Ruth Ayres hosts a weekly celebration at her blog. I appreciate this invitation to reflect on the positives of my week.
I spent a couple of very happy hours at two different branches of The Tattered Cover in Denver this week. I can never decide if I love the Colfax or the Lodo location best, but luckily, I can have them both. (Lodo will probably always win because it opens at 6:30 a.m.! I LOVE book shopping at 7 in the morning.) I never really intend to buy anything, but you know how that goes, right? I always leave with a bag (or two) of books.
What I love about bookstores is the serendipity of discovery. When I’m shopping online–where I do the majority of my book shopping, and you would too if you lived in Western South Dakota, where books are scarce–I’m very intentional about my purchases. I visit a book shopping website with a list of titles to purchase. There is a lot of book love but very little serendipity.
At a bookstore, I never know what I might find. I browse sections that I never visit online–music, gardening, poetry, cooking, literary criticism. I find that I rarely purchase the types of books that I primarily purchase online–picture books, middle-grade, young adult. Instead, I’m drawn to the books that I ordinarily wouldn’t discover through online shopping or my PLN. I buy mostly nonfiction, and I have a particular fondness for books about books. And since The Tattered Cover stocks new and used books as well as bargain remainders, it a wonderful store for serendipitous shopping and unexpected discoveries.
Much as I love buying books, my favorite thing to do at a bookstore is read. I can’t even express the excitement I feel stepping into the children’s section at a big bookstore, knowing it’s filled with all the picture books I’ve been reading about in everyone’s Monday posts. Books my libraries will never purchase. Books my tiny local independent bookstore will never stock. Books I would never have a chance to see if it weren’t for bookstores.
Here’s my bookstore confession: although I purchase hundreds of picture books every year, I almost never buy a single one at a bookstore. I have an aversion to paying full price for picture books. Those online discounts are just too steep: for the savings on two picture books, I can get a third one free.
But two picture books just wouldn’t be left in the store. Kate Beaton’s goofy The Princess and the Pony and Troy Andrews and Bryan Collier’s incredible Trombone Shorty.
Sometimes I feel a little bit guilty about spending money on books when we cut corners elsewhere to be able to pay the bills. But books feel like necessities, and I’m thankful to Donalyn Miller for giving me a new way to position my book spending: I’m a patron of the arts. And this week, I celebrate that I got to patronize in person and support a great local independent bookstore at the same time.