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Web Extra: Ghosts, books and more from Jefferson

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In the October issue, writer Sheryl Smith Rogers goes ghost-busting in Jefferson, an East Texas town renowned for its haunted buildings—not to mention its unusual salon-book store two-fer, Beauty and the Book.  Editorial intern Lauren Oakley visited with owner Kathy L. Patrick about ghosts, books, ambition, and giving back to the community.

Do you have any ghost stories you would like to share?  

“The first week we moved into our current location, downtown on Main Street, we started painting the walls.  One of the girls helping me was in the corner standing on a ladder, and all a sudden she screamed bloody murder.  She said that someone had breathed on her neck.”

What sparked your interest in opening a salon and bookstore in one?

I lost my job as a book publisher’s representative, so I called my sister and she suggested opening a salon since I had experience cutting hair. I really wanted to stay in the book business, but I knew a bookstore could not make it by itself … so I opened both in one.  Book Magazine reported that it’s the only bookstore and salon in the country.  Beauty and the Book makes sense because most people are always reading in the salon to pass the time.  I never get bored at my job.  If I am not talking about hair, I am talking about books, and I always go back and forth chatting between the two. 

Tell me a little more about the Pulpwood Queens book club.

I started a book club shortly after I opened my shop.  I originally started with only six members and by the second month, the club had grown to 35 members. We now have 200 chapters nationwide.  Our book club is also in eight foreign countries.  We have the largest meeting book club in the world. Who says literacy can’t be fun?  In our book club, reading is not dry or literarily pretentious.  Pulpwood Queens is more of a social club than an actual book club. You can start your own chapter in your hometown or join one nearby.  See my website for details. www.beautyandthebook.com 

What initially started your passion for books?  

When I was a tomboy kid, my teacher, Mrs. Bouldin, handed me the right book, Katie John by Mary Calhoun, at the right time.  I didn’t like reading at the time, but the main character was exactly like me. Ever since I have been hooked. Kids learn more from actions than words.  Her actions showed me that words are very important.
 Mrs. Bouldin was a world traveler and wore lots of capes and expensive clothes.  She did not have to teach, but she did anyway.  I wear a cape now too. 

What are your favorite books and/or authors?

To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite book, and my favorite author is Pat Conroy. I tend to like southern authors. I usually choose undiscovered authors as well as international ones.  I try to pick books for my book club members that are set in different places.  Even though we live in a small town, we can walk in other people’s shoes around the world by reading.

What motivates you to do all of this?

A lot of people turn to different things to escape. I turned to books when my parents fought. Reading has saved me. I am on a mission to show people that reading can save and influence better choices in life. 

What do you see for the future of Beauty and the Book and the Pulpwood Queen’s book club?

I hope my daughters and sons will be running chapters in the future and can tell everyone that it all started in a little town in Texas.  I do think that reading creates conversation and conversation makes us human. Life is about relationships and communication – reading is that bridge that helps people learn about each other.

From the June 2012 issue.

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