Opinion | The best Christmas shopping can be found in your local bookstore

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But what we spend our money on also plays a role, and the current disruptions in the supply chain give us a foretaste of what will happen if Amazon manages to drive all local businesses out of business and hand us over to a logistics system that once did was fragile even before the pandemic. If we want these dear local places to survive, we need to spend money there on vacation more than ever.

I went to Parnassus last week to buy a copy of a new book by Ann Patchett. Not “This Precious Day”S.”, The book of essays that she will be bringing out at the end of this month, but a little book about the history of the store, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on November 15th. Patchett and Karen Hayes, a former Random House sales rep, founded the store in 2011.

By then, all of the independent bookstores in Nashville, not to mention the Borders chain, had gone out of business, killed by the online Goliath. But Ms. Patchett and Ms. Hayes trusted Nashville to support a store that was just the right size – small and cozy, with comfortable chairs, carefully selected books, and most importantly, dogs. Dogs offering their bellies to rub and patiently listening to a child, reading them a story, and sometimes even jumping through a hula hoop.

The Shop Dogs of Parnassus was released in a limited edition to help the Parnassus Foundation buy books for children who cannot afford them. It’s an enchanting story, and I wasn’t the only one in the store picking up a copy that morning. Rummaging in the far back, I heard a customer remembering Bear, the much-missed cross-breed who was wearing a diaper and parked at the front door, the store’s unofficial greeter from the front.

Sissy Gardner, the deputy floor manager at Parnassus who belonged to the late Bear, climbed down from the ladder where she put books on the shelves. “Would you like a pair of bear earrings?” She asked the customer. “We stopped selling them, but we’re still giving them away to people who loved Bear.”

This is how it works in every local bookstore. Love goes in all directions – it circles between writers and readers and booksellers and even old dogs in diapers. What more could you wish for this Christmas season than shopping in a place surrounded by love?


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