Rod Dreher

Eighth Day Books & ‘Live Not By Lies’

We are only about two weeks away from the September 29 publication date of my book Live Not By Lies — a book who subject matter (how to resist the coming soft totalitarianism) is becoming ever more relevant. I want to encourage readers to pre-order it from Eighth Day Books, the world’s greatest bookstore. The New York Times once profiled Eighth Day here. Excerpts:

Eighth Day Books lives in an old three-story house on Douglas Avenue, just east of C&R Comics and Superior Rubber Stamp. It is not exactly a Christian bookstore — while sitting at the communal table, I can pull off the shelf works like Greil Marcus’s “The History of Rock ’n’ Roll in Ten Songs” or scoot my chair a couple of feet and grab, Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken.”

Still, the store’s name, Eighth Day, serves as a secret handshake among Christian book lovers, and its following reaches far beyond the heartland city it serves. Popular Christian writers like Lauren F. Winner and Rod Dreher are fans and erstwhile visitors. On one wall hangs a picture of Kallistos Ware, an Eastern Orthodox bishop and theologian, taken during his visit in 2002.

Warren Farha, 59, gray-haired and laconic, is the store’s founder, custodian, clerk and sole book buyer, a job that is more complex than it would be at a typical independent bookstore. The store’s shelves are divided into sections like Monastic Writings & Studies, Patristic Writings & Studies” and C. S. Lewis & Friends, and filled only with books Mr. Farha would read. So no cooking or travel.

Yes, Hillenbrand is on the shelves. But it is Mr. Farha’s more eccentric tastes that mark his store.

“We order a lot of university press stuff, and Christian presses, of course, but since we try to carry a deep selection of Catholic and Orthodox literature, sometimes we’re ordering from monasteries,” Mr. Farha, said. “Monasteries that publish books. Quite a few of our books are English translations, but published by some monasteries in Greece — books by abbots living in monasteries on Mount Athos.”

More:

“It’s like putting together my best constellation of books,” Mr. Farha said of his inventory. “I worry from time to time if the bookstore is just a collection of my tastes. I hope it’s bigger than that.”

It is, but if it were only a collection of Warren’s tastes, it would still be my favorite bookshop on the planet. If you are ever anywhere near Wichita, you have to go to Eighth Day — but bring your credit card, because it is metaphysically impossible to leave that store without a stack of books. For a certain kind of person — and we know who we are — Eighth Day Books is the bookshop equivalent of the Eagle & Child pub for the Inklings.

This is why I have made Eighth Day the exclusive vendor of signed pre-ordered copies of Live Not By Lies. I want to do everything I can to encourage my readers to support this independent small book store, which is one of America’s treasures. If you would like my signature affixed to your copy, then click here. 

I can’t get to Wichita, and it would be cost-prohibitive for Warren to ship all this copies to me, and then me to send the signed versions back to him. So I’m signing book plates, which will be pasted into the book. Note well that Eighth Day will not be able to ship them until September 29. I believe it will be worth the wait.

Here’s a shot I took of a shelf at The Ladder, the Christian speakeasy attached to Eighth Day Books. It perfectly captures the spirit of the store: Johnny Cash side by side with St. John Maximovitch:

 

And here are Warren and Chris Farha, your generous proprietors, and two of the kindest and most loving Christians you could ever hope to meet:

 

 

There is no substitute for being there in the store, but you might want to spend some time poking around Eighth Day’s website. You will find books there that you didn’t even know you wanted.

UPDATE: Reader DJ Wambeke comments:

Cannot agree with you more about the excellence of Eighth Day Books. Thanks to your recommendations a couple years ago my wife and I made a trip to Wichita (from our home in MN) just to check it out, (all our friends thought we were nuts – “you are driving all the way to Kansas just for a bookstore???”) and were not in the least disappointed. So much so that we’ve been back two more times since!

It’s true! Eighth Day is not a large bookstore, but it is so insanely well curated that you need to mark out at least two hours to give it a proper look (I’d say four, but at least two).

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