Dear Bookstore Friends,

Gayle Shanks Kindness. Empathy. Compassion. Three words that keep popping up in my morning meditation in spite of the fact that I'm not supposed to be thinking, just breathing in and breathing out. Maybe it's the time of year; maybe it's the hope that came with the results of the midterm elections; maybe it's the birth of my newest grandnieces, Elliana and Sofia Simone. Whatever the cause, I'm reminding myself to evoke those three feelings this holiday season and on into the new year. I want them embodied in my cells, in every breath I take as I read, as I drive, as I interact with my employees, customers, family, friends, as I read the newspaper or listen to NPR. It's important that I feel deep in my being that there is goodness in our world, that the planet will be protected again, that children will be fed and clothed and educated, and that we will solve the problems of poverty, mass incarceration, violence, and abuse of all kinds.

kindness. empathy. compassion.
It's not always easy to be kind and compassionate. My grandson pushes my buttons on a regular basis. At ten he's figuring out how to get his needs met and he hasn't quite learned that doing for others might bring him huge intrinsic rewards. I think he's getting there but it's a slow process. And driving across town to our Phoenix store in heavy traffic allows me to 'practice' loving kindness to my fellow drivers who run red lights, don't let me merge, seem intent on hitting cyclists or people in crosswalks, etc. But my issues are minuscule next to those of our planet, which seems to be spinning out of sync right now—our democracy, our humanity, climate change, fires, anti-immigrant fear-mongering. I need patience not frustration; resourcefulness not ignorance. That's my work. I want things to change before my very eyes; to come quickly and within the bounds of reason. Unfortunately, I often sense we have no common meeting ground on many of these issues. We need to cultivate the inherent qualities of attentive listening, a willingness to suspend judgment, an ability to share and feel another's emotions, a vast imagination of what is possible.

Happy Holidays
In my world and in many of yours, these qualities are often learned through reading, through the power of words and the exchange of ideas found in bookstores like Changing Hands, in books like those named the best of 2018 by our brilliant staff in Tempe and Phoenix. Books often hold the key to new understanding, to a sense of the world being so much bigger than what we know, and to an identification with other races, cultures, religions, and ways to think about the BIG issues we face as individuals and as a community.

My wish this holiday season as the lights burn brightly on your trees or menorahs, in your windows and fireplaces, is that we all think outside ourselves, be open to new ideas, find that compassionate place in our hearts and let it expand to encompass those parts of the world that we don't understand or want to be different. By listening, thinking, reading, sharing ideas, resisting tyranny, and doing good work, we can channel our frustrations and move toward solving the problems. Together. Joyfully. Warmly. Breathing in and breathing out.

Happy Holidays
May your holidays be beautiful. From all of us at Changing Hands, we wish you good times with your family and friends. We hope you visit us and let us help you find just the right book or unique gift for everyone on your list, and we wish, as the year turns over to 2019, that the new year brings peace, security, dignity, and goodwill to all.


Questions or comments? Email Gayle at