Note from Josh:
So I was sitting happily if frenetically at my desk this afternoon, thinking about the eight—EIGHT manuscripts I need to read—when I got a call from my wife, Amanda, who was walking on the Upper West Side.
“You don’t need to write your blog tonight,” she said.
“Why?” I thought. “Have we skipped Tuesday?”
“I want to write it this week,” she said. “I want to write about independent bookstores.”
A couple of weeks ago, when I wrote about the Kindle Daily Deal, the Dead Guy bookseller, Marilyn Thiele, wrote to me that she should apparently close up shop because obviously Amazon was going to drive her out of business. Amanda’s guest column, below, should be the antidote. Don’t call the movers, Marilyn!
(Oh, I guess I should say, by way of introduction, that Amanda is a World History teacher at the Ramaz School in Manhattan, and is the inspiration behind—among other things—my abiding love of all things Tudor.)--JG
Let me begin by saying right off the bat that I love all bookstores. Really. They all draw me in, whether they’re large chains (as a kid, I loved the WaldenBooks stores in malls) or small independent bookstores. The Barnes & Noble on 82nd Street and Broadway is my home away from home, and where I have spent hours searching for novels and cookbooks and reading with our kids. The folks there are incredibly knowledgeable and unfailingly helpful.
But in my guest blog post I sing of independent bookstores and the teacher mom.
It goes like this: I am a history teacher, which is a wonderful job ALL months of the year, but a particularly easy one in July and August. When the grading is done, and my desk is finally cleaned (ed. Note: HA!), I have time to wander and peruse. And although I have projects pending (new paper assignments, new curricula) I have much more free time and invariably find myself strolling the neighborhoods of Manhattan.
This summer, my son is taking a three-week creative writing course at Columbia University, and I have been dropping him off each morning. On my return downtown, I pass several lovely bookstores along Broadway, and I stop at them all—often consecutively. The Bankstreet Bookstore has a lovely selection devoted to education books for teachers, and I have already bought a book about making history more meaningful and fun for students, whose ideas I hope to incorporate this fall. Another fine independent bookstore is Book Culture, where I spent a lot of time (and money!) this morning. I noted with pleasure their huge middle grade section, where Geoff Rodkey’s New Lands was face out on the shelf. I bought a book of Neuroscience Haikus by Eric Chudler (sample: Memory fleeting; Cannot remember who, what; No hippocampus.) and a French vegetarian cookbook.
These small bookstores remind me of all the bookstores that populated the Upper West Side (and all of New York City) when I was a kid. I am very nostalgic for these places, like Shakespeare and Co. (ed. Note: The people there were RUDE!), or Eeyore’s (lovingly fictionalized in the movie You’ve Got Mail). They somehow seemed like places where you didn’t need to need anything in particular, but you wanted everything so much. The booksellers really love the books, and want to talk to you. My husband Josh Getzler and I seek them out wherever we go (like last summer in Woodstock, New York) and always chat with the sellers, exchange picks and usually buy something nice.
So here’s to your neighborhood bookstore. Talk to the booksellers. Tell them what you like (be sure it’s one of my husband’s clients). Sit and read—to yourself, your friend, your kids. Attend an event. And then be sure to buy something wonderful. I recommend Neuroscience Haikus.