Best of the CRANDIC Spotlight: Bart Carithers, Next Page Books

Bart Carithers of Next Page Books — Britt Fowler/Little Village

Bart Carithers was voted Best Entrepreneur in Little Village’s 2020 Best of the CRANDIC awards.

The Best Local Entrepreneur of the CRANDIC, Bart Carithers, celebrated five years of ownership at Next Page Books (which first opened as NewBo Books in 2012) this December. That also marked his five-year anniversary as a businessman.

“I had no prior business experience before buying the shop,” he said in an email. “A number of friends from around the country thought I had lost my mind when I decided to take this on. I spent my prior life working in student affairs administration at colleges and universities around the country so this adventure presented a pretty steep learning curve. Frankly, I’m still not convinced I know what the hell I’m doing. But the shop keeps chugging along.”

Next Page Books made national news in April with a feature in Forbes highlighting Carithers’ personal delivery to local patrons during the height of the pandemic’s first wave. His dedication to both service and books began in his childhood, when he helped his mother out at work.

“My mom managed the book department at the old Sanford’s store in downtown Cedar Rapids back in the ’60s and early ’70s. She would ask me to come in and help during peak seasons or to assist with inventorying stock,” Carithers said. “The thought of owning a bookstore some day appealed to me but I never thought it would actually happen. So, in a way, this opportunity was a dream come true.”

So where does Carithers turn when he’s ready to do some reading of his own? “One of my favorite books is A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara,” he said. “The book was released the year I bought the store and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Just an incredible story and so beautifully written.”

Read on for a list of Carithers’ top 10 picks of perfect holiday book gift choices (which you should buy locally, of course!).

The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X
by Les Payne

by David Michaelis

Leave Only Footprints
by Conor Knighton

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
by Isabel Wilkerson
(history/social science)

The Thursday Murder Club
by Richard Osman

The Only Good Indians
by Stephen Graham Jones

Camp: Stories & Itineraries for Sleeping Under the Stars
by Luc Gesell
(camping/outdoor skills)

by Bryan Nash Gill

Dinner in French
by Melissa Clark

by Lauren Camilleri & Sophia Kaplan
(gardening/house plants)

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 289.

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