A rare species
My wife and I had our anniversary dinner over the weekend at Solea in Waltham Mass. We’d never been to Waltham before and it’s a bit of a drive from our house, so we left quite early and arrived an hour ahead of our reservations. Solea is on Moody Street, in amongst a number of really nice–if pricy–restaurants and shops, so we decided to walk around a bit before dinner. As it turned out, we didn’t walk too far because there was a really nice used book store–of course I’m forgetting the name–right next door. I don’t think until that moment I had realized just how big a hole in my world the absence of a decent bookstore really was. We’ve been exiled to BarnesandNobleland since we moved out of the city, and there really aren’t any good used bookstore on my downtown commute path (The MIT Press Bookstore is relatively convenient, endlessly fascinating, but pretty expensive and new books only).
This place in Waltham was really inviting, with oversized couches, local art on the walls, and a layout that was spacious and well organized. The literary criticism and poetry sections were not huge, but there were plenty of great titles and I ended hauling an armload of books back to the car while Lori shopped for ceramics. I’m a big fan of buying books online, and love that Amazon sells used as well as new, but online browsing just doesn’t replace the experience of walking amongst shelves of books that others have read, made notes in, given to others as gifts. I’ve heard many people complain about there being too much information on the web, but when it comes to items like books, I’ve found that Google and Amazon have made it very easy to find exactly what you’re looking for, and very hard to find exactly what you weren’t. I left the store with a book on teaching creative nonfiction, an anthology of journals from the age of exploration, and Gould’s Mismeasure of Man–a combination I’d have never arrived at online.
Lori picked up a copy of The Prophet that had been given as a gift in the 50’s, and had a touching inscription (Gibran, Lori discovered over the summer, has a close connection to the town in which we live; Louis Day–whose family was one of Norwood’s most prominent–was a patron of Gibron’s, and the young poet apparently came to Norwood a number of times). In finding books such as these, there is a sense of continuity, a sense of community with others for whom the written word has meaning.