Tag Archives: books

Hello, is that Wendy?

book manJack’s guest blog will be Friday this week, due to internal Welch-Beck household circumstances involving a burst pipe.

See this guy made of books? That’s the profile picture of my Facebook friend Wendy Welch. She lives in Nevada, and she’s the one who found eight Wendy Welches and hooked us all together via a secret FB group.

But then, we couldn’t figure out which one of us was typing at any point, so we gave that up and emerged on the Internet–to the consternation of friends and relations. Navigating ‘twixt so many Wendys is tricky.

In addition to Wendy, who started the whole thing, there’s Wendy the graphic artist hippie in Tennessee, and of course Wendy the eye technician, and retired Wendy, and then Wendy runs a homesteading farm in New England. Not forgetting Wendy who lives in Northern Virginia; she and I are the only ones sharing a state, that we know of.

So far, confusion has been abated by our differing locations and jobs, but poor Wendy’s mother-in-law in Nevada is having a time of it. She keeps leaving the sweetest notes on my timeline, telling me she loves me and is so glad I married her son.

This makes Jack nervous.

It’s intriguing to meet other people with your name, especially when you find out you like them. Graphics Wendy has a wicked fun sense of humor. The other day she talked about invading her son’s room for laundry pick-up he’d forgotten to gather, saying, “I’ve never seen so many ironic t-shirts in one place in my life.” Homesteading Wendy lost her husband to cancer two years ago, and moves bravely forward creating a sustainable lifestyle with her dogs and chickens–who get along with each other, so she must be doing it right. Nevada Wendy’s approach to life is playful. We’re considering ganging up on our husbands online.

As a kid, riding in a car I couldn’t steer to destinations I hadn’t chosen, I’d look out the window and play a game. Pick a house, imagine what it would be like to be a completely different person, living in there. Neat, messy, full of extended family, isolated and empty? In high school, books with “start life over” plots fascinated me: new identities, yuppies who upped stakes to become desert ranchers, that kind of thing.

Perhaps this winding circle of namesakes is the grown-up version of these, but I feel my life has been enriched by the embrace of so many strong, sweet, funny Wendy Welches within it.

A battering of Wendys…. look out world, here we come.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

Hidden Pleasures in the Night

One of the coolest things about running a bookstore is the nighttime raids. On any given evening, when the shop is closed and Jack and I head downstairs to our bedroom den, one of us might say, “Oh, I finished my book.” Thus begins a pleasant twenty minutes of discovery.

Jack and I take turns minding the store, so while we each have a really good idea of inventory, things are likely to come in on the other’s watch that we don’t yet know about. Trolling the shelves brings happy surprises. “Oh, I didn’t know we had the latest Sarah Allen!” Or “Hmm, a book about building fake ship docks and air bases during World War II.”

The little gems sit on our shelves waiting for us to traverse a section, not straightening, not searching, just browsing. It is such a pleasure to browse one’s own bookstore. And that “you can’t judge a book by its cover” thing? Hah. Yes you can. You can tell what’s targeting women – hello gorgeous ballgowns or period dresses with the wearer’s head not shown on the cover–and what’s marketed toward lit lite readers, covers edged in a dignified gilt frame, or photos of faraway cities and characters splashed behind a new author’s name.

A gorgeous photo, the judicious use of color, a drawing where a second glance reveals a second meaning: these are guaranteed to make me flip the book and read the blurb. If I’m not hooked by then, I do the random test taught me by a browsing customer years ago. Open to page 123 and read it. If the author’s writing is personally appealing, take the book downstairs. If not, there are 35,ooo more to browse.

I don’t think this would work if we didn’t live here, as we’re too absent-minded to remember to bring the books back once we’ve read them. And of course, if someone wants something, we have to bring it up from the den. I once sold a book Jack was reading from right off the nightstand, removing his bookmark and swearing later I didn’t remember seeing it. (Don’t tell him; he still doesn’t know I did that.)

Yeah, it’s a business. But when the main lights go out, and the relaxed evening hunt for something to read begins, it’s pure hedonistic happiness to live in a bookstore.

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Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, Life reflections, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing