Speaking with Read Between The Lynes' Owner Arlene Lynes: Woodstock's Hometown Bookstore

February 20, 2013

A few years ago when I was promoting my novel I was invited to the cleverly-named independent bookstore Read Between the Lynes in Woodstock to make an appearance. I was charmed by the lovely, warm store located in the town square, which feels like a shopping locale from another era (specifically, one that recurs again and again; Woodstock, as you may know, was where Groundhog Day was filmed.) As part of WBEZ’s closer look at Woodstock, I sent some questions to Read Between the Lynes owner and operator Arlene Lynes.

How and when did you come to Woodstock?
I came to Woodstock in March of 1997.  We relocated here from New Jersey for a new position for my husband.

How has Woodstock changed since you first arrived?
Woodstock has grown with lots of new housing/retail developments in the past 16 years.  Not all bad, but the flavor of agriculture is not as prominent!

What type of community is it to live and work in? Do you think it's friendlier to independent businesses than other cities?
Woodstock is an incredible community to work and live in.  While we definitely are a small town community, we have so very much to offer.  Of course I am biased, but yes, I believe Woodstock to be friendlier and more supportive to Independent businesses.  Due to the size of our town, we know one another and enjoy doing business with our friend and neighbors.

Is there much of a tourist connection anymore to the movie Groundhog Day?
There is a HUGE tourist connection to Groundhog Days, still.  It keeps getting bigger, it seems.  Many European travelers stop in over the course of the year due to our being the filming location.

What are some of your favorite places/things to do in Woodstock?
I absolutely adore the Woodstock Opera House.  It holds so many diverse programs, from the daytime Creative Living Series hosted by the Woodstock Fine Arts Association (of which Rick Kogan was one of their speakers a few years back), to Tribute Rock concerts, Community Theatre performances and nationally known performers, as well as The Mozart Festival. Stage Left Cafe' (adjacent to the Opera House) is run by the City of Woodstock as well and holds Open Mics, Jazz performances and Storytelling sessions with performers from around the world.  I guess it's obvious I'm a fan of the Arts, and I love the diversity we have here.  In the summer we have City Band concerts every Wednesday night on the town Square. They will be celebrating their 129th consecutive season this summer.  Also, a Music Fest and Folk Music festival run as well.

What are some of your favorite other small businesses in town?
Expressly Leslie is a vegetarian restaurant conveniently located across the street from us. Ethereal Confections makes the best chocolate I may have ever had! Mixteca is an authentic Mexican restaurant that has amazing margaritas.

What's one thing (or two) you think could improve or update the town square?
I would love to see the Woodstock Square filled with a variety of independent up & coming retail and eateries.  As we emerge from this economic challenge of times, I hope to see us grow in these areas.

What have been some of the most popular books that you sell?
We sell a lot of children's picture books and general fiction. That being said, we love to sell Chicago authors, Laura Caldwell is from this area, so she is always a big seller.

What have been some of the most memorable events you've hosted?
Hosting Orion Samuelson of WGN this past December was certainly memorable, as the line was down the sidewalk; also children's author/illustrator Tom Lichtenheld, he is an absolute genius and relates so well with children of all ages.  But let us not forget Rick Kogan who has packed the house!

What tips would you recommend for someone considering bringing a gigantic dog to work with them?
This question made me laugh out loud.  My recommendations for bringing a gigantic dog to work with them would be, make sure the dog is well trained and you have back-up to allow for walks and breaks.  Also, don't be offended when most everyone comments, "that's the biggest dog I think I've ever seen!"

Read Between the Lynes will be hosting a 2nd birthday party for Nika, its store mascot on Monday, March 18th at 1 pm. Birthday cake will be available for humans. Read Between the Lynes is located at  129 Van Buren St. Woodstock, IL 60098, (815) 206-5967

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