I’m not quite sure when reading became more an obsession than not. Five years ago? Ten? No recall. It probably doesn’t matter.
I’ve always enjoyed reading, libraries, bookstores, book festivals. I went to the great Hay-on-Wye one back in 2009. Hay-on-Wye us a tiny town in Wales near the English border.with about two dozen bookstores. It’s annual festival attracts writers from around the world. So popular is it that even though I booked more than six months in advance, I had to stay at a B&B five miles away. That made transportation . . . interesting. I remember the first day it poured and poured; after that, it was hot and sunny. Lovely. I remember hearing Kate Adie speak and Desmond Tutu. I went to a quiz night at a local pub with my B&B hosts. I read the Guardian every day. Nice.
When I am in London (that makes it sound like it is a lot but alas, sadly not) I go to Waterstone’s and Foyle’s and walk around with my mouth hanging open more than usual.
Vancouver where I live has lost most of its independent bookstores – Duthie’s, I still make the sign of the cross when I pass the space of your first shop, now a liquor store. Nothing, of course, is sacred. Bellingham, a mere hour’s drive away (if you have a car), has a lovely little independent bookstore, Village Books. And Portland and its internationally known Powell’s Books. Finally, I only discovered on my last trip to my hometown o Winnipeg, the nice McNally Robinson bookstore in Grant Park. And their café makes tourtiere. That was a bit of peace on a stressful trip – well that and the manic swimming at the Pan Am Pool.
I’m sure I’d be happier if I had more visitors to my bedroom. But alas, not. But what these lucky visitors would see are wicker baskets filled with books and magazines and books and magazines. Once in awhile I organize them so I can remember what I have and what New Yorkers can be donated to my writers’ group as penance for my never bringing snacks.
So I thought I’d mention a few things I have in my baskets in case you (my wee fan base of one. seven) are looking for something to read or need a Christmas gift idea and etc: Oh and before I forget, Langara College has a wee bookshelf of booksharing. I discovered that whle teaching an evening course there because the first night I was wondering aimlessly trying to find the right classroom. It’s on the third floor of building A in the English professors’ office section if ever you happen to happen by. Ok, book suggestions: (which I’m realizing are mainly non-fiction although I love fiction as well).
1. The New York Nobody Knows: Walking Good Miles in the City by William B. Helmreich. Published by Princeton University Press. Helmreich walks almost every block of the five boroughs (6,000 miles) and writes about what he finds. Lots of pages and it looks fascinating. I haven’t had a chance to begin it yet.
2. Strap Hanger by Taras Grescoe. The author straphangs on buses in several cities around the world, including Vancouver and Portland.
3. Pilgrim in the Palace of Words: A Journey through the 6,000 Languages of Earth by Glenn Dixon. A splurge of the moment buy at the Vancouver Writers’ Festival (yup, should have gotten it from the library since it was published back in 2009 and would be available on the shelves pretty quickly). Sociolinguistics.
4. Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism by Elizabeth Becker. How tourism is buggering things up around the world but said in a newer-ish way. Apparently everyone thinks everyone else is a tourist except for themselves. I hear that.
5. Bike Tribes: A Field Guide to North American Cyclists by Mike Magnuson – fun and funny and true. If you ever ride a bike, you’ll love it.
Speaking of bicycle magazines that are for the average cyclist and not the spandex wearing high-powered in Bicycling magazine – try ‘Bicycle Times.’ I first found this gem of a magazine on Hornby Island at the general store. Since then, I see that both London Drugs on W. Broadway and Vine and Save-on on Cambie sometimes carry it. Like Momentum magazine but better.
6. the Bellevue Literary Review – literary magazine out of Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Medical fiction and creative non-fiction. Nice nice. Can’t seem to get it around these parts anymore so have to order online. There are worse things that happen.
7. Hot off the presses – Svend Robinson: A Life in Politics by Grame Truelove. An authorized biography and yup, ring gate is discussed.
8. The New Yorker – but of course, I have to.
9. Oddballness – Archie Comics – Jughead, Archie, Betty, Veronica et al. Relaxes the heck out of me which I need in these delirious and paranoid times we live in. If there’s big trouble brewing, heck, I just pull out the Archie Comic.
10. David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. Meh, but it was on sale at Chapters.
Oh my goodness I’m almost a hoarder. But not really. I have summer sidewalk book sales and eventually just give some away. Sister Sherri is going to be the lucky recipient of Going Clear if I ever get off my butt and go to the post office.
And yes, I love the library too and get most of my reading material from there believe it or not. In my next life, I plan to be a library.