In “The Laboratory: Delighting in Independent Bookstores,” Gay describes his appreciation for bookstores such as Three Lives & Co. in New York City and The Book Corner in Bloomington, Indiana, where he lives.
The Book Corner, explains Gay, is “filled with shelves, and occasionally if there is a rush you will have to do a little dance with one of your co-patrons to make your way to the register or the gardening aisle. You might even be inclined to make eye contact and say something like ‘Whatcha reading?’ while dancing. If it’s extra busy in the Book Corner — I’ve seen this happen a few times — this can go on for a while, several people joining, incidentally at first, the ‘Whatcha reading?’ dance, until it becomes kind of like a party.”
“A good bookstore is your friend. And I hope you’re a good friend to your favorite independent bookstore by supporting them on Small Business Saturday, November 24, 2018,” Gay concludes. “Let’s make it a national Whatcha Reading day. A national Whatcha Reading party! Doesn’t that sound delightful?”
A PDF of Gay’s essay is available on BookWeb; booksellers are invited to download the essay and print it out to give away leading up to Small Business Saturday.
Gay also recorded a video recitation of the essay, available on YouTube, which booksellers can share on social media or embed on their websites.
Gay is the author of three books of poetry, including Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press), winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry. He teaches at Indiana University. The Book of Delights will be published by Algonquin Books in February 2019.