The Literary Lineup.

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Someone lovely -- a customer or a friend or some combination of both, I can't remember which -- commented last week at how much The Bookshelf seems to be doing lately. She talked about our bustling event calendar, our ever-present social media posts, and just an increase in store presence. She has no idea how much her words meant to me.

When you take over a business or when you start your own, you have no idea what you are doing. It's the secret no one tells you, so allow me: You are clueless, and every day you are learning, mostly by making some series of mistakes you don't really want to make again. It's a process, entrepreneurship, and it's one I'm not sure ever ends.

And that's okay, of course. It's the job. You try things, and you see what sticks.

Here at The Bookshelf, we're trying a lot of things, and that customer, that friend? She helped me know we're doing at least a few of those things right.

I firmly believe a bookstore has the power to become a community gathering place; it's what I love the very most about The Bookshelf. I want everyone to feel comfortable inside our doors; I want our nooks to be cozy and our books to be read. I want enlightening conversations and newly-formed friendships.

Those things can only happen if our doors are open, so -- as I've mentioned -- we're staying open until 7 on the weekends and until 8 on downtown Thomasville's First Fridays.

We have events planned from now until the end of the year, dozens of them, it seems, and the truth is, you never know how an event will go. You have no clue who will show up, who will balk at ticket prices, who will eat all of your cheese and drink one too many cups of wine. The key is to just try, then see what works.

For the past month, we've played host to a number of events: my beloved Letter Writing Club, preschool story times and story times open to the public, two author events we've termed "Shelf Talks + Signings," a film society meeting, and a handful of book clubs and writing groups. This is what makes an independent, locally-owned bookshop so special, and I can't tell you how grateful I am that thus far, we've opened our doors, and you've come right on in.

Last week, 40 of you came out to see Charles Martin in the flesh. You asked thought-provoking questions and were patient when there was a line to buy his books. We opened our doors, and you showed up.

On Friday, 25 of you came out to support FSU PhD student Todd Seabrook as he read from his fictional biography of Lewis Carroll. You mingled and bought books and laughed and generally made me so grateful I'm a "book person." We opened our doors, and again, you showed up.

Twenty-four of you came to our film society meeting, six of you to Letter Writing Club.

We're churning out event after event, and you keep coming.

And I know what that means, because I, too, am a resident of Thomasville. And I now know that there is something happening every weekend. The invitations will not stop coming; there are football games and arts festivals and Troupe fundraisers and historical society dinners and chamber meetings, and they're what make this small town feel so big. Those events are special and fun, and I'm thrilled you would even consider our store happenings when your calendars are already so full.

We're not stopping. We've got our third annual Reader Meet Writer event set for this Saturday at the Thomas County Public Library. It's one of our biggest events of the year; this time, we're hosting 25 local authors, and you're invited to get to know them and their books. We'll host a round robin-style talk, then you'll have a chance to meet and mingle and get your books signed by the writers. Last year, 50 people came down to the library; this year, I'd love to see 75.

Tonight is our monthly Letter Writing Club, one of the most low-key groups I've ever been a part of. It's a joy to host each month, and I've got my fingers crossed for a few more women (and men!) to join our ranks.

Next month, we're kicking off One Book with a mock trial at the Thomas County Courthouse. We're counting on our community to come out and support this event, to read our one book selection together and to discuss it with one another. On October 3, we'll stay open late for First Friday and a fall open house where we're asking customers to drop in dressed like their favorite book character (discounts will serve as your reward).

Later in October, we'll play host to a variety of events with the annual Covey Film Festival, including a book signing with Jane Fonda's daughter, author Mary Williams. In November, we've got a soup night and Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival events up our sleeves.

This is a busy time of year, and we know, perhaps better than anyone, that everyone cannot come to everything. But we are so grateful for those who do come to the events we host. It's hard work to become a community gathering place, but I think we're getting there, and that's almost entirely thanks to you.

If you've ever got any questions about what's happening in the shop, visit our Facebook page, our events page on the website, or call the store. Any one of our delightful staff members (my word, not theirs) will be happy to help you.

See you in the shop,


Annie JonesComment