Most Influential Person in the World? You.

Yesterday, Cal handed me a copy of Time magazine that he’d totally legally purchased from a reputable newsstand (or, you know, stolen from the dentist office). He was excited because it listed Ann Patchett as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.


Patchett has been influential to Cal (and me, and lots of other readers) for years because she writes amazing books. (I still recommend Bel Canto at least once a week, and her newest, State of Wonder, is seeing a new bump in sales since it was released in paperback.) But recently she took another step by opening a bookstore in Nashville, Tennessee.



See, all the independent bookshops in Nashville had been run out of business by big box stores. And then the big box stores were run out of business by Amazon. This is happening all over the country, and Patchett’s story is so poignant to me and Cal because we have a bookstore for the same reason — because we believe it’s an important part of a community. (Even though, here in Birmingham, we’re really lucky to have still several thriving independent bookshops.)


But this isn’t a story about how great Ann Patchett is. And it’s not about Cal and me and Church Street, either — it’s about how much power we all have when we share books that we’ve loved or learned from. Every time you pass along a book with great ideas, or with passages that challenged you, or with stories that comforted you, you’re influencing another person.


We can’t all have our picture in Time magazine. But we can all make a difference. Because every time you share a book with someone, you’re a most influential person, too.


Carrie Rollwagen is co-owner and book buyer at Church Street Coffee & Books.

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