She loves books. She knows about book sales. And she’s even writing a book. So it’s no surprise we found Courtney Schlachter in a bookstore — her own — more than willing to talk books. Here’s her own story.

Name: Courtney Schlachter

Age: 37

Town: Lewiston

Family: Husband Adam, son Eli, daughter Quinn, cats Chloe and Oona

Job: Bookshop owner and artist at Quiet City Books in Lewiston

What made you decide to open a bookstore? I’ve always wanted to work in a bookstore! I came close when I worked at Mr. Paperback Cafe when I was 20, then I got a job as a bookseller/buyer at Half Price Books in the Dallas area. Working there for three years gave me a good glimpse into the business of used books and how to value them. After I returned to Maine, I was a stay-at-home mom for several years until the bookstore itch became too great to bear; I found a great spot to give a used bookshop a try on Lisbon Street and jumped on it.

Why the name Quiet City? The phrase “quiet city” is from a song that used to be among my favorites. It was the business name I used for my artwork starting in 2005, so I carried it over and added “Books” when I opened the shop.

Are books still good business in the digital age? They are! I’m not the only one who prefers physical paper books: the weight of them in your hands, their cozy smell, the way they fill shelves, and each are individual pieces of art in some way. The reading market is swinging back to actual books, and used books are the perfect way to read and collect more affordably. Used books can also tell more stories than just the ones printed in them.

What was the most popular item in your shop this holiday season? Aside from books themselves (which make such great gifts!) I have been selling a lot of my handmade ornaments and sculpture globes, handmade paper flowers, T-shirts from No Frills (a small New Gloucester screen printer and clothing designer), and the fun and cheeky Badge Bomb magnets and pins. I have had several requests for holiday cards, which I was unable to stock in time this year, so I’m going to design and create several sets of illustrated and paper cut cards for next season.

What’s the funniest thing a customer has ever said to you? The first time a customer came in after following me on social media, she bought a big stack of books and exclaimed, “I want to be you when I grow up!” She is older than I am and was well-established in her career, so we both got a good laugh out of it. She visited many more times before she moved out of state, but we keep in touch and I hold her friendship dear. I hope she will read this. Hi, Sharon!

Best thing you read in 2018? Because I’m surrounded by used books, I don’t tend to read the latest releases. Something that really stands out from my reading this year is “20th Century Ghosts,” a short story collection by Joe Hill that was published in 2005.

Worst? I can’t say I read any books I did not enjoy. In 2018, I didn’t read as much as I typically do in a year, so it was all carefully selected for pleasure.

What book are you most looking forward to in 2019? Margaret Atwood will be releasing “The Testaments,” a followup to “The Handmaid’s Tale”! Sequels are delicate and unreliable things, but I have a lot of faith in Margaret Atwood.

Favorite book to recommend to kids? For independent readers, I recommend “Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitt, and “The Wildwood Chronicles” by Colin Meloy pretty regularly.

Favorite book to recommend to adults? My favorite author is Graham Joyce. Anyone who asks me for recommendations and is open to fairies, ghosts, and witches moving around in our very lives will be directed to my Graham Joyce shelf. (Yes, I have almost an entire shelf just for his books.)

If you wrote a book, what would its title be? I’m actually working on a novel on-and-off. Currently, it’s called “The Air That I Breathe.”

Ooh, what’s your book about? My book is speculative fiction about healing, community and the opposing forces of love and darkness in the universe.

Courtney Schlachter, owner of Quiet City Books, sits quietly with one of her favorite books. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn)

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