updated Oct. 5th : Pics, Events and other Snippets from our Crazy Bookstore World

Coming up soon –

Sat October 24th at 7pm
Jamie Laval – U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion Jamie Laval gives passionate performances of the traditional music of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Quebec, blending an ancient art form with stunning virtuosity and contemporary flair. Jamie performed on Dave Matthews’ platinum album Some Devil and has given a private performance for Her Majesty the Queen. An evening concert experience with Jamie combines toe-tapping melodies, amusing and informative stories, foot percussion, and an innovative arrangement style. This is a ‘house concert’ with a voluntary collection for the artist (suggested – general $20, unwaged $12).


Fri October 30th at 6 pm
Lyn Ford – A fourth-generation, nationally recognized, Affrilachian storyteller. A teaching artist with the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, and workshop facilitator with both OAAE and the Ohio State-Based Collaborative Initiative of the Kennedy Center. A Thurber House mentor. A writer, published in storytelling magazines and newsletters, as well as teachers’ enrichment books and story anthologies, and her own books. A recording artist with award-winning CDs. this event will start with themed food for which there will be a charge of $10.

Fri November 6th at 6 pm
Author Willie Dalton will be doing readings and signing books as well as talking about the herbal lore that infuses her writing. this event will start with themed food for which there will be a charge of $10.

Sat November 28th at 7 pm
Pete Clark and Gregor Lowrie are on tour from Scotland and will present an evening of fiddle and accordion music. This will be Pete’s third visit to Big Stone Gap but the first time for Gregor. A world renowned expert in the traditional fiddle music of Highland Perthshire, Pete teaches regularly in both the US and Scotland and has toured as far as India. Gregor is equally renowned as a tasteful and sympathetic accordionist. This is a ‘house concert’ with a voluntary collection for the artists.


MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Saturday July 11 at Tales of The Lonesome Pine LLC is a special Storytelling Supper with Shonaleigh Cumbers, teller-in-residence from Jonesboro. A 6 pm supper of traditional Jewish foods (with maybe a mountain fusion twist here or there) from Our Good Chef Kelley at Second Story Cafe will be followed about 7 pm, give or take, by Shonaleigh’s folktales from her heritage. Supper and stories are $20 per person; join us for dessert and stories only for $12 at 7 pm. Reservations required as we can only hold 18 people. Thanks!From time to time we get cute and post videos of things from the bookshop on youtube. Here are the links to:




and because Jack’s Big Stone Gap accent can be hard for unprepared ears, here is the text to go along with what he’s saying (from Little Bookstore Chapter 14, “Yarn Goddesses”)

A few months after we opened, our friend Isabel (she of the curling toes) ended her long reign as director of a preschool and donated all her children’s books and shelving to us. Although Isabel is a charming and fun person in and of herself, many people keep on her good side because of her years directing the preschool. Sometimes at a Tuesday night needlework session, as seven or eight women sit about the table knitting or crocheting, the Post will be lying open to a photo of—for instance—a former Big Stone Gapper, now a famous cardiovascular surgeon living in New York City, winning some[CE1]  national research award at the American Medical Association’s annual meeting. Isabel will glance at the photo and say, “Oh, I remember little Jimmy! He used to pick his nose and eat it. A doctor now? My goodness.”

Singer Nanci Griffith is right: everybody does die famous in a small town.

Isabel had the idea for a Needlework Night at our bookstore. “It will offer women with like interests the chance to get together and talk, relax, enjoy each other’s company,” she suggested. We were all for it, and Needlework Nights started monthly, but proved so popular they went weekly in their second year, Isabel at the helm sending newsletters chock-full of patterns, yarn management tips, and related activities. (She also ensures a steady supply of dark chocolate at the gatherings.)

Needlework Nights are akin to having car tires aligned, sans testosterone; they keep us running right as we check attitudes and adjust balances amid the quasi-spiritual atmosphere of feminine companionship. Regulars ebb and flow, but in addition to our fearless leader, Isabel, the group includes: Fiona, who has mastered every step in crafting a sweater from birthing the lamb to casting off the cuffs (and she once copped to knowing how to artificially inseminate ewes); Elizabeth, forbidden to tell any more stories about women in the ER with needles through their sternums because they knitted in a moving car; and Becky, our first barrel-full-of-laughs professional cleaning lady and world’s sweetest soul.

Along with these stalwarts of the bookstore’s inception, Needlework Night attracted Lynne, a lifelong Big Stone Gap resident who now winters in Florida and summers at the old homestead. Lynne, in her eighties and a cancer survivor, showed up at one of our Dulcimer Sundays (a jam session for mountain dulcimer players) and inspired us all; she became such a regular at the shop that she sometimes staffs it when Jack and I go on short holidays.

Part of the fun is never knowing what dynamic will be operating on any given night. For instance, if Joan and Ashia attend, we all try to behave ourselves because they are such dignified ladies, but the problem is that Isabel and I together really don’t retain dignity; it slides right through our “not in public” filters and runs out our sensible low-heeled pumps. Once we get started, well, it is an all-female group, so an hour rarely passes without someone uttering the word “penis.” Or calling down curses not normally heard from the mouths of steel magnolias of the mountain variety—at least, not in public.

And while we never outright told men they couldn’t be part of Needlework Nights, when a husband pulled his chair up to the table one evening, the girls, without a word or look passing between us, began telling childbearing stories. As Elizabeth launched into a detailed and vivid description of her daughter’s breached birth, Garth grew so pale that Jack appeared with a bottle of Scotch and hauled him upstairs. At the end of the night Kathy yelled, “Okay, y’all can come down now.” The boys returned with a rosy glow over their earlier pallor. Garth often came back to “keep Jack company” after that, but he never bellied up to the yarn bar again.

Malpas Wassail

In which Jack and Wendy act like complete idiots but viewers can see most of the bookstore’s rooms. Incidentally, my brilliant literary agent’s last name is Malpas.

14 responses to “updated Oct. 5th : Pics, Events and other Snippets from our Crazy Bookstore World

  1. Meg

    You guys look like you have an awesome time with your bookstore and lives! ~Meg

  2. LOVE it! You guys are too cute! We will definitely pay a visit when we’re ever in your neck of the woods!!!! ~Donna

  3. Dana Coates


  4. Just finished your book and it will be in my favourite and recommend list. My friend from Michigan USA recommended it. Many thanks Charmaine, Melbourne Australia

  5. Mimi Crosby

    I am so thrilled to have found Wendy’s book on my lovely Kindle! Now the blogs and website too. Sent off to that lovely Amazon and bought the book and sent to my daughter; an avid reader..buys her books at Goodwill..a teacher of SED children..and lives in Charlotesville! I shared the tales..some of them with her..hopefully get to visit you someday.

  6. Betty Wright

    Just finished reading your book and watching the video’s. LOVED everything! I am going to
    recommend the book to my book club. My
    daughter is waiting to read it now. Good Job!!

  7. Charolette

    I so enjoyed reading the book! Having moved back to my very small home town which has no book store of any kind it was nice to “visit” such a nice one through your words. Being a book lover in all of it’s forms I’d love to know more about the crafts made of old books, especially the angels.
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us.

  8. Sheila Reynolds

    Have been to your bookstore 2 summers in a row.I’m the gal from Cincinnati who bought your book by mistake! And loved loved loved it.Missed you last summer but enjoyed shopping and talking with your husband.I brought some over from the Reynolds family reunion that we had at Bullit Park.They fell in love with it too.Will be back in July for family reunion and look forward to stopping in.God bless you..

  9. Bobbie Taylor

    Any chance of getting the recipe for Jack’s shortbread? I’m leading our book club discussion of your book in Sept. and would like to offer them to our 25 members. Thanks!

    • Here you go Bobbie

      Sugar 3 ounces (1/3 cup)
      Flour 8 ounces (2 cups)
      Butter 6 ounces (1 and a half sticks)
      (all weights are dry – NOT fluid ounces)

      Sift flour and sugar into a bowl.

      After butter has softened at room temperature work it by hand into the mixed flour and sugar until it has become a fairly stiff dough (this will take a few minutes – be patient!).

      Dust your work-surface with flour and roll out the dough to about ½ inch thick. Cut rectangles about 7 inches by 3 inches and use a flat spatula to transfer them to a buttered baking tray.

      Use a fork to prick the surface of the dough rectangles all over.

      Place the tray in the oven preheated to 3750 .

      Keep checking until the edges of the rectangles are beginning to slightly brown (usually about 15 – 20 minutes).

      Remove from the oven and set the tray aside to cool. While the baked rectangles are still warm, carefully cut them into strips 3 inches by 1 inch (Jack uses a circular pizza cutter), then let them completely cool.

  10. Thank you so much! Bobbie

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