Aug 22, 2008

The King's English Bookshop

Literary nonfiction writers are always complaining that books within this genre have no real home in bookstores. If you visit the big box bookstores, here's what you'll find: Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family is filed under "Sociology." Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief is under "Gardening" and "True Crime." And Ted Conover's Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America's Hobos is in "Travel Writing" of all places.

That's why I felt like I had to pinch myself when I entered The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City last weekend and found a section -- in fact about three floor-to-ceiling shelves -- called "Literary Nonfiction."

Gaping in awe and disbelief, I peered through the stacks finding books by some of the genre's darlings including Didion, Wolfe, Dillard and McPhee. Feeling all warm and fuzzy, I gushed to the people at the front desk, "I LOVE that you have a section for literary nonfiction. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

The next time you're in Salt Lake City, find a moment to visit the eight cozy, book-packed rooms of this independent bookshop. Owner Betsy Burton opened the shop more than 30 years ago and has written a book (called The King's English, of course) about the adventures of running an independent bookstore.

If you're like me and not in the vicinity of the Great Salt Lake, you can admire The King's English from afar by checking out their blog called The Inkblotter.

Does anyone else have any favorite independent bookstores we should know about?

1 comment:

Primate said...

C'est magnifique. I'm jealous you got to see it! Booksellers usually look at me blankly when I ask. I'd think it's doubly interesting they use the LNF moniker, and not "literary journalism" or "creative nonfiction."

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