"Big Stone Gap is truly, madly, amazingly beautiful."
—Wendy Welch, in THE LITTLE BOOKSTORE OF BIG STONE GAP
"Hold up... IS THIS PLACE FOR REAL?!"
—Me, in the doorway of the little bookstore of Big Stone Gap
I have returned alive and unscathed from my weekend field excursion to the Tales of the Lonesome Pine Bookstore, a magical little mansion-turned-bookstore in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Well, to be totally honest I'm a little scratched up thanks to an overly-playful kitten (I'm looking at you, Owen!), but below the love-scratches I'm all gushy and glowing inside.
I happen to know the dapper fellow who has been bookshop-sitting while bookstore co-owners Wendy and Jack are traveling the country on book tour. I've been bugging him since day one for pics, updates, and the stories behnd the stories, but eventually I had to haul myself down there and experiece it for myself.
There are few things more satisfying than heading downstairs for coffee in the morning, passing by tens of thousands of books ready for reading, and settling into a big, comfy chair with a lapful of unearned affection from a horde of well-loved pets. The coziness factor is completely out of control! Everyone is so freaking welcoming! There are a suspicious number of cats napping in all the right places!
In fact, the more I remember from my trip, the more I think I never went to Virginia at all. I probably just visited my local REKAL branch and had my perfect weekend getaway implanted in my memory.
Wendy and Jack have admittedly had their ups and downs moving into a small town and opening an independent bookstore. You can and should read all about their journey in Wendy's memoir, but the home/business/animal sanctuary that they live/work/play in today is straight out of a book lover's dream.
If you're ever in the area, do yourself a favor and stop by.
UPDATE: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to winner Melissa Gray from St. Paul Public Library!
We're also giving away a signed copy of THE LITTLE BOOKSTORE OF BIG STONE GAP to one lucky librarian and I just extended to the entrance deadline until this Friday. Details here!