An author’s best friends are bookstores and librarians who together link us to you, our readers. They introduce our novels and stories to people who would otherwise never learn about them. They alert our fans to our new works. And in the real world, they celebrate with us at our book launches and readings. No wonder they are our BBF’s – best friends forever!
Today marks the first in our series Best Bookshop Friends to tell the world about our favorite bookstores and why we love them. A big thank you and hugs to Mme Melissa Yi for recommending her favorite bookstore, R & L’s Book Nook in Alexandria, Ontario.
INTERVIEW with R&L’s BOOK NOOK
Melissa Yi’s book launches are never dull. In 2014, a year when the Mesdames’ newest member launched two books in her Hope Sze medical crime series, she decided that she wanted more than just books at her launches. “Books and bodies,” she said. “Books and dancing.”
Besides writing crime fiction, Melissa is an emergency doctor as well as a yoga teacher and belly dancer. And so, with a friend, she decided to teach a little of both at the launch of her novella, Student Body. At the Cornwall library, even the librarian was up and shaking her hips.
And at R&L’s Book Nook up the road in Alexandria, owners Roena Ryan and Loretta Shaver put a life-sized skeleton in their window for the launch. It was wearing scrubs. And it looked as if it was dancing. Yi was delighted. She performed Weird Al’s “Word Crimes”, a satire of Robin Thicke’s “ Blurred Lines”. She danced.
“Everybody danced,” Roena recalled.
She and her friend Loretta have been co-owners of the small shop on Alexandria’s Main Street for eight years. She was a recently retired packaging operator and Loretta had worked at a transportation firm when they bought the struggling store. The bookstore would have closed if they hadn’t.
Now it’s a hub for the community. Granted, it’s across the street from Gaetan’s Chip stand, famous in the area. And it backs onto a millpond, where they often kayak at the end of a business day. But along with homemade jams and knitting for sale, there are about 20,000 new and used books in stock.
“People think it’s a library,” Loretta said with a laugh.
The women make sure they promote local authors. There’s a special section for them along with space on a table near the cash. Customers trust them. Ask them what they should read. And because they know their reading tastes, they know what to suggest.
Take Scorpion Scheme, Melissa Yi’s newest Hope Sze mystery. It’s on display right by the cash. Loretta thinks Anne Perry readers will like it. Or Michael Palmer, another medical writer. Maybe Robin Cook, Roena chimes in. No, no, they both decide almost simultaneously. It’s Patricia Cornwell.
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR R&L BOOK NOOK:
Address: 58 Main St. South, Alexandria ON K0C 1A0 ; Website: www.rlbooknook.ca ; Telephone: 613-525-9940
A little about Alexandria, ON: Population 2,845 (2016 census), the former town is now part of North Glengarry Township. Alexandria has a truly bilingual town, half Francophone, half Anglophone. Founded as a mill site after the War of 1812, by Father Alexander Macdonell, it lies midway on the Canadian National Railway between Montreal and Ottawa. For a time it prospered manufacturing carriages but today it primarily serves the local farming community.
Melissa Yi is an emergency physician and an award-winning author of crime and speculative fiction. And in her spare time, she’s also a travel writer. Her latest thriller, SCORPION SCHEME, launched in late fall, 2020. Her fiction has been recommended by The Globe and Mail, CBC Books, and The Next Chapter. http://www.melissayuaninnes.com/