Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Little Winter Relief Comes in Bookstore, but Less Than Before

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Little Winter Relief Comes in Bookstore, but Less Than Before

Article excerpt

Some people have escaped to a beach by now. I used to do that, haven't for several years. Too frugal, too crunched and, I guess, not winter weary enough.

It takes a lot of cabin to give me fever. There's always a pile of books waiting, a slew of soup recipes to make and a dog who could always use more attention. When I need a break from enjoyable activities, there's still a lot to do: Vacuum the house. Box up stuff I don't use anymore to donate. Wipe down the counters and stovetop. Oh, right, already did that.

With the house clean, a box ready, the laundry done and the cat litter boxes freshened, I went upstairs to watch ice dancers on TV one recent afternoon. But my mind drifted to the pink cotton candy insulation rolled up in the basement. I had bought it weeks ago to seal up some drafts. I should go down and do that, I thought. Or I should do my taxes.

Then my friend suggested we get out, take a little drive and go "booking."

An outing as modest as a local bookstore binge seemed imperative. Right then, I couldn't spend another minute in the house.

We drove to Waterworks Mall through a winter wonderland, the wipers slapping away fat fluffs of snow. Oh yay, more snow. I drove through horrendous road conditions some years back to get to the airport for a week of beach and baseball in Florida. I had felt a clawing desperation then to get. out. of. here. now.

Maybe I've mellowed, or maybe that winter had become more exhausting than this one has, but a trip to a big bookstore was enough of a shift in scene to satisfy my restlessness.

It has been years since I hung out in a big chain bookstore. There aren't many left, they aren't near my home and my rate of buying has slowed to a trickle. It felt as if I was going to visit an old friend.

When we got there, I took out a list of recommendations I have kept for years and headed to fiction. It took a while to find the few aisles devoted to fiction and not much longer to search the titles, but I came up with nothing from my list.

I resorted to a slow prowl of the aisles to give myself the illusion of being in a similar store during the 1990s, when you could almost overdose on titles. …

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