Showing posts from 2021

Small Things.

  Happy end of 2021! In years past I've often done a roundup of books read; the last one was 11 years or 6 blog posts ago.  It's such a fun project to look back on the year's reading; I've been practicing with Greenlight's Holiday Handsells but this is my longlist.  It was a rollercoaster of a year in many ways, and my hard-won total of 42 listed below includes everything from religious instruction to middle grade graphic novels to epic fantasy and climate fiction (and a surprising number of rereads and out of print books), ending with the small classic above.  I included a bit about each and this ended up getting kind of long... if you make it through, I've made the covers into buy links in case you'd like to purchase a copy from your local indie bookstore.  What stood out in your year of reading?


  Last week I went to a literary gala and I may be still processing it.  The lovely folks at Other Press extended an invitation to their table for the PEN Gala, the annual fundraiser for PEN America 's vital work in freedom of speech for writers worldwide -- though I admit when I saw the invite I was thinking anxiously less about authorial freedom and more about the words "BLACK TIE".  Luckily I had a ten-year-old dress I love in the back of the closet (small designer, punkish fabric pieces, long train at the back) so I put myself together as best I could and went to the American Museum of Natural History on a Tuesday night.  Arriving, I found that Other Press had also extended an invitation to several fellow booksellers, including two of my own Greenlight colleagues, who were a delight to encounter in a sea of suited-and-gowned strangers. We talked a kind of shop, about the challenges of curation vs. the demands of free speech over cocktails around the giant skeletons i


I had the pleasure of speaking with the lovely Damian Barr on Instagram Live this morning, as Greenlight was featured as Bookshop of the Month on his Literary Salon . I feel like I used to be one of those in any gathering of booksellers who was more comfortable with tech than my elders; I've now passed over into being a grownup who needs gentle coaching on how to update the app, etc.  But once the transcontinental connectivity issues were overcome, it was great to talk about the bookstore, about mutual friends and events and parties, about ideas and books.  Wow I've missed conversation about books -- I'm resolved to re-integrate it into my life, however long it takes. We talked about Greenlight's name and its origins in (among other things) the green light at the end of the dock in The Great Gatsby , and whether "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past" is ultimately optimistic, an aspiration for a better future, or hope


Like every other bookstore I've spoken to or heard about, Greenlight has spent the past year and a half of pandemic-era retail in a state of near-constant reinvention.  I could talk about the moment-by-moment agony and uncertainty of it, the second-guessing and the exhaustion of decision making, but in retrospect it looks like a rollercoaster that you managed to stay on.  We were lucky we already had an e-commerce website -- we just had to reallocate a ton of resources to expand it it. We were lucky our stores are in dense residential communities where folks weren't going in to the office -- sales in some categories actually grew (and we sold a lot of puzzles). We were lucky to have staff and customers pushing us forward as we examined our own institutional structures -- we're in a still-very-ongoing state of becoming a more transparent, more inclusive business.  It takes a kind of gallows humor to see it, but the hustle that has been required to keep our little bookstore&#


I wrote the last entry in this blog over ten years ago -- I was honestly surprised to find it's still here (thanks for saving everything, Google!). In May of 2011 the Greenlight Bookstore venture was new, and my focus had shifted from writing and networking about books and bookstores to working all the time, every day on my own little seed of a venture. It was an exciting and transitional time, and it was only a little bittersweet to let it go. I wrote the first entry in this blog over sixteen years ago, in October of 2005. I was working in a bookstore and starting to conceive of the first seeds of my plan to open my own, but still feeling a little isolated and in need of community.  It was a great moment for literary blogs, many/most of which are now gathering their own cobwebs -- largely because their founders (me included) created a platform and developed connections which allowed them to create the next phase of their literary career.  This blog served its purpose well, and th