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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Guest Post: Laura of The Calico Critic

FULL NAME: Laura Woodside Hartness
BIRTHDATE:  April 1, 1971  (no foolin!)
LOCATION: Vero Beach, FL         
BLOG CONTENT:  Book/movie/DVD  reviews, giveaways,  bookish memes participation

I had a hard time picking one book, and a lot of the ones I’d like to pick have already been made into movies.  But these three books were highly enjoyable, and I could really see them in my head: Austenland, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Peter and the Starcatchers (Disney’s going to beat me to it, though!).

Bookstore Cat Trumps Chain Store Duck

Greetings, Peace Love & Pat readers!  My name is Laura Hartness, reviewer over at The Calico Critic.  It’s great to be here, doing my first-ever guest post.  This one lends itself to those of you who are a little bit bookish and geeky like I am.

If you’re a book blogger and are given the chance to go out of town on your own, with no kids and no spouse, what would you do in your free time?  Visit bookstores, of course!  I’m the first to admit that I purchase most of my books through They have a great selection, frequently discount their books 40%, and I can usually work out the Free Super Saver Shipping.  Yeah, I have to wait a week or so, but I’ve saved shopping time, driving and money by ordering with them.
That being said, there’s still nothing like going into a bricks-and-mortar bookstore to put your hands on the titles yourself.  So while I’m here in Charleston, SC at a conference, I thought I’d take a bit of my free time to visit some bookstores.
The first step was to Google “Bookstores Charleston, SC.”  The top result was Blue Bicycle Books downtown.  I was intrigued with the store based on their website, so I programmed my rental car’s GPS gizmo and was on my way.  After a few wrong turns (GPS lady doesn’t know about all of Charleston’s one-way streets!), I finally made it to this quaint little shop.  
Blue Bicycle indeed has a blue, book-laden bicycle parked out front, and the inside is a long hallway of bookshelves, with a few rooms attached.  It’s got that yummy used bookstore smell and is even quieter than my local library.  While I didn’t find any books that I wanted to purchase, they had a huge selection with many genres represented.  I highly enjoyed meeting the resident cat, Purdy, who jumped into my lap right away, purring and “kneading” my leg with clawed paws.  Sweet kitty, enjoyable shop!

My next stop was the Family Christian Store in the mall near my hotel.  After a long hike through the mall, I popped in to pick up a CD that was on sale for $7.  But of course, while there I checked out their selection of books.  They had a good selection of Christian titles of course, with tons of other items for sale.  The store actually seemed really crowded; more so than the rail-thin Blue Bicycle shop.  It’s a good place to pop in if you have something specific in mind to purchase, but it didn’t have much of a browsing feel to it.
Lastly was Books-a-Million (BAM), also attached to the mall.  Of course this store had several things that the other shops did not—lots of space, wi-fi and just about any book that you’d need to put your hands on.   Of the three shops, this was the only store in which I actually purchased a book.  It had several Jane Austen-themed books, and I snagged a Pemberley Chronicles volume.
Despite the fact that BAM ultimately got my dollars, the memory that I’ll retain is my time in Blue Bicycle books. I loved the smell, the feel and the character within those walls. There weren’t obnoxious intercom announcements going off every 3 minutes as in BAM. (No kidding—one BAM announcement was the inexplicable “Customers, the time is now 9:12”, and another was the sound of a quacking duck!! I am not making this up!)  As a cat lover, it was great to meet Purdy, too.  Like the Family Christian Store, Blue Bicycle was a little tight on space, but somehow it didn’t matter in this setting.  I wish they’d had the book I was looking for that day, because while I appreciate the convenience of these chain stores, there’s nothing like the uniqueness of a shop like Blue Bicycle.  If you’re in the Charleston area, I recommend that you stop by.  It’s downtown on King Street, and there’s an inexpensive parking garage right down the block.  Say hi to Purdy for me, and enjoy the mall-free experience while you’re there.

Where do you obtain most of your books?  What do you think about large chain bookstores? Do you have any favorite shops like Blue Bicycle which you can recommend?

Thanks for dropping by Laura's guest post, show her some love and leave a comment :)


elizabeth said...

Great blog!

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

Had to stop by to support my friend Laura! Great post girl! I love used book stores more than the more commercial ones. The atmosphere and all. I'm also a huge fan of used book sales!

Laura Hartness said...

Thanks Elizabeth!

And thanks to Pat for letting me stop by. I think some of my paragraph separations didn't make the transfer in my email-- sorry about that!

I also emailed Blue Bicycle Books to tell them about the article and I gave them a link. So maybe they'll stop by!


Laura Hartness
The Calico Critic
CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

Laura Hartness said...


I just saw your comment-- thanks so much!

And I agree-- used bookstores/independent bookstores trump chains every time.

My local library has a perpetual used book sale, in the form of a small store. They frequently have great offerings for 50 cents. I just bought "The Historian", a hardback AND a paperback copy-- for $1 total! Cha-ching!

Thanks for stopping by.


PeaceLove&Pat said...

I haven't seen any used bookstores around my area :(
you guys are lucky! I get used book from Amazon.
Thanks for the recommendations Laura!

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