Owners Sandy Koropp and Jenny Riddle
Law school nearly killed Sandy’s love of reading. Born chatting, she knows the party hasn’t started until someone asks, “Read any great books lately?” Jenny thrives on drama—namely her one-woman shows that bring books to life. When she's not center stage, she loves discussing books, usually with coffee (or wine) and lots of facial expressions and gestures. Reading books and talking about them makes us happy.
One day, they decided to get serious about their book-love and settle down. So they decided to open a bookstore. It couldn’t be just any old bookstore. They weren’t interested in creating another building full of thousands of books with no room for people. Oh, no. They wanted shelves stocked with the best fiction they knew of, the histories and memoirs they adored, and the most charming and fabulous children's book section ever offered. Sandy loves cook books most of all—they needed a giant section for those—and Jenny is keen on biographies so there must be a special place for those. Most of all, they wanted to connect readers, book groups and friends with books to love.
And it couldn’t be just books – no, no – they wanted their store to feel like Jenny’s cozy kitchen when Sandy drops in for a chat and a chardonnay, and when Sandy comes over she definitely does not plop down, plug in headphones and peer at her phone. Gosh, no, can you imagine? So for sure Jenny and Sandy wanted their bookstore to be full of old-fashioned interactions -- a happy, homey space that inspired unplugged guests to share mutual musings and curiosities every day, and at lots of fun events.
Prairie Path Books (Gatherings and Great Reads) was the answer.
Oh and news! In September we will open a second store – we are calling it an Annex – at 102 N. Hale Street in Wheaton. It will not only offer our favorite books and cookbooks, but lovely lifestyle items geared towards How Readers Live; that is, what we need when we read and cook (think candles and blankets and coffee/tea and wine and other homey items). Come see!
Sandy's tastes are all over the place: new fiction mostly, but also young adult, American history, every kind of cookbook, and an occasional thriller. She often follows a great "big" read with something quick and cozy; she calls them her "Happies."
My reading taste is an eclectic mix: I love historical fiction and what I call "narrative nonfiction" (nonfiction that narrates historical events in a story-like fashion). I am also an avid reader of contemporary fiction, all sorts, and am starting to re-engage in my past fascination for good mystery writing. I lean toward books that favor character development over action.
I'm a fan of biography because I'm always amazed at the universality of the human experience. In fiction, well-written novels that explore relationships and personal growth are my favs. With all books, I love the surprise of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Buyer for Children and Young Adults
Like my mom, I’m a bit all over the place. I love biographies, short stories, coming-of-age and graphic novels, but the one thing that ties my faves together is quirkiness. I love me a character with quirk.
As C.S. Lewis said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." I have a background in publishing and teaching college-level English courses, so words and books are my professional and personal passion. My reading tastes range from charming European novels to the Founding Fathers to Christian living. I do like recent fiction but am always glad to read a classic, especially Shakespeare. My interest in nonfiction has increased over the years. I have favorites that I return to every few years yet love tackling a big book that can also be used as a doorstop! After living in Wheaton for eight years, I have come to understand the wisdom always carrying a book with me because you never know when you will get stuck at the train tracks.
I look for two things when reading: a compelling narrative and quality writing. When I find both in one book, you'll get a two thumbs up recommendation from this satisfied reader. I prefer to get drawn into a good collection of essays, but while I hover closely to nonfiction I have no qualms about digging into a novel. Guilty confession: If there is a dog in the story or on the cover of any book, I'll read it.
I love to read fiction that transports me to another place or perspective. But I also love to read fiction where I find a character simpatico to myself- sometimes I am reminded about something I love or loathe in a beautiful passage. As I age, I find I have less “tolerance” for mediocre writing—and much much appreciation for beautiful, heart rending passages. It’s funny that two of my favorite books of the past few years were non fiction—but still ones that made me laugh, cry and took me out of my comfort zone—and then right back into it: "Beyond the Beautiful Forevers" by Katherine Boo and "Bossy Pants" by Tina Fey.
I’m an eclectic reader; there is not much pattern or predictability to what I’ll find interesting. I’m often suckered in by a pretty presentation, but I also put a lot of stock in a good recommendation – from friends, the newspaper, an interview, and of course PPB! My favorite is fiction – for escape or for edification, but if it has two covers and pages in between, I’ll take it on. Inside edition: my biggest fear is being stuck somewhere with nothing to read, I’m fairly obsessed with book lists, my most appreciated gift is a book, and my guilty pleasure is poetry.