BookPeople of Moscow was featured in the Wall Street Journal’s article, “The Tuscany of America,” by Matthew Kronsberg July 27, 2018.
MY WIFE AND SON laughed at me when, for the third time in less than a mile, I stopped our rental car, stepped onto the gravel road and took yet another wholly inadequate cellphone picture of the rolling fields that surrounded us. Soon they clambered out too and fell quiet. We were in the Palouse, a roughly 4,000-square-mile agricultural region that straddles the Idaho-Washington border. Intensely fertile, the region is defined by its dunelike hills, formed eons ago by windblown silt. The hills, gold and green with grains and legumes, undulate without pattern or rhythm; every bend in the road reconfigures the landscape in unpredictable ways, leaving you feeling just a bit off kilter, in a perpetual low-level swoon.
This is farm country; not anyone’s idea of a tourism hot spot. The unusual topography draws photographers and cyclists, but even if your relationship to those pastimes is casual at best, it is an easy place to fall in love with. At the heart of the Palouse are two cheek-by-jowl college towns, Pullman, Wash., and Moscow, Idaho, with populations of roughly 33,000 and 25,000, respectively. They’re about a 10-minute drive apart. When I asked Nancy Ruth Peterson, a lifelong Muscovite and president of the Latah County Historical Society, to characterize the difference between the burgs, she said “Moscow is a town that has a university. Pullman is a university that has a town. I’m probably going to get into trouble for saying that.”
And indeed, even during a mid-July visit, when most of Moscow’s 12,000 students were gone, the town felt alive. We based ourselves at the modishly refitted Monarch Motel, just a block off Main Street. On an evening stroll, I stopped to watch the Palouse Peace Coalition string up tie-dyed banners saying “peace” in a dozen or so languages, as they’ve done nearly every Friday night since 2001. I asked coalition member Bill Beck when the peacenik contingent had taken root in the region; he told me that many of its cohort had been there for decades, noting a “huge number of back-to-the-landers” who came to the area in the late ’60s and early ’70s. “Most people come here because of the universities. It’s this incredibly quiet, beautiful town,” he said, gesturing down the block toward BookPeople of Moscow, the largest of three independent bookshops, “with some intelligentsia.”
Don’t you love that? For the whole glowing article, click here.