Bruce Feiler not only credits independent booksellers with helping him achieve a career as a writer -- "I am the kind of author who is still writing today, 20 years after I wrote my first book, because of independent bookstores," he said -- but also sees clear parallels between bookstore communities and the type of community he describes in his new book, The Council of Dads (William Morrow, May).
Feiler, the author of Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses (HarperCollins), invited six friends to be his Council of Dads when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and worried that his twin daughters might grow up without a father. The book follows Feiler through a year of chemotherapy and other treatments, and explores his relationships with the six council members, as well as his extended family.
Nearly two years after the Council of Dads was formed, Feiler thinks his daughters are better off as a result of having more adults involved in their lives. The men "are no longer just Daddy's friends," he said, but friends of his daughters as well.
That's why Feiler is glad to learn that "lots of people are creating their own Councils of Moms and Councils of Dads." His website includes resources for people interested in forming councils, and Feiler is working on a Council of Dads project designed for military families. He attributes the popularity of the council concept to the "universal emotion" that extends far beyond the specific circumstances that led him to create one. "This idea had an old soul. It felt like it had always been in the world," he said.
And as Feiler sees it, that "universal emotion" extends to bookstores. "At its core I think it's about building community," Feiler said. "I think of the independent bookstores I love in America -- their heart is in being a place of community."
Booksellers will have the opportunity to share that community with Feiler at BookExpo America, where he will be at ABA's Celebration of Bookselling and signing The Council of Dads in the ABA Bookseller Lounge. --Sarah Rettger