Late last year, I submitted a few poems to a literary journal that was having a “Buy a Book, Save a Bookstore” challenge. The journal wanted submitters to include a receipt of a recently purchased book along with their submission. The goal was to support local bookstores in an age where e-books tend to trump the printed word. Submitters could also include documentation (tweets, pictures, etc.).
I decided to document my bookstore trip a la Hyperbole and a Half. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the work of Allie Brosh’s wonderful blog, click here. It will be the best decision of your life. She depicts stories from her life in the form of MS Paint drawings. I thought that was a cool idea and I wanted to do the same (disclaimer: Allie has a much better sense of perspective and shading than I do). Here is my rendering of my trip to Borders in search of the perfect book:
After walking into the bookstore, I sauntered over to the poetry section. I got down on my knees. I felt this was most appropriate not only because it felt like I was working hard to find a book, but also since the right book is usually found at kneeling eye-level (I think there was also some subconscious reverence going on). From the vantage point of this picture, you can’t see what I see. Let me show you…
This is a Michelle’s eye-view of one of the poetry section (I’m not entirely sure why I made the carpet green. Perhaps it reminded me of a park or grassy meadow that I wanted to read my soon-to-be-purchased book in). It was small, but there was quite a bit of variety…not to mention the start of the Philosophy section on the very last shelf!
Here is a closer look at one particular shelf. It was a bit messy. I’m not knocking the fact that the books were out of order; I work at a library and know how that goes. It just made the process of finding the right book a little more challenging (and sometimes amusing). I’ve given each book a number and a description below:
1. a book by T. S. Eliot
2. a Billy Collins book
3. a slightly thicker Billy Collins book
4. yet another Billy Collins book (either he’s prolific or this store really digs his verse)
5. a book written by another Billy. Billy Corgan to be precise (no, I’m not joking. The Smashing Pumpkins front man has a legit published poetry collection)
6. the essential Pablo Neruda
7. the collected works of Sylvia Plath
8. a book by a poet I hadn’t heard of before, but am certain belonged on that shelf alphabetically
9. a misplaced DVD
When I saw that Billy Corgan had a book of poetry, I was confused, intrigued, and (according to this drawing) slightly angry. My eyes also grew to four times their normal size.
After a few minutes of searching, one book finally caught my eye with its joy rays. This often happens when ones eyes land upon the perfect book. In my case, it was Terrance Haye’s “Lighthead.”
After finding “Lighthead,” I got in line. Since it was a few days before Christmas, the line was very long. But I had my book, so I was happy.
Trips to the bookstore often mean a bit of searching, some frustration, and a smattering of amusement. But in the end, there is the joy of the printed word!