Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Salon: Vacation--Adventures in bookstores not my own

We're finally back from our annual summer holidays and while there are the usual crazy bits to report, that's another e-mail entirely. This year I didn't post about my ditherings over which books to take with me on vacation. I forestalled such problems by taking just about everything I could (and far more than I'd ever read in the allotted time period). And I didn't ask for advice on which books to impose on my ever good-natured book club members for the months of June, July, and August. This year's selections (The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore, Harvest by Catherine Landis, and Kartography by Kamila Shamsie) were mostly well received and I'll get to continue on as Supreme High Dictator and Life-long Book Chooser so that's good. No, instead, I traipsed off northward without soliciting a single bit of reading advice and then spent my weeks away wallowing happily in the books I had around me. But me being me, I couldn't exactly be entirely satisfied with only the 50 or so books with which I had weighted down the back end of the car. I had to make a few scouting expeditions to those rooms of unscoured (by me), unmined potential: local bookstores. And by scouting, I mean going with wallet in hand to support the local economy of this place I love so much and only see once a year. Luckily I also have my book loving kids to help me give the stores the biggest possible financial boost I can.

Safe Harbor Books (which does not look all cozily snow covered like this in the summer) is the little bookstore on the main drag in Cedarville, the town closest to our cottage. I used to spend hours in there talking to my friend K. who ran it but now that she's moved, I don't get in there nearly enough. This year though, my children plowed through and decimated their stock in years gone by's grand tradition. All three kids collected an entire series of books (the Warriors series, The Clique series, and Steve Hamilton's series) to cart back to the cottage and looking at their prodigious stacks, I was fairly restrained, picking up only The English Major by Jim Harrison and The Year of the Boat by Lawrence Cheek. I did feel we needed to leave while there were still books there for other people!

The Village Idiom is the local used bookstore in the next town over and I love the owners. Sadly they are planning on closing up shop so I won't be able to pop in and natter with them on the spur of the moment anymore. R. chose a book while she was there that I figured she wasn't really going to like but never one to say no to a book (unless it is about a licensed tv or movie character), I let her get it and will just add it to my own stacks now that I've turned out to be correct (not that there was ever any doubt). T. bought a few while there too.

And finally, on a day when we had to kill some time in Sault Ste. Marie, I stumbled upon Up North Books and did a fair bit of damage in a short amount of time. The fun thing about a used bookstore this close to the Canadian border is that it has the potential to carry books not generally available in the States. And I found some of these forbidden gems in the brief amount of time I pottered around the store. I collected Not That Kind of Girl by Catherine Alliott, The Secret of Us by Roxanne Henke, Janice Gentle Gets Sexy by Mavis Cheek, Wedding Season by Katie Fforde, Constance by Rosie Thomas, and Mackinac Rhapsody by S. B. Meier.

And no, I did not read a single one of these new purchases this summer, sticking solely to the books I had carted with me. But I fully intend to visit these bookstores again next summer (well, not The Village Idiom unless E. and G. decide to keep it open) and add a few more in. After all, I didn't get to the bookstore on Mackinac Island this year nor did I make it to Petoskey, which has a great bookstore I haven't visited in over a decade. New (and old) bookstores are not my very favorite thing about vacation but they sure are on the list!

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