Books, Beans & Brews: The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store and a perfect drink pairing

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store pairs great with a seasonal special from The Buzz

By Samantha Jacquest

Samantha Jacquest is the owner of Blue House Books, Kenosha's full-service independent bookstore in Downtown Kenosha. Sam loves sharing her love of books with the community and bringing in popular and local authors for events. When not at her shop, Sam enjoys traveling and spending time Downtown with her friends, family, and rescue dog Flash.

Hello, readers! 

Sam from Blue House Books here, still basking in all the excitement from the last few weeks! First, we won Small Business of the Year at the Kenosha Area Business Alliance annual Ovation Awards, then Casey and I drove to Cincinnati on Superbowl Sunday to attend a conference for independent booksellers. We spent three very intense days hearing from fellow booksellers, publishers, authors, and getting a ton of free books! We can’t wait to implement all we have learned to make your local neighborhood bookstore even better!

PHOTO: Kenosha Area Business Alliance
PHOTO: Kenosha Area Business Alliance

I am well aware that all these good things that are happening for the store and our team are made possible by our amazing customers and followers, so for this week’s column I wanted to say THANK YOU! Without our fantastic holiday season of 2023, we would not have been able to attend the conference that will make us and our store so much better; without our community supporting us by helping spread the word of all our involvement and outreach, we never would have won such a great honor as Small Business of the Year; and without our customers, whether you shop once a week or once a month, we wouldn’t be able to share our love of reading and stories with Kenosha and everyone who visits. We don’t exist without your continued support, so I want to thank everyone and promise that we are going to continue being a business and community space you can be proud of.

And to prove we aren’t slowing down anytime soon, here are a few exciting things that will be coming up at Blue House Books:

  • Book buyback program – we will buy back your gently used and still popular books so that you can make room on your shelves for more stories and we can sell books at a discounted price to make our selection more accessible for all.
  • Silent book club – it’s just like it sounds, you read silently! Silent book clubs have become super popular and we’re so excited to bring this to Kenosha.
  • Author events – we have so many amazing events on our calendar already and so many more coming. Just to name drop a few: Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers and I Have Some Questions for You will be at Blue House Books in March and Jeneva Rose, author of The Perfect Marriage and Mary Kubica, author of Local Woman Missing will be at an event together in April. Check out our event calendar for details!
  • Extended hours – starting in March we will be opening an hour earlier on weekdays at 10 a.m., and during the summer we will be open Mondays.
  • Kids events – we will soon start adding more children’s events to our calendar, especially in the summer. Be sure to keep a look out for some community collaborations!
  • And so much more!

We can’t wait for you all to see what else is coming!

Among all this excitement, we will still always stick to our basics and make sure we’re ready with some fantastic book recommendations, and I have one for you now: The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride has been FLYING off our shelves! Everyone is loving this book, and BHB Bookseller Melissa is here to tell you why:

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride, was one of my favorite books in 2023.  This extraordinary story opens with the discovery of a skeleton and then jumps back in time to explain how that came about in the community of Chicken Hill in Pottstown, Pennsylvania where Jewish and African American families live together. One of McBride’s unique talents is capturing the essence of places where people from vastly different backgrounds and family situations find their lives intersecting. When the state comes looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, key figures in Chicken Hill unite to try to protect him. Moshe Ludlow runs a theater in town and has integrated it, inviting prominent Black artists to perform there. His wife, Chona, runs the Heaven and Earth Grocery store.  Nate Timblin is the Black janitor at Moshe’s theater. All three play pivotal roles in responding to the crisis when the white establishment moves in to find the boy. At its heart, this is a truly memorable story of love and hope. I also highly recommend McBride’s award-winning novels, The Good Lord Bird about Henry Shackleford, an enslaved person who joins John Brown in his abolitionist mission, and Deacon King Kong about the shooting of a Brooklyn drug dealer and the community who witnesses and responds to it.

Be sure to grab a copy from Blue House Books and take a walk over to The Buzz to enjoy one of their seasonal specialties, the Peppermint Sage Latte. Not going to lie, I may have already suggested this one, but it’s just that good! Plus, let’s be honest, when you’re reading a literary masterpiece like The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, you need a sophisticated-sounding drink like a Peppermint Sage Latte!