Sunday, July 22, 2012

Books Glorious Books

A diversion on a venture
Cellar Stories was one of those unexpected finds we sometimes stumble across on a venture with a totally different purpose. We had set out to find a new issue of a new magazine, well new to Anita. On impulse I smart-phoned "nautical bookstore", hoping that there might be a replacement for Armchair Sailor, which sadly no longer welcomes browsers to their brick and mortar shop in Newport. They are still on the web, but no longer offer the rocking chairs in which to wile away the time while perusing a stack of new acquaintances.

The best used book store ever.
Google told us to walk a couple of blocks from the Kennedy Plaza bus complex to find the best used book store either of us has ever experienced. That's saying something since we search out used books at every venue: thrifts, yard sales, trader shelves in marinas, and aboard other boats. 

It's almost like a disease. We try to be not too obvious when invited to go below on OPB (Other People's Boat) but we always size up the books to see if they are our sort and might want to trade a few. Come to think of it, OPB is a dual purpose acronym that stands for books too. The wrong kind of books cast doubt on whether this would be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Years before on a trip through the Bahamas we arrived in Georgetown at the height of the season, just in time for Cruiser's Regatta. On a leisurely cruise through the Exumas we had read everything aboard, leaving the book locker completely bare except for leftovers we had already enjoyed once. On the morning net, Anita organized a book swap on the beach, creating an impromptu used book market. She tucked her best friends into her back pack (Anna Quindlen, Alice Munro, Anne Tyler, Gail Godwin, Anita Shreeve, among others) and hopped in the dinghy. 

What a disappointment. Mostly the participants swapped Harlequin Romances, leaving Anita without a ripped bodice to her name when she came back aboard, though I recall that her bosom heaved in frustration. Only a few people showed up with the sort of authors she enjoys and she'd already read them all. Unrequited book love is so tragic.  

Plus, no one ever takes the best to a book swap or a marina shelf. Gresham's Law applies to every economic activity: bad books drive out good. Swaps quickly devolve to the lowest common denominator with everyone hoarding a few truly awful examples to drop off in return for something of higher value.

Cellar Stories was an exception to Gresham's Law. People brought their best rather than their worst, hoping to sell. What a difference a reward makes. We browsed nautical and craft books that neither of us had ever seen before.

I left with an early Tony Horowitz in which he recounts touring Arabia before everyone knew all about it from the headlines and a Lynette Chaing travelogue about going solo in Cuba. Anita scored a philosophy of knitting tome full of stories and attitudes. 

Books, glorious books. It is simply delicious to anticipate devouring such good fare. Please, Sir, I want some more.

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