Indie Bookstores Offer 'Immersion--and Volumes of Refuge'

"Beneath a surge in interest for books about the Trump administration, booksellers see something more: Readers seeking to connect and make sense of a tumultuous time," the Christian Science Monitor wrote in a piece headlined "In bookstores, immersion--and volumes of refuge."

Noting that she has seen a lot of new faces in the bookstore since the publication of Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Jan Weismiller, co-owner of Prairie Lights, Iowa City, Iowa, observed that books of all kinds are keys to understanding.

"I've always believed that it's possible that when you read fiction it's, in some ways, more helpful in understanding politics than reading political books because it's deeper more fully drawn portraits of people dealing with these kinds of things," she said. "We've all come to understand that a bookstore is not just a place to sell books--it's a community space. And we connect with all sorts of different local communities to keep it thriving."

Karen Hayes, managing owner of Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., said she feels encouraged by the vibrancy of bookstores, contrasting the current indie environment to the 1990s: "You didn't see anybody young, you didn't see anybody opening bookstores, and it's completely different now."

In New York City, Leigh Altshuler, director of marketing and communications for Strand Book Store, observed that books are increasingly offering more varied "mirrors" for readers to see themselves in: "We're seeing a wider representation of people across stories, so whether that's gender, race, and sexuality, it's really becoming easier to find yourself in a book, or find an interesting or a different character."

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