G – The Grolier Poetry Bookstore – Cambridge, MA

WELCOME to the letter G and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

The Grolier Poetry Bookstore  6 Plympton St. Cambridge MA 617-547-4648

I used to read poetry to my children when they were young, lines like….Little Orphan Annie came to our house to stay, to wash the cups and saucers and sweep the crumbs away or…. They’re changing the guard at Buckingham Palace, said Christopher to Alice. Poems about Lincoln and battles and always Longfellow’s,  The Children’s Hour.

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

“The Grolier” is an independent bookstore on Plympton Street near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Its focus today is solely poetry. A small one-room store, it lays claim to being the “oldest continuous bookshop” devoted solely to the sale of poetry and poetry criticism. The Grolier Book Shop was founded in September 1927 by Adrian Gambet and Gordon Cairnie. Louisa Solano purchased and took over its operation in 1974 after Cairnie’s death. The Grolier Book Shop became the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Inc. in 1990. One of my favorite poets, Anais Nin, visited the store. In April 2006 Ms. Solano sold the Grolier Book Shop to Ifeanyi Menkiti, poet, and professor of philosophy at Wellesley College.

The Grolier continues to advance the cause of poetry, expanding on the foundation laid by the previous owners. Part of the store’s mission is to develop further interest in poetry among a wider more diversified audience. Through the sale of poetry books and the organization of poetry events, The Grolier promotes the written and spoken art of poetry and continues to create a nourishing environment for the works of poets. I love poetry and find it a balm for the soul. I’m not sure if my tastes fit with today’s poets and readings, but I am grateful that Grolier’s is holding down the fort when it comes to the genre of poetry.

Risk

And then the day came,
 when the risk
 to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom.

-Anais Nin

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F – Flourish and Blotts Bookseller -Diagon Alley-London

WELCOME to the letter F and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

J.K. Rollings’ Harry Potter series changed the reading life of millions of people. Parents began reading to their children again. I have grown grandchildren who are rereading the series. Flourish and Blotts, the bookstore in Harry Potter, is one of the most famous bookshops in literature.

Flourish and Blotts Bookseller is a bookshop on the North Side of Diagon Alley, about halfway down the street on the left-hand side. Established in 1454, it is where most Hogwarts students including Harry, Ron, and Hermione, purchase their schoolbooks.The shop is filled with shelves stacked to the ceiling. The bookstore was briefly closed during the summer of 1991 while dealing with an outbreak of bookworms.

The bookstore will take advance orders for books that are in high demand, such as The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. The shop holds occasional book-signings. (See photo below when Gilderoy Lockhart and Harry Potter at a signing in 1992.  I hope you will visit Flourish & Blotts soon.                   Here are a few of the books on inventory:      *The Book of Charms & Spells
▪ A Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration (1 Galleon)
▪ Magical Drafts and Potions (2 Galleons)
▪ The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection (1 Galleon)
▪ A History of Magic (2 Galleons)

 

Flourish & Blotts Booksellers is a destination we all enjoy in our hearts and imaginations.

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E – Elliott Bay Bookstore Company – Seattle, WA

WELCOME to the letter E and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

Elliott Bay Book Company 1521 10th Ave  Seattle, WA  206-624-6600

The subject of bookstores in Seattle is an interesting one. A survey ranks Seattle as the country’s second-most literate big city as measured by the number of bookstores, library resources, newspaper circulation and education. Seattle loves books and bookstores.  While preparing to write about Elliott Bay Book Company,  I took a moment for an update on McCoy Books in Seattle; a fabulous bookstore I visited and then featured in a scene in my second novel, Facing East. My google search came up empty. It’s gone! As a nod to the small independent bookstores that know their books and customers, I am glad I included McCoy’s in the novel.

“Downtown Seattle was clearly a thriving place for a bookstore” –  Facing East

Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle is located about a mile from Amazon’s headquarters. You know that a certain amount of tension exists between Amazon and the Elliott Bay Books of the world. But, the bookstore’s profits have increased partially due to Amazon’s employees and families. Even a bookstore will benefit from the thousands of tech workers Amazon has hired at its downtown headquarters. Amazon, like other large companies located in urban areas, help bolster the economy. It draws other investors into the area who are looking for a vibrant, interesting place to live. This energy creates investment and new businesses. The aphorism credited to John Kennedy….a rising tide will lift all boats – can happen.

Let us celebrate a great, full-service bookstore, located in an architecturally interesting space.  Elliott Bay Book Company is an important part of the Seattle book world. When people consider relocating, part of what they look for is a sense of place, fair taxes, good schools and healthcare, cultural assets. Bright, energetic, community-minded people always look for a bookstore like Elliott Bay. Here is a wonderful architectural setting, a wonderful city, Seattle, and wonderful booksellers who are good stewards of the book world…our passion.

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D – Dog Ear Bookstore and Cafe – Buffalo, NY

WELCOME to the letter D and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

 Dog Ears Bookstore and Café  688 Abbott Road Buffalo, NY   716-823-2665

Until now, the weathermen on TV have defined Buffalo, NY for me with images of horrendous winter storms paralyzing the city.  How grateful I am that a bookstore has broadened my appreciation for what was a center of trade in one of the largest and richest cities in the country. One of my passions is architecture and due to the influx of wealth in Buffalo, a treasure of architectural gems stand today. The city is home to the early works of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Once one of the world’s largest office building, Ellicott Square Building is in Buffalo and Guaranty Building, one of the world’s first skyscrapers is a fine architectural tribute to the city. Buffalo is enjoying a resurgence, and what better indication of this than the Dog Ears Bookstore & Cafe located in the Abbott McKinley Neighborhood.

Here we find knowledgeable people who will help us find everything from new releases to old classics, with titles for a range of ages and audiences. I am green with envy that they have six-week Adult Writers Seminars and support the creativity of the community in this welcoming atmosphere. The addition of a cafe with the bookstore spells P e r f e c T to me. Dog Ears obviously loves children and provides activities along with an introduction to the world of reading and books. Their lives will be forever changed because of this. Dog Ears has become an integral part of the Buffalo scene. Fantastic!

 

 

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully                                                        as those we spent with a favorite book.  -Marcel Proust

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C – Charing Cross Road Bookshops – London

WELCOME to the letter C and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

THE BOOKSHOPS ALONG CHARING CROSS ROAD IN LONDON

I was about to step off the curb when a hand touched my elbow and restrained me. An English gentleman cautioned me, “I wouldn’t do that, love, it makes such a mess at rush hour.” I have never forgotten this moment, the good humor of it all, and a reminder that traffic in London flows the ‘wrong’ way for an American. This story is forever linked with my walk to Charing Cross Road where I hoped to find Anthony Hopkins at Marks & Co. and the works of Beverley Nichols, English garden writer.

Charing Cross Road is a street in central London running immediately north of St Martin-in-the-Fields to St Giles Circus and then becomes Tottenham Court Road. Charing Cross Road is renowned for its specialist and second-hand bookshops. The section from Leicester Square Underground station to Cambridge Circus is home to specialist bookshops, and more general second-hand and antiquarian shops such as Quinto Bookshop, Henry Pordes and Any Amount of Books.



Above…Please take a moment and listen to the Anthony Hopkins video I have linked for you.  It will allow you to “see” the bookshops along Charing Cross Road. When I listened once again to  Hopkins’ reading the Yeats short poem, my memories of book hunting along Charing Cross Rd, I shed a tear for the bookstores there that have closed. (Rising rents affected the bookstores that occupy many of the ground floors of the buildings.)  For heaven’s sake,  Marks & Co bookshop is now a pub. Blimmy! When in London, don’t miss visiting this book mecca. You will be surrounded by the spirits of all those who have walked the street before you…..enjoy!

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B – Books of Wonder – New York, NY

WELCOME to the letter B and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

18 W. 18th St. NY, NY  212-989-3270

When I was a little girl, my mother would read to me. The books of my childhood created my lifetime habit of reading.  Eventually, I authored two novels myself. (A 3rd in the works.) One of my favorite childhood books is A Tree for Peter, written and Illustrated by Kate Seredy. I hope you’ve had the pleasure, as I have, of tracking down such a book, perhaps paying too much money, as I did, but reunited with one of your childhood treasures. I offer you the children’s bookstore you are looking for while in New York or visit by phone or online.

Founded in 1980, Books of Wonder is New York City’s largest and oldest children’s bookstore and the city’s leading specialist in children’s literature. Of special interest to collectors are their old, rare, and collectible children’s books and original children’s book art, many signed by the author or illustrator. There are some 19th-century editions of classic Grimm and Andersen fairy tales. early editions of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and beloved classics like Eloise, Paddington Bear, The Story of Babar, A Wrinkle in Time. Prices range from ten dollars to several hundred dollars with some even in the thousands!

Books of Wonder is also one of the nations leading dealers in original children’s book art. We know that the paintings and drawings created to illustrate children’s books have the power to captivate, excite, and delight us. Among the talented artists found at Books of Wonder are Caldecott Medal winners Leo & Diane Dillon, Paul O. Zelinsky, and Trina Schart Hyman, as well as celebrated artists Michael Hague, Mark Teague, Michael Foreman and Troy Howell. In addition to these modern masters, Books of Wonder also offers original illustrations by some of the great artists of the past.

 

Books of Wonder publishes many of the Oz classics, including the original L. Frank Baum titles (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its many sequels) In partnership with HarperCollins Publishers there are the Books of Wonder Classics: deluxe gift editions of timeless stories, illustrated with full-color plates and black-and-white drawings. Included in the series is Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, The Jungle Book, The Story of Dr. Doolittle, Black Beauty and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The child we carry with us to this day would love a visit to Books of Wonder. Have fun.

Artist: Jessie Wilcox Smith (1863-1935 – American)

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A – Avid Bookshop -Athens Georgia

WELCOME to the letter A and to this year’s theme: BOOKSHOPS

    AVID BOOKSHOP

493 Prince Avenue  Athens, GA    706-352-2060

April…spring in the south with the roadside awash in fresh greenness. As we start our bookstore tour, we will begin by visiting historic downtown Athens with its pervasive student culture at the University of  Georgia.  Here is a vibrant and energetic place with restaurants and music, intellectual, creative and artistic talent. We are delighted to find an independent bookstore, Avid Books, that owner Janet Gaddis opened in 2011. Five years later she has opened a second shop. Our step quickens as we near the store because Janet has offered the community a place after our own hearts.  “We want to find just that perfect book that will change your life for the better. We want to serve as a hub for open conversation between people of all backgrounds and a spot where people of all ages and reading habits can feel welcome and comfortable,”

Five Points – 1622 S.Lumpkin                      706-850-2843

Consider this: Jessica Handler, author of “Invisible Sisters: A Memoir….. says, “Independent bookstores like Avid hand-sell. So unlike big box stores they know our tastes, are enthusiastic about authors, and they really contribute to the literary community with their knowledge of what’s new and good to read, and what authors will be on hand to meet, read and sign books. Indie bookstores like Avid are so crucial to the literary ecosystem.”

Like myself, I know you love a bookstore. I look forward to sharing some special shops throughout the blog challenge where architecture comes into play, an intriguing community, and the owners are great stewards of our world of books.

                “WHERE IS HUMAN NATURE SO WEAK AS IN THE BOOKSTORE?”                                  Henry Ward Beecher

Image found on Pinterest: Bookstore -Willy Belinfante


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Theme Reveal Day – Paying Tribute to Bookstores

One of my ‘unlived’ lives is owning a bookstore. Addicted to reading, I can fantasize the tinkling of the bell on the shop door as a book lover joins me in my quaint, welcoming shop. Imagine if you will, a cross between Marks and Company at 84 Charing Cross Road where Anthony Hopkins looks up to greet you and Meg Ryan reading to children in The Shop Around the Corner in the movie, You’ve Got Mail.

Though my husband used to say, Stepheny never met a bookstore she didn’t like, that isn’t quite true. We’ve all had the unhappy experience of visiting a bookstore where no one is able to make a suggestion when asked for a mystery set in Australia to give to a friend to read on the long plane ride there. No one can help with a book for a grandchild too old for Beatrix Potter and too young for Harry Potter. You ask yourself, could it be that no one working in the store reads?  Then there is the joy of the bookstore where other browsers get into the act by naming books they loved when they overhear you asking the owner for a recommendation. The comradery of fellow readers is a balm for the soul.

We’ve all been concerned about the vanishing small, independent bookstore. As revitalization takes place on Main Street USA, we are thankfully seeing independent bookstores open again. In the immortal words of my granddaughter when her family moved to a small town in Wyoming,  “What kind of a place is this if it doesn’t have a bookstore?”

In making amends to independent bookstores for the amount of shopping I do on Amazon Books, I announce with love and gratitude, this year’s THEME for the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge:

                   BOOKSHOPS                                         

I invite you to join me as I pay tribute to individual far-flung stores from Raleigh, NC to Charing Cross Road in London and those in between. I hope this year’s theme will encourage you to never leave a bookstore without buying at least one book because life without books is unimaginable.

Image: The Fantasy Bookshop by Aimee Stewart found on Pinterest

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A Writers Writer – Nicola Upson’s Mystery Series – Featuring Josephine Tey


It has been some time since I wrote about the author, Nicola Upson’s series of mystery novels. They feature Josephine Tey, (25 July 1896 – 13 Feb. 1952) a Britain’s golden age of crime writing author.  I invite you to take a moment to read the earlier post.

I have finished yet another in this well written and researched series: London Rain. Josephine Tey returns in this sixth installment of Nicola Upson’s series that unfolds in 1930s London as England prepares to crown a new king in prewar England. As an avid reader of the series, I feel Josephine Tey has no better friend than the author, Nicola Upson, who portrays Tey in a respectful, thoughtful manner. She handles Tey’s private life, which was guarded carefully, more openly in the series but through the eyes and heart of a soul mate.

If you are an addicted cozy and classical mystery reader as I am, you will enjoy further information about Josephine Tey to enhance your reading. Tey’s mystery novels are classics of their kind, deftly constructed with strong characterization and a meticulous prose style. Six of the novels feature as their main character the slightly built, dapper Inspector Alan Grant, a gentleman police officer with independent means. Inspector Grant is one of the first Scotland Yard detectives to be introduced to the mystery writing genre, making his debut in 1929 in The Daughter of Time (1951).

Playing a role in the setting of the series is The Cowdray Club at 20 Cavendish Square, London – a professional Women’s Club of which Josephine Tey was a member. She also visited the Costume and Theatre Design Group, known as ‘The Motleys’ at their studio workshop off St. Martin’s Lane where she encountered many members of the acting profession and where characters in the novels abide.  I highly recommend this well-written series. Rather than saying, it was raining in Piccadilly, I love this: “The evening had settled into a half-hearted drizzle, and the roar of daytime Piccadilly died a little as the centre of the West End made its transition from a life of work to a life of pleasure.”

Josephine Tey was a pseudonym used by Elizabeth MacKintosh, a Scottish author best known for her mystery novels. She also wrote as Gordon Daviot, under which name she wrote plays, many with biblical or historical themes.

 

 

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A Writers Writer – Alan Bradley -The Flavia De Luce Series

“I’d been spending so much time sitting halfway down the stairs that I was beginning to feel like Christopher Robin”   Flavia from I’m Half Sick of Shadows

Flavia De Luce  lives in a dilapidated old mansion in the English countryside with two older sisters who are rarely nice to her and with a distant father who spends his days immersed in his stamp collection. Flavia, an eleven year old brilliant, motherless, chemistry-obsessed, poison-loving young girl is at the heart of these books and in each one,  she solves a murder. She also comes closer to understanding the larger mystery in her life: who her mother, Harriet, really was.

Bradley’s first Flavia book was published when he was 70, and it was the first novel he ever wrote and was my introduction to one of my new favorite authors and a cast of characters I throughly enjoy and you will too. Bradley’s story is a writers fantasy come true.  In early 2007, Bradley entered the Dagger contest by submitting fifteen pages about a girl now named Flavia de Luce. These pages, which took only a few days to write and several weeks of polishing, became the basis of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Bradley set the book in England despite having never been thee. In June 2007, two judges from the contest contacted Bradley’s agent in Canada to express interest in publishing the proposed book; they also inadvertently informed him that Bradley was the winner of the competition. A bidding war ensued, and on June 27, 2007, Bradley sold Orion the rights for three books in Britain. After the award ceremony, Bradly spent seven months turning the submitted fifteen pages into a full-length novel. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was published in the UK in January 2009 and in Canada in February 2009.

I have finished (out of order) my second book of the series and find Bradley’s writing, his descriptions, and the irresistible, 1st person voice of this young girl, a remarkable addition to my reading life. This is not a precocious child that is a pain in the…….but a interesting child that is perceptive beyond her years. No giving away of the mysteries, but in cozy-fashion the stories do not dwell on the bloody crime, but on the cast of possible suspects. I highly recommend this setting filled with good humor and exceptionally  well written mysteries. Check with Amazon who was running a great price the last time I looked on both  books mentioned here. ENJOY!

Order of the Series

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
A Red Herring Without Mustard  
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
Speaking From Among the Bones
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d
A Grave’s a Fine and Private Place

 

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Giving Books for Christmas 2017 – Part 2

I have read three of author Beatriz William’s books that feature the daughters of the Schuyler family. In each of these novels, one of the sisters comes forth as the main character and moves the tale of this complex family along. The supporting cast in each of the books is equally well drawn. I love this author. In fact, when a quotation on the back cover of The Secret Life of Violet Grant suggests this novel is a good beach book, I was highly offended believing that a beach read is supposed to be frivolous.  Ms. William’s writing is much more than a beach book suggests; she is a fine writer who is a consummate story-teller providing historical details that are well researched and enrich each book.

“The Secret Life of Violet Grant,” begins in 1964 with college graduate Vivian Schuyler working to become a writer at a popular magazine. One day she receives a battered suitcase that belonged to her Great Aunt Violet Grant who disappeared in Germany in 1914 and was thought to have killed her husband and ran off with her lover. Or did she? Need I say more to peak your curiosity?

Along The Infinite Sea: In the autumn of 1966, Pepper Schuyler’s needs to take care of herself and the baby she carries—the result of an affair with a married, legendary politician. She discovers a rare vintage Mercedes and is involved with its restoration where she sells it at auction. The car’s new owner, Annabelle Dommerich, has her own secrets: a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, a flight from Europe, and a love so profound it transcends decades. As the many threads of Annabelle’s life before the Second World War stretch out to entangle Pepper in 1960s America, and the father of her unborn baby tracks her down to a remote town in coastal Georgia, the two women must come together to face down the shadows of their complicated pasts.

In “Little Tiny Thing,” “Tiny” Schuyler is married to a politician on the rise. She spends the summer of 1966 at her husband Frank’s family summer compound with her mother-in-law, who rules the roost, a father-in-law who is determined that his son will be president, and various other relatives. Two weeks before Tiny marries Frank, she meets a man at a diner and, after a violent holdup takes place, she and this mystery man became more than friends.

Beatrix Williams has created a world in which the Schuyler family connects us with a past when women were expected to marry, raise a family, and support a husband’s career. Here is what happens to a few of these women who have a problem with that script.

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Giving Books for Christmas 2017 – Part 1

It’s the time of the year when we love to give books and I have some I want to recommend to you for giving, but first things first…..I have finished a sequel to my first novel, Greening of a Heart, which had good reviews and many book club appearances. The new book will be published in 2018. I hope you will read Greening yourself, and give it to others for Christmas so they are introduced to some of the characters who come forth in the new book. Let me read to you from the beginning of the first chapter to give you a feel for the story that follows.

Here is the cover of the book and the blurb about it.

When the Bishop insists that Martin Winchester take a sabbatical from his parish to restore his depleted energy and regain his spiritual focus, his wife Hannah is left on her own for the first time in years. Her new found freedom gives her an opportunity to reflect on her life. Retreating into the newly-renovated vicarage garden in the Cotswold’s village of Burford, Hannah not only wants to escape the demands of her role as the vicar’s wife but to reinvent herself. Lives begin to change after Henry Bernard arrives in Burford to solve a family mystery. Not only Henry, but a young artist, an electrician and his entrepreneur wife, the new owners of the Bay Tree Inn, and a dying spinster, all embark with Hannah on an unforgettable summer as their lives intertwine in unforeseen ways. If you like the novels of Rosamunde Pilcher (The Shell Seekers, September) you will enjoy Greening of a Heart.

Buy Greening of a Heart through Amazon, NOOK, or the Apple iTunes Store.

Don’t have an e-reader? You can read the book on your computer. Click on highlighted text to download a free Kindle application for your PC or Mac.

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