Spring Break and we found ourselves in St. Louis for a quick day trip. We stopped off at Comet Coffee Company St. Louis. D had a cappuccino and I had a pour over. I’m new to pour overs but the coffee was very sweet tasting and light. Specifically the menu reads: Francy Torres, Colombia, chocolate, marzipan, fruit punch, roasted by Kuma Coffee, Seattle, WA.
The website says the place specializes in hand-brewed and single origin. Also they brought the drinks out to the table instead of calling our names. A nice break from Starbucks crowd. Soon we will back to tumblers of french press coffee and Keurig nightmare creations.
The most difficult aspect of teaching has to be the hours grading. And I have to admit commenting on lit analyses is my biggest weakness. Have to get out of the house and out to Barnes and Noble along with D for coffee and a place to focus.
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.
D and I put together this 5 min interview with the owner of our favorite bookstore. I hope to use this video as somewhat of a model for my Lit 150 students and their creative non-fiction assignments. I also hope to interview several authors I run across in the near future.
A few summers back I found myself in San Francisco after an incredible train ride across the country and found CIty Lights Bookstore the famous meeting place of my favorite Beat writers. I was in San Francisco for two days and went there each of those days to sniff around the basement and the second floor where the readings take place. And I’ll never forget but up on the third floor I found the back window open and a homeless man screaming as some restaurant owner was asking him and then ordering him to leave. The man kept yelling he was a man and that noone should order him around. He sounded crazier and crazier and I loved it–the spirit or the voices of the world came in from the window to my polite quiet self browsing books and the cheesy, touristy posters.
When I arrived in Illinois D asked me what I liked to do in my free time and I answered: I like to drink coffee and I like to go to bookstores.
Since then I have been to quite a few bookstores with D–some here in Springfield and in St. Louis and Chicago. I want to start recording or getting some pictures of those places since this a writing and reading weblog.
Here in Springfield, Prairie Archives is a very unique store. Probably the most disorganized place but the owner–whose name is John Paul, first and last name–knows the layout and knows what he has even despite the stacks and stacks of books. And across the street at Trout Lilly Cafe they have the best coffee.