. In 2008, during the inaugural Geography of Hope Conference--a
nature- and conservation-focused literary and arts event co-founded by Costa--she
met Carl Brandt, the late author and environmentalist Wallace Stegner's literary
agent. He offered to read the proposal, and Levinson ended up signing on with Brandt's
business partner, Gail Hochman.
When Levinson hit a
stumbling block early in the process of writing Emotional Currency, she turned to an acquaintance for assistance:
former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, who has appeared at Point Reyes Books
to promote his own works. "I needed reassurance from someone who I wasn't
close with, and who I respected, that this was a worthy topic," Levinson
explained. "He reassured me primarily by telling me a story about his
mother and money. I went home and started writing the book."
A bookstore customer, Frances
McDormand--who Levinson met when the actress came looking for The Joy of Cooking--has endorsed Emotional Currency, saying, "Finally!
A beautifully written, straightforward guide to understanding money. Reading Emotional Currency evoked many of my own
emotional memories about money. The book underscores that, for women, money
provides both opportunities and choice."
Many Point Reyes Books
customers have ordered Emotional Currency
in advance. Some readers have taken Levinson's workshop and have an idea of
what's in the book, while others are interested in learning more about the
author's professional life outside bookselling. "They
know me as the person who sells them books and puts on author events, and I
think they're really curious," said Levinson.
A party celebrating the
book's release will take place on Saturday evening at Toby's Feed Barn in Point
Reyes Station. The general store and working feed barn (hay bales serve as
seating) is where large author events are held--and now it's Levinson's turn to
be in the spotlight. So how is it being on the other side of the publishing
process? "Scary and exciting and wonderful," she said.
Levinson appears at
DIESEL, A Bookstore in Oakland tonight and is doing events at several other
Northern California stores in the coming months. At this year's Winter
Institute she met booksellers from other parts of the country who invited her
to promote Emotional Currency at
their stores. Her tour stops include Maria's Bookshop in Durango (May 16), the
King's English in Salt Lake City (May 19) and Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis
where people share their wisdom with you, is so different from the field of
psychology, where everything is hidden and private and you pay for information,"
said Levinson. "I'm always amazed at the generosity and camaraderie of
independent booksellers. We really are a community--booksellers, sales reps,
authors, publishers. It's a lovely tribe to belong to."--Shannon McKenna