By Jerry Del Priore
Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub, which owner Barbara Short and her daughters opened in 2014 in downtown Madison, New Jersey, is a lot more than just a local, independent bookstore.
Sure, it sells all types of books, but it’s also a spot for people who may be in the area for all kinds of reasons — from waiting for their children to finish one of the many classes and activities Madison has to offer or taking a stroll after a delicious meal at one of area’s many eating establishments — to stop in and enjoy perusing the store’s amazing books (what else?) and unique gift items.
There is plenty of seating where they can also sip on a hot or cold drink from the Bookstore Cafe located right in the store while reading.
Madison has a thriving downtown community where, “There’s a lot of pass-through traffic, and when I talk to them, I hope to get them in as regular customers,” general manager Merril Speck said.
Short Stories also has an upper room that functions as a community space for people to gather for various reasons. There is currently a group that meets there on Thursday evenings from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., to play Mahjong, a tile-based game that was developed in China during the Qing dynasty and has spread throughout the world since the early 20th century. This group is open to any seasoned players as well as those interested in learning. Just drop in and join in on the fun.
Short Stories offers many other free events and activities in the upper room. Every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Short Stories holds Storytime for pre-k children. There are also poetry readings, held by Arts by the People, every first Wednesday of the month.
Additionally, the bookstore hosts author events and occasionally has local musical acts. This Thursday, October 24th, from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Running Late, an eclectic neo-nineties alternative rock/pop band out of Madison, will be performing at the bookstore.
The following night, there will be a live recording of the Perennials Podcast. Host Victoria Russell will be discussing the psychology of Harry Potter with Drew University Professor of Psychology Dr. Jill Cermele. This event will run approximately two hours and is free and open to the public. No RSVP required. Suggested for teens and older.
Past book signings include Katie Arnold, a former Madison resident who wrote the book Running Home: A Memoir, the story of a woman who used the power of ultra long-distance running to heal and change her life.
Plus, upcoming signings will feature award-winning Chatham author Jennifer Voigt Kaplan, who will be signing copies of Crushing the Red Flowers on Saturday, November 23rd (call 973-845-6086 for time). Kaplan’s book is scheduled for release on Tuesday, November 19, and copies will be available for purchase at the store for the signing.
You can also buy quirky greeting cards from Laughing Elephant and Shannon Martin, journals, socks, candles, various cool chachkies, and soak in the charming atmosphere while viewing the eye-popping, rotating art, which is up for sale.
So, as you can see, it is more than your average bookstore — something Short set out to accomplish when she first launched the store five years ago, according to Speck.
“It’s built into the name now; it’s Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub,” Speck said. “It’s a mouth full. That’s a big brand to have to put together. But that was important to Barabara when she created the store, that it’s not just a place where you buy something.
“An independent bookstore is meant to be a place to come and hang out, have a coffee, talk to a neighbor you meet here,” the Indiana native continued, “and if you want to look at a book, not buy it, or buy it, that’s great, too.”
More importantly, though, he said, “It’s a place to facilitate conversation,”
But if you’re in the market for the latest page-turner or a timeless classic, Short Stories has them as well, including the presently-popular The Handmaid’s Tale, Ann Patchett’s Dutch House, Where the Crawdads Sing, and all seven Harry Potter books.
If you’re in Madison or nearby, make your way over to Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub, where they’re helping to change the world (or at least New Jersey), one page at a time.
For more information on bookstore events, log onto http://www.shortstoriesnj.com.