The Guardian’s book blog has once again given me reason to pause and reflect. Last week they made me consider the most unreliable narrators in literary history (seriously, how was Tristram Shandey not on that list!?), but today they’ve caused me to marvel at the joy I get in life when I browse my favorite bookstore. I’m not ashamed to admit that I went to The Strand, one of my Top 5 NYC bookshops, three days in a row last week, and I managed to buy a book, either off their $1 rack or elsewhere, on all three days.
Part of the reason I love The Strand so much is because it’s incredibly convenient to get to in terms of both my home and my job. I also love that for an independent bookstore, it’s always crazy and hectic and all of the employees are unnecessarily surly. New York charm, I guess.
But other reasons why I spend so much time in bookstores boil down to simply: it is an escape (not unlike my coffeehouse escape). Much like reading a book itself, browsing an old-fashioned, tangible bookshop is nothing short of therapeutic. (OK, so last week, during a particularly stressful momentary freak-out, I bought a cute little dress at the Gap – on sale! – and called it “therapy,” but usually my impulse buys, stress buys, and happy buys are books!)
The Guardian article discusses another joy of browsing a store: judging a book by its cover. I don’t usually do this; I’m more of a title person myself, which is a prejudice that has yet to fail me so far. It’s how I discovered David Sedaris back in the day after spotting Me Talk Pretty One Day at a Barnes & Noble, and it’s how, more recently, I bought, without hesitation, There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya at another favorite NYC local shop, The Corner Bookstore. But on one of my recent Strand outings, I did pick up The Secret Life of Words based on the cover alone. (I mean, look at it! It’s so fun and about WORDS!)
The joys that come from entering a bookstore are endless, really. Being literally surrounded by books, the reassurance that stores that sell physical books are still needed, seeing others around you get excited over certain titles… and so on and so on.
So, I’ve shared some of my favorite local shops and favorite reasons for going to said shops… what (and where!) are yours?