Monday, March 15, 2010


Caffeine withdrawal. Argggh. Unrelenting pain. But I will carry on!

Right now I'm in Payson visiting my mom and I'm sorry to say it doesn't have much in the way of bookstores. There's a library, to be sure, and I think there are a couple of used bookstores with yellowing copies of old paperbacks crowding the shelves. They'll order anything new that you want. But there isn't a bookstore one can walk into and browse the new books for hours, smell the ink and caress the paper and smile at the soft crack of the binding. There isn't a chance to discover a new author on a display some publisher has paid for, no helpful associates hand selling this title or that, no opportunity to be surprised by something and pick it up on impulse. And so I don't think I could ever live here, though Payson has many other charms. We like going to bookstores too much as a family to give up that simple pleasure.

It's been pointed out to me that Wal-Mart sells books. But one cannot enjoy browsing in a Wal-Mart. Its cold fluorescent lighting kills all joy and discourages literacy somehow. Going to a bookstore is a tacit celebration of human achievement and lofty ideas; going to Wal-Mart is a tacit acceptance of the lowest possible standards and a willingness to take advantage of exploited labor.

I've never been to Portland, but if I ever make it I will set aside a day to explore Powell's. Since I've heard disturbing things about Amazon, I'm going to switch to Powell's for my online purchases—they seem to still be focused on books, in any case, whereas Amazon has bloated to the extent that books are only a portion of their business.

Right now I'm reading A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick and The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen. Neither was purchased at Wal-Mart—I'd be surprised if Wal-Mart carried them. The latter is a loan from a friend, but the former was picked up leisurely in a bookstore after an hour's pleasant meandering amongst the shelves.

Even though I have plenty to read right now and a book of my own to write, I'll doubtlessly return to the bookstore this week; it's just something that has to be done to affirm that I'm on vacation.


  1. T.S. Spivet was most definitely NOT purchased at Wal-Mart. It was on a lovely shelf labeled "Discover New Authors" at the local Barnes & Noble. :-) I bought it after my third time of being drawn to it and thinking "This could be really cool." (I resisted the temptation the first two times because I was in a money-saving mode that month, but when a book calls to you three times, you can't ignore the voices any longer.)

  2. I was directed here by Suvudu(credit where due) I live in Portland and can go to church- errr.. Powells regularly. Yes, a full day should about do it. Also watch their homepage for signed books at cover price.