Lately, I need to be reading an enjoyable book. It provides me a few minutes of downtime during busy days and a few minutes to wind down at the end of the day, as well. I’ve always been a reader but during the years I had a demanding career as well as the time we were raising our boys, I had less time to read. I stayed busy reading to them when they were young, finding books to read together, and then finding books we could all enjoy by reading and discussing. Both my husband and I read many of the novels of what our boys were assigned in school as well as the books they chose to read for fun. These included the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson series, Night by Eli Weizel, and others such as Frindle.
We also found some series on our own that we enjoyed immensely. There were the Freddy books about a hamster that provided a lot of fun. The Charlie Bone books were read as a series, as well as the Warrior books about cats. I personally enjoyed the Castle in the Attic and Chasing Vermeer. As my boys got older, I veered towards historical fiction and they were attracted to more of the popular action, magical, and sci-fi books that there seemed to be a plethora of after the Harry Potter series met such success. This included the Ranger’s Apprentice Series and 39 Clues mystery series. My husband read some of those, exchanging them off the large bookshelves in our boys’ room as they were finished.
Our middle son, who was not much of a reader of his assigned school texts while a student, has become a voracious podcast listener and audible subscriber, finishing several books a week. He tends towards some more hot topics than I but we do exchange thoughts on authors and ideas when we see each other. I enjoy those conversations.
But, books are sometimes hard to come by nowadays. I’ve noticed that the big box books stores like Barnes and Nobles and BAM (Books a Million) tend to carry only popular titles, and even then, keep just a very few of them in stock. When I went looking for five specific books whose titles I gathered off of Goodreads, none were available in either store. While in Ames, Iowa earlier this week, my son took me to both the public library (which is beautiful), and a new independent bookstore called Dog Eared Books in their main shopping district or “old town.”
There I found one of the five titles I was searching for, The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (2018). I was happy. There, I also found a few other titles I’d be interested in reading by trusted authors. Dog Eared Books was cute, clean, and seemed to have a ton of books in a small cozy space on Main Street. It was also organized and easy to figure out how and where we would find the books we wanted. We didn’t stay long but I also noticed that one could have a warm drink or bagel and there were sitting areas for browsing as well. A mom with her children was at the front table paging through prospective titles. On a cold day, it warmed me to see this.
As an environmental educator, I think about waste a lot. I’ve become resistant to buying books on Amazon because of the fuel that is being used to ship the books to me. I’ve also been trying to recycle my books (there are many) by donating them to friends or people I know with Little Free Libraries, teachers, schools, or the public library. I cannot stand to throw a book out. It just bothers me.
But, the need to have books in my life is essential. They symbolize escape, relaxation, enjoyment, and even education – as I usually learn something new from historical fiction or even about writing techniques from a novel that I enjoyed.
As for my introduction to independent bookstores, I thank Dog Eared Books in Ames. I am curious now about other independent booksellers and will seek them out for future titles. Just like my books, it’ll be an adventure!