Kelly bought The Fountain in January 2008 after managing it since 2000 and she has been a professional independent bookseller since 1989.
Kelly has served many terms on the board of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and has served as president for the same organization twice. 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. Kelly is also on the advisory council for Bookshop.org for 2022.
In 2019 she was awarded one of three Booksellers Without Borders fellowships 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 also toured Italian bookstores of all kinds and met with booksellers, publishers, and media representatives to talk about challenges in the book industry common to both countries.
And she drank a lot of Aperol cocktails.
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!
This may be the debut of the decade for me. I am not prone to hyperbole or big declarative statements like this, so listen up. Cat Brushing, which will be published in the author's 80th year, is the book I've been waiting for that I hadn't imagined existing. These thirteen stories all feature women protagonists ranging in age from 60s to 90s and explore their interior emotional, intellectual, and erotic lives. The prose is savagely concise and immersive. The advantages, shocks, comforts, and cruelties of aging are explored equally without judgment. Flawless.
I ADORE THIS BOOK!!!!!! MUST READ!!!!! I LOVE Tracey Livesay's books!!! But she has outdone herself with this fireball! Danielle "Duchess" Nelson is a daring American rapper on the cusp of her big break. Prince Jameson is the quiet and studious academic who only attends royal functions when pressed. The Queen asks him to assist with a concert in her late husband's honor so the pop-clueless Prince asks a student for help. Who better to be a guest than a performer named "Duchess"? Sparks fly when Jameson discovers Dani might be a bit spicy for the Queen's tastes and both characters struggle to control their own destinies separately and together. This sweet, sexy fairy tale is an instant classic with rich, complex characters and room for these two to grow! Can't wait for the next one!!!
Calhoun had a complicated relationship with her famous art critic father Peter Schjeldahl. This book started as an attempt to write a biography of poet Frank O'Hara that her father never finished. Having inherited his obsession with the poet, the author wrestles with creating a narrative with answers when obstacles (time, fire, other people) keep them hidden. I felt the frustration of her and her subjects as it infected me with its incessant whispers of almosts and near misses. Ultimately, the author gifts us with wise lessons of kindness and acceptance. An extraordinary, raw read!
This book features a young woman who is a translator for an alien species that has come to Earth that doesn’t have a spoken language. She translates their thoughts into English so other humans can understand them. She finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation and she wants to keep her job and stay out of jail. I found this short novel charming and it's real love song to he written word and paper books. For lovers of Douglas Adams and John Scalzi.
The Good Left Undone is the work of a master at her peak. Adriana Trigiani has always written beautifully since her first novel Big Stone Gap, but this book is the definition of being swept away by a story. This multi-generational narrative follows the members of the Cabrelli family from present-day Viareggio, Italy to back to World War II Scotland and is filled with unforgettable characters, staggering losses, and grand love affairs. The textures, sights, and sounds jump from the page into your brain. I swear you can even smell the sea while reading it. Not to be missed!
Maum finds herself at 37 disinterested in life, sleepless, and lost. She is loved by her husband, blessed with a healthy child, but still feels adrift. She knows she is depressed, but feels unable to justify it given her success and good fortune. Having not been near a horse in decades, she feels compelled to renew that connection. I rode and trained in my younger years and I have also felt the deep desire to be with horses again. The author explores her emotions with the animals and the people who love them and finds her way back to herself. You do not need to be a horse lover to love this book. Anyone who has felt lost can get something from it. This book is just flawless.
I absolutely ADORE this series from Kevin Hart with Geoff Rodkey. And the illustrations from David Cooper bounce on the pages! Marcus is a little full of himself after going viral for a movie he made with his friends based on the comics he draws of a character called Toothpick. All the concerns of middle-graders are here: wanting to be popular, not wanting to be embarassed, volatile friendships, self-discovery. Did I mention it is exactly as screamingly FUNNY as you would expect a book from Kevin Hart to be? Beneath the guffaws is a sweet and beating heart and some comfort for kids facing anxiety, poverty, grief, social media confusion, and just the drama that comes with middle school. A !
I read a lot of memoirs, but this one was different. Séamas O'Reilly was 5 when his mother died leaving him, his 10 siblings, and his father to manage life on their own. In any other author's hands this might have been a tragic tale. In O'Reilly's is joyous, raucous, and gut-bustingly funny. In 1990s Derry, the Troubles are in the background, but not very real to a young boy who was more interested in attention, dinosaurs, and Star Wars than he was in politics. The author's father shines as the imperfect, grief-stricken, unstoppable hero in this book. This is a love story for crazy families everywhere. Share it with yours.
While I love poetry, I will admit to being a beginning reader still finding my way and what I like in the genre. Some of my favorite contemporary poets (and pretty much all of the dead ones) are so depressing though. Beautiful and powerful, but depressing. The Path To Kindness was an unexpected discovery! This anshology explores the themes of connection and joy. Uplifting and accessible from a diverse array of voices, I turn to it often and have given many copies to friends.
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.
I loved Fresh Water For Flowers and did not think it possible for the author to write a book as good as that, so I approached Three with some hesitancy. The "Three" in the book are Adrein, Eteinne, and Nina who we meet as 10 year olds schoolmates in France in 1986. Much like her previous work, we know between the friends that something has gone wrong as the book jumps back and forth between their dramatic childhoods and equally unsettling adulthoods in 2017. Perrin is the queen of dramatic tension and a master of the reveal. So, I can't tell you much more. If you're a reader of Liane Moriarty or Ruth Ware, maybe make this your dip into fiction in translation!
This gripping, swampy Southern debut had me from page one! Accurate comparisons have been made to the works of Dorothy Allison and Carson McCullers. Sunshine Turner is growing up in the 1980s in Fingertip, Louisiana with her alcoholic, troubled single father and next door to her aunt and slightly older cousin. Taking place in one sweltering summer, Sunshine finds herself alone and in peril when her cousin becomes more intrested in the concerns of a growing teen and the adults face their own demons. Interspersed with dreamy sequences of a mythical Crocodile Bride, this deeply charged book is ultimately redepmtive, but very scary before you get there. Outstanding!
Everything you want from Ruth Ware! David Baldacci has called Ware "The Agatha Christie of our generation" and he's not wrong. The "It Girl" is April Clark-Cliveden, the first person our protagonist Hannah Jones meets when she arrives to start school at Oxford. April is the center of a group of college friends who swirl around her like planets around a sun. During their first term, she is found dead and her killer is convicted and dies in prison ten years later. Hannah has reason to suspect the wrong person was in jail for the crime and launches her own investigation endangering her sanity, her marriage, and her pregnancy. Intense!!!
Incredibly cute and sassy little paranormal cozy mystery. Misha Popp's first in the new Pies Before Guys culinary series features a young pie maker with magical gifts. The first man she kills with a pie is an accident. The rest are most definitely on purpose. Daisy Ellery bakes deadly revenge into pies for men who have committed horrible crimes against the women in her small town, but she can't figure out who is blackmailing her and threatening to expose her vigilante side-hustle. There are few cozies these days that are breaking tradition and dropping a few f-bombs and showing some skin and including diverse, outspoken characters and this is one. I'm here for it!
Kawakami's Breasts and Eggs is one of the novels I've read in the last five years that has really stuck with me. I know that All The Lovers In The Night will be the same. We find our main character Fuyoko Irie, a thirty-something copy editor, living in a new city with no real friends and little contact with other people outside of her work. She spends most of her time simultaneously drunk and working from dawn to dusk. She has an experience that causes her to want to change. And we want so badly for her to save herself. This book made me laugh and it choked me up over and over. Heartbreaking and beautiful at once.
As a reader, I love books that defy categorization. As a bookseller, my feelings are somewhat more complicated. I am struggling to convey the hope for humanity I felt when finishing this biographical essay collection? Memoir? Krasnostein details her encounters with a death doula, a creationist geologist, a neurobiologist ghost hunter, UFO enthusiasts, a woman incarcerated for killing her abusive husband, and a bunch of Mennonites in New York. The deeply beautiful conclusion is that we can always find more in common with our fellow humans than we originally thought. Spectacular!
A crazy time-travel novel that is also a meditation on loss. The main character is mourning the loss of her lover as she tries to hold on to her job as "time cop" that is also frying her brain. I really loved this story with its many and varied villains and exploration of what regular time travel would do to the human brain. The protagonist keeps up her work to catch glimpses of the woman she loves in the form of kind of time-ghosts in the hotel where she works for wealthy people who go back in time and try to mess it up for sport and profit. Sometimes our biggest villains are ourselves as she learns while pushing away the people remaining in her life who wish to help.
The typical human lifespan is a pitiful 4,000 weeks if one lives to be 80. That would be a depressing thought if I had read it in any other book but this one which has been a life-changer. Looking at life that way, why not do things you mean to do? Say the things you mean to say? No. It's not as easy as all that, exactly. The author used to be a time-management guru for The Guardian, obsessively researching ways to find "more time" in the day. Well, guess what? You can't! Once you're over that hurdle, you can get on with living a more meaningful life. I love this book so much!!!!
The title is a statement, as in the fiery damnation of shame that crackles on every page of this soul-bearing memoir for readers of all identities. In addition to shame, Pevsner is an activist against ageism, is pro-nudity, pro-sexuality, and pro-living one’s best life as your true self. Growing up in a conservative Jewish neighborhood in suburban Chicago, he shares the long and vulnerable journey taken to become the self-assured, mature sex symbol and inspiration he is today. Sensitive readers: this title is XXX! Treat yourself to the Libro.fm audio: Pevsner is the BEST road trip companion!
Signed copies while available! Brian Cox plays Logan Roy on HBO's Succession: history's most toxic tv dad. This book is everything I like a celebrity memoir to be: he names the names, gives gracious credit where it's due, and slams idiots with gusto! Not a perfect individual himself, he owns up to his failures and is brutally honest about his vulnerabilities. Emotional, charming, lots of belly laughs. Also exceptional on Libro.fm audio.
NYC is in the throws of the first big COVID wave and Jamie Gray is stuck in a dead-end food delivery driver app job when he is approached by an old friend to join an "animal rights" organization that pays well. Tom is secretive about the details. Turns out this job is not on our Earth. It's on an alternative Earth with giant dragon-like creatures Jamie is now bound to protect. Everything you love about Scalzi is here: the snappy dialog; the biting, gut-busting humor; and the big heart. Loved it!
Stewart O'Nan's books are always so difficult to describe for me. His stories are of ordinary people (usually) in pretty boring surroundings. But within these characters is the capacity for big love and great cruelty, horrific violence and magnificent heroism. But for a twist or turn, they could be me or you. Ocean State follows four women in 2009 working-class Rhode Island. As a love triangle builds to a heartbreaking climax, the fallout devastates everyone it touches. I never, ever miss an O'Nan book.
The best of so many things! It’s a ghost story, a character study, a horror novel, and it’s all in a space version of the Titanic!!!! The author was inspired by visiting a Titanic exhibit in 2017 and features a trauma-riddled captain leading her small crew on a stranded luxury space cruiser full of the rich and famous that had lost contact and disappeared years before. Creepy horror in outer space, really well written. Loved it!
This is a book written for kids 9-12, but anyone could benefit from this general introduction to these great figures from African history pre-colonialism. I know almost nothing about African history because I had an average public school education in the 70s and 80s. That's true of a lot of people. Expand your horizons with this exceptionally well-written and informative portrayal of 10 figures who lived from ancient history like Aesop (yes, he was African...I didn't know either) to the 16th century queen of Benin. Inventors, scientists, military leaders, and more. Buy one for yourself, sure, but while you're at it, buy another or a couple more to donate to schools, libraries, community centers, or to give to freinds and family. Outstanding book! Beautifully illustrated as well!