bomb shelter books

I'm at the Atlanta airport, en route to Chicago for IRA, but I couldn't resist sharing this fabulous moment at Bound To Be Read Books in East Atlanta yesterday afternoon. Not only did I get to sign the first copy of Countdown -- that's a thrill in itself -- but a surprise awaited me -- read on.
Jef Blocker and Jeff McCord are doing a poem a day project for National Poetry Month at Bound To Be Read, and I was lucky enough to be asked to read a poem. But I knew I would be doing that -- that's not the surprise.

I chose "In Flanders Fields," written in 1917 by Col. John McCrae, a doctor who worked on the battlefields of WWI, partly because it is a poem in Countdown, and partly because I believe we can never hear this poem too many times.

For one thing, it's beautifully written. Its sentiments are deep and true. I chose the poem to include in Countdown because of a character in the book, Uncle Otts, who is a World War I vet, and who was mustard gassed in the trenches, not too far from Flanders Fields. Col. McCrae wrote the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance on the day after a young friend had been killed in a bomb blast.
So I read "In Flanders Fields" and Jef taped me reading (will send y'all the link as soon as it's live), and then, as we talked about Countdown, Jeff said, "Where are those bomb shelter books?"

Well! Turns out, someone brought a box of books to Bound To Be Read a few years ago, and they are treasure. Just look at what one family chose to include in their 1962 bomb shelter (in Dunwoody, Georgia, no less), just in case they had to spend an extended amount of time there, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
There's a book on engineering, a Mark Twain reader, a King James version of the Bible, books on how to fish and hunt (who knew what kind of world we would awake to, if the Russians sent those missiles into the U.S. from Cuba?), and there is also some science fiction, some inspiration, and even a bit of risque reading, eh?

You'll notice I included Countdown in the bunch -- how crazy-cool it is to be part of a 1962 Dunwoody, Georgia family's history, to place my new book (that takes place in 1962) into the pile of books one family decided they needed to take with them into the bomb shelter in 1962. In Countdown, Franny's Uncle Otts, our World War I vet, is determined to protect his family during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He wants to build a bomb shelter in their front yard. He gets started, and.... I don't want to spoil it... but just look at this history, right under my nose, at Bound To Be Read!
Which books would you have chosen? What a good question. And isn't THIS an interesting match-up, below! I also love how America's #1 bestseller at $6 is now 50 cents. Ah... the sixties.
Jef and Jeff put together a bomb shelter display with these books, in the store, a couple of years ago, before I knew them. I'm so glad I know them now. I first met Jef when he moderated a panel I spoke on at SIBA last September. Since then, we've confabbed several times about how bookstores and authors and readers can work together to form community. Bound To Be Read is dedicated to being Atlanta's best community bookstore, with a mix of new and previously read titles. I always find something I didn't even know I was looking for, at BTBR.
I also find Kona Kitty, sometimes asleep in the front window, as she was yesterday, with her paws wrapped around her... tennis shoe. When I did "In the Writer's Studio" at BTBR in January, Kona wandered into and out of camera range, checking everything out.

Nice bookstore. Great folks. Fabulous bomb-shelter story.  Good kitty.

Thanks, guys.


  1. Deborah, I'm just about finished with COUNTDOWN, and I already know for sure I'm not overstating things when I predict that your 60s book is Bound To Be Read by many, for years and years to come.


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