>I really was in Daegu for a totally different purpose today. Honestly.
So sue me. I guess I’m a little superstitious: If I don’t visit the bookstores every time I’m in town, I feel like they might not be there next time. Walking from the train station, I vowed that I’d go but I wouldn’t buy. Not a thing. Today’s self-control would make up for buying My Brother’s Keeper. I went through the revolving door resolutely.
Walking by the books made my heart beat a little faster, so I ducked into the Starbucks a few feet away and also inside the bookstore. To collect myself, I ordered a cafe latte and called LaMonte. We chatted awhile, then I told him where I was. He wasn’t a bit surprised.
Bybee: …and I shouldn’t even be here. After what I just bought! The price on that book — it’s a scandal.
LaMonte: Man, I can’t wait to see this book.
Bybee: Well, I’m not buying a thing today. I look, I leave. End of story.
LaMonte: That’ll be the day. You’re like a shark that smells blood whenever you get in a bookstore.
Sigh. I was right.
I didn’t buy a thing.
I bought two things.
At the first bookstore, (about 15 minutes after my cafe latte and phone conversation) I bought How To Talk To Anyone by Leil Lowndes. Her book has some techniques concerning body language and small talk that would be helpful to my higher-level students who are planning to visit or work abroad in a western country. All the techniques seem short, somewhat humorous, and easy to present. [as I was writing this paragraph, CanadaBoy poked his head in the office. I briefly confessed the day’s events, and he said that he downloaded this same book!]
The second bookstore is about a quarter of a mile down the city sidewalks, so I rationalized going there by allowing that I was getting a little bit of needed exercise.
It had been a while since I had last visited, so there were some new things out on display. One was a paperback novel called The Tenderness Of Wolves by Stef Penney. Winner of the 2006 Costa. All of this rang a faint bell, but I didn’t know why, exactly. What the hell; I’d figure it out later. How could I pass up a title like that? Anyway, you know the deal; it was another short walk to the front register.
When I got back and looked on the computer, I realized why the book seemed familiar. Stef Penney is the author that had such a bad case of agoraphobia she couldn’t travel to Canada; she did all her research for the novel with books and maps. I thought that was so cool when I read that. Not to minimize agoraphobia, but it’s always seemed to me like one of the more attractive psychological challenges one might face. This kind of thinking goes a long way towards explaining why I regard the ending of We Have Always Lived In The Castle as a happy one.
I’ve spoken sternly to myself about going off the rails on a biblio-train, but I can’t quite bring myself to contrition. Yet I know that I must calm down with the book purchases for a while…..but wait!
What The Book? sent out their bi-weekly newsletter today, and they’ve just gotten in fresh copies of Korea: A Walk Through The Land Of Miracles by Simon Winchester. What The Book? is the best new and used bookstore in South Korea! One click! A quick-and-easy bank transfer! Cheap, often free, fast delivery! Or I could hop a train to Seoul this weekend and pick it up in person and get that extra bookstore time that I so seriously crave…