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.


4 thoughts on “Starting into a new year

  1. Amazing! And a book lovers dream! I worked most if my adult life (23 years) working at the country’s largest bookstore chain, you know, the one with 2 names and an the ampersand in the middle. In researching ideas for my next phase of life, I came across your story through a Today article! I am north a smidge west of Chicago wishing your next tour was a bit closer my direction, however, it looks to be an amazing tour! If you are so inclined, any suggestions, advice, comments or thoughts to send my way on getting started would be welled received. Sincerely, Jenn in the Midwest


    • I have been thru the Chicago area with my bookstore (Crete, IL and Woodstock, IL) but don’t have a Chicago trip on my calendar for 2023. I would suggest finding a good van – mine is used, tall enough to stand up in, easy to park (132″ wheel base), and great mileage (25mpg – a Mercedes diesel engine). Talk to everyone you know about your venture so they can donate books, suggest places to set up, and offer you places to stay. You are welcome to meet up with me and hang if you want. My season is basically April to early May (when I do a long distance trip), summer in Montana, and then another long distance trip in the fall finishing up around early Oct. Best of luck!!! I hope you get one going and we can meet.


      • Sounds dreamy!!!!
        Thank you so much for your response and wonderful suggestions. Woodstock is one town over from me! Love meeting new people with passions and an adventurous heart! I’ll have to look into possibly meeting up with you to pick your brain!


      • Isabel’s Family Restaurant (Woodstock, IL) let me set up in their parking lot a few times. And the Atrocious Poets – a group from Woodstock- came out to participate in the events. I have some of my upcoming events posted on the bookstore’s FB page – as soon as the Spring tour is 100% lined out, I will post here it as well. I suspect the closest I come to Chicago on this trip will be Lincoln, NE which is quite the distance. Although I will be in Lincoln for two days setting up at the university one day and then at Constellation Studios.


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