Friday, November 20, 2015

Books Across America -- DAY ONE


I'm road tripping (with my travel companion, Mr. Lane) from Cleveland to Scottsdale.  The same route from start to finish, beginning to end in THE LIES WE KEEP.  Main character, Alex, grew up in Cleveland but ends up in Arizona where he thinks he's free from his past, until a chance encounter with someone who has never forgotten him.  Every mile that passes under our car reminds me of his trip west after hitching a ride with a truck driver.  Of course, I've driven this route before, researching the story, but it's all new again now that THE LIES WE KEEP has been released.  Somehow the novel has come alive for me as we pass through the same towns he traveled through, under the over-passes that were draped in flags, passing by small motels and diners.  This is where the story dwells and I'm enjoying every mile.  


We're stopping in towns along the way, visiting independent bookstores, meeting book lovers and book sellers, those diligent folks who keep our communities richly supplied with literature.  We are traveling by car alongside parts of what is left of Route 66, taking exits for odd tours of caverns and quirky, dusty old tourist shops.  Today, we ate lunch at a truck stop somewhere between St. Louis and Springfield.  There's something about truck drivers who ride along new Route 44…they seem a bit vintage, from days gone by, as if the ghosts of Route 66 live on in their cabs.  They are full of colorful stories of life on the road, and they know what is most delicious on the menu (thanks Bill for the tip on the pizza…who knew it could taste so good from a kitchen inside a gas station?).

Caron with the
Owner
of Subterranean Books
We started out at Indy Reads Books in Indianapolis, a bookstore I wanted to stop by on our way to St. Louis, just a quick stop because I'd read about what they are doing there.  But, we were too late, caught in traffic and arrived after they had closed.  But here's the deal, we have to drive back to Cleveland at some point, so we will try again on the way home.  I mention it, because the store relies on donated books.  It's a beautiful shop where you can become a member and support literature (and receive a discount on the books you purchase for a year).  They also rely on volunteer staff members.  How cool is that?  People helping their community and in the process, promoting literacy.  If you want to donate books (author friends or readers who have gently read books) visit their website to see how you can help the effort to keep Indy reading (indyreadsbooks.org).  An independent bookstore and the only bookstore in downtown Indianapolis.  They sell used and new books for all ages.  Operating as a non-profit, not-for-profit organization Indy Reads is on a mission to improve the literacy skills of adults in central Indiana who currently read at or below the sixth grade level.  Profits from sales at the bookstore go directly into the community to improve literacy.  Now that's a special bookstore.  Visit…but just know, from experience, they close at 7PM during the week!  (9PM on Friday and Sat, Sunday till 6)  Indy Reads Books, 911 Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis.

We stayed the night in St. Louis and visited Subterranean Books the next morning.  A very warm and charming bookstore at 6275 Delmar, In the Loop, St. Louis.  Along a street of redeveloped buildings with other shops and places to grab a cup of coffee.  The store has a lovely feeling with a loft, the shelves tidy and filled with a wonderful selection of literature.  From the moment you walk in the store, you feel like pulling a book from the shelves, finding a comfy chair and cozying up to read.  My book is now available!  St. Louis is a great town, with a diverse population of people who are resilient and hardy, and always friendly.  Someone told us, regarding the recent issues in the community, "Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better."  I definitely felt a positive vibe around town, people are holding their heads high and working toward a better tomorrow.

Next stop was Springfield, MO.  I met with Josh at BOOKMARX Bookstore in downtown Springfield.  Mostly gently used books, they also carry new titles and can order any title you need.  The shop is modern and very cool.  Streamlined shelves with a wide selection of reads for just about any genre.  Located at 325 E. Walnut Street right down the street from Hotel Vandivort, a four-star boutique hotel in the heart of a well redeveloped area of town.  Josh noted he doesn't know how indy bookstores can make it these days without offering used books.  They just can't compete with the big online bookstores, so having gently used books is key to their success.  Plus, there's a shop right next door with cupcakes...so of course they are doing well.  BookMarx trades books for books, buys used books and Josh seemed happy to accept my donation of my newest title.  Stop by if you're in Springfield, where this little shop is working hard to bring literature to this community.

Caron with Josh at BOOKMARX
We crossed over to Oklahoma today, so tomorrow will bring more indy bookstores to visit.  I plan to visit as many as I can to shake the hands of store owners who work hard to keep literature available to their communities.  I've got a full box of books to present to shop owners, but what's most fun is talking to readers about books, and what they love to read and seeing that they have a place to go browse the shelves for just the right book.  Support your local bookshop.  Remember to do your holiday shopping on Main Street and that books make a great gift.    

My life on the lane is on the road, visiting bookstores and meeting readers, signing books and shaking hands and life is good.            

    

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