Kelly

kelly staff picks picture

Updated 4/19/21

Kelly bought Fountain Bookstore in January 2008 after managing it since 2000 and she has been a professional independent bookseller since 1989.

Kelly is currently serving a third term on the board of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and just concluded her second term as president for the same organization.   She works often with the American Booksellers Association serving on various committees and is a regular speaker at bookseller gatherings on topics ranging from brand building to utilizing the newest technologies for bookstores.  

In 2019 she was awarded one of three Booksellers Without Borders scholarships to the Turin Book Festival where she addressed Italian booksellers on the topic of Amazon's effect on the American bookselling market and the potential threats posed to Amazon on international markets in the future.

She loves to talk to folks about books, audiobooks, and the book business, food and bev, business and management theory in general (a real geek about that, actually), cats, overproduced action movies, and life in general.  Just ask!!

She's an omnivore of a reader, rarely refusing to at least try reading any category of book. Unfortunately, we also suspect she eats them.

For more on Kelly's history with Fountain and Fountain history in general, see this great article in Richmond Magazine online!

Books: 

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A Man Named Doll Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780316703659
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mulholland Books - April 20th, 2021

I haven't been this excited about a new detective in fiction since the IQ series started from the same publisher (Mulholland). The frequently stoned main character is a fellow named Happy Doll and he is a not awesome private detective living beneath the Hollywood sign with his half Chihuahua half terrier George. Anyone who likes Elmore Leonard or or Tim Dorsey or the Joe Ide’s IQ series I mentioned will love this! It’s a breakneck speed joyride through the violent streets of Los Angeles.  Really funny.   A little on the Tarantino side of violence: just a warning for the queasy out there.  The author writes for TV and film and the extremely visual storytelling shows it.  It released on 4/20. 


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Nives Cover Image
By Sacha Naspini, Clarissa Botsford (Translator)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781609456665
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - May 4th, 2021

Nimbly translated from the Italian, this slim read features an unlikely heroine in Nives (pronounce KNEE-vus). Nives lives in a very, very small town in Tuscany and recently found her husband of 50 years dead in a pig trough. She doesn't cry when she finds him or at the funeral. Eventually, she does get a bit lonely and takes in one of her farm’s chickens into the house to keep her company. The chicken gets sick and she calls the local drunk veterinarian. The majority of the action takes place almost entirely in one tense phone call in the middle of the night. I've never read anything like it. The closest thing I can compare it to might be Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf except funny. In the course of this call she exposes all the dirty little secrets of the last 60 years in this small town. She rails about the unfairness of love, the limit of her gender, parenthood, aging, and lost opportunities and betrayals. Shocking and raw, melancholy and side-splittingly funny: Nives can be read in one sitting. Great for book clubs!


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Let's Get Back to the Party Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781616209575
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - February 16th, 2021

It is just weeks after the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S. in the summer of 2015.  We meet two men who grew up together in the D.C. suburbs and are at opposite ends of what it means to be a gay man at this time in American history.  Both are involved in obsessive cross-generational friendships. Sebastian has a complicated relationship with one of his out and proud high school students.  Oscar is spending time with a Stonewall generation novelist on the decline.  Sebastian is anxious to settle down and assimilate.  Oscar is infuriated by what he sees as the death of gay culture in favor of what he views as colorless banality.  I loved everything about this book.  It is beautifully written and full of profound insights on what happens when a formerly ostracized segment of society becomes incorporated into the general population and what that means, good and bad, for the individuals that are part of it.  Stunning!

 


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The Echo Wife Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781250174666
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - February 16th, 2021

So.  Good!  Famous scientist Evelyn Caldwell is rebuilding her life after her divorce from her husband who was having an affair with her clone.  A whole new take on domestic suspense, Gailey deftly weaves in near-future light technical sci fi and a good measure of speculative philosophy while keeping her characters' emotions achingly, devastatingly real.  Evelyn's husband's clone wife is also giving him something Evelyn never did: a child.  This is a complex, rich tale that moves with the speed of a runaway locomotive as the scientist and her clone/sister are forced to work together to save themselves.   


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How to Order the Universe Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781951142308
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - February 16th, 2021

This book haunts me.  I can't stop thinking about it!  "M" is a seven year old girl in Chile growing up with a father "D" who is a traveling salesman who sells hardware.  Her mother is chronically depressed and, while loving, incapable of looking after her daughter much of the time.  Told from M's perspective, we go with her and D from place to place when he takes her out of school to go on his sales trips without her mother's knowledge.  She's sort of his "buddy" and "junior salesman" traveling companion and it's disturbing to see this child smoke and drink coffee in companionship with the other salesmen in the book.  Ghosts of Pinochet's Desaparecidos appear and disappear between the pages.   It's a book that will stay with you long after you close the cover. 


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What Could Be Saved: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982150617
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - January 12th, 2021

What an extraordinary family saga!   I stayed up late several nights in a row because I simply could not put it down.  The story focuses on a family: mother, father, two sisters, and a brother.  It takes place in Thailand in the 1970s when the children were young and spans the decades to 2019 Washington D.C.  The family is shredded by a tragedy in the 1970s and the lies and hidden secrets that reverberate from this one event change their lives forever.  There is also a mystery element.  This book is unique, but the prose and the quiet dread that explodes with unexpected confrontations and revelations brings to mind A Little Life, The Sheltering Sky, Euphoria, Tangerine, and other favorite books of mine.  I cannot recommend it more highly.  Extraordinary!  


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Her Night with the Duke (Clandestine Affairs #1) Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062986795
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Avon - September 29th, 2020

A fast burn almost from the first page!  Rawr!  Quincy has become my new favorite immediately with this scorching Regency.  Lady Delilah (Leela) Chambers and Elliot Townsend, the Duke of Huntington meet by chance in a roadside inn.  Both unattached they spend a stormy anonymous night in the sheets.  The next day they meet under different circumstances when Leela discovers the Duke is likely to become engaged to her stepdaughter!  I know, right?!? Leela's Arab heritage is key to the story and adds fantastic historical detail and richness to the story.  The duke, torn between duty and desire, is infuriating and irresistible.  This is a must read!!!


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Remote Control Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781250772800
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tordotcom - January 19th, 2021

From Hugo and Nebula winner Okorafor comes a story of female empowerment that is wholly original and masterfully paced. An object falls from the sky and finds a girl named Fatima who then forgets her name, witnesses the deaths of everyone in her family and village. The object is stolen from her from by government and she begins to walk the earth as the adopted daughter of Death in search of it destroying anyone or any tech that comes in contact with her including those she has no wish to harm. The isolation and inability to control one's emotions are delivered with immediacy that are impossible not to feel deeply as a reader. This Afrofuturism novella would make an excellent choice if you are looking for a quick, intense reading experience!


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Solutions and Other Problems Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781982156947
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery Books - September 22nd, 2020

I don't want to talk about too much about what's *in* Allie Brosh's autobiographical, illustrated essays as much as how it made me feel.  If I revealed too much about what happens to the author and her family through the book, I'm not sure you'd want to read it.  It is truly a collection of horrible events heaped upon a person already beaten down by chronic anxiety and depression that would floor even the most emotionally "normal" person.  The frenetic art and the spare writing combined to make me feel each painful reflection on her own flaws, loneliness, and grief in the face of these tragedies.  But I'll tell you something else: I laughed so hard I cried repeatedly while reading it.  No one is better at exposing the laughable absurdity of life while also getting to the raw horror of it.  The ending was beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful.  I don't think I can recommend any book more highly, especially for those who suffer from anxiety or who are going through dark times and need a "book friend" to guide us through. 


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Fish Feud!: A Graphix Chapters Book (Squidding Around #1) Cover Image
By Kevin Sherry, Kevin Sherry (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9781338636673
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graphix - September 1st, 2020

This is such a great little graphic novel!  With lines like "Who do you think you are? Gilliam Shakespeare?  Stephen King Crab?", how could I resist?!?  Squizzard (a squid) and Toothy (a vegetarian great white shark and gentle giant) are best friends, but Squizzard is kind of a jerk.  He's selfish and bossy and Toothy has finally had enough.  With a lot of sea puns along the way and a few ocean wildlife facts, this is a terrific read and would be a great book for both the bullied and bullies to start a conversation about how to stand up for yourself and how to be nice.  Vibrant color illustrations by the author add to the drama and hilarity immensely.  


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The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501177828
Availability: Available to Ship From Our Warehouse
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 1st, 2020

If Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Confederates in the Attic had a literary love child that somehow managed to be more strange than both of them put together, it would be this book.  Natchez, Mississippi is a town almost entirely defined by its contradictions.  Rich white families dress up in hoop skirts and Confederate uniforms for balls that celebrate the Old South, yet it is also a town open-minded enough to elect a Black, gay mayor by a 91% margin.  Richard Grant has a unique perspective as an Englishman on the bizarre history and continued conflicts and compromises made between its varying factions divided by race, class, and traditions.  Nothing is glossed over.  No one is romanticized.  People are portrayed as multidimensional and the reader is given a front row seat at this claustrophobic, surreal drama of one community's confrontation with the legacy of slavery.


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White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781946448545
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sarabande Books - May 5th, 2020

I met this author at a conference in January 2020 and somehow just unearthed the book from a pile in September.  I don't read a lot of poetry.  I feel like I'm not "smart" enough for it sometimes.  Then I find a collection like this and realize maybe I'm just reading the wrong poets.  I have read these poems over and over in the past two weeks and am still finding layer upon layer of depth and nuance.  Petrosino explores her identity through using formal sonnets to erasure poetry created from the text explanations of her DNA testing results, highlighting only the words from the "What Your Results Mean" that actually mean something to her as a Black American living in the Upper South.  She explores what it meant to be a young woman of color in the ivy league univeristy system.  Some of the poems that I have been going back to most often are her explorations of her complicated relationship with Monticello, the politics of plantation tourism, and her family connection to the Free Smiths of Louisa County.   A must read for anyone looking for a deeper understanding of Virginia history and anyone who may be looking to read poetry for the first time or the first time in a while.  Petrosino has produced a collection accessible to the beginner with the deep sophistication of subject matter and form of a contemporary master that can be appreciated by the person who reads poetry regularly as well.  


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The Book of Atlantis Black: The Search for a Sister Gone Missing Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781947793774
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - August 4th, 2020

Even with access to her email and social media accounts, the author's investigation into her sister's alleged overdose and death yield heartbreaking truths, but very few confirmable facts. We share her building frustration as the narrative unfolds and the disappearance of troubled musician "Atlantis Black" reveals more and more confusing details: Craigslist ads seeking companions, police reports, frantic and incoherent Facebook posts, images of a woman with a handgun. Her body was found in a Tijuana hotel room, but the body was never positively identified. This is a memoir of two siblings' frightening childhood and what it makes them as adults. It is also very satisfying as a true crime read. The author is also a poet and the writing is spare and haunting and cuts like a knife.


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Breasts and Eggs Cover Image
By Mieko Kawakami, Sam Bett (Translator), David Boyd (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781609456702
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - March 23rd, 2021

Mieko Kawakami's deep dive into the daily vexations of existence for contemporary Japanese women moved me in a way that no book has for a very long time.  The story follows three women (two sisters with a large age difference and one of their pre-teen daughters) , their deceased mother and grandmother, and various female friends and work colleagues.  With this broad sample we are able to piece together a grim picture of what it is like to be a woman in Japan today and in the recent past. The writing itself is spare and vibrant with tiny details which put you immediately and intimately in each scene which makes the emotional blows, when they happen, all the more devastating.  Just as in real life, you're just minding your own business, going out to eat or whatever (reading a book), and it slaps you in the face with a horrifying revelation, an ugly confrontation, an unwanted intrusion from the past.  I had to put the book down after several passages to just absorb the breathtaking moments of clarity for myself and the characters.  As each one traverses impossible pains to achieve self-acceptance and some peace, we share in their joy at claiming their futures for themselves.  Exceptional reading for book clubs and sure to be in my top 5 of 2020.


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ImPerfectly Happy Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781496725639
Availability: Available to Ship From Our Warehouse
Published: Kensington - April 28th, 2020

Four college friends decide to resurrect the Brown Sugarettes Mastermind Group they formed while in school to try to acheive the goals they had set for themselves ten years before but never realized.  All four are successful in their own ways, but very far away from their dreams.  They revive the group and support each other through tumultous relationships, addiction, financial uncertainty, and betrayals.  Recommended for anyone who needs a fantastic story about the power of women's friendships with a heavy dose of hot, realistic, modern-day romance in the mix.  Everyone will have a character they favor the most.  I loved the sections featuring Kara the sommolier best and a great place to start a book club would be who related to which characters the most and why.  Now go buy one for yourself and three of your girlfriends and start talking!  :)


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Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching People What to Fear Cover Image
By Patrick Boucheron, Willard Wood (Translated by)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781590519523
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Other Press - February 11th, 2020

When I am blue, I read philosophy.  

I'm not the brightest bear or the bear with the longest attention span in the forest, so I like my philosophy to be accessible, relevant to current events, and, ideally, spiked with a little humor.  This little gem did all those *and* had illustrations!  

Deftly translated from the French by Willard Wood, the latest offering from Patrick Boucheron is a revelation!  Machiavelli was, well, Machiavellian.  Wasn't he?  A real jerk.  Not a good guy.  His name synonymous with being a horrible tyrant.  His teachings the inspiration of unspeakable acts from the battlefield to the boardroom.  

But what if your worst enemy got to tell the story of who *you* were?  What would that look like?  

Boucheron examines source material, records of his life from several sources, and, most importantly, and the totality of his writing of which the infamous The Prince was only a small part and possibly satire.  Who knew?  


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The Lesson Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781094081298
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Blackstone Publishing - June 2nd, 2020

The Lesson is a spectacular first contact novel set in St. Thomas.  The Ynaa have been living among us for years, but have only recently made themselves known to humans.  They bring many gifts, but any resistance or aggression from the humans is met with wrath that is ruthless and out of proportion.  This is a complex, but easy-to-read novel that reminds me of Ursula K. LeGuin.  Issues of race and sexuality are dealt with a grace and intensity unusual in a debut novel, particularly from an author so young.  I was intensely moved by this story, completely swept up in it.  I can't wait to read more from this author!


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The Women in Black: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781982134082
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - February 11th, 2020

Patty, Fay, Magda, and Lisa are four very different women working in a department store in 1950's Sydney Australia.  This is a book about women's friendship, the difficulties of being a woman in that era, the small cruelties of aging, and the uncertainties of youth.  

It's a very difficult book to describe, but I enjoyed it immensely, and give it often as a book to cheer people up.  It's short and is perfect for book clubs.  Great if you've been in a reading rut or are having trouble finishing books.


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Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780385543767
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - April 7th, 2020

Chronicling the lives of the Galvin family, Kolker tells the stories of their 12 children born from 1945 to 1965, six of whom suffered from debilitating, and in some cases fatal, schizophrenia.  By revealing the almost unbelievable misery of this one family, he is also illustrating the many faces of psychiatry and mental health treatment over history from relatively benign, if ineffective, treatments to what we would now consider torture.  He also exposes the psychiatric drug industry for the greedy, uncaring, opportunistic practices that have been the standard for decades.  This look at schizophrenia and its effect on individuals, families, and societies is inspiring as it is disturbing and I hope its publication helps to accelerate change in the mental health industry and the hearts and minds of the public at large.


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Reproduction Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781609455750
Availability: Available to Ship From Our Warehouse
Published: Europa Editions - April 21st, 2020

I hardly know where to start with my need to talk about this book!  Reproduction is a love story spanning three decades from the early eighties to the 2000s starting in the city of Toronto, a city of vast differences in wealth and cultures.  The unlikely couple (Edgar, a rich, idle German and Felicia, a poor 19-year-old immigrant from the West Indies) meet and start an unconventional relationship with lifelong consequences for them both.  Don’t let the 550  page count fool you: the writing-style is the opposite of weighty and dense.  It is mischievous and funny, while still being moving and full of stunning revelations about “how strangers become family”.  Simply breathtaking!


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Bright and Dangerous Objects Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781951142100
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - October 6th, 2020

Bright and Dangerous Objects is a slim book that packs a mighty punch.  Commercial deep-sea diver Solvig has a deep desire to be one of the first colonists on Mars.  To be clear, this book takes place in present day and was inspired by a real woman with a family who was shortlisted for the Mars One project in 2015.  To pursue this dream the character (inspired by that woman and some of the author's own feelings) must give up everything on Earth forever: her relationship with partner James and trying for a baby with him - something she also wants.   The book amplifies the conflicts, obligations, and emotions women have been struggling with for centuries: family or career, dreams or duty.  Reading this beautifully written book made me angry and sad, but it also made me hopeful.  


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A Man Named Doll Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780316703659
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mulholland Books - April 20th, 2021

I haven't been this excited about a new detective in fiction since the IQ series started from the same publisher (Mulholland). The frequently stoned main character is a fellow named Happy Doll and he is a not awesome private detective living beneath the Hollywood sign with his half Chihuahua half terrier George. Anyone who likes Elmore Leonard or or Tim Dorsey or the Joe Ide’s IQ series I mentioned will love this! It’s a breakneck speed joyride through the violent streets of Los Angeles.  Really funny.   A little on the Tarantino side of violence: just a warning for the queasy out there.  The author writes for TV and film and the extremely visual storytelling shows it.  It released on 4/20. 


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The Power of Style Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781773214900
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Annick Press - April 27th, 2021

I was first introduced to this book at a conference and I thought it was for adults. But it turns out it was written for teens 12 and up. I think it would be a great gift for anybody interested in the intersections of fashion, culture, and social justice. It's written by Ojibwe Christian Allaire (a Vogue fashion- and style-writer).  He was motivated to write a book for teens who were obsessed with fashion like he was growing up but didn’t have access to anything that showed anyone who looked like him.  It features glorious photo spreads and perspectives of LGBTQ  designers as well as people of indigenous cultures.  It spins off into additional topics such as hair, hijabs, cosplay and more.  Stunning!  (ages 12 )