Bright Side Bookshop hosts two best-selling female authors

Kristen Arnett (center), talks about her career with moderator Chelsey Johnson (left) and author Jami Attenberg (right) at Bright Side Bookstore event, March 12.

On March 12, Bright Side Bookshop welcomed authors Jami Attenberg and Kristen Arnett for a discussion forum about their bestselling novels, “All This Could Be Yours” and “Mostly Dead Things,” respectively. The female force was in high supply as Bright Side welcomed these authors. The owner of this independent book store is a woman, many women work in the store and the event was supported predominately by a staff of women.

Sam Butler, the events manager at Bright Side, said it was a great opportunity to host an event while both authors were in Flagstaff.

New ownership of Bright Side has helped integrate the store into the downtown scene and connect it with the city’s community of readers.

Annette Avery, an NAU alumna, is a co-owner of the independent book store. Flagstaff couple Lisa Lamberson and Ben Shaffer make up the other 50% of ownership. Lamberson also owns Mountain Sports, which is located downtown. These three make up the dynamic trio of leadership for Bright Side, each with their own focus.

Avery handles all the book-buying for the shop.

“There are roughly 1,500 titles that publish every Tuesday,” Avery said. “It’s exciting to get a sneak peek at titles that are publishing in the future and see what’s trending in the publishing world.”

Lamberson focuses on human resources and management needs along with being the general manager for Bright Side while Shaffer handles the bookkeeping and taxes. Avery said they all have niches at the bookshop, such as attracting talented people like Attenberg and Arnett to come and present their work.

Attenberg has written about a myriad of topics including food, travel, books and relationships for magazines, newspapers and other platforms. In 2017, her novel “All Grown Up” was published in numerous countries. Her most recent, “All This Could Be Yours,” was published in 2019.

“All This Could Be Yours” is a timely and poignant look into what it means to be caught in the web of a toxic man who abused his power. It shows how those webs can tangle a family for generations and what it takes to break free.

Arnett is The New York Times bestselling author of “Mostly Dead Things,” which was listed as one of The New York Times’ top books of 2019. She was awarded Ninth Letter’s Literary Award in Fiction and is a columnist for Literary Hub, a daily website that produces content relating to literature and culture. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and other platforms.

“Mostly Dead Things” is a shining example of success for the new, funny and bold. Arnett said the book is about a lesbian taxidermist who takes over her family’s shop after her father kills himself.

Due to the COVID-19 concerns and strong recommendations from Arizona’s state leaders to stay away from public gatherings, Bright Side Bookshop held a Zoom cloud meeting during the authors’ talk. With the Bright Side poster in the middle and the speakers on both sides, the authors discussed their work and fielded questions from the audience.

Many of the audience members had read Attenberg’s and Arnett’s books in preparation for this literary event and were thankful to the authors. Attendee Haley Davis was present over the Zoom meeting and is a supporter of the authors.

“Thank you for answering my silly question about characters,” Davis said. “Flawed people are definitely the most interesting.”

Even though the Zoom meeting was new, Avery is no stranger to challenges. Widowed at a young age, she focused on her children as they grew up. Once they were older, Avery thought it was time she did something for herself. Being an avid reader for most of her life, plus the fact the independent book store was for sale, seemed to align with her next phase.

The rate of growth in the first couple of years was unprecedented. Avery and her team worked around the clock to keep inventory levels stable and the store running. Now, Avery has her sights set on e-commerce. The importance of allowing patrons to buy items online cannot be overlooked as they compete with goliaths like Amazon. Avery stopped to ponder what major factors culminated in her independent book store’s incredible success.

“It’s important to find good partners, the right partners,” Avery said. “I also think I may not have successfully started this independent book store if I had opened it when I was 30. I switched careers at 50, and you have to have a plan. You have to have a passion for what you do.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bright Side Bookshop will be closed until March 27, however this is subject to change.