This should really be titled "How I missed my flight back to warm sunny Miami" but the silver lining on the Ice Storm that kept me from making my plane enabled me was to attend a very entertaining and informative Writers Workshop at Falls River Books in Raleigh. I also got to watch the ice s l o w l y melt from the sky light here and watch the sky reappear a few days later through my window that was my measure on the world for a few very cold days in North Carolina. The picture above is of the sky light, usually clear....but frosted over from the Ice. The table out on the deck looked more like Woodstock's personal Ice Skating pond on the morning that my early morning flight back to Miami was cancelled along with many others at RDU and all across the South.
After a few days of staying home and being afraid to venture out onto the icy walkways with my cute white furry boots that are made for strolling Lincoln Road on a rare day that the temperatures get below 55 degrees and not for a thin, almost invisible layer of ice that covered everything here making the dogwood tree look like some winter decoration covered in silver webs glistening in the morning sun.
But, when plans are rearranged by nature often there is a purpose that shows itself later and one of those nice surprises was being able to attend the very delightful Writer's Meeting at Steven Elliot's wonderful book store in Raleigh. I had told Vanessa Vendola who runs the meetings that I would be back in Miami and not be able to attend sadly, but thanks to Mother Nature I was able to make the meeting after all. Finally, the ice was beginning to melt enough for a Miami girl to try to venture out again and I carefully went over to Falls River Books. Ironically, the owner Steven Elliot is also from Miami, however I didn't know Steven in Miami although I did go to school with a cousin of his and we both grew up in Old Miami.
I spend a lot of time in and out of Raleigh these days and I often find myself complaining about Raleigh and missing Miami. Where I can complain like a five year old about missing the beach or an early morning walk down Lincoln Road, Steven can and does wax poetic about the many delights of this area and the many reasons he is happy that he chose this Southern City to transform his life and in doing so he has transformed the lives of many around him as Steven is a community person. He doesn't just sit reading books from the library or trading them online, he becomes part of his world, his neighborhood and community and for that Raleigh is really blessed.
Falls River Books is a delightful place to spend a few hours searching for your favorite book or a book you never knew you wanted and sit a bit in a comfy chair, sipping complimentary coffee and escaping from the cold, windy, winter day outside.
What can you say about a bookstore that keeps its most treasured volumes in a stately looking China Cabinet and has aisles and aisles of bookshelves crammed tight with books on every imaginable subject and has a never ending coffee pot waiting for you on a wintry day?
Want a book on the History of the Boer War or the War of the Roses? Trust me the delightful owner Steven Elliot has one tucked away somewhere and more amazingly he can usually tell you exactly where that rare and hard to find treasure is in the store. Name a subject and he methodically searches his brain and tells you that he thinks there is a book on that subject in either Philosophy or History, he remembers getting one in a few weeks ago. If it's not there, he will let you know the next time he sees you that one probably came in a while back and where to look for it. Unlike some box house book stores where you have to spell out the exact title of a book for the clerk to try and spell it into their computer vs them being able to easily Google the name of the book.... Falls Rivers Books gives you close up and personal service with real live people who know the names of most of the more famous books on your child's reading list. Even better, one of Steve's best traits is that he offers to help you, he welcomes you if you are a newcomer, he asks you if you have been in before and or need any help and he then sits back and let's you do your thing, never hovering near by to pester you as many privately owned book store owners do. He just lets you be and wander through the aisles marveling at all the titles you never knew existed or looking for that treasure you have been hunting for and hoping to find.
I do have a confession here to make... I've often gone to Barnes and Noble. How can you not love a place that smells of coffee and books? But, my love affair with Barnes and Noble came to a screeching stop one evening when I had a minor "senior moment" and could not remember the exact name of the author or book title my son needed immediately ...as in yesterday as in the book report was due sooner rather than later. I stood there one Saturday Night trying nervously to explain to a Sales Clerk at B&A that I needed a book... it was on a reading list....The conversation sounded a lot like this:
"Um... you know, the book's title is ummmmm Badge, Badge...Something Badge... The author's name is Stephen, come on.. ummm it's a classic....." I said sure that she would know what I mean. "You probably did a book report on it in the 11th Grade maybe? It's about a war.... "
She stared at me explaining she needed either the exact name of the book or the author because she could not enter a partial title into her system so I needed the title or the author's name. And, she didn't seem too friendly or happy as I stood there begging her help.
I found it hard to believe the saleslady did not know what book I meant, she was like 20...way too young for a senior moment you know?? I found it hard to believe I had to try and google it on my very old, slow blackberry while standing there hearing the annoyed sounds from the next person in line behind me waiting for the ditzy lady (me) to Google a title of a book for the clerk who was chewing gum and talking to a co-worker who also didn't seem to want to help me and didn't think the book sounded very familiar. And then.... when I found it in my old, slow blackberry... I had to actually spell C O U R A G E for the sales clerk behind the counter who kept typing in the word improperly it seemed into her computer. After she found the book, she asked another sales person to show me to the section where the book was and the gentleman she sent to help me stood there going "How do you spell the author's last name?" He didn't look old enough to have a senior moment either and it was hard to believe he got through school without having to read the "The Red Badge of Courage". I found the book on my own, a very over priced, large size paper back copy of the classic book and walked out wondering if it was just me or if something was seriously wrong if a clerk in a bookstore had never heard of this classic and why I had to spell the word COURAGE or beg someone to help me find one of the classics of American Literature. Though I still admit to going to Barnes and Noble and Borders they are not my first choice as I have always loved a good Used Book Store and Falls River Books is just that. You are treated like a person, books are treated like treasures and you are always happy when you leave with something special.
Trust me, the next time your child has a list of books to read for Summer Reading, you will save yourself a lot of energy, time and money and be living more in concert with green economics to buy a used book from a local bookseller who knows how to spell Courage and where his American Classics are for students in the local schools. Steve also has complimentary coffee waiting in the corner near the door and often puts out cookies or some such sugary snack for you to sip for free while browsing the shelves or sitting a spell in one of his comfortable over sized chairs.
Want some more reasons to stop and visit Falls Rivers Books?
If you have recently moved to the Raleigh area, and it seems everyone in Raleigh is from somewhere else... Steve knows everything about how to make the moving in process easier for you. He moved here a while back from the Miami area and he is already the best person around to talk to for advice in networking or where to find a good book on ______(fill in your own blank) ____ be it a dance class, a marketing representative or where to buy fresh produce. The latter he is involved with helping support as there is a Farmers Market at Falls River behind his store weekly.
And, lastly.... if you bring your child or grandchild to look through his fantastic children's selection he will let them pic out their favorite flavor on his lollipop tree for the junior set who doesn't drink coffee. And, while Susie Mae or Bubba is browsing.... they have one of the better selections I have seen anywhere of Cookbooks, Hot Romance Novels and Serious Science Fiction anywhere ;) or How To Books and Bodice Rippers mixed in with books on nature, weather, philosophy and anything and everything you could think of to want to read. And, the best part of this is not the comfy chair in the front or the never empty coffee pot but the fact that you can come back, recycle the book, pass it along to someone else and be part of the system of Used Book Stores. I've picked out quite a few great titles on weather and history there myself :)
Alas, the only thing that Falls River Books and Falls River Towne Center lacks is a river nearby to watch through the window while sipping your coffee and reading your book. But, I can do that at Las Olas when back in South Florida :)
And, yes in a Green world you can find that used book on Amazon or Ebay but you will have to pay the shipping and handling and the book needs to often be shipped from somewhere across The Great Divide which is not very "Green" and then you have to wait for the book to arrive....so much for the joys of Immediate Gratification in a Book Store. By buying a book that has been used you are helping to leave a lighter green footprint and help support a small business in your own community owned by a real person who banks and shops where you do. And, if you are looking to leave a much lighter footprint...he has a really great section on Diet Books and Healthy Eating.
Sit a spell, go easy on the cookies, sip the coffee and look through the books you picked out and see which ones you would want to take home.
And, if you live in the Durham area... they have opened up a store there as well.
As for me... I swapped my ticket home for a ticket for my son for him to have a short vacation "up north" and give him a chance at seeing snow for the first time in his life and then we will both go back together to sunny Florida. Back to Lincoln Road and Las Olas and maybe check out a good Used Book store in Coral Gables :)
There are some links below to a few of the authors who were at the meeting we had at Falls River Books and I really want to thank Steven for his ongoing support of the Arts in the Raleigh-Durham area as well as the ongoing education by his example on how to live a more Green life and how to build roots out into a community so that both are nourished, the people and the places you live and shop and how to make the world a better place just by being in it and by being a part of it.
Some of the writers attending the Writer's Meetings at Falls River Books and ...that's Steven on the far right ;)
Ps... just a wee bit annoyed I missed the wild weather in South Florida and the Keys today but weather comes and goes and sometimes you got to go with the flow :)