Just got back from the used bookstore- the small joint on Fairmount, by the prison. Came away with four books. Could have been five, but there was nothing in Irish history that looked worth picking up.
It was another good haul from that two story, quiet, little shop. A gray cat wanders around the second floor, past the overstocked shelves of 1900 East Asian history and around the Psychology and Urban Studies section- a section filled with everything from Buzz Bissinger to the Department of Urban Culture at East Gish University. The cat doesn't smell- it just looks like it smells.
Last night, a night that was filled with a few are you kidding me chicanes, I decided that getting into a book was what was missing from my life right now. Over the past month or so I've tried a handful of books, none of which had garnered enough interest for me to get past the halfway point at best. The Immaculate Invasion was good, about Haiti, but after awhile, it lost it. It opened with the rumbling of drums during a city celebration and kept going back to the struggles of this particular band leader during the 1980's and early 90's, during the struggles and civil wars in Haiti. Those parts had me, but everything else seemed to keep weaving in the same circles and following the same patterns. With my life currently weaving in circles and following the same patterns, the book eventually lost it's allure.
I've been reading periodicals mostly- while sitting at our new dining room table.
Did you know a dude named Obama is President?
But now I have a few books lined up and I'm hoping that will start to steer the ship back on course. I tried cooking last night, but that didn't go so well, and now it's starting to thunder in Philly. Or maybe it's a plane?
There is something about used bookstores, though that are incredibly relaxing and at the right times, straight up therapeutic. They make sense. They don't push you or direct you in any sort of path. No. They're just there- maybe in what used to be some one's house or maybe in the old cat hospital or maybe just over there on the corner, by the coat factory. They're everywhere.
They're in Frisco and Denver. Cincy, San Diego. I even saw one in Detroit Rock City.
The one in the neighborhood here in Philly is especially soothing and I like to listen to funk or reggae when I'm in there. The old woman who runs the place just sits behind the counter, reading and smiling gently to everyone who comes in the door. I never know what I'm looking for when I got into one of those places. I steer away from fiction and breeze through various sections of history. I go through sections twice, sometimes three times.
Sometimes it's the cover.
Sometimes it's the title.
Or sometimes it's the author.
Shit sometimes it's none of the above.
But I always leave with at least three books. Anything less than that is almost a waste. The shelves don't even shift when you take a book out, they're so overloaded. There are piles stacked carelessly throughout the floor, mainly upstairs, and upstairs is where the good stuff is usually hiding out. There's various periods of American history and the unsmelly gray cat who one time lept up onto my lap as I was sitting in the rocking chair- out back by music and Middle Eastern history.
With headphones on, there isn't much else happening besides the shelves and shelves of books in front of you and sometimes, maybe on a day like today- a day with unseasonably warm temperatures and the threat of thunderstorms later on- is exactly what a person needs. There's nothing going down about the president or the economy or anything else that may be happening that may be bothering you.
They don't serve food, they don't serve beer.
They serve piece of mind, and sometimes that is just as important, if not more important, than anything else you could snatch up for seven bucks on a Saturday afternoon.