musings, memoir, life in the mountains

Just Thinking...

Just Thinking...
October 04
~ welcome! ~ I'm Anna Herrington aka Anna F. aka Mom aka Nana aka 'JT...' ~photographs my own unless noted ~ (this bio is AD(H)D at its best ; ))... I am working on three manuscripts, researching, gardening, hiking, cooking, pondering batiking again sometime, taking photographs and drinking tea, most days ~ now writing daily ~ A huge step forward for this writer...thank you to NaNoWriMo for getting me going. To see all posts, click on 'Just Thinking...' above, and scroll. Writing here at Open Salon since June 2010.


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SEPTEMBER 7, 2011 4:57PM

The Bookstore and Other Adventures

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"Do you know of a good bookstore around here?" I asked the cashier as she handed me an enormous spinach salad and slice of cheese pizza at this unfamiliar restaurant in this unfamiliar town. We had found this low-slung eatery in the downtown area, sandwiched between Thai cuisine and a bar, if I remember correctly. Thai food had been nixed.

Youngest and I were on a late summer explore, itinerary: his choice.

I thought he would choose the 'Water Slides with Friends' idea as his one excursion out of town before school began, not the 'Go to a New Town with Mom and Stay in a Hotel with Pool' idea. But he chose me, or more likely, he chose the hotel, pool, and promised trip to the mall. 


DSCN2586 One of the first buildings I noticed when we arrived in town.  On the side mural, floating on the puffy clouds and barely visible in this shot, are two painted heads of Jerry Garcia and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gazing benevolently down on all the peaceful brothers and sisters of this small metropolis. 


By the time we'd arrived at the pizza place, we had been in town for awhile - we'd already shopped, stayed overnight, wandered around the local mall, and eaten way too many Willy Wonka candies. These treats came out of a clear-fronted vending machine with tubes and slides for our candy to roll down before dropping into our plastic tub. We ate them while window shopping. We went back for seconds. And thirds. His choice. The longer we chewed these sweet-sour, alien-to-any-natural-process tidbits, the more neon our tongues became. My stomach began to wonder if it could handle much more of this 'his choice' agenda - at least concerning food.

Another 'his choice' had been to stand in the mall's indoor Hurricane Simulator - a sorry simulator we agreed, as Son's hair barely mussed and he was able to stand perfectly upright in supposedly 80 mph winds. It was nothing like the weatherman we'd seen on the hotel television that morning, braced on an east coast beach against gale force winds. That guy could barely remain upright much less keep his hair groomed, compared to Youngest and the Hurricane Simulator's leisurely breeze.

As we lunched, we commented on sights we'd seen, as well as our hotel's bonuses and shortcomings, especially the 11th floor vertigo I'd experienced. The conversation went off on a tangent into the somewhat frequent wonder I have for high-rise dwellers who comfortably sleep each night so far removed from the ground, a lifestyle that is far removed from my own.

Snicker away, high-rise dwellers, I had to face away from the window to settle my roiling mind and stomach before I finally dropped off to sleep in that 11th floor hotel room.

All things verbal then deteriorated to a full five minutes of Youngest's teasing about the gruesome fat ticks (pale pine nuts) I was eating on my spinach salad. He even went so far as grabbing one particularly blood-sucking-looking pine nut and clutching it against his neck, pretend panicking as he fake pulled it off, complete with silent screams and blood-spurting gestures. I stuffed my irritation and played along, timing my eye-rolling appropriately, not only remembering those drive-you-Wonka candies we'd shared (80% to Youngest, I might add), but also that we were on a rare trip away and this was my last child at home - one with full-fledged teenhood right around the corner.  

With the last of lunch, we made plans for our final stop in town: we needed to find a bookstore -- this thirteen year-old loved to read and so did I. Finally, I thought, a choice we agreed on. With directions from the pizza lady, along with assurances that we'd love this place, we got in the truck and took off, driving the full distance - 300 yards or so it turned out - to the local independent bookseller, tucked in a nearby side street.

Youngest and I hopped out - down really, this being my husband's too-tall-for-us truck we were driving - and crossed the street toward the shop in the late afternoon sun. We stepped through the threshold into the muted light of the shop, our eyes taking a moment to adjust. Our jaws dropped, our heads turned as our eyes swept the interior view. We caught each other's gaze. 


"I've never seen a bookstore quite like this..." I remarked, as a gleam arose on both our faces.

Son began to wander off down an aisle without another word. 

"See you in ten minutes," I reminded.

"O-k-a-a-y......geez." and he was off, an explorer searching new interiors.

I know ten minutes sounds an absurdly short time for browsing and choosing book titles with promise, but I also knew ten minutes was plenty of time for us. Without a deadline, we'd both wander around for hours, our eyes and brains perusing, absorbing, absent to all other life needs, until we were forced out on the street by tired clerks at closing time. Besides, our trip was nearly over, it was late in the day.

I turned and took in the line of tall, narrow, thickly mullioned windows stretching across the front of the high-ceilinged, partially bricked storefront. Next, I drank in the mirroring rows of tall, narrow, mahogany-hued bookcases, completely covered with...



Not only were they enticing me from the many stuffed cases lining the store's perimeter and filling the interior, but the books -- new books, used books, old books -- were also in haphazard stacks on the floor of every aisle. Piles and piles of tantalizing titles and covers, all rising from the otherwise tidy and polished floors.


 Cluttered bookstore heaven... discordant and delightful all at once.


I am a sucker for this kind of atmosphere:  books bought and sold in older buildings, filled with intriguing nooks and crannies, creaky wooden floors and filtered rays beaming across high ceilings, cushioned benches placed here and there partially filled with pale, hunched, mesmerized devotees.

My kind of people.

My kind of bookstore, although I had never seen floors covered with book stacks quite like this before.


          Standing in the back of the shop, sneaking a couple photos.                                    I had to. 

 Within seconds, I had gotten my bearings and was ensconced in my favorite section, interior mind bubbles bursting in delight as I found copy after copy of longed-for titles on my mental list of books and authors yet to read. Since most of those finds were in those piles on the floor, I knelt down and began to build a quick stack of potential purchases. 

Not more than five minutes had gone by, when, standing back up, hoisting my selected books, I heard a brusque voice behind me.

"I'm ready. Are you?"

Lifting my eyes, I see an impressive stack held in the arms of Youngest - a stack exceeding my own by a good half-dozen books.

Without a word, we glanced at each other's must-haves, glanced back at our own must-haves, set them all down, and began editing. When each personal tower had been greatly reduced in number, we silently loaded up again, heading for the checkout with smiles on our faces.

Quest fulfilled, time to head home.

As we pulled onto the highway, the last of the westering sun to our right, Son reached forward for the CDs. "Mind if I put on some music, Mom?

Your choice." 

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A real live, writing, kind of post !
School's back in session....
I just did a little book store splurge this weekend, not quite like that one. I love my little stack. I tend to forget titles and authors, especially when actually looking, so I have learned to photograph the covers on my iPhone and then use them to refer to later. We're bookavores too, and seek out at least one used book store on every trip.
Ah, how lovely - I don't know which part I liked better - the bookstore, or the idea of such a fun mother-son trip. This was a delight to read, and I hope you guys enjoy the books you bought!
Delightful, nicely written meander by two loving acrophobic bibliophiles and me.
Oryoki: I'm not surprised to hear this from you--
the right bookstore is just the best : )
I like your titles reminder! Thanks for coming by.

Alysa: Thanks! It is one week later and we're both on the last book. They were great : )

Matt: Ha! I'd not thought of myself as acrophobic, but that vertigo was certainly real : ) ...and thanks! Glad to have you come by.
Photographing covers is a brilliant idea, I've not learned to take advantage of my phone camera, and am now inspired.
I had a bookstore like this back home.. I loved this and this is so cover worthy..
Thank you for alerting me to this wonderful piece of writing/summer vacation experience. I don't think I could have done it in 8 minutes, and I know I am a fast reader. (I bet it took longer to write!)

Oh, that sounds like a lot of fun!
What a wonderful post. I love that you had this time with your son and that you both share the same passion for books and bookstores. This just warmed my heart.~r
oh i love those places! r.
I know of such a place in Las Cruces, NM--COAS My Bookstore. Stack upon stack. Room after room. Heaven!
Wow. You and Karin G. are both offering peons to books. Nice to share your delightful experience.
Books! I love books and love bookstores, too. Sounds as tho your son got the book gene-- a great gene to pass on!
Just Thinking,
What a lovely shop!
What a fun and willy wonka like trip. It's so nice when we have those moments of magic. Books and those kinds of bookstores are gorgeous , and your son sounds like a lively little fellow. Most delightful, and so well written, JT.
What wonderful memories you are creating for your child! I also love book stores, but the only one around here is Barnes and Noble which I enjoy immensely. The problem with bookstores is that I want to buy so many! Over the years I've purchased books with the promise to read them. I still have so many to read!
My heart began racing when I saw the pictures of that bookshop--I can't control my excitement of books, even in pictures! I wrote a post yesterday about how I can't imagine giving up the real thing in favor of an e-reader. It's reassuring to see how many books are piled up in that perfect store.
Ok I have now Booked my next vacation. See the last best bookstores before they die. I love all the trouble you went through getting there and your love of the medium shines through.
I see my reply to Oryoki went wacky and part of it ended up by Matt's reply. Sorry, still getting used to Fall starting off with a busy bang.

Linda: Thank you! I doubt it this is cover stuff, although you are good at picking them....

Buffy: Nice to have you come by! Yes, this was much longer to write than our book shopping trip took : ) Writing is somewhat new to me, unlike some here who have written ever since they were young....I've always been a reader and lover of words though...

Sheila: As you know, take the fun when it's offered with those sons!
Thanks for coming by : )

Thanks, Joan! The other two sons? They would have picked the friends and slides in a heartbeat! This one is definitely more like me.
Although when Husband read this, he immediately expressed his very first wish that I write about Youngest and his crazy mountain biking.....which is when he is much more like his Dad : )

Jon: They are just the best, aren't they? I picture you as a mesmerized devotee of books as well...
Miguela: We must be kindred spirits then : ) I'd imagine there are a lot of us, and for me, the plethora of electronic choice keeps me running back to books and their tactile and visual pleasure. Screens hurt my eyes after a few minutes, book pages, never.
Glad to have you come by!

Thanks, Lea! I'll get over to Karin's when I can! It does seem like posts can pop up with similar trains of thought all at a similar time...
nice to see you here : )

mypsyche: I have loved seeing this book-loving gene arise in this lad....and aren't bookshops like nowhere else? Glad you stopped in!

Diary: It is, isn't it? Glad you came by....

fernsy: Thank you, thank you! This trip did have a wonderful feel to it, heightened by having the two grown sons around reminding me that this thirteen year old won't be choosing Mom and the mall for long....
Nice to see you : )
The mural on the outside looks grand but them stacks of books looks even better JT. I loves me book stores. This one looks classic. Thank ye.
patricia k: Thanks! Nice to see you. I know what you mean about always wanting more. I really do keep a running tally in my head, there are always more to read!

Thanks, Karin, my heart raced too in that store, although it was startling to me to see all that chaos. It clearly did not stop us from finding plenty to read. : ) Nice to have you come by.

Algis: What a great vacation plan : ) Let me know when you've started, there are some great, creaky wooden floored bookshops out here. I walked in a bookshop in Eureka, CA a couple years ago and overheard tourists remarking on how many bookstores there were in this smallish town. I've noticed that in towns where folks don't believe in TV watching, there is usually a proliferation of bookstores.
I smiled to myself at their surprise and went on in.
Really enjoyed this post! I don't think 10 minutes would do it for me though. We lost all of our books in the flood--need to re-stock! Rated.
In the beginning was the word
Wonderful post. .Reminds me to visit the secondhand bookstores here.
How in the world did you do it? Lightening speed in a bookstore in an unfamiliar place! I am very impressed! I think there is a poem there somewhere....
Budget smudget. I loved (love) sharing book recommendations with my children. The same way I loved exposing them to the music that raised me -- and as they've grown up -- letting them expose me. My daughter now works at a bookstore while attending college and she emails me frequently to recommend books and music. Highlight of my day!
Erica: I'm so sorry to hear you lost your books! That is a bummer...I hope you and yours are all okay. Thanks for coming by!

Mission: Bookstores are sanctuaries for folks like us, I guess...especially some hardwood floors for creaking! Nice to have you come by : )

Tom: Was the word, "Go buy books!" ? I listened!

Phoenix: I go in phases with bookstores...this summer reading seemed to be the favorite activity with Youngest and I. Thanks for coming by!

m: It does seem crazy that we only took eight minutes...but we had a deadline to get on the highway, and we'd been reading all summer so we had authors in mind already. Not how I'd usually browse in a new bookstore : )
I have a feeling you'd have the better poem inspiration as well...

Bellwether: I agree! When it comes to books, I have no discipline. I don't see why I ought to have discipline either, especially as we've been so frugal -- this was our summer splurge...we had a blast.
Nice to see you : ) I love reading of other families who hang out because they like each other -- letting the kids teach us something helps!
I've read this a few times now, each time assuming I'd already rated & made a comment ~ it's a delightful piece on all sorts of levels ~ I'd forgotten what they were like, for example, when you're with them in a public restaurant & they were 13 ;-) ...
... what strikes me most is your discipline ~ 10 minutes done in 8, in such a place, & that hunger !
I wanted to share a poem about a place like that here in Sydney :
( Hope you like it :-)

Crossing the Border

You step into Gould's bookshop, Newtown,
like a tourist crossing a border,
a literary traveller leaving the safelands behind
for the seedier streets -
as far removed from Dymocks
as Kathmandu from Kew.
It's hard to get your bearings here,
there's no Baedeker to trust
and the single sheet directory
found at the door plots
a deceitful map of the territory.
Strange things are apt to happen
as you trek through the aisles of travel
and climb corridors of lit. crit.
Books close in behind you, shadows shift,
volumes of verse slide beneath you and you jump
when you step on Noam Chomsky uncomplaining on the floor.
If you dare to draw a book from an upper shelf,
risking burial under an avalanche of paper,
you're overwhelmed to find rows behind rows,
endless Russian dolls and Chinese puzzles of words.
How will you ever know this land,
so mysterious, so beautiful, so strange?
Perhaps you'll never leave, now you've
gone native, bookwrecked on an alien shore.

Brook Emery. c. 2000.

Thanks, JT. Love that kid !
Wow! I could stay in there for hours... great story and the telling was fun too.
Kim: Well, how cool to read that my meanderings seemed worth repeated perusing. Comments especially always welcome (well, depending...).
Any terrible misspellings?
I admit, I was the first grader who corrected notes passed to me with a red crayon and returned them, so misspellings are quite horrifying to discover. You may also see how easy I am to make fun of, at least my entire family thinks so. : ) They spell like crap.
I would hate to think of my book ingestion as 'hunger' per se...but you're right. It is just that. Youngest's excuse is he was into Hardy Boys for the summer, those take about a minute for him to read, now he's back on school mode: HTML coding book, and a high school Algebra book his teacher gave him to do extra credit on. Hmmm.
I do like that poem very much. I am so glad you thought fit to share...
"...bookwrecked on an alien shore."
Somehow, for me, unless I am reading or swimming, holding babies, noticing a caress in the breeze, laughing, it is all an alien shore, the written page being a map that guides me to a contentment of sorts...
Always glad to have you come by !

Rita: You also, I'm always glad to see you!
Thanks for checking out Youngest's and my adventure this summer. I felt somewhat guilty that we live where most of the kids travel abroad, or are in camps for six weeks, or they travel in packs around town all summer, and Youngest just likes hanging out and mountain biking.
That's about it.
I am not the go-to person for mountain biking, but he knows I am a sucker for buying too many books and hitting the road on a whim.
Wasn't that a wild-looking bookstore?
Such an Oregon business: Well, just put the overstock on the floor, folks will prefer grovelling around on the ground searching for works! : )
There - a fresh edit.
This trip was so much fun....I miss having a thirteen year-old around.
Sixteen is a much grumpier age.
Ironically, Middle Son now works at the Thai place mentioned in the first paragraph - ha! Who knows what futures hold...
I heard from Youngest - now 16 - that he'd like to do this trip again!
"But some things will be different this time around..." he says.
No kidding.
This time he wants the Thai food : )
ah an update! 3 yrs later! the lad must have surely
gone thru many shifts of reading preferences....
Yeah, Hardy Boys is long gone - he was at the end, then.
The last books he's read: The Great Gatsby, On Booze (also Fitzgerald), The Maltese Falcon, coding books, The Art of War (Sun Tzu), Just My Type (a book on fonts), some Hesse, Steinbeck, In Cold Blood, and every single New Yorker.

None for school.
(my other two at 16 were different...)