Patti Callahan Henry is a New York Times bestselling author of twelve novels, including the new book The Bookshop at Water’s End. Here, Patti shares her top five favorite bookstores across America.
Bookshops at their very best are sanctuaries, which means they are both sacred and also safe. Choosing a favorite bookshop is much like choosing a favorite child; it’s not possible, as each has their own charm and flavor. Ah, but what is possible is choosing my favorite memories that are attached to bookshops. Here are some of my favorite bookshop memories and the stores to which those memories are attached.
Foxtale Books in Atlanta, Georgia
It often feels that Foxtale and I grew up together in this bookshop landscape, sprouting from the marriage of readers and authors. This store holds so many memories for me – from signings to events with some of my grandest friends to the one and only time I forgot to show up for an event. We now laugh about that horrific mistake, and the graciousness and kindness they extended to me in that crazy time still lingers as a gentle forgiveness that others might not grant. I love the women who own it and I look forward to visiting it every year.
Page and Palette in Fairhope, Alabama
This bookshop and its owners charmed me from the get-go. It was one of the first bookshops where I was invited to sign when I was a new novelist, when my feet were barely wet in the ink of my debut novel. When I first entered its doors I understood that it was all that bookshops are meant to be: a mainstay and anchor in the community. And to boot it had an art store attached and an apartment upstairs. There was a coffee shop and tables to sit and read. This store sits on the corner as a queen overlooking the domain of one of the most charming towns in the country. I was so enchanted with Page and Palette that I used it as inspiration for the bookstore in my novel Driftwood Summer.
Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham, Alabama
I moved to Birmingham, Alabama, from Atlanta, Georgia, six years ago. The first thing I did was walk into the doors of this well-loved bookstore and tell Jake Reiss (the owner), “I want to get involved here.” He introduced me to the Literacy Council of Birmingham and the friendships and warmth of this literary community have enriched my life in numerous ways. Jake always knows which book to recommend and he does what all lovely bookshops should do – create community.
Litchfield Books in Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Tom and Vickie Crafton changed the book tour world with their Movable Feast luncheons for authors. Sadly, the literary world lost Tom two years ago, but Vickie carries on the tradition with grace and brilliance. This is one of the very first bookstore events I ever did with my first novel, Losing the Moon, in 2004. I was so stinking nervous to speak to a room full of readers. Litchfield’s belief in me and my work set me off on a path I am still on and hope to never veer from – connection with my readers.
Malaprops in Asheville, North Carolina
My memories of Malaprops are always mixed with the beauty and serenity of Asheville, North Carolina. It is a place of peace where book lovers come to rest and to read. The women who run this store took me in with open arms and I will never forget their generosity and warmth.