We visit a bookstore about once a week. Until Common Good Books moved to its new location, our default selection was a big box bookseller because that is what exists in our part of the Twin Cities. We always enjoyed the cozy basement quarters of the old Common Good Books, but getting there wasn’t easy.
This week Faith Sullivan and I did readings at Common Good Books featuring women leading their families out of bad economic times. St. Paul was having one of those grand June evenings and people drifted in from neighboring areas. We were at home as surely as if we were gathering in Faith’s backyard or my living room. Folks making their way to the reading area greeted each other by name and shared stories. Other writers took seats to show their support. There was Carol Connolly, St. Paul’s Poet Laureate, Roger Barr known for his Christmas stories in the Villager, Paul Zerby whose Korean era book was on a table beyond the audience, Charles Locks searching the shelves for his book about life in the Virgin Islands.
Some of the other two dozen people recognized a writer they knew and a grand June night became more special. While grateful for the remaining national booksellers, readings in Garrison Keillor‘s bookstore have panache because the person in the chair next to you might have their name on the spine of a book in a shelf right behind the podium. Or maybe they live next door to your kid’s soccer coach or bring their dog to the same groomer. At the very least, they might live in the neighborhood known as St. Paul.