Cancerland Essay Contest

Award-Winning Second Edition Book Shop in a New Space!

I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of bookstores. From the heaven that is Portland's Powell's City of Books to San Francisco's sprawling Green Apple Books, one of the biggest delights of travel is exploring new bookstores. The dreams of readers are expansive - never limited to time and space. 

But in order to visit my favorite bookstore, I never have to travel far. Second Edition Book Shop in my home of South Florida has had my heart for the last decade. During my stint writing travel articles for the green bed and breakfast, I wrote about Second Edition Book Shop so frequently that my editors politely asked me if I couldn't find something else to write about.

Ok, ok, so I'm a fangirl of Second Edition Book Shop. But I'm not the only one who loves SEBS. The little green bookstore that could won the 2013 Local 10 Best of South Florida Award for Best Bookstore and it also won Best Bookstore for the South Florida New Times. 

"A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"...

One of the things I've always loved about SEBS is how clean and well-maintained it is. It used to be that the term "secondhand" bookstore conjured up images of dusty, moth eaten, heat-bleached books in an overcrowded space. Second Edition is the antithesis of that image: a clean, cozy, well-maintained "dream of a bookstore" with gleaming wooden floors, cozy nooks to read in, and well-stocked and organized shelves of thousands of books - approximately 70,000 at last count. 

....In a New Space

Second Edition Book Shop owner (and my buddy), Danielle Joy Whatley has just moved the store from the well-loved space in Lincoln Park Plaza on Stirling Road to The Shops at Stirling Place. The new Second Edition has been given a cozier, more spacious face lift while still retaining all of its small-town, intimate charm.  The hard wooden floor gleams, and the owl (the icon of SEBS) is tucked around the store - on throw pillows, in shelves, and on signs. The store is larger, with a touch of elegance thanks to carefully selected antiques and new furnishings. (Check out the awesome floral chandelier that dominates the entryway.) 

Where Everybody Knows Your Name (and What You Read!)

I got lost among the readers. The store was bustling this morning: kids and their moms, small business owners, and entire families came out to browse the books and take home their favorites. Every now and again I'd hear a woman laugh to herself as she found a book she'd been searching for. Kids stood on chairs to reach their favorites, shouting "Mom! Look what I found!" A clown painted the kids' faces and Danielle greeted old and new friends, hugged readers, and rang up customers. 

Debby's Chair 

Debby's Chair (Bottom Left) Has a New Home at SEBS

But this morning, I wasn't just looking for books; I was looking for my chair. 

When my mother Debby passed away from cancer in 2007, I couldn't bring myself to part with her quirky, animal print, oversized armchair right away. I held onto it for six years, remembering how mom used to curl up in it and read, or sit in it to have a mother-daughter conversation with me. But, I knew in my heart that the time had come to find it a new home. And so over the summer, I provided Danielle with mom's animal print chair. It's a little weird, but comfortable, just like my mom was. 

And when I found the chair this morning in the supernatural/romance section, I got a little misty-eyed even as I grinned to myself. Mom was a fan of all things unexplained and romantic and I know wherever she is, that she approves of the section.

Like "Cheers" For the Bibliophile

Second Edition is like "Cheers" for the bibliophile: where owner Danielle remembers your name and what you read. It's a connection point, not only for readers, but also for small businesses and new people waiting to become old friends. 

When I was a kid, I remember watching old movies where the people of a small town would gather for a smoke or a chat on the front steps of the General Store. They'd sit there for hours, chatting about their families. The men might argue over politics and the women might trade recipes (or vice versa). SEBS offers South Florida that same sense of community. In the old store, it wasn't  unusual to see a few  SEBS "regulars" sitting in the leather bound armchairs by the cash register, chatting about books, what they just read, what I should avoid, and how proud they were of their kids or grand kids. I imagine the same thing will happen at the new store. 

Store Info

Second Edition Book Shop is located at 6831 Stirling Road, Davie, FL, 33314. Please visit them on Facebook or call 954-961-5063 for more info.

this was it

The first recognition I can remember for my writing was a poetry project in the eleventh grade. We had to write five poems in various styles and I got an A+ and a note from the teacher that she wanted to see me after school. She did most of the talking at that meeting. She told me I was good but I needed more work and also, I had been hiding my light under a bush and that wasn’t going to be tolerated any further. She entered me in every writing contest for high school students, ever. Local essay prizes given by The Lions Club and national short story awards, all of them. And if I didn’t turn in a completed entry to her, she would dock my grade in class. Because she could.

I won some of the things, placed in others, nothing came from a few of them. I stopped after awhile because I was sixteen and you aren’t the boss of me. I skipped more class than I attended that year. My teacher passed me even though I didn’t show up for my exams. They all passed me, that year. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a good time for me. I wish I could remember that teacher’s name.

I wrote the following poem a couple of weeks ago as part of a class exercise. I wrote it in one go, in about ten minutes. If there is something you are good at and you enjoy doing it, you should try to get more of it in your life.

Where I’m From*

I am from…

Bless your heart; butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth; buck dancin’ champions of 1966

I am from…

Social climbing car salesman and a Seven & Seven; All night poker games with the grocery money

I am from…

Momma, look at me; tougher than I look; suck it up, buttercup; Momma said knock you out; too stubborn to quit and too ignorant to know I should

I am from…

MTV and your pizza delivered in thirty minutes or it’s free; Seventeen Magazine and dates old enough to drink and bumps of cocaine in the club bathroom

I am from…

The Buffalo Creek Missionary Baptist Church; skinny black ties and blazing white short-sleeved dress shirts; two hour sermons and dinner on the ground

I am from…

Fugitive Irishmen and freed slaves; The Trail of Tears and the last rebel holdouts

I am from…

Sonny Buck and Beulah and Teapot Willie; diabeetus and down in his back and self-inflicted gunshot wounds

I am from…

Cross burners and Freedom Riders; hard questions and difficult answers

I am from…

Louisa May Alcott in a gilt-edged edition, bought with Green Stamps at the Piggly-Wiggly; Shakespeare and the King James Bible; Eudora Welty and Nancy Drew


I am from…

Casseroles and rides to chemo; Walking my dog and envelopes stuffed with cash and left on the kitchen counter

I am from…

A love, fierce and divine and did the best they knew how




*The Where I’m From poem series is an ongoing project of George Lyon. You can read more about it here and learn how to write your own. Try it. You won’t be graded.




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