Gayle's December 2016 Letter

Dear Bookstore Friends,

Holidays 2016 The holiday season is in full swing and I'm grateful that so many of you have found our two stores to be a haven of sanity, a source of ideas, of hope and practical possibilities encased in the books on our shelves. We spend many hours this time of year shelving books, creating displays, facing out those that you might have missed seeing or didn't know existed. Our booksellers put their favorite books on the Staff Recommendation shelves with their names proudly underneath them and invite you to seek them out to ask them about those and any others that they read and loved. Our gift department has made both stores resplendent with new products, beautiful displays, and fun gifts for everyone on your list.

Good books open minds, teach us compassion and empathy, allow us to see other worlds and other places. They give us perspective, they make us think, and they provide solace at difficult times. Books, both fiction and nonfiction, define civilizations. Books help us think critically, gain understanding of how others feel and think, and open up parts of our brains that make us creative. Books help us solve problems and have the power to calm us when the world seems to be spinning out of control. They are troves of wisdom and history, holding the keys to why we are who we are, how we face the past and look at the future. When children start reading at a young age, the whole world opens to them.

There are many things that bother me about our new President-elect, but the fact that he boasts about not reading is one of the scariest. He has said about his non-reading habits, "I never have. I'm always busy doing a lot. Now I'm more busy, I guess, than ever before."1 He went on to say in a series of interviews that he does not need to read extensively because he reaches the right decisions "with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words 'common sense,' because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability." Yikes! What is a bookseller to say? What are we as his fellow human beings to think about someone who hasn't and is unlikely to ever gain knowledge from the written word?

As 2016 is slowly drawing to a close, it will go down as a year fraught with uncertainty and deep divisions that manifested in a contentious election, hacking by Holidays 2016foreign countries of our democratic process, the appointment of cronies rather than educated and experienced men and women to cabinet posts, and a degree of post-election depression and malaise that I have never experienced. As the year ends, I know that I must come out from under the covers and do whatever I can to help repair my broken world. I am committed to doing this. Books, ideas, and a community of readers and thinkers who have compassion and empathy, together with an intense desire to understand, will help us all as we move into 2017.

All of us at Changing Hands wish you a most joyful holiday filled with friends and family. We wish you patience, resolve, and a rededication to compassion and empathy. We wish you the strength to resist those things that don't define us as loving, resourceful human beings. We hope to see you in the next few weeks and in the many weeks after. Our plan is to keep books on our shelves, keep sharing ideas with you, and be the change we want to see in our world.

Gayle ShanksLove and Peace

Questions or comments? Email Gayle at

1 Fisher, Marc. 'Donald Trump doesn't read much. Being president probably wouldn't change that.' Washington Post. 17 July 2016.