“Nashvillians woke up one morning and found that we no longer had a bookstore”

…and Ann Patchett’s “secret was that [she] did not much miss those mall-size Gargantuas.” So she set out, more or less on impulse, to recreate the kind of bookstore experience that she did miss: a cozy space with carefully curated shelves and employees who double as a personal recommendation system. Partnered with Karen Hayes, a former Random House sales rep, Patchett set out to open Nashville’s newest independent bookstore, despite numerous warnings (and her own fears) that “the bookstore is dead.”

Her article in The Atlantic, recounting her experience of the precipitous process, is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Highlights: her eager gleaning of bookstore know-how during the signing tour that coincided with Parnassus Books’ incubation period; and the narrative she began to craft, with increasing conviction, during interviews: that the moment of the small independent bookstore is now.

And whether or not Parnassus’ success is replicable, it’s still vicariously thrilling to read about Patchett’s realization of her ability to accomplish every reader’s ultimate social joy: “I could talk strangers into reading books that I love.”

Go to:

Ann Patchett: bio and works reviewed
Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett (2001): review by Emera

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *