I love bookstores and libraries. To me, the central reading room of a great library is like the nave of a cathedral (icon is Long Room at the library of Trinity College, Dublin). The problem for me is that I get brain-lock. I want to buy everything
, but since I can't, I'm almost afraid to buy anything. What if it isn't the best choice? Actually, these days I find myself going more mid-brow, both at bookstores and libraries. I confess I hadn't even been visiting libraries much past 2-3 years, partly because so busy (dang kids, they interfere with my reading and my drinking!), and partly because the library nearest us isn't very good. We recently inscribed ourselves in the library where we'll be moving, which is much better, but still rather disappointed in 2 of the last 3 books I borrowed from there.
What triggered going to a bookstore was finding my stash of "lucky money." Vietnamese New Year tradition, the elders give everyone else a coin or small bill in a red envelope to bring luck and prosperity in the new year. I always felt that I should use it for something special, and put it away in a drawer - several years' worth when I came across it recently. Still not a huge sum, but enough to actually buy something. I metaphorically scratched my head, and decided a book was the ideal item.
I had a dental appointment, and I knew there was a bookstore nearby, so planned to stop there on the way home. Going into the store, I hit the brain-lock, and realized part of that was insufficient caffeine. Fortunately they had a coffee shop attached. Unfortunately it was a certain Seattle-based major chain, but
drug addicts in withdrawal
beggars can't be choosers. I ordered a cappuccino, and the counter clerk (I refuse to call them "barristas" - get real people) asked me something incomprehensible. After the 3rd repeat, I realized he was asking, "Name for your cup?" which still didn't make any sense to me. I've named my children (some silly legal requirement here). I used to name my computers, but got over that. Hedgehogs have names, of course, and they chomp your nose if you don't remember them. But I didn't see why I needed to name a coffee cup, especially a disposable one. Eventually he managed to communicate that he was asking my name, which he would then write on the cup, so they could call me out the huge crowd of… well, actually, I was the only person ordering coffee just then, but I suppose SOP.
Caffeine finally perking thru my system, I spent some lovely time browsing, and eventually settled on 2 books (more than my lucky money covered, but I had some standard money on me also). One was about Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan, written by a reporter who had been embedded with a unit, and one was a popular science book on astrophysics. (Only downside is that it was written by Neil DeGrass Tyson, who although is an eminent scientist, and very good at popular explanations of science, also lead the evil movement that down-graded Pluto from a
planet.) Looking forward to reading them, as soon as finish the last book I'd borrowed from the library, which is about expeditions to find the remains of the Franklin Expedition (for the non-Canadians/non-Artic history buffs in the crowd: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin%27s_lost_expedition
) I'm a firm believer that if you have books and coffee, the world can't be too bad.