Sunday, August 18, 2019

Bookstores I Wish I Had Visited When I Was Within 50 Miles of Them - Parnassus Books (Nashville)

Unlike the bookstore that I featured here a few days ago, Ann Patchett's Parnassus Books is still in business, so it is not too late for me to visit this one. I don't get to Nashville much anymore, and the last time I was there I couldn't get to Parnassus before it closed up for the day. But I'm still hopeful that I will make it there one day - and lucking into a day when Ann Patchett is in the store would be the icing on the cake. 

Patchett is called the "Patron Saint of Indie Bookstores" for a good reason, as will become instantly clear in this video. She is such a goodwill ambassador for bookstores, not just her own, that I can't imagine anyone being more perfectly suited for the designation. I had the good fortune of hearing her speak at a book festival in San Antonio a few years ago, and still recall how genuine a people-person, Ms. Patchett is. 

And my experience with her books, has placed her firmly on a short list of authors whose new work I'm always on the alert for. In the meantime, these are some of my favorite Ann Patchett books:

My Personal Favorite
 I did not start reading Ann Patchett until 2012, and I started with 2011's State of Wonder, the story of a scientist who goes to the Amazon to recover the personal effects of her mentor who has died in the jungle. She is to meet the unresponsive doctor he worked with and find out exactly what is happening on the research project. My complete review is here.

Ann Patchett's first novel was published in 1992 and it reminds me a little of John Irving's Cider House Rules. The Irving novel is set in an abortion clinic and The Patron Saint of Liars is set in a home for unwed mothers. What makes them seem so similar to me is that the central characters of both novels have created perfectly normal lives for themselves in both places.

The Story of a Happy Marriage is a collection of essays that reads more like a memoir than many memoirs read. For those interested, Patchett has also written a memoir called Truth and Beauty: A Friendship, but I much prefer this one. 

Of the five Ann Patchett books I've read, these are my favorites, but there are another five or six of the author's books I can still look forward to reading for the first time, something that makes me happy. Only two days ago, in fact, I moved Patchett's Bel Canto near the top of my TBR list, so maybe I should order a signed copy from Parnassus Books. 


  1. I'd love to visit Parnassus Books! Hope you make it there, Sam. :)

    1. Maybe one of these days, Jenclair. I'm finding that the larger cities I used to visit on a regular basis get on my nerves more than they used to. They all seem to have gotten more cluttered, unorganized, and frustrating than I remember them to have been in the past. Probably a product of old age...

  2. Oh... well I was probably within 50 miles (maybe a little more) of Nashville when we travelled from Memphis up to Kentucky. We did think about visiting Nashville as my husband's a country fan, but neither of us could face another city's traffic so soon after Memphis. Rural Kentucky was a joy after that.

    I've yet to read anything by Ann Patchett. State of Wonder sounds excellent and appeals to me as an armchair traveller. Will see if the library has it.

    1. State of Wonder is very atmospheric, Cath, and full of surprises. The characters are memorable and the plot is very unusual. I really loved this one, and hope you enjoy it.

      I know exactly how you feel about passing on bookstores and regretting it only later. I spent many a weekend in London going to bookstores, and now I see all these YouTube videos about wonderful bookstores there that I never even knew existed when I was there.