I just spent a delicious hour prowling around in an independent bookstore about two miles from our home. I came away with two tomes, one fiction, the other non-fiction. My bride’s thoughtful birthday gift of a gift certificate covered their cost. Well, almost. I dug into my pocket for the modest sales tax. My new treasures will join the stack beside my bed, awaiting their turns to transport me.
Bookstores work better for me than public libraries. If you buy the book, you can take your time with it, switch between books, keep two or three going at the same time. There’s no deadline. Understand, libraries are wonderful. They deserve our support. When our daughters were young, our family followed a Saturday ritual that we all loved. We drove 25 miles each way to the large public library in Miami’s Bayfront Park. Our girls roamed the stacks as if in a candy store. We did, too, and we all drove home lugging stacks of reading material that was eagerly consumed, only to be returned two weeks later. They passed the love of reading on to their own kids, and so it continues. Say what you will about the electronics revolution, people still love to read. Want proof? Try to find a decent parking space at the next used book sale staged by the library in your town.
I have loved bookstores for as long as I can remember. Had two favorites in my hone town of Baltimore. Chapel Hill, home to many superb writers, continues to love and support its independent bookstores. The beloved old Intimate Bookstore on Franklin Street is gone now. Fire damaged it years ago, and locals feared then that its familiar squeaky wooden stairs would be gone for good, but somehow, contractors manged to bring back the squeaks in the rebuilding. Eventually, that shop did close for good, but others came to its funeral, including Flyleaf Books, our current favorite haunt, which is where I shopped this morning.
Many cities boast impressive bookstores. Probably our most memorable is the huge Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. This legendary store fills a city block. Several color-coded floors direct customers to massive sections devoted to mysteries, biographies, science fiction, romance, history, and on and on. Powell’s shelves new copies of a book cheek by jowl with used copies. Customers can flip through a used copy and save money by choosing one in good condition and fairly clean. Can’t beat that.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stop writing now and dive into one of my newest treasures. Can’t wait any longer. Care to join me?