photo credit Jay Paul
Kelly bought The Fountain 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 works regularly 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 a scholarship 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 by 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!
What an addictive voice! Told in the first person from the point of view of a 22-year-old Justin Bieber-like pop star, this meditation on fame is funny and deep in equal measure. I smiled a lot reading this book. Then I would turn a page and find myself pausing at a spot-on tragic observation that took my breath away. The child star recalls his journey to fame, how it affected his family, his relationships, and his fans. In a parallel story, his first girlfriend (also a child star) has a completely different experience of fame (picture Miley Cyrus) entirely based on the burden of her gender. The narrator assumes you picked up the book because you wanted to know more about his life, like we do all our favorite celebrities. A lot of time is spent in reflection on this relationship: why are we so emotionally effected by the lives of people we will never know, living lives that we can't really imagine?
I was working for a small independent record store chain in the 80s and early 90s when I was fortunate enough to interview the legendary John Doe for our newsletter. We sat in the smoky basement of the 9:30 Club in DC for hours talking about music, horses, and the world. The easy, generous nature I was lucky enough to enjoy that evening is present all over this collection of essays by and about the years of the L.A. punk scene from 1982 to 1987 in this follow up to the Grammy nominated bestseller Under the Big Black Sun. Doe's face may grace the cover (against his protests, according to the introduction by co-author DeSavia), but the light shines equally on all the contributors to this collection: some famous, some you won't recognize even if you're a big fan of that era. This is worth owning in both Libro.fm audio (for the music and narration) and hardback (for the pictures).
This white-knuckle read takes place in space and features a diverse collection of multi-faceted characters who are in danger of betrayal or death on every page! A massive exploration vessel was abandoned a decade before by the Earth's government because it contains a deadly virus and the entire dead crew save one. The survivor is a young man closely related to the highest of government officials. A separatist religious cult wishes to take over the ship as its new home and his genetic fingerprint is the key they need to get onboard. Kidnapping is just the start of this elaborate plan. The best and worst of humanity is visible page after page. I could not put it down!
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!
I almost regret reading this, it was so good. It was so exceptional, it took a solid week for me to be ready to read anything else. I just kept picking it back up and re-reading. I finally had to give it to another bookseller on staff so I could move on. And now I can't sell it for months. That's not very fair. Chiang's stories are the reason I read. Each one is a perfect cut gem. It's as if by the act of reading, you become light and pass through the gems and feel yourself reflected, refracted, split apart and turned into someone new. Each story makes your brain all bendy, even the ones that feel like they have existed for hundred of years. You'll find fantastic tales of time travel, meditations on the true nature of consciousness, even thoughts on parenting. Elegant without seams, I highly recommend this collection to fans new and old.
As a rule, I don't read a lot of dead people. My job is to find new authors, discover these new voices for you. I don't have a fantastic background in the classics. I was not a literature major. Sometimes, I feel like I might have missed out on some really great writing. Antoine Compagnon and the new nonfiction publishing imprint Europa Compass to the rescue! Montaigne is (I now know) the first to popularize the personal and critical essay. If not for him, we might not have David Sedaris, Caitlin Moran, and Ross Gay. He was a direct influence on Bacon, Nietzsche, and Rousseau. In these 40 short pieces, each about 2 pages long, Compagnon reveals that Montaigne's observations are just as relevant today as they were in 16th century France. This collection is thoughtful, engaging, and witty. Read small amounts at a time and just sit back and think about them a bit....relate them to the world as it is now. You'll be glad you did!
This was one of the best reads I have had all year on any subject. Put aside any reservations you have about reading an entire book about high end catering. Even if you have no interest in the subject, this is an exceptionally well-written book about extraordinary people including Richmond's own Patrick Phelan and his days in this high-stress, no glory business. James Beard award winners Matt and Ted Lee (The Lee Bros. Cookbook) take us behind the scenes of the vastly under appreciated art of cooking and serving beautiful and delicious food on a mass scale. No "rubber chicken and dry salmon" here. This food holds up against the fanciest restaurant food imaginable. The people behind the scenes, including Phelan, are where the real story resides: these silent heroes behind every successful wedding, state dinner, gala event. This book will help you understand the gargantuan effort it takes to make something look effortless. And reading this marvelous book, put together after years of exhausting undercover research, does much the same.
The best novels set in boarding schools have a claustrophobic feel less common than books set in other places. Knight's contribution to the genre raises the bar with its excruciating tension.
Portraying generations of girls present and past at Briarwood, (some of whom are now faculty), the story explores the inner lives of teens and adults as well as where they intersect. Living parallel existences, the adults and teens each dismiss the other as not having "real" problems. A condition that is as old as human existence is exposed in a new, illuminating, and heartbreaking way.
A major subplot explores our responsibility to history as Disney plans an American history theme park very near the school with rides and attractions based on the Underground Railroad, slavery, and the Civil War. The book takes place in 1993 when this battle over the proposed theme park was a real thing here in Virginia. (I know, gross, right?) Knight seamlessly weaves the stories of the girls' and adults' struggles with personal histories and presents with our nation's. And, as always, his writing is graceful, simple, and sings an unforgettable song of truth.
Reading a new book by George Singleton is like running into an old friend from your past, striking up a conversation, and later wondering why on earth you don't spend more time with them because they are even funnier and smarter than you remembered and they just make you feel good! The stories in Staff Picks are like that: clever in surprising ways but never precious or pretentious. They are filled with incredibly screwed up people from all walks of Southern life instantly recognizable to those of us who grew up in small Southern towns. These nutjobs are real, y'all. You will laugh out loudly, so take care where you choose to read this collection. You might also shed a tear or two. I did. Singleton is one of the few writers who can pull off profane and profound in the same paragraph. He's one of my favorites. Enjoy!
Told in alternating points of view from Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru, we join with our duo at the beginning of their relationship and continue with them on a quest: a road trip across Japan. As they travel together they learn what it means to love, to learn, and to be brave.
Deftly and delicately translated by Philip Gabriel best known for his translations of Haruki Murakami and Kenzaborō Ōe, the story has a dream-like quality. If you've ever loved an animal, this sweet, melancholy, cleverly funny book is for you.
Rosewater is an extraordinary start to a trilogy by one of science fiction's most interesting new writers. A bizarre dome of alien origin appears outside Lagos, Nigeria and opens once a year and heals the sick. But it also reanimates the dead and occasionally "reimagines" people into mutants. Another effect of the dome is the emergence of humans with access to the "xenosphere", a shared dreamworld where those like our protagonist Kaaro can access the thoughts of other humans, and even control their minds. He discovers that he and other "sensitives" like himself are being targeted for slaughter for unknown reasons. It has been a long time since I have read anything this richly imagined and intriguing. This dreamy, non-linear for fans of the Southern Reach Trilogy and even Neuromancer. To be released every 6 months, you won't have to wait 3 years to read the whole series!
My comments to my sales rep about this book: WHY NO FLOOR DISPLAY???????? WHY???????? THIS BOOK IS GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I WANT PLUSH AND PAPER DOLLS AND BOOKMARKS AND BRANDED KLEENEX AND HAND SANITIZER NOW!!!!!!!!! And now for the real review: This delightfully disgusting book will not only have kids learning about the microbes that live on all of us, but actually transferring them around their own bodies!! Brilliant!
Simon VanBooy's latest collection features stories based on actual people the author has spent time listening to for the past ten years. The planet would be such a better place if we could all listen like Mr. VanBooy. Through his interpretations, we as readers can fully inhabit characters very different from ourselves and feel their grief, soar with their choices to use personal tragedy to shape themselves for the better and create a more beautiful world. These are everyday people: a boxer with, perhaps, unrealistic dreams for his future unexpectedly shows a kindness to a mugger; parents struggling to accept the loss of a child; an insomniac woman picks up a hitchhiker while driving alone at night and the encounter changes both of their lives. VanBooy is one of my all time favorite writers. He is that rare sort that writes sentences of such grace and simplicity, detailing in words human emotional states we feel every day but could never articulate. And he does it perfectly every time. When I finish one of his books, I immediately want to turn it over and start it again. If you like Kelly Link and/or Haruki Murakami, the collection would be a good choice for you. Not because they are particularly similar, but because some of the emotions I feel when reading all three are on the same level of intensity. And that "brain tickle thing". You know what I'm talking about.
This is an extraordinary tale of a paralyzed veteran who is gifted (or cursed) with a miracle, the storm that surrounds him in the aftermath, and the meaning of faith. This book has ruined me. It was so good I don't want to read anything else. I've been in a funk for days since I finished it knowing that nothing else is going to measure up. This is a loving portrait of America today: imperfect, ridiculous, dangerous, yet still inspiring.