bookstore wanderlust

Wear the old coat and buy the new book. -- Austin Phelps

I am at the very edges of my brain, and so this might not come out coherently, if it comes out at all. ... I have just spent two and a half hours wandering bookstores. I went there looking for nothing at all, and yet something very specific. I didn't know which books I needed to find, but what I wanted was this: to lose the self that I walked in with, and to come out being someone else.

I left home worn to a crisp and exhausted from impossible deadlines of my own making. My joy in my book and in book-writing and in all communication was slim. Withering, even.

Sometimes I need my faith in narratives restored. I need to see other tales being told, and being told well.

And sometimes, I need to buy a whopping stack of books.

So I went to shed this skin of cranky disillusioned alphabet-hating Me, and to walk out loving stories again. To remember how breathtaking a perfect sentence can be. To touch covers and tattered edges and crisp typefaces.

I talked to booksellers, I watched readers, I listened to their passionate opinions. Then came home with beautiful books and unusual books and perfect books. (And a lighter wallet.)

And now I just want to read. Let's close the blinds, take the phones off the hook, pull the Internet connections, and just read and read and read. Perhaps for a month. Maybe two.

... I'll need a year, actually. Because I fell for Julie Rose's translation of Les Miserables. (With a cover that exquisite, can you blame me?) It's over 1300 pages, but I want to be pulled into something enormous like that, something epic and broad, something that actually takes time, a lot of time.

I'm out of patience with everything that's quick and easily forgotten. (Don't get me started on text messaging.) I want dynasties and the sweep of history. Slow-rising bread and long-lasting afternoons. Conversations with pauses. And very, very long books.

And I want the time to hover over every sentence, to swallow every word, every comma, to savor one long book-symphony being played, this time, just for me.


  1. that sounds like me with movies. just give me that off the beaten path movie with a fantastic story that sucks you in for a couple hours and then releases you as a different person. i also feel the same way about my fiction of choice right now. when i have time to read, it's either a non-fiction piece to better myself in some way or the most captivating (for me) piece of literature i've ever encountered. douglas adams' hitchiker's guide to the galaxy series is a flowing symphony of perfectly placed words to generate the most enjoyable humor in a twist of unpredictability. i read it and the only word that comes to mind is "brilliant."

  2. Jenn, with the way you write a blog, I can only imagine the brilliance with which you tell stories. Renew, continue, and succeed. I'm sure you will!

  3. Shelley WestenbroekJune 8, 2009 at 7:47 PM

    I agree with what Amanda said about your blog -- if this is what happens when you are at the edges of your brain, I can't wait to read what you create with all of you.

    What other unusual, beautiful, and perfect books did you buy?

  4. Les Miserables, of course. And then:
    Obit, by Jim Sheeler

    The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly (unusual)

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Shaffer and Barrows (perfect--had to get my own copy!)

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Austen and Grahame-Smith (deeply unusual, but I couldn't resist)

    Apples for Jam, by Tessa Kiros (a cookbook so gorgeous I almost can't stand it)