I’ve been coming to Book Passage for many years. Often I came for the author events; sometimes the author was my brother Dave Barry, which meant Event Director Karen West would ask my late wife Kathi Kamen Goldmark and me to do the introduction. We, in turn, felt compelled to come up with ever-more absurd things to say (or sing) about Dave as the years went by, until finally we reached the point where even he felt it was time to get serious (not really).
I’ve played in bands at Book Passage; I’ve participated in terrific writer’s classes and conferences; I’ve enjoyed lunch, coffee, and wine with friends in the café; I’ve been the author presenting a book; and (oh yeah) I’ve browsed the shelves, looking for a good read. The staff is terrific. They are knowledgeable and friendly; I guarantee you’ll find the book(s) for you.
Now I am Book Passage’s marketing director, which means I just called myself terrific in the last paragraph. (That’s marketing.) It also means I am here a lot, which is apparently what people expect of you when you have a job, and I am struck by what a remarkable place this really is. I know, I know—you’re thinking “He’s the marketing director—they pay him to be enthusiastic.” That’s true. But it’s also true that Book Passage is an oasis of culture and kindness in a world that is in dire need of those qualities.
My office is near the young adult and children’s book section of the store. (Do you think the owners, Elaine and Bill Petrocelli, and General Manager Calvin Crosby are trying to tell me something?) Every day I hear parents reading to children and children reading to parents from books selected by our renowned children’s book buyer Susan Kunhardt; I hear teens talking about what they’re reading. I hear animated discussions in language and art classes. This place is alive. It is civilized. It is a community center for readers, writers, artists, artisans, for families, for people young and old. It is a place that cultivates and celebrates the best in human nature.
If you haven’t been here lately, come on by. If you’re a parent, bring your kids to Story Time with Christopher Smith. There’s no charge for most author events, but maybe you’ll decide to buy a book. Maybe you’re an aspiring writer who needs to get in the mix or some constructive feedback. Maybe you'd like to join one of the many book clubs. Maybe you’ll start your own. Our Signed First Editions Book Club has a record of picking future award-winners: one was Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and another was Paul Taylor's Tinkers, each of which were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Members of the Signed First Editions Club are reading tomorrow's classics today and filling their bookshelves with potential collector's items.
Whatever your reason for coming to Book Passage, you will probably discover something unexpected. That’s the joy of this place. And while you’re here, say hello. Tell me what you’re reading, or writing. See you soon.