The Joy of a Local Bookstore
In Kentucky, I lived in the expanse between two cities, meaning nothing save a few gas stations was really convenient or nearby. This was annoying, but what really bothered me was the lack of a good bookstore. The closest thing I had—a chain called Hastings—went out of business.
So when my husband said his new job was based in Tempe, Arizona, I immediately began googling bookstores. A business named Changing Hands was the first result.
And after my first visit, I was hooked. The book selection is superb, and the additional merchandise—like the Read, Write, Resist t-shirts, for example—speaks to the independent, activist flavor of the entire establishment.
In my first week of living in Arizona, I was lucky to attend two events at Changing Hands: an interview and book signing with Pulitzer-prize winning author John Carreyrou, and a book launch party for Kelly Devos’ YA novel Fat Girl on a Plane.
John Carreyou: Bad Blood
My husband supports my fierce love of books, but he isn’t much of a reader. When he does read, he usually enjoys nonfiction or business-related books. I was excited, then, that John Carreyrou’s event would be of interest to both of us.
John Carreyou is an investigative reporter whose book Bad Blood chronicles the secrecy and manipulation of the company Theranos. This was apparently quite the scandal in the business world but, admittedly, this was the first time I had heard of the situation. Theranos was headed by young prodigy Elizabeth Holmes, who claimed to invent new technology capable of conducting extensive tests on a tiny pinprick of blood. Despite her many investors and accolades, Holmes’ technology didn’t work. This led to many consumers receiving false—and sometimes life altering—results. Later, I learned that Carreyou’s book is in the process of being adapted into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence in the role of Holmes.
I came away from the event with a deeper appreciation of investigative reporting. Carreyou’s hunches and follow-through not only exposed the truth of Holmes’ deception but also helped the patrons and competitors of Theranos. Carreyrou was humble and straight-forward, and even though I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, I am looking forward to reading Bad Blood.
Kelly Devos: Fat Girl on a Plane
As a lover of YA fiction, I was eagerly anticipating the Kelly Devos event at Changing Hands. I was also attracted to the book’s title; the inclusion of plus-size protagonists in YA novels (like Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, for instance) is a choice I quite like. Within seconds of walking into the event, I noticed it had a festive, quirky atmosphere. There were cupcakes, fun goody bags, and lots of laughter and conversation. As someone who is trying her hand at a YA novel, I was a little intimidated but also encouraged by the presence of many local YA authors.
Devos explained the conception of her novel amid a YA-themed game of Cards Against Humanity. The protagonist of Fat Girl on a Plane is a burgeoning fashionista, an industry that Kelly Devos knows well. Devos also said the idea for the novel came after she was struggling with writing another YA novel and was told, during a trip, that she would have to buy two seats on an airplane. Devos went on to read an article she penned for her high school newspaper, which added more humor to an already fun event.
I talked a bit to Devos when she signed my book. Her excitement was palpable, and the event inspired me to continue to chisel away at my own novel.
Overall, I am looking forward to attending more events at Changing Hands. It seems the calendar is full of either authors I recognize or books with interesting premises. I will always be a Kentucky girl at heart, but being close to establishments like this one reassure me that Arizona is the perfect place for me at this stage in my career.