Rainy weekends are perfect for reading
May 15, 2015
Amid the nerve-jangling jackhammers on Main Street this week, Dolly’s Bookstore offered a quiet respite. On Thursday, the reading nooks were filled with locals and visitors looking for reading material in anticipation of a soggy weekend.
Kim Storm of Newport Beach, California picked an easy chair by a sunny window to peruse Bill Nye, The Science Guy’s new book "Undeniable," his treatise on science versus creationism. Paging through the hardbound edition he said, "I think paper is great, you can underline, fold over a page ." Well, maybe not until you purchase it.
In the meantime, part time Park City resident Alice Griffith was looking for advice on what to read after just finishing the recent Pulitzer prize-winning book "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr. Griffith said she prefers reading books in print rather than on electronic devices but is learning how to use her son’s Kindle where she is scrolling through political operative David Axelrod’s "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics."
After learning that Griffith is fond of historical fiction, Sue Fassett, the bookstore’s manager and expert matchmaker, suggested "The Strangler Vine" by M. J. Carter. "It’s not on the radar yet, but it will be," she said of the novel set in India in the 1830s.
Fassett is also enthusiastic about "Euphoria" by Lily King, about the life Margaret Mead, a pioneering anthropologist and advocate for women’s rights. In fact, Fassett has been so busy praising the volume that it is currently sold out, but she assures an interested reader that plenty more are already on order.
With the reading alcoves filling up with kids and adults, even on an off-season weekday, Fassett is bullish on the book industry.
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"Four years ago we were really worried about electronic readers. But not anymore." According to Fassett, both locals and visitors still like to hold real books in their hands.
Some of the most popular current titles at Dolly’s are: "Born With Teeth: A Memoir" by Kate Mulgrew, known these days as the feisty jailhouse kitchen manager "Red" on the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black," but to older audiences as Captain Janeway on "Star Trek" and the psychological thriller "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins.
Books tied to current movies also cycle through the best-seller lists. For instance, Fassett said sales of the book "Going Clear" by Lawrence Wright surged after the documentary about the controversial Church of Scientology debuted at Sundance this year. The books "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn and "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed were also popular when their film adaptations were screening in town.
Park City readers also have eclectic tastes so, in addition to the best sellers Dolly’s stocks a wide variety of travel, health and reference books. There are also audible books, books for children of all ages, even a small shelf devoted to poetry
"Locals like to come in looking for a gift for someone and then they pick up a book for themselves too," said Fassett.
But the longtime independent bookseller knows it is also important to reach out into the community, too. Fassett and staffers manned a table full of environmental titles at a recent screening of a film about the activist Edward Abbey. And a couple of weeks ago, there was a long line of customers at their table at the Eccles Center following a presentation by author Neil Gaiman. They sold every Gaiman book they brought to the event.
"To see the auditorium sold out for an author was remarkable," she said. Gaiman’s fantasy novels, including "American Gods" and "Stardust," have a cult following and his newest release, "Trigger Warning," has been restocked and is prominently displayed on the Staff Picks table at the store.
"If there is a book related to a community event, we like to be there," said Fassett adding that following Mick Ebling’s talk at a recent local lecture, his book "Not Impossible," about using 3D technology to help amputees in Sudan, was snatched up by those in attendance. "Everyone wanted to give it to someone," she said.
In the children’s section Fassett said she is seeing a positive trend in themes. "I am seeing a shift from the dystopian toward social issues or relationships. "We have just gone through the John Green phenomenon, she said of the author of "The Fault in our Stars."
"I like teen books that have humor," she said, singling out "Ms. Rapscott’s Girls" by Elise Primavera. The tale is billed as a story about "a boarding school for children of very busy parents," which should resonate with Park City families.
As to reports that adult coloring books are currently in vogue Fassett said doodle books are making a resurgence. "Wreck This Journal" by Keri Smith, featuring lots of arts-and-craft projects, is a crowd favorite.
The next big event on Dolly’s literary calendar will be the July 14th release of Harper Lee’s book "Go Set a Watchman: A Novel." The book was written prior to Lee’s classic "To Kill A Mockingbird" which was published in 1960 and is still required reading in schools across the country. "We are all eagerly awaiting it. I have a lot on order."
As another customer wanders in and is guided by staffer Natalie Blanton toward a particular section, Fassett says, "You can tell book people when they walk in the door, they look in every nook and cranny and usually end up on the floor in a corner with a book."
Apparently that also goes for the bookstore’s namesake cat that was spending the day curled up on a shelf among the volumes, occasionally submitting to a scratch behind the ear from a young visitor.