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Meet Our Staff

Shiela Wood-Navarro - Bookseller

Shiela Wood-Navarro is a longtime bookseller in Knoxville. She has been employed in the opening of three bookstores: Davis-Kidd for 13 years, Carpe Librum for 6 years, and currently Union Ave for 7 years. Adding the 4 years she worked at Malaprops in Asheville, Shiela's bookselling experience totals 30 years and counting. She is an independent bookstore person through and through. Shiela says "If I was not working here, I would be visiting and supporting indie bookstores any way I could."

Shiela loves seeing how Knoxville has changed over the last 70 years. Born an hour away from here, she would visit Knoxville at least once a week until moving away for high school. "Knoxville has become the place that it once was in the 50s and even better. A great artistic community, and a wonderful place to live. And of course there's the mountains. The people here are just nice people to live around, and they like to read."

Always an avid reader, Shiela's says she got it from her family. Also in the next generations, her two grandchildren, godson, and her daughter are great readers. She generally reads  fiction, loves short stories, nonfiction, and to mix it up often reads two books at a time. Mystery is Shiela's favorite genre.

Shiela's Picks:

All things by Louise Penny, especially Still Life

The Grand Tour by Adam Price

The Lonely Planet: Children's Guide to the World






Charles "Charlie" Thomas - Bookseller

Charlie has been working at Union Ave since we opened our downtown location in 2011. He had previously managed a bookstore in Guatemala for 5 years while participating in educational and human rights work. Upon his return he was happy to bring his bookselling experience back to Knoxville.

Charlie's favorite part about living in Knoxville: "It's a perfect balance between urban living and access to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world."

He is our resident James Agee afficionado, and can be seen holding beautiful tomes of classic literature. When not waxing poetically about a Knoxville sundown, Charlie likes reading about local knoxville writers and history, native american studies, classical literature, and anything Joyce, Agee, McCarthy, or D.H. Lawrence among others.

Charlie's Picks:

The White Deer by Robert Cranny

The Brothers by Stephen Kinzer

The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Jacksonland by Steve Inskeep





Jeannette Brown - Bookseller

Jeannette has been a part of the Union Ave Books team for five years, and loves finding the perfect book for the right person.

Jeannette is a writer, and reads enthusiastically. She reads mostly contemporary fiction, keeping current to showcase exciting new authors. She is a former member of the Knoxville Writer's Guild board, and her work has been featured in the Belleview Literary Review, the Southwestern Review, and Lost River. The Union Ave staff eagerly awaits the publication of her first novel, forthcoming in Spring 2020 from Texas Review Press. Jeannette love Knoxville so much she moved here twice! Her favorite parts of the city are The Tennessee Theatre, The Bijou, the greenways and people.

Jeannette's Picks:

Serena by Ron Rash

Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins









Karen Sims - Bookseller

Karen and her family have always patronized independent bookstores and when she heard Union Avenue Books was opening downtown she was so excited about having it in her neighborhood. "As a downtown resident I found the fact that I could walk to a bookstore delightful!" Upon retirement as a school librarian almost two years ago she found part time employment as a weekend bookseller at Union Avenue.

During Karen's career she served many schools as a library media specialist. Her passion for reading led Karen to her chosen career. "My greatest reward was sharing great titles with young people and watching them develop their passion for reading." That joy is continued as she enjoys witnessing their experience of browsing and choosing titles in the bookstore.

Karen has lived in Knoxville a total of 36 years. The past 9 of those years she's lived in downtown Knoxville. "I love the urban community we have embraced. Living downtown is like being part of one big family." 

Her favorite titles to read can be found in the biography/memoir section. She loves reading about the lives of people, their successes and failures, what motivates them, and how their choices impacted their lives and the lives of others. Karen also loves to read fiction, especially historical fiction. "As a school librarian I felt most of my reading choices had to come from children and young adult titles. Retirement has have a given me the opportunity to read other books." But she says she still have a fondness for YA books and books for the intermediate reader.

Karen's Picks:

A Natural Woman by Carole King

Walking to Listen:  4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time by Andrew Forsthoefel

The Cake and the Rain by Jimmy Webb





Chelsea Bauer - Buyer/Bookseller

Chelsea found her way to Union Ave via her friend Hannah who worked at Carpe Librum, the parent project to Union Ave. When Union Ave opened they needed extra weekend help, so Chelsea started working on Saturdays. After 3 years of weekend hours she was lucky enough to be brought on full-time in 2015. Chelsea was an English major at UT. She's been a life-long bookworm, and when she first came here thought, "It is crazy that they would pay me to read and sell books." 

Chelsea's been in Knoxville for 15 years. She loves Knoxville because it is a very walkable city, and the fact that people here are so dedicated to the city's history. 

"I read everything," Chelsea says. Science fiction, fantasy, essays, graphic novels, history are some of her go-tos, but she's honestly a curious reader of everything. 

Chelsea's Picks:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

East of Eden by John Steinbeck





Annie Crosby - Bookseller

Annie Crosby recently moved to Knoxville and began working at Union Ave in August of 2017. She had previously managed operations at the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, MD for three years. Annie loves Knoxville for the friendly people and the multitude of fun outdoor activities, and of course her dog Charley who she hopes to have many travels with. Annie generally can be found reading fiction, poetry, mystery, memoir, graphic novel, children's books (especially Escargot), essays, science fiction, and more!

Annie's Picks:

The River Why by David James Duncan

The Chronology of Water by Lydia Yuknavitch

Shrill by Lindy West

Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer







Davis Shoulders - Events Organizer

Davis had recently moved to Seattle with some friends and ended up coming back home to Maryville. Trying to decide what city to move to he landed nearby in Knoxville at Union Ave Books in May of 2018, as he was drawn to the bookstore world after working at Politics & Prose in Washington, DC for two years. 

Davis attended a Kazuo Ishiguro event and decided then and there he had to work for the bookstore that hosted it. He spent two years working with the events team, organizing hundreds of author events. He was an English major and was happy to apply his knowledge of books and connect with authors outside of school. 

Davis loves the intimacy of Knoxville's size, although it features everything that can be found in a larger urban area. Growing up he would never go downtown except for special events such as a trip to the symphony, so it is fun for him to witness Knoxville's growth and how the city is flourishing.

Davis can be found reading memoir, biography, nature, spirituality, great contemporary fiction, and anything with a strong social commentary, fiction or nonfiction.

Davis's Picks:

Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

C by Tom McCarthy

Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dilliard