Kamis, 04 Agustus 2011

The All of It, or Why I Love Bookstores

At what point does a recipe become yours? You know that recipe you got from your neighbor when you lived in some other state? Then you moved, and the recipe came with you, and you made the dish for a potluck in your new neighborhood. That night, the recipe became yours, right? Everyone asked you for it, and they came to know it and speak of it as your recipe. But then there’s my (my?) Apple Nut Coffee Cake. It is my mom’s recipe. Within my family, it will always be my mom’s recipe. Outside of my family, it has become mine. But who really ought to get the thanks when someone eats a slice and wants a second slice…and the recipe? What name do I write on the top of the recipe card when I hand it to a friend who has never met my mother? Mine or my mother’s? (My mom says I should put mine, because she's generous like that.) And who did my mother get the recipe from?

I’m thinking along those lines as I try to figure out who to thank for the pleasure of the book I just finished, Jeannette Haien’s The All of It. Do I owe the pleasure of the meal (because every book is a meal) to the author (well, yes!) or to Schuler Books & Music, where it was displayed, and where I discovered it? Or do I owe the pleasure to Ann Patchett, who wrote a forward to the novel? Her name is printed on the cover of the book: “Forward by Ann Patchett,” and that, really, is why I picked it up. I trust her, I believe in her, I’ll read whatever she recommends, and when she writes a forward to a book she loves, I want to read the book…especially when this is part of the endorsement: “I want this book to have a second life because it deserves to be read by many generations to come, but selfishly, I want it back in bookstores because I’m going to need more copies of it. There are so many people who will love it the way I do. It is the surest sign of a great book; the overwhelming desire to give it away.”

For the sake of bookstores everywhere, especially independent ones, let’s thank Schuler’s. I found the book because I was there, and it was there, and I walked by it and wanted to hold it and flip it over and read the back of it and feel it and bring it home and read the all of it. Thank you, Schuler Books & Music. Thank you bookstores everywhere.

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