Wednesday, September 06, 2006

book stores (and a quick rant about donald miller)

book stores give me happy tinglies. used book stores even more so. today robyn and i went for coffee at the wee cafe where her hubby works (thanks for the stellar latte, ry) and where mike soon will (i expect no less than stellar, mr laroy), and then googled 'used book stores north van.' the first one on our list had been mysteriously transformed into a gymwear shop, but it stood two blocks down from an un-used book shop (i forget which one) and so we browsed the orderly, straight-backed titles there (i am a bindings-breaker; my friend dennis is not. i discovered this upon returning a book to him, its spine rendered limber and readable by my unconscious bending, only to find that all of his other books lay flat when placed on their sides). i found 'plan b: further thoughts on faith,' anne lamott's sequel, of sorts, to 'travelling mercies.' may i just say this quickly: it is currently en vogue to like donald miller. he is current, slightly edgy, clearly loves Jesus, and has written a stack of books in the past few years. i don't like donald miller. for those of you who do, go on ahead, but when you flip over your copy of 'blue like jazz' and read where, on the back, christianity today likens him to 'anne lamott with testosterone,' replace that, in your mind, with 'donald miller has a similar style to anne lamott, but she's semi-olderish and has been doing it longer, so she's better at it, and she may swear just a teeny bit more, but she doesn't insult your intelligence by explaining every cultural reference she makes, and figures that if you don't know who charlie mccarthy or what sarcoptic mange is, you can look it up your damn self. and also, she is white lady with afro hair, and that's kinda rad.' i say this having only read 'blue like jazz,' and perhaps miller has matured in the three books he's written since then, and i have to admit that lamott's fiction really isn't uber-awesome, but her non-fiction is to die for. 'travelling mercies' is a must, 'operating instructions: a journal of my son's first year' would top my gift list if i knew any pregnant ladies who had wicked senses of humor and didn't mind the occasional f-bomb, and would whoever borrowed my copy of 'bird by bird' (alan, was that you?) kindly remind me that you borrowed it and then return it to me? (i swear i didn't lose it, jane, it's just that i love to lend out books, but i haven't developed a sign-out system.) there. whew! this has all been on my mind since i read blj in the summer of 2004. i am a free gal once again. what was i talking about? oh yes, bookstores. so, we finally found an honest-to-goodness used bookstore, which i greatly prefer. the books are not only cheaper, but they have been loved (robyn pointed out that the very nature of used book stores indicates that the books have been rejected and abandoned. i prefer to see them as an inheritance, passed down from book lover to book lover for a nominal fee). i am ecstatic when someone hands me their own personal copy of a treasured book, particularly if the book appears well-read and bears the scars of backpack travel, subconscious reading twitches, and the dog. a man at the shelter where my sister volunteers gave her this copy of 'stranger in a strange land' (which i insist you all go read right now. you can't borrow it from me, because it isn't mine. ask boo). truth be told, i was looking for a copy of this today. it's one of those books you'd like to own, because it's rich and deep and requires several re-readings to fully 'grok' it (you'll have to read the book). ANYway, the reason i started this post was to tell you about this bookstore we happened upon that almost gave me epilepsy...what was the name of that store, robbie? no matter, they'd likely sue me for libel anyways. you know that bin in zellers with the $.98 panties? they're all in a jumble from having been rummaged through, and you can only tell that they started out orderlyish because there's a higher concentration of mediums in the southwest corner. this store was like that, but with books. boxes upon boxes of unsorted books nearly blocked the entry. half of the shelves stood behind waist-high stacks of boxes, sealing the lower books into a mausoleum, of sorts. the boxes being bad enough, the books that were shelved were double-stacked. double-stacked! like i do with my geek-o fantasy novels that i'm too proud to hide in storage, but too ashamed to make it immediately obvious how very many of them i have. behind every row of books was another row of books, praying for the light. i'd say that of all the thousands of books present, maybe a quarter of them were readily visible. even those were in a loosely-arranged order. 'whattaya got there?' 'ummmmmm, i have what appears to be the M's' 'M's, eh? well, that makes no sense, because i'm noting a profusion of T's just here, but there seems to be a cluster of G's in between us.' it made me hyperventilate, a little.

it makes me happy, then, to be sitting cozily on my bed (read: mattress on the floor), flanked by my orderly, beloved, well-behaved bookshelves (plural!!!), having exacted a promise from my own dear joel that i will always have more bookshelf-room than books. my treasures will never meet this buried-in-a-tomb-built-of-their-own-kind fate. i'd give them away, first.

4 comments:

Michael said...

If you want your own copy, you can find extremely cheap ones on Amazon.com (read: under $2)! I highly recommend this resource when it comes to book shopping, though it's not quite as quaint or as human contact-friendly as is the used book store. Happy reading!

Jerami said...

donald miller has not recaptured the goodness he tapped in "blue like jazz". "searching for god knows what" was more angry and ranty than anything, and "through painted deserts" is clearly the work of a younger, less mature, and less interesting donald miller (it's a repackaged version of the book that rightly didn't sell very well, years before blue like jazz took off). i havent read 'to own a dragon'.

meanwhile, i also didn't like 'plan B' as much as 'travelling mercies' (one of only 2 books i own 2 copies of, one of which i have no idea who has) for similar reasons why i didn't like 'searching...'. angry and ranty. i was disappointed. :(

Nater said...

"To Own a Dragon" was along a similar vien to "Blue Like Jazz", except that his starting premise was fatherhood and its effects more so than random thoughts about God. It was interesting, but I am unsure as to whether it would be better for someone who could relate well to growing up without a dad. A few thoughts spoken in fresh ways, but nothing to jump off a bridge for.

Boo said...

I'd jump off a bridge for my "Adventures in English Literature" textbook, but then again - I'd jump off a bridge if a saw a toonie at the bottom of the assumed river.