Browsing second hand book stores in fall is soulful. One of my favourite pastimes is walking aimlessly through old book stores, handing my bag to the guy behind the counter in exchange for a stub with a number marked on it, and getting lost. I step over a pile of old Penguin books spilling over the entranceway and enter the catacombs excited to discover a vintage publishing company I’ve never heard of, or a rare book to fill out my collection.
I breathe in the dusty, cavernous air head and zig zag my way to the Mystery section to crack the spine of a John D. MacDonald paperback. The bibliography lists the entire Travis McGee series and I wonder how anyone could find them all let alone read all 21 in the order they were written. It’s something I feel I have to do, it would be a sacrilege not too out of respect for the author. I have his first book at home, The Deep Blue Goodbye and right now I have his 5th book, Pale Gray For Guilt. I put it under my arm and continue my hunt.
I head over to Science Fiction and mull the “V”‘s Victor, Victor, Victor…but no Vance. Jack Vance another pulp author from the 1950s is a favorite. He wrote books like most of us butter toast. His style, descriptively haunting tales of space. It’s rare to find the original prints of his books in good condition and they are always on my list. The cover designs of several of his books range by date and beauty. There was an appreciation for book art in the 1950s that isn’t around anymore.
After about an hour I head downstairs anxious to move on. I exchange the laminated number for my bag, pay for my Travis McGee novel, thank the man and head north. There are a few more books stores I need to hit. And I’m certain they’ll bring me closer to the prize of filling out any number of my collections. And if not at the very least I’ve had an adventure trying.
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