Let it be well known that I am a lover of libraries (though quite frankly, Laramie County Library System has set the bar so high I sometimes always have a hard time when a library fails to meet my ginormous expectations) but oh, how I love bookstores, too. And while I love the iPad for many things, I do not love it for iBooks. I want my books to be tangible, to take up too much space, to bring color to every corner of my home.
The movers don't like me. I don't care.
I spent this past weekend in Austin, TX and had the opportunity to visit two great bookstores—actually, one was great and one was GREAT—and it got me thinking about the bookstores I've loved over the years. Starting with the most recent and then moving backwards in no particular order:
This place was huge. It clearly has figured out how to thrive in the digital age, because not only was it bustling on a Sunday evening but it has its own mini-magazine of book recommendations. I bought some stuff here. I didn't even complain when I had to carry my purchases 18 billion blocks (OK, maybe just 10 or so) because it was WORTH IT. Maddie is plotting how to get there for the Camp Halfblood camp they hold in the summer.
2. South Congress Books, Austin, TX | This is a quieter bookstore that knows how to fill its smaller shelf space with some wildly interesting selections, both new and used. I didn't buy anything here, mostly because I knew we were headed to Book People that same day. I do so love traveling with friends who put bookstores high on the itinerary.
3. Powell's, Portland, OR | Oh, Powell's. You are as glorious as one might imagine an entire city block of bookstore to be. Someday I will visit you not seven months pregnant and with a camera. I did manage to buy plenty of stuff here, to include The Heaviest Militaria Book Of All Time.
4. The Children's Hour, Salt Lake City, UT | OK, technically, this isn't just a bookstore—it has a large amount of space devoted to clothing, children's toys, stationery, and Very Interesting Gifts—but it's just so charming. And dangerous, for it carries so many children's books. Did I mention I love children's books?
5. City News, Cheyenne, WY | City News can't really compete with the bigger big-city-indie bookshops when it comes to book inventory, but it holds its own when it comes to magazine selection (amazing!). It was a place of great happiness over the course of seven years in Cheyenne.
6. The Second Story, Laramie, WY | The Second Story is located on the best shopping block in the state of Wyoming. It has a large main area with little rooms off it (the children's room being the largest). It creaks when you walk around, like you're upstairs in a very old building... which is exactly where you are. I worry about indie bookshops in small towns like Laramie but it seems to be doing OK. If you find yourself in Laramie please go spend money there, because the Dillows aren't there to help support them anymore.
7. Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C. | This bookstore boasts over 400 author visits a year, and it's where we went to hear Amy Krouse Rosenthal speak. Well, we including everybody under the sun except Maddie—me, Gracie, Bridget, Grandma, Grandpa, Jill, Laurel, Jonah, Mel, Mel's son (I think he was there)... there are a lot of things we did in D.C. that Maddie hasn't forgiven me for excluding her from in the name of school.
8. A Likely Story/Hooray For Books, Alexandria, VA | A Likely Story closed while we were in VA only to be quickly sold and reopened under a new name. It's a bookstore entirely devoted to children's books. They put small stickers on the books they sell, which I love because I like to remember where the books come from when we read them.
9. Tattered Cover, Denver, CO | The Tattered Cover is legendary in the west, and if I could live there I might consider it. I think the campers of Camp Dillow-Karahalis would consider it, too.
10. Bookmark It, Great Falls, MT (RIP) | It seems weird in this day and age that I can't really find a trace of this bookstore online, but its life span began and ended before the age of pictures and websites on the internet. Bookmark It was truly one of my favorite places in the world for the years it was open; I would regularly leave school on Friday afternoon and drive directly there to buy as much fiction as my hands could hold. It makes me sad that it closed, because it should have made it. It wasn't for lack of support on our part, that's for sure.
I'm looking forward to adding Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN to this list sometime in the next year when Angie and Wendy come visit me in Montgomery. We've got the beginnings of a marvelous road trip all planned out : )