3 best gifts for readers: part II

Books.  Books.  Books.  Is there anything else?

When you give someone a book, not only are you wrapping up a passport good for entry into an enchanted storyline but you’re giving yourself the pleasure of passing an hour or so in the idyllic splendor of your local independent bookstore.  This week Two or Three Little Birds invites you to roam the stacks with us as we take you to some of our favorite shops.

 

Reading Our Way From Ashland to Portland

Many find themselves in Ashland, Oregon some glorious summer evening during the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and we were no different.  On a road trip to visit family and friends, my little loves and I stopped in for one night with tickets to see an all-female cast perform Two Gentlemen of Verona in the outdoor Elizabethan Theater.  Ashland is a delightful village nestled in a valley at the base of oak-studded foothills just north of the California border.  With a university population and a steady stream of well-heeled theater-goers, it’s the perfect place to pop off the interstate for a delicious meal followed by a stroll through one of the best children’s bookstores I’ve ever visited.  Tree House Books lies at the end of the main drag near the theater complex and among a collective of pubs and creekside cafés.  Grab a bite to eat and then head inside where magic, the kind of magic you can only find in Oregon, awaits . . .

On the particular day we entered the store, the owner happened to be working behind the counter, festooned in fairy garb and ready for storytime.  Wings and facepaint and glitter.  She had it all.  The shop is small, perfect for little visitors who otherwise get lost in larger book shops.  In the center of the store my littlest love discovered an apothecary devoted to all sorts of wizardry.  Tiny clear glass bottles for potions in various sizes.  Jars of herbs and everything a Harry Potter fan could possibly need for imaginative play.  Along the front window were more jars filled with treasures of all kinds, and most importantly, we found well-stocked shelves with all the titles we were looking for.  In the back of the store my oldest love came upon two narrow black doors and discovered a passageway leading to a separate room called The Secret World, an old bank vault cleverly decorated and dedicated entirely to Young Adult fiction.  It looked like a tween fantasyland, with tree trunks climbing the walls, chandeliers, twinkle lights and large mushroom shaped chairs for curling up on with a favorite book.

treehouse_apothecarysign          treehouse_apothecarywizard

treehouse_secretworld          treehouse_secretceiling

Some say there are spiritual vortexes all over Oregon, and I think this shop is built right on top of one.  You walk through the door and are transported into another world.  Customers are not only treated to the wonderful merchandise, but the imaginative silly-fun owners also host story time and clever reading and writing programs like Tree House Secret Book Club and the Time Travel Portal Game featured in the Day-3 video clip below.  You have to see the magic for yourselves — a bookstore that offers a virtual young writer’s workshop?  that introduces narrative devices and takes young writers through the storytelling process?  Tree House Books is one of a kind, and it’s only in Ashland.

If you’re like me, you will want to get in your car in Ashland and just drive straight through to Portland.  But if you have lovely people to visit along the way, then by all means make a stop at While Away Books and Espresso in Roseburg.  Littlest love poked around here with her grandpa and had no trouble finding something she liked.  Sip fair-trade coffee and nibble on something sweet from Lighthouse Bakery while you browse the new and used book selection, and you’ve got yourself a much more pleasant pit stop than the few minutes you’d otherwise spend filling up at Love’s Travel Stop along the highway.

powells_mainregisterYour final destination is, of course, Powell’s Books in Portland.  A full city block several stories high.  I think I flat lined when I walked in the door, it’s that overwhelming.  A bookish Mecca, they call themselves THE CITY of BOOKS for good reason and know that everyone who enters the door is immediately smellbound.  Let’s just say one could plan an entire weekend sojourn just around a visit to Powell’s.  The literature section is as large as my entire house, with shelves so high I needed a ladder to reach Edward St. Aubyn.  I dare say, I think this bookstore was too big, if that’s possible.  I felt overwhelmed, and there were so many other literary tourists with guidebooks and binoculars stepping all about, mouth agape just like me.  I felt like I was in the Louvre jockeying to see the Mona Lisa or three rows back trying to toss my coin in Trevi Fountain.  But it is a must see.  You simply have to make your pilgrimage there, and when you’ve made it up to the top floor, where the rare book room is located, then you can say you’ve seen it all and head for another Portlandish line over at Voodoo Donuts.  And where you go from there is entirely up to you.  With a book and a maple bacon donut, you can’t go wrong.

powells_stairs       powells_ireaddeadpeople


 

Are you someone who likes to pop into bookstores during your travels?  Have you got an especially sacred independent bookstore tucked away in your hometown?  Two or Three Little Birds welcomes readers to submit their reviews via the contact form available on this website.  Happy reading!

For a full list of all the stores reviewed on this blog, visit our page Support Independent Booksellers

If you liked this post, you might enjoy mission district bookstores

[dot_recommends]    Email This Post

3 best gifts for readers: part I

Books.  Books.  Books.  Is there anything else?

When you give someone a book, not only are you wrapping up a passport good for entry into an enchanted storyline but you’re giving yourself the pleasure of passing an hour or so in the idyllic splendor of your local independent bookstore.  This week Two or Three Little Birds invites you to roam the stacks with us as we take you to some of our favorite shops.

 

Parnassus Bookstore, Nashville TN

from guest blogger Matt Pennington

Nashville was cold and windy on the October day I visited Parnassus Bookstore. The celebrated American author Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, The Patron Saint of Liars) could not abide the thought of living in a city where there was no functioning bookstore and so she and a fellow book lover opened their city center store in a strip mall across from a bustling shopping center. You need to know where you’re going if you want to find Parnassus Books. It’s tucked away among the locksmiths, tanning salons and frozen yogurt. It’s a busy, congested part of town but once you pull open the glass doors, all the cold and the wind and the traffic melt away and you are enveloped in the fragrance of books. I imagine that in the beginning the store was merely a long unadorned space but now it’s lined with golden oak shelving procured from the local closure of Borders Bookstores. It’s filled with soft light, classical music and beautifully organized books, clearly arranged and displayed by people who love reading.

You blow in the front doors and to your left is a wonderfully curated display of local cultural events. And then an entire wall of Patchett’s signed books. In the center of the store, tables are set with staff selections and recommendations, complete with small handwritten place cards indicating the particular merits of each individual treasure. By meandering you instantly have a sense of the organization of their offerings and there are plenty of treasures in this uncluttered emporium. As you move to the rear of the store you pass benches for resting with the book of your interest. There is an culinary alcove with mouthwatering cover photos and over a central display table descend a flock of lights surrounded by metal bird shapes. Toward the rear of the shop behind the art and photography books is a tiny columned entryway for little readers to enter their domain. This entire children’s section is lit with hanging star lanterns and it is here in this magical enclosed space that storytelling takes place.

IMG_0199               IMG_0202

IMG_0193               sparky

On my visit I procured Christmas presents of several pre-signed copies of Patchett’s books and book bags with the imprinted store logo. And for some friends who recently moved into a new home I also purchased a lovely, elongated volume decorated with book illustrations intended for the signature of their guests. Ann Patchett has a dog named “Sparky,” who is the store mascot. One of my friends was extremely disappointed on the day of our visit that Sparky was absent — I on the other hand was disappointed that Ann Patchett was absent — it would have been thrilling to meet her and listen to her recommendations . . . and tell my friends that she personally selected their Christmas presents! I haven’t a single complaint — the staff was knowledgeable, unobtrusive, cheerful — the space wonderfully appointed and the selection of books complete with a few surprising treasures for my own collection. In spite of the temperature and the traffic, Nashville has great appeal: delicious restaurants, an outstanding music scene, beautiful surrounding scenery . . . and one delightful bookstore!   If you visit Parnassus and Ann Patchett is there — please have her personally sign a book for me . . . Christmas is right around the corner!

A place isn’t a place until it has a bookstore.  ~ Gabrielle Zevin via Goodreads

IMG_0208crop

 When not traveling or reading, Pennington blogs at journalofacountrypriest.com


 

Are you someone who likes to pop into bookstores during your travels?  Have you got an especially sacred independent bookstore tucked away in your hometown?  Two or Three Little Birds welcomes readers to submit their reviews via the contact form available on this website.  Happy reading!

For a full list of all the stores reviewed on this blog, visit our page Support Independent Booksellers

If you liked this post, you might enjoy guest blogger on NYC bookstores or 3 best gifts for readers: part II

 

[dot_recommends]    Email This Post

that kind of girl

I’ve just surfaced from spending several days in a state of rapture — with a book.  I loved this book.  I loved every second of it.

~ Nora Ephron “On Rapture”

This week The New York Times published its dizzying  100 Notable Books of 2014.  Which means it must be time to find that perfect book for the reader on your list.  Well, this is your lucky day.  You’ve caught me in the midst of a reading vortex, and with several stories swirling around my nightstand, there’s got to be something just right for you!  I’m not sure if it’s a fear of commitment or what, but I haven’t been able to settle on one book, and if this isn’t a good enough distraction from essay grading, I’m following a couple of gripping television narratives, too.  Here’s a peek at my eclectic stack and for what it’s worth, my sense of how thing’s are going. [Read more…]

[dot_recommends]    Email This Post