Nailed It!

It’s a long, rambling story but stick with me it ends with Free Books! Since opening a book store one of the most surprising and most wonderful perks has been the number of advanced copies of books publishers send to me to get me to read them and hopefully order them to share with you.  But because they are advanced copies you cannot then sell them so they pile up, we trip over them, we give a few away, we thought about skeet shooting with them…but they are books, we can’t do that! So I have been trying to come up with a creative idea of how to share them with you, our loyal customers. 

In planning for Christmas in the Country I thought wouldn’t it be great to let customers choose from these books as a Bonus Book Gift with every $25 purchase?  Great Idea!  But how to display them for you to choose?  Sure, I could have just thrown them in a box and called it a day but where is the fun and life threatening adventure in that?  So instead I thought “They should be displayed on a book shelf shaped like a Christmas Tree!  And I will design and build it myself.” I mean, how hard can that be, right?

So first there was the conceptual sketches.  Rob and I (both obviously engineering geniuses) collaborated on these.  Then I wrote up a supply list and Rob went over to Pat’s Hardware to pick up the supplies – had to get out the pickup for that.  Then it was time to lay out the design and pull out the power tools.   At first I thought a regular cordless saw was the best choice, but it did not have the heft necessary to get through the incredibly thick plywood Rob choose, so then I went with a corded jigsaw –  that was much harder to cut a straight line but really why does a Christmas Tree need to be symmetrical or straight – that is so boring!

Then came time to cut up the 4x4 fence post – sorry, my power tools were not up to the task so back to Pat’s where the guys were great about helping me out to get level straight cuts (thanks guys!). A layer of green paint and then it was time to put this beast together.  Tried screws, that was going a bit badly so nails.  In hindsight nails may not have been the best choice.  As I sat in my garage building the sections one nail hit a knot and instead of going into the board the nail flew towards me and actually hit me square in the eye – thankfully I am extremely lucky , blessed and apparently have excellent blink reflexes and I closed my eye in time so other than a red lid I am fine.  Kids, don’t try this at home, or if you do wear the darn safety goggles.  Well, now to put the layers together, but no matter how I tried scattering the columns I could not figure out how to attach the top section. That was, until Kelly Ward wandered into the shop (did I mention I actually nailed the “layers” of the tree in-situ at the shop because I was afraid it would be too heavy to lift once together?)  Well Kelly borrowed some tools from Charlie across the street and WE HAVE A TREE!  (Thanks Kelly, thanks Charlie!)

So off to the storage unit I went to pick up boxes (and boxes) of books, then Mel arranged them on the tree .  Next we decorated it and photographed this beauty and in the immortal words of everyone who has ever seen an idea of Pintrest and then tried it themselves “I NAILED IT”. 

So after that rambling beast of a story the result is this: Come to The Conundrum this weekend and for every $25 you spend you get to choose a book from the Fabulous Bonus Book Tree.  There are some great titles on there, you are sure to find something you like, Mel and I sure had fun going through them with a constant refrain of “Ooh, I loved that one”. 

Here are the rules:  Choose 1 books for every $25 spent between Friday Dec 7 and Sunday Dec 9, while supplies last. All books are marked with a red dot on the top because with many of the books being advanced copies they cannot be sold or traded back under our Used Book program.  We Look forward to seeing you this weekend during Christmas in the Country, join us for fun, food, drinks, festivities and books!

Events ! Events ! Events !  (AKA “Taking the Show on the Road” )

Ahh, Fall.  The leaves are falling (somewhere), the air is cooler (not here), and people are wearing sweaters (in other parts of the country).  Ok, so the only thing that really changes for us when Fall arrives is that our schedule becomes packed with events.  Some of the events are onsite at The Conundrum, some are away from the store at local events, and some are REALLY away like in other towns at their literary events (who knows, those towns may even have cool weather!)

Here’s a rundown of where we will be and who will be joining us.  We hope you will consider joining us at one – or all – of these events as well!

Saturday October 20, 2018 we are proud to collaborate with The Southern Garden Symposium to bring a wide selection of gardening books to their lectures at Hemingbough.  The speakers promise to be as fabulous as ever.  You know you want will to be able to get signed copies of their books for yourself and as gifts for your garden loving friends .  This event sells out quite regularly so be sure you have reserved your ticket to attend and we will see you there !

Wednesday October 31, 2018 Halloween morning storytime reading It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  We will have treats (no tricks) and crafting.  Join us for the fun!

Friday and Saturday, November 2 & 3, 2018 we will travel to St Landry Parish to have a pop-up bookstore at this year’s Festival of the Word.  The event features authors Jack Bedell , Ladee Hubbard and Cornelius Eady. 

Thursday November 8, 2018 from 6pm – 8pm ,  Ben Forkner (also the compiler and editor of Louisiana Stories) is launching a new book absolutely perfect for our town.  It is called Audubon on Louisiana and is a collection of John James Audubon’s writings pertaining to his time in Louisiana.  He will be travelling  from his home in France and will join us a for a signing and discussion on both books.  A book you will want to give as gifts for years to come, you won’t want to miss this one! Light refreshments will be served.

Friday November 9 , 2018 from 6:30 until 8:30 we will host the BOOK LAUNCH Celebration for Em Shotwell’s newest novel at The Conundrum.   I know those of you who have read BlackBird Summer and Forget Me Not have been anxiously awaiting this book .  Be sure and mark this date on your calendar and  pre-order your signed copy now!  Refreshments will be served.

Saturday November 10, 2018 The Conundrum will have a pop-up bookstore in a booth at The Louisiana Book Festival!  Since before opening the store this event has been a favorite day in the Fall for me and now we get to join the fun!  We will be bringing authors, signed books, information on our year round events and letting the entire state know all about the fabulous literary happenings we have in St Francisville.

Sunday November 11, 2018 .  Our good friend Jason Berry is releasing his new book and will join us to sign and chat. The new Book is City of a Million Dreams and celebrates the 300th anniversary of the city of New Orleans. Books are available for pre-order at our website.+9 We hope to see you for the event. 

Friday November 16- Sunday November 18, 2018 we will once again be across the river in New Roads for their Christmas Marketplace The Market at the Mill.  Always a great way to kick off your Christmas shopping.  We hope to see you there !

Friday December 7 – Sunday December 9, 2018 .  Come help us celebrate our 3rd anniversary during Christmas in the Country.   There will be book signings, story time, special events and lots more.  Stay tuned for more information as the date gets closer.

There is even more being added to the calendar every day!  Be sure and watch your email for more upcoming events.   Now, I better rest up to be ready for all of these events!


When it is too hot to move...

When it is too hot to move it is time to just sit still and read.  If you have been outside in south Louisiana lately then you know that I have been spending a lot of time sitting still and reading and I have found some great new books I thought I would share with you today.

First, and foremost if you have not read Love and Ruin yet start this one today.  And yes, I meant to type Love and Ruin, not Love in the Ruins.   While Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy is one of my all-time favorite books, Love and Ruin by Paula McLain is climbing the ranks.   For those of you who love historical fiction, and those who enjoy a good World War II book (and I know I swore I would never read another of those after last year when every book on the best sellers list seemed to be set in World War II, read this one anyway).  For those of you who are fans of Ernest Hemmingway, and those of you who just like a good read with beautiful character development, this is the book for you.  Written by the author of The Paris Wife, which gave us a glimpse behind the scenes into the early years of Ernest Hemmingway’s writing career here comes Love and Ruin to give us more to feast upon.  Some might call it a Moveable Feast  - pun fully intended – with the many shifts in continent and country that this book serves up.  Get a copy today and get swept away.

Next up, what is ostensibly a Young Adult (“Y.A.” in the lingo) novel but I believe people of any age will enjoy.  The book is titled “The Bird and the Blade” and is written by Megan Bannen.  It tells the story of a slave girl, a prince, a displaced Khan, a beautiful and cruel Princess, three riddles and one dangerous secret.  If that storyline sounds vaguely familiar that is because it is based on the opera Turandot by Giacomo Puccini.  Even if you are not really an opera fan you will enjoy this book.  With its intrigue, action, and descriptions of distant lands and times this book will keep you engaged.  And for those of you familiar with the opera you probably know that Puccini actually died before finishing it and the ending you may have seen performed was actually written by someone else.  In my opinion the ending in the opera leaves a lot to be desired.  When I met the author Megan Bannen she told me she had “fixed the ending”.  While I am still not completely satisfied with the ending it is a bit more satisfying if still not all tied up with a bow.

The last new book I will share today is my favorite new book for children.  It is called My Stinky Dog by Christine Roussey.  This book tells the story of a little boy and his dog and best friend, Alfred.  Alfred is a great dog except for one little problem, he smells really bad.  The little boy tries everything he can think of to correct the problem but when he finally does get Alfred spiffed up he discovers Alfred just isn’t the same.  In this book’s few short pages it teaches us that it is our little flaws that make us all so perfect.

I hope you enjoy these new reads, and there are lots more new books to choose from on the shelves.  Speaking of which, it is hot outside – I’ve got reading to do!  


The Special Vacation Issue

Summer is here and we have vacation on the brain!  At the Conundrum we are ready to help you travel.  Either by finding the perfect book to carry along on your vacation, or the perfect book to read so that you feel like you are vacationing even if you are staying at home.  We have

you covered. 

There are so many great books that can help you get vacation ready.  You might wish to start with a copy of “1000 Places to See Before you Die” to help you plan out your trip (or your daydream).  I just love this book.  With its concise descriptions of the world’s greatest sights and places it gives you just enough information without weighting you down with a dense guide book you never actually read. Each section provides the “What”, the “Where”, “Best Times” and “Cost” along with tips to save you time and money in each locale and a brief history and description of what makes this place worthy of the being in the top 1000 places you just must simply see before you die.   After years of using this book I now own 2 copies, one that I keep whole as my starting point and reference book and the other from which I tear the pages covering wherever it is that I am visiting.  I carry those few, thin pages in my bag rather than a heavy guide book (save the weight for the novels you are bringing to read on the plane!). 

Once your trip is planned now how are you getting there?  Will you be driving?  If so you might need some fun conversation starter card games to keep everyone playing nicely together.  Check out our Chat Packs.  These fun cards ask questions like what is the “weirdest thing you have ever…”, or “what is the greatest…” you get the picture.   These cards also work great as entertainment at the lake house or camp at night and on rainy days to keep away a nasty case of the “I’m Bored’s”.    

If you are driving a bit of distance you may want to use the time in the car to listen to a great audio book.  Whether it is a choice like “A Gentleman in Moscow” or “Lincoln in the Bardo” for an amazing and engaging story, or “Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone“ for whole family enjoyment you will love how quickly time flies by when your imagination is engaged via an audio book from  What?  You don’t know about yet and still use that OTHER audio book company?  Check out the section in today’s newsletter telling you about this fantastic new option supporting our independent bookstore.

Now you have arrived at your destination.  Have you packed enough books?  And what did you choose to read on vacation?  Are you a theme reader?  I did not know that I was but while planning a trip to Italy I kept picking up books like Jess Walters “A Beautiful Ruin”, John Grisham’s “Playing for Pizza” and several books by “Under the Tuscan Sun” author Frances Mayes.  I even packed a hardcover copy of a new Young Adult book because it is based on Pucchini’s opera Turandot which I was planning to see while traveling the area.  So yeah, I guess I am a theme reader and did not know it.  

So with all this great stuff waiting for you at The Conundrum the only question left to ask is : Where are you travelling this summer?  Wherever you are going whether in body, in spirit or both we hope you will come by The Conundrum to find a few books, games or puzzles to add to your trip.  And don’t forget to pack your Conundrum T-shirt and then send us a photo of you wearing it in some interesting locale.  We will post all of the photos to our Facebook and Instagram account and whoever gets the most “likes” by August 15th will win a $25 gift card to The Conundrum! So get those cameras clicking and send us some fun shots as we spread the word about our love of reading around the world!  Have a nice trip and remember: Life is a journey so be sure and pack enough books. 


Less than a week until...

The annual Walker Percy Weekend will be held this weekend on June 1 & 2nd.   This has become my favorite annual event in St Francisville because it is the perfect combination of literature and southern hospitality in a beautiful setting.

Now in it’s fifth year The Walker Percy Weekend brings together fans of southern literature from around the country, and even outside of it, to celebrate the writings of novelist and essayist Walker Percy while enjoying all that southern hospitality has to offer.  Starting with a Friday night gala, the weekend continues with discussions and lectures from noted scholars and writers on the works of Walker Percy during the day on Saturday.  Each year we add another southern writer into the mix. This year, we have chosen to include Shelby Foote whose friendship with Walker Percy influenced both writers.  We will have the honor of having both Mary Pratt Percy Lobdell (Walker Percy’s daughter), and Huger Foote (Shelby’s Foote’s son) join us to take part in the events.   Saturday afternoon continues with a stroll among the front porches of St Francisville’s historic district where, in commemoration of Walker Percy’s Bourbon essay , patrons will enjoy a selection of different cocktails.  This event is followed by a Crawfish boil held in the center of town.

By the end of Saturday night attendees will have rekindled friendships made at this event in previous years, have made new friends, have taken part in stimulating literary discussions, and will be making plans to be with us again the next year. The one thing that is certain is that is that once you attend The Walker Percy Weekend you will want to come back to see us again. 

As of this writing there are very few tickets available to the events at . If you can join us, don’t  wait any longer, it looks like this year will once again be a sellout!


Define: "Holiday"...

This coming Saturday is April 28th.  This particular Saturday has been given a name.  That name is Independent Bookstore Day, and I am conflicted.  I am conflicted because there is a part of me that says that sounds like another one of those “holidays” that are made up to sell a product or service.  You know, like the theory that Valentines Day was started to help sell greeting cards and flowers.  I mean don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against receiving a nice card, a bouquet of flowers or a bit of chocolate; on Feb 14th or any day for that matter, but I can be a bit cynical and wonder why you don’t think of such things on say Feb 1st when there probably would not be such lines at restaurants and the waiters would not be so rushed.  I mean, if it takes a “holiday” to get you to pick up the flowers then I am all for the “holiday”, and I certainly would not look askance at the gift proffered, but do I think it is really a “holiday”, that is the question. 

So when Independent Bookstore Day rolls around I feel conflicted because as the owner of an Independent Bookstore I want to make it a big deal but then I ask myself does this make me a hypocrite? The bigger question should be: do you care if I am a hypocrite because the good or the bad news of it is that it is a thing, a “holiday” of sorts, and as such we are going to celebrate it.  We are going to have some in-store specials on Saturday and some of our partners are offering free stuff, and as such you really may not care what I call the day but for the record we are indeed calling it “Independent Bookstore Day”.

Here are a few of the specials you can take advantage of on Saturday… that’s right, for Independent Bookstore Day.

-          Spend $50 on Saturday and get a free Bicycle Logo Tote Bag from The Conundrum

-          We will have sweets and treats to eat on hand all day

-          Free Bookmarks (as many as you would like, the publishers sent LOTS!)

-          Create an account with our audiobook partner and get free audiobooks on April 28th.   (to create your account visit now and you will be able to download your books on Saturday )

-          All customers on Saturday will be entered in a drawing.  We will draw one winner who will win a $20 Gift certificate to The Conundrum to use on a future visit!

HAPPY INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE DAY!  We can’t wait to celebrate with you!

Is it a form of Fatigue or Blindness?

Is it a form of fatigue or blindness?  Have you ever wondered why so often we fail to see the most blatant mistakes when proof reading our own work?  Is it a form of fatigue or blindness?  This was the question that I posed to my husband over dinner last night.  Is it fatigue born from having looked at the same piece literally hundreds of times, or is it blindness because our eyes and brains know what we intended to type and therefore assume it is what is on the paper without really looking?

This question arose last night as I was reviewing the promotional pieces I am working on for two upcoming literary festivals.  After not seeing any errors on my “final” review I (very smartly it seems) sent it to our committee members to have fresh eyes look at it. Wouldn’t you know it, the biggest error was on my husband’s listing as a sponsor – you would think I would check that, wouldn’t you?  Well, I thought I had but my eyes and brain were either too fatigued or too blind to see the error.   And apparently, this is a thing.  When I posed the fatigue vs blindness question to Rob he searched it on the internet and apparently other people have actually researched this topic.  (I’ll include a link to one of the articles he sent me later). 

But the good news is Fatigue and/or Blindness be darned we finished the proof read and the posters for The Walker Percy Weekend have been ordered and work is well underway on the brochures for both that event and The West Feliciana Children’s Book Festival.

Speaking of the children’s book festival be sure and gather your kiddos, or borrow some, or come by yourself, but whatever you do, be sure to join us in Parker Park on Saturday May 5 when we will once again have authors, illustrators, story tellers, facepainting, and a town wide sidewalk chalk art contest. This year will also add a storytime that teaches kids Yoga and Meditation, a visit from Alycat of the Alycat series of children’s books, a book drive with a fabulous prize to help the Women’s Service League replenish the Little Free Library at the Sports Park, and awesome activities from several other community groups (more info to come later).

So, here we go into a 45 day span with lots of literary activities in our town for both kids and adults and a lot more proof reading for me – at which I apparently do not excel.  But luckily I work with a group that is so talented in so many ways not the least of which is catching my mistakes before I print them on 1000 brochures.  (Just a thought, maybe I should have them proof read my blogs but I think my run on sentences, commas, and stream of consciousness writing style might have them running away and I really need them , so I better not ask.)

Here’s that article Rob found: “Why it’s so hard to catch your own typos”

Save the dates:

The Second Annual West Feliciana Children’s Book Festival is Saturday May 5, 2018

And The Fifth Annual Walker Percy Weekend is the weekend of June 1-3, 2018



Newly discovered time for reading even more books!

I read at work, I read while waiting for meetings to start or friends to arrive at lunch.  I read while I eat, I read while I bathe and brush my teeth.  With all this reading going on you might not think that I could find a way to fit in even more “reading”, but I have found it! 

I now read while driving believe it or not!  And not in some crazy, unsafe, book in my lap, eyes off the road kind of way.  The Conundrum bookshop has now partnered with to offer an audiobook option to our customers.  I just plug my ipad or phone into the USB jack in my car and it plays over the car speakers.   This is a great additional resource for me, I’m in the car a lot!  As many of you know I split my time between New Orleans and St. Francisville each week which is about a two hour commute each way.  Until now I have filled that time with Satellite radio or singing show tunes but that can get a bit repetitive and the time drags.  Now I can’t wait to get back into the car to hear what happens next and the trip flies by in seemingly no time.   I spent some time trying the system out before sharing it with you guys listening to A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and all I have to say is that I was making up excuses to get back on the road.

Now, audiobooks will never replace paper for me, but I certainly appreciate that I have the option available to fill the time on the road while also hearing more terrific stories.  I try to stay abreast of current literature so I can speak knowledgeably to you guys when you come in the store and this just added at least 4 hours of “reading” time to my schedule each week without having to give up anything except a boring drive and repetitive music on the radio. works just like other audiobook companies.   By that I mean that you can either buy a monthly subscription that gets you one book at a great discount each month or you can buy individual books.  But unlike other audiobook companies partners with independent bookstores .  So if you are coming to a book club meeting at the store, or you come in to talk about and learn about new books,  but you know you are going to listen to them in your car; now your bookstore can “sell” them to you for the same price you would have paid that other company.  This partnership helps to keep bookstores like ours relevant in an ever digital world.   To learn more about or to sign up visit our website at: or go directly to our partner site at:

So for those of you who find yourself driving to and from work, kid’s schools, running errands etc  you no longer have to listen to the same old, same old.  Use that time instead to step into worlds not yet explored or to learn something new.   I hope those of you inclined to audiobooks enjoy it ( I hope the rest of you come into the shop and buy a paper book ) but either way I have to go now because I am heading back to New Orleans and I just started Tangerine by Christine Mangan  so I really must find out how my new friends Lucy and Alice  are doing in 1950’s Tangier.