Rediscovered Books Reading Room

The stores we're carried in are so truly awesome. One of the best things about my job and our work

I profiled Kerri from Marion & Rose's Workshop last time, and now, I'm publishing a (long overdue) conversation with Wally of Rediscovered Books in Boise, ID!is that we get to hang out with and talk to people who are REALLY FRICKEN' AWESOME.

1. You have a lot of wonderful book events, based on what I see from your site (I wish I could visit, but alas...). What is your favorite thing about having events? Can you tell me one popular writer who surprised you with his or her personality in some way? What most surprised you?
We love having events! We get to meet fascinating authors, throw parties, work with local non-profits, and foster conversations in the community. It's a wonderful feeling, knowing that what I do for a living enriches the culture of my city. We get some touring authors, but more often than not we're supporting local and regional authors who, in turn, support us. It all feels very neighborly. I don't know if I've ever been totally surprised by an author, usually by the time you've read their books and set up an event with them, you know what you've gotten yourself into. I think the most surprising thing was actually a man named Carter Niemeyer. He wrote a phenomenal memoir called Wolfer about his experience as a wolf trapper-turned- champion. Everyone on staff was a big fan of the book, but we had never met Carter before. The night of the event this GIANT man walked in - I swear he has got to be about 7 feet tall - with a box of visual aids for his presentation. Because he was so tall, we couldn't see what was in the box until he set it down and started taking out animal skulls! That was a surprise!

Rediscovered Books on 8th Street in Boise 

2. I just bought True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from your site, and then saw on your Facebook page that there was quite a lot of excitement around that book being removed from the reading list for Meridian's School District. Since I haven't read the book yet, I don't know what caused it to be removed... can you tell us what the big deal was?

The controversy over Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has really taken on a life of its own. The people in Meridian who challenged the book being offered on a supplemental reading list for 10th grade students said it was vulgar and anti-Christian (something about teenagers using naughty language and thinking about sex - horror of horrors). A lot of people in the community were upset at the thought of removing the book, however, including a phenomenal high school Junior named Brady Kissel. Brady organized a petition with 350 signatures of students who opposed the book's removal. Regardless, the school board voted to "review the entire reading list," which de facto removed it from the curriculum. Two college students from Washington state heard about this and started a page to raise enough money to buy a copy of the book for each of the student petition-signers. They reached out to us and we got involved, ordering the books and working with Brady to distribute them.
Back of Rediscovered Books in Boise 
 Sherman Alexie's publisher got wind of this and volunteered a second set of 350 copies for us to give away. It all came to a head on April 23rd, World Book Night, while we were in a public park handing out copies of the book. News vans and newspaper reporters were flocking around and we had one very disgruntled man who accused us of handing out "sexually explicit material" to minors without parental consent - and this is where it went really crazy. He decided to call the cops on us. The cops showed up to check us out, were very polite and more than a little exasperated. They implied that this particular gentleman makes calls of this nature pretty frequently. Anyway, the internet found out that cops were called on a bunch of people giving out free books and the internet kind of exploded. Overall it's been an incredible thing to be a part of - we've received a lot of love from the community and from people all over the country. It's rare to have an opportunity to literally stand up to censorship, and we would gladly do it all over again.
3. Rediscovered Books really seems to be building a cultural movement around books in Boise. I see that you have not only book events, but other local maker events as well (like the beer and books night, which I love). Can you talk a little bit about how this cultural movement can give local bookstores' advantage against giants like Amazon?
The owners, a literal Mom n' Pop - Bruce and Laura DeLaney, have always felt very strongly that a book store is about more than slingin' books and makin' money. It says on the sign above our door "where books and people meet," they've always wanted Rediscovered Books to be a place where people can explore and feel comfortable with a free exchange of ideas. Customers come to the store for books, but they come back for the conversation. Everyone who works in the store is here because they're passionate, because we know books and we love getting the perfect book into the hands of anyone who comes in our store. People who experience that, value it. We remember their names and what they like to read - it is my firmest belief that the recommendation of a bookseller who knows you is far superior to anything a computer algorithm on Amazon will spit out. Our customers know that when they're school is doing a fund-raiser auction, we're the ones that will help out - it's pretty hard for Amazon to host your daughter's bake sale. We do whatever we can to partner with other local businesses, non-profits, and schools to strengthen everyone in the community.

Front of Rediscovered Books in Boise 

4. What made you decide to carry Outlaw Soaps in your store? What are the customer favorites?

A few months ago I was at a friend's house and I noticed a Christmas present from his father sitting next on his desk. I was snooping and saw that the package contained a bar of Outlaw's coffee soap. I picked it up out of curiosity and smelled it and fell IMMEDIATELY in love! I had come over for some social occasion, but instead I ignored everything else and started sending out emails to set up a wholesale account. The customer favorite is clearly Unicorn Poop, but Laundry on the Line comes in a very close second.
5. What is your favorite thing about Boise? If I decided to visit, aside from Rediscovered Books (of course), what are the absolute must see things that make Boise special?
It's the front of the store!
I love Boise! It's kind of secretly wonderful, and I think it's the best kept secret of the mountain west. If you're an outdoorsy person, Boise is close to hiking, miles of bike trails, skiing, etc. - you can go rafting, rock climbing, or fishing without even leaving the city. As far as cultural sites we've got all the museums you'd expect of a capital city, but we've also got an outdoor Shakespeare festival on a nature preserve. We have a small Basque cultural district in the middle of downtown due to the fact that Boise has the highest concentration of Basques anywhere outside of the Basque country itself. Cool, right? I bet you didn't know that. We also have a lot of preserved historic buildings like the old penitentiary whose grounds have been turned into a  It's the front of the store![/caption] botanical garden. As far as night life, Boise has (surprisingly) an incredibly rich and diverse music scene. We have tons of great local restaurants - many who source their food from local farms, local breweries and brew pubs, and even a local distillery- Idaho potatoes make the world's best vodka - take that, Russia! But my personal favorite thing about Boise is the people - they're so genuinely nice that it freaks people out. So, come visit any time, we're so friendly, it's creepy.

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