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A Not-so-secret from our Digital Editor

by Devra Thomas, Digital Editor

I’m going to tell you a secret. Well, it’s not much of a secret, actually; most of my friends and all manner of acquaintances know this about me already: I’ve always wanted to own an independent bookstore.  

I know, I know, it’s a crazy idea in this day and age of one-click ordering and digital reading devices. But still. To a committed hard-copy-owning, dog-ear-marking, pencil-annotating bibliophile, there is nothing like a local independent bookstore.  

Devra in a used bookstore, one of her favorite places on earth. Photo credit: Areon Mobasher

Treasured bookstore memories include: 

Wellington Books in Cary, where I grew up. When I was a young teenager, every Wednesday night we would eat dinner at Brothers’ Pizzeria, then I would take my few allowance dollars and any babysitting money I had made that week and skip down to Wellington to peruse their juvenile fiction and fantasy sections. I still have the boxed set of Susan Cooper’s A Dark Is Rising series that I saved up several weeks’ worth of allowances to buy.  

The Intimate Bookshop in Chapel Hill. On special occasions like my birthday, my parents would take me to the Ratheskellar in Franklin St. Alley; then we’d walk up to the Intimate. I remember it being packed floor to ceiling, two full floors of book heaven. They had an illustrated set of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles that I had on my Christmas wish list for several years.  

McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village. Fireplace? Cozy chairs? A cat? May I just spend the rest of my mortal days here? Small wonder so many retirees move to Fearrington when they have a beautiful spot like this.  

My first date with my husband was to the nearby chain bookstore, since it was open late and we were going out after a work shift. We try to find bookstores everywhere we’ve vacationed (shout out to Books to be Red in Ocracoke!) and lived (currently we frequent Page 158 Books in Wake Forest). We’ve visited large shops (hello, Malaprops in Asheville!) and small (City Center Books and Gallery in Fayetteville), specialty stores (local-focused Next Chapter in New Bern!) and shops dedicated to well-loved previously owned tomes (I see you, Circle City Books in Pittsboro). 

Local independent bookstores are the best places to find the wealth of work by authors and poets who currently or have called North Carolina home, along with libraries (I will wax poetic about those in another post), and here in the North Carolina Literary Review, of course. Our rich literary culture would not be so without these stalwart purveyors of the written word. Poetry readings, short story contests, writers’ groups: all of these find life in bookstores and contribute to our state’s literature.  

As you are out in your town, holiday shopping in your nearest independent bookstore, ask if they carry NCLR! Pick up a copy along with that novel, memoir, or poetry collection written by your own local author. Even though I’ve long been enamored with bookstores, it’s more fun now as an adult to be in love with the literature found within. We are so blessed here in North Carolina to have the breadth of writers we do, through time and location! We are proud to support their work here at the NCLR and hope you will continue to support us, too.