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!
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!
This was an exceptional listen on my Libro.fm account. I read Lolita several times in my teens and twenties, but am not sure how I feel about it now as an adult. This look at the possible/probable origins of the novel was enlightening and I am deeply grateful to the author for giving Sally Horner a larger place in our collective memories as well as all of those who have suffered from abuse and then largely forgotten. This was also a riveting true-crime read, not a genre I normally read. The cross-over really appealed to me: true crime/biography/literary history. Excellent.
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.
I am such a huge fan of this book and this author. Beautiful Music, set in 1970s Detroit is just what the title states. A young Danny Yzemski is growing up chunky kid with a love of pop radio and an turbulent home life. He starts his freshman year in a new school being confronted by racial tension issues previously he only experienced through the news and his mother's snide comments. When a tragedy happens, Danny's mom becomes more and more obsessed with the world's cultural changes and tries to drive them out of her life with booze and pills. In this storm, Danny finds comfort in music. Like beautiful music, this book is permeated with the power to make you sad, lift you up, and carry you home.
Megan Shepherd has done it again with Grim Lovelies: a book so perfectly formed one can't imagine that it hasn't been around forever. It's simply a classic. Anouk was enchanted from animal to human by a Witch who holds her captive as a household slave. She and the other "Beasties" will do anything to preserve their humanity. She wishes to be like the "Pretties" (humans) with their fast cars and high fashion she can see from the small window in her Parisian townhouse/prison. But there is SO much more!! Anouk and her other Beastie friends discover that they have more power than they have been led to believe if they can only beat the clock and keep the spell safe forever. This is not a sufficient description for this book. Great diversity of characters! There are also Goblins!!!! Really cool Goblins!!!
It's pretty rare for a book to make me cry anymore, but I found my eyes welling up with tears of heartbreak and joy and the end of The Museum of Modern Love. This book is a fictionalized account of the life of the performance artist Marina Abromovic, a study of her most famous work and the effect it had on the individuals who witnessed it. I accidentally happened upon the installation of her performance piece in its last few days in May of 2010. I had no idea what I was looking at, but was deeply affected by it and the retrospective that ran concurrently. I've been a super fan of the artist ever since. Rose captures the complexity of Abromovic's work and the woman herself. It helps to have a moderate degree of art, architecture, and musical history to enjoy this novel. I am fortunate enough to have all three and was able to appreciate the references fully. That's not meant to sound snobbish, just factual. I did wonder throughout if someone with very little of these things would appreciate it as much without feeling like they have to stop and Google every few pages. My guess is that anyone would feel enriched by this novel. It speaks beautifully to the general human condition that no one needs references to understand. Just as I didn't need to understand what I'd walked into when I saw Abromovic's The Artist Is Present all those years ago to be moved. (Highly recommended pairing: watch the 2012 documentary directed by Matthew Akers).
It's my girl Sheri Castle!!! Sheri writes an amazing cookbook. Her New Southern Garden Cookbook and The Southern Living Community Cookbook sit on my shelves with broken spines and food stains all over them. And now she's written a new Southern cookbook for everyone's favorite new small appliance! I really love my Instant Pot, but I have not loved many cookbooks for them. Most were published quickly without testing and it shows. (A notable exception is How To Instant Pot by Daniel Shumski). An award-winning cooking instructor, Sheri's directions are always spot on and delicious. Hoppin' John Risotto? Hummingbird Coffee Cake? I'm all in!
I've been a big fan of Jonathan Lethem for decades now. In my heart, I'd always longed for a return to the classic Motherless Brooklyn style from early in his career. This book did that for me. Phoebe Siegler hires Feral Detective Charles Heist to find a friend's daughter. The story is narrated from Phoebe's perspective. I'm usually a little anxious when men write first person female characters, but she feels authentic and original and I didn't catch any of those "that would never happen in a woman's brain" moments that I get so frequently from other writers. I mean, really, that happens all the time. Anyway. This fast-paced novel races (sometimes literally) across an arid California landscape. Some of the best parts of the novel for me were Phoebe's reflections on the differences between lifelong New Yorkers like herself and those who are surrounded by the sheer scale of Mother Nature as people are on the West Coast. The action sequences are somewhere between Mad Max: Fury Road and Kill Bill. And our mysterious Feral Detective is a marvelous combination of sexy, mysterious, and conflicted. His own mission overlapping Phoebe's, they make an unstoppable and electric duo.
Wow! Talk about a gateway drug! This potent collection of short stories about an little old lady murderer not only introduced me to the most charming serial killer since Dexter, but also to two detectives I can't wait to read about in the author's two series! Brilliant! 88-year-old Swedish Maud is not someone you want to piss off. She's wily and creative and curiously strong for her age and, thanks to the unfortunate habits of a youth-worshipping society, all but invisible. I know she's murdering people, but I found myself rooting for her and hoping she'll get away with it.
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!
This rollicking dystopian reminded me of Stanislaw Lem's Futurological Congress and other classic works of trippy science fiction from Philip K. Dick to The Matrix movies. Combine these with a treatise on modern love, commentary on greenwashing, deflection through emoji use and a very, very bad rash and you have Oval. Berlin in the very near future is even more unaffordable and corporations rule posturing as benevolent overlords while existing solely to turn a profit at any cost. Anja and Louis have moved into an artificial mountain community rent-free in exchange for their silence about the eco-settlement's grotesque and life-threatening failures. Navigating their relationship, careers, and bizarre weather, the couple struggles to survive and make meaning of it all. The book is very, very funny and also a scary warning of what our near future may become.