Monday, November 17, 2008

Providence Books, a New Class of LDS Bookstores

By Nichole Giles

Last year I attended the very first annual Whitney Awards Ceremony. It was neat to be there for the beginning of something that will surely become iconic in the world of LDS literature. Indeed, LDS fictional literature is new by most standards, not allowing for any of the works to be considered classics in the way of Twain, Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austin and all the other brilliant novelists from that time.

But I was present to witness certain works being inducted into the Whitney Awards hall of fame. Okay, such a thing doesn’t necessarily exist, but I figure that all the finalists—especially the winners—deserve such a title. I mean they were good enough to be whittled down from hundreds of nominees.

After the ceremony, I took a list of the winners to an LDS bookstore near my house, planning to buy a few and start making my way down the list of Whitney literature. One or two I’d already read, and so I skipped over those and looked for others. Unfortunately, the books I was desperately interested in reading were nowhere to be found in that store, including the title that won the award for “Book of the Year.” When I asked the clerk about them—even showing her my list—she shook her head. “I don’t even know what the Whitney Awards are,” she said. And told me they don’t carry any of the books on my list in that store.

How sad that the store clerks don’t even know what they’re missing! But it doesn’t end there. I next tried another LDS bookstore—which required a bit more driving—and was told something similar.

I found myself feeling a grim disappointment with those particular bookstore chains for denying us—the readers—the opportunity to read these brilliant, well written, and much loved LDS books. Weren’t they now somehow about to become LDS classics? And yet, I couldn’t find them in a single bookstore. Believe me, I looked all over the county. I figured I could probably order them on Amazon or the authors’ web pages, but I couldn’t help but feel sad that other LDS readers wouldn’t have the opportunity to see these brilliant works and know that they were not only great books, but award winning ones.

Six months later, I’ve finally found a bookstore that carries ALL the Whitney winners and more. It’s a new little book and toy store in Pleasant Grove, Utah called Humdinger Toys and Providence Books. They had a grand opening last weekend, and invited a huge variety of authors in for book signings.

It’s literally less than a mile from my house, but even if it were twenty minutes away, I still would’ve gone in to check out the new store that was smart enough to give these wonderful authors shelf space. Not only did I get to see some of my favorite LDS authors and have books signed while I was there, but I also browsed the shelves full of other books and specialty toys. Then I discovered that they have a candy section. (Can you say sugar high?) They had the good stuff, too. The old fashioned kind that is hard to find. Yum. Anyway, I was excited and proud to discover that Providence / Humdinger is a classy, interesting store where I can go to find ALL the LDS books I’m looking for, as well as hard to find educational toys.

And yes, they did have the books I searched for six months ago. All of them. If you’re ever in the area of Pleasant Grove, stop by and check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

To find a list of last year's Whitney Award winners, click here.

To find out more about the Whitney Awards, click here.

To find out more about Providence Bookstore, click here.

Tristi Pinkston, one of the authors who signed on Saturday, gave the store this review.


Cindy Beck said...

Maybe the book stores will start to get the word about the Whitney Awards and start carrying the books after next year's awards.

And the Providence/Humdinger story is really neat. Fun toys, great books, and the candy we all love ... including Swedish Fish! :)

Thanks for a good read with this article.

ali said...

I can't wait to visit this store and I live thirty minutes away. I was sad to miss it's opening. It sounds very, very cool!

Thanks for the great postNichole!

BTW, even my local library didn't know what the Whitney award winners were. I made a stink, and then they figured it out. I think they ought to use one of their stands to highlight the nominees and/or winners.

They'll get there!

Trying to Stay Calm! said...

I am new here! What a great blog :)