Life is filled with events and situations that create perfect memories that if you are lucky enough you have the opportunity to experience more than once. Some of the memories created may be very simple ones like a meal at your favorite restaurant that is perfect every visit, revisiting your special vacation spot every year, the Starbuck’s location that always makes your cup of coffee perfectly, the first Jeep ride of the summer with the top down, the first bicycle ride and cup of coffee on the deck in the spring, or very special memories created over thirty years of visiting bookstores with my best friend, my mother, on Sunday mornings.
Over the years the bookstores we visited and the type of books we were looking for may have changed, but the enjoyment we shared during those Sunday morning trips to bookstores never changed. Back in the old days (now that I am middle-aged I love to use that phrase) we did not have the luxury of buying books instantly at home on a Kindle, iPad or Nook. Each week we would read the best-seller lists, the New York Times Book Review and magazine recommendations and make a list of what books we needed to look for on Sunday morning. The first priority when arriving at the bookstore was making sure I had my Sunday newspaper, the New York Times, and my mother had her newspaper, the Washington Post. Once that was taken care of, it was time to browse the bookstore. A wonderful feature about bookstores is that you may arrive at the store with a book title you are looking for, but it is almost guaranteed that by the time you leave the store other books you were not looking for will somehow have found you.
We would spend a wonderful morning browsing in all of our favorite areas, the history and biography section, new fiction and new mysteries, cookbooks, travel essays, magazines and over the years with our changing interests we spent time in almost all of the sections in the bookstore. Every bookstore would speak to us in different manners as we browsed the selections. Browsing the new releases table a wonderful new biography would stop my mother, on the bestseller shelf a new detective series would reach out to me for further exploration, and walking by the new arrivals table a fascinating book cover would make its presence felt and would become one of those books that made a great impact on my life.
My mother and I had our favorite bookstores, but that did not stop us from visiting new bookstores and we discovered that all of the them, even the chain bookstores, would have different personalities based on where they were located and their booksellers. We discovered bookstores located near universities often had the most interesting selection of books with booksellers knowledgable enough to teach college courses. Another wonderful discovery was finding other kindred souls in the booksellers who were excited to share their love of the author you were purchasing and share a recommendation of someone new you might find interesting. Before leaving the store we already had a few books to add to the list for our next Sunday morning adventure.
Often these trips would lead us off into new directions of interests and require us to visit some very interesting used bookstores. Today if you read about an out of print book of interest, you can look on the internet and usually find a copy for sale through some source. Back in the old days, we loved the opportunity to visit several used bookstores in the hope of discovering a great book on Irish history, British history, early books of a detective series we just discovered, adding to my mother’s collection of letter books or some new treasure waiting to be discovered.
Every part of our Sunday morning adventures to the bookstores provided a simple enjoyment, beginning with listening to our favorite music as we drove, talking and laughing along the way, browsing and talking about our latest discoveries and the wonderful anticipation of reading and sharing the books throughout the week until the next adventure. Times have changed and now we have become a part of a new society that shares digital versions of books, but the bookstore bond that we have shared created homes filled with books from our adventures, the preference of holding an actual book in our hand while reading, a love of bookstores that can never be replaced by modern technology and the never-ending journey we continue to share of finding the next great book to read on a perfect Sunday morning trip to the bookstore.