Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Word Books, Brooklyn

Luis Alberto Urrea signs Queen of America at
Word Books, Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of
On a mild December night, I took my husband for a surprise visit to an independent bookstore in Brooklyn to give him his Christmas present: not just a hard-cover version of the recently released Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea, a book we'd been anticipating as the sequel to our favorite, The Hummingbird's Daughter, but a signed copy and a chance to meet the author.

Jon was delighted when he realized what his present was. We've been a fan of Urrea's for a long time and were both just thrilled to meet him. But we were also delighted with the venue in which this reading and signing were taking place - not a Barnes & Noble, not a Borders, or other Starbucks-ridden big-box behemoth, but a cozy, well-stocked bookstore in Brooklyn with a lovely children's section and a knowledgeable and friendly staff.

We were led into the basement where Urrea and his wife were setting up a slide show, we were offered refreshments and encouraged to enter a raffle for 18 signed books of all different titles offered by the bookstore. Then Mr. Urrea showed pictures of his real-life main characters upon which his historical-fictional novel is based. He answered questions, and finally did a memorized reading, more of an acting out, of a scene from Queen of America. The man should be on Broadway. Then my husband got in line to have his newly purchased copy signed and I had a great chat with a staff member about the book A Fearful Symmetry by another favorite author, Audrey Niffenegger.

And guess what...I won the raffle! However, that is not why I chose Word Books for this blog. They fit all the Sincerity criteria and then some (even providing lots of community outreach, according to their website). My husband came away feeling like he'd gotten the best Christmas present ever, and I walked off with a charmed impression of the shop. We don't have anymore independent bookstores where I live, Astoria, Queens, so Word Books is now my bookstore of choice. Merry Christmas to us!

Evaluation: Extraordinarily sincere!
126 Franklin Street Brooklyn, NY 11222 | 718-383-0096



  1. This sounds awesome. But I thought Seaburn Books in Astoria was independently owned? I can't be sure, but I will tell you that way back when the last Harry Potter book was released, I called them and they actually held a copy of it for me, and I stopped by as soon as they opened--no line, no fumbling to find my name or my copy, and a cheery smile and verbal wish that I really enjoy it as much as I anticipated. If they are not independently owned, you should consider featuring chains that have a sincere location, from time to time. Could be a way of rewarding those who step outside the corporate-thinking box.

    But stop by Seaburn. Their shop is lovely, cramped in the most charming way, and at the very back there's a nice collection of used plays that few people have heard of.

  2. Yes, I LOVE Seaburn, but I thought they closed, a fact I truly and deeply mourn. I hope I'm wrong 'cause I actually haven't been by there to check. Anyway, we do sometimes feature businesses that aren't necessarily independently owned but are for some reason very sincere. Nevertheless, thanks for the input!