The Little Bookstore that Does

From April 30 to May 7, centre stage goes to Charlottetown, where the Bookmark bookstore is responsible for much of Reading Town PEI’s feature billing.
Bookmark Charlottetown
Bookmark Charlottetown

Bookmark Charlottetown is a driving force behind Reading Town PEI

You’ve heard of the book The Little Engine that Could. However, you may not have heard of “the little bookstore that does.”

It’s not in print, but it’s heavily involved with all things in print: stocking and special ordering books of all genres, including the launching thereof; celebrating authors’ successes – local, regional and national; and, since last year, participating in one of the hottest events in Canada: Reading Town PEI.

This is Prince Edward Island’s second year of participation in the grassroots event. From April 30 to May 7, centre stage goes to Charlottetown, where the Bookmark bookstore is responsible for much of Reading Town PEI’s feature billing.

Owned and operated for two years by Marlene and Dan MacDonald, and backed by long-term manager Lori Cheverie, Bookmark has events planned for almost every day and for readers of all ages. The four-page programme is impressive.

In addition to daily events such as specials on books, a guess-the-author contest and a design-a-bookmark competition, last year’s popular reading-in-the-bookstore-window invitation is once again extended to all book lovers. Anyone can participate; all you need is a book and the willingness to sit in a rocking chair and read in Bookmark’s window for an hour. Last year, every moment was taken.

On Saturday, April 30, PEI’s authors will be celebrating the “little bookstore that does” on Authors for Indies day. More than 20 Island authors will be onsite to thank Bookmark employees and owners for their support. This is a great opportunity to meet the folks who write the books you read. And to get autographs.

Then, on Sunday, May 1, Bookmark is hosting a pub night with a twist at Upstreet Brewery. From 6:00 to 8:00 pm is a silent reading. Rules are: no phones, no talking; just books and noses in books. And if you are so inclined, a pint of craft beer. The evening takes an upswing at 8:00 pm when Steve Forbes, PEI’s king of literary trivia, will emcee Booklover’s Trivia. There’s probably a prize. I’m going to guess a book.

Beulah Kettlehole and the Patriarchal IceThe evening of May 2 is Bookmark’s word-games event and Wednesday, May 3 is the launch of Islander Barbara Parsons’ novel Beulah Kettlehole and the Patriarchal Ice, set in Bogotá Colombia in 1971. There’s sex, romance and intrigue in the British Trade Delegation.

Thursday, May, is an even bigger day for Bookmark. The morning kicks off with Poetry While you Wait, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm. PEI’s Poet Laureate Deirdre Kessler will write a poem for you. If you don’t want one for yourself, perhaps you can have a poem created for your mother for Mother’s Day.

The signature event of the week happens at UPEI the same evening. David Denby, staff writer and film critic for The New Yorker, will be giving a public talk based on his recent book Lit Up: One Reporter. Three Schools. Twenty-four Books That Can Change Lives. To find out if high school students are interested in literature despite all the social and digital media, Denby attended English classes at a New York public school for a full academic year and frequently visited two other schools in Newhaven and Westchester.

With the increased emphasis in schools on science, math and technology, literature and the other arts are, according to some university enrollment numbers, suffering. However, according to Denby’s findings, perhaps that is not the full story. It appears that dedicated and enthusiastic teachers are finding ways to make reading and literature relevant. As New York Times reviewer Dale Rusakoff states, Denby “illustrates the irreplaceable role of great flesh-and-blood teachers who unlock knowledge day in and day out for students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it.”

Denby’s talk (May 5, 7:30-9:30 pm) at the MacKinnon Auditorium in McDougall Hall, UPEI, promises to be extremely interesting. Bookmark is hosting a private dinner prior to the lecture and space may be available by contacting the store.

At the close of the week, on May 7, Confederation Court Mall is being turned into a giant “book nook” for kids with Kate Inglis, Lori Joy Smith, Mike “The Music Man” Pendergast and retired children’s librarian Barb Kissick.

PEI is fortunate to be home to the “little bookstore that does.”

Check out Bookmark’s full Reading Town PEI schedule on Facebook, at the Bookmark website or at Reading Town PEI.

Written By

Lee Ellen Pottie is an editor, writer, photographer and amateur painter currently hard at work finishing a poetry manuscript on Vincent Van Gogh.

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