Summer is the perfect season to satiate your book lust – and wanderlust – and I plan on doing just that in the months ahead. I have several used bookshops in mind that I intend to travel to and write about for you. After a brief hiatus from blogging, a break filled with my first sojourn to a foreign land, work, fiction writing, and the one-track mind of someone who has finally discovered Game of Thrones (the books first, of course, and then the show), I am excited to be back at the blog again, and am looking forward to new bookish adventures.
Let’s kick off the summer with a little bookshop located in Old Orchard Beach. Tucked away between fried dough stands and stores carrying the typical Maine tourist souvenirs, this shop first struck my and my love’s eye with its huge yellow banner proclaiming BETTER BARGAIN BOOKS. In my experience, there has never been a more effective marketing ploy to get me in the door of a merchandising establishment.
In full disclosure, our original intent for this quick trip to OOB was not for the books. We had the itch for mini-golf, and it was only as we were turning down the road that would take us to Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf that we spotted the bookstore. That’s the magic of books… if you truly love and desire them, they have a way of finding you no matter where you are (and no matter how empty your pockets may be).
So after two rounds of mini-golf, we walked down to the bookshop. A cool, sunny June afternoon, the sea like a slate-painted backdrop. The summer season not yet in full swing, the crowds were thin, the streets relatively quiet. I couldn’t help but wonder how busy the store gets in the congested, high days of summer. Do the tourists seek books, or do they only want Cool as a Moose shirts and greasy hotdogs? For the love of all that is good and literary, I sincerely hope it’s the former – but fear it’s the latter.
When you walk into the store from the entrance on Old Orchard Street – and I say only “store” because when we were there, I could have sworn it was called The Book Warehouse, but Google Maps tells me the name is Wholesale Books – to your immediate right, you see hardcover bestsellers. You also see an entire section of wall devoted to Stephen King’s works. I searched in vain for The Shining, the King novel that has eluded me at every single bookshop I’ve ever haunted. One day I’ll find it. But not this day.
The bestseller selection is good – a lot of the ubiquitous Patterson, Grisham, Evanovich, Steele, etc. There is also an extensive array of nonfiction scattered throughout the store, including history, cookbooks, and Maine-related topics. There is a small but well-selected Young Adult section and a bright, cheery children’s area.
I didn’t end up purchasing anything. Most of the books were new, and while I have absolutely nothing against contemporary literature, my booklust that particular day could have only been satisfied by a grimy, dusty tome unearthed from the sagging shelves of some musty old bookshop that smelled of mildew and sunlight. That being said, if I find myself in the area in the future, I will make it a point to stop at this bookstore again.
Old Orchard Beach is a carnival town, full of shrieking children, thrill rides, shops, cotton candy. The enticing aromas of fried dough and buttered popcorn and grilled meats assault your nose wherever you go, and everywhere you look, you see another store advertising ”authentic” Maine merchandise. In short, Old Orchard Beach is a tourist trap.
Ah, but it’s our tourist trap. And whether or not you go in for that sort of thing – or whether you, like me, only brave the sights and smells of OOB for the mini-golf and the possibility of books – you can’t deny the town’s pull. And if you’re there, you feel obligated by an unspoken force to walk down to the sandy beach, to the cold, Atlantic water. That’s the pull of the ocean, isn’t it? The waves call to you, beckon you to come closer, to look out over the horizon and wonder at all the lives and mysteries occurring on some distant shore. So many stories out there, and all of them just waiting for you.
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