On boredom, books and browsing
Thanks for this reminder of what it was like to have our minds to ourselves. What was natural then is now something we need a whole new level of discipline to achieve. I also look back fondly at many hours just browsing and then having a coffee skimming the pages of a new discovery.
I once described the great song as a form of church, and us music obsessives a kind of congregation, made up of “those who still look to records for uplift, for comfort, for a soundtrack to our joy and sorrow and fumbling growth, for a way to make sense of the human experience.”
Thanks for this. There is something about music and song that cuts through to some of us humans in a visceral way. A familiar song is an emotional remembering.
Lovely, and inspirational. My partner (a writer) and I feel lucky to live in a small(ish) town in Ontario which has several used book stores. Entering one is like entering a time warp, where time does not noticeably pass. Wonderful. These stores are not why we moved here - but they're one of the reasons we won't leave. Thanks, Tara.
What a beautiful, whimsical and lyrical ode to browsing, bookstores and record stores, temples of the imagination and to the precious lull between solstice and a new year. Thank you.
And if you live on this coast, Canada’s west coast, with Duthie’s gone and Indigo palatial, out on the Alma end of 4th Avenue and a dozen blocks down from the Nam, you can still find Banyen Book Store holding over from a time before screens, a time when new hope flourished and change was in the air. The familiar and evocative smell of incense knocks you over as you open the door into browsing heaven for the existentially curious. The answer might not be found in a book, but it might be pointed to like a finger pointing to the moon. Instrumental time dissolves as you wander down the aisles, find unimagined treasures, sit down on one of the cushioned benches provided by the store and, eventually, leave with a new book by an old friend.
Less esoteric? Maybe, you will be relieved to know that on Pender in Vancouver before it commits itself to the financial district, McLeod's bookstore still stands. Fusty and infuriating at first because the arrangement of the books jammed into overstuffed shelves and helter-skelter on piles on the floor make it difficult to make any sense of terrain, an end of an aisle shelf reveals itself, rich in books of Beat poetry, a couple signed by the authors. Turning around, you catch sight of McLuhan’s Medium is the Massage sandwiched at the top of a shelf at eye level. McLuhan's most famous idea is that “the medium is the message”. By which he meant that the important thing about media is not the messages they communicate, but the way the medium itself affects human consciousness and society at large.
Powell's and Elliot Bay live strong in the imagination and memories of my young adulthood, too. I would add to your list of still-living bookstores in Canada Munro's near the waterfront of Victoria BC--definitely a place conducive to browsing. All good blessings to the various independent and atmospheric stores holding on in Canadian cities.
I was just on vacation with the family and my oldest son and wife love to visit book stores. I find them overwhelming unless I have a target. Or, unless I have half a day to sample read hundreds of titles to pick some to take home.
Thanks for that recall. Timely, too, with the cold season upon us, even here in north Florida. Good time for browsing in book stores and record shops. At least it was; but as you say, the digital world has put the kibosh on those wonderful browsing times we enjoyed in the past. I wonder if my old age also works against browsing. Less patience, more of a desire to stay home. Yes, maybe. My browsing now is mostly on YouTube and other streaming channels. Their algorithms seek to guide me to more of the same, but by switching around as to what I watch I may be keeping the algorithm off-balance. Hope so, anyway. I suppose I am doing some browsing now: on my laptop reading the Wall Street Journal, switching to Lean In, next checking emails from friends and relative, drinking coffee, maybe a game of Freecell. --Keep up the good work.