Home Away from Home
Until recently, I worked in a small city, a village, really, where I could walk down to the main street at lunchtime, tug open a door, and lose myself for an hour in an independent bookstore. Entranced by the smell of fresh coffee, lulled by the creak of leather couches, I’d linger over the bookshelves every minute that I could. So many ideas, so little time.
A good bookstore is more than a repository of books for sale, it’s a community gathering spot, a marketplace of ideas, philosophies, helps, and sheer entertainment. Happily, reports of the demise of both reading and America’s independent bookstores are greatly exaggerated.
According to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts, literary reading, after falling in the last decades of the twentieth century, is on the rise again. Over half of adults report reading books in the last year, and almost 52 percent of young adults—an important cohort—read a short story or novel in the last twelve months. Pew Research echoes that finding—88 percent of Americans under the age of thirty read a book last year.
More good news: After leveling off at 1400 in 2009, the number of independent bookstores is now on the rise: As of May, there were 1664 indies in the United States. Indies have what Americans want—personalized, knowledgeable service and an atmosphere conducive to browsing.
These days I have to drive half an hour to get to my closest indie bookstore. Still, it’s worth it. Give me a cup of coffee, a leather couch, and a book, and I can be happy for hours. Apparently, so can many other folks.
Linda J. White writes FBI thrillers with a twist of faith. Her book, “Seeds of Evidence,” won a 2014 HOLT Medallion. She can be reached through her website, www.lindajwhite.com.