Just out of a matinee showing of a popular but entirely forgettable movie, my teenage daughter and I stepped into a large bookstore next to the theater and bought iced coffee. We browsed the bookshelves for a while to pass the time until the others in our family, who were seeing another movie, came to meet us. We headed first for the cookbook section, where my daughter exclaimed over one book after another, each one more desirable than the next. Cookbooks tend to be large, heavy and expensive, so we didn’t linger too long. We were on vacation in Tacoma, WA visiting relatives, and anything we bought would have to fit into our suitcases for the flight home to California. With no aim in particular, we ended up in front of a shelf of books on writing. Immediately my daughter pulled on my arm, saying that if I started looking there I’d be there for hours. She knows me well. Shrugging her hand off of my arm, I followed her toward the teen books, most of which seem to have some relation to vampires, and then passed her and went in search of something interesting for myself. High on coffee by that time, I had a strong desire to find something exciting to read. But what exactly would I find exciting? I headed to the poetry books and found several possibilities. I ended up with a thin volume of Rilke that I carried around the store for a while, until I changed my mind after reading several poems and not finding the rush of adrenaline I craved. What is it I seek in books? Escape to another world? The chance to peer into the mind of a brilliant writer? The meaning of life? Why not? Simply put, I want a book that will make me gasp. Is that too much to ask? Finally, after I gave up on finding just the right book for my mood, I found my daughter browsing a display of bargain priced books near the front of the store. I glanced down and picked up a hard cover book by the Nobel winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk. I read the preface and suddenly had the urge to pull out a pencil and underline a passage. It was just the book I needed.

tucked under my arm
the way into another world
summer breeze


7 thoughts on “Books

  1. Just happened to look at your site and see this wonderful entry that expresses my treasure-hunting in a bookstore exactly.

    Happy reading and summer,

  2. Just before this e-mail I had finished reading the e-mail from my favorite book dealer with all the lists of books for children (each age group had it’s own page)to get a head start for required reading. I was hoping to find something that would spark my interest but the novels seemed to be the same emotional manipulations as usual (including ghosts and vampires) and the non fiction about topics so archaic as to lose their interest upon reading the title. Not one book of poetry listed. I for one would have found Rilke’s words “something to make me gasp” after reading the list. So I’ll wait and it won’t be long before I have a list of “must haves” that she can obtain for me. Sort of makes me wonder if perhaps I may have become “so archaic” I no longer fit in this world’s “required reading.”

    • Thank you, Elizabeth and Merrill, for your comments. I got an email today from one of my favorite local bookstores (Bay Books in Concord)saying they are closing. The pleasure of browsing the shelves for that unexpected treasure will require a longer drive now. Some of my favorite books have come into my hands by happening upon them in a bookstore. Online shopping just doesn’t do it for me. Sigh.

  3. You have spoken my own mind with this post, Susan. Choosing a book is like choosing what to cook for dinner. What do I long for? What flavor am I craving? Sometimes I want a big piece of beef, sometimes a perfect plate of salad, sometimes a wedge if chocolate cake and nothing else. Maybe your daughter had good instincts when she headed for the cookbooks.

    It was such a nice surprise to see you today at Trader Joe’s. It’s a friendly little store, but I’ve never actually met a friend there before.

    • Thanks for your comments Staci. It was great to see you today. I continue to recommend your book to friends. Let’s get together for lunch again soon!

  4. Susan, July 1st is your last post?! I need a hit of Antolin prose, so please get going.

    Yes, lunch soon. I must call you. I’m just back in town after too many family crises, mental and physical, developing all at once. One crisis ended in my mom’s death on 9/06. She had been ill for years, and we all expected this, but oh I miss her. You can never prepare yourself for the loss of a parent. Fortunately, all us kids were with her. I cherish that.

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