Thursday, July 31, 2008

Used bookstores

I love used bookstores. I love that they are so down to earth and un-glitzy. I love that there are piles of books in corners and under chairs, that the attention is on the story line more than on the story line being in hard cover. I love that typically the people who work there have read most of what they are selling and offer running commentary on things I've chosen as they ring them up.

I love the inherent thrill of the treasure hunter, the sense of adventure in finding a book you're interested in reading. Anyone can just order something - it takes patience to find what you want in a bookstore that can never be considered completely organized or fully stocked.

I like the illusion of virtue in making a contribution to putting something back into the world. A book I buy there is not being wasted, is not sitting on a shelf somewhere, stagnant, cast aside. Its life is a kinetic journey that I'm a part of.

And, used books are such a steal. A used book in excellent condition is at the very least half the price of a nearly identical new one. I read a lot so it's good to find a cheaper way to finance my number one habit (OK, number two after making sure all doors are locked.)

I took a photo of the actual stack of books I found and bought during our last road trip (above). If you see something you like and can wait until I finish it, I’m happy to let you have it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Road Trip

I’m about to conclude my first road trip in years. I was yearning for a vacation that didn’t require standing barefoot in a crowded security line, so we decided it was time to see North California and Southern Oregon.

Road trips are my new thing.

First of all, you have a suitcase the size of…well, the trunk of your car. You are free to take with you all kinds of things you might not consider when traveling by plane (such as walking sticks, extra hiking shoes and more books than you could possibly read in a week.)

You also get to pack a big canvas tote just for the back seat. With maps, snacks, water bottles, flip flops and a tower of CD’s.

The trip becomes about the trip, not about getting there (in fact, if you never get there, that’s OK.) You can stop whenever you want. Drive for as long as you want. Listen to music you didn’t know you owned and talk to your favorite person without having to rush, summarize or even get to the point. (OK. Your favorite person might appreciate if you do some day get to the point – but it can take you several days.) You can sit in silence as you drive through the Avenue of the Giants (that would be Coastal Redwoods.)

You can explore rural America, buy fruit off fruit stands on the side of the road, spend oodles of time in used bookstores. You can walk up and down several Main Streets in a single day. If you want, in very hushed tones lest someone think you a show off, you can congratulate yourself on your incredibly good eye for really delicious places to eat.

You can make your trip as varied as you want, and in the same week visit several state parks (such as Humbolt), a Victorian Mansion (in Ferndale), a teeny coastal town (Trinidad). You can stay in a cabin in the middle of the woods in Port Ortford, hike in Cape Blanco, and then drive all the way to the jaw dropping, eye popping sight of Crater Lake (which really is as blue as the photo you see above). You can spend half a day in a restored Western town looking at jewelry made with old silverware (Jacksonville). Top it off by catching a play in Ashland, famous for it’s nine month Shakespeare Festival.

At the end of it all, of course, you’re equally free to bring back whatever you want, even if it’s heavy (such as petrified wood specimens, an Ammonite fossil and a bag of really good books you bought for three dollars each.)

Which leaves you with just one question: are we leaving yet?