One of my favorite things about travel is finding new bookstores. Granted, I grew up in Baltimore, so a bookstore there doesn’t entirely count as a new discovery. Still, between moving off to California and the part of my family that still lives there coming to California more often than I go east meant I hadn’t been back for five years when I visited last month. So I feel like it’s a destination now.
The Ivy is exactly the kind of bookshop I love. It’s a manageable size for an hour or two of serious browsing. They curate what they offer so everything is quite good. The displays are wonderful and the whole place feels cozy.
Plus- everyone who works there is a serious book lover. It has always seemed odd to me that bookstores hire people who aren’t readers. This feels like an incredible waste of talent and a prescription for unhappy employees. For a reader, working in a bookshop is heaven. And a little bit like working in an open air drug den. I should know- I’ve done it. But if I didn’t love books, it would have been another retail grind.
The Ivy clearly knows this because they hired Lucy. Every time I’ve been to the Ivy I find a blockbuster book, so I didn’t want to break my streak. Enter Lucy:
“What are you loving at the moment?”
She paused and collected her thoughts.
And then she took me on a whirlwind tour of the store. At the end of it, the one book we had planned to buy turned into about 8 that we knew we COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT.
Yes, she talked a good game about the books she loved, but every single book she recommended that I have read has turned out to be incredible.
On Lucy’s list:
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, possibly my favorite book of 2015. You all know this because I can’t shut up about it.
- The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli– totally kooky and great. Could not put it down.
- A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (haven’t read it yet but I include it since won the Booker, among other awards)
I still have a few in the stack to go, but I am confident that I will love them, too.
Partway through our conversation, as we found books we both loved and some that she recommended that I had read (which made me feel very cool, I must say) Lucy revealed that she’s 19. Years old. And she reads with this much skill. It made me so happy I can’t even say.
I’m sure you’re on to greatness, Lucy, but do stay at the Ivy long enough so we can have another book powwow before too long, ok?
Have a bookstore that you absolutely love? I’m always looking for new shops to check out when I travel. Please share in the comments or on the Facebook page!