When I lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn, I used to love to drive up the Hudson River Valley, especially during the Fall. It’s a city cliche, I know, but cliche for good reason. Fall is beautiful here in Sleepy Hollow Country and points north, and many valley villages fill every weekend with farmers’ markets, sports, concerts and, best of all, Halloween activities for all ages.
Sunday, I drove my family to Cold Spring, about an hour north of the city, at the invitation of an awesome indy bookstore, Split Rock Books.
Of course, with my history of dark stories for both children and adults, everyone has the idea of inviting me the weekend of Halloween. (I had to politely decline a few attractive invitations to come read, sign and share my work after booking both days this weekend months ago.) But Diane and Olivia and I are glad that Split Rock Books hosted us Sunday, because we felt right at home with booksellers Heidi and Michael Bender, a couple who — after over 10 years working as booksellers in New York, journeyed to Cold Spring to open up their own store.
Like some of the other great stores I’ve blogged here, this is a book store for book people: literary fiction and non-fiction, indy press and deeply into children’s books and other forms of graphic storytelling. The Benders’ Instagram seems to host as many images of visiting pets as books, giving you an idea that yes, this is a warm, welcoming place for warm, welcoming living things. And on top of that — thoughtfully curated books!
I found the Benders while searching the Hudson Valley for great, kid-friendly indy stores within an hour of our Westchester home, via their (Literary Hub) essay published as they prepared to open their store earlier this year. Reading the musings below, I knew these were people I would invite to sit down at our family table. (Hey, if I wouldn’t want to break bread with you, we probably wouldn’t enjoy each others’ company at a book event, either.)
“For us by far the strangest commentary is people who volunteer ‘I don’t read’ and who then extrapolate this quality to the rest of humanity via the follow up questions, ‘Does anybody read anymore?’ and ‘How do bookstores even survive?’ Frankly, we’re more curious about how tanning salons survive, but I guess the answer is that not every store that exists serves the entire population of earth. We don’t need everyone to read, we just need the people around here who read to find us and to shop with us.”
Heidi and Michael Bender, – THE BIG HIGHS AND DEEP LOWS OF OPENING AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE
Real booksellers know personalized service and a sense of community distinguish them from chain stores and online drone retailers, and Split Rock offers every kind of book event you can think of, including story time for kids. Of course, this week, kids in costumes received a goodie bag from the store, a popsicle stick Little Creep puppet from the Quinns and a chance to participate in the story and take home a signed book.
“Keep darkness close, shut out the Sun/Hold on to our little ones.”
And I signed every copy left in the store before we left, so if you hurry, you may capture one for your own.
Thank you, once again, to my pal Bumblebee and all the creatures, creeps and heroes who helped me sing my lullaby to classic monsters, hitting every boo, bloop and arrrooo! I’m going to miss you all terribly on November 1 when the world shifts gears to the next holiday… and I am one of the few, the proud, the Still Spooky.