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February 2024

Picture of CaseyDear Readers,

One of my favorite parts of each week is the hour-long register shift that I work every Tuesday. Although customers comment that they are sometimes surprised to see me behind the counter, there is no place I'd rather be. I get to see what people are reading, talk to regulars, see what's happening in Downtown Santa Cruz, and catch up with booksellers. I also get to hear so many amazing Bookshop stories from customers. Just this week, one customer told me that he and his wife have a decade-long tradition of buying Valentine's cards at Bookshop.

Each year they do separate trips to the store and not only pick out a card for the other, but try to guess which card they think they will receive. They have been right about their partner's picks each of the last five years! Another customer told me that they buy several of our Blind Date with a Book picks and take one on each vacation they take during the year. Once they are on the plane or hit the beach, they unwrap their blind date book and get to have a surprise reading, which makes their trips even more memorable.

I often think about a conversation I had with another multi-generation bookstore owner when he decided to sell his business due to burnout. We asked him what lesson he would give to indie bookstore owners to help them not burn out in this challenging business. His response came quickly: "I would spend more time on the sales floor." When you don't have the time to do the work that got you into the business to begin with, you sometimes lose the passion you need to sustain your work over a long period of time. That is why I'll never give up my register shift or why you might see me in the aisles shelving new books. Being on the sales floor, surrounded by books and our customers, is right where I want to be. I hope that at the start of this new year, you get to go back to the things you love.

Happy reading,

Casey Coonerty Protti
Owner, Bookshop Santa Cruz

Books I'm loving now:
Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg
In our divided world, I can think of nothing more important than forging a better understanding of how to communicate. Charles Duhigg—Santa Cruzan, New Yorker Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and author of The Power of Habit—walks us through the science and art of communication using stories, studies, and heart to explain the act that impacts our lives more than almost anything else. This book is a revelatory new approach to use with partners, kids, work, politics, and life, one that I have already started implementing at Bookshop. Check out the book and come to our in-store event on February 27th.
Float Up, Sing Down by Laird Hunt
In the vein of Willa Cather, Kent Haruf, or Elizabeth Strout, Laird Hunt finds a way to transform quiet, ordinary lives into stories with deep emotional resonance. Taking a character from his National Book Award-nominated historical fiction Zorrie (also a great book that was overlooked since it was published in March 2020), Hunt follows the lives of one small town as they navigate relationships, love, loss, and what it means to be part of a community.
Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
I finally had a chance to read Yellowface and now know why it commanded so much hype all last year. When her author friend passes away unexpectedly, June Howard takes her friend's unpublished manuscript and claims it as her own. The suspense continues from there as the work takes the publishing world by storm. This funny, cutting, and highly entertaining novel is perfect for book groups who can discuss where the moral ambiguity emerges and how it reflects on issues of agency, race, class, friendship, ambition, and art.