If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ve figured out that books are a huge part of my world. I love to read. Books have a way of introducing a world beyond our reach, presenting new ideas, repudiating old ones — and sometimes just filling our time with a great story.
Of course, in the Internet age, the most common way to acquire these books is by buying them online, which is a shame.
Buying books online, although convenient, robs the buyer of the ability to browse, peruse and in general sample books in a determined, yet casual way that pixels can’t emulate. Online buying takes away the ability to glance at the other books on a nearby shelf and see if a book ‘over there’ is more appealing. Online effectively removes the element of chance and the role that chance plays in securing the perfect read.
Independent Book Stores
Stores that deal in the obscure, collectible or hard-to-find book have been always been my favorite. Although the names of the many establishments I have visited escape my memory, bookstores and the rarities they house have punctuated many trips — from the small, out-of-the-way store in Newport, Rhode Island, to the mammoth store in Columbus, Ohio with its room-after-book-filled-room of reading materials.
I recently discovered a new store, one that is close and convenient. Located in Tipp City, Browse Awhile Books with its casual organizing style encourages hours of browsing. Located on the right wall as you walk into the store is a collection of Mark Twain books — a collection of about 20 hard-back vintage classics — with familiar titles like Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer and less well-known novels like Puddin’ Head Wilson. The books are a reminder of when literature, like Twain’s, addressed that uncomfortable reality that all of us are flawed, societies fail and even a perfect world like the garden of Eden was doomed from the beginning (Eve’s Diary).
But the store is more than books from Twain or other literary figures, included in the store’s mix are modern books like Men Are From Mars, government pamphlets, scholarly works from multiple eras as well as romances, westerns and young adult. There is even an entire room dedicated to science fiction. For me, the sheer volume of books show how little I know. As I glance across the titles and authors, though, I find inspiration in knowing how much I can learn by devoting a small segment of time every day to a subject — any subject.
Just up the road from the Tipp City store is another favorite source of mine for books — Goodwill. In a world of strange coincidences offset by orderly design, the books in Goodwill call out to me in a different fashion — by title, cover design or juxtaposition. Here I often find books outside my normal reading scope of American history or American politics. Today is no different. Sandwiched between Love and Hate in Jamestown (which I bought) and Lord of the Flies (which I bought for my daughter) is a book about the art of furniture making. This paperback book — printed in 1980 by the Popular Mechanics Company — is a three-part book filled with designs and techniques for building Mission Furniture. The book explains everything from the advanced skills required to bend and curve wood into intricate pieces of furniture to simpler, almost beginner patterns for a window chair, book trough and hall bench.
Although I know spending time with any book is not such a bad hobby, I’m learning that neither is reading a book about furniture making. In some ways, the second approach is better than the first since I get to do what I love — read — while also expanding my life’s experience.
For me, it’s a win-win.
Before it was renamed, in 1938, Tipp City was known as Tippecanoe. Tippecanoe was part of a presidential slogan that brought Ohioan William Henry Harrison (Old Tippecanoe) to the White House. Harrison, the first candidate to actively campaign for the presidency had a catchy slogan: Tippecanoe and Tyler too. Some historians claim the slogan was one of the most memorable in U.S. history. Catchy or not, it did not help much with Harrison’s actual presidency since he died just a month after taking office.