the joys of brick and mortar…

The day that the last Barnes & Noble book store closes will be a sad, sad day. I pray that this day never comes, but with the closing of Borders and other stores, it could possibly be in our future. Don’t get me wrong, I love small bookstores, antique book stores, and used book stores. If they sell books, then they have my love, pretty much guaranteed. But there’s nothing like getting a coffee and wandering through a huge store full of NEW books. I love the smell, the variety of subject matter, the array of color, and even the sections full of journals, games, music, and stationery. It just makes me happy!

Of course, this is coming from the owner of a Kindle Fire, and now that I own one, I don’t think I’ll ever be without one. But I see it as an addition to owning books, full of all the gimmicks you’d get on an iPad (apps for FB, e-mail, Angry Birds, etc.), but without the necessity of going over to the iEverything crowd. I shop on Amazon, download music from them, and (in general), dislike the layout of iTunes. So, the Kindle Fire fits my needs, and I can satisfy some of my book buying urges by downloading endless amounts of free books.

When I drove my brother to the airport, my plan for the evening was to visit the Barnes & Noble. I hadn’t been in a while, and I needed my actual-paper-book and coffee fix. And even when you aren’t treating yourself to Starbucks mochas and lattes, you can get a regular coffee, and add enough nutmeg and cinnamon to make it seem special. So, I nursed my wonderful cup of coffee, and began to peruse the merchandise.

You’ve probably heard this before, but yes, I always start at the front, making my way through the new stuff and the bestsellers, looking to see if I’ve missed anything, when looking online. Then, I steadily progress past all the wooden tables on the center aisle, stopping to look at items of interest, chuckling over stuffed Spiderman dolls that are offered with all the movie gear, and feeling sorry for some of the school kids, when I see the school reading table.

I hated everything they ever made us read in school, but I noticed that some Tolkien and other books of interest were included in the collection… which made me wonder which awesome school let you read The Lord of the Rings for English Literature. Then again, if they follow the normal rules of English classes, is it possible to make a class HATE Tolkien, because they generally succeed in making kids hate everything else that they study? I still shudder at the sight of Lord of the Flies, Jacob Have I Loved, 1984, and The Call of the Wild. I always have a slight feeling that I shouldn’t hate a book that won a Newbery Medal, but 8th or 9th grade ruined Jacob Have I Loved for me. And with Jack London being a classic American author, and considering I like the movie White Fang, I have an idea that I should give his books another chance. But I never do, because with all the other things to read out there, why would you go back to something you absolutely abhorred?

Since I find the Paranormal Romance section to be a laugh, I skirted the Young Adult Fiction, this time around, figuring that I’d give it a better look some other time. I know there’s some good stuff buried in there somewhere, but at the moment, it’s hidden by all the vampires, werewolves, mermaids, demons, and I don’t remember what else.

Instead, I started in the Politics & Current Events shelves, found that they had nothing I hadn’t seen (or wasn’t reading already). Having just finished Jonah Goldberg’s newest book, I’ve continued on to Jason Mattera’s Hollywood Hypocrites, with plans to finally read Goldberg’s previous book, Liberal Fascism, sometime soon. And if you’re waiting for me to commentate on these books, you’ll have to be patient. I like to write up several books at once, so aside from telling you that I loved The Tyranny of Clichés, you can just continue to be patient.

I really wanted to look at Military History, until I got stumped by it. You see, my recent reading of Rilla of Ingleside gave me an extreme interest in World War I history, but the bulk of military history books are about World War II. Nothing wrong with that, and a book store will sell what is most popular. But I found myself glaring at HALF of one shelf, with the only WWI histories they carried. Which book on the Great War would I pick?

Then, I cheated. Sort of. Yes, I was in Barnes & Noble, but I had my Kindle with me, so I turned it on, and went to the B&N website. It still wasn’t finding what I wanted, so I committed the cardinal sin of looking up what I wanted on Amazon. While in a Barnes & Noble. I know, you’re shocked. But I finally started getting some reviews on the handful of books I was staring at. The World Crisis: 1911-1918, by Winston Churchill, i supposed to be a phenomenal history, but not recommended for first time readers of the subject. Likewise with the other 4-5 general histories they had. It’s been suggested that A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918, is the place to start. Of course, you can’t look up WWI without coming across Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Guns of August. So, there’s much to take in, and too much can be overwhelming.

I decided to settle for less than a history, for now. But if you’ve ever read Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels, to get a good view of the battle of Gettysburg, then you may see why I picked up Jeff Shaara’s To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War. You may find my interest in this subject to be odd, but as terrible as World War II was, the people that went into The Great War had no recent memories of what war was even like. The Civil War was only a memory to the elderly of that time, and the young people of Canada and America looked at this fighting across the ocean to be a place to find glory. It wasn’t right up in their face, like during the Civil War. But in World War II, the fighters of The Great War watched their children go to fight, and some of those children may have known (from their fathers) that war was not glorious.

Anyway… my meanderings brought me to Christian Fiction, where I picked up a new one of the A.D. Chronicles, by Bodie & Brock Thoene. I don’t read all of their books, but I really love this closer look into what it was like during the time of Christ. Some of the most well-known stories in the Bible get a second look, seeing what it might have been like to really see Christ and walk with Him.

Into the Children’s books, and after I managed to get past all the books about Brave, I was pleased by the huge selection that B&N carried. There’s a huge display of beautifully illustrated books, but I was captured by some of the ones that I read as a child. Nothing can beat Blueberries for Sal, Corduroy, and The Little Engine That Could (with the original illustrations). As I turned the pages of these books, I remembered what it was like to be a child, entranced by the pictures, while my mom read me the story. My memories of some of the words are more vague, but even when I was too young to read, I would look at the pictures endlessly. Watching the dolls and toys on the train, as they begged the passing train engines to help them get over the hill. Following Corduroy as he wandered around that dark mall, searching for another button for his overalls. These pictures are imprinted in my mind!

Amongst the books for older children, I continued to resist the newest book by Trenton Lee Stewart, because I want to get The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict after it comes to paperback. Something about the cover of The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall, caught my attention. I think it’s a recent publication, but it reminded me of older books like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and others. Would it be as classic as those, or did it just look that way? The Water Seeker, by Kimberly Willis Holt, also looked to be a good read, as it follows the story of a boy, gifted with the ability to find water, on his journey across The Oregon Trail.

I wanted to find the sequel to The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood, but I couldn’t find even the first one. You may wonder why I don’t just pick these up on Kindle, but I don’t WANT to own everything on Kindle, now that I’m back in the U.S., and don’t need to save space. It’s more satisfying to turn pages and be able to see where the bookmark is, no matter how handy reading e-books might be. Besides, I have the first book in paperback, and I want a matched set.

While in the mystery section, which I don’t usually pay any attention to, I was looking to see if there were any new Georgette Heyers. That’s really the only reason I go into the Romance or Mystery sections, because just the covers of the romances make me feel slightly dirty when I come out again. Besides, someone might SEE me in there!  : )   But they didn’t have any new Heyers, so I stopped to examine some books by Tasha Alexander and P. J. Alderman.

Haunting Jordan (Alderman) seemed to have two mysteries, old and new, wrapped up in a tale of fixing up an old house that was home to some garrulous ghosts. I’m not usually into ghost stories, but just the term “garrulous ghosts” made me want to have a look. And I was curious about And Only to Deceive, from Alexander’s Lady Emily series. It seems to be tied up with an arranged marriage, a young widow, and the letters of her deceased husband, set in Victorian times. I think we’ll have to see if our local library carries any of these books.

Passing by the sales tables, on the way to the checkout, always leaves me with the desire to buy the brand new Calvin & Hobbes comic books. I want my own copies, but I also want to send a set to my Aussie girls. I can’t imagine growing up without the hilarity of Calvin & Hobbes, but they’re just not as popular over there. Using soft soap in public restrooms always reminds me of the one where Calvin tells his mom that he’s been saving up his boogers to donate, and then finds out that people don’t need them donated. Soft pump soap (as opposed to foaming soap) is slimy and gross, and I think that Calvin’s boogers may well have gone into the making of it.

And so, that finishes my book ramblings for the day. Now that I’ve finished reading Twelfth Prophecy, by Bodie & Brock Thoene, I have to figure out what else I want to read next. I’ll probably pick out another fiction story to rotate with Jason Mattera’s books. Enjoy your own summer readings, and let me know if there’s anything good that I need to look into!

3 thoughts on “the joys of brick and mortar…

    • I have read all of the Narnia books, many times, and I do have the first of the Space Trilogy on my Kindle, ready to read. Unfortunately, when I was a kid, we watched an animated version of Watership Down, and it scared the daylights out of all of us (parents included). My mom, brothers, and I have never been able to read it, since then. Have you seen the movie? However, I don’t have a problem with animal tales, I love the Redwall books and The Wind in the Willows. 🙂 I hope to read Out of the Silent Planet soon.

  1. Our 3 children are absolutely mad for Calvin & Hobbes; in fact, they’ve pulled our entire collection from the shelves (we have all of the separate books, and one day will own the 3-volume hardcover collection) (along with the hardcover collection of The Far Side) (and let us not forget the genius of Bloom County, in 4 volumes – but I will bet that BC was before your time) and I’ve been horrified to note that one of the books is beginning to shed it’s sheaves. But they were well worn and much loved before the kids discovered them, and they do love them so. They’re giving the 7-year old some amazing (bad!) ideas, and the 4-year old refers to himself as “Spaceman Spiff,” and we find much hilarity in expressively reading the comic panels aloud.

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