Thursday, April 12, 2007

Book Stores Make Me Think About Dying

It's true. We have this fantastic independent bookstore nearby, Brookline Booksmith, and I've gone in a fair bit lately, and I love to browse. But when I'm standing there looking at the fiction section, I can't help but think, "Man, I'll never be able to read all the books that interest me." Which depresses me a little.

I'm almost 40. So maybe I have a good 40 years of reading left. At 25 books a year (I'm slow, I know), that's 1,000 books. Which seems like a lot. But they keep publishing new good books every year. And there's plenty of classics I want to read but haven't. Last time I was there, I picked up Bleak House and then Maugham's The Painted Veil, and thought I want to read these. And then The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks caught my eye yet again, but she's got a new one out that looks good, too. I bought Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian for my step-father last year and now I want a copy of my own.

And that's just fiction. I keep meaning to read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. And I need to round out my Michael Pollan collection with Botany of Desire, and actually buy a copy of Omnivore's Dilemma, because my wife loved it, too. And I'm reading Wendyll Berry's The Hidden Wound right now, and feel like I should probably just read all of his work.

Sometimes I fantasize about being locked in a bookstore overnight. (It's fun to spend all night in a theatre, too--I did that for South City's May Day Play Day a few years back, and ended up writing a play, The Sky is Falling, that I still like.)

When I'm in a library, I don't have the sense that I want to take it all in. Maybe because the collections are too large. But something about a bookstore makes me lust for the books, lust to read them backwards and forward. I guess I'd better get going. The clock is ticking.


Malachy Walsh said...

I love bookstores. I worked in one of the last independents in Chicago, Stuart Brent Books. When I started there, I felt like I had to read everything. And I tried to.

Eventually I realized I'd never catch up and relaxed. I read about two books a week for a year. I came to love the conversations the store inspired people to have about books. It was that kind of place.

Almost all the literary heavy-weights came in to talk to my boss (Mr. Brent) when they came in.

He was sort of renowned for selling huge quantiites of books that he had passion for. He sold 1,000 copies of Algren's MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM in one night when such things weren't supposed to happen.

patrick said...

Sounds ideal. Now, I just need someone like Mr. Brent to fall in love with Tornado Siren, and I'll be all set.

LouthMouth said...

I can't believe I'm not the only one who thinks like that.