Texas bluebonnets, rolling hills and life at a slower pace have lured many a weekend traveler to the Navasota area. But Muddy Water Bookstore owner Suzie Linnenbank determined not only would she live in the area, Navasota is where her dream of owning an independent book store would come true.
Fair-warning, don’t expect a tidy, cookie-cutter chain store appearance at the Muddy Water Bookstore.
Linnenbank said, “This is exactly what a book store should be – homey and welcoming. I love my little nooks and so do my customers. It’s a maze, and each turn is different and unique to look at. This is my personality. If you look at the side items I have, it screams Suzie. All of this screams Suzie.”
In Linnenbank’s nooks you may find a comfy chair that invites you to sit down with a good book and stay awhile but for a group read, the dining table is the perfect place to gather.
A devotee of the horror genre, Linnenbank’s décor includes a skeleton and a coffin-style bookcase and showcases her love of everything Halloween. In fact, she celebrated Muddy Water’s first Halloween with a “Zombie Crawl” and promises that the 2019 event will be bigger than last year.
Linnenbank said, “Everybody seems to love mysteries, especially James Patterson. There are a lot of sci-fi fans in this town and that pleasantly surprised me.”
As for the adolescent-young teen section, Linnenbank said, “The kids tell me what they want. They tell me what’s the hottest thing.”
She added, “There are as many, if not more, children to young adult readers. That is a good hunk of my business – the kids. It’s beautiful!”
She continued, “I’m very proud of my children’s section because they feel safe. They love to stay there while their parents roam and enjoy themselves.”
Linnenbank is encouraged by a recent study indicating children benefit from reading from books rather than devices.
She said, “They want to hold it, turn the pages … rather than holding a phone or device and pushing a button.”
Adult new books don’t sell well in Navasota and Linnenbank speculated whether it’s because she doesn’t have enough traffic yet, or that people just don’t want to pay full price for a hardback book. For Linnenbank, it’s not financially feasible to order the quantities required, or mark down new books, as is done with used books but she can order a single book shipped directly to the reader’s home.
Something for everyone
Muddy Water hosts a children’s reading hour the third Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. and a book club the third Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Linnenbank is also enthusiastic about supporting local authors and will feature College Station children’s author Renee Nolte April 17, who will read and autograph her books, “The Baseball Dream” and “Super Love.”
For some adult fun, Muddy Waters will kick off the new season of “Game of Thrones” with a pre-party from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, April 13. A self-described “crazy fanatic” of the show, Linnenbank is inviting the community to come dressed in character.
She said, “I’m going to have an Iron Throne. We’ll have a huge dragon in front of my store and the Grill Sergeant, as a special for me, will be offering meat-on-a-stick.”
And then there is mead, courtesy of BeeWeaver Honey Farm.
Muddy Water has the distinction of being one of only 250 bookstores in the United States selected for ‘Find Waldo Local,’ a shop-local initiative sponsored by Candlewick Press and the American Booksellers Association.
Linnenbank said, “I wrote a heck of an essay. You really have to sell them that you are going to make this a big thing, and I am!”
She explained, “The entire month of July is Find Waldo Local. Basically, it’s a citywide scavenger hunt. Little cutouts of Waldo will be placed in businesses and stores.”
Linnenbank will issue passports and participants will get them signed by participating businesses where Waldo is spotted.
In addition to Linnenbank’s commitment to wearing Waldo garb every day, she’s arranged for a “mystery” Waldo to appear around town. The hunt will culminate with a pizza party and awards Saturday, July 26, at Muddy Water.
Failure, not an option
Linnenbank said the biggest surprise she received upon opening her doors Aug. 3 was the support.
She said, “I never expected as much support as I got from the community, from other shop owners, from the Chamber of Commerce, the mayor, the city council. I just get a lot of support.”
Encouragement came from another surprising source, fellow bookseller Stephani Kelley, owner of the Book Nook in Brenham. Linnenbank praised Kelley for her advice and listening ear while she learns the ropes of bookstore ownership.
Linnenbank knows that success takes a little time but said, “Failure is not an option. I will succeed.”
As for living her dream, she said, “I love my customers. I’m learning every day and I’m having so much fun.”
Muddy Water Bookstore is located at 120 E. Washington. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday,