Autumn has finally arrived in Sweden. I’ve been waiting for it for weeks. The cold and darkness and persistent rain. Nothing says writing like rain. Then again, it also says “what a perfect day to curl up with a good book”. Effectivity wise, it’s sort of a draw.

Autumn also says sentimentality and memories and nostalgia, and what better thing to remember than a magical May in the US and the amazing bookshops I got to visit. I think I left you after Full Circle Bookshop in Oklahoma.

Next stop was Laurel Bookshop, Oakland, a beautiful bookshop I’ve visited before and once spent days looking at while I was “working” on a café opposite the street. Laurel Bookshop has a shelf named “Justice”. I’m not sure if I need to add anything more to show you how great it is.

This was almost at the very end on my tour, and yet strangely enough I did not feel tired. It’s possible that I looked it, but I didn’t feel it. The way I remember it it was just one flight after another, transporting me to glorious bookshops and magnificent books, and if I could have, I would have continued forever. If I had been a more effective writer I could have written a book on the road and then just continued on a tour for that book, whilst writing the next, and so on, for ever and ever.

But at least I had two bookshops left. So I went to Arizona, which is apparently known for the Grand Canyon. I visited a much more important tourist attraction though, the Changing Hands bookshop – with a book bar! Called First Draft! With a logo with a typewriter and a beer. I got a t-shirt, and nowadays I use it as my writing uniform. Changing Hands have two different bookshops in quite close connection. I know this because naturally we got to the wrong one first. “My name is Katarina Bivald”, I said. “I’m here for the event?” and the poor man behind the counter looked completely blanked. Until he figured out we should have been heading for the other store. We were only ten minutes late. The store called and explained. I don’t think the woman who organized it had time to die of nervousness.

If I had a bookshop with a bar close by I would never leave. Fact.

And then, unbeliavably, we’d come to the end of the tour. We flew in through the mountains around Denver to visit the The Tattered Cover Bookstore. It’s a beautiful, winding sort of bookshop, with lots of good places to hide with a book and disappear from the real world forever. “If you can’t find me when the event starts I’ve snuck off somewhere to read”, I told Vanessa, who was my handler at the time. From the Tattered Cover Bookstore I got a personalized book mark that I naturally will never use for fear of loosing. It’s on my bookshelf now, right opposite my bed, so when I have the first cup of coffee in the morning I can look at it and be gladdened by the memory.

And now, the most important part: the pictures!

Laurel Bookshop, and the most important shelf
The wrong Changing Hands or A bonus bookshop!
The book bar
at the right Changing Hands
Look! Isn't it beutiful?

Oklahoma City: Full Circle Bookshop

Full Circle Bookshop in Oklahoma City is that kind of shop you want to disappear into for a while. Or forever. Winding, with lots of different rooms, and shelves that reach all the way to the celing, and sofas and chairs and a classical guitarist playing on Friday Nights – it was a miracle I managed to leave at all!

They also had book ladders, you know, the kind of thing they have in the library of Beauty and the Beast, in what is no doubt the most romantic scene that’s ever appeared in a Disney movie. Usually, I blame Pride and Prejudice for me being single, but now that I think of it – maybe I’m just waiting for someone to present me with an amazing library (with book ladders, I need hardly ask) on our third date. Subconsciously, I might just have sat around there on a perfectly good date with some charming man or woman or beast and thought: “I don’t know, it’s just like… something is missing.”

If so, I can’t imagine a better reason to stay single.

Co-incidently, Julia of Full Circle Bookshop told me that a woman had come in the other week dressed exactly like Belle of Beaty and the Beast in order to take photos on the book ladders. I was a bit disappointed. I had hoped that she had come in dressed exacly like Belle just to sit around and read.

“So, tell me”, I asked the bookseller behind the counter while buying a book (impossible to resist). “Do you get to climb them?”
He looked sort of strange at me and said heistatingly: “Sure… I mean, sometimes.”
I nodded. “It’s a great job.”

Boswell Book Company: “I’m in so much trouble”

So last Thursday I visited amazing Boswell Books in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (“Milwaukee” is one of few tricky names I seem to get instinctively right: I just start typing, and everything makes sense. As compared to Albuq.. etc). It was a glorious, dangerous evening.

Boswell Books is located on 2559 N Downer Ave, Milwaukee; a charming bookshop on a charming street. I think this bookshop has sold more of my books than any other bookshop in the country. They even have a Team Broken Wheel. Bookseller Jen Steele was its first member, and she then recommended/forced the other people at the bookshop to read it, and it spread from there, until they had sold an incredible 145 copies of my book.

Tragically, they combined my even with “Book Club Night”: they put together a guide for book club with interesting books of different genre that might make for good discussions in a book club, and they began the night by presenting some ten of their favourites. Daniel and Jane were amazing, and somehow managed to talk passionately about their ten favourites or so while still keeping it under 30 minutes.

I’m in so much trouble, I thought, as I sat and listened to them talk about great books. I wanted to read them all, but somehow I managed not to buy all of them that night. Their recommendations included The Residence (want to read), Between You and Me (want to read), Girl Waits With Gun (have read, great book), A Re-Union of Ghosts (want to read), At the Waters Edge (want to read), A Spool of Blue Thread (want to read), The Turner House (want to read), The Little Paris Bookshop (great book), Kitchens of The Great Midwest (want to read).

Daniel seemed like something of a writer’s saint. He discussed difficult second books, and mentioned one author who’s second book hadn’t sold as well as the first: “Because it’s not selling, he thought it not as good, so I keep forwarding comments from readers who have loved it.”

A lot of Swedes living in Milwaukee had also mananged to find their way here, so I got to speak some Swedish!

Through some amazing miracle of self discipline I managed to only buy two books: Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo, and House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure

Book Club Night!
Jane and Daniel. You know how they say that a good salesman can sell ice to an eskimo? Well, Daniel and Jen can definitely sell books to a booknerd!
I got to talk about Dewey!
Team Broken Wheel!
Can't wait to read them!

Some reactions on my joke

Apparently lots of Lathea’s collegues have emailed her to offer sympathy and understanding re my cruel joke about booking an hotel for the wrong dates.

Me, I’ve only heard back from my dad.
“How many dads do you have?” he asked. “Because my jokes aren’t bad! My humour is elegant and intelligent and stringent and..!”
“Sure it is, dad”, I said, adding: “And at least this one was surpsiringly successful.”
“Christine always laughs at my joke”, he muttered.
Christine is his daughter-in-law, so my sister-in-law, and a very nice, warm-hearted person. For years she’s laughed at my dad’s joke and fallen for a number of them so as to cheer him up.

Dad, if you’re reading this: I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Christine loves your jokes!

Lathea’s collegues at Sourcebooks: I said I was sorry! It was a mistake! I didn’t mean to do it!

Barnes & Noble Galleria, Edina, MN

I fell in love with Barnes & Noble Edina before the event even started. You might remember me picking up som cosy crime from Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Ohio? One of them was Laurie R. King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I was immediately fascinated by the premise, and the courage of the author. would definitely not have been brave enough to bring back Sherlock Homes and pair him with a feminist fifteen year old, eventually to marry him off to her.

There’s at least thirteen books in the serie, so now I am hunting them down in bookshops across the US. This often happens when I travel. For example, in Ireland I stumbled over a used copy of Georgette Heyer’s The Grand Sophy, and fell in love right away. Fortunately for me, her books had just been reprinted, and they appear in no particular order, so I just bought eight or ten or twelwe and looked myself in a hotel room. I don’t remember exactly how many I bought in Dublin, but I do remember I had to constantly leave them behind because they didn’t fit in my suitcase. And in London only a year or two ago I read a book by Julia Quinn, and then I had to find the other books in the Bridgerton-serie, of course (while frantically sending text messages to Simona Ahrnstedt about it; my romance-writer friend).

And now it’s Laurie King’s Mary Russel. It’s a struggle, reading a serie when you’re on the road. The challenge of course is backlist: older books written by an author or in a serie. Not all bookshops have them. They might have the last book or the first book, and if they’re big, they might even have a few in between, but the chance of finding, say, number three in the serie? Or number five? You have to develop a determination bordering on obsession bordering on addiction to manage it. Oh well, who am I kidding? Crossing all borders well into addiction.

I mention these number because Barnes & Noble Galleria managed to find both for me.

I was visiting another Barnes & Nobles to sign some stock and asked about it, and the very kind woman took it upon herself to call all the bookshops close by to see if anyone had number three. The Galleria-one did.

“Thta’s great”, said Lathea. “Because we’re going there tomorrow. We can get it then.”
And then she saw my face, which must have been both incredulous and shocked.
“Or today!” she said, very quickly. “Let’s go today!”

Of course, by next day, when the event was, I already needed number five. And they had it!

Ps. The event was lovely too!

I really had a great time, and got to speak a lot of Swedish
Number five!!