Why I Avoid Bookstores

I have to let you in on a little secret: Bookstores give me hives (metaphorically, not literally, but perhaps they would literally, too, if I stayed in them long enough).  All those books that I’m not reading … or writing.  Cue inferiority complex.

Being a writer, I feel bad about this.  For one thing, the cliché image of the writer browsing much-beloved books in a musty, stacked-to-the-gills store, looking for her next delight, is one I treasure (despite my entreaties not to become a cliché writer in my last blog).  In fact, I used to be that writer—heck, I even worked in a bookstore! And loved it!—before the rejections and cynicism built up.  Now every title seems to be flashing in neon pink “NOT YOU!”

Another reason I feel bad about this is that I’m a huge believer in reading.  As I mention many times in many ways in This Is Not a Writing Manual, not only do I think writers should read to study their craft, I think writers should be the biggest book boosters possible.  We should all be reading and recommending, and tweeting, and whatevering about books (especially lesser known books) as much as possible.  Because without people reading, we have no business; none of us can be writers.

Publishing a book this summer has helped this problem a bit, but I still find myself trying to escape bookstores quickly, after I’ve gotten a new picture book for my daughter and a new paperback summer read for myself, on the recommendation of the excellent staff of Wellesley Books, my local indie.  Given that I still suffer from it even as a published writer, I suspect that this disorder of mine—not quite a phobia, not quite an allergy—will probably never go away.  Perhaps because it’s not just about my writing—it’s also about all the books I wish I could be reading but don’t have time to read for one reason or another.

But because I really believe in reading, I have found other ways to get my reading fixes, find excellent authors, and also to promote reading.  Through social media, my book club, friends, library, and yes, even my local bookstore, I find more than enough books to read.  I wish I wasn’t such a slow reader—I’d read more of them!  Through some of those same channels, but additionally through my literary journal YARN (LINK), I have found lots of ways to promote new and exciting writers.

One of my favorite YARN projects has been the Blockbuster-Free Summer Reading Exchange (BFSRE for short), in which we asked readers for their recommendations on under-appreciated YA novels, and gave those books a shout out.  It was very grass-roots, and guided by YARN’s readers.  It was there that I discovered Natalie Standiford’s justly beloved How to Say Goodbye in Robot.  We’re doing a reprise this summer on Twitter and Facebook, and I’d love to hear Polyphony-reader-writers’ suggestions on what to read next.  Maybe I’ll see you there?  I like to think it’s where all the cool, if slightly phobic and always geeky, writers hang out.

As a Post Script, I’d like to THANK Polyphony for inviting me to do this series of blogs, and giving me this rare opportunity to connect with you young writer-editor types.   I hope some of you will find me in other places (Twitter, Facebook, online http://www.kerrimajors.com–LINKS), and share your thoughts on my book, YARN http://www.yareview.net, writing.  I welcome questions, too!  Community and connection: it’s how writers are made.