Road Trip: Parnassus Books and U2 in Nashville

img_2087Thank you all so much for your kind words of condolence about Cleo. In contrast to my last sad post, I wanted to share my wonderful road trip experience to Nashville over Memorial Day weekend. I got to complete one of my 40 For 40 goals, which was to visit Parnassus Books, an independent bookstore co-founded and co-owned by author Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, Commonwealth, etc.) And later that night my husband and I went to Bridgestone Arena to see my favorite band in the whole wide world, U2!

First, the bookstore. It’s tucked away in an average sort of strip mall (bonus: a yummy local donut shop at the other end, Fox’s Donut Den!) It was just starting to rain as we pulled into the parking lot, so it made for the perfect excuse to linger as long as I wanted. My husband was prepared for me to be there a while. 🙂img_2088img_2090

It’s truly a book lover’s place. A nice, varied selection for a small-ish space, tastefully decorated and inviting with a small seating area in the middle. There are little cards with book recommendations all over the store and you truly feel like the employees care about books. Plus, they have book shop dogs! I was hoping that the long-haired dachshund named Mary Todd Lincoln would be there, but I got to see sweet 16 year-old Bear instead, and he was lovely. (By the way, I felt kind of like a loon taking pictures all the while I was in there, but I guess they’re probably used to that from us book-blog types.)img_2097

There’s a terrific children’s section and also a whole lot of book-related paraphernalia, like pins, notecards, socks, shirts, totes, etc. Also, there were these cute, random tiny badgers (which were not for sale.)img_2094

I ended up with five books, a Parnassus t-shirt, and a Sense and Sensibility pin. My book haul consisted of John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies, Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson, Stephanie Powell Watt’s We Are Taking Only What We Need, Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker, and James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room.

After the donut store and a rest back at the hotel, it was time to head downtown for dinner and the concert. We used Uber for the first time (it was easy and we were so glad not to have to fight traffic and find a place to park!) Downtown Nashville on a Saturday night on Memorial Day Weekend was nuts. I’d never been to lower Broadway before,which is lined with honky-tonks and bars, and I couldn’t believe all the people, specifically, all the drunk people! Not my scene for sure, but I’m glad people were having a good time! Made for some entertaining people watching. Our meal at The Stillery was delicious, and they make a good mason jar cocktail (I had the Stillery Sour.) Finally it was time to see U2!!

It was a sell-out show and the crowd was super excited. I saw so many old tour t-shirts that I knew a lot of the audience were super fans. I’ve been lucky enough to see them play three times before, but I hadn’t seen them since 2005 (!) because of, well, life. And the fact that sometimes they don’t come anywhere withing easy driving distance of me.

img_2120The show was beautiful. It was unlike previous concerts of their’s I’d seen because it was more like a play. They told a story of their beginnings (Innocence) to some wild days (Experience) and back again to Innocence. It was a very personal show for Bono, especially, as he talked a lot about his mother and some of his faults and follies as the band became famous. Then as the show wound down they also wove in current politics in the US and the world, using their hits “Pride” and “One” and some of the newer songs on their latest album (Songs of Experience) to argue for the rebirth of the idea of America as a light and hope for the world. While “Pride” played they showed images of the Women’s Marches and other progressive marches on the huge screen that almost ran the length of the arena and it was very inspiring. I got chills during that song and my eyes teared up. It never fails to thrill me.

So our one day adventure in Nashville was a blast. I am so glad that I got to cross one of my 40 For 40 items off my list! If you’re in Nashville for any reason definitely stop by Parnassus Books. They host so many author events each month that if I lived over there I’d be in there all the time!

Have you been to Nashville before? Have you read any of the books I bought? What’s your favorite U2 song, or your favorite kind of donut? 🙂

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33 thoughts on “Road Trip: Parnassus Books and U2 in Nashville

  1. What a fun day! I’ve never been to Nashville, but I’d love to visit Parnassus. My equivalent to your love of U2 is John Mayer – I’ve also seen him three times but it’s been since around 2005 (what a coincidence)! I’m so glad you had a full day of some of your favorite things ❤️

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  2. Best. Day. Ever. Seriously! I’m surprised to hear that Parnassus Books is in a strip mall, but I guess that’s often the way with bigger American bookstores. I have another online friend who goes there at least once every year even though he lives in Mississippi. Is your husband a book person too, or did he just indulge you? 🙂 Whenever I fall into a bookstore I have to make an arrangement with whoever I’m with, my mom or my husband — “Okay, so see you in an hour?” “Hmm, maybe!” It seems unlikely that I’ll get to Nashville any time soon, but if I ever pass through, Parnassus would be on my bucket list. I recently started following Mary Laura Philpott (@MaryLauraPh) on Twitter. She also works at Parnassus, has a memoir coming out soon, and is so funny.

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    1. My husband does read but he is almost strictly nonfiction, and he isn’t obsessive about reading like I am. He can go weeks without cracking a book! Egads! 😉 But he was a good sport, and he sat and read while we were there.

      Thanks for the tip, I’ll look for her on Twitter!

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  3. Amazing post Laila. Seems like a wonderful trip. The bookstore is beautiful, thanks for sharing the pics. The concert seems to have been quite an experience. I like the fact that it incorporated a lot of things along with the music, especially the personal stories. Glad to hear that you enjoyed yourselves 🙂

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  4. I’ve never been to Nashville, but I used to have a friend (Lonny Ray!) who was born and raised in Nashville, and he was A HOOT. I used to listen to U2, but one time my dad caught me playing my CD and called them a name that I will NOT repeat, so I quit listening to the band because every time I put the CD on I felt ashamed…. I’m glad to see you bought Shirley Jackson and James Baldwin. They never fail to please. Baldwin’s story is REALLY moving; if you get a chance, go to your library and rent I Am Not Your Negro. He was so freaking smart, and we are lucky as Americans to claim him as a thinker and writer from our country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw I am Not Your Negro a few months ago (library DVD!) and it was AMAZING. He was a genius. I can’t wait to dig into his fiction.

      That’s a real shame about the U2 CD and your dad. Sometimes parents can just say the worst things, even if they meant it as a joke, but it really sticks with you.

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  5. This sounds like such a great day, and bookstores are great for healing. I haven’t read any of the books you bought, but I have read one collection by Shirley Jackson and I loved it (and would gladly reread – so good). My first favourite U2 song was “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and at the time I thought it was so awesome and exciting that music could be used as a form of protest; I’ve never seen them live but I bet it’s amazing and inspiring. I’ve never been anywhere near Nashville and my favourite donut is the one with hazelnut stuffed inside and chocolate on the top. You ask a lot of questions! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Sunday Bloody Sunday is so good! They did a stripped down version all in a line under the huge screen on the walkway, with Larry just playing a drum that he wore around his neck like a drummer boy. It was magical. They are the most inspiring band live!

      Hazelnut stuff inside?? That sounds yummy, I don’t think I’ve had one of those! Donuts are my ultimate yummy treat. I can’t resist a donut shop in my travels.

      Like

  6. Sounds fantastic! But… you told us all about the books and the concert, and missed out all the important details about the donuts! I want pictures! Oddly, I always wish I loved all the flavoured donuts, and of course I never say no to a chocolate one, but at heart I’m a sucker for a simple sugar ring… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t take any pictures of the donuts! Whoops. I had a strawberry cream one that was divine. Also a very good coconut topped glazed. And a yummy red velvet cake! Fox’s Donut Den will definitely be a stop when I go back to Parnassus!

      Liked by 1 person

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