My mom is a librarian and my sister demanded no less than 4 books read to her each night when I was en utero so clearly I am an obsessive reader…..and letter writer….well I guess I am an obsessive everything. I worked at Barnes and Nobles when I was in college and barely took home a dime. When I moved to NYC 18 years ago my passion for independent bookstores grew exponentially. When I lived uptown, my favorite was The Corner Bookstore on Madison Avenue. The cash register is enough to make you faint.As my life progressed downtown I became a regular at Three Lives & Company and McNally Jackson. McNally Jackson has one heck of a card section so it’s pretty much where my budget goes to die between the books and the cards. This is a pic of one of my recent hauls : ).
It is also situated on my my favorite walk in the city, the route from Soho through Tribeca to my apartment. Probably my FAVORITE thing to do in the world is wander around NYC. I fancy myself a Flâneuse which is defined as the feminine form of flâneur; an idler, a dawdling observer, usually found in cities (as coined by Lauren Elkin in her amazing book Flâneuse). More on that in another blog. When a wander includes McNally, or any independent bookstore, it’s heaven.
But the reason I love both of these stores and truly any independent bookstore is that I find book treasures that I would never discover in a big chain store. Case in point a book I found a few weeks ago on one of my dawdling wanders through McNally Jackson, The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman. Of course it was the title that first caught my eye – the reference to a postman. When I read the premise I was shocked. I stood at the table and read up to page 8 and after this passage, I knew I had to read the book:
“Bilodo was an unusual postman.
Among the thousands of soulless pieces of paper he delivered on his rounds, he occasionally came across a personal letter – a less and less common item in this era of email, and all the more fascinating for being so rare. When that happened, Bilodo felt as excited as a prospector spotting a gold nugget in his pan. He did not deliver that letter. Not right away. He took it home and steamed it open. That’s what kept him so busy at night in the privacy of his apartment.”
I guess now I know why it takes so long for some of my mail to be delivered. Just kidding USPS! This slim little novella captured my attention and I must admit I was a little on edge the entire time I read it, constantly waiting for Bilodo to get caught. If you love mail, all things postal and poetry, you will love this book. And there is a sequel which isn’t out yet. Not giving anything away but it’s called The Postman’s Fiancé.
Until the next note, Rhea