My wife, a big fan of American Pickers on the History Channel, wanted to visit the Antique Archaeology shop in Nashville, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mike Wolfe. I wanted to stop at Parnassus Books, the shop co-owned by author Ann Patchett, although since I had seen Patchett a couple of times before, in Florida and in Ohio, spotting the novelist was not a high priority. Good thing because she, like Wolfe, was absent that day. Wolfe, it turned out, was in Ohio, which is where we had come from.
Since we were in Nashville anyway, we also saw the Grand Old Opry, toured the Country Music Hall of Fame and, yes, cut our own country record which, if you're lucky, you will never hear on the radio. It was good we included these other things on our agenda because our stops at Antique Archaeology and Parnassus Books took about an hour and a half total of our six-day vacation.
I loved the bookshop, which was smaller than I expected but has a wonderful assortment of books, especially in its fiction and biography/autobiography sections. I was surprised to find none of Patchett's own novels on the fiction shelves, but it turned out that her books have a section to themselves in the front of the store, each book already signed by the author. I bought two paperbacks there, Nick Hornby's Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books and American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon.
The store was busy on an early Sunday afternoon, mostly with female clientele. While not unfriendly to men, and with many books that appeal primarily to male readers, the store nevertheless has the feel of a bookstore with female ownership. This atmosphere alone may be what draws women to the shop and, apparently, keeps men away. Of course, this being a Sunday afternoon in September, the men may have been watching football.
Although we did not see Patchett in her store, we were greeted at the door by her dog. Cats in bookstores are a common sight, but finding a dog, one that mingles with customers and doesn't chew the merchandise, helped make it a pleasant experience.