My favorite non-brick and mortar place to buy books is Better World Books. Their staff does a great job of making an online company feel more like the close-knit community with the personal attention you might get at an independent bookstore. Through their online presence on their website and blog, and on Facebook and Twitter they create a conversation for book lovers.
Each month, BWB hosts a book club discussion on their blog. Each quarter, BWB, headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, hosts an in-person book club discussion for anyone able to attend. Last week, 45 of us who had read Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moor with Lynn Vincent, met at City of Refuge, a shelter for women and children in the Vine City neighborhood of Atlanta. Some of us served dinner to the women and children who are part of the residential program. Some headed out to two areas in the neighborhood to serve a hot meal to anyone in need. Afterward we gathered back at City of Refuge to talk about this book that has homelessness at its center.
I read it over New Year's weekend and enjoyed the true tale of two men who couldn't be more different but became best friends. Ron is a fine art dealer whose wife convinced him to volunteer with him in a Fort Worth homeless shelter. Denver is the former sharecropper turned homeless man who becomes his best friend. The friendship doesn't happen overnight, though it is helped along with encouragement from Ron's wife Debbie.
In a couple of hours of service followed by a good discussion about the book and about homelessness, our group certainly didn't solve the world's problems. It was an eye-opening experience though and I'm glad BWB is the kind of company that puts events like these together that spark the discussions we all should be having.
After the event, BWB posted a guest blog post from Ron Hall.