Luke and I have been making the trip between Charlotte and Atlanta for a few years now, and our longstanding joke has been that we pack as if we’re leaving the oases and entering a desert. By that I mean, it used to be the trip up and down I-85 was a bit of a cultural desert (no offense to any South Carolinians). In the two-hour long absence of any good public radio reception, we’d load up on This American Life podcasts and listen to them one after the other. Luke often reads to me. Sometimes for pure entertainment value we’d flip through the stations and listen to the shocking radio preachers or we count the number of conservative Christian billboards that pepper the road between Anderson and Gaffney. (Patriotic Jesus with red, white and blue lazer beams shooting out of his fingers is our favorite.)
But lately we’ve noticed a shift. A new oasis has sprung up where Greenville, SC used to be. Well, it’s still Greenville, but not the Greenville as I used to know it. This is Greenville with a Whole Foods and a Trader Joes on the same exit. This is Greenville with WEPR 90.1, an NPR broadcast. And as we discovered on our trip last week, this is Greenville with an independent bookstore.
As far as independent bookstores go, Fiction Addiction satisfies all the essential requirements: A thorough and up to date display of Indie Bound and NY Times bestsellers, a complete but non-dominating Classics section, a pleasingly extensive section devoted to Regional and Local authors (Pat Conroy taking up much of the shelf space), and, happily for us, an impressive gardening section.
What it lacks in overall charm and location (bookstores in strip malls will never excite me), it makes up for in content, although Luke may disagree. He spent most of his time browsing in the science section, which he pointed out was small, outdated and politically one-sided. But if customers flocking to that section fit that bill, then I’d say the owner is doing her job well by curating accordingly.
They had what I was looking for, in any case. I snatched up a copy of Amber Dermont’s Starboard Sea, as I’ve decided it is next on my reading line-up, as well as the gardening book I mentioned yesterday. And if these purchases aren’t enough to declare the visit a success, the mere discovery of an independent bookstore halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta most certain is.
(The iconic Gaffney peach water tower by Holly Bailey)