I might have a problem.
I seem to be unable to leave a bookstore without at least two books in hand.
Not such a terrible problem, one might think, only two books, except that I went to three stores today, and came home with twelve books.
It all started because I had a planning meeting for my trip to Italy this summer. The meeting was up the gorge in White Salmon, Washington, about 30 minutes from home. I decide that “on my way” to the meeting, I would pop into each of the Columbia River Gorge bookstores that I knew about, and just experience them briefly.
I had the best of intentions. No, really, I did. Browse, observe, make mental notes. When I hit pavement on Oak Street in Hood River, I was resolute that I wasn’t buying ANYTHING.
It was a simple sign that blew me off course. “We are hiring a part-time bookseller,” it read. Suddenly my heart gushed and I pored over the sign, reading and re-reading, realizing immediately that I could never do it, but wanting so badly to apply. As I stood there in the entryway of the bookstore, I lost all willpower, stepping inside and embracing the addiction.
Overall, the day was great. I started at Waucoma Bookstore. Like many small, independent bookstores, it was bursting with new books, wall-to-wall. Amongst the selection of best sellers were some smaller print books that have been on my radar, as well as a huge selection of books about the Columbia River Gorge and the Pacific Northwest. They also featured a number of local authors. Staff picks clung to books all over the shop, beautifully hand-written tags with on-point reviews. There was even a small used section in the back. I wandered and wove through isles and piles of books and gifts. It appeared to be delivery day, as both booksellers were quite busy unboxing. Oh, the envy! Oh, that I was a bookseller… someday!
I left Waucoma with two purchases: The Plover by Brian Doyle (one I recently added to my “to-read” list), and Locally Laid by Lucie B. Amundsen (really well-written staff pick on this book on raising chickens, or, more accurately, eggs). I am, among other wanna-be professions in my life, a wanna-be backyard-chicken-raising queen. That, however is for another post.
Just around the corner and across the street lies ArtiFacts Bookstore whose tagline reads, “Good Books & Bad Art.” Sure enough, right outside the front door is a bin of this “bad” art for sale – paintings for ten dollars. Inside, I found myself lost in books stacked and stuffed on every shelf, some new, some almost new, many used, and all mixed together. I could have spent days here. A local patron popped in with a bag of books for trade while I meandered and picked up a few books I couldn’t apparently live without.
Mental note: Must trade in some books and find out this store’s trade-in policy, for bookstore science, of course.
As I was checking out, I noticed that the customer had traded in a book by the same author as one I was buying. When she heard the clerk commenting on it, she rushed over, exclaiming, “Oh! I didn’t mean to trade that one! I need to keep it!” She quickly plucked it from the pile and wandered back off. I am so familiar with that pain. I have books that are older than I am, and I can’t bear to part with any of them. This is probably why I can’t trade them away.
Finally exiting ArtiFacts, I had the following books in tow: A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer (I can’t tell you why, I just want to read it); Life of Pi by Yann Martel (because my friend Sophie recommended it, and I always read what Sophie tells me – and no, I haven’t seen the movie); and three books recommended by my favorite bookseller-ish podcast, Drunk Booksellers (Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell).
My last stop was The Book Peddler in White Salmon, Washington (no website). I was running really short on time, I had about 20 minutes before I had to be at the Italy meeting, so it turned into a bit of a shopping spree. This shop, although tiny, packed so much good lit into such a small space! I loved the literal floor-to-ceiling (I’m estimating 10-foot ceilings here) shelves crammed full of books. New and like-new co-mingled with used, although here I found more new than used. All five of the beautiful specimens of bibliophile entrapment were already on my “to-read” list, and now in hand. I picked up Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Dark Witch by Nora Roberts, Unbowed by Wangari Maathai, The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove, and Thunderstruck by Erik Larson.
To finish my tour of Columbia River Gorge bookstores, I have only to visit Klindts in The Dalles, Oregon.
So, yeah, I have a problem.
I think I may have a second problem.
This entry is way too long!