Ep 16: Julia & Christen, Itinerant Literate


Y’all. It’s been a minute (or, ya know, 8 months). But we’re back with a brand new episode featuring Julia Turner and Christen Thompson Lain, the founders of Itinerant Literate, a mobile bookstore in Charleston, SC.

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Chapter I

In which a local coffee shop assists in alcohol acquisition, we want more spaceships and dragons, and a book brings Emma to tears.

We’re Drinking

Christen and Julia were given some free beer from their local coffeeshop, Orange Spot Coffee: Stillwater Artisinal‘s Stateside Saisan and Sake-Style Saison. As our cocktail for the evening, we’re drinking the Lime of the Ancient Mariner from Tim Federle’s Tequila Mockingbird.

Christen’s Reading


Julia’s Reading


Kim’s Reading


Emma’s Reading


Forthcoming & Newly-New Titles We’re Excited About

Julia & Christen are Excited About


Kim’s Excited About


  • So Lucky by Nicola Griffith (audiobook via Libro.fm)
    • also check out her bestselling historical fantasy novel, Hild
  • Any Man by Amber Tamblyn

Emma’s Excited About


Chapter II [23:30]

In which we discuss how bookstores work (and how you keep books on the shelves in a bookstore that moves), Julia and Christen give advice to future bookmobile owners, and the mobile bookstore finds a forever home!

Customer: So, is this a library?

Interested in breaking into publishing (then abandoning your fancy degree to become a bookseller)? Check out the University of Denver Publishing Institute. Julia and Christen met there, so that bodes well.

Shout out to Blue Bicycle (founder of YALLFest, Charleston’s Young Adult Book Festival)

Fun fact: the aunt in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson is described as itinerant. Maybe not the best role model, but not the worst!

The bookmobile is so purrrrrrrrrty:


Books that Itinerant Literate must have in stock:

Tips for potential bookmobile owners:

  • What’s an SAN? Ok, go to www.bowker.com
  • Have an accountant in the family.
  • Indiegogo is your friend. (Kickstarter only gives you the funds if you meet your goal, whereas Indiegogo allows you to choose to still get your funds if you don’t meet your goal.)
  • Bungie cords are clutch.
  • Know your legal obligations (you need separate business licenses for every municipality!)
  • For the first few months, plan two hours more than you think you’ll need.
  • Ask someone who is not in your field to walk through your store and give you feedback.
  • Don’t take everything a customer says to heart.
  • Engage sometimes, but not always.
  • Bookstores are businesses too, y’all.

Chapter III [44:30]

In which Julia, Christen, & Emma have the same wheelhouse; we debate Christen’s concept of “feel-good” books; and Christen wants to be fierce & fearsome while naked

Book Description Guaranteed to Get You Reading

Christen loves fiction containing witches, dystopias, feminism, misandry, unreliable narrators, and anachronistic elements. Also, nonfiction books about product and content marketing. Highly recommend Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller.

Emma recommends We Were Witches by Ariel Gore, cause witches + misandry = win!

Julia digs retold fairy tales and pop science/medical nonfiction (shout out to This is Your Brain on Parasites by Kathleen McAuliffe).

Desert Island Pick

Christen: Harry Potter, natch

Julia: Young Adult faves, such as Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Station Eleven Picks

Christen’s practical book: Peterson’s Field Guides to Medical Plants

Christen’s “feel-good” books: Letters to a Young Poet, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Or, to go more apocalyptic: The Giver by Lois Lowry (aka “The Handmaid’s Tale for children”)

Julia: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

Wild Pick

Julia: Nature reading (The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery) or books about female resistance

Christen wants a guidebook about how to be Lady Godiva. #legit

Lady Godiva, the ultimate Rebel Girl

Bookseller Confession

Christen actively doesn’t finish things she doesn’t enjoy. Real talk, this is a necessity for all booksellers. And readers. And humans.

Neither Julia, Christen, nor Emma have read Philip Pullman’s 

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