Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cats and Cookies - Why to Buy at Indie Bookstores

You are going to buy books for the holidays, right? Lots of books—hard bound, paper back, but books you can actually close with a thump, write on, take into the tub. Books which can prop open doors, or simply be stacked into avant garde furniture. Coffee tables made out of books. Bed stands. Platforms.

Well, when you go to make your purchase—promise to buy from an indie bookstore.

If you promise to do this one simple thing, I promise you will have a much better shopping experience. It's so much better to browse real shelves, made of wood or crates. There is a randomness to it, a spontaneous tickle of delight that's generated each time you find something you didn't even know existed, and there it is in your hand.....

Oh, the joy. So much better than clicking buttons on a computer, I promise. And not just that, at an indie bookstore you can find like-minded people, have actual face-to-face conversations, and maybe even a cup of tea or coffee and a cookie. Yes, a cookie! Indie bookstores are known for having cookies and even—get this—cats. All over the world - bookstores with cats in the windows, lazing on shelves, or under chairs. There are no cats on the internet.

Strike that.

There are a gazillion cats on the internet, but none can actually sit in your lap and purr like a purrrrrfect indie bookstore cat can, and will. Often. If you are good and come in and buy a book they will come and sit in your lap. And if you are allergic? Well for you, there are bookstore dogs! How great is that?

So promise. I dare you. Buy from an indie bookstore this holiday. Heck, buy from them all year long. Make the store owners and their staff feel their time stocking shelves, and reading books and writing reviews, and hosting authors and book clubs and story hour is all worth it.  Walk in, let them point you in the right direction, watch them smile with real honest-to-god lips.

Here is a link to Indie Bounds bookstore finder. Put in your zip code and you are off for a magic adventure into the real world of books and tea and cookies and cats.

Also, here is an article about 45 great indie book stores. But there are so many more. Wonderful places that are just waiting for you to visit.

What are your favorite bookstores?

-Naseem Rakha 11/9/13

Monday, November 4, 2013

Three Gifts

Today, on the Daily Challenge, I was asked to list three important gifts I have received from friends or family that have helped shape me. It was a good exercise.

So tell me, what three gifts have you received that have helped shape you?

Here are mine:

I have received the gift of time. My husband, son and father each allow me to get away from them and everyone else to write, or go backpacking, or live for a while in sacred spaces like the Grand Canyon. They understand that solitude and the wild are not just my fuel, but bring me quickly to the place I need to go to remember to be in the present. To walk with my fears and be at peace with who I am. 

I have received the gift of freedom from my father. An Indian man who was brought up in a very strict and patriarchal Muslim family. My father came to the US in 1951, and then defied his family and married an American. I was raised knowing I had to believe in myself and my dreams, and to always strive for independence, to never be shaped by peer-pressure or fad, and most of all to never be dependent on a anyone else for my welfare. 

I have received the gift of appreciation. Brought up in a multi-racial home in a multi-cultural housing development in the 1960's, I had friends whose backgrounds came from all around the world. Nobody was rich, but we had each other and I never did understand or accept the false notion that one group of people were better than another. All of my friends, whether Caucasian, Black,  Hispanic, Russian, Native American or Asian had their talents and I was privileged to learn from each. I was also taught to appreciate beauty. I was raised on a diet of music and art and culture. Classical music always played on the radio, I had ballet lessons, art and piano. I remember my father waking me at dawn to listen to the birds, my mother taking me out in autumn to collect leaves and press them between the pages of a book. 

I was raised with my senses alert and my mind wide open. 

Thank you.

Naseem Rakha, 11/4/13