Fun at Bookstores

The Institute For Things To Do With Books is happy to present a new game for all those odd, bookish people out there. We here at the IFTTDWB headquarters fondly call it ‘That New Bookstore Game.’ Here’s what you do. Go into your neighbourhood big-box bookstore (the bigger and boxier, the better). Browse through the fiction, poetry, history, essays, and philosophy sections – basically, anywhere you would regularly buy and read – and collect a nice pile of books you would very much like to buy, to read through, to shelve, to own. (During this part of the game it’s important to avoid the teapots, candles, kitchen/bathroom accessories, and all the other non-book paraphernalia that your neighbourhood big-box bookstore likely stocks on the first floor). Now: find a place to sit. A wicker chair, a table at the in-house (and, most likely, corporate) cafe, even the floor, will suffice. Look through your selected titles. Feel the weight of each book in your hand, feed on the words and images of the cover; time permitting, pick a short story or a poem or an essay from one of the books – say, perhaps, that one by David Foster Wallace about eating lobsters that you’ve been interested in reading for years, though never quite interested enough to actually find the thing (until today, of course) – and read about half of it. Now comes the tricky part. Close the book, essay unfinished. Put the pile down. Stand up. Give one last look of longing at your collected bounty. And leave the store. What’s the point of this seemingly self-harming exercise, you may well be asking? It’s simple, really. After the letdown of teased-purchasing subsides, the book(s) you’re still thinking of are the ones you should now actually go out and buy: hunt them down in your town’s used/independent bookstores, order them from Abebooks, borrow them from a friend. And be happy in the knowledge that there’s a chance, however slight, that an early morning employee of that big-box bookstore, in finding your abandoned stack and commencing to reshelve it, just might decide to finally find out what exactly DFW thought about cooking lobsters.

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