Last night Victor and I went to Nowhere Bookshop after everyone else was gone and I did a live video on instagram so that you could see the store and have a little browse and hundreds of you showed up and I felt like I was at a small, wonderful party for the first time in…5 months…6 months? What month is this?
It’s surreal that we’ve been open for so long but have never been able to let customers in or have a grand opening, but this makes me feel like you were here with me and I didn’t know how much I needed that. Thank you.
Anyway, it’s here in case you missed it and please ignore the unflattering thumbnail of me and the few times when it pauses for a few seconds because the internet connection went weird.
Almost everything on the video is on our website and there’s a special page of some of my favorite things that I highlighted right here for easy access.
Come browse with me!
This was quite fun so maybe we’ll do more but focused on specific areas in the shop? Any suggestions?
PS. My voice sounds awful but it’s just allergies. Sorry. I’m out of meds.
So God knows when Nowhere Bookshop will be open for you to stroll through in real life but I want you to see it because it’s SO AMAZING and the team has done such a fantastic job of making it lovely and filling it with fabulous books and wonderful assorted stuff, so that’s why tonight I’m going to the bookshop and you are going to come with me. Sort of.
Basically I’m going to do a live walkthrough on instagram and you can shop online with me or just browse while I drink a cocktail and show you the stacks and point out some of my favorite things. (We ship all over and we have curbside pick-up available if you’re near San Antonio.) It’ll be about 6ish on the Nowhere Bookshop instagram. A few minutes ago I did a test showing my own bookshelves on my person instagram just to see if it would work and other than a few times when the connection got wonky it seems like it worked really well.
I saved the test video on my IGTV in case you’re bored and want to watch it but be aware that the comments people leave on instalive don’t show up in the IGTV so it looks like I’m talking to myself even more than I normally do.
Come browse an empty bookshop with me tonight, lovelies. The live will be here and I think most of our books are on our website right here. Just search for what you want. And we’ll make a special page with the stuff I spotlight tonight to make it easier to find.
So a few months ago I got these seeds in the mail from China (along with a phone holder for some reason) and Victor and Hailey thought it was weird because I wasn’t expecting any seeds. But I had ordered a bunch of seeds much earlier in the summer and they never came so I’d just cancelled the order and then I thought maybe they sent them anyway for free so that I wouldn’t leave a bad review so in the end I planted a few. Then recently I started seeing these articles about mysterious seeds from China and about how you’re not supposed to plant them because nobody knows where they’re coming from but by that time it was already growing and this morning this thing blossomed:
So basically I’m just putting this here to say that if we all go missing suddenly you should check the pods growing in the container backyard because we may be inside them.
Or possibly this is just squash.
Hard to say.
UPDATE: Many of you were concerned that I would be eaten by this thing or that I had unwittingly released something harmful into the world so I took your advice and contacted the Texas Department of Agriculture. I explained everything and gave them a link to the seeds I’d bought (and thought had been canceled) and to this blog and closed with, “So my question is…can I keep it? Or is it actually some sort of person-eating pod that will eat me before I can eat it?”
They were very nice and said that this seemed to be crookneck squash which is exactly what I’d ordered so I didn’t need to worry and were very happy that I’d contacted them. They also said that if anything suspicious did sprout they could send me an inspector to make sure but that seems a bit like overkill considering that it started blooming today and looks exactly like a very lovely but probably not very deadly squash blossom.
Did you know that you save me? You do. In strange ways I suspect we all save each other. But this week was a recovery week for me after a particularly brutal bout with depression and so I spent the week doing what my shrink recommended…reading.
It’s odd. Reading is an escape. It’s a medicine. It’s a luxury. It hurts and heals. And there’s something about spending the day wrapped up in books that can feel like the perfect antidote while also feeling impossibly decadent. But I’m not good at “decadent”. Especially when there is laundry to be done and emails to be answered and deadlines and expectations. But this week I gave myself permission to read the days away, and whenever I felt guilty I reminded myself that this was work, in a way. I was reading to find the perfect book for next month’s Fantastic Strangelings Book Club. And the book club sustains our book store, keeping the rent paid and our team busy, so it’s work I’m proud of even when it feels unfairly lucky to be able to pore through dozens of stories to imagine which ones you would love…to imagine reading them with you.
When I was a kid we didn’t leave the house much because gas was expensive and so was everything else, so most of the summer I’d get a library book and a thermos and go find someplace outside with a little shade to read for hours. I still remember where I was when I first read certain books. My grandmother told me she was the same when she was young. When the farm work was over she’d get on her bike with a book and a rifle (I asked why the gun…she seemed to think it was a ridiculous question) and ride until she found a good tree to read under. In fact, my grandmother inspires many of the Fantastic Strangelings book picks. My mom is also a big reader but she reads mainly biographies. My grandmother, though, was like me. She read dark and strange and magical stories and she would pretend not to notice when I would steal her copies of Stephen King or VC Andrews or Ray Bradbury or Agatha Christie. I always brought them back. Then last year I got them all for my library when she moved into a memory care clinic for dementia. She has a new Stephen King book that she reads the first paragraph of and then forgets. And reads again. And again. Even in the darkness (until the darkness inevitably falls) she still looks for escape. And every book I have ever selected is one I know she’d read and love if she could. I read them for her. I read them for myself.
All this week I escaped the house like I did when I was a kid. Just to the backyard, to an old cloth swing hanging from our oak tree. It smells a bit like mildew and sun. The cicadas are so loud it drowns out the sounds of everything else. I carry a book and a large glass of ice to keep the heat from being too overpowering. And I read.
I read about time travel and witches and magic and heroes and rebellion and loss and joy and struggle and intrigue. I reread this month’s book so we could discuss it today and I read next month’s book and I read so many others and it was precisely what I needed. And you were there too, even though you might not have known it, because as I read I thought about what you would like and what you would think and what was too dark and what was too much to share. And I thought about the things I’d say in the quiet of an actual book club and whether I could say those same things online. And I think I can. Because this club is more than just me and you…it’s my grandmother (who I speak to in my mind) and so many other people I see and remember as I read these stories that bring me back to my own memories. And I don’t think I would so easily dedicate this healing time to reading if I didn’t have a reason.
Thank you for being that reason.
Today I’m opening discussion up here and on the Fantastic Strangeling Facebook page if you want to talk about July’s book, Mexican Gothic. (Definitely the darkest book I’ve ever chosen but wasn’t it amazing?) As always, no rush and no pressure. The discussion stays open for whenever you want it and most people prefer to lurk so no worries. I’ll put my comments on the book in the comment section so there aren’t any spoilers.
And, I’m announcing next month’s book (if you’re a paid member you already got an email from me all about it and about a special zoom meeting so check your email if you haven’t seen it) and it’s a bit different from my other selections but I really liked it and I think you will too.
Alex Landragin’s Crossings is an unforgettable and explosive genre-bending debut—a novel in three parts, designed to be read in two different directions, spanning a hundred and fifty years and seven lifetimes.
On the brink of the Nazi occupation of Paris, a German-Jewish bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript called Crossings. It has three narratives, each as unlikely as the next. And the narratives can be read one of two ways: either straight through or according to an alternate chapter sequence.
The first story in Crossings is a never-before-seen ghost story by the poet Charles Baudelaire, penned for an illiterate girl. Next is a noir romance about an exiled man, modeled on Walter Benjamin, whose recurring nightmares are cured when he falls in love with a storyteller who draws him into a dangerous intrigue of rare manuscripts, police corruption, and literary societies. Finally, there are the fantastical memoirs of a woman-turned-monarch whose singular life has spanned seven generations.
With each new chapter, the stunning connections between these seemingly disparate people grow clearer and more extraordinary. Crossings is an unforgettable adventure full of love, longing and empathy.
I think you’ll really like it.
Also, I sometimes pick out bonus book selections if you need something extra to sing you to sleep. If you’re interested you can order them from us or from your local indie bookstore. Last month it was Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust. This month it’s Lobizonaby Romina Garber. It comes out next week but you can preorder now. It’s YA (young adult) and it’s sort of like an Argentinian Harry Potter with werewolves. Also, it is a wonderful book to read and then give a young reader because it deals with tons of important issues, from immigration to racism to feminism to LGBTQ+ stuff and I immediately devoured it and gave it to Hailey to read herself. Also, the cover is amazing. Just look at it.
So stick around if you want to discuss Mexican Gothic or if you want to just talk books. And membership is currently open if you’re ready to join the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club. You are always welcome.
I’ve had a rough time of things lately but today I feel human so let’s talk about all the stuff I haven’t told you because my head was too in-the-shit to let me write or even think that anything I had to say was worth writing down.
So. I had a meeting with my shrink and if the world wasn’t covered in plague I’d probably be doing a more extreme sort of treatment but since I can’t leave the house I’m instead doing the old-fashioned kickstarter of exercising and medication and hydration and self-care and all of the things that you’re supposed to be doing but I never do entirely correctly. Its too damn hot to be outside for long periods so if you have any suggestions on exercise videos I’m game. I don’t know anything about anything so if there’s a video you love that I can do please let me know…dance, yoga, tai chi…whatever.
Nowhere Bookshop is still going well, thank God. We’re still not open to the public but we’re doing curbside pick-up and online sales and we currently have openings in the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club if you want in. (We’ll be discussing this month’s book later this week and announcing next month’s book soon. It’s so good.) And next week I’ll do a livestream in the store so you can explore it with me and I can show you how amazing it is.
I’ve been working a lot on the cover of my next book. (It comes out next year.) I’d wanted to do taxidermy but nothing looked perfect, although this (online) find of old squirrels repurposed to be dancing/ fighting/dance-fighting was a real possibility for a bit…
But in the end I decided to partner with one of my favorite artists to doing something very, very different and I really hope you love it as much as I do. Still working out the final details but I’ll share it with you really soon.
My shrink recommended that I read more and laugh more and find things that make me smile and so I started a whole folder of things on instagram that made me laugh and I’m sharing a few with you here just in case you’re in the same strange headspace as me.
Still here? Me too. Sending you love, sweet friend.