In which it takes a village.

Last Thursday was magic. That's the only way I know to describe our first-ever (sold out!) Pen to Plate dinner. We had 24 souls gathered around our tables, nestled among the books and the twinkle lights, and as I watched the different dinner courses served, I marveled at how right hospitality feels, how these moments of bookstore magic come just when I need them, just when I feel like my job is too much to bear. 

Thursday was as perfect an event as I have ever hosted, and that's due, as usual, to so many other parties and factors. 

See those gorgeous tables? They're filled with my own dinner plates and the plates of my mother, my aunt, and my two grandmothers. If you ate dinner with us last Thursday, chances are your meal was served on my grandmother's china, your wine served in her wine glasses. I can't even describe to you how special that is, how meaningful it is to know both of the women for whom I'm named played a role in last week's fun. In perhaps the smallest of ways, the women who taught me hospitality were present at our dinner, and it makes me so, so happy. 

My mother, aunt, and cousin came early to set tables, to hang lights, to do the grunt work people so often don't want to do to make magic possible. Those pumpkins and centerpieces all came from my mother's imagination and creativity; she knows how to make things happen, and I'm so grateful to have even the smallest pinch of her genetic material. My family regularly takes my visions and makes them reality, and without them, I wouldn't know how to run this business, much less how to host a dinner party right in the middle of the store on a Thursday night. 

And, of course, without John and Anna Carroll from Southern Jubilee Catering, I would never have been able to turn my dream into something real. I've wanted to host a dinner party inside the shop for the past three years, but it's difficult to coordinate with our successful local restaurants. I knew I couldn't afford to pull them away from their regular, week-day business, and I needed a chef who could take a cookbook and turn it into a creative, affordable menu, with little to no instruction or expertise from me. Enter John and Anna Carroll, who listened to me talk for about five minutes before stopping me to say: "We're on board." They worked within a budget I could afford, and they created a delicious dinner to go with our casual, fun atmosphere. I can't thank them enough. 

Nights like Thursday don't happen all the time, but I'm so grateful when they do, when visions become reality and things turn out even better than we plan. Thank you for letting me try new things, for letting The Bookshelf be a place where I can be brave and risky and adventurous. Thank you for coming along for this crazy ride, for buying tickets to dinner parties, for making all of this possible. As usual, I'm so grateful.

Okay, readers, we're hosting one of Thomasville's favorite authors! Charles Martin will be in the shop next Thursday, October 20, at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale in-store and online: $5 to attend, or $30 tickets will include a copy of his new book, Long Way Gone. Charles will give a book talk, followed by a Q&A and signing. We're capping this event at around 30 attendees, so be sure to snag a ticket before they're gone!

Join Chris and Sterling in the shop Saturday as we make room for fall and holiday goodies. We'll have select Herschel bags 50% off, plus gardening supplies and crafting kits marked down to 75% off. Come shop all day as our fellow merchants will be out on the sidewalk, too, hosting their own sales. It's sure to be a fun day! 

-- Annie