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Missoula's "Book Lady" enjoying retirement - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Missoula's "Book Lady" enjoying retirement

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MISSOULA - This is that kind of weather when you love nothing more than curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book and for the first time in decades, Missoula’s “book lady” is doing just that -- and likely reading to her grandkids.

Barbara Theroux has been “technically” gone for six-months from Missoula's Fact & Fiction bookstore, but there’s a book lover's spirit which Theroux shared that will always be “in stock” on these shelves, even with her decision to retire.

“And I wanted to -- as I was still healthy and loved what I was doing -- say ‘now’s the time. Now’s the time to transition.’ And I was fortunate enough to have some people that I could train and know that the store was going to stay and have a lot of the same programs and a lot of the same energy. It was all timing," Theroux said.

She may be off on her own now, but you just can’t imagine her without a book in her hand, a recommendation on the latest Northwest author, and always, always advocating for reading.

“I’ll be working with the library project. So I tell people my book passion will now go there. And [I'll] work with the Montana Book Festival and Montana Book Award, and the Roxy," Theroux told MTN News. "The Roxy’s now in my neighborhood and it’s just really nice to see some of those things happen.”

For more than 30 years -- and over a 40-year career -- Theroux did her best to build connections between writers and readers, bringing authors like Sherman Alexie, Rick Bass, Ivan Doig, James Lee Burke and Tim Egan to Missoula, visits chronicled in an amazing collection of photos and other keepsakes.

But it was a little series about a young wizard that was the most remarkable thing over those years.

“J.K. Rowling did so much for reading -- for books, for young people being excited about a book. For the publishing industry realizing they could publish in the summer, that people would buy a 500 hundred page book," Theroux said.

"That people would come out at midnight so they could start reading it. That was great and that helped us get out of one of those recessions as far as people saying ‘oh no, reading doesn’t matter anymore.’ It does matter," she continued.

MTN asked Theroux what her best advice is for aspiring authors.

“Start figuring out who’s doing what, what do you like about what’s going on. You don’t necessarily have to go to school to learn all that. Get some common sense about things. Do your research," Theroux advised.

It worked for her, and that little bookstore on Higgins, “I said ‘I’m going to do the research until I get a red light.’ And I didn’t get any red lights. I might have had some caution signs. But the red lights weren’t there.”

“I had a dream and Missoula allowed me to have it build into what it is. I couldn’t have done it without readers. I couldn’t have done it without press, with authors, with all the many factions that made it all come together. And that’s what I’m most proud of," Theroux said.

Theroux has some aspirations to start a “book blog” at some point. But this Christmas she’s spending time with her grandkids in New Jersey for the first time in years, and we bet she’s reading to them.

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