By Lyndsie Kiebert
The Corner Bookstore in downtown Sandpoint is receiving national kudos after local book-lover Milinda Driggers won a contest with a letter to Twilight series author Stephenie Meyer.
The contest, titled “How to Win An Intimate Evening With Stephenie Meyer, Your Favorite Bookstore, And Twenty Of Your Friends,” asked people to write about why they love their local bookstore in 500 or fewer words. Driggers penned a moving letter about how the Corner Bookstore served as a “safe haven” for her growing up, and Meyer chose it as the prize entry.
Driggers, currently studying English at North Idaho College, said she’s “exceedingly grateful” to have been chosen as the contest winner, and hopes to write a book of her own someday.
“Reading and writing is a major passion of mine, and it always has been,” she said. “It gives me so much joy, and feels like something that I excel at.”
For her prize — modified due to COVID-19 pandemic restraints — Driggers and friends will take part in a virtual meetup with Meyer, and each will receive a personalized bookplate for Meyers’ new book, Midnight Sun. Corner Bookstore owner Jim Orbaugh will receive several signed copies of Meyer’s work.
Orbaugh said he was honored and excited when Driggers called him with the news. He said it’s been a joy seeing many children in the community grow up — some of them now old enough to bring their own kids into the bookstore.
“It means a lot to me, of course,” he told the Reader.
In a blog post naming the winner, Meyer said: “Picking a winner was torture, but there was one letter I came back to again and again.”
Here is Driggers’ letter about the Corner Bookstore, as it was shared on Meyer’s blog July 31:
I love my local bookstore because it was a safe haven for me. I grew up in the Foster-Care system which was most definitely not easy; there weren’t a lot of constants in my life, and it was a scary time. Luckily, I never had to move towns … only homes.
While it became normal to sleep in a different bed every few weeks, or sometimes even days, it was comforting to be surrounded by places I knew and people I love. And if I’m being completely honest, one place I felt the most comfortable and at-home was my local bookstore. Books were my escape and one of the few constants in my life, and the little bookstore on the corner of downtown Sandpoint was a place of happiness for me.
The owner of the bookstore was always incredibly kind to me. If I didn’t have enough money while buying a book, he would always let me take it anyways and let me pay it back the next time I came in. He wasn’t bothered about the amount of time I would spend wandering around the store, and was always ready to share any book recommendations. The large selection of used books was a dream come true, and the pricing was very generous. The owner would actually bargain with you if you could make a good argument as to why a book price should be lowered.
I vividly remember when I bought my Twilight series from the bookstore… I had earned $25, and immediately decided to bike across town to spend it on the series. When I left it had been cloudy, and by the time I arrived it was raining. But my love for Edward wouldn’t let bad weather stop me! Afterall, the weather just had me looking forward to my read-a-thon even more; one of the greatest feelings ever is when it’s raining outside while you’re wrapped up in a warm blanket reading a good book. The happiness I felt in my heart while purchasing those books, and awkwardly attempting to bike back home in the rain with a bag of books on one handlebar, was immense.
A kinship for the love for books is one of the best things, and I felt that when I went into my local bookstore. So many thousands of stories in one small place, with so many worlds to explore and people to meet. My local bookstore was just so much more than a regular bookstore. It wasn’t all shiny and new and perfectly organized. It was small and crowded, and a bit messy. It was imperfect. But it had character, and it was easy to see the time, love and care that was put into it. I am incredibly grateful for my local bookstore, and that it gave me a safe and comfortable place to go to.
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