First aired on As It Happens (11/24/11)
It's not every day that one is able to walk into a local bookstore and receive reading recommendations from a critically acclaimed author. But the folks in Nashville, Tennessee, can.
That's because Ann Patchett, author of the bestselling Bel Canto
and a Nashville resident, started Parnassus Books
after the city's two main bookstores closed down recently. Although the chain-owned stores were both profitable, Patchett said, the head companies themselves had gone bankrupt, forcing the closures.
"In the period of just, like, four months I think it was, both of the stores in town closed, and we have used bookstores in town, but as a novelist who writes new books, as opposed to used books, there was no place to sell my books anymore [in my own city]," Patchett said to As It Happen's Carol Off in an interview.
"When my last book, State of Wonder
, came out [in June 2011], a frame shop called and also my local alterations shop, and said that they would sell the books. So if somebody said 'Where can I go buy your book?' I'd say 'Go to Stitch It, go to the alteration shop.'"
The author believed that someone in the area would start up a new bookstore, and although many expressed interest in doing so, nobody committed to it.
That's when she met Karen Hayes, a sales rep with HarperCollins, through a mutual friend. Hayes was determined to open a new bookstore in Nashville, but didn't have the money. Patchett decided to invest, and the author now finds herself owning her own bookstore.
The grand opening took place earlier this month and Patchett has learned she has a talent for something other than writing: recommending books to customers.
"It is really fun going into your own bookstore and going up to someone and saying, 'Oh, you have that book? Lemme get you this book. I know what you want to read, let's talk about books.'"
To find out more about Patchett's bookstore, listen to the full interview in the clip below.
Ann Patchett's current book recommendations:
- The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
- Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie
- Train Dreams by Denis Johnson
- The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
- The All of It by Jeannette Halen