Yankee Bookshop aims to become a gathering place -- even if it's not in the store itself

The great thing about a bookstore is that everyone in there has something in common. They all want to read.

They want to see the world through someone else's eyes, or get carried into a life or a family or a world that's not their own, or simply be told a good story. In a sense, a bookshop is a community by nature. Even though everyone's quietly minding their own business.

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So imagine the connections that can get built when a bookshop puts on events -- when people all come together to hear an author or learn more about the same topic. "An active community bookstore can become a 'Third Place,' a spot other than work or home where people can meet, share common interests, and have a common experience," says Kari Meutsch, co-owner with Kristian Preylowski of Woodstock's Yankee Bookshop.  

This year, the bookshop is focused on taking that experience beyond its own walls. It will hold several author visits at the Norman Williams Public Library, and others at local schools. "Anytime people can gather and experience something together makes a stronger community," says Kristian. "And the community helps to shape our store, since we want to reflect what people are interested in -- both in content on the shelves and the programming we put on. We shape each other."

On the schedule at the moment:

  • Tonight, March 7, a discussion with SunCommon about how individuals and society as a whole can shift the course of climate change. The conversation will center around Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken. It begins at 6 pm, at the store.
  • On March 26, Kathleen Kesson talks about her book, Unschooling in Paradise, with local educator, civic activist and former Shiretown Bookstore owner Ron Miller. Kesson, who has a long history of teaching progressive education in Vermont, writes about one family's attempt to come at learning from an unconventional direction. This will be at the NWPL, starting at 6 pm.
  • On April 3, join in on the book-launch party at the store for Hartland middle-grade author Jo Knowles's 8th novel, Where the Heart Is.
  • Then, on April 8, Julie Berry will be at the store to talk about her new novel, Lovely War, about four wildly different people thrown together during World War I -- as narrated by the goddess Aphrodite on the eve of World War II. The bookshop has also organized school visits in the region for Berry.
  • On April 18, Thomas Farmen and his chocolate lab, Bessie, will be at the store to talk about Bessie's Story: Watching the Lights Go Out. Bessie was 4 when she was diagnosed with irreversible blindness, which came on during the two-and-a-half years Farmen was adjusting to his own retirement from running a boarding school. The book is Farmen's way of passing on what the Valley News called Bessie's "message-by-example of adjusting to adversity with a blend of determination and tail-wagging joy."
  • Finally, to close out April, it's Independent Bookstore Day on the 27th. Drop by the store's website in coming weeks to find out what's planned.

And why should you go to any of these events? Because you learn new things, you get inspired, you get to hang out with other equally interesting people -- and you never know when something an author says might set off an answering spark inside you. Besides, Kristian insists, it's your in-person chance to go behind the scenes. "It's one thing to read a book," he says. "It's another to hear what goes into the making of a novel, or the research for a non-fiction book."

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