Earlier this week I went to a book reading and Q&A with two authors. The event was at HousingWorks Bookstore and Café, which is an awesome New York bookstore that is run entirely by volunteers, selling only donated books, to raise money to end the dual crisis of HIV/AIDS and homelessness.
The topic to be discussed by these two authors was how to write about place. I am not an author but as I searched TimeOut New York at 5 PM on Wednesday evening it was listed as free and nearby. Basically the only two requirements for something to be worth my time these days.
So I threw on a scarf to appear more “author-y” and headed out the door.
It turned out to be a really great night.
As I said before, they sell new (donated by the publisher) or gently used books that have been donated. All employees are volunteers so every dollar that you spend there goes to HIV/AIDS advocacy and support in the city. Shortly after arriving to New York I realized I wouldn’t be able to keep all my books so my first visit to HousingWorks was to donate many of my beloved novels.
Walking into the door, feeling maybe a little out of place, I saw one of my donated books flagged on the front table. An employee had written a little “this is a great book!” summary. And it was mine. I picked it up and saw my name scrawled inside the cover. I was so proud that it had been my book, now being celebrated in this big, lovely bookstore. I wanted to turn to the guy standing next to me and explain, “look, this is mine and they really appreciate it!”. I felt like a small part of this community. Just a little bit, but that’s often all it takes.
I took a seat, ate some free dumplings, and ordered a Brooklyn Brewery beer. The authors were brilliant and engaging and the evening flew by.
I walked home feeling better. My mind felt open.