Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Borders Bookstore, I Love You, Even Though You Make Me Hyperventilate


I have panic attacks at Borders. Since Dakota was born, I have been taking him to this Borders, located in San Diego CA on a certain corner of a certain shopping center, next to Petco, where for years I spent hours every week perusing fish and reptiles with Dakota. Dakota's first 'group' was at Borders, the story time for toddlers where at 21 years old I sat, worried that my son wouldn't 'behave' and the other mothers would look at me with scorn and think ' Young and stupid, no idea what she's doing. ' But he behaved. And we loved it. Every week, sometimes more than once, we would go to Borders, stopping first at the coffee counter for Mommy's coffee with cream and Splenda, picking up a few magazines and books for Mommy and then heading back to the Children's Section. Magical Children's Section, where I prided ( and pride ) myself on being a Mother who makes her children pick up after themselves, and not leave piles of stuffed animals and books across the floor for an employee to sort through, shelve. ( Those Children Section employees must be some of the most disillusioned and frustrated employees, ever, by the warning glances they give out, before we've even sat down. )

I would read my magazines and books, drink my coffee, and then it was Dakota's turn. I sat and read Captain Underpants, Pokemon, Transformers, Dragons and Wizards, Pirates, children's poetry, The Ant Bully, The Jolly Pocket Postman, Courderoy and every other book Dakota desired to hear.

After Lola was born, I would drop Dakota off at school and head over to Borders with Lola firmly tucked into the Baby Bjorn. Weekends, Dakota Ian and Lola would come with Mr. Curry and I and drink and read, read read. The boys went through a huge animae stage and comic style books took over, until it evened out again and Ian's interests turned toward science fiction and biography, and Dakota's toward how-to instruction and older comic.

At some point, I leave the kids with Mr. Curry and head toward the novel section. And it begins.

I look at the high filed bookcases stacked neatly with straight-backed novels, hardcover and soft, bright and shining, clean and newly printed. Rows and rows of novels spread out before me, names I adore but have not read every work like Joyce Carol Oates, John Irving, Duras, zadie Smith, Philip Roth, Tim O'Brien and authors I have read about but not read the work, like John Cheever (so excited to begin his works!) Camus, Proust. Then the biographies- I adore biographies- some of my favorite books like zelda and Savage Beauty and Unquiet Mind next to curiosities like Them and The Mitford Sisters. Then there are the lighter reads I could consume in a few hours, books that are good reads but lighter fare, like The Big House, Monsters of Templeton, Disquiet. So. Many. Books.

I begin to pull out books. I've always wanted to read John Adams, recommended by my mom, but am I in the mood? Add it to the stack. Oh there is the old John Irving I've never read, maybe I'm in the mood? Add it. Here is a Hemingway I never read, and I want to read all his work, should read this, add it. What about Barbara Kingsolver? I liked her book in Africa..what was the name..I'll add one of hers... Here's an old work of poet Sharon Olds, I know I'd love it, add it.

Soon I have ten books cradled in my arms against my breasts, up to my chin. I sit down. A small sweat prickles my brow. I promised Mr. Curry I would only spend 20$. I cannot buy more than two small books or one large for that amount. I look at my ten novels. I know I need to stop adding books. But they tower around me so beautifully!!! Look at the covers. I open a book and smell the thick paper. It smells so wonderful, I wonder why they don't make an air freshener called New Novel. The black stamped fonts stand out so crisp and fresh. The hardback covers are so satisfyingly tangible, so gorgeous in the thick weighted colors. The soft covers are beautifully illustrated. I love used books stores, but for very different reasons, and cannot get from them what I get from a store like Borders, with it's sweeping towering bookshelves full of brand new books.

I take the top book from the pile, open and speed read the first chapter. I do this for each book.
I am a true speed reader, and this takes only a short time. As I hold the last book in my hand, which I have sped read the last chapter as well ( a terrible habit ) I look up to see my entire family standing together. The three children hold books and push each other, make jokes. Mr. Curry is raising his eyebrows. ' Are you ready? ' he asks. ' Already? ' I reply. ' It's been an hour and half, Maggie! '

Oh.

My heart is racing. I look at my stacks of books and pull the one book I think I have decided to buy. But they also have a limited edition hard backed Pride and Prejudice which is so pretty! But no. I own two PandP already. Take the one I will read. I feel a bit like crying. Mr. Curry moves away and gestures at me encouragingly. ' C'mon...let's go...' he says nicely. He knows how I am. I hold the book closely. I look upward at all the books I cannot take, the illustrated guides to birds that I love, the home decor bohemian style, the book on Women's Health I hadn't even opened yet, the novels and classics I must read! I want to take at least three more!

I move toward the cash register and look down at the book in my hands. I must focus on this one novel.

Read it like it's burning!

or

Read it like you have all the time in the world!
Both.
mosey along said...

The smell of books, the satisfying crackle of the spine the first time it is opened.... ahhhhh.

I own hundreds of books already, and thank my lucky stars for our amazing local library (and its' childrens programs) for the fact that I don't own hundreds more...

Lola Sharp said...

I feel the same way and could have written the exact same essay...except switch it to B&N, and add the dreamy, yummy scents of starbucks and baking goodies.
Though I'm lucky enough that I can bdget anise amount per week for my weekly B&N outing, it still isn't enough. Worse, there just isn't enough time to read all the pretty, pretty books.

Awesome post, Maggie. I love the book love, always.

CitricSugar said...

I have a hard time in bookstores, too. It is an almost guarantee that my budget will be on life-support by the time I leave it. I could stay in them for hours. And hours. And hours. So many words, ideas, nuggets of communication and education.... Swoon!

Annje said...

I have only really felt that way about a bookstore in Portland, OR (that you should make a pilgrimage to)--Powell's. It is a combo of new and used--it is enormous and awe-insipiring. I like used books more myself, it's like they come with a story of their own. Maybe you could go to Borders for the new book rush and then go get copies at a used store ;-)

on an aside, Sharon Olds is my favorite poet, hand down. I went to a reading of hers a lifetime ago. She has a poem about her parents, I can't remember the name (it is in a book I lent to a friend and never got back-The Gold Cell maybe?), where she goes back to where they meet and she wants to stop them from doing what they will do, but then doesn't because she wants to live... she tells them to go ahead and that she will write about it. It makes me cry, it is my story, and now that I think about it, yours as well...

Angelique said...

This post is hilarious are you sure we are not twins. LOL I couldn't help laughing I know exactly what you mean. Especially when there is a book on sale and you know it is possible you won't find it again for that price. But still you want to buy the other book you been meaning to read. Or how about when you are trying to open up to new genres and low and behold you only have to spend hours deliberating on what you are going to do! I am with you sista of the written word. I have even considered and am probably at the place of buying a kindle from amazon, because I don't have anymore space for bookshelves. With the kindle you can download quick and take it anywhere with out the 10 pounds in you bag!! LOL But that too requires an initial expense.

Vic said...

Fantabulous post m'dear - just loved it.

I used to work at Borders & miss it (..and it's staff discount!) very much, this.... didn't help. ;)

Working in the kids section was beaten in crap-ness only by working in the music department, for me (people would hum songs to me & I would have absoloutely no idea what was going on). There was one girl that used to come in with her dad LATE at night & trash the place - we called her 'Diablo'.

SJ said...

Just love this -I feel the same way about books :) Hope you are well, love.

lemon said...

I wonder why they don't make an air freshener called New Novel.

Oh, don't I wish.

Lacey said...

I could re-write this post word for word (well, except the kids bit, since I have none), and re-title it "why I love the library." It took me a long time to rekindle my old love of reading, and I'm so glad I did. There's nothing quite like a ridiculously tall stack of books to make me swoooooooon. ;-)

Ms. Moon said...

This is why I cannot stand to go into bookstores. YOU HAVE TO MAKE IMPOSSIBLE CHOICES!
I love to go through the books at Goodwill, at thrift stores. The treasures there bring me such happiness. Not the smell of new novel, but the smell of ink and pages, still. I have the copy of Little Women that my grandmother gave me when I was so young. It is shitbeat- I have read it half to death, but when I open it and put it to my face, it smells just the same as it did when Granny gave it to me and I fall into that place of first love of reading, of wonder and of joy and I can't wait to see what the March sisters are doing again.
And of course, heaven is a library.

Dancing Branflake said...

I can spend hours in a bookstore. For some reason being in Borders and Barnes and Noble always makes me want to go to the bathroom. I think I am so overwhelmed it's my 'freak out' response.
I love this post.

saracita said...

I have always had eyes bigger than my bookstore budget. My favorite bookstore in the world is John King here in Detroit - a five-story old warehouse full of new, used, and rare books. I can spend hours there...

Now I usually just jot down ISBN numbers and then go buy them used online from sites like DealOz.com.... it has saved me in my years of college-book-buying and frivolous-book-buying.

Lemon said...

the title alone makes me grin. a month ago, my boyfriend & i happened to stop by Borders, and i don't think he new quite whether to be amused or scared by the happy-ferver that came over me!

Maggie May said...

@MOSEY me too.. I am very good about filtering though. If it's not book-true-love I give it away :)

@LOLA I do love BandN as well! I switch it up :)

@CITRIC I have definitely had shopping guilt over books!

@ANNJE I wonder if I read that one of hers? I have Satan Says, which is primarily about her childhood and parents...it's amazing.

@ANJELIQUE Yay! Always glad to meet a kindred spirit in books :))

@VIC I laughed out loud reading about people humming and you have no idea what's going on :). I can just hear you guys 'here comes Diablo'

@SJ I am mostly well :))) xo to you.

@LEMON me too!

@LACEY I owe my library...(shameface)

@MSMOON I go to my local thrifts weekly for a stack of books. I just find it much harder to find ones I really love. It's much more hit and miss, which is part of the thrill and the frustration.

@DANCING you made me literally lol!!! You cutie!

@SARACITA that place sounds wonderful, i'll look at the link.

@ LEMON I'm sure he was charmed ;)

Vashti said...

oh goodness, this is like me on sunday! spent 2 hours in a book store with mart, reading, but knowing that I had NO money to buy a single book. It is stressful.
I now have a written list of books in my moleskine diary. One day I will have enough money to buy any book my heart desires......one day.

Allegra Smith said...

Saturdays afternoon B.Loved and I used to go to Powells and practically spent our disposable income all there. Seriously. I used to call it the literary crack. It is one of those places like falling into a never ending hole of wonders. Floor after floor after floor of temptation. Architecture? my dear we have everything ever written here.
Poetry? how about the entire collection of Pablo Neruda's poems in Spanish? This is what I am talking about. Hell to find a parking place and hell to get out because who would want to leave?

Book lovers are a tribe of many colors but oh boy, one book we have not read and we are gone for the duration.

Beth said...

So many books, so little time, limited funds...thank heavens I discovered a used book store I love & that also carries new books at discounted prices!

Love this line – “I wonder why they don't make an air freshener called New Novel.”

Heidi said...

oh maggie, i know exactly how you feel! i love this store, it is my mecca. but it is also my doom! Hx

starrlife said...

My fantasy job- owning a bookstore. I laughed at the kids and Mr Curry looking at you because I know that look so well. I get lost, utterly lost.... on so many levels. Perfectly captured.

Allison the Meep said...

This post is so perfect. I would spend every dime I had on books if I could.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I love Borders, too, Maggie. They have a more eclectic collection than the other chain stores.

Petit fleur said...

I do love Borders too. AND I love what you said about making the chilluns clean up after themselves! I do that too! I totally HATE when kids are allowed to trash a store... and THEN not pick it up. It's just wrong.

I also really love going to old used bookstores for completely different reasons... something so different and magical about them and it's a totally different vibe. It's quieter and a more solitary experience. The smells and all the old books. It's like treasure hunting. And they're so cheap!! Unfortunately, Harley is not old enough for that just yet. I do love to go when I need to escape though.

Thanks for the lovely post Maggie.
xo pf

krista said...

yep. i smell it.
yes, barbara kingsolver.
'the poisonwood bible' was my first but all of them are equally lovable.

Marion said...

My name is Marion and I'm a bookaholic. I go without groceries to buy books. I put off paying my bills to buy books. My four bedroom house is overflowing with books and I can't get enough of books or reading. I'm currently reading "Shadow Tag" by Louise Erdrich and if you haven't yet discovered her amazing novels and poetry, then put her on your list!

I love your post. It made me laugh and nod my head. My two grown daughters are school teachers and yes, they are bookaholics, too. As are my 3 grandchildren. My youngest daughter woke up the other night at 2 a.m. and her 2 year old son was in his closet with a flashlight and a book. She asked him what he was doing up? He replied, "I'm weading, Mommie!" Love & Blessings to you...

Dari said...

I can relate to this so much! Everytime I go to a book store I see so many books that I want to take home with me. Too bad we have to pay for them. But I am bad at finding much time to read as well. So I have a small stack of books on my night stand, to remind me of the excitement ahead and hopefully motivate me to read faster!

KC said...

Oh how I love Borders! But, I have since discovered the lower prices of ordering books online. This http://www.bookdepository.com/ is a great place that has free shipping anywhere in the world. But if you buy over a certain amount at Amazon.com, then you get free shipping as well. :-)

Ooooh, and you should go to Book Off (BookoffUSA.com) in Clairemont. All used books that range from $1-$10! Love it!

The Beckster said...

You would love Powells Bookstore in Portland. You can just get lost in it and never come out. How young were they when you started going in? My son is 1 - but after reading your post I kind of want to leave work, scoop him up and head to a Borders to explore.

Kay said...

an airfreshner i would surely buy! just can't imagine how it could possibly be accurate though. totally understand your stance and love with the book store. I cherish each one, the second hand store, each of the diverse 'borders' type and lets not forget the library....probably my favorite as there really is no limits (and since you have to return them they never sit too long unread). sigh. books.

Pixie said...

I'm a book rescuer...lol. Where I live, people tend to put books out on the sidewalk on recycling night or even on regular garbage pick up nights. I can't help myself, I have to stoop over the stack and look through them, seeing which ones I should rescue seeing as I have limited space in my apartment. I hate to get rid of books but since I've found paper back swap I'm getting better. Knowing that they are going to good homes and not sleeping on the street makes me feel better. I love nothing more than flipping open a brand new book and reading that first page. I don't think I can ever become a e-reader reader as I like the tactile-ness of books, paper, the feel, the smell, seeing the progress as my bookmark moves farther along into the book. Sigh.

NightSwimmer said...

I also hyperventilate at the book store, library, art museums. And the grocery store but in a different way.

modaspia said...

loved reading this. this year i decided i was going to feel less guilt about book purchases because now i am "building a library i can give my kids"!. makes perfect sense to me.
Zelda !!

Ellen said...

You sounded like me! Oh how I love books!!!! Going to a bookstore is such a comforting place even during the busy holidays one can find a spot to be all alone. I would like our used bookstore more if it wasn't so cold in there...it makes it hard to want to linger long at all during the winter...guess they don't use the heat.

I have piles of books at the foot of my bed on a trunk..each pile waiting to be read and one pile of books already read but waiting for my love to decide to read or not. In boxes in the garage and barn childrens books of my kids that I will never let go except to them...inside a closet more children's books...books, books, books...yes a scent of books would be ever so lovely...

Maybe I need to spend a day at the bookstore to boost my spirits...

Wonderful post that made me think of so many memories that books have been such a big part of....

Phoenix said...

I always lean towards "read it like it's burning." because the best books do burn...in our souls and lives. And sometimes literally, as the best books usually terrify those who would seek to silence thought with fire.

Assholes.

Also, if they made a New Novel scented candle or car freshener, oh my GOD would I be there. I'd buy 'em in spades.

Terresa said...

I feel very much the same, wondering about that air freshener, New Novel.

The Librarian in me loves all things books, it's a passion/obsession/compulsion. I browse, flirt, and dangerously leave with nothing most often. Just lists of titles, genres, authors, future kingdoms to build, read, and find.

anymommy said...

You are so perfect. This is exactly how I feel at the books store. Matt and I have our date nights at Barnes & Noble and I'm always grumpy all the way home. I want to buy 20, 30 books. I want them all in beautiful stacks in my "reading room." Sometime, in another part of life.

Giulia said...

Yes, yes. And here's to libraries but my mother always said I wanted to roll around in books on the floor. Here's my weirdness. I was planning to buy more books (from my ever-diminishing bank acct.) this weekend. I have at least 10 (yes, 10) new books on the coffee table or next to my bed. (That does not count poetry books, literary mags, home decor, fashion, etc.) Two more books arrive today or tomorrow (used, hard to find) by post. I must stop it. But now, I want to go to the bookshop up the street. How dare you, Mme., encourage me thusly? :)

Annie said...

Hi Maggie, I love your story,and your affinity with books. At my library, you can check out 50 books at a time! I know it's not the same as a brand new book, you can take home and savor and love, but it sure saves money. I work in the library, and I'm still buying books, stacks and stacks of them- but when I can't always do that, I check out a book, and often re-borrow it again. One of my family's favorite things to do, too, is to go to Borders book store, browse the books, use our coupons, and take home a few.

Annie said...

Hi Maggie,
I just saw your comment that you owe the library. Usually, you can work out a payment plan- or- take out a library card in one of the kid's names, if they don't already have one, and start using that.

Another plug for libraries: There's so many more books in a library than you'll ever find in a book store, and for the most part, except for the leased books in the Best Seller section, they are the best of the best, all receiving good to great reviews!

And don't forget library story times! Book store story times can be wonderful, but they push the books they want you to buy, and not every book store employee is qualified to make a story come alive for a child. When my son was little, we enjoyed both the library and the book store story times.

I'm so happy you're one of those wonderful Mommies who teaches children to clean up after themselves. We're putting puzzles, board books, and picture books, back where they belong throughout every day!

I know exactly how you feel when you've got a stack of books in your hands, you've read portions of each of them, and you can't decide which ones you can afford and it's sensible to buy, and you want them all. I love the way you close your article: Read it like it's burning, like you have all the time in the world- both.

*this daisy said...

I feel exactly the same way. Every time I step into Borders (or any bookstore for that matter), it feels like my haven. Being surrounded by an endless selection of novels and glossies get me a little giddy. I wish I had the moolah to buy all the books in the world (that interest me, of course! hee), and better yet, have enough space in my bedroom (my mini library) to keep them all!

xx

Jenn said...

'New Novel' air freshener -- um, yes please! Hope you enjoyed your book, which one did you end up picking up?

Rachael said...

The library does not give you the same thrill? It's free you know - you could take all ten and then wait to have your panic attack til you have to return them!

I do the same thing - read first and last pages, sometimes chapters, when I'm trying to decide what to read. A terrible habit, I agree, but one I cannot help. I will especially read the end of a book I'm loving: it saves me from rushing through it just to find out what happens and allows me to slow down and savor it.

Evangeline said...

Ah, the book lust. I know it well. I have been known to wander around bookstores, my arms overflowing and a deranged gleam in my eyes. And I know the painful sorting down to try to keep to some sort of budget. Painful.

It isn't the same, but we have been trying to use our local library more, money being tight and bookshelves (at least one in every room!) overflowing. Still, not the same.

When I dream of winning the lottery, planning my dream library is my favourite part...

Nessimonster said...

Ahhh...books. I love used books...classics...poems...illustrations. I hold them in my hands and wonder where they have been. Who held them gently in their hands and traveled down the winding path the author created for the reader. Our local Friends of the Library book sale is approaching...next month...April 8th - 10th. I've had the date etched in my mind since I stepped out of the auditorium last year with a box full of treasures (most still waiting to be read.)

previous next