Must Love Books

Let’s face it: you have to really love books to own a bookstore these days.

Blog Photo Fanfare Sign1 by Hamlin Grange

That’s what I say to Bob Newland, owner of Fanfare Books in Stratford, Ontario. 

Blog Photo Fanfare and downtown by Dale Ratcliffe.JPG

Credit: Dale Ratcliffe

Q. Owning a bookstore doesn’t seem like a way to get rich quick. Why do you do it?

A: You are right: money is not the motivator. But the store provides many other satisfactions:
1)The people- I get to hobnob with the most intelligent, erudite and well-read people on the planet.
2)The books- Everyday is Christmas!
3) Sundry satisfactions- While it doesn’t happen as often in reality as it does in The Little Paris Bookshop,  every now and then someone will say that a book that I sold them years ago made a profound change in them. Often a book is a personal thing and it’s nice to think that I have made a difference, however small, in their lives.

Blog Photo Fanfare and Bob by Hamlin Grange

Credit: Hamlin Grange

Blog Photo Fanfare Story Downtown Traffic and Street by Dale

Thousands of people visit Stratford each year. It’s a beautiful city, with nature (including the Avon River) adding its charms.

Blog Photo Stratford River by Dale Ratcliffe

Blog Photo Stratford Swan by Dale Ratcliffe

It’s also home to famous artists, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Stratford Summer Music Festival, and it’s singer Justin Bieber’s hometown.

Blog Photo Stratford and shakespeare by Dale Ratcliffe

4 above photos by Dale Ratcliffe

Q: Who are some of the individual shoppers who have delighted you by coming to your bookstore? 

 A: The most fun story that I have is this:
First Saturday in December is our sale day. We’ve been doing this for thirty years and it is usually the busiest day of the year. A couple of years ago, Colm Feore came in- as he sometimes does- and held half of the substantial crowd in thrall for about half an hour as he described how he grilled a steak. Now THAT`S entertainment!

(Colm Feore is one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, but his home is in Stratford and he’s a beloved star of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.)

Blog Photo Fanfare and Shoppers by Hamlin Grange

Bob’s mother, a teacher, fostered a love of books. He studied English literature and Bob managed bigger bookstores before buying Fanfare in 1989. 

Fanfare carries books by big-name authors such as Louise Penny, Alice Munro, W.O. Mitchell, Robertson Davies, John Irving, Timothy Findley, Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott, Alan Bradley and others.

But it also carries books by less well-known authors like me. (Thank you, Bob, and store manager John Woodward.)

Book image An Honest House 1

Blog Photo Fanfare window and Street by Hamlin Grange

Above photos by Hamlin Grange

Q: Why should readers and society in general value bookstores today? 

A: Books are the instruments that produce and preserve culture and civilization.
Okay, it sounds like hyperbole but it’s actually true.

The bookstore is a place of discovery.

It’s where you discover passions that you didn’t know you had.

It’s the place where serendipity happens. Also, taking text out of the equation, a well-made book is an object of beauty in and of itself. I love the look and feel of a book where the designer had the talent, patience, awareness and materials to make something special.

Blog Photo Fanfare address

 

 

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Filed under A Good Home, Artists, Arts, Authors, Book lovers, Book Stores, Books, Booksellers, Stratford, Ontario

I Deserve a Prize, I Do

I was once the proud recipient of the Pumpkin Princess Prize – awarded by Scotland’s pre-eminent herb-blogger, The Hopeful Herbalist.

Was Miss Hopeful smoking her own herbs when she did so?

Don’t know, don’t care. I took the title seriously.

Pumpkin photo of our tiny pumpkin and peach

Actually, what my lovely blogger friend said was: “Award yourself the pumpkin princess crown!”

Which to my deliriously happy state of mind, meant much the same thing.

And now I wonder: if my tiny imperfect pumpkin could win me that regal honour, perhaps the next thing is my cooking? Or baking? Or floral arranging?  

Let’s face it: It takes tremendous effort to be really bad at something.

blog-photo-christmas-arrangement

A lot of trial and error is required. Mostly error, mind you. 

Take my cooking and baking (please — someone has to).

I famously made a two-ingredient dish – cauliflower and cheese – and forgot the cheese.

The harder I tried, the worse my cooking got. I forgot half the ingredients, or doubled them — or burned the dish. Husband added ketchup, salt or spices to everything I cooked. Yegads! Ketchup!

I’d  perfected the art of  truly bad cooking.

But do you hear anyone giving me the title for worst borscht?

Perfectly pathetic pie?

Instead, they flock to stories of delicious dishes and beautiful bouquets. I’ve never understood it.

blog-photo-flowers-with-alium-closer-e1403881941537

 Meanwhile, we lesser folk never give up trying.

And still, our creations are catastrophic.

But consider this:

It takes a lot of work — and maybe even a strange type of talent — to turn out truly awful stuff.

So I think it’s time our efforts were acknowledged. Don’t you?

(Tee hee….)

 

 

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Filed under A Good Home, An Honest House, Cooking, Family Moments, Floral Arrangement, Garden Humour, Gardening, Giant Pumpkins, Humour