Episode 74

Bookworms, do you ever think to yourself, “I’m so glad I get to be alive at the same time as this magical person?” That was my exact thought after I talked with Adrian Cepeda, owner of the Golden Lab Bookshop in Queens, New York. His infectious love of books and commitment to celebrating diversity and inclusivity in literature is a joy to behold. Adrian uplifts voices that aren’t always at the forefront of popular literature so readers can connect with stories they can relate to. In today’s episode, Adrian and I grappled with how we can continue to appreciate classic literature, even if social norms have changed, and how Gabriel García Márquez didn’t invent magical realism, but perfected it. Finally, Adrian nearly gave me a heart attack when he showed me the horror book he’s currently reading.

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Host: Julie Strauss

Guest: Adrian Cepeda
Golden Lab Bookshop/Instagram/TikTok

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(Note: I’m not doing any of my usual affiliate links this week. All of the links for this episode take you to the Golden Lab Bookshop. Thank you for supporting this indie bookstore, not just for the books we talk about on today’s episode, but for any book buying you do! Remember to show our beloved indie bookstores ALL the love this holiday season!) 

Discussed in this episode
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
(If you can read Spanish, Adrian especially recommends this book in its original language.)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Leaf Storm and Other Stories by Gabriel García Márquez
Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez
A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes: A Son’s Memoir of Gabriel García Márquez and Mercedes Barcha by Rodrigo Garcia
Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Discussed in our Patreon Segment:
Get a personalized book recommendation from the Golden Lab Bookshop
Liane Moriarty
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

(Note: Some of the above links are affiliate links, meaning I get a few bucks off your purchase at no extra expense to you. Anytime you shop for books, you can use my affiliate link on Bookshop, which also supports Indie Bookstores around the country. If you’re shopping for everything else – clothes, office supplies, gluten-free pasta, couches – you can use my affiliate link for Amazon. Thank you for helping to keep the Best Book Ever Podcast in business!)

Hello, Bookworms welcome to the Best Book Ever, the podcast where I get to know interesting people by asking them about their favorite books. I’m your host, Julie Strauss, is the Best Book Ever. Now y’all already know how I feel about talking to booksellers. I personally believe they are doing the Lord’s work. Today, I’m talking to a Queens-based bookseller with a unique mission for his shop and an infectious love of books. Join me as I talked to Adrian Cepeda of Golden Lab Bookshop about why the literary classic One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the Best Book Ever.



Julie Strauss: Hi, Adrian. Welcome to the Best Book Ever podcast. 

Adrian Cepeda: Hi, Julie, thank you so much.

JS: Adrian, tell me about your bookstore. 

AC: The store is named the Golden Lab Bookshop. It’s in Astoria, Queens right now and we’re hoping to expand it more in Queens. it’s called the Golden Lab Bookshop because it’s named after my dog. He is a Golden Labrador Retriever. I couldn’t think of anything better that people love more books than dogs. I love cats too, but I had a dog at the time. So it’s named after my Golden Lab. What makes us a little different than a lot of other bookshops is that I primarily focused on BIPOC voices. So, Black Indigenous people of color and their stories. And that is how it’s set up in the store. LatinX lit, AAPI lit, Black literature. It’s set up by region for the author, not by genre.

JS: So what made you decide that that was your goal for the bookstore? What made you organize it like that? 

AC: It starts off in college. When I was in my last year of college, I was in a class and I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, and it was the first time in all my life – and I was an avid reader since I was a child; my mom made sure of it – it was the first time in my life that I was represented in a book. Not because I didn’t feel myself represented in other ones. It just never came to mind, like, oh, this main character is of LatinX descent. He’s chunky, like I was when I was younger. He’s into superheroes. And that made me realize, oh, if this is happening to me, I’m sure there’s many other people who can’t find books that they relate to because in school, we just get the same books over and over again. So that’s what made me decide, let me organize it by this. So if someone comes into the shop, they can see themselves represented in books in a way that I had never seen before, in Barnes and Noble, which is primarily where I used to go, and in libraries and things like that. 

JS: What has the response from your community been like?

AC: Overwhelmingly good. It’s been amazing. It’s shocking to me how great it is. The best response I ever get is – two responses. One: I’d rather buy from you than Amazon, which is fantastic. And the second one is, I love how you’ve curated the books. I love that this is happening. And another one, which is very important to me, and it happens to me a lot on TikTok, is teachers reaching out to me and saying, thank you so much. Because they get the set lists of books that they need to teach every year, especially in grade school. And they want to offer recommendations for their students. And they’re able to do that because of the recs I give or the curated ones that I have on my website. And it’s easier for them, especially high school and middle school teachers. And that one, to me, means the most. To get their respect from teachers; that’s incredible. So I do curate every book that’s in there. And before any book gets placed into the shop, I’ve either read it, and I’ve read most of them, or I’ve done heavy research on it. Heavy, heavy research on the book, to make sure that it’s good to be there and that it won’t offend anyone in the community and that it’s diverse or inclusive. I do have bestsellers that aren’t from BIPOC authors in there, because people always want the new books that are coming out. So I do have that in there. It’s just that every book that does get curated in my shop is heavily, heavily researched before. 

JS: Here’s a really philosophical question for you. What is the role of a bookstore for a community? Why should we shop at an indie bookstore instead of from you-know-who?

AC: I think the main reason is that a bookstore the center of the community, the most important center of the community, where you can expand your neighborhood knowledge. So, because I curate BIPOC voices, it’s not only for those who want to relate to these books. It’s also so you can step into another person’s shoes, so you can learn more about a lifestyle you’ve never lived, hear from voices that you’re not accustomed to hearing in your neighborhood. Any bookshops offer that. And at the forefront, most indie bookshops have their own niche. Mine is this, but every individual one has their own type of person who runs it. And they’re able to be that friend for you in the neighborhood to help you expand your knowledge, give you a new book. And it’s basically like a friend. Your bookstore is your friend. It’s one of the people that you go to the most talk to hang out and to really learn a lot. And I think that’s the best thing about any bookshops. 

JS: Has that happened at your store, where you have people coming in just to hang and talk with you, and where it’s become sort of a hangout location, not just a pop in and grab a book location?

AC: Yes. So the thing about the shop is, it’s a lot of local businesses, so we have a lot of small businesses. So when they come in there, there’s no way you can get around like, wow, this store has a lot of things in it. Like, I know this person made this, I know this person over here that I know this artist, so there’s a lot of talking points. So it’s always a conversation in between books and an art and all sorts of other things. I’m especially glad for children to come in and just to sit down and read books, which was a big, important thing for me. Some big book chains, they didn’t always allow that, because people would just come in and sit down and read all the books instead of purchasing. But I don’t mind that. I want everyone to just come in and just relax. So I really enjoy when kids are able to sit down and enjoy and read a new book or pick up one of the comic books and just read through it, flip through it, and then just go.

JS: Tell me about your childhood reading experience. You said that your mom made you read a lot?

AC: Yes. Huge reader. It was funny because the library right now, the library in my original neighborhood, my hometown, was not as great as it is now. Now it’s beautiful. Now I push people to go there too, because libraries are so important to the community also. Back then, it was not, it was very messy. It was very hard to find the book that you wanted. It was very small. It wasn’t well-funded. Now it is. Now it’s perfect. But back then, my mom used to take me to Barnes and Noble. It was about 30 minutes away on a train, but we used to go almost every week and we would pick up books and we would read and read and read. This is a joke – I don’t think it’s true, but in my memory, this is how it goes. My mom used to fall asleep a lot when she read me stories, and I’d pick it up and I finish a story. I did that every night. So, I tell her that’s how I learned to read quicker because she used to fall asleep while reading the book. I’ve always been an avid, avid reader. That was my number one thing. This is a funny memory: in first grade, we used to have the art section in the back of the classroom, and the books were there. So out art section, I used to offer to my first grade teacher, Hey, I’ll clean up the back for you. Don’t worry about it. Don’t you worry? I’ll clean it up. Let everyone go back to their seats. And she said, okay, thank you so much. So she didn’t have to do it. I cleaned up in like five seconds and just kept reading the books that were there.

JS: Did you always know you wanted to own a bookstore? 

AC: No, I did not. At some point, I don’t remember the day, but I realized that nine-to-five jobs -I work in higher education. That’s my day job at the time and now. I still worked in higher education and I run the shop. 

JS: Oh my gosh. 

AC: Yeah. So I realized that I’m not going to do a nine-to-five for the rest of my life. I used to visit bookshops. I used to have this Instagram where I was showing all the bookshops in New York, and it blew up and it was great and people were really loving it. But I knew that that wasn’t my thing. I knew I needed to do something that I loved and could help people. And to me, that was the bookshop, and that’s why I opened it. I had the idea in 2017 and then I opened in 2019. And that point I just realized I can’t do this anymore. And it was, it is because in college, I had started working in higher education. I was already at the eight year mark because I was working all through college and I just realized at that point, oh no, I can’t do this. There’s no other job that would interest me more than being a bookshop owner. And at the time, we didn’t even have one bookstore in Queens. We didn’t have one general bookstore. We had a cafe that had a little book section and areas that had little book sections, but in 2017 we had zero bookstores. And the big Barnes and Noble that my mom used to take me to closed down. So we had absolutely nothing in the area. Now we have three, including mine. They’re all spread out, too. And we have Little Free Library programs where people donate books and you can get a free library book. But yeah, when I came up with the idea, we had zero.

JS: Your webpage says that Queens is the best borough. I’m from California. and I’ve been to New York several times. Love it, love it, love it. But I know very little about Queens. Tell me why it’s the best borough. 

AC: It’s the best borough. And it also leads into my bookshop mentality and the reason why I opened it. It is the most diverse area in New York. And in a New York times article it’s quoted that it is most likely the most diverse area on the planet. There are so many languages spoken there per foot. It’s incredible. Like, you’ll hear a different language walking down one block. You’ll hear at least five languages. So that had a hand in me not realizing that literature that I was getting wasn’t as diverse as I wanted, because everywhere I looked there was different cultures. There was different everything. This is how I grew up. So I never felt that I’m not being identified. It was everywhere. We have signs in different languages. We have people talking, the store owners, talking different languages. It was just the way of life. And that’s why I feel like Queens is the best borough, because you go there and literally eat food from every country, meet people from every country. Feel like you’re in a different area and you’re still in Queens. It’s incredible. And in my hometown, where I grew up, it’s called Jackson Heights. That’s where I’m hoping to open up the second location and it’d be the flagship. It’d be like the bigger location of the store, hopefully in six months to a year. That’s the manifestation. That’s the goal is to have that one open in the center of my hometown, so everyone there can have a bookstore. 

JS: Do you want to keep that other one with multiple businesses in one location? Would you keep that one? 

AC: Yeah. That one I would keep there. That one, I would keep in Astoria. Astoria is a smaller community, but it’s very, very big on small businesses and things like that. So I want to keep that one there have everyone that I discovered there. And then in this one would be a place of new books. And I’ll have that be the location for authors coming in from different cultures, talking about their books and things like that. And then fill the wall with art from the local Jackson Heights area, especially Queens, they’re all BIPOC artists. That’s what that bookshops going to be. And the reason why I want to make sure it’s very big and make sure that it has used books is because economically, the area makes less than Astoria. So I want to make sure everyone and every family can afford books. If they want to build their own library at home, I’m excited for it. I’ve been building towards it. The name is ready to go. I’m scoping out locations right now. The way things are going, knock on wood, is it’s looking pretty good. 

JS: Do you know, it’s so funny, after all these years of hearing about indie bookstores are disappearing, since I started this podcast, I keep meeting people like you who are just bootstrapping it and like, I’m not going to do it that way, the old way, I’m doing it my way. And they’re just these absolutely incredible concepts. And it’s so exciting. 

AC: And I completely agree with that. In 2017, we came up with the idea and after all those years of research, I realized I cannot do this the way every other bookstore is done. I do not have the funds right now to open up a store. I do not have everything I need to be able to open up a bookstore. So I started off very slow, just an online store and just promoted it like crazy around the neighborhood. Flyers. Like, it’s an online store, but it’s real. I promise you’ll get your book, Then, I moved on to doing pop-ups. So I did popups in all sorts of small businesses. I did popups all over the place. I did a pop-up in a dog cafe once, which is amazing. It was just dogs everywhere and my books. And I went all over Queens, Manhattan, and I really started doing that. And then I finally became a member of the American Booksellers Association. And then I opened up this location. It has been a slow burn, but I realized, just like you said, a lot of people can’t do it the old way. And that’s part of the reason why a lot of them died out, and it’s a good time to reinvent and do new things. And people are amazing. It’s an incredible time to see all these people opening up stores and opening up like these free libraries that I love. Oh, if I had that as a kid! That’s amazing to go to a corner and just get a book. 

JS: So Adrian, do you remember the first time that you, came across this book that we’re talking about today? One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

AC: I do. It was back to college, after I finished The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, that I realized I needed more LatinX books to read. So I went for this one completely. I knew what it was like. I researched it. I think: it’s a classic. Okay. Magical realism. That sounds funny. I didn’t know what it meant at the time. And I said, okay, let me do a deep dive on this book. And I was still in college. I was still doing that literature. And then I started One Hundred Years of Solitude and that’s how I discovered it. And I still remember it blowing my mind. And I was reading other books that were less boring. Cause I think I was in 18th-century lit. Not to say the oldest books are boring, but it was tough. It was very tough to read those books while reading a Hundred Years of Solitude. It completely blew my mind. 

JS: How do you describe this book, for example, when you’re selling it in your bookstore?

AC: It takes place in this small town and it’s called A Hundred Years of Solitude because it literally spans a hundred years and a little bit more. I don’t want to spoil it, but it does cover a hundred years. You follow a lot of characters. But you follow this one family and their growth and how their lives have been affected by each other. You see generational things going on. A lot of cyclical things. As in the title, you see this idea of solitude and isolation, and every character has their own deep dive, basically, into who they are as a person and what the ramifications are. It’s a sprawling book, and you really see growth. Not always the best growth, but it’s an amazing story from start to finish, but it also touches upon historical facts. Very real events that happened in Columbia, where it takes place, and in Latin America. Very real things that happen are in that book. And they’re just exaggerated. So it keeps your attention and it will be things that you’ve never heard of before, but be prepared. It’s a sprawling book. There is even a map in the beginning of the book that shows you all the characters. That’s how many characters are in the book. I always give that warning when I recommend it.

JS: What’s interesting is, I listened to it on audio this time around, and I had not read it since college. I think I mentioned that earlier to you. It is hard to listen to on audio. I was so confused. And then as I was getting prepared to talk to you, I came across that family tree. And I have to say, if you’ve never read this before, you have to have that family tree. Mainluy because because everybody has the same name.

AC: Yes. Everyone has the same name or a similar name. I have not listened to the audiobook. And I could imagine you need that map there because then you remember, oh, this is the son of this one. This is the daughter of this one. 

JS: Yeah. But it was an absolutely great telling, I will say. It was beautiful to listen to. It was very, very well done, but it was just tough to keep track of. So in my opinion is, and I don’t know, I’d be interested to hear what you think, but if you are already familiar with the book, audio is a great way to go for a reread. But, if you’re a first timer, I am not sure I would recommend it. It’s kind of tough to keep track of everyone.

AC: Yeah. For a first time I would recommend this is one of the rare books that I’d say have a pen and highlighter handy. I know you’re not studying. The writing is incredible. So you’d want to highlight your favorite parts, but also just to keep track of everything. Put tabs in it. Destroy this book. My copy is a wreck. My personal copy. It’s a mess and I didn’t do it for research purposes. It’s just so I can follow the story. But it’s well worth it when you do, because like a movie, there’s a lot of Easter eggs later on in the book from something that happened to the first person of the family and you’re at the great, great, great grandchild. But it’s just so worth it to see that what that person said is happening right now. 

JS: Is this a book that you reread a lot? 

AC: Yes. I’ve re-read it at least three times. Since I opened the bookshop, I haven’t been able to reread it, unfortunately, and I haven’t actually thought about listening to it at all. So I think I might do that just because getting ready for this, I looked at my book and I saw everything. I was like, wow, I love this book. I really, really, really love it. But I forgot my love for it because I’ve been reading so many other books. I’m like, man, this is still number one. Yeah, I think I’m going to reread it as an audio book.

JS: Tell me, how does this book change for you as you’ve grown older?

AC: Now I’m a father. Now I have my own child. At the time, I was not even with a girl. It’s the idea of generational, children, and having the matriarch and the patriarch at the beginning, and having your children have these wishes for them or hoping that they decide on the right thing. It changes the meaning of the book for me, especially because it’s such a generational thing. It’s incredible to see, like as a father looking back at it. Wow, these people really looked at their generational line as a focal point. Like our great, great grandfather did this, or really in some cases, I don’t want to spoil anything, but the lack of remembering or honoring the other family members is also an important thread in the book. And to have that like, wow, are you going to leave a legacy after my child has a child and their child has a child, their child, like, will anyone ever remember? And I think it’s just a very fascinating thing for me in that aspect, as a father, it’s an interesting change for me now, looking back at it. Back then it was just a book that was amazing to see a family grow and grow and grow and grow. But now that I have my own family, it changes the meaning for me. And I look at it differently and I want my daughter to read it. 

JS: When do you think you’ll let her read it? 

AC: She’s four now; she’s got a couple of years to go. And she’s half Colombian. So I’m Ecuadorian. Her mother’s Colombian. And her grandpa from her mother’s side loves this book too. So she’s going to get it from everywhere. 

JS: How are you going to teach your daughter about this book in terms of the sexual politics that happen in this book? And I totally understand that it is unfair for a white woman in 2021 to look at a Latino book from 1967 and go, that’s not how you should treat women. I get that. I am totally out of line saying that. That said, reading it in 2021, there were several moments where I went, oh, I’m not entirely sure that sex was consensual. So I guess my question for you is, how do we treat books that are literary classics, but the sexual roles are different now? And how do you hand this book to new readers and how will you hand this book to your daughter? You know what I’m saying? 

AC: Oh, no, absolutely. And I don’t think you’re out of line at all, because I think that would make any everyone, including myself, it makes you take a step back, like, wait a minute. And a lot of books do that. And especially classics. In classics, you can notice very quickly: you can’t say this anymore. And I think a lot of the things that he says you can’t really write anymore and I think it’s meant to make you uncomfortable. How I would explain it to someone, especially my daughter specifically, especially with all these very important sexual politics that go on: this is exactly how it was, you know, and I’m hoping that the things that I’ve, that I teach her and her mother teaches her, when she reads it, she’ll know automatically. Like this is not okay. This is not a thing that is normal. This is not allowed. And Gabriel Garcia Marquez, he says a lot of those stories that are revolved in there are stories from his mom. So they weren’t even a lot from around his time. Like he didn’t grow up seeing this. He says many of those stories, even the magical or the exaggerated ones, like the butterflies come raining down from the sky. He says those are all stories that his mother swore were true. These are a fairytale that his mom basically told him and he put them back in. So even in his time, he even knew that it was kind of wrong, but they were just stories he’d put in. But I think it’s important to note how far removed she is. She was born here in New York. She’s raised in New York. Understand that this book, even though it’s magical realism, the realism part is very – it happens. A lot of things may still happen in this world. And it’s very unfortunate, but he was writing it from a place where he talked about war. He talked about things that a lot of people didn’t know, like the United banana company. These are very real things that happened that aren’t really spoken about, especially in school, especially when I was growing up. So it was one to learn for me. And it won’t sugarcoat anything. It won’t sugar coat history. It’ll exaggerate a lot of things. I think it’s important for her to understand, or any reader to understand, that this is not the right way to do things. And he doesn’t say this is the right way to think things. If anything, I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are consequences to every action in this book. If you read the book, there is literally not one character here who gets a happy ending. If you really look at it and you look at every, at the end point of every character, not one character, actually hasn’t had. And I think that goes in part, I don’t know that’s a spoiler now, but I think in part that’s because of all these things that happen, not only generational curses, but also these individual decisions that these individuals, that’s kind of like the karma that they got. 

JS: I think part of my resistance to criticizing it is that in my education, if I was reading, I don’t know, Charles Dickens, and there was something I didn’t like, who cares? I can dislike it. I can name a hundred British male authors. I think because of what you’re saying earlier, we have so little exposure to writers of color in a traditional American education system, that it makes me personally go, oh, you can’t dislike this book.

AC: It’s a very different world. It’s just so different. And I think by the time that she’s of age to read this things, it will be even more. Hopefully further progressed in every aspect of the world. So it’ll even sound to her even more detached from her reality. How is this an amazing book a classic. And I get that, I understand that. and then I will have this discussion with her. And it’s such an important discussion. 

JS: And I think another really important part of the discussion is the fact that this is the only Colombian author I can name. That’s the real problem right there. 

AC: He was my first Colombian author too. He has not been my last. There’s many more authors from all over the region that write horror, science fiction, more magical realism. He wasn’t the inventor of magical realism. That was in the show Narcos on Netflix. It said that he was the inventor of it. He wasn’t the inventor. Some would argue that he perfected it. Cause it was such a great book. 

JS: Earlier that I saw that this book, specifically, is on many lists of the best books ever written. Do you consider it not only your personal favorite, but do you also feel that it’s the best book ever written? 

AC: Yes. I personally do feel that it is one of the best books ever written because of how he was able to wrangle all these different things. All these different characters in his mind and put it down to paper and make it make kind of sense. If you really break down the book, it takes some readings and it takes a lot of reread on the paper of the pages and their words, the way someone can wrangle it. And it’s not a thick, thick book. There’s bigger books out there that have less storylines and less plot in it. The way he was able to wrangle it, put it in this very readable form, and not even miss a beat. Every page has something that you can quote off. Every page has a description that is beautiful. And for anyone who listens and is a Spanish reader, I recommend reading in Spanish. The translation is beautiful. The translation is wonderful. I read it first in English, but in his own words, it’s beautiful. It’s incredible. English is my first language. And then I learned Spanish because my mom was born here also. So that was the way we spoke, but I’ve never seen words written in Spanish the way he’s able to use words in sentences. It baffles in Spanish, it’s just baffling. So to me, I think it’s the best, not only the best book written in English, but it’s also in Spanish.

JS: I kept thinking as I was listening to it – I’m not going to be able to describe this right – structurally, we kept going in a circle and coming back to the same spot and then the circle kept getting bigger. And as I was listening, I kept thinking like, there’s some sort of circular structure going on in this family and in this book that is almost mathematically complex. I’m not smart enough to put it into words, but you can sense it the way we get back at this point again. And then it got wider and we’re back at this point again. It was wild to be hearing it. It was almost a physical sensation. We turned around, but now we’re here again. It’s really astonishing. 

AC: Yes. No, I completely understand. And you’re right. I feel like you explained it perfectly, the cyclical nature of every single aspect of the characters and their lives, the town and everything that goes on. It definitely starts from this point and it spirals and you just see it there right back to the starting point, right back over here. And then all those effects come back. And then the hurricane is what destroys them. And I haven’t read anything about this, but I think that that was his plan from the beginning. 

JS: Have you read other Marquez books? 

AC: Yes. So from that jumping point, I said, I need to read every other. And usually, when I recommend his books, I will tell people that come into my shop, start off with the smaller stories. He has a lot of short stories and they’re very short. I would say start off with Leaf Storm or Chronicle of a Death Fortold. They’re very small books. But if you like those books, you’ll love A Hundred Years of Solitude because that gives you a glimpse. I don’t remember the years in which he wrote these books. I don’t remember if A Hundred Years of Solitude was before of after these books? Those elements that he has in A Hundred Years is in these books, just in smaller forms. But then he perfected it in A Hundred Years. And also, another fun fact is that a lot of those short stories have characters and some even mention the town. I actually have a new book, the one I want to read next, when I get it. I think it’s coming on Thursday for the shop, but I’m going to steal it. It’s gonna be mine. It’s a book from his son about growing up with his dad. And it’s like a love letter to his father and his mom raising him.

JS: Imagine what Storytime was like in that house.

AC: The stories they heard that we never even got. He tested them out. 

JS: My understanding from talking to bookshop owners on this podcast is that once you own a bookshop, you have to spend a whole lot of time skimming a whole lot of books before putting them on your shelves. But when you have the time to actually read, not for the shop, but for your own pleasure, what are you reading these days and enjoying on your own time? 

AC: So, yes, when I opened the shop, I realized I needed to not only read a lot more. I couldn’t supply people on;y with books that I read. People have different tastes than me. A lot of people read nonfiction and I wasn’t a big nonfiction guy. I’m so far removed from nonfiction. I was reading magical realism where people just flew out of the roof of their house. But I realized a lot of people love nonfiction. So I had to read more nonfiction. And nowadays what I do is I’m reading audiobooks. I was very bougie – I was very against audio books. I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t against eBooks. I’ve never been against eBooks. I thought that was very handy, especially in college. But audio books – I said I could never. But because of time and my child and all these things, it’s all audio books now. When I’m driving, when I’m walking my dog, when I’m at work or doing clerical things or just doing anything that doesn’t involve me, it’s always audio books. I always have an audio book. I’m reading right now – I keep forgetting the name, but I think it’s called The Blackest Teeth. I believe she’s Korean, and it’s a horror novel, and the cover is absolutely scary. Please look up the image later, and you will absolutely be frightened. It’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

JS: Now I’m scared to look. Oh my God. No, absolutely not. That’s a hard pass.

AC: I had to read it because this if this ever becomes a movie, a short show or whatever, I can’t watch it. I know I can’t, but I can read.

JS: Well done on that cover, and I applaud all writers, but I will be skipping that one. Thank you very much. But I know I have some hardcore horror listeners and I’m sure just by my shocked reaction, they’re going to be one click ordering that one. 

AC: And that’s the only reason why I started reading more horror because people would say, Hey, do you have any other horror recs? And I go, oh no. All right, let me get into it. And I started reading more about. Do it for the community, do it for the people. I sacrifice myself. 

JS: Okay. Good for you. Not for me. Well, Adrian, this has been so much fun talking to you. Will you tell my listeners all the places they can find you? We were talking about earlier, you have a good TikTok presence. 

AC: Surprisingly and thankfully I do, yes. So, Golden Lab Bookshop. It’s located in Astoria. The website is GoldenLabBookshop.com. And we break it down very similarly that we do in the store. On Instagram I’m @GoldenLabBookshop. On Tik TOK, I have a very embarrassing name. It’s called @BookPapi. And the reason why is because I wanted it to be more of a community area. More like we’re just discussing, I didn’t want them to feel like it’s a bookstore trying to just sell books for them. Like, I want you to feel like a community. So I came up with a funny name and then I got a lot of followers and more and more and more. And I was like, okay, I can’t change it now. On Tik TOK, it’s different than the Instagram and everywhere else, because it’s more videos. If there’s book recommendations, people ask me for recs and I give them recs, I do highlights of the new BIPOC releases ’cause I feel like a lot more people need those. So I very specifically go, this week, these are the new BIPOC releases for children, adults, and whatever genre. I don’t do reviews. I just recommend. If I’m recommending it, that’s my review. I really liked this book, so I recommend it.

JS: I want to thank you for joining me today. This has really been so fun talking to you, and I cannot wait for the chance to come visit your bookstore.

AC: please. And thank you so much. This is actually my first podcast.

JS: Really?

AC: I feel like it’s like the best named podcast too. I love the name of the podcast. And I just want to thank you so much for one, the opportunity and two, this is a great conversation. I love these types of conversations. 

JS: I do too. And you have an open invitation; please come back anytime you have a book you want to talk to me about. Obviously it will have to be the Second Best Book Ever, because we have established that A Hundred Years of Solitude wins, right? 

AC: Absolutely. In my mind and in my store. Yes.


Thanks for listening, Bookworms! You can follow the podcast on Instagram. I’m your host, Julie Strauss, and you can find me on Instagram

If you loved this episode as much as I loved making it, why not leave a revie wherever you’re listening? Each review helps new listeners find my work, and I’m so grateful for your help. Thanks for joining me today. And I will see you at the library.


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