Shelf Life

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I was too busy today to do what I really wanted to do - go to a bookstore - so I decided to read about one instead. So I spent the day reading about someone who works in a bookstore, and throwing out all the crap that I refuse to drag with me into my 30s - ugly stationary, cookbooks for food that I've been allergic to for years, magazine articles I tore out because I was convinced I was going to read them one day - and all the while thinking What on God's green earth is wrong with me? Why do I have all of this junk in the first place?

Today's book, "To fill the time as she recovered from cancer and chemotherapy, Strempek Shea volunteered at a friend’s independent bookstore in Springfield, Mass. An accomplished novelist (Around Again; Lily of the Valley), Strempek Shea felt at first like a spy—"a farmer hanging around the dairy section"—as she observed customers in constant discovery of books. Despite the bleak reason for her new job, she embraced it with delight and here recounts her sojourn at Edwards Books with humor and passion."

Today's book was okay - not good, not great, but not terrible either - just okay. I wasn't bored out of my mind, but I wouldn't recommend you rush out and get a copy of this book either. And it didn't entirely center around working in a bookstore either - the beginning of the book centered more on the author's childhood experiences with book. Which naturally made me think of my own childhood experiences with books - because, well, everything makes me think about me. That's just the kind of person I am. But don't worry dear readers, I'm not going to force you to sit through the Book-It story again, or the endless stories of how the Little House books changed my life because you've already suffered enough. Instead I'm going to regale you with the fascinating tale of my first experience as a compulsive reader. It all started in first grade when the school librarian had some crazy rule about how we could only check out the short books - and I wanted to check out a book that was 200 pages. She was adamant that a child my age couldn't read a book that long in a week - so naturally I had to prove her wrong. I have a seriously unappealing stubborn streak that is activated whenever someone tells me I can't do something that I want to do. So I began my campaign to get the rule changed - which mostly involved whining to my first grade teacher about how the mean old librarian was trying to stop me from experiencing the joy of reading. My teacher agreed with me, and talked the librarian into changing the rule, who was muttering snide remarks under her breath about how "You'll never be able to finish," as she was checking the book out. Which naturally made me vow I will finish that book in a week if I have to give up eating and sleeping to do it. And then the really obnoxious part of my stubborn streak came out and I decided, No, I won't finish it in a week - I'm going to finish it in less than a week so I can wipe that smug smile right off her face. (Ahh, the innocence of childhood.) And, I did. I can't remember how long it took me - which really isn't all that surprising since I can't even remember what I ate for breakfast this morning - but I do remember bringing it back early and handing it to the librarian with a really snotty smile on my face. Then the librarian quizzed me because she didn't believe I had actually finished the book. Isn't it great when people try to instill a love of learning in children? And now that I've written out that entire story, I'm starting to think that I may have already told you that. But I'm too lazy to go back and erase it, so just pretend like you're visiting one of those relatives who tells the exact same story every time you visit. And don't tell me you don't have one of those relative dear readers, because everyone has one of those relatives.

The rest of the book - which does actually take place in a bookstore - was kind of slow but did make me want to go to a bookstore even more than I already did at the beginning of the day. Of course that's not saying much because there's never been a day in my life when I didn't want to go to a bookstore - a feeling which continues to baffle me in light of the to-read stack that still contains over 200 books. So essentially, I live in a bookstore - and yet, that's never enough for me.

Fun facts about bookstores and Mother's Day:

  • There are 24,738 bookstores in the United States. - This book was written in 2004, so I'm sure that number has fluctuated since then, but I'm feeling too lethargic, from the strain of throwing away all of my ugly, useless crap all day long, to go and look up that number. (I swear, I'm going to be much less lazy tomorrow dear readers.)

  • The founder of Mother's Day - Anna Jarvis - grew so disgusted with the commercialization of Mother's Day that she filed a lawsuit against the day in 1932, stating, "This is not what I intended. I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit." - Personally, I think she was just bitter that she didn't buy stock in Hallmark before her idea really took off. Well, sorry Anna, you snooze, you lose.