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Shop Early For A Stress-Free Holiday

Shop Early, Shop Local: November is the New December

Why Shop Indie Local early this holiday season? 

Supply and staffing shortages mean locally owned businesses face even more challenges this year. While we won't run out of books, we may run out of specific titles and not be able to restock due to hiccups in the supply chain. And please chat with our staff if you don't see the title you were looking for, we probably have more than one recommendation to make to replace that out of stock title, or surprise someone with a book they'll love that they hadn't even heard of. Our neighboring businesses are facing similar challenges, so we encourage you to shop local and shop early for the holiday season. 

Let’s ensure that our local independent businesses can stick around for holidays to come:

Meet Our Bookseller: Kaycee

Meet Kaycee!

"I help organize the children's section. I keep up to date with the newest books so that I can best help customers, and because I really enjoy children's literature. I like when I hook a kid into a new series because I get to see them come back and tell me how much they enjoyed it. I like to think I am personally responsible for the Redwall revival here in town. I read Young Adult titles for the Reading the West Award short list in 2021. I also nominate titles for Indie Next, and write reviews for Libro.fm! 

I love to cook and bake things from scratch, especially breads. I also love to swim and try to go twice a week at minimum. I play a lot of board games with friends. I am a HUGE fan of punk music. My friends and I were constantly going to local shows around Montana. I grew up with it, and I still blast it everywhere I go. Especially Queerpunk, that's my bread and butter." 

Check out Kaycee's "Not Quite Horror" recommendations here!

If you need a children's book recommendation, or a horror book recommendation, or a scary children's book recommendation, Kaycee is the Bookseller for you. Find some of her favorites this year in the list below.

Meet Our Bookseller: Emi

      Meet Bookseller Emi banner

Meet one of our newest booksellers, Emi! "I'm an avid nordic skier, I love to rock and ice climb, run and mountain bike. Anything that gets me out in the mountains! I also love to knit and read about empire and colonialism. I did competitive gymnastics for 12 years, and I eat kimchi with almost every meal. 

As a bookseller I love getting to help people find books that they will love. Learning what it is about books and reading that gets folks interested and excited always leads to great conversation. I also enjoy introducing readers to new authors, and books with great representation."

Click here to heck out some of Emi's favorite Asian Women Writers with her If/Then list,  along with some of her other favorites!

Meet our Bookseller Frances

Meet Our Bookseller Banner with a portrait of Frances

Meet Frances!

My favorite thing about working at the bookstore is helping customers find their next favorite book. Everyone is different and it's always so exciting to see what journey peoples' requests take us through the store. Outside of the bookstore, I'm a big crafter (knitting, doodling, embroidering), writer, hiker, runner, rock climber. A book about my life would be titled What Happens When You Leave New Jersey.

Favorite Genres: Historical Fiction, LGBTQ+, Sociology

Favorite Authors: Zadie Smith, Carmen Maria Machado, Ocean Vuong, James Baldwin

Favorite Books: Disappearing Earth by Julia Strong, Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Frances joined our bookselling team in the spring of this year and we are so excited that Big Sky country enticed them away from the east coast. Fun Fact! They've been to Hobbiton in New Zealand. That love of heights shows in some of their favorite hikes around town, including Storm Castle and anything around Hyalite. You might also spot Frances at Wild Crumb, or the Tap Room, or at one of our favorite local lunch spots - Fabers Deli! You can chat more with Frances this month when they lead our book club on Monday, August 23rd at 6pm for Sharks in the Time of Saviors

They shared one of their favorite bookish memories with us.

When I was in 7th grade I got to meet my favorite author Wendy Mass (mostly because my best friend was our librarian and she knew she was my favorite author and wanted to make that happen for me) and it was definitely the highlight of my middle school experience.


Be sure to ask Frances what their favorite Mincing Mockingjay card is that day. Scroll below to see more great recommendations from them!

#Black Voices Event Series

You're invited to experience some essential #BlackVoices! Join Country Bookshelf, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, and Ingram as we share this great opportunity to hear from under-represented voices in publishing. The #BlackVoices series seeks to amplify books, authors and stories that are centered around Black people and culture.  We're excited to share this virtual event with Vanessa Riley for Island Queen on Wednesday, August 18th at 5:30pm.  

Register at Ingram 

Save your spot for more in this fantastic series of live virtual events: 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021 at 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm CT - Virtual event with Propaganda for Terraform Building A Better World


Looking to connect with a favorite author?

Check out these two past events in the #BlackVoices series, which feature bestselling authors and fresh new voices in kidlit, in an engaging and accessible format.

#BlackJoy with Paula Chase forTurning Point, Tanita S. Davis for Serena Says, Lisa Moore Ramée for Something to Say, and Janae Marks for From the Desk of Zoe Washington

#BlackJoy with Featuring Nancy Johnson for The Kindest Lie, Helena Andrews-Dyer & R. Eric Thomas for Reclaiming Her Time, Chanelle Benz for The Gone Dead, and Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, widow of Elijah Cummings – We’re Better Than This

Bookstore Romance Day 2021

Celebrate Bookstore Romance Day!

Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community. There is an amazing slate of virtual events for every flavor of Romance fan, so check out the schedule below and register on eventbrite.  August 20th through 22nd recieve 10% off Romance titles, while we donate 10% of all sales to Haven! 

Saturday August 21st

8:00am MT - Wake Up to Harlequin Women's Fiction with authors Sarah Morgan, JoAnn Ross, and RaeAnne Thayne.
Start your Bookstore Romance Day morning off with this trio of Harlequin women's fiction authors. Join Sarah Morgan, JoAnn Ross, and RaeAnne Thayne for coffee and conversation.

9:00am MT - Danger! Bang! with Jen Prokop, Sarah MacLean, Adriana Anders, Nana Malone, and KJ Charles
Join Jen Prokop (aka: Jen Reads Romance) and authors Sarah MacLean, Adriana Anders, Nana Malone, and KJ Charles to talk about the most logical response to finding your life in grave peril--the DANGER! BANG! Pinned down by gunmen? DANGER! BANG! Becalmed at sea with no instruments and no fresh water? DANGER! BANG! Trapped in a dingy motel while running from the mob? DANGER! BANG! You know it. You love it. You can't get enough of it, and this panel is right there with you. Join us for what is sure to be a b-a-n-a-n-a-s hour(-ish).

10:00am MT - A Little Bit Gothic - Susanna Kearsley, Diana Billier, Leanna Renee Hieber, and Laura Joh Rowland with moderator Emily Kelly of Third Street Books get spooky.
Sometimes, falling in love can be a little scary and sometimes it's just the ghosts. Authors Susanna Kearsley, Diana Biller, Leanna Renee Hieber, and Laura Joh Rowland aren't afraid to litter the road to love with ghosts and time slips and even murder. Moderator Emily Kelly, bookseller at Third Street Books in McMinnville, OR will talk with them about striking the right balance between the spooky and the swoony.

11:00am MT - Double The Fun With Cross-Genre Romance with SFWA President Jeffe Kennedy and authors Amanda Bouchet, Jennifer Estep, Grace Draven & Darynda Jones
As any Romance reader knows, the genre is not a monolith, but crosses over with every other conceivable genre. What may be less known is that the current president of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) is Fantasy Romance author Jeffe Kennedy. Jeffe will be joined by Amanda Bouchet, Jennfier Estep, Grace Draven, and Darynda Jones to talk all things cross-genre Romance.

1:00pm MT - Bookstore Romance Day Ambassadors Kit Rocha with Christina Lauren Two best-selling author teams, one great conversation. 
Christina Lauren (Christina and Lauren) will be in conversation with this year's Bookstore Romance Day Ambassador, Kit Rocha (Bree and Donna). Both writing teams got their start in the fanfiction community and have had great success in traditional publishing. While we may not know for sure what they'll talk about, the odds are good that fanfic and what it's like writing with a partner will be on the agenda.

2:00pm MT - Ghouls, Golems, and Giggles - Humor in paranormal and supernatural romance  with Gwenda Bond, Gail Carriger, Sarah Kuhn, & Angela Quarles and moderator Annie Carl of The Neverending Bookshop
If you're tired of brooding vampires, dour superheroes, and demons so evil they verge on caricature, we have your remedy. Join authors Gwenda Bond, Gail Carriger, Sarah Kuhn, and Angela Quarles as they talk about how to make a protagonist both intimidating (phenomenal cosmic powers) and relatable (itty bitty living space). Annie Carl, owner of The Neverending Bookshop, will moderate.

3:00pm MT - Love is Queer - with authors Olivia Waite, Adriana Herrera, Cat Sebastian, and Roan Parrish moderated by Shane P. Mullen of East Bank Books.
Love is love is love is love is love. Celebrate queer Romance with authors Olivia Waite, Adriana Herrara, Cat Sebastian, and Roan Parrish and moderated by Shane P. Mullen of East Bank Books.

4:00pm MT- Historical Mystery, with Love -  with Deanna Raybourn, Sherry Thomas, YS Lee, & Tasha Alexander moderated by BrocheAroe Fabian of River Dog Book
There is a significant overlap both in readership and even structure and tropes employed between historical mystery and Romance. Join authors Deanna Raybourn, Sherry Thomas, YS Lee, and Tasha Alexander as they discuss those commonalities with BrocheAroe Fabian, owner of River Dog Book Co.

5:00pm  MT - Harlequin Happy Hour with Marcella Bell, Audrey Carlan, Sheila Roberts, and Maisey Yates.
Pour yourself your drink of choice and kick back for a Happy Hour chat with authors Marcella Bell, Audrey Carlan, Sheila Roberts, and Maisey Yates.

7:00pm MT - Bookstore Romance Day After Dark - Join romance authors Xio Axelrod, Kristen Callihan, Robin Covington, Ann Aguirre, and Naima Simone for games, music, and more after all the fun of Bookstore Romance Day!

Sunday, August 22nd

10:00am MT- Small Town Romance with Harlequin - with Michelle Major, Lee Tobin McClain, Jo McNally, and Naima Simone
Join Michelle Major, Lee Tobin McClain, Jo McNally, and Naima Simone as they discuss the enduring appeal of the small town Romance.

11:00am MT - Soap Opera Drama with Harlequin - with Hudson Lin, Angelina M. Lopez, Mona Shroff, and Synithia Williams
Who doesn't love a little drama--or a lot of drama? Join Harlequin authors Hudson Lin, Angelina M. Lopez, Mona Shroff, and Synithia Williams as they dish all things High Drama, High Emotions, and Sky High Heels.

12:00pm MT - High Stakes/ High Emotions - with Sharon Lynn Fisher, Everina Maxwell, Jessie Mihalik, and Elizabeth Lim and moderator Candice Huber of Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Books
Authors Sharon Lynn Fisher, Everina Maxwell, Jessie Mihalik, and Elizabeth Lim explore the risks and rewards of falling in love while you're trying to save the realm/world/galaxy. Moderated by Candice Huber, owner of Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Books.

1:00pm MT- Young Adult Romance with Inkyard Press- featuring Tashie Bhuyian, Dana L. Davis, Abigail Johnson, Whitney D. Grandison, & moderator Eric Smith
We all love a good YA swoon-fest. Join moderator Eric Smith and authors Tashie Bhuyian, Dana L. Davis, Abigail Johnson, and Whitney D. Grandison from Harlequin's Inkyard Press for a discussion of the genre we never outgrow.

2:00pm MT - Book Your Perfect Match - with authors Jay Coles, Leah Johnson, Brianna Bourne, Molly Knox Ostertag, and Debbie Rigaud
Find your perfect book match Scholastic and I Read YA celebrates Bookstore Romance Day with Jay Coles, Leah Johnson, Brianna Bourne, Molly Knox Ostertag, and Debbie Rigaud.

This event will be hosted on the I Read YA YouTube. Links to come soon.

An Indies Introduce Q&A With Catherine Raven

Ariana had a few questions for Montana author Dr. Catherine Raven, about her new book Fox & I. Catherine Raven is the debut author of Fox & I, a Summer/Fall 2021 Indies Introduce adult selection and a July Indie Next List pick. Be sure to Join us for our live virtual event with Dr. Raven and Outside magazine editor Tim Cahill. Register here. Book cover of Fox & I by Catherine Raven

“Read this book for the story of Fox, stay for the story of the author and how we all are nature. An examination of our relationships with other animals, plants, each other, and the world, Fox & I is a beautifully-written, thoughtful blend of memoir and nature writing that will inform and inspire and make you feel,” said Ariana Paliobagis, the owner of Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Montana, who served on the bookseller panel that selected Raven’s book for Indies Introduce.

Raven is a former National Park Ranger at Glacier, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Voyagers, and Yellowstone National Parks. She earned her PhD in biology from Montana State University and is currently an assistant program director and professor at South University in Savannah, Georgia.

Here, Paliobagis and Raven discuss how the author found her memoir voice to tell the story of her friendship with Fox.

Ariana Paliobagis: Fox & I starts with the acknowledgement that foxes live short lives, so the reader always has an anticipation of an ending, and Fox’s life is just a short part of your life. How did this affect how you approached writing and structuring this book?

Catherine Raven, photo by Bill BurkeCatherine Raven: When I decided to write Fox’s story, we were still seeing each other every day. Because the book was meant to be about him, not me, the original structure was chronologic, and Fox was in every chapter.

I intended to write a true story about a fox who changed my views on anthropomorphism, became my first real friend, and inspired me to think more like an animal.

A published writer explained to me that Fox and I was not simply a true story, it was a memoir, as much about me as about him. I very much respected this writer (or I wouldn’t have asked her opinion), so I set out to turn my true story into a memoir. I changed the structure to include scenes that resonated with my own life experiences.

Fox altered my life in important ways. He is responsible for my choice to live in the country and to seek a purpose-driven life. In order to honor Fox, I had to share enough of my own story so that readers could see how greatly he influenced my life.

AP: As someone who has done lots of scientific and academic writing, how did you find your memoir voice? 

CR: I do have two voices; one is for scientific communication. I did not use that voice in my memoir. Two jobs helped develop my memoir voice: guiding and teaching undergraduates.

I’ve been guiding and instructing field classes in Yellowstone National Park for 20 years and I work hard to avoid jargon and “science speak.” Instead, I use my natural voice, one that is like the voice in the memoir.

When I started the book, I was teaching upper division classes for biology majors. I purposely switched to lower division classes designed for non-majors. I knew this would help with my writing. And, truly, I have come to enjoy teaching non-majors a lot more, just as I have come to enjoy writing.

AP: Other than Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Herman Melville, and Mary Shelley, who you reference often, are there other writers who influenced you?

CR: Several memoirs inspired me. Imagination runs wild in Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior, a super creative memoir about living simultaneously in two different worlds. This was the first memoir that resonated with me after Fox died, reminding me that I, too, was living in two worlds, one with Fox and one when I entered the “real world” of serious, professionals, hawk-eyed on their lookout for violators of the anthropomorphism taboo. In a voice that blends hope and horror, Kingston brought me inside the dreams and struggles of a girl-child in a Chinese-American family.

In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah of Sierra Leone, like Kingston, shows me a world that I knew nothing about, in the same way that I assumed science and biology would be a new world to the readers of Fox and I. Beah’s is the voice of innocence among almost unbelievable terror. I believe his story because his writing is clear enough to highlight his honesty and earnestness. Beah has more right to preach, rant, and rage about an immense humanitarian crisis than anyone in the world. He doesn’t. So, I saw how to address important issues without writing in an opinionated, editorial tone. Importantly, before I found Beah’s memoir, I thought all memoirs were written by professional writers looking for their next topic. Like me, Beah experienced something so profound that he became a writer in order to tell the story.

In Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a voice very different from mine, I found a memoir with a creative structure that inspired me to finally start Fox and I. Reading Dave Eggers’ memoir, I realized there are no limits on structure if the writer is sincere and the story is well-told. He moves seamlessly in the first, second, and third person voices. This book freed me from the fear of writing a tightly structured book, which had to follow writerly rules that I had not learned.

I enjoy third person. Readers will notice this in the sections I wrote from Fox’s point of view. My favorite third person novels are so excellent, I sometimes pick one up and read a chapter chosen at random. I strongly recommend everyone reads Hilary Mantel’s trilogy (Wolf HallBring up the BodiesThe Mirror and the Light), Anthony Doerr’s All the Light we Cannot See, and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. But you’ll need to avoid these spectacularly entertaining books if you have an ego. I can’t tell you how many times I stopped, mid-paragraph to announce out loud, “I will never, ever write this well.”

AP: You write eloquently, passionately, and forcefully about how humans aren’t just part of nature, we are also nature, we are also animals. Can you talk a bit about why this philosophical distinction is so important? What changes once we realize we are not separate from nature?

CR: On a practical level, I worry about folks experiencing loneliness. I want them to realize that Nature isn’t a mother, it’s a community, and that they are inherently part of this community. It’s their birthright. When they realize they are part of this community, it’s unimaginable to me that they could be lonely. Humans might not have a welcome place for everyone at any given time, but the community I call Nature will always have a spot somewhere. I have found comfort with a slug on a forest floor. Would you turn your nose at a housefly? If not for that one dancing fly, Fox and I may never have connected when we did.

On a philosophical level, I think it’s helpful to reassess our common understanding of anthropomorphism. The term assumes that certain personality — or non-physical — traits are the exclusive domain of Homo sapiens. For example, an appreciation of beauty, or the ability to discern something that is visually pleasing. What happens if we believe that animals are more like us than we once imagined? Will we treat them better? I wish I were that naïve. But let’s face it, sometimes our own parents treat us worse than complete strangers; closeness doesn’t translate to kindness.

But I am optimistic enough to believe that some people will treat some animals better, and others will at least start thinking about it.

As a community, I find that people are anthropomorphobic. And so, we have created an artificial divide between humans and non-human animals. We fear the image of animals acting like people, but more so, and more concerning, we fear the image of people acting like animals. A small change leads to many possibilities. For example, what would you do differently, if, like other animals, you thought about your optimal habitat instead of just picking a career and following it to wherever?

AP: If you could have more time with Fox, how would you spend it?

CR: When you finish the book, you’ll know that I did a terrible thing to Fox. You’ll understand that I wasn’t the friend I should have been. I would have liked more time to make it up to him and more time to experience the responsibilities of friendship.

GIVE BIG to The MTREP with Country Bookshelf and author Rio Cortez

The Montana Racial Equity Project Staff, with text that reads: The Montana Racial Equity Project, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, advocates equity and and justice for historically marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed peoples in Montana. We educate, train, and activate organizers, individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, and businesses to invest in interrupting racism, bigotry, and prejudice wherever encountered. Donate by visiting https://mtrep.org.info/GBGV. Ending Racism Begins With You.

We are proud to announce our sponsorship of The Montana Racial Equity Project for #GiveBigGallatinValley 2021! We will be donating 10% of sales for the first ever Big Sky Books n’ Brew Fest on May 6th!

The amazing staff at MTREP have recommended the following list of books. After you grab a book check out our local brew specialists, Wild Joes Coffee and Mountains Walking Brewery to enjoy a beverage of your choice.

And don't forget to register for our Give Big Virtual Storytime with Rio Cortez, author of The ABCs of Black History! Register Here!

If you want to learn more about how to donate to MTREP and help them reach their #GiveBigGV goals, follow this link: https://mtrep.org.info/GBGV

Visit @themtrep or email info@themtrep.org for more information.

Country Bookshelf Booksellers at Home

If there’s one thing the past year has taught us, it would be how to stay at home. Though it may sometimes drive us crazy to spend so much time at home, it has also allowed for more time to read. We’ve all got our little habits that make us more comfortable - a fuzzy blanket, the perfect snack, the right time of day. Get to know our booksellers better through their preferences for the perfect reading experience. 

    Here at Country Bookshelf we all like to snuggle up somewhere comfortable to read. Jeanette says: “Being cozy is my fave thing, so my hammock, my bed, a couch corner with a blanket, are all great places for me.” Some of us like to read in bed after dinner, in a cabin or in a comfy chair facing a window. On the struggle of finding the perfect sitting position, Jessica says: “I can't sit ‘correctly’ in chairs, so I like a space I can sprawl around in, particularly with a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa.” Wanting to be near something warm and fuzzy is essential for Frances. “If I'm sitting on a couch, you best bet I have a fuzzy blanket on my lap, no matter what temperature it is outside.” Particular places can also be an important part of an enhanced reading experience. Some places can put you in the right headspace to really put yourself in the story. Matt does a lot of reading at his family’s cabin. “I do half of my yearly reading within a week long span when I go to my cabin.”

    Having the perfect snack or drink is also an important part of the reading experience. Sometimes the foods and drinks in the books we read can have a real influence on us. Ariana observes that “whatever characters in a book are drinking (whether coffee or champagne) is suddenly what I crave while I read.” Both Kasey and Cassie agree that popcorn is the perfect reading snack (quote?). In terms of drinks to accompany reading, coffee and wine are the winners. Anna is a self-professed “bed reader with dogs and wine after dinner.” And Kasey prefers to read in the morning while sipping on coffee. Frances also enjoys coffee, particularly with “oat milk and cinnamon.” Stained pages and greasy fingerprints are commonalities that unite us as readers. Jeanette has observed that “for some reason, though I do not consume pasta in red sauce with high frequency, I have so many memories of getting pasta stains on pages of books while reading and eating.”

    Time of day is an important part of the reading experience, it can influence your mood and overall enjoyment of a book. Cassie’s favorite times to read are at opposite times of day. “I love reading late at night or first thing in the morning, something about those times allows your mind to really be immersed in story.” While Nora observes that she doesn’t “particularly love reading at night time.” Though we may have different ways of experiencing the act of reading 

    Here are some additional fun facts about our booksellers: 

Matt: “I read on impulse. I never sit down planning to read, it's a spontaneous decision every time. I have no problems dropping a book even if I've almost finished it.”

Anna: “I don't feel safe without books in the car in case of emergencies or unplanned stays.”

Ariana: “I read and listen to far too many books at one time which sometimes is confusing and sometimes shows up delightful confluences I might not have noticed otherwise.”

Frances: “In 7th grade I met my favorite author, Wendy Mass, and she was kind enough to sign an entire stack of books for me.”

Jess: “My Dog hates it when I read, and will paw at my books, but she loves walking so she's okay with audiobooks. I am completely immune to spoilers.”

Nora: “I like to listen to music when I read, it doesn't distract me because I'm built different.”


Get to know us more in person! We’re open from 10AM-6PM every day for browsing and are more than happy to chat about our shared book-loving quirks.