It comes as no surprise that Curious Iguana, at 12 N. Market St., gained recognition by book lovers everywhere.
According to Bookbub.com, the quaint little book shop is one of the 51 must-see bookstores across the U.S.
The website, which lists the must-see book stores in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., describes its picks as a place that brings the community together with their warm and friendly atmosphere “that makes us want to stay for hours.”
“Curious Iguana is a bookstore with purpose,” the site described the store. “Each month, they donate a portion of their sales to internal non-profits. To pay homage to the great work of their customers, they have a map on display that shows all the places in the world their book sales have benefitted.”
Marlene England, co-owner of the bookstore, was excited about the recognition, although she laughingly confessed she had no idea how the store made it on the list.
“It was actually a customer who let us know, they had seen it online,” she said. “We were thrilled to be in such good company of other great bookstores. It was quite an honor for us.”
The store opened in September 2013 and is still going strong, as England said independent bookstores are on the upswing. She said there has been a steady increase in independent bookstores since about 2010. despite the digitizing of books entering the market.
“I think people have come back to really appreciating what print books have to offer,” she said. “And what independent bookstores have to offer in terms of being able to browse and find a book that really interests you and talk to another human about a book that they’ve read. We hear folks say that every community needs a bookstore, and that always makes us smile.”
When I made a comment about Amazon, she proudly responded with “Amazon has definitely not killed independent bookstores.”
What makes Curious Iguana different, she said, is that the staff works really hard to offer a special experience to customers. That starts with a friendly greeting to a friendly atmosphere to providing books that speak to the community.
“One of the challenges of having a smaller space as an independent bookstore is you have to carefully curate your collection,” she said. “We don’t have room for every book that’s been published, so we spend a great deal of time and thought to what books our customers are going to want to read.”
In doing that, staff asks themselves what books represent the community as well as the customers.
“We really want our customers to find books that speak to them and are really meaningful,” she said.
Ernest Hemingway said “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” So feed your soul — dive into a book, browse a bookshelf, talk about a book, and do it at your downtown Frederick independent bookstore.