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December 09, 2016
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Kelly McMasters; Reader, writer, independent bookstore owner

Kelly McMasters is a writer, an insatiable reader and the proprietor of a small, independent bookstore in Honesdale, PA.
TRR photos by Jane Bollinger

KMcM: So much of my life has been changed by books… (Pauses in thought) I would say it probably started with “The Secret Garden,” and then… I went through this moody period in college, this kind of transitioning period where it felt like every book was transformational. I was reading “Anna Karenina” and “Steppenwolf” and “White Noise.” So these books sort of got me to different emotional places. And then “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean was professionally transformational. That was when I realized what an open frontier non-fiction could be. That book was just thrilling in that way. And then E. B. White’s essays and Joan Didion’s essays, those collections were also professionally [influential]...

TRR: When I go to a bookstore, I’m really overwhelmed by how many choices there are. Do you have any thoughts to share on how to make a decision?

I think anybody who works in a bookstore and is putting their time in around the books is there because they have an addiction to books, like me. I’ve found that to be true in all of my favorite book shops, so I always go for the staff recommendation. [But don’t just] ask what they’re reading; tell them what you like… and don’t be shy or feel like you have to pretend that you like something super literary. Be honest, because then you’ll get the next favorite book.

TRR: Finding good, new writers is both a pleasure [when it works out] and a challenge. And frequently an author’s first book makes for a really exciting read, because he or she is just burning to tell that story Do you have suggestions for how to discover new writers?