Tomorrow, Saturday, November 29, 2014 is “Small Business Saturday” and “Indies First Day,” in which authors and book lovers are being encouraged (including by an open letter from Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman) to support their local independent bookshops. I once again encourage all local bookworms to visit Charleston, WV’s only independent bookstore, Taylor Books, on that day or any day. You can also order books and ebooks/epubs from Taylors online, but it’s worth the trip for the bookshop’s atmosphere.
Taylors is my favorite bookstore on this side of the Atlantic and has the best coffee in Charleston. If you don’t like books or coffee, I really don’t know how you live.
If you do like books and are looking for recommendations for Indies First Day, my personal favorite books of all time are: Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and pretty much everything else written by Kurt Vonnegut or Edith Wharton. More modern favorites have been Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Book Thief and anything by Brian Morton, Kate Morton, Maggie O’Farrell, Samanatha Harvey and Victoria Hislop.
I also highly recommend the more modern classic The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, which is now being adapted for a movie. You can read my rave review of it here. I first heard about the Guernsey book from a former manager of Taylors and it was a longtime staff pick on the shelves there. I’ve since given copies of the book to several friends, all of whom loved it as much as I did.
Other favorite bookstores of mine on both sides of the Atlantic: Empire Books in Huntington, WV; Two Sisters bookery, Old Books on Front Street and Pomegranate Books in Wilmington, NC; and The Winding Stair, Hodges Figgis and Chapters in Dublin, Ireland.
It would be very nice if independent bookstores get the kind of support from Indies First/Small Business Saturday that Record Store Day brings to indie music shops.
West Virginian poet Crystal Good debuted her amazing new poem “Appalachian Blackface,” a commentary on political pandering to coal miners as well as racism, at last night’s Summit on Race Matters in Appalachia and she received a well deserved standing ovation for it. Crystal’s powerful, brilliant spoken word performance begins around the 18:50 mark on the following video, but I highly recommend watching the entire video no matter who you are or where you are from. Then share it. This poet, and this subject, should be nationally known.
West Virginian parents who receive CHIP and/Medicaid assistance for their kids can get discount Charleston Ballet tickets for just $5 each thanks to the Ballet For All program. You just have to purchase tickets in advance at the box office as supplies are limited.
I cannot emphasize enough what a positive impact Charleston’s arts scene had on me as a very poor child – one who went from a turbulent home of domestic violence to a loving but struggling single-parent home. I’m so grateful to the kind friends and their parents who took me to the WV Symphony, The Charleston Ballet and Mountain Stage, all of which gave me an intense interest in and love for the arts that I may not have developed otherwise. Those experiences had a direct influence on my pursuit of writing about music, first through this blog and eventually for The Charleston Gazette.
So take your kid to the ballet, it’s a memory that will have lasting effects.
Those who couldn’t make it to tonight’s fabulous, soldout Mountain Stage concert can watch it live online for free right now at Mt Stage’s official site!
Kate Miller-Heidke’s magnificent set of vocal acrobatics is already over, but Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn and Janiva Magness will soon take the stage.