I often get asked why I want to open a book store. It’s a good question given the availability of online retailers. I can answer with the generic, “I love books,” or, “I want to make a difference in a Detroit neighborhood,” which I do. But there are many opportunities in the city to promote reading and to make a difference, so why a book store?
Books made a difference in my life. I didn’t grow up in a reading house so there weren’t books on shelves or tables or anywhere else. My mom took me to the library, but I don’t remember the trip so it must not have made an impression. Plus, those were the “QUIET!” days in the library; maybe I got scolded. The stories in books became real to me in high school with the required reading of the classics like The Scarlet Letter and The Grapes of Wrath. I complained with the rest of the kids that they were boring, but secretly I liked them, and I started reading on my own. Little Women, 1984, and The Secret Garden were some of my favorites. I moved on to more contemporary fiction through college and into the working world.
In graduate school I seemed to have more time to read, and I re-read many classics, especially books by Emily Bronte and Jane Austin. There have been times in my life when I didn’t have the time or energy to read, like all those baby years. I turned to non-fiction for practical advice and easy to read fiction. I read Oprah Book Club books until they got too depressing for a light read (House of Sand and Fog threw me over the edge.) My point is that reading continued to provide entertainment, advice, and a new look at the world. Historical fiction, which may be my favorite genre, presented the past in a readable form and helped me understand cultural traditions and differences. Reading to my children was an experience that is hard to describe – discovery, laughs, and warm little bodies next to me.
These are the experiences that brought me to where I am today. So why a bookstore? I want to share my passion for reading as a way to connect, both to stories and to each other. Even though reading seems to be a solitary activity, it can lead to great conversations between people. My book store will provide a gathering space to share the stories within books.