In which just one paragraph matters


One of our customers checks

in about once a month to see what we have in stock that he might enjoy. His tastes are eclectic, and he's incredibly well-read, so I walk him through the store, trying to showcase some of my personal new favorites or books we've stocked specifically for him. (This is why you shop at indie stores, am I right?)

He'll sit down at our table with a small stack and work his way through, just reading a sentence or two from each book. Sometimes he'll ask me to turn to my favorite page or passage so he can get a sense of what makes the book so spectacular. 

It's amazing, isn't it? How one passage or paragraph can stick with us? I still remember my favorite lines from To Kill a Mockingbird and the moment Amy drops the limes in Little Women. I can pinpoint exactly where Gilead made me cry and the chapter that turned Station Eleven into a modern classic. 

Paragraphs, you see, matter. Well-written, well-constructed paragraphs? They can turn a story around.

Next Friday, we're celebrating the unsung hero of stories: the paragraph. We've invited some of our favorite local authors (Chip Bragg, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Diane Roberts, Bob Shacochis, Ravi Howard) to come share just one paragraph of their most recent published work. One paragraph! That's all they get.

We're calling it Parapalooza -- stolen, of course, as all the best ideas are -- from an event I attended at the booksellers' conference in Savannah last fall. Jordan and I sat in the audience, completely mesmerized by the precious few sentences authors chose to share from their work.

Why'd they choose that sentence? And that one? What paragraphs of my favorite books would I share, given the chance? 

These are the questions Parapalooza inevitably asks, and we can't wait to hear how these particular authors answer. And don't worry: Next Friday, you'll have a chance to meet each author, to take their work home if their one particular paragraph shook you. 

Parapalooza is something new for The Bookshelf, and as with all new events, I'm a little nervous it will come together as I've envisioned. Why don't you come see for yourself? Meet these talented authors from our neck of the woods, and hear what paragraphs they choose to share.

Come learn why one paragraph matters.


Free and open to the public
Friday, March 24
6 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Tonight is our second meeting of Stitches and Stories, a new audiobook club in partnership with our friends down at Fuzzy Goat. We'll kick things off at 6:00, chatting briefly about last month's listen, The Swans of Fifth Avenue. Then, we'll tackle our knitting projects as we listen to Jodi Picoult's latest, Small Great Things. The group is low-key and lots of fun! Come down to Fuzzy Goat tomorrow and join us as we knit and listen!

After Parapalooza next Friday night, stop by the library on Saturday morning to meet local, independently-published authors at our annual Reader Meet Writer event. Each year, we partner with the library to bring you regional writers you may not have hear of yet! They've got just a few minutes to wow you with their work, and then it's kind of like a science fair: Each author has a table set up so you can meet them and chat in person. We always have so much fun, and this year is no exception. (Our MC is Julie Bettinger, one of our favorite local writers, so it's sure to be a good time!)