One of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling is to find the coffeeshop with the best mocha in town. (Luckily, this is a priority and pleasure that my sweetheart shares.) Even if the mocha disappoints, absorbing the atmosphere of the coffeeshop, observing and eavesdropping on the people who hang out there gives us an entrée to the locale that sightseeing doesn’t. Likewise, the local independent bookstore.
Yes, I am now going to out myself as a promiscuous book nerd. At home, browsing in Bookshop Santa Cruz or Bad Animal Books is a regular delight, but visiting a bookstore in another town offers a particular thrill. The differences are so alluring! Is the shop light and bright? Or dark, wood-paneled, and cozy? Busy or quiet? Are the shelves so high they need library ladders? Do books stacked up on the floor create a kind of biblio-maze? If I’m lucky, I discover a book I’ve never heard of but now can’t live without, or I come across a used copy in fine condition of a title I’ve been dreaming of. Even if this serendipity doesn’t occur, the quirky displays and books of local interest make browsing fun. Whether I’m roaming for hours in the multistory mecca of Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon or breezing through Bookworks just down the road in Pacific Grove, the atmosphere of the local independent bookstore introduces me in a unique way to the place that hosts it.
And if, like Powell’s and Bookworks, it features an espresso bar where I can sip a mocha while reading a new book? Heaven!