Dear Bookstore Friends,

Gayle Shanks
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
I wonder if this quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities will become the way the current pandemic will be referenced in decades to come. In our efforts to stay connected to friends and family in new creative safe-distancing ways, we are creating new rituals, new recipes, new ways to communicate. Our gratitude is boundless for those on the medical front lines, and for those whose jobs require that they are exposed to the disease. And we are incredulous, knowing the science of this virus, that people still gather in large groups, or refuse to wear masks, or demand that politicians mandate reopening schools, bars, and health clubs before the science justifies it. Although such foolishness prolongs and deepens the darkness and despair, it also inspires us to work together to figure out ways to support one another until, as it has in other countries, the number of new cases becomes negligible.
John Lewis

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I am educating myself about racism, anti-racism, and my own privilege. I am working to understand how to move out of my comfort zone, and although I have for most of my life tried to build community through the bookstore and my involvement in local politics, I have done so without fully understanding how race and class truly factor into our community. I’m learning that I have in many ways ignored many major issues that BIPOC have contended with for generations. It’s time for me to join with them to advocate for quality education for all kids, to help end economic disparity and class warfare, to redefine who goes to prison and for what crimes. It’s time to reclaim our country by voting for leaders who will help, not hinder, our well-being. Maybe we haven’t lost our chance to reclaim humanity for everyone. The inimitable, revered, intelligent, inspiring, beloved John Lewis (1940-2020) tweeted this in June of 2018: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
John Lewis

I think my good trouble is going to be working on voter registration so that we have an election in November that includes everyone, including marginalized and underrepresented constituencies. Below you’ll find some helpful resources—organizations that need your help, too. More is better when it comes to emailing, texting, writing postcards, and helping people register to vote, and then actually getting people to the polls, or helping them to fill out mail-in ballots. Our fragile democracy won’t save itself. It’s up to us now. All of us.

So as we move through the heat of the summer, largely confined indoors, maybe you can write a few postcards, send a few texts? Read a few books? Create new ways to be of service to your fellow humans? Stay connected to your family and friends? Send me any ideas or thoughts. I’m always interested in what you have to say.

In a few weeks, I’ll send you our favorite “beach reads” so you can assemble new reading lists. Meanwhile, there was a great, if a bit long, article in the Atlantic Monthly recently called The Three Equations for a Happy Life, Even During a Pandemic. I think might help you through this “worst of times” and bring you a “spring of hope.”


Questions or comments? Email Gayle at

Vote Forward
Vote Forward is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. Our mission is to empower grassroots volunteers to help register voters from under-represented demographics and encourage them to vote. We build tools to enable Americans, wherever they may be, to encourage fellow citizens to participate in our democracy. This is the Arizona specific campaign.

Movement Voter Project
They work throughout the year to fund local groups working to increase voter registration and voting in local and national elections. They have been very effective over the past few years and seem to have an excellent network of activist organizations. They are targeting five battleground states this year, including Arizona.

Voter Participation Center
This organization is particularly adept at registering voters from marginalized and ignored constituencies that can and should vote, and much to gain or lose in the election

Center for Voter Information
The Center for Voter Information is a non-partisan and non-profit organization that works to provide even-handed and unbiased information about candidates and their positions on issues.

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