Independent Bookstore Day 2019: Five Bookstores, Never Enough Time

There are only so many hours in a day, but I used them to my best advantage on 2019 Independent Bookstore Day.

I started at midnight by ordering a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Jake from The Alabama Booksmith invited me to purchase this gem — which I already owned, but I couldn't resist the opportunity for a signed book from a trusted seller.

One book, I promised myself as I grabbed my car keys and began my bookish day, one book from each store. I was still trying to find room for my previous week's library book sale books. One is enough, right? As Tzeitel would say, Of course right...

My first stop was Bard's Alley in Vienna, my one-stop shop for books I didn't even know were available. It started when I stumbled across a new translation of Les Misérables last year, and now I can't think of anywhere else I'd go for this vital resource. (That is, after hours of excruciating research, when I should just ask my bookseller. Remind me to do that when am ready for Tales of the Genji.)

I knew I could find Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey  at Bard's Alley, and I wasn't disappointed. This compliments the audio as read by Claire Danes, whose dulcet tones made The Handmaid's Tale an even better read than I anticipated. I also picked up Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly, a prequel of sorts to Lilac Girls

Next stop: One More Page in Arlington, which I timed to coincide with the store's "bookseller bake-off." (Look, I can peruse a bookstore with a cake pop as easily as I can without one.) I dutifully tried all but the matzoh brittle (which I am sure was tasty) and s'mores (I've go one word for you: marshmallows), then voted my heart and tastebuds. I was tempted to try the scavenger hunt, but realized that deciding which book I was taking home was more of a challenge.

I knew The Hug was coming home with me because of the hedgehog cover, but I also knew I couldn't stop at one. I enjoyed Karen Thompson Walker's first book, so The Dreamers was a no-brainer. The City of Lost Fortunes by Bryan Camp was in my hands and at the cash register before I realized it. The store also has some fun pins, and I found one with the best motto: Fight Evil. Read Books.

Next was a not-literal hole in the wall, but a bright blue structure tucked into the main strip of Falls Church: Hole in the Wall Books. I had never read a Skippyjon Jones book, so I had no choice but to take home Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble by Judy Schachner. ¡Ay, que bueno! My friend Dottie has warned me against trying to read Skippyjon Jones books out loud, so I shall take that under advisement. Skippyjon was all I needed.

My final stop of the day was a new-to-me bookstore, 2nd and Charles in Chantilly. As I arrived in the parking lot, I called my husband, David, and told him, "Sweetheart, I'm a little worn out, so I should be out of the store in about half an hour." Then I stepped inside. 

Ninety minutes later, I had texted half a dozen people, taken a dozen photos of the interior, and found treasure. Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel is the second book in the Sleeping Giants series, which I am set to begin May 1 with my friend Carole. Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao was at the top of my Pinterest book board. I couldn't resist the funny, sassy notecards — nor could I resist the bag I saw as Leanne was ringing up my purchase. All day I had carried my books to the car in my hands, but on this trip, I put them in an alpaca bag — this time with special chocolates for my friend Nate the Tabasco fiend.

It was a good day with many good new reads to add to my TBR pile. A few were intentional, a couple were total surprises, and the others were just waiting for me to pluck them off the shelves.

I work hard to shop local, but I'm sorry to say my own city doesn't have a bookstore. (Un-clutch your pearls, fellow readers: I've raised this concern with the economic development director, who is on the case.) 

Even a hyper-local bookstore could not replace the amazing resources from other special stores in the area, like Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.— who just last month fulfilled an amazing purchase of signed books by Helen Oyeyemi (who was on tour and in the store for the recent publication of Gingerbread).

Did you celebrate Independent Bookstore Day? Where did you go, and were you able to purchase any items? 

Do tell! Leave a comment below, or email me and I'll share with the rest of the class.