Monday, September 3, 2012

The Book Store

I was reminded recently of just how much I love those independent book stores.  Really, browsing through a book store is a great afternoon’s entertainment as far as I am concerned.  They are getting harder and harder to find.  One opened in Burlington fairly recently, a companion of an independent store in nearby Essex, VT—the Phoenix Book Store.

This past summer, I went there with my sister to hear Richard Russo and his daughter talk about there new book.  He wrote the stories and she did art work to accompany them and they talked about their experience of getting the set published.  This past week, I went with two other members of the writer’s group to hear Daniel Lusk read poetry and David Huddle read from his new book, Nothing Can Make Me Do This.

You know, it did not used to be so hard to get out in the evening.

As a kid I sometimes had dreams about the candy store or castles made entirely of candy.  As a teenager it was clothing stores that had my obsessions.  In my twenties I got completely hooked on book stores and that has stayed with me.  At one point, my fantasy occupation was to own and run my own book shop.  Since I have retired, I spend a lot of time in my new version of the candy store—sometimes yarn shops but more lately—fabric stores and quilt shops.  Still, there is nothing like wandering through a cozy book store.

You might think that as much time as I spent at the local library this past summer, I would be done with books.  Not so, although, in truth, most of the fiction books that I read are from the library.  There is nothing quite like a new book store.  Everything is clean and attractively laid out for browsing.  There is the smell of new books (as opposed to dust) and you can still imagine that any given item has not been handled by a thousand other people.  You simply cannot get the sensation by shopping online.  I stop by Barnes and Noble sometimes, but it is hardly cozy much as they try to make it that way.  It is like shopping at Costco versus the small specialty market where the owner will suggest just the right bottle of wine to go with your tuna steak.

I always go to the new book display and staff picks.  Then I look over the cook books and the garden section.  Crafts, hobbies, home decorating, sewing, kids, blank journals—amazing how much time I can spend just on blank journals.  I almost always buy something if only to thank the store for being there, and I have my Christmas shopping started.
I am really quite sad that so many of the little independent book stores have closed.  Maybe I should make a plan to visit more of Vermont’s bookshops.


  1. Olga, I too love bookstores and agree the quaint old ones hold more of an attraction than the big ones. Years ago we had the pleasure of visiting Hay-on-Wye, a whole village in Wales that is almost totally old bookstores. It was marvelous. They hold an annual International Book Festival and we serendipitously arrived in the middle of it.

  2. Oh you're so lucky to still have small bookstores! We have none. B&N is pretty much the only game in town. Borders has been gone for almost a year now. I remember so many of those lovely little booksellers around our towns with cute names like "Cabbages and Kings!" They're all gone now. I, too, spend my time at the library.

  3. You got to see Richard Russo? Lucky you. I liked "That Old Cape Magic" and loved "Empire Falls."

    I certainly share your fondness for the old independent bookstore. But, you know, I've spent many an hour engrossed in the Barnes & Noble bookshelves . . . and was able to get a coffee too!

    I even like browsing -- but, I know, it ain't the same.

  4. I love independent bookstores, too. I found my publisher because a small bookstore owner who supplied all the books my son's teachers recommended put me in touch with a local publisher who picked up my first book, and the next four.

  5. I will be the first to admit that not only do I love Amazon but I love my Kindle and never may another dead tree pass through my hands again. But as big as an S.O.B. as I am in that regard, I must admit that I lament the loss of the small book shops of which you speak. I was sorry to see Borders go as well. Of course I haven't darkened their doorways since 1999 but I liked the idea of them being about. There is something about the smell of new books. But then again there is something for having stack of books in every corner of your house...all of which would easily fit in my Kindle.

    You know how you often hear about worries of the scientists at Brookhaven or CERN creating a black hole in their accelerators. Childs play. If I bring one more book into my home it is going to undergo a gravitational collapse into a singularity and the entire earth will disappear in a minuscule event horizon that will then proceed to destroy the remainder of the solar system. Thank God for Amazon.

    There was a cute cartoon on the cover of the New Yorker a few years ago which highlighted the demise of the the local bookseller. Scroll down to the third image here:

  6. I feel the same way, and I try to buy something whenever I visit an independent book store. They are treasures.

  7. We have a nice independent bookstore here, and it is my favorite shop. I agree that there is just something cozy about bookstores,and the chains just don't have the same charm and feel.

  8. Regarding the world of words, one of the real plusses of being given an iPod Touch is that I found a dictionary ap for it, which makes looking up a word SO handy. While I even like reading dictionaries just for the heck of it, having the iPod to quickly find a word makes me exceptionally happy!

  9. We still have an independent bookstore in Denver - The Tattered Cover. I, too, love to browse for hours, sitting in one of their comfy chairs, relaxing with a book I'm considering. PS I still like candy stores too!

  10. This post makes me feel soooo guilty. I like shopping online but I know that I should support independent bookstores. I love going to them when I get a chance, but then I always go way over my budget. I'm so conflicted!

  11. For me it is used book stores! What a great place to get lost and you don't go broke!


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