spring break and chicago bookstore massacre

Spent some time during my Spring Break vacation riding trains to Chicago and searching out some book stores. And it helped to remind me of all the hours I’ve spent hanging out in used bookstores and comic book stores in the various places I’ve lived–Oregon, Colorado and now Illinois. I have such a love of bookstores and god searching through them.

In Fort Collins I remember walking across town to Halley’s Comics instead of focusing on my engineering studies. Had to walk too because I had no car. Same thing in Colorado walking to Bollinger’s Cards and Magazines in the old neighborhood. Something about finding free time to loiter and read and discover new titles and even new genres—graphic novels to science fiction novels. And I do enjoy small bookstores more than libraries—though I see the importance of libraries. But in my life I spend more time discovering in bookstores than libraries.

But this week I discovered Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago. An incredible selection of underground zines and independent titles. Also found Bookworks Records and CD’s. Here I found yet another copy of Frank Water’s Book of the Hopi—a book I’ve read several times and love finding different editions that include pictures and this one includes photographs I’ve not seen before. Also the cover is much more unique than the newer edition on my shelf. A beautiful 6 dollar find.

And, yes, I guess I could’ve found the book with a tedious online search at my desk and I do love my Think Pad but I’d rather run around streets of Chicago on my time off not knowing what I’m looking for.

Months back I remember reading an article about the massacre of bookstores that was coming because of the e-book reader revolution. The article went on to liken the future of bookstores as being very similar to what happened to record stores after the iPod revolution—a 75% collapse of stores according to the Labor Department. And I guess this is the cost of progress but I have to say the downloading of a song or a text does not compare to the sacredness of an outing and a find like I experienced the other day. Couldn’t help but notice the closing of the Borders Books locations too. One of the first places D took me in Chicago. And of course my whole sense of theory and pedagogy concerning writing and the teaching of writing has to do with reading and the strict study of form. So the loss of bookstores is just progress we’ll have to get used to, I guess. Something else to endure as we find other places to discover zines and less dominant voices.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

2 thoughts on “spring break and chicago bookstore massacre”

  1. Here, here! I’ll just add that in Quimby’s yesterday, I found magazines I didn’t know existed. But is that a typo in your first paragraph? Did you mean “go” or “god?”

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