Meet the Bookseller: "I'm a Reader Who Grows on Mom's Legs"

When Megan Hayden was 8, her parents signed her up for the minor leagues.She would bike a few blocks to the field, but instead of joining her team, Hayden perched on a hill overlooking the field and opened a book.The current bookstore owner also held on for a few weeks, until the coach called home to ask if she was going to quit the season.From that moment it became clear to her that she preferred to read.
“I grew up on my mother’s lap,” says Hayden, who owns the River Bend bookstore in Glastonbury, Connecticut.The incredible emergence of new writers from all backgrounds and perspectives has made my world bigger and more beautiful.”
After two decades in the corporate world, Hayden is ready to start a new chapter in her career.She wants to own and run a business — specifically, a business that brings people together.For Hayden, there’s no better place for a relationship than a bookstore, where the simple act of picking up a book from a shelf can spark a real conversation.Now three years old, the Riverbend Bookstore does just that, serving as a community hub and safe space where book lovers old and new can gather, reflect and connect.
“It’s more valuable than I thought,” Hayden said.”Communities need safe spaces to gather for discussion and reflection. Neighbors should feel welcome and encouraged to ask questions, share feelings and get to know each other.”
Located on Main Street in Glastonbury, River Bend is an almost magical place for Hayden and her customers.The bookshelves are custom designed to fit the store’s unique historic space (built in 1863), and each of the approximately 6,000 books in inventory has been hand-picked by Hayden.
“There are more magical moments in bookstores than I can count,” Hayden said.”Favorites include wedding and prom photos taken at the store, handwritten notes thanking the bookseller for their wonderful recommendations, and a grandparent sharing a child’s Halloween costume inspired by a book they picked up here. Perhaps most touching is the Got a call from a bereaved family member letting us know that a dear client has passed away. They knew he loved it here and we were one of the friends who should be connected. It’s hard to believe that there are so many other businesses out there that do this A special way to become a part of your life.”
Hayden loves the way readers are naturally curious and empathetic—when they choose to open the cover of a book, they walk into the lives of others.She also admires the author’s creativity and bravery – showing emotion and vulnerability on the page that many can’t imagine.Literary buffs think author Gish Jen did just that in “Thank You, Mr. Nixon” — the author’s latest collection of short stories and a selection for this month’s Boston.com book club.The series takes stock of life in China over the past 50 years since its founding.
“I love how the characters in each part later appear in unexpected places and are intricately connected,” Hayden said. “She subtly spans years and generations, giving you an idea of ​​how each family spirit is based on them. The situation developed. The situation was tough, but there was also humor, love, and loyalty. …Throughout the book, looming reported threats create enormous tension, both with the government and with your own mother. What you have What you know, what you choose to believe, or what you deliberately forget can dramatically change your situation.”
According to Hayden, the best way to discover and interact with writers like Jen is to develop friendly relationships with local independent bookstores (which, thankfully, are all over New England), support them by attending events and chatting with passionate booksellers.Although if you can’t make it to a brick and mortar store, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to come across the River Bend Book Truck, which launched last summer and brings a little bookstore magic to farmers’ markets, festivals, and the ups and downs around the greater Hartford area.
Whether it’s in a bookstore or on the road, or about authors or loyal clients, Hayden has one general feeling about her three years in the book business: “It’s definitely been a joy to be around these incredible people.”
Join River Bend Bookstore owner Meghan Hayden and author Gish Jen for the book club’s next virtual discussion on “Thank You, Mr. Nixon” on February 16 at 6 p.m.
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Post time: Feb-16-2022