Simple Joys, or Why I Go to The Strand So Much

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?

See Any Good Books Lately?

So, apparently this movie Precious is out right now. It’s based on the book Push by Sapphire, and since it has gotten the Queen Oprah seal of approval, it was spared the fate of being labeled “the best indie movie you haven’t seen.” I know I should want to see this movie and the million people I know who have seen it/will see it will tell me, “Oh you must! It was so moving and powerful,” but basically I’d rather read the book.

Which brings me to my topic of the day: movie tie-in covers. I don’t know about you, but movie tie-in covers actually put me off from buying the books. I’ve been denying myself Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels because it seems the original paperback cover of Dead After Dark only exists in True Blood form now. It’s been over a year that I’ve been searching for the REAL cover, so I think I might just have to swallow my pride on this one. (Especially since there’s that boxed set out now that STILL, unfortunately, includes the True Blood cover…. arrrrgh!)

But I digress.

Other books-to-films coming soon to theaters near you are New Moon and The Road, both books of which have tie-ins (obviously). I can’t imagine a disheveled Viggo intriguing more people to buy The Road, but, as much as I hate to admit it, I can see the value in putting the public faces of Edward and Bella on the covers of the Twilight series. The non-tie-in covers seemed to do just fine without them, but now that Robert Pattinson has reached Beatlemania status among tweens with disposable income, why not sell a few more copies of books they already own? Still, I don’t remember seeing Daniel Radcliffe’s face on a certain YA fantasy series, and I think those books did OK.

What are your thoughts on tie-ins? Does anyone even care about them as much as I do? To me, they seem impure, or as another example of how people don’t actually read anymore and that they need Hollywood in order to get noticed.

I will admit to this though: I found a very old copy of Rosemary’s Baby at a flea market a couple years ago and it had the little “Now a Major Motion Picture” stamp on it and I thought it was cool. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe I can stand Hollywood’s infiltration as long as no actors grace my books with their presence… and about forty years have passed.