While I’m finishing a longer post that’s coming down the pike in a couple of days, let me leave you with some images from the impromptu road trip that Buzz and I are on to celebrate the end (finally!) of my summer semester. We’re in Providence, Rhode Island for a few days, and today we made a pilgrimage to a certain establishment in Boston that we discovered a couple of years ago: Brattle Book Shop.
We first found it while on a New England cruise that made a stop in Boston. Since I’d been to the city many times, and because we both despise guided tours, we separated ourselves from the hoards of cruise ship passengers as soon as we could. We started wandering through the back streets looking for interesting shops and a good pub.
What we found was Book Nirvana.
The outdoor lot is filled with books that cost either $1, $3, or $5. The shelves, however, are not stocked with endless volumes of pulp fiction or Reader’s Digest condensed versions of Heidi. There is a huge variety of books, with hidden gems on each shelf depending on what kind of reading you are looking for. Whatever you are looking for, you are almost guaranteed to find it. Possibly for only $1.
This trip yielded eight books for me for just $45 total. I got hardcover copies of Moby Dick ($5), The Grapes of Wrath ($1), and For a Flower Album by Colette ($1). I also picked up a hardcover copy signed by the author of The Laughing Matter ($10) by William Saroyan.
Then we went inside. Buzz found a book that he’s had on his Amazon wish list for nearly 10 years. It’s long out of print and so far has only been available by ordering a print-on-demand volume for $250. He found it on a shelf on the second floor for $10. I think a hearty “Score!” would be an understatement.
As for me, I found a paperback of Noam Chomsky’s Reflections on Language ($5.95) and a two-volume set of The Interpretation of Language($10 for the set) which features an oddly placed comma right after the alliterative name of the author, Theodore Thass-Thienemann. Finally, just as I was crying Uncle! and heading for the exit, I found a massive tome: a biography of Atatürk. I was already carrying about 352 pounds of books and had still to walk to the train station to take the commuter rail to Providence, and then walk back to the hotel.
I didn’t care. I love biographies. And it’s Atatürk! Good ole Mustafa Kemal! I heard excerpts of one of his speeches every single school morning during my first year in Turkey. I saw his face in every classroom, on every piece of money, and on countless embroidered wall hangings and lunch boxes. I resisted saying “Atta, Türk!” for three solid years for fear of offending anyone or getting arrested.
The book was mine. And for only $10!
While walking back to the train station, the bag filled with 9 hard covers and one paperback should have felt heavier. I should have been annoyed at having to schlep such a heavy load. I should have resolved to not buy so many books at one time, and especially when I couldn’t just throw them in the back of my car, Lucille.
None of those thoughts passed through my mind. Instead, it was all I could do to wait to be settled on the train so I could take out my booty and flip lovingly through the pages, sample a little bit of each book, and imagine where on my shelves at home they would be placed.