Napa Bookmine has had a good first decade. The store opened in 2013 on Pearl Street, and this summer it moved to a larger downtown location on 2nd Street. It’s also added two other locations, one in Napa’s popular Oxbow Public Market in 2007, and the other in St. Helena. A popular destination for locals, the bookstore also draws tourists visiting Napa County, offering coffee and tea to visitors who might need a pick-me-up between wine tastings. We spoke with Napa Bookmine bookseller Lee Spangler about the 2nd Street store.
ZYZZYVA: What’s the coziest spot in your store for reading?
LEE SPANGLER: Tucked behind a wall of our cafe is an old armchair. It was probably once a vibrant navy blue but now more of a dusty one, like the sky before it rains. You fall into it as if it’s attempting to swallow you whole, the arms comforting and supportive. With the sun streaming in through the store’s towering windows, you hardly notice the customers and employees scooting past you, shifting books in and out of place, reading to their children, or catching up with old friends among stacks.
Z: What’s a little-known fact about your store?
Always get the last word.
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LS: Most customers venturing into Napa Bookmine would not know we officially opened our doors at our first location on Friday the 13th. Some would see that as a foreboding sign. But against those odds, Napa Bookmine has thrived and become a place of warmth and acceptance for loyal local customers and curious tourists. It is community. Recently, on the eve of our tenth anniversary, we had the absolute joy of moving our original store to its beautiful brand-new home, doubling our space for books and events and adding our beloved cafe. Even the most superstitious would have difficulty arguing against the luck Friday the 13th brought us.
Z: How would you describe the smell of your shop?
LS: Like a fond memory, with booksellers greeting you holding mugs of hot coffee made fresh by our baristas in the crisp early mornings.
Z: Which new book would you recommend most to readers?
LS: I just read Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross, and it’s outstanding. It’s a young adult title, but don’t let that sway you from reading this lyrical heartstopper. It is both fantastical and grounded, with mythical gods, magical typewriters, and all-too-real depictions of grief, war, and corruption. It’s a story about family—by blood and bond, of perseverance, and the courage to do what is right to follow your heart, no matter the consequences. Rebecca’s writing is exquisite. It is completely immersive.
Z: Aside from your own, what’s your favorite bookstore?
LS: Sometimes I feel like a cliché saying this because everyone loves this bookstore, but my heart will always belong to Powell’s Books. I lived in Portland for some of my most formative years, and to be honest, I spent a lot of my time alone. Not necessarily lonely, but quietly and affectionately alone. One of my favorite activities while alone was taking the bus downtown and getting lost in Powell’s. I would spend hours meandering up and down those stairs, picking up every book that looked interesting, getting to know them, and playing with the idea of adding them to the tipping stack in my arms.