A Cuppa and a Swirling Spiral

On Boxing Day we had a full shop: people spending their Christmas gift money; locals bringing visiting family to say hi; people who read Little Bookstore and were traveling for the holidays, who came close enough to stop in and say hi.

It’s like a gift that keeps on giving; people who have read Little Bookstore are starting to stop by, or to make plans to come in the Spring. As anyone who knows us knows, Jack and I delight in the ebb and flow of disparate people swirling around the books here. Sure, it’s nice when they buy them (helps keep the dogs in chewy sticks) but it’s also fun when they just sit and have a cuppa, and chat.

John and his missus got off the highway on their way to visit his elderly dad. John lives in Asheville, and the pair of them work in schools so underfunded they now have circuit riding librarians instead of full-timers. We had a good chat about their work with Romany prejudice in Romania, fights for library funding in North Carolina, and other acts of social justice and self-awareness.

And we’ve met other people who think differently about these things–or think about other things altogether–and enjoyed them just as much. Fellow bookslinger Glen has a radically different view of how the world should work, and we like him just fine. He made us tea and we talked ideas when we were in his Tennessee bookshop, and did the same when he visited ours.

The people enjoying Little Bookstore are varied in geography and opinion. The ones too far afield like our shop on Facebook and leave cool memes about rescuing shelter animals and other interesting topics. Some of them think armed guards should be at all American schools. Some of them think teachers should be sent once a week to all American gun stores.

It’s a wide continuum, but the part Jack and I like best is that it is less a straight line from “think this” to “think that” than people who think for themselves wanting to talk AND listen. The absolute best chats are when people debate not to win, but to gain. They want understanding of things they haven’t considered yet, points of view not from their own eyes. We’ve seen a couple such chats go down in the bookstore; we learn things; the people talking to each other learn things; we all drink tea.

Perhaps people with differing ideas don’t fall in a straight line from left to right so much as a spiral; one person’s left is another’s right; my point of no return is your slight incline to an altered viewpoint. Spirals do have beginnings and endings, but they have a lot of climbing and curving before you can find either one.

Perhaps this is what bookshops are for: to give people access to ideas in a safe environment for exploring them? And cups of tea.

 coffee cup  Stock Photo - 9722359



Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA

7 responses to “A Cuppa and a Swirling Spiral

  1. Mike Readey

    Most Americans don’t even know the significance of Boxing Day!

  2. I cannot quite get my head around the image of “circuit riding librarians ” which makes me think of former colleagues doing a mix of cross-country eventing and dog agility on horseback with a clutch of books under each arm. Maybe its more like some sort of mobile library but the former image is more fun.

    • Worse, Liz: the poor librarian races across her county to staff each school library within it in turn, for just a couple of hours each day. The kids get class library visits once a week, or once every other week, depending. The library is closed the rest of the time.

  3. Just to let you know about 1 Constant Reader of your blog here.


  4. Wendy, I’m new to reading your blog; but I’m proud to say I’ve been into the shop (on a rainy Christmas Eve), met you both, bought the book, admired your pet group, and am planning the next trip to BSG for autographed copies (I’ll check first to make sure you’re in) for loved ones who will love it as much as I do. It was a lucky day I had the radio on early one morning and heard you talk about “The Little Book Store of Big Stone Gap”.

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