Those who can, read. Those who can't, collect!

Written by Josh Spencer

Five years after the film's release, The Last Bookstore owner Josh Spencer brings us up to speed on his daughter's reading habits.


Josh Spencer

  • The mini-doc Welcome to the Last Bookstore was filmed about 5 years ago.

    Everyone who watches it knows that my daughter Idunn is the true star of it! She is now 8 and she can read! True to my word in the video, I didn’t force her to be a reader. Maybe I should have. She still resists doing it much, so I err on the side of just having lots of books around. Kid books, sure, but also all of my own – classics, religious books, philosophy, books on punk and film and entrepreneurship and parenting, then more books on counterculture, design, pop culture, outsider art, architecture, comic book art, graphic novels, science fiction and fantasy art, and much more. I read somewhere that children who grow up surrounded by books turn into more intelligent adults. I am trying to make that surrounding happen, but I suspect somewhere a bookstore is laughing because they made up that story just to drive sales(!).

    At any rate, to my chagrin I haven’t seen signs of a reader in her yet. She’s nothing like me – at her age I had already inhaled huge chunks of the dictionary and the Bible and was half way through the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Tom Swift series. But then again, as much as I read, I also spent most days having adventures in the woods, in the country, at the beach, or just tearing around the small towns I lived in on my bike. I remember all the books I read but I don’t recall the actual act of sitting to read. Strange.

    My daughter is like me as far as adventuring goes; she’s fearless and always on the hunt for fun in nature. Since the video I have been divorced and remarried to the lost love of my youth and of my life (a story for another time), and now my daughter has 3 brothers ages four to six. Like me, she doesn’t have a moment’s notice of quiet to sit down to read, even if she wanted to. Likewise, through the pandemic my wife and I have been working 15-hour days for months trying to keep the adventure of The Last Bookstore alive for our staff and customers, and for us. Sometimes I wish I had just let the bookstore drift off as if it were a I could finally read again. COVID-19 provided the perfect out.

    But I couldn’t do it. Bookstores mean too much to people, and The Last Bookstore means something beyond that to many. I had to try to keep it going. I am still trying. Time will tell whether we succeed, or whether I get to read. Either way is worth getting happy about. And in the meantime, all I can do is continue surrounding myself and my daughter with books, books, and more books.

    Those who can, read. Those who can’t, collect!