I know most of the titles in my traveling bookstore and also a good portion of the ones in my warehouse/garage. And normally I would say I definitely know which books I have on the bookshelves in my house because really, there aren’t that many in my house compared to the bookstore and the garage. But last week while trying to find one on my shelf to lend a friend, I came across a book I didn’t recognize. Looked interesting so I pulled it out and immediately consumed it – staying up way too late that night. The Old Man Who Read Love Stories by Luis Sepúlveda is a gem. Compare it to a delicious dinner that immediately has you wanting more. And more. I began to investigate Sepúlveda, what else he had written and was writing. A very sharp, dark moment when I discovered he died this past April from COVID.
A children’s book Sepúlveda wrote, The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly did catch my attention as I read about this author/political activist. A cat teaching a seagull to fly. Sounds rather impossible, doesn’t it? But aren’t there moments these days when many things seem impossible? The current state of the US? The pandemic? What about attempts to limit the USPS (an entity that independent bookstores very much depend on)? How to best educate our young people as we scramble to find what works and is healthy for communities? The climate situation continuing to spin out of control? Yes, the list of daunting tasks facing us goes on and on. But in Sepúlveda’s story (spoiler alert), the cat does indeed teach the seagull to fly. It is not easy. And it involves working with others because rarely can gargantuan tasks be accomplished alone. I am truly thankful for the tales Sepúlveda bequeathed us, and his reminder that regardless of the task, we need to find our way. Things may seem impossible, and this Chilean author had many experiences in his own life that were indeed challenging, but we cannot give up.
The traveling bookstore returned home after an event yesterday in Libby, Montana. Libby is slightly larger than Eureka and has a different feel although it’s only about seventy miles south. As the county seat, it feels more prosperous although at the same time a tad sleepier.
The bookstore had set up in Libby a few times last year in front of a friend’s house and in a drive way. Nothing that attracted too much attention but had managed to sell some books, meet some locals. This time marked the beginning of a new Libby-bookstore relationship though. There are actually three official upcoming gigs in Libby this summer
Mid afternoon Friday, the bookstore pulled up to Cabinet Mountain Brewing. Seemed quiet but that was good at the beginning as a few friends stopped by and it was possible to catch up. Then a woman with her young daughter showed up as they actually follow St. Rita’s Amazing Traveling Bookstore Facebook page and knew we would be there. The daughter loves typewriters. Besides a pile of books, they also ended up purchasing a typewriter ribbon for the daughter’s typewriter at home. Turns out she had asked her mom for one after after visiting the traveling bookstore last year.
A couple about to get married stopped by on their way to the brewery, the bride lovely in her white summery dress and corsage. Two women came by curious about the bookstore and then noticed the chalkboard sign, “Voter registration forms available.” Really? They could get a form to register to vote from this odd traveling bookstore? I explained how to fill out the form and then to drop it off at the county courthouse (conveniently located two blocks from where we were standing). The woman confessed that in her late forties, she had never voted before. Her friend and I both told her it wasn’t too late to start. She took the form. I am confident she will submit it and get her ballot for the upcoming primary and vote. Perfect timing!
A Colorado couple who had been mushroom hunting came by. At first they thought they might be too dirty to go into the bookstore but of course, as a Montana-based bookstore, everyone is welcomed as long as they have an interest in books. A reporter from the Libby paper also stopped to visit and took some photos. One of the musicians playing at the brewery came out during his break to look the bookstore over. Yes, I am ready to take the bookstore back to Libby. Customers too good to pass up. Catch us at these upcoming events in Lincoln County:
Yaak Music Festival July 20-21 (Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon)
Historic Hotel Libby August 10 (10am-2pm)
Libby Riverfront Blues Festival August 10 – 11 (Friday afternoon to Saturday night)