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? 🙂

Advertisements

Where I’ve Been and What I’ve Been Reading

Hello, friends!  It’s been forever since I’ve written anything.  I have a reasonably good excuse, I think, in the form of a family vacation and the lead-up to/anticipation of said vacation.  My reading concentration has been awful the past few weeks, and I had a stressful personal issue crop up at the most inopportune time as well.  So, having begged your pardon, now I am ready to dive back in to book blog life!  I missed you guys.  I miss feeling like a reading machine.  I’m ready to get my groove back.

Vacation:

So where did we go?  Toronto, Ontario, Canada!  My cousin from Iran moved there a little over a year and a half ago.  This was my first opportunity to actually meet her in person.  We stayed with her and she graciously showed us around beautiful, vibrant Toronto.  The weather couldn’t have been better while we were there.  There is SO MUCH to do and see in Toronto.  Just riding the subway and walking around felt like an adventure to me!  We visited Saint Lawrence Market, the CN Tower, and the Royal Ontario Museum among other attractions.  We also took a day trip to Niagara Falls, which was fun.  My son is absolutely nuts about LEGOs so we also went to the Legoland Discovery Centre in nearby Vaughn.  He had a blast.  We took a zillion pictures but I’m just going to share a few.

My son lying down on the glass floor at the CN Tower over 1100 feet up.
Gazing at the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara.
My cousin, me, my goofy son, and my husband at a delicious Persian restaurant in Toronto called Gilaneh.
I marveled at the giant armadillos at the ROM.
T. Rex at the ROM.

It was a great trip, my son’s first airplane flights and our first visit outside the country since my husband and I went to Ireland in 2006!  I most definitely want to return to Toronto.  Oh, I did manage to go to a bookstore while I was there – an Indigo store right near where my cousin lives.  I didn’t have much time so I consulted Goodreads and hastily selected three books from Canadian authors that I thought I might not be able to find easily in America.  (Thanks to Naomi and Buried in Print for the author inspiration on these!)

I’ve not read any of these authors before… have you?  Elizabeth Hay’s Small Change, Montreal Stories by Mavis Gallant, and The Memento by Christy Ann Conlin. They all look very appealing.  And of course, I have absolutely NO idea when I’ll get to them!  🙂  So that brings me to…

What I’ve Been Reading

  • I listened to the third Harry Potter book before we left and of course I enjoyed it.  But I’m taking a small break from them before I start Goblet of Fire.
  • I finished Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery the night before we left.  It was just lovely.  I’m not going to do a review of it, but I most thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to the sixth book in the series for #AnneReadalong2017.
  • On the plane I took Anne Tyler’s Celestial Navigation.  I have a superstition about carrying an Anne Tyler book with me when I fly, don’t ask me why, it’s wholly irrational.  I didn’t read much on the plane (short flight times!) or while in Toronto (too tired from all that sightseeing!)  But I managed to get pretty far into it during the return trip, and finished it a couple of days after we got home.  I love Anne Tyler, and intend to read all of her books.  This one was… not her best.  She’s excellent at character study, but this one was so frustrating.  The two main characters were so passive, or passive aggressive, or something.  They were making such poor choices and I just wanted to slap them!  It was a rather depressing read.  Only for Anne Tyler completists, I’d say.
  • As of now, I’m reading Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca for the RIP Challenge.  It’s luscious and atmospheric and brooding and I LOVE IT.  I suppose I’m about a third of the way through.  I’m going to get back into it when I finish this post.

So that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to the past few weeks.  I hope to get back to a more regular posting schedule soon!  October is such a busy month – do you all find that to be true?  There are so many Fall and Halloween related activities.  My son’s two week break will be over Monday, so it’ll be back to the usual routine.  (They start in July and get two-week breaks in Fall, Winter, and Spring.  Yes, we like it.)

Let me know in the comments if you’ve read anything I’ve mentioned here, or what you’re reading right now.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Buying Books For A Good Cause

The past few days have been rough (I don’t need to tell you why, do I?) and I’ve been doing anything I can think of to take positive, helpful action as a citizen of this country and the world.  My sanity strategy is partly self-care, partly taking care of others.  To that end, tonight I went with my son to Barnes and Noble and bought a whole mess o’ books for needy kids!  It was FUN!

See, my library system’s Friends of the Library organization is collecting new and very gently used children’s books for underprivileged families.  Our community does this huge food giveaway at Christmas called the Empty Stocking Fund, and the Friends are providing a book or two to every person who gets a food box.  They’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, and it’s proven very successful.  Bookstores are few and far between in the area, and even if a needy person can get to one they may not be able to afford to buy anything. Libraries are absolutely vital, but it’s also just so wonderful to be able to have books of one’s own in the home to read over and over again.  I know that as a child my books were among my most prized possessions.

So I went a little crazy tonight and made some fun purchases.  I bought board books for babies and toddlers, a couple of beginning reader/chapter books, and some books for middle grade readers.  Here are my pics:

img_0619

I made sure to choose some authors of color here too!  Seriously, Christopher Paul Curtis’s Bud, Not Buddy is one of my very favorite books and you should all read it!

When I got to the register, the cashier was so excited about my purchases, exclaiming that I’d gotten some of her favorite childhood books.  She also pointed out to me that our local Barnes and Noble is doing a book drive for a charitable organization called Mission of Hope, which provides Christmas gifts for needy Appalachian kids.  So I bought another book at the register for that!

My point with all of this is not to get a cookie for my actions, but only to say that if you’re feeling anxious or sad or angry about what has transpired in the last week, or even if you’re not, there are so many opportunities for doing good.  Perhaps your local Barnes and Noble (or other bookstore) is doing a similar book drive for the holidays?  Check with your public library’s Friends of the Library organization and see if they’re collecting books for kids.  Or maybe there’s a Boys and Girls Club nearby who could use some new books for their collection.  We are stronger when we take care of one another, and what better way to channel your love of reading than to provide books to kids?  I wholeheartedly believe that reading fosters empathy and understanding.  So let’s try to get books into the hands of kids and grow some compassionate, educated kids, okay?  As one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert, says, “Onward!”