Today I am sending out waves and vibes of gratitude to the universe and to you for all the kind wishes and congratulations that my Guggenheim Fellowship elicited. I feel very loved. The one thing I may love as much as you all (or more?:) is books. I know it sounds hokey but it’s just plain true, books have been my best friends since I began to read when I was three years old, before I could talk (ask my mother and father–I was actually a very late talker but a very early reader). I had a relatively small collection of books that I always kept with me whenever I moved around as a young adult, but when I went to work for Alfred A. Knopf in 1989, I became a serious book accumulator. I suddenly found myself in all-you-can-eat book heaven. I became obese with books. I obsessed over them, spending my evenings and weekends arranging and rearranging them according to ever-shifting criteria. (I still do this.)
When we bought our apartment in 1995 on the upper west side, we covered most of the walls with bookshelves. When we moved to London in 2003, our team of movers packed 90 boxes of books that would be loaded onto a container ship. Luca objected, suggesting storage, but I told him there was no way. I’d sooner leave the kids in storage. Books are everything to me. I have read probably less than half of the books I own but they all speak to me regularly, beg me to read or reread them, tell me why I love them. They talk to each other and collectively remind me of what’s important, vital, ridiculous, hilarious, interesting, enlightening, weird, sad, tragic, terrifying, out of this world, unbelievable, unfathomable, in sum, they tell me the truth. When we moved back to New York City in 2015, my books came with me. I am grateful to my books for always telling me the truth, for keeping me honest, for giving me hope. And in that vein I am very grateful to PEN America (if you are a writer or a reader and aren’t already a member, become one now) and all the incredible work they do for writers and books and for everyone who loves books. Here is just one of their recent initiatives supporting independent bookstores across America:
BOOKSTORES ACROSS AMERICA, VOL. ONE: A ROUNDUP OF WAYS TO SUPPORT INDIE BOOKSTORES
As an organization that recognizes the power of the written word to transform the world, PEN America knows how important bookstores are for all of us as hubs of literary, civic, and community life. With independent bookstores all around the country forced to shut their doors due to the global pandemic, we reached out to booksellers in PEN Across America chapter cities and beyond to ask them how readers can support their favorite stores while sheltering in place. We’ll continue updating this page as we hear back from more bookstores, and if you’d like your local store to be included in this roundup, please email email@example.com.
Burdock Book Collective
Burdock has built a website that they are continuing to tweak so that they can deliver intersectional feminist literature to people’s homes during this pandemic. They have recently decided to deliver directly from their distributor for greater safety. Additionally, their sci-fi reading and discussion group is conducting meetings via Zoom to talk about a short story from Black from the Future.
Social: @burdockbookcollective on Facebook and Instagram
Little Professor Book Center
Little Professor Book Center is doing free local delivery, shipping, or curbside pickup. You can email them to add books at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are moving their entire inventory online in the coming days and they have great activity boxes for kids available for sale at their website.
Social: @littleprofhomewood on Instagram
Thank You Books
A women-owned indie bookstore, Thank You Books is hosting book clubs on Zoom and engaging the literary community on their social platforms. They will deliver web and phone orders on books within a six-mile radius of the store. You can also listen to books online through their partnership with Libro.fm. Catch their book club next month by following them and signing up.
Social: @thankyou_bham on Twitter and Instagram
Deep Vellum Books
Deep Vellum encourages readers to order a gift card or by books online here. While they do not yet have an extensive online catalog, they are able to order any book that is still in print. You can call or text Deep Vellum’s bookseller hotline at 972-638-7741 for book recommendations. You can also order audiobooks from Deep Vellum through Libro.fm and join their virtual book club, Book Cult.
Social: @deepvellumbooks on Twitter and Instagram, @bookcult.tx on Instagram
The Wild Detectives
While The Wild Detectives is closed until further notice, you can purchase books from them on their Bookshop.org platform. They are planning to move their monthly local poetry event, Inner Moonlight, online, and April marks the second year anniversary of the series.
Social: @thewilddetectives on Facebook and Instagram, @WildDetectives on Twitter
Interabang Books is encouraging readers and customers to order books through their website, which now offers free shipping throughout the U.S. You can also sign up here to become a “Signed Firsts” subscriber, and you’ll receive author-signed, first edition titles curated from the most exciting new books each month. The Interabang Book Club has also moved its in-person discussions online, where they welcome any and all to join.
Social: @interabangbooks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Source Booksellers is temporarily closed to the public for browsing, but staff are there to receive deliveries and to answer phone and email requests to place and pay for books. You can purchase books, e-gift cards, and physical gift cards from Source by going to sourcebooksellersonline.com or placing an order by phone. You can also purchase books from Source at Bookshop.com and audiobooks via Libro.fm.
Social: @sourcebooksellers on Facebook and Instagram, @sourcebksellers on Twitter