As I’d mentioned previously, I was to attend New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association fall conference last week, which I did. Even though I no longer co-own a bookstore, I’m still a member because my business partner and I intend to do some offsite book events where there’s no need for a brick and mortar building. Yet, here’s the thing: even after years of working for Borders Books and then having my own bookstore for four years, I still get a thrill at the sight of books. I’m curious when I see someone on the train with a book in their hands, wondering what they are reading, and my heart begins to pound a bit harder when I walk into a bookstore, any bookstore. So, you can imagine my reaction when I attend bookselling conferences where numerous publishers come and have hundreds of arcs (advanced reader copies) for the taking as was the case at NAIBA in Cherry Hill, New Jersey last week. Oh, there were meetings to attend where booksellers shared suggestions, disappointments and ideas, and breakfasts, lunches and dinners when we would be entertained by authors sharing their forthcoming books, books that we were given to take home (or back to bookstores for those who wanted to share the wealth.) It’s difficult not to feel greedy when gathering up these giveaways, knowing full well that it is the hope of the publisher and author that we would be reading what we’re taking and then talking about them on social media, with other readers and to patrons of those who have bookstores. For me, I plan to blog about them or share them with my readers in Rockville Centre Living, a magazine for which I am content coordinator and editor, as well as other publications. The thing is, with all those arcs I snagged, I’d be foolish to think I’m going to be able to cover them all. However, I have already given quite a few away to people I know who will eagerly read them and share what they’ve read with others. See, because one thing I’ve discovered over the years is that no matter how much publicity one does for his or her book, word of mouth is one of the more powerful tools. With that in mind, I’ll let you know two books that I am reading. One is a collection of essays by Michael O’Keefe titled 13 Stories: Fractured, Twisted & Put Away Wet. Full disclosure: Michael is a friend who was on a local TV show, Between the Covers, with me a couple of weeks ago and gave me a copy of his book. I was hesitant to dig in, afraid I wouldn’t like it and would have to lie to him. (Who wants to hurt a friend’s feelings–especially a fellow writer?) But that is not the case at all. Michael is a talented writer whose stories surprise me in a good way. So, each night I read a couple of his essays before getting back to Monika Zgustova’s Dressed for a Dance in the Snow: Women’s Voices from the Gulag. This is a collection of interviews with former female prisoners unjustly imprisoned during a dark time in the Soviet era. I’m pleased to say, as heart wrenching as it is, this is a book I recommend since I think it’s important to understand history that doesn’t just come from school books but directly from the people who lived it. However, as you can see by the attached photo, I have many, many more books to read, from lighthearted fiction to page-turning biographies, and other genres in the mix. So…stay tuned, even though this will take a while.