Life is not tidy

Where to begin? Here’s a sampling…

  • Hard to believe it’s been almost a month since my last post. The American Heartland Bookstore Tour 2023 was a wonder! So many great people along the way, adventures, new places discovered, delicious foods – and we did the entire tour out of a 2014 Subaru CrossTrek. I hope anyone who considered doing a traveling bookstore but thought they couldn’t do it without a van, now knows it can be done with a smallish car. You just have to have the upper body strength and a very good friend sharing the tour to help with loading/unloading boxes of books daily.
  • The van is fixed!!!! And the incredible mechanics who sorted it out said it will hold up for years so I’m already thinking where the traveling bookstore will adventure in 2024, 2025, …
  • Continuing this summer at all bookstore events, besides a selection of great used books, you can purchase ink made from guns. This ink, the man who makes it, and the process are all remarkable. If you do calligraphy, paint, or enjoy experimenting with dipping ink for drawing – you will be tempted. Read more about it here Thomas Little and A Rural Pen Inkworks.
  • And where are these bookstore events you might be asking? Most Wednesdays in the summer from 3:30pm – 6pm, catch the traveling bookstore at the Eureka (MT) Farmers Market. Most Thursdays, the bookstore is set up from 3:00pm – 6:30pm at the Farmers Market in Libby (MT). Then there are special events like the Pride Festival in Libby (MT) on July 8 from 11am – 6pm, the Backwoods Accordion Festival on July 22 from 2:00pm – 8:00pm in Trego (MT) at the Trego Pub and General Store, and the Lincoln County Fair in Eureka (MT) August 25 – 27. No doubt there will be others but this gets us started. We will certainly get up to the Yaak at least once.
  • A customer in Libby who bought a pile of books, said the thing he likes most about the traveling bookstore is the eclectic selection. He said it in such a positive way, the comment made my day.
  • I sent off a package with two letters and seven photos (actual printed photos – not the kind people show you on their phone) to Jan Svěrák, the Czech film director, encouraging him to make a film about the traveling bookstore. Get in touch with him if you happen to know the guy to say what a great idea this is. Thanks.
  • Someone recently told me they were surprised more people didn’t know about this eclectic traveling bookstore. It doesn’t surprise me because after all I am one person with a very average size van. But I am always ready to try new events, other places. All it takes is an invite to set up the traveling bookstore at a birthday party, a book club, a literary dinner or other festive affair. As well as at a cafe, pub, art gallery, etc. Drop me a line. Events outside of Montana are typically done during the spring or fall as part of a longer tour. In Montana, summer is a great time to suggest something.

Reading on the road

As seems typical with a traveling bookstore tour, we end up reading various books while on the road. I had started the tour reading Jodi Picoult’s Spark of Light. But then one gig in, someone bought it as I had laid it down on the table while helping a customer. So I began The Buried Giant, an intense fantasy novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. It immediately drew me in and I actually got a third through before it was packed up with the other books and it took a few days before I could locate it again.

In the meantime, I started Bewilderment by Richard Powers after a recommendation by a customer. Oh my. This is the sort of book I should not be reading while working the bookstore. I would pick it up between customers and immediately become absorbed. Yvetta took a photo of me reading while set up at the Root Cafe in Little Rock. I didn’t even realize she was taking the photo until she showed it to me later. Yes, even sitting in a parking lot next to a very lively cafe, while supposedly tending the bookstore, I can become one with a book. I now keep that book with my suitcase, limiting myself to reading it in the evening.

This is what happens when one is surrounded by wonderful books calling out to be read. And in a setting where keeping track of the book one is reading is not always easy (or desirable). Even Yvetta has fallen prey to having various books going at once. She began the tour reading The Hungarian Who Walked to Heaven: Alexander Csoma De Koros by Edward Fox. This is a small and incredible gem, hard to even find these days for a reasonable price (I sincerely wish someone would re-print it). The true story of a man who walked from Hungary/Romania to the border of India and Tibet searching out the origins of the Magyar language. If you ever come across this book, don’t hesitate for a minute to get it. Then as we were sourcing books at a thrift store, Yvetta found the young adult book, I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda, which seemed to call her name. Being more organized than I am around books, Yvetta did keep I Will Always Write Back in her bag along with The Hungarian Who Walked to Heaven so neither was snatched up by customers or shuffled into boxes with other books, and she reads them at appropriate times. I am amazed by her ability to know exactly where her books are everyday and not get engrossed in these books when we set up.

But then she chanced upon Entrepreneur Extraordinary: The Biography of Tomas Bata by Anthony Cekota. Tomas Bata has a fascinating story. I am patiently waiting for Yvetta to finish that book so I can start it. I’ve had the good fortune to visit Zlin in the Czech Republic, to tour the Zlin Museum of Shoemaking and learn something about Bata’s life. And I will mention another Czech author we carried briefly on this tour, Petr Sis. We had his delightful children’s book, Madlenka. All of Sis’s books are a joy to read and to look at with his beautiful illustrations. Hopefully more will pass through the traveling bookstore in tours to come.

This tour, the American Heartland Tour 2023, is nearly over. We have three more stops in Sheridan WY, White Sulphur Springs MT and Libby MT before reaching home. It has been a wonderful experience despite various bumps along the way. But the people – all those who graciously hosted us and then the customers who make a bookstore tour possible – have been a delight. It is an experience that renews one’s faith in humanity. And the places! I wish that you too find a way to explore this country, stopping along the way for conversations, to hear individuals’ stories, and to eat at places like Rosie’s Diner.


This bookstore tour – and we are only one week in – could be its own book. How to capture the highlights/lowlights, the people, the impressions and the reflections?

The traveling bookstore has a new look. The Sprinter van is sitting home, waiting for my return and a discussion with the mechanics about what can be done. So currently the bookstore does its traveling in a Subaru Crosstrek, then pops out of the car in all its glory. It took Yvetta (co-traveler on this tour) and me a few days to figure it out. Actually it took a rather large and very gracious committee to figure it out. Matthew of Beyond Graphics emailed a file of the bookstore’s logo to Marla in Bozeman. By the time we reached Bozeman (our first stop on the tour), Marla had two large signs made for us!

Bookstore at Constellation Studios

That first gig (Bozeman) happened on a blustery day with wind blowing, temps low, and occasional snow. The books had been packed and thus displayed in cardboard boxes which weren’t looking as though they would survive a month on the road. That’s when Oskar came by, immediately saw the problem, went back home and returned in twenty minutes with plastic milk crates which help immeasurably. By the time we pulled into Casper, WY for the second gig, we felt we were doing better except it was still a challenge to balance all the books, crates and boxes on one table, and not a very large table as it needs to fit in the Subaru. So we expanded our children’s book section to the ground with drop cloths and a pillow.

Third gig was at the University of Nebraska Lincoln and we felt we were rocking it. The kind folks there lent us a second table so we had fiction, nonfiction and children’s books all neatly divided and enough room for students to enjoy perusing our selections. It was an incredible event sponsored by the UPC. So many young people got books during that day, we nearly ran out! Their enthusiasm for reading was truly inspiring. We closed early to restock – checking out thrift stores and putting out the word to everyone possible who might have books to donate.

As often happens with this traveling bookstore venture, I am at a loss for words how to capture it. There we are sourcing books in any way possible, and selling them. And not only getting books donated, but getting help in all sorts of ways. Besides the university, MAP Brewery in Bozeman, Backwards Distillery in Casper, and Constellation Studios in Lincoln, NE provided space for us to set up. We arrived in Arkansas yesterday, and already folks here are pitching in. Debby found a popup tent we can borrow if needed. The public library in Lincoln offered to let us set up inside the library to avoid possible rain. The people managing the Eureka Springs Community Center also offered to have us set up inside (looks like three solid days of rain in the region).

Quote from Barry Lopez exhibit at Sheldon Museum, NE

Folks we are staying with in Canehill, Arkansas introduced Yvetta to gumbo and cornbread for dinner. In Lincoln, NE, we had a delicious Ethiopian meal (another first for Yvetta). In Bozeman, our hosts fixed us lasagna after that very challenging first day on the road in the snow without the van. A fortifying meal that helped carry us forward. And the conversations! Art, the environment, politics, literature and, of course, place. We stayed with an individual whose family has lived in Montana for seven generations. And Lincoln, NE is a sanctuary city so there are wonderful individuals from all over the world. We spoke with people who are actively engaged in trying to make their community safe and welcoming. A young student at the university selected a book on Japanese culture. I thought perhaps he was an international studies major – but no, he is studying engineering. He told me learning about other cultures is interesting for him, and also gives him insight on himself.

The tour gives me hope people are caring, thoughtful and willing to reach out to others. Even as I hear the dismal news about the Montana legislature barring Zooey Zephyr, read about various groups trying to ban books, or how some people want to overturn environmental protection, there are individuals we are meeting on this trip who give me hope. Now I need to learn how to use these experiences to do more in my life, with my words.

On the edge

Today should be the day I back the bookstore out of the driveway and head to Bozeman, the first stop on the American Heartland bookstore tour. And today gives me pause to reflect on many things about having a traveling bookstore, driving it from Montana to Mississippi on this trip, and all the people and places that are part of that journey. Another piece of today is waiting for a phone call from the mechanic letting me know the bookstore is road worthy.

Monday while having the pre-trip list checked off – oil change, tire pressure, windshield wiper fluid – Wade who does these things, told me he noticed a belt and a couple pulleys that needed to be replaced immediately. If I lived in an urban area, this might not have had the weight that living in Eureka, MT had when I heard this diagnosis. To the best of my knowledge, the closest Mercedes diesel mechanic is in Libby (75 miles away). Wade also told me he called around to auto parts shops in Eureka, and none had the parts I needed. They would have to be shipped overnight.

After four phone calls, I found a place in Eureka I had never heard of before. “Just call Rick,” one of the other mechanics in town told me. So I did. Steve answered the phone. Steve and Rick are the owners of Deep Creek Diesel. I explained the situation, and was told to bring the bookstore to their garage. The next hour involved Steve examining the van, and the two of them problem-solving the fastest way to get the best parts and get me on the road.

This all triggered two thoughts. First – does anyone with a brick-and-mortar bookstore write a blog about their harrowing adventures? If you know of any, please message me their name(s). It will provide a bit of comfort and solidarity as I travel through my bookselling world. The second thought was how much I enjoyed listening to the stories Rick and Steve told as we sat in their office.

Yes, getting a later-than-planned start means missing an event today in Bozeman (tour of the MTPBS studio), but I will trust that can be rescheduled. In the meantime, I found two good people who happen to be diesel mechanics and great storytellers. And when the bookstore is on the road, crossing the mountains, sailing across the plains, I’ll have confidence all parts are working well.


In novels, there are all sorts of meetings between strangers. Roger Mifflin meets Helen McGill in Morley’s Parnassus on Wheels, and within a few pages, Helen buys Roger’s traveling bookstore. Or the children meet the new neighbors who move into their neighborhood, being inspired and inspiring in the children’s book Araboolies of Liberty Street. Or Anne Tyler’s Ladder of Years where we watch Delia walk away from her old life to discover different aspects of herself, meeting new people along the way (this novel always comes together in my mind with the film, Pane e Tulipani).

I assume in most of our lives we have unexpected encounters that blossom. Someone sitting across from me in the California Zephyr’s dining car.  Or Deb and Chris who stopped by the traveling bookstore in North Carolina five years ago and we immediately began talking about literature and the humanities, and have remained in touch. This April, I’ll stay with them while doing a bookstore tour through Arkansas. Or last fall, I searched out possible connection for some place to stay with my bookstore while in Brookings, SD for the state’s annual book festival.  I was finally given the contact for a couple and knew by the time I left town after the festival, that Phyllis and Jihong and I had begun a friendship.

There was an afternoon eight years ago in Eureka while helping out at a local nonprofit’s office that I answered the phone. An employee who worked on the American side of the US-Canadian border (seven miles north of Eureka) was processing a young Cuban family seeking asylum. She asked if someone could please come to help this family as they didn’t have transportation or a place to stay once their initial paperwork was completed.  When I got to the border, I met Maie, Adonis and their young daughter.

After four days during which we figured out their options, the family moved to Helena, found jobs, had another daughter, filled out volumes of paperwork, became US citizens, got better jobs, and this week came back to Eureka to visit. It was remarkable to hear all they’ve accomplished, to see the two girls growing up confident, curious, and smart. To recognize the roles we played in each other’s lives, and to appreciate the value of these connections.

Yes, there are plot lines and arcs in novels – some more feasible than others. But for me, I believe there are connections we can nurture in our lives, opportunities to engage with a new person, to discover shared interests. At times it feels almost effortless. Like showing up at Phyllis and Jihong’s house in South Dakota and immediately feeling there was more to talk about than we could possibly fit into the three days.  Or picking up Adonis and Maie at the border, awed by their decision to move without contacts to a new country, and wanting to know these brave individuals better.

Of course, the traveling bookstore presents countless opportunities to meet new people. On this upcoming bookstore tour, Vicki, a friend of a friend in Caspar offered to put us up and even helped find a gig for the bookstore at Backwards Distillery. Karen Kunc of Constellation Studios again was a friend of a friend. I connected with her last fall in Lincoln, NE and have the good fortune of going back to Lincoln on this April tour. We will be staying at her beautiful studios and also setting the bookstore up there on April 25.

Perhaps you are thinking it doesn’t always work out so well. That there are some encounters where the new person is a jerk, or perhaps not all that interesting. But as with much in life, you have to take a gamble. And sometimes it is so worth it, to end up forming a connection with a remarkable individual who you are thankful for. So please, when not reading a book, consider talking to that person who is standing behind you in line at the movies, or who is perusing titles in the same aisle at a bookstore, or is even next to you waiting to cross the street. Lots of possibilities out there for you.

Two roads converge

Over the past few days, two things came together, but how will I know if they would also come together for you? Perhaps a way to begin is to explain I picked up a book from the library, and I attended a county health board meeting. The book is Maryanne Wolf‘s Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World. So many ideas to think about and enjoy in reading this volume which barely holds two hundred pages. It is engagingly dense with ideas and sources that expand in so many directions I hardly know how to hold it all in my head. Half way through, I decided I wanted to start again, at the beginning, and perhaps convince a friend or two, or maybe our local book club to give it a try so there is someone(s) to discuss this book with me.

The same day I picked the book up from the library, I went to the monthly county health board meeting. In a rural county in northwest Montana, it’s a board composed of seven community volunteers who serve “to prevent disease and illness, ensure a healthy environment and promote healthy choices by setting county-wide policies to protect the health of county residents.” One might think that although this board had been sorely tested with Covid, that in general the board would meet monthly to make decisions on air quality, animal control and solid waste disposal. And yes, these topics are on their list of responsibilities but Covid and other issues over the last three or four years forced the board to deal with politicized topics such as vaccines, masks and quarantines.

Do you attend public health board meetings? As I haven’t been to health board meetings in other places, I don’t know if the one here is typical. At last evening’s meeting, there were thirtysome people attending to give public comment on whether the county should have a pandemic influenza plan and if so, what details that plan would contain (a note that during the meeting the terms influenza and Covid were often used interchangeably by some people). Most of the people on the public side of the table strongly voiced their opinion that we didn’t need a pandemic plan and if there was a plan that contained anything about vaccines or quarantines that they, the people speaking at that time, would not comply. Terms like freedom, civil disobedience, and Constitutional rights were voiced often and loudly. It was the first time I heard the word bio-weapon used to describe a vaccine. It was the first time I understood there were people in my community who saw the county health board as a threat to personal freedoms.

In her book, Wolf describes the process for learning to read. No doubt you’ll agree reading is a very special skill. It is a skill according to Wolf and others in the field, that we have to learn. Reading deeply as Wolf puts it, does all sorts of amazing things to our brain and its development. It is a skill that we can learn, use, and hopefully strengthen over time. Unfortunately it seems from studies that Wolf refers to as well as research done by Sherry Turkle, that the digital age while giving us many useful things, also changes things about who we are. People read less and differently, not only fewer books, but reading less in depth because news, messages, emails, and such are on our screen in shorter snatches of words. Complex ideas, beautiful language and critical thinking seem to be slipping away.

Wolf wrote, “When language and thought atrophy, when complexity wanes and everything becomes more and more the same, we run great risks in society politic – whether from the extremists in a religion or a political organization or, less obviously, from advertisers. Whether cruelly enforced or subtly reinenforced, homogenization in groups, societies, or languages can lead to the elimination of whatever is different or ‘other.’ The protection of diversity within human society is a principle that was embodied in our Constitution and long before that in our genetic cerebrodiversity. As described by geneticists, futurists, and most recently Toni Morrison in her book The Origin of Others, diversity enhances the advancement of our species’ development, the quality of our life on our connected planet, and even our survival.”

As a bookstore owner, I encourage people to read. Reading books and newspapers gives and requires more from me than surfing the Internet. Often I find myself discussing what I read, thinking about the content, the ideas not just in the nanosecond of reading them but throughout the day, the week. And reading Wolf’s book made me examine my responses during that health board meeting, and of others at that meeting. I did learn things listening to those opposed to the pandemic plan. I also experienced a situation that lacked empathy – in how some individuals interrupted the meeting, how one person actually voiced he did not feel respected by board members, how at times I felt an inner smirk at something said. With very real differences and divides evident in Helena, MT and Washington, DC, at the health board meeting and at a dinner party, don’t we need a modicum of respect, a willingness to listen? Or are these evaporating like people reading books? And how do we act empathically when the current divisions feel so daunting?

Maryanne Wolf: Reader, Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World

Sherry Turkle: Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other

Sherry Turkle: The Empathy Diaries

Interview with Sherry Turkle

Toni Morrsion: The Origin of Others

Sometimes it is a mixture

As a woman in her seventies, and as a person with friends of all ages, I think of aging and death. Aren’t these facts of life? We are born, we live, we die – hoping we do as much with our lives as humanly possible. At least that is how I think of it. On the train the other day, another passenger (a truly delightful older German woman) asked, “What do you believe happens to you after you die?” I didn’t have a simple answer for her, but it did lead us into a fascinating conversation.

What has surprised me though on this trip, as well as when I am out with the bookstore traveling about or having dinner with friends in Montana, is the number of people who seem to think one is born, one lives and lives. They don’t care to think about aging or – heaven forbid – to think about their death.

Aging and death are complicated topics especially in the US where many people don’t have sufficient healthcare, or access to social support services. This isn’t the place to delve into what more can be done on that besides voting and community involvement. I do feel compelled to talk with people about aging and death though because I believe it will happen to us all. And yes, I’m all for being as prepared as possible. For each of us, at least giving it some thought, exploring options if there are options, can be a place to start.

Recently I was in Detroit which is a city that far exceeded my expectations. Like all large cities, it has its problems. But it also has so many talented artists and musicians, beautiful murals covering downtown, numerous new institutions starting up and other ones continuing from the past century. It was indeed a treat to visit Amos Kennedy‘s studio where he births amazing posters speaking truth to power. Signal-Return also has a letterpress focus, and it about to move into larger digs. Signal-Return is a nonprofit offering classes and events to spread the word about printing. The MBAD African Bead Museum was astonishing, and moving. A sculpture space I could have spent hours in. And then there is the Heidelberg Project! All in one city and this doesn’t even begin to describe the range of restaurants, cafes, small shops, and – yes – bookstores. On this trip, I had the opportunity to visit the John K King Bookstore which was certainly enough of a bookstore for one day.

Obviously I need to get back to Detroit. And I hope you give thought to aging and death if you haven’t considered it yet.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

A Reckoning by May Sarton

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite

The Conversation Project

Poster designed and printed by Amos Kennedy.

Thankful for books found

Doing a long-distance trip by train, stopping in various places to see friends along the way. And stopping in various places also means bookstores and other wonders. Shirley and I started out on Amtrak from the Whitefish, MT station and in that lobby was a display with books priced at a dollar a piece, the honor system. And a surprisingly good selection of titles. Pleased to see a train rider pick up a book, leave a dollar and then put a book on the rack that he must have finished reading. Sort of like a Little Free Library with a small fee added on. I suppose an Almost Free Library. Then on a dark, cold, wintry Montana night we got on the train heading west. Let the adventures begin!

The next day, we had three hours between trains in Portland, OR so walked over to Powells. Always a bit overwhelming for this rural Montana woman, but despite the store’s size and the crowds, both Shirley and I came away with a couple new volumes each. The next stop for us on the trip was Oakland, CA. The weather was delightfully warm with a blue sky above, and daffodils and magnolias blooming. We wandered down College Ave in bliss, not worrying about slipping on ice or losing hats-mittens-scarves. Got to spend time at Pegasus Books whose size was easier for us to relax in. We told ourselves that our luggage was already a good weight and we really didn’t need any more books but, of course, there were a few books that we each felt compelled to buy. What a wonderful children’s books selection! And on our way walking back to Melissa’s house, came across those boxes people put out by the curb here with free items. And yes, there was “Canada” by Richard Ford which I hadn’t read yet and do like Ford’s writing.

The next day we took the ferry over to San Francisco. Steve met us when we landed. I believe this is the best possible way to enter the city. Our first stop was Caffe Trieste for coffee and catching up (and sampling their pastries). From there, we began ambling down to City Lights. We were just about to cross Columbus Avenue when we saw books flying in the air above us. What a feeling of total amazement – and fortunately we didn’t pause in the middle of the street! Language of the Birds* I do so hope you get to experience this someday.

And yes, we did make it to City Lights (and bought a few books because the titles spoke to us). And then a drive with Steve out to the Presidio to visit Arion Press and the Grabhorn Institute. Oh my. Walking through large rooms filled with incredibly beautiful books, handprinted and lovingly bound. Another moment that I had to just stand there, breathe in the air and count my blessings. We were the only ones there so it felt as though it was a private showing. Shirley and I lusted after the old cabinets for storing papers, and the cases of type. If you happen to be in the area, they give a tour of their working space once a month.

Then to lunch and more stops. Today visiting the Berkeley Art Museum, having conversations with friends here and some pie at Lois’s. Tomorrow back on the train, taking the California Zephyr to Chicago and then on to Detroit. No doubt there will be more surprises – and books – along the way.

*The Language of the Birds reminded me of the short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Never the same river twice

Of course the books I read change, and the upcoming tour has changes as well. Some places I thought of going fell through while others I hadn’t even considered popped up. Book reading and tour planning are still in motion. I suppose this is the reality for a person with a traveling bookstore.

Things I do know are the gigs that have been confirmed. I will post these just in case you live near one of the delightful places and want to make sure to get the date on your calendar, or you are planning a trip and want to meet up with the traveling bookstore when you and I are both on the road. There are three confirmations I am still waiting on, but in the meantime…

  • Backwards Distillery Casper, WY 4/22
  • University of Nebraska Lincoln, NE 4/24
  • Constellation Studios Lincoln, NE 4/25
  • Eureka Springs Community Center Eureka Springs, AR 4/28
  • Eureka Springs Community Center Eureka Springs, AR 4/29
  • The Root Cafe Little Rock, AR 4/30
  • Heather Gardens Club House Aurora, CO 5/5
  • Fiction Beer Denver, CO 5/5
  • Fiction Beer Denver, CO 5/6
  • Black Tooth Brewery Sheridan, WY 5/8
  • White Sulphur Springs Library White Sulphur Springs, MT 5/10

My current reading includes “all about love: new visions” by bell hooks, “Mad Honey” by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan, “The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell” by Mark Kurlansky (yes, still slightly obsessed reading about oysters), and “The Light We Carry” by Michelle Obama.

In between reading and tour planning, I experiment with the provisional press and share its possibilities with others. Recently a Utah friend was visiting and made some lovely valentines using the press, creating her design with LEGOs.

Starting into a new year

Here in Montana, the temperatures are dipping from twenties to single digits to negative numbers (Fahrenheit) within the next week. But it is winter after all, and it is northwest Montana. So I bundle up when going out, and keep piling up books to read, books to add to the bookstore, looking at maps and reaching out to set up the Spring 2023 Traveling Bookstore Tour. Various people mention to me the idea of writing a book about my experiences with a traveling bookstore, but at this point it seems just making a traveling bookstore happen absorbs a good portion of my time. Perhaps someone out there (Chloe Zhao or Jan Svěrák) will decide to make a film about the bookstore one of these days?

The upcoming Spring Tour includes setting up in twelve locations across nine states including brew pubs, an art studio, a community center, a BBQ joint, a university, a distillery and a public library. A fair number of these have been sorted out over the last few weeks, both where the bookstore will be selling books and where I will lay my head at night. I think by mid February, I should have the map completed and all the events loaded onto the traveling bookstore’s Facebook page. And hopefully the bookstore will be setting up some place near you! I should mention the tour officially starts on April 19 with the goal to be pulling back into Eureka, MT on May 11.

As usual, I feel fortunate with all the individuals who help make these tours happen. There are places I am returning to that welcome the bookstore back like Fiction Beer in Denver, CO and Constellation Studios in Lincoln, NE. There are new places and people that work out so well. I reached out to Becky, a Servas host in Arkansas who helped me arrange a two-day bookstore event at the Eureka Springs Community Center. A chance conversation on a flight brought up the possibility of having the bookstore at a BBQ place in Alabama. The tour unfolds, reminding me of water lilies, the process of slowly opening up and their delicate beauty.

Between maps, emails and phone calls, the books piled on my table currently include Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty (dark and so well written), A Geography of Oysters by Rowan Jacobsen (as I recently returned from a coastal trip with a good friend who encouraged us to sample oysters daily), Hopper (a beautiful large format book of Edward Hopper’s paintings that was donated to the bookstore by another friend), and Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last (which came out in 2015 but as with so much of what Atwood writes – encourages us to face the realities of today and do something to make things better).

Hope to see you on the Spring tour.