OMG – Vinyl really IS on the way back…

We’re currently vacationing on Cape Cod, and we stopped by the Cape Cod Mall on Saturday. We went over to look around, do some shopping, have a nice dinner, and check things out.

The mall is one of the few left that has a large Barnes and Noble with a mall entrance – most of them are free-standing stores these days – and imagine my shock when I saw a bin as we approached the escalator proclaiming “BN now has Vinyl!” But there in the middle of the store, below the big sign, was a large rack with ALBUMS. Not CD’s – Vinyl albums.

WOW!  And they had quite a selection. Vintage stuff like the Beatles to current stuff from Sam Smith and everything in-between. I was gobsmacked. It has been YEARS – literally – since I’ve seen a major retailer carry anything other than CD’s when it comes to music. And here’s the last large bookstore chain with a selection of vinyl. It brings a tear to my eye….ok, not really, but nevertheless, it was a grand sight.

Back in the day, ALL the major department store chains used to carry vinyl – I’ll talk shortly about my memories of shopping the stores in downtown Spokane as a teenager – but that was a long time ago. But maybe times are changing.

And it just goes to show that the old adage is true…everything old IS new again…eventually…

(Revised to show new photo taken of display)

Tears when reading…ok, but not in public? Oh what the hell..

Have you ever had that rare experience where a book made you cry?  I don’t mean just thinking to yourself “Wow, that was sad”, but actually tear up while reading?  Knowing that you won’t put the book down, even when it hurts to continue?

I have.  Twice that I can recall.

The first time it ever happened to me was reading a book that made up part of the “Dragonlance” series.  Being a little Geeky McNerdly Nerd going way back, a series full of drama, adventure and magic sucked me in faster than you can say “Wizards of the Coast”.  I loved the grand sweeping universe of these books, but even more I loved the characters.  They were more than just wispy figures in my mind.  They felt solid – they felt real.

So real that when we lost one, it hurt.  A LOT.

The book was called “Dragons of Winter Night”, and (spoiler alert) the character who died was a knight named Strum Brightblade.  He was the closest thing this world had to a Paladin – he was brave, he was chivalrous, he was a man with a strict code of honor.

In short, he drove the other characters crazy.  Paladins tend to do that.

Yet when he died, sacrificing himself to save the others in his group, it felt like a punch in the chest.  I still remember my eyes welling up, my throat growing tighter and tighter.  Sitting there thinking to myself “No, he’s not really… he is.  He’s gone.”  It hurt more than any pain I had felt before reading a book.  I thought I’d never feel that type of emotional connection to a fictional character again.

Guess how that turned out.

Fast-forward a few years.  I’m not an (alleged) adult, browsing around in a local bookstore.  I find a new book, sit down and start reading.

It was “Remembering Farley”.


A compilation of Lynn Johnston’s comic strip “For Better of For Worse” comic strips that dealt with the family dog, “Remembering Farley” was about the rambunctious sheepdog’s life – and (again spoiler alter) his tragic death.  Farley died after saving little April Patterson, who had tumbled into a river.

And there I sat, in the middle of a public bookstore, sniffling away, the words and pictures blurring from the tears in my eyes.

Those moments of pain are treasured memories, strangely enough.  Like a wonderful movie I’ve seen recently brought home, sadness is part of life, and the joy of reading is one that I will always have.

A leisurely day at Barnes And Noble

bnsaugusThere’s something about having an entire afternoon to yourself.  A time when you don’t have to answer to anyone, go where you like, do what you choose, that makes this such an irresistible prospect.

I spent 5 plus hours in a bookstore one day, and it was heavenly.

To set the scene – this was back in the 90’s, when I had a car, and TC worked at Coconuts, a record chain popular at the time.  The store was based in Swampscott, and one Sunday he was scheduled to work from twelve to six.  So being a good SO I offered to drive him and pick him up.

“What are you going to do in the meantime?” he asked.

“Oh, I’ll just go hang out at Barnes & Noble,” I replied.

He looked at me.  “For six hours?” he said, incredulously.

I just smiled.

So I drove him to work, kissed him goodbye, and headed off to the Barnes & Noble on Route One, at the time a rather newish bookstore in my hometown of Saugus.

And read.

And ate in the store’s café.

And read some more.

And browsed through magazines.

And read still more.

And bought a bunch of books.

And went to pick TC up – slightly late because I lost track of time, but I made it.

It was one of the nicest days I ever spent.

Just wandering the shelves, picking up a book here and there, settling in a comfortable chair to browse, and occasionally people watch.  It was great, it was relaxing, it was the perfect Sunday afternoon.

At least for me.

My childhood in Boston bookstores…ah the memories…

When I was a young girl, going shopping in Boston was a rare thing.  It meant going “into Town”, which to my mind seemed light years away from the suburb of Saugus where I grew up.  It involved planning which bus and then train to take, and had my mother going through the unenviable task of corralling two pre-teen girls (myself and my younger sister) and keeping us from wandering off while she shopped.

By the time I was a teenager, though, Mom had gotten a job in Boston, and I was given permission to come in and visit her and shop on my own.  However, leave it to me to not follow the route of the typical teenage female.  Nope, I never bothered looking for clothes, and I could have cared even less about shopping for shoes.

Boston meant bookstores – lots and LOTS of time spent in bookstores.

Downtown Boston in the 80s and 90s were my stomping grounds, and I had a very set pattern.  First was Barnes & Noble in Downtown Crossing for a hour or two (sometimes three) of wandering the stacks, sometimes buying, sometimes looking, mostly just being IN there and being surrounded by that bookstore vibe and feeling happy.  School problems faded, my parent’s marriage, which was dying right in front of me, became something I’d think about later.  I was in my element, and that was all that mattered.

Waldenbooks, right down the street, was next.  It was smaller, and loitering about just looking wasn’t as feasible, since you tended to get The Look from salespeople that said “Are you going to buy something or not?”  Still, it was books, and that made it fun.

No trip in Town, however, was complete without a stop at Lauriat’sLauriat’s top-floor was where they sold all the newer books, along with stationary and other things.  The basement level was the bargain area, with a very nice occult section where I spent hours going through books on astrology, Tarot and other things that I KNEW my family (read that as my father) wouldn’t a) get or b) approve of.

We all choose our own forms of rebellion.  That was mine.

There were smaller stores as well, in Quincy Market, with was a short walk away.  Housed in the buildings on the left and right of the main building (which has every kind of food you can think of, and some that you can’t), a lot of those places are now offices, sadly.  When I used to visit there, however, there were a myriad of quirky smaller stores.  One of which was a bookstore that leaned more towards fantasy items, especially Dungeons & Dragons material.  Guess who spent a lot of time (and money) in that establishment.

Teen years gave way to becoming an adult (or me faking my way through acting like a grown-up for the most part), and with those years came Borders Books, which also opened up in the Downtown Crossing area.  This was a revelation – how had I LIVED without this wondrous place I’ll never know.  Borders was the first place I ever tried an Italian soda (strawberry), and if I tallied up the amount of time and money I spent in that franchise, the amounts would probably be staggering.

And then… it all started to fall apart.

As a confused teenager and as angry woman I saw bookstore after bookstore close.  By the time it was Borders turn to shut its doors, I though I was numb to feeling blue about the passing of yet another bibliophile hangout.  Boy was I wrong.

I made what turned out to be the COLOSSAL mistake of going into Borders during its final weeks, and the sadness was beyond palatable; it was downright crushing.  They were selling everything, even the fixtures, and the atmosphere was like shopping in a funeral home.

Hell, I think I’d have felt better if I HAD been shopping in a funeral home.

Every single salesperson looked so downcast that I wanted to run up to each and every one and give them a hug.  Don’t even think I bought anything that sad visit, I just wanted to pay my respects and leave.

Will the bookstore ever completely fade from existence?  I certain hope not.  I know that Kindle Fire, and all the other electronic books are great and can hold a ton of books, blah blah blah…

But give me a quiet corner, a soda resting on a table loaded with paperback and magazines, and a couple of free hours, and I’m happy.

That’s not too much  to ask, for is it?