If you haven’t read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, do yourself a favor and pick it up. In it, she mentions a goosebump raising encounter with Anne Patchett, author of Commonwealth (among other beautiful works) and that Ms. Patchett is from Tennessee. Upon hearing this, I promptly went down a rabbit hole that led to the bookstore she co-owns, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee.
I live a couple of hours from Nashville, but I don’t make it there frequently, so I began to plot. Finally, about a month ago I got to make my first visit, and this beautiful little bookstore didn’t disappoint. It’s situated in a shopping center in the Green Hills area of Nashville between a Sherwin Williams and a Fleet Feet Sports, and at night it glows like a beacon for us readers who miss the hallowed aisles in which we love to get lost. As if oak shelves full of widely varied tomes weren’t enough to make me giddy, a sign warns unwary patrons to pay attention when they open the door lest the shop dogs waiting to greet them wander out as they come in. (I mean seriously, they have dogs and books. How could one not long to visit?)
Whoever does the purchasing for this shop does a great job of choosing a diverse inventory, and I’d be surprised if the casual browser didn’t find a little something she couldn’t live without. In addition to their impressive book stock they carry Out of Print socks and novelties, a beautiful line of reading glasses whose name I can’t quite remember, bags, stationery, cards, Magnetic Poetry, and a plethora of other things I had to convince myself that I didn’t really need. The staff is warm, helpful, and quick to smile, and in the middle of it all are cushy chairs tempting a gal to snuggle in and stay longer.
If you have children, you just might lose them to the winding, self-contained little people section that even I wanted to hang out in. I overheard several wee ones begging parents to stay or asking if they could come back tomorrow as their grown-ups pulled them along to the door. And the young adult section is just as wonderful, full of all manner of magic and lore.
For folks lucky enough to live nearby, their event calendar looks like it belongs to a prom queen and hosts everything from string quartets to nights with authors with whom you’d love to sit down and talk over dinner. I keep telling myself, I’m going to make one of those author events. I need to see how they run them so that when they host me on my first book tour, I’ll know what to expect. 😉
My travel through Nashville will be forever changed due to Parnassus. I’ll plan my time on the road to lead me here during business hours and leave me time to wander and peruse. The independent bookstore is a endangered animal these days and needs our support. I encourage you to look up the one closest to you and find the time to check it out, and when you’re lucky enough to make it to Nashville, be sure to pay the shop dogs at Parnassus a visit.
This story and all related material are the original works of Estora Adams. All rights reserved.