North Carolina

A Bookshop Interview with Sam Slaughter


Sam Slaughter is a Food & Drink Editor for the men’s lifestyle magazine, The Manual, and spirits work has appeared in MaximBloombergThe Bitter SouthernerThirsty, and elsewhere. His debut short story collection God in Neon was published in 2016 by Lucky Bastard Press, and his first cocktail book,  Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum? and Other Cocktails for 90’s Kids will be published by Andrews-McMeel in June 2019. I’m delighted he took a few minutes to tell me about one of his favorite places to buy books.

Favorite Bookshop: McKay’s Books in Greensboro, NC

1. How did you discover the shop?

In college, a professor mentioned that there was a used book store down the road in Greensboro. One weekend afternoon, my roommate and I decided to go. It was love at first sight.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it's like to browse around.

Being a used bookstore, there’s a ton of stuff, from books (obviously) to vinyl, video games, DVDs, you name it. I used to love start at the front in the fiction section and working my way down the aisle, then turning around and walking back up the other side, going through each little cubby to see what was there. One of my favorite things is that the entire store is, in a way, a treasure hunt. If there are multiple versions of a book, chances are that they are going to be different prices. This makes you want to keep hunting, just in case.

After working through the fiction I’d head down the stairs to the food & drink books to see if there were any cookbooks I was into. Those were the two main sections for me, but I’d also check out the anthropology/sociology section (one of my college majors) and the comedy section. There was also a free section, and you could sometimes get some cool stuff there.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

I bought most of my collection of contemporary southern fiction there. Ron Rash, Barry Hannah, et cetera. I also got a number of Best American collections there that I still have.

4. What is it about the shop that makes you love it? What really makes the place unique?

As I mentioned above, it’s the treasure hunt thing that gets me every time. I love going through everything, not only to find great books, but to see if I can find a better deal on the book.

In terms of uniqueness, McKay’s has a couple locations, and at this point I’ve been to 3 of them. Each store has completely different inventory that changes all the time. Even if you went back two days in a row, chances are you’d find some new stuff.

For more by Sam, visit his site at