The Hamline Bookstore has a new club that pays homage to its unique history and offers its current community opportunities to come together over a shared love of reading. The Purple Onion Book Club is named after The Purple Onion Pizza Parlour that used to occupy the space where the bookstore is now located. In the late 50s and early 60s, singer and songwriter Bob Dylan performed there before his rise to music-icon status. Melanie Farley, general manager of the bookstore, says the inspiration for the idea came to her on a pre-construction tour of the new bookstore.
“You could see where the bar stools and bar were situated when the parlour was here,” Farley said. “I just fell in love with the whole idea of The Purple Onion Book Club.”
For its first book selection this fall, club members chose to read one of two books written by Dylan, Chronicles or Tarantula. Farley says the books both gave readers a sense of Dylan’s personality. The club met in early October for the first time to discuss the two books, and in November the club read John Brandon’s A Million Heavens. At the November meeting, Brandon was in attendance and signed a few copies of his book, which are available at the bookstore.
“That was very special,” Farley said. “He graced us not only with his presence but also talked about his writing process. Overall we’ve been very excited about how things are going.”
Everyone is welcome to join the club whether they are Hamline students, faculty, staff, or members of the community. The meetings have an open forum style and there is no specific leader in the group - though there are some topics provided to get discussions going.
“It’s very laid back,” Farley said.
Anyone who wants to participate can get more information at the Hamline Bookstore, which is at its new location at 772 Snelling Avenue, or by contacting the bookstore by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.