If These Walls Could Talk…

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wash hands
This sign hangs over our sink. (Don’t worry, we wash our hands, too.)

Not to pull your gaze away from the books on the shelves, but have you ever noticed the stuff on our walls? Look around, and you’ll see not just a bunch of knick-knacks, but an eclectic collection of art and memorabilia. Let’s take a tour…

You know about the shelf-talkers, of course. Those are the little cards our employees make to put their official stamp of approval on whatever they’ve last read and loved. You’ll find most shelf-talkers up front in our Staff Recommendations section, but there are some sprinkled throughout the store as well.


The cover of The New York Times from November 16, 2011, is a sweet memento of how everything started. It was indeed considered “fighting the tide” to open an indie bookstore when so many were closing around the country. (Rebels!) As Ann wrote in her essay, The Bookstore Strikes Back: “Imagine a group of highly paid consultants crowded into the offices of my publisher, HarperCollins. Their job is to try and figure out how to get a picture of  a literary novelist (me, say) on the front page of the Times. ‘She could kill someone,’ one consultant suggests. The other consultants shake their heads. . . . I can promise you this: kept in that room for all eternity, they would not have landed on the idea that opening a 2,500 square foot bookstore in Nashville would do the trick.”


All of us here think Ann is an influential person because she writes books and she brings Sparky to the store to play. But in 2012, she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for being “books’ best friend” and partnering with Karen Hayes to open this store.


Awww, it’s the first dollar ever spent at Parnassus Books. Someone had the sense to grab it and set it aside on opening day, but we didn’t think to write down whose it was. Oops. Thank you, cash-wielding Nashvillian, whoever you were.


Here’s a collection of posters from Hatch Show Print, the historic letterpress with the signature style. Music City Roots (left) is a local radio program that features live Americana music and used to broadcast from the Loveless Cafe barn and now broadcasts from the Factory in Franklin. Davis Kidd Booksellers (center) was the indie bookstore in Nashville for 30 years. It closed the year before Parnassus opened. And the Bluebird Cafe (right) is the tiny, legendary music venue just down the street, where songwriters’ nights attract long lines of patrons and several big-time musicians were discovered. (Ever hear of a gal named Taylor Swift?)


We even have our own Hatch Show Print. This was one from back when Parnassus first opened. Like all Hatch prints, it was a limited edition.


Shepard Fairey, the artist who created President Obama’s iconic “HOPE” poster, created this image of Stephen Colbert when the entertainer wrapped up his long-running late night show. Ann received this signed copy after appearing on the show’s finale along with a crowd of other notable former show guests.


This is the scene behind the register. Alex Pearson, the artist who designed the Parnassus logo, created the adorable poster on the lower right. The one on the lower left is a tribute to our shop dogs, a limited-edition print from Sawtooth Press. Up top, there’s a selection of colorful, oversized book covers.


Also near the front, find the chalkboard of upcoming events, written this month in Grace’s best penmanship.


Tennessee-based contemporary artist Daryl Thetford has a mini gallery on our walls right now, including this eye-catching multimedia piece, “Flying Woman.” The Arts Company, a cornerstone of Nashville’s downtown art scene, curates this little collection, which changes each season and is all for sale.


This is a page from The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) and Roz Chast — signed by them both. It’s from Karen’s personal collection.


Karen found these birdies on one of her many world travels. They’re from San Miguel del Allende, Mexico, and they fly over the travel book section.


Before she was a bookstore co-owner, Karen was a sales rep for Random House. This limited edition poster from our friends at the Asheville indie bookstore Malaprop’s was a gift she received back when she used to call on the store.


Children’s book author and illustrator Barney Salzberg drew this. Obviously, it warranted framing.


It should come as no surprise that people who write great books also write wonderful thank-you notes. We save them and hang them on the wall of thanks in the back office. Together, they make up a one-of-a-kind collection of personal correspondence from some of the most well known writers in the world.


This is Ashton’s arrangement of Wes Anderson-themed items, arranged over her desk in the office, where she manages our author events calendar. Would “shrine” be too strong a word?


On the counter around our register, you’ll find free bookmarks and postcards — take a couple! The pup on the postcard is Sparky, Ann’s dog.


Tacked to the wall is this memorial to Lexington, one of our original shop dogs. She belonged to Niki, and she was a larger-than-life personality in a tinier-than-you-can-imagine package.


One of the custom-made reading benches in the store is also a memorial to Lex.


Or put yourself on the list to receive Go Set a Watchman, the much-discussed "new" book from Harper Lee, this summer.
Want to get on the list to receive Go Set a Watchman, the much-discussed new book from Harper Lee, this summer? Point to these pink flyers behind the register and ask for one. (We’re as curious about it as you are.)


Or place a pre-order for Mary Laura’s upcoming book, Penguins with People Problems, and while you’re at it, grab a York Peppermint Patty for the road.


This print from Harper Perennial, signed by Ann, speaks for itself. It hangs by the front door (just above a picture of Mount Parnassus in Greece — the store’s namesake) as a reminder of our gratitude. Your decision to shop indie matters.


Are you ready to have your mind blown? Because this is going to knock your socks off: Have you ever wondered where on earth all that seating comes from when there’s an event in our store? Where do the chairs go when we’re not hosting an author reading?


THE SECRET DOOR! One of our shelves opens up to reveal a large storage area, where all those chairs get stacked when not in use.


OK. You can look back at the books now.
OK. You can look back at the books now.

Come by sometime and take the tour in person, won’t you? We’d love to see you.