Originally posted on The Algonquin Books Blog.
Intrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. Join us for the journey…
HOUSTON– I finally broke down at Blue Willow Bookshop and bought two books. I knew it would happen eventually, but I have to keep myself relatively close to budget or else I’ll end up stuck somewhere on the West Coast in a car brimming with books holding a wallet that yawns only blackness. However, Blue Willow was too good to pass up. I spent half an hour looking through potential purchases, discussing them loudly with anyone on the staff. I thought about replacing all the books, saving the money and walking out, but a spurt of rain (a true rarity in Houston) kept me indoors.
So, I sat down and gingerly opened a book. Immediately, the volume in the room (which I had taken part in moments before) dissipated and I was left to serenely engage the new novel. It was astounding. When I wanted playful jocularity, there it was. When I wanted to discuss literature, everyone had their analyzing hats ready to go. When it was time to sit down and read, I was left to do exactly that. Bravo, Blue Willow! A great store and an even greater staff. I was thrilled to give you my first book purchase of the trip.
Events Coordinator Cathy Berner answered the Algonquin questionnaire.
When did Blue Willow Bookshop open?
The location opened as a bookstore in 1973, although it had a different name. When Valerie Koehler bought it in 1996, that’s when Blue Willow Bookshop officially began.
What is the funniest book on your shelves?
We carry a self-published title that is hilarious. It’s called I Just Want To Pee Alone and it’s a collection of thoughts and posts from an assortment of Mom bloggers. And Jenny Lawson’s new book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a riot as well.
What’s your favorite Algonquin recommendation and your favorite book for the Summer?
We all think The Art Forger from Algonquin is a great read. As for the summer, I think it depends on what your looking for. Philipp Meyer’s The Son is amazing, but it’s a little dense for a beach read. The Lost Husband by Katherine Center is a bit lighter. And, since I specialize in Children and Teen Lit, I’d also recommend Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith and Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr.
Are there any unusual hidden talents on the staff?
Kirk is phenomenal at graphic design, but he spends most of his time tucked away in the offices or reading quietly in a corner.
Is there a staff cocktail of choice?
I’m not sure about that, but every Friday at 5 we have what we like to call Bibliotherapy, where we bring out beer and wine, pull up some chairs and chat about books with any customers or staff that want to join.
There is always a lot of action around the table where we put all of the local book club picks. And, thankfully, that leads to a lot of visits to the cash register.
Next stop: BookPeople in Austin, Texas.
*Note: The Lucky Tour posts are not in real time. David and Lucky have returned from their travels with great tales and many, many books. Stay tuned for more road stories…