Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Longfellow Books Survives Blizzard Nemo


It has been a long winter in Maine. Yet another snowstorm (8 inches) shut schools yesterday. Last month Nemo dumped more than 30 inches in Portland, but Mainers are usually prepared for harsh weather. Human negligence was a greater hazard. The tenants above Longfellow Books had left a window open during the storm, causing the pipes to freeze and the sprinkler system to go off. Firefighters rushed to the rescue, but thousands of books were already ruined.


When the tragic story was shared on Facebook, readers and authors rallied to help. Josh Bodwell at Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance coordinated a fundraiser with a cash mob, online donations and a sold-out literary event at Space Gallery, featuring Maine literati: Richard Russo, Monica Wood, Ron Currie Jr., Bill Roorbach, Brock Clarke, actress Moira Driscoll and others behind the scene. Longfellow Books reopened after three days. Thanks to everyone who helped!


A good independent bookstore offers more than books; the bookseller is a connoisseur stocking quality literature. On this display table at Longfellow Books, I discovered The Indigo Notebook, and author Laura Resau, became one of my favorites. Longfellow stocks both new and used books, and browsing in a well organized store with informed staff is the best way to shop. Booksellers have told me horrific tales of people scanning the titles with their phones to order online. Indie bookstores are an endangered species so if you value them, support them. Indifference is a greater threat than a blizzard.

My latest purchase at Longfellow Books was a March 12th release, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, after reading a glowing review in The New York Times. The trailer features the author, who also appears as a character in her novel.



Spring begins with the vernal equinox at 7:02 AM today. My backyard didn't get that update.

15 comments:

kacky said...

How sad for the bookstore but how wonderful that the fundraiser was formed and they re-opened!!! That is great- Facebook is amazing I think in situations like that.
No, doesn't look like your backyard got the memo but I will say it is incredible. I am sure you tire of the sight but I love it. Stunning.

Carol said...

Happy Spring Sarah! You have covered so much wonder in this small space. Wonderful to read how a community comes together to help when tragedy hits. Truly inspiring! I have called my local independent bookstore and ordered Ozeki's book. Thank you so for sharing the trailer. Perfect for this time . . . being snowed in. We are having snow showers right now! Your photographs are beautiful. Our time for spring will come too.

A Cuban In London said...

Sorry to hear about the weather, but it was great to read about the community spirit that the storm triggered off. That trailer is beautiful. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I love hearing that people pulled together for that fundraiser. That's so inspiring.

p.s. send some snow here to KY :)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

NIghtmare. Water and books do not mix.
So happy it had a happy ending.
And... hasn't this been the longest winter ever??
29 degrees here this morning.
xo,
p

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I love that trailer; it's so beautiful and mystical!
I'll tell spring it missed your yard. ;)

troutbirder said...

Wonderfully evocative trailer. I mardked the book and the author done in my little "to be read" book. Thanks......

tina said...

Wow on the trailer. Time Being looks to be most intriguing. It's crazy on all that snow! Guess this winter was somewhat a normal winter?

tina said...

Forgot to say on the Longfellow bookstore. At first I though how stupid to leave a window open but I actually did this once in Germany. We left on vacation and it was hot so I cracked a window. We came back a few weeks later and it was very cold in the apartment. No frozen pipes though as in Germany everything is made of concrete and fairly well insulated. I bet the tenants who left their window open are really hating they did that. Can't imagine the mess.

walk2write said...

I hope the tenants were forgiven. If they are avid readers, what an awful burden to bear! You're right, those indie book stores may become the next dinosaurs. What a shame. Just think of the stories written with them as a centerpiece. The Never-ending Story is one that comes to mind. They are certainly magical places.

Ms. Ozeki's book definitely looks intriguing. It's interesting that she is one of her own characters. I'm not sure that I would be gutsy enough to try such a tactic.

cynthia newberry martin said...

I was very happy to read, only seconds after I learned of the wet, ruined books at Longfellow bookstore, that it had been saved by writers. And gorgeous photos below of your cross-country skiing and congratulations to your daughter! Also enjoyed the review of Elizabeth Strout's new book. I did not know she was an attorney.

SG said...

With spring knocking on you door, I'm sure Maine is happier :-)
It struck me how similar bookstores look - irrespective of where they are in the world. The picture in your post reminded me of my visit to a book shop here in Mumbai on Friday.

Amanda said...

my heart sank when i read about the damage at longfellow's - there are so few independent bookstores left that it's a shame when any of them face even more troubles.

we just got 12+ inches of snow in the midwest, so it currently looks a lot like maine outside my window this morning.

Petra said...

Spring definitely has overslept the vernal equinox but it also gives your backyard another opportunity to show off its snowy beauty. :) Well, I know, however beautiful it is, it's time for a change. So many people expect and need it.

The Longfellow Books story sounds like from another world, hats off to all those people participating in the help.

The book "A Tale for the Time Being" has attracted my attention. I read the NYTimes' review and was amazed by the fact that the author responded to earthquake and tsunami by throwing away half of her book and starting quite anew. That must have been a serious decision.

Steph Su said...

Wonderful to hear that so many people rallied to get Longfellow Books back up and running! That's something I feel like could only happen with a community-run, community-loved store. I wish so badly that I lived in a place that had indie bookstores. It's been oddly cold here in Shanghai these days as well (though no snow, not ever). Hope all that snow gets out of your hair soon!