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Bookstores.

Some of the most magical places in the world for people (like me) who love books and treasure hunting.

While the big box bookstores (few and far between as they are now) are okay, they just can’t hold a candle to the little used bookstores. And really, it’s not a good idea to hold a candle IN a little used bookstore. Especially not the one I found last weekend.

Abbs Volume I in Littleton ( 6905 S. Broadway) is just the kind of bookstore that you dream of finding. It’s very unprepossessing on the outside – two rocking chairs by the front door in a strip mall. But on the inside, it looks like this:

Fabulous used bookshop

And this:

Used bookshop Apps Volume I

And this:

Apps Volume I bookstore

And this:

Used bookstore - Apps Volume I

It took up two buildings, and I totally got lost in it. When MKL came in to meet me, he had to look for five minutes to find me, and finally had to ask the woman at the desk if there was a woman in there somewhere. He found me buried in the stacks, with ten books in my arms and a blissful  smile of joy in my eyes. I was so excited!

Finding a great used bookstore is like finding a treasure chest. A treasure chest that is so deep you could spend a whole day digging through it and only have scratched the surface.

Insert sigh of pleasure here.

As you can see from the images above, it was a little hard to see all the titles because things were stacked so high from the floor up. But it was very well organized by category, and that was nice. While paperbacks were only $2 each, and that is the bulk of their inventory, they also had a large selection of older books, some rare, some not so rare, but all somewhat overpriced. Still, when you find an old copy of a book you’ve wanted to read for years, you sometimes splurge a bit.

Old edition of Life With Father

We tried to hit one other bookshop that I spent ten minutes in about 14 years ago and have always remembered and yearned for but had no clue where it was. We found it next to the Gothic Theater a few months ago, and I was super excited! But unfortunately, it wasn’t open when we stopped by. It strikes me as the sort of place that is only open when the quirky proprietor gentleman is in the mood to tolerate other people.

So, I still have that weird garden of delights awaiting me. Yea!

Kelsea and I always like finding cool bookstores on our travels. We adored Powell’s in Portland. We were passionate about Hay-on-Wye in Wales, which I know I’ve mentioned before. And we found ourselves in some waaaay seedy neighborhoods in San Francisco where bookstores were supposed to be, but weren’t. Next time we travel and make a cool bookshop find, we’ll share it with you.

I used to follow a blog by someone who was going to visit and blog about all the bookshops in London. I think she let it fall by the wayside, because I can’t find it anymore (TBM, are you up for a new challenge?). Perhaps I’ll try to do a similar thing in Denver. I like that idea!

Happiness is burying yourself in a book in a big cozy chair on a chilly winter night.

I have talked a lot about my love of books.  I’ve grown up with them.  I keep them.  I treasure them.  They’re like my favorite food.  Bookstores are the refuge of my soul, my best escape short of an island.  The cottage has shelves and shelves of books, mostly unread.  They sit there, patient little souls, waiting for their own moment in the sun.

A corner of the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Colorado

I choose my books carefully.  There are so very many that I would love to read.  If only I could find a job that paid me wagonloads of money to read the books of my choice.  As it is, I suppose I will have to wait for heaven, which, I am sure, is filled with books and puppies and beaches and horses and ….well, a few other wonderful things.

Dutch, Puglet and Dice: this image is from one of my favorite blogs The Daily Puglet. Its author is a fantastic pet photographer whose work can be seen (and whose services can be requested) at http://frolicphoto.com.

The book I’m reading now is the second in a series of historical mystery/adventures by William Dietrich.  I adored the first one.  It was one of those books you stay up too late reading, and fall asleep with the lights on, the book still poised in your hand.  The kind you can’t wait to finish, but hate for it to end.  Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for the next book.  I can still remember when I found it in the grocery store when it came out – I practically shrieked with delight.  I shook Kelsea.  I hugged it to my bosom.  I had to finish the book I was reading before I could start it. 

Epilogue Book Company in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

And that last statement hints at The Reading Dilemma.

Sign in the Epilogue Book Company

I did finish the book I was reading at the time.  And I was delighted to start my new prize.  I got about 20 pages into it…and I was bored. Bored, bored, bored.  I couldn’t believe it, after all that anticipation.  It just wasn’t grabbing me.  I set it aside with the thought that I would take it on vacation  —  maybe I just wasn’t in the proper headspace to enjoy it.  But vacation time came and went and I took along slightly skinnier, lighter fare.

Black Cat Book Shop, Manitou Springs, Colorado

Well, I finally picked it up again a couple of weeks ago.  I started it.  And it still isn’t holding me.  But now, I’m determined.  I’m going to finish it if it kills me.  And that’s the Dilemma.  I absolutely WILL NOT give up on a book once I’ve started it.  No matter how bad it is, how boring it is, how confusing it is.  So here I am, not really enjoying the book, just trying to get through it.  It’s become work, not passion. 

The Bookworm, Boulder, Colorado

I don’t know why I don’t give myself permission not to finish a book I don’t like.  Who do I think I am failing, betraying or otherwise letting down by doing so?  I mean, no one would know about it but me.  Perhaps it’s a tint of my stubborn streak.  Or perhaps it’s a shadow of my feeling that everyone and everything has something good, worthwhile and valuable within it.  Which is why I don’t give up on jobs or relationships even when they might not be the best things for me.

Interesting to think that my attitude towards books is just a reflection of my attitude towards life – and love.

When my lips part for cool green tea, my nose is enveloped in the scent of jasmine.  At first, I can’t tell where it’s coming from.  It wasn’t as strong until the tea had mellowed, the ice melting into the green.  Then, it becomes a transporting walk down a garden path with each sip.

I smell the jasmine in my throat, on the back of my tongue.  The white tulips glow.  The peach tulips glow.  The long-haired, straw-hatted, barefoot ukulele player strums Hawaii into a sunny Colorado afternoon.  He plays for the earth, not for change.

The man at the next table inquires about my book.  He compliments my smile, and spends five minutes trying to sell me on his esoteric spiritual path.  But he uses too many words.  He cannot convey his point because he cannot find the stillness within himself that true spiritual peace requires and rewards.  Every technique has failed him in his search for stillness.  I listen.  For five minutes only.

Tea finished, more books beckon.  Books are always beckoning to me, sirens on shelves, thousands of them.  I explore unchartered volumes with a small smile, finding myself drawn to writers who sound like me.  Is that wrong?  I have no idea. 

My serenity attacts another admirer.  We share coincidental memories of another bookshop, aptly named The Intimate, in a town thousands of miles from here.

I find myself with a joyful longing for a faraway love. 

It has been a luscious afternoon.

June 2021
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