I follow a number of bloggers, mostly general interest, some cooking blogs. Interestingly, I only follow one book blogger, and hers might have been the first blog I signed up to follow. I know almost nothing about the blogger, not even her real name.  She writes very little about her personal life. I think she lives in Australia, and I know she gravitates towards psychological thrillers.

And the last thing I know about her is that she must spend every waking moment of every single day with her nose in one of those thrillers. How do I know how much she reads? Because she writes a post almost every single day in which she reviews a book. I read a lot, but I couldn’t post a book review every day. Her taste in books is very different from mine, so there have only been a couple of occasions in which I have read a book based on her recommendation. Still, I’m impressed by the amount she reads.

But a recent post of hers struck home. Her posts rarely deviate from a book review, but on this occasion, she wrote about her love of book stores. Her first line, in fact, states that there is no place in which her hearts sings more than in a book store.

Book lovers will undoubtedly be able to identify with that feeling. I know I do.

When I still worked hard for a living, I often spent my lunch hour perusing the book stacks at Denver’s amazing locally-owned bookstore The Tattered Cover, which was near my office. They have a little lunch counter where you could buy a sandwich and an M&M cookie (one of my secret pleasures), and I could nibble my sandwich while looking at the newly published hardback books or books that were newly published as paperbacks. Often I would buy a paperback book that appealed to me, but more often than not, I would dig in my purse for my tablet and a pen, and write down the names of books that caught my eye so that I could look for them at the library.

I always anticipated that at some point, a Tattered Cover employee would to come over, grab my little tablet, tear out the sheet on which I’d written the book titles, and shred it into little tiny pieces, saying, “How on earth do you think we can continue to make a living if people like you don’t buy the books?”

It never happened.  But I really do wonder how book stores make a living these days where so many people – me included – read entirely using an e-reader. I haven’t read a book made out of paper in probably three years. Bill and I have a running joke. Whenever we see a person reading an actual book, we look at one another with obvious puzzlement in our eyes and say, “What is that weird-looking thing that person is holding?” We are hilarious.

I know that many bookstores have gotten into the business of selling e-books along with paper books. But I would bet that Amazon has cornered the market on e-books with their Kindle books. Heck, if I find a book I want, I can buy it by pressing a single button on my iPad, and within minutes, that book is in my library.

When I think about how Bill hauled the box of books in and out of our car trunk every time we would change locations when we were on our big European adventure, I cringe. God bless him. When we embarked on our journey, I promised him that I would read the book, and then leave it behind. Voila! We would end up with an empty box at the end of the trip! I did that occasionally, but more often I thought, “I might want to read that book again,” and back it would go into the box, along with the two or three other books that I bought at an American book store I stumbled upon in Rome or Barcelona or Paris. Again, God bless him; he never complained.

As time goes by, I am less inclined to keep all of the books that now take up a full wall of bookshelves in our bedroom, and a half of a wall of bookshelves in our family room. I rarely look at a single book, which have just become dust collectors. Still, all those years of collecting the entire Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christie…..


By the way, I still enjoy going into book stores, because not many things can make me happier than seeing a display full of reading options. But I still bring along my tablet and pen. That book store employee is bound to strike at some point. Tick tock.

This post linked to the GRAND Social

10 thoughts on “Bookshelves

  1. I also buy almost exclusively from Amazon for my Kindle. It is funny, because 3 years ago I was VERY resistant to reading e-books and now I don’t even want to buy a paperback!
    I taught Sunday school this summer to a group of 3 year olds (my granddaughter included). We talked about the Bible, Bible stories and sang the BIBLE song. One day it occurred to me that these are children of Millennials. Meaning that most of them probably do not even have a hard copy of the Bible in their homes. I am not sure granddaughter parents do, they have it downloaded on their electronic devices. Strange…possibly this whole summer the kids were wondering what is that book you are holding and where is the ipad?!!!

    • Krista, I was just like you. I was very snooty about people who read on e-readers. I like the feel of a book in my hand, I kept saying. And now I can’t even imagine not reading from my iPad. And my books are now only dust-collectors. My bible, however, is hard copy.

  2. Krista makes a point. I have to read my bible in book format because I need the notes I’ve placed in the margins. I referred to my notes this weekend after this gospel reading.

  3. Tattered Cover is a wonderful bookstore. But the best bookstore is Kramerbooks in DC’s DuPont Circle. That tiny store is a goldmine of great books. Like you, I take paper and pen and get a year’s worth of reading ideas.

  4. You always write such interesting posts, Kris. Your bookshelves made me jealous–they are fabulous! When I lived in NYC one of my favorite bookstores was The Strand. They advertised as “miles of books” It was interesting that many of them were used books. Now that I live in the Denver area I also like to visit the Tattered Cover, but I guilty admit I get most of my books from the library or from Costco. I had a lot of vision problems the past few years that are thankfully gone, so reading from a tablet was hard for me–too much glare. I still like to read hard copy books, but I do have a Kindle:

  5. I will do my best to keep bookstores in business. I am still resisting e-books because I LOVE the real thing. My house is filled with stacks of books in every room and I very often think I need more. Particularly old hardbacks of classics with names like Betty and Myrtle written on the inside. I even have boxes like trays under my bed full of books.The best part of a real book? You can share them. My mom, sister and I still trade all our books so when one of us gets a new book, we all do!

    But it’s so great to have lots of options!

    • I agree that one of the biggest disadvantages of e-books is that we can’t share them. However, Bill found a way that he and I can share e-books. Unfortunately, we have very different tastes in books. He doesn’t particularly have a desire to read My Antonia or Rebecca!

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