Surrounded by books, that is my happy place: be they in a library, a commercial bookstore, my living room, or a used bookstore like this one in Dinky Town, Minneapolis. I decorate with books… and plants and lamps and prefer the smell of freshly brewed coffee to scented candles.
Back to books. Used bookstores have a special quality, though, because they tend toward organized chaos. Where else can I wander down aisles and gaze up at shelves of such pieces as … and walk out with a stack of books including …
My own stacks of books are organized like a used bookstore. Two years ago I Marie Kondo’ed my library and hauled 2500 pounds of books to Salvation Army. And I still have six bookcases full of books. I have been meaning to put them in some order for several years now (~23), but thus far have not.
My petroleum engineering books are in one section, and in another are my Apocrypha research books. Beyond that, a truly organic – think English garden – organizational system took root and I rather like it. Note: my books are not now, nor will they ever be, organized according to color. For shame.
Books– stacks, shelves, collections– do not just draw me in, they compel me. Growing up our local grocery store, Buttrey’s, had a book and magazine section toward the front of the store. If my mom lost track me after a while – grocery shopping then, as now, holds little interest for me – she could circle back up front and find me sitting cross-legged on the floor reading some less than intellectual piece. To this day I plop down in the middle of some book aisle to read, scan, flip, perfuse. Used bookstores are perfect for this undignified posture. Fellow patrons mostly do not judge.
I love little specialty bookstores like Canyon Booksellers. Upon realizing Spearfish had no bookstore, the proprietor of High Mountain Outfitters added on a closet-sized space and filled it with nature-related books. Hence, my purchase of Gretel Ehrlich’s The Solace of Open Spaces (Slim Books) and Kim Long’s Praire Dogs: A Wild Life Handbook (do not worry, my friends, you will soon see a post about my new favorite rodent). This diminutive bookstore consists of bookcases, a couple lamps, and wonderful reads.
And then there is Mitzi’s Bookstore in Rapid City. A beautifully crafted space where you pick up books and time slows down. Scyller to Mitzi’s bookseller, “I read about a children’s book based on a poem from a 9th-century monk and a cat may be involved.” The talented woman behind the desk found it for me and promptly ordered it. Nieces are a great excuse to read an entirely different genre of books.
And books, like friends, introduce us to more books. In August, my mom, sister and I had a girls’ weekend in Ft. Collins. Cooking stores are to my sister as bookstores are to me. To our mutual ecstasy “The Cupboard” stocked all things foodie and wordie! Despite my distaste for grocery stores, I devour cookbooks and food literature. With only 15 minutes until closing, Kendra and I dashed through the store with our baskets.
Years ago – before Julie and Julia – I read Julia Child’s, My Life in France and loved her life. At “The Cupboard” I purchased Provence, 1970, written by MFK Fisher’s grand-nephew, Luke Barr, about the Childs, Fisher, and Beard and the remarkable time they had during that year, in that place. A friend of Julia’s is a friend of mine.
Thus, from Barr’s book, I met my new friend, James Beard, and located a used copy of his book, Beard on Bread (Cultivate a New Hobby). And in my Happy Place, new friends, used books, hot coffee, all are welcome… as long as you do not organize your books by color.