This post was prompted by this find.
That’s Island Newsstand which had a very international and varied stock of contemporary books, newspapers, and magazines. Before this I remember PC’s Book Revue (the other one I went to semi-regularly when I finally had money to spend on books as a working teen/young adult) had piles of fun reading material and the Map Shop which was good for Caribbean books and texts. I cop to having spent more time in Island Newsstand and PC’s than the Map Shop as a teen and young adult (but the latter was an institution – and is a past Wadadli Pen patron – its absence from the marketplace is sad). Before that I remember the book section of Benjie’s Department store the site of my first holiday job – long hours on my feet and dusting/arranging.
I think I stopped going to Island Newsstand as much when First Editions opened as it was closer to my job and had every type of book I could think of (even more than Island Newsstand).
Current Antigua-based bookstores (not sure about the Barbuda situation) are the long standing religious bookstores like Christian Literature and the Methodist Book Shop (and likely others in that vein), and Cindy’s Bookstore which seems to be primarily books and other items for children, and the Best of Books which is a favourite of mine and as much of a community centre as any community centre could aspire to be as a safe space for youth. There’s its regular open mic and its shelf of Antiguan and Barbudan books, book signings (all of my book launches for one), taking our books on the road (like to book festivals in Montserrat and St. Martin), co-producing big lit events like the 2008 Dancing Moonlight Street Festival and the 2017 Book Fair, and other special events/activities – including being the host since 2011/2012 of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge Awards.
Bookstores are special; they can make you feel calm, naughty, happy, the full spectrum of feelings and that’s before you even crack a book. But maybe that’s just me. Books are my happy place, so shelves and shelves of books can feel like nirvana. I love bookstores. I sometimes think I could live in one, or maybe just get locked in one overnight like the two women in that Whoopi Goldberg-Will Smith-Nia Long-Ted Dansen film ‘Made in America’.
So what’s the moral of the story, apart from an excuse to share an old Island Newsstand pic… well, support your local brick and mortar bookstores, obviously, they do more than sell books (even though that would be enough); remember to spread the word re the current season of the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize Challenge; and be sure to share your bookstore memories in the comments (you don’t have to be local to where I am to do that; bookstores, blessedly, are international).
As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.