Walk into an independent bookstore. Marvel at its coziness.
It's like you're in someone's living room. A living room walled with bookshelves. Maybe there are sofas! Maybe there are chairs with armrests as soft and as fat as two loaves of Wonder Bread.
Sometimes there are several rooms of books. Sometimes there are several floors of books. Sometimes there's a basement or an attic. Exploring an independent bookstore can be an adventure. It feels like you're snooping. Everybody likes to snoop.
When you see someone creating a display table with books that fit a theme (for example: books about scorned lovers for Valentine's Day), say, "Hello."
This is an independent bookseller. An independent bookseller knows all. Maybe she doesn't know all there is to know about what you're looking for — say, perhaps a mystery with a hairdresser for a detective — but she knows someone who does.
Watch! Observe the independent bookseller in her natural habitat. She will lead you to another bookseller who knows about amateur detectives.
Or, she might lead you to a regular customer who's just come back from a mystery lovers' convention. Perhaps that regular customer is adorable. Perhaps you start a beautiful relationship, or a book club with the book that you buy.
Ten times out of ten an independent bookstore will have a book club of its own. Join the club. Every month, buy the club book. Read it. Dog-ear the pages. Write in the margins. You bought it. It's cool.
Attend the book club at the store. Often there is wine and cheese. Sometimes there is cake!
If you are not fortunate enough to have an independent bookstore close enough for you to visit, log onto the worldwide web.
Open an Instagram account and follow a bookstore that has a cat. This cat will have its own Instagram account. The booksellers will pose the cat next to books the cat is "reading."
They will place the cat in the arms of authors who visit on book tours.
Be sure to like the photo of the Civil War historian who held the cat like a musket.
Buy the historian's book about field surgery without anesthesia. To numb your seasonal cold or flu, take a mild antihistamine and wake up refreshed to see what independent booksellers are tweeting about.
Twitter is a virtual playground for readers playing word games.
Would you like to add a word to a book title in honor of the return of The Walking Dead
American Housewife Zombie!
You are hilarious.
Congratulations, you are a patron of independent bookstores. And a personal hero of mine.
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is the acclaimed author of the novel Eating the Cheshire Cat
and the new short story collection American Housewife
. She is a poker player who competes on the national tournament circuit. Raised in Alabama, she lives with her husband in New York City.