The Pursuit of Happiness





We stood silently in the foyer of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., awestruck by the grandeur of the art and architecture surrounding us. I turned to my wife and said, “Let’s open a bookstore.” Without hesitation she smiled and said “YES!”, and that was it. That was May of 2010.

Less than a year later, we put our house on the market and moved to Columbia Tennessee, the little dimple of the universe in which we had chosen to build our future. On December 1st 2012, we opened our doors in a beautifully restored 19th century building on Columbia’s historic town square. Our customers quickly became friends and the community adopted us as their neighborhood bookshop.

This community has brought us more joy, peace and fulfillment than we could have possibly imagined. This is what we are supposed to do. This is where we are supposed to be. This is what is meant by the pursuit of happiness.

Changing Our Name

We recently changed the name of our bookstore. Here’s why.

Bookstores often have clever names. When we opened in December of 2012, I thought we would name our store after a popular book by one of history’s most famous authors, Charles Dickens. The store would be called, The Old Curiosity Book Shop, named after Dickens novel The Old Curiosity Shop. We tried to make the name work for almost four years but it simply didn’t catch on as I had hoped. In the fall of 2016, we decided to make a change.

We wanted the new name to celebrate the history of the region and honor the town that built us. Since our bookshop is located on the town square, which sits atop a hill overlooking the most important geographic feature in Columbia, Tennessee, we chose to name our bookshop after that feature, the Duck River.

At over 260 miles long, the Duck is the longest river that runs entirely within the state of Tennessee. It is also a very clean river. The Nature Conservancy website states, “According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Duck River is one of three hot spots for fish and mussel diversity in the entire world. It is generally considered to be the richest river in varieties of freshwater animals on the North American continent.” As you can see, the Duck River plays a vital role in the ecological health of our community.

The importance of a clean river to a community is immeasurable, and we believe the importance of a bookstore to a community is also immeasurable. Whereas a river channels the water that brings life, so too does the printed word help us channel our knowledge and understanding of the world and all of its complexities. While the river provides us with food, drinking water, and nourishes our crops, the bookstore nourishes our minds and provides us with a lifetime of education so we can better ourselves and become more of an asset to humanity. Therefore, it seemed a natural fit to name a bookstore after a river.

So when you look at our new name, we hope it will remind you of the little slice of paradise that sits just downhill from our bookshop, and the other little slice of paradise that sits just inside our front door.