Review of “The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap”

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Thomas C. Foster declares that Wendy’s “clear prose sparkles with personality in this heartening tale of the perils and rewards of following one’s dreams.”

The book jacket calls The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, by Wendy Welch, “an inspiring true story about losing your place, finding your purpose, and building a community one book at a time.”

Since I’ve lost my place, chased down my purpose, and planted myself on Camano Island in the hopes of building a community one word at a time, I think it would be foolish for me not to read this book.

So far, I’ve read the first chapter, and it’s amazing. performing professionals, Jack and Wendy Welch worked from 9-5, every Monday through Friday and moonlighted as festival performers on the weekends. While following their bliss of that season, the two spent the long car rides daydreaming about a settled life that included “a used book store, with a cafe that serves locally grown food.” The hardwood floors would squeak, the south-facing windows would fill the rooms with sunlight, and passersby would step in impulsively from the tree-lined streets.

Fast forward several years, when Jack and Wendy find themselves in a sleepy town looking for respite. Two years of working in what they called a Snake Pit, “living in a world with no moral center,” found them weary and in need of a short respite before returning to “life.”

They entertained a jaunt with a real estate agent in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. These two unsuspecting dreamers stepped into LIFE for a moment and almost…almost passed it by. About to dismiss the opportunity to seize this season’s bliss, considering the practicalities of not enough money, not enough population, not enough blah, blah, blah, Jack broke the spell of common sense with the following five words:

“What if someday is today?”

I suppose some people who think they know me well would argue that I abandoned common sense long ago, but I would argue that I didn’t fully break its spell until almost three years ago. True, by then I had already quit working in my own Snake Pit and was actively pursuing my dream to become a writer, but it wasn’t until my dreamer husband and I pulled up all our roots and left our home state to move to sunny northern California that I would say I through caution to the wind in pursuit of our bliss.

I found mine, but Eric only found a piece of his–the courage to abandon common sense and give himself time to evaluate the “important activities” and decide if they were bringing him pleasure. No, he decided, they were not. Living for a paycheck is not really living.

The three months we expected this process to take him turned into nine months of living on nearly nothing. Yes, it was hard. Yes, it was stressful. But those nine months of LIVING–just being, barely producing, barely consuming–saved our marriage.

And those months of talking, of living and doing life together, helped us prioritize. A vision or two later, and it was clear that the light which illuminated our path was shining once again toward Washington.

In our life we’ve moved beyond chapter one in our story, and in doing so we’ve resumed a number of “important activities,” but this time as a means to an end. We’re not always happy, but we’re working on keeping our perspective so we can be. I look forward to reading more of Jack and Wendy’s story. I truly hope it will spur us on to continue living our dream.

What about you? Do you have a dream in your heart?

If you could set aside your common sense and do anything, what would you do?

Which important activities are keeping you from pouring your energy into your bliss?

Take a moment to consider stopping just one of these things right now.

What’s the most that could happen?

~Angela Magnotti Andrews
Book Details: The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, by Wendy Welch (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2012).


One thought on “Review of “The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap”

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