Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A couple of weeks ago my mother was on her way back to Cleveland after spending Labor Day with my family, but before she went home, she decided to take everyone to brunch--Busboys and Poets to be exact. We talked, we laughed, my wife and my mother commented on how terrible the coffee tasted, and my four-year old son Nyles was knee deep into the iPad.

After brunch she paid the bill, and we were all headed out of the bookstore when my mother noticed a few books on display near the front of the restaurant. If you've never been to Busboys and Poets, it is 80 percent restaurant, 20 percent bookstore. The diverse display of books are displayed in the front of the restaurant, and then there are seats, chairs and a bar. My mother somehow missed the book display on our way in but it definitely caught her eye as we left. She saw three books:

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl: This book is by Issa Rae, who I have known since 1991, when I used to hang out with her older brother. My mother and Issa's mother are still friends to this day. My mother knew Issa had a book out, but she still did a double take when she saw it.

Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White: This is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's new book on race matters, and my mother foolishly asked me if I knew it was out. I was responded "hell yes" minus the "hell". Cursing at your mom--even at age 41--is ill-advised

Michelle Obama: A Life: My mother read this already and suggested I do the same. My book queue is about 15 books deep, but I'll read it eventually

Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement: My mother is in the midst of reading this and she told me I need to do the same. I may give this book special privileges and move it on up on my 15 book deep queue.

After my mother looked at these books, she walked out of the store and we headed to the airport. But while observing my mother--who has a Ph. D, is a former English teacher and has never met a book she couldn't conquer--I realized how much I missed bookstores.

You see back in the day, I would spend hours upon hours in Borders bookstore. I would buy a book, a magazine, some coffee, and then I'd pick another book I wanted off the shelf and read. If a member of the Borders staff approached and attempted to harass me about reading a book I had yet to purchase, I would show off what I had purchased already as a deterrent. It worked like a charm, 100-percent of the time. And the thing about it was...I wasn't the only person doing that. When I looked around, there 10-15 other men and women doing the exact same thing.

Sadly, this was 5-10 years ago before Kindles, iPads and reading-books-via-cell-phones had really taken off. There were books, bookstores and hundreds of people willing to spend hours upon hours in Borders, Barnes and Nobles, etc. When I was single, I would even put my snobbery to the test and take women on official dates to a bookstore to see how they reacted. If they picked a book or a magazine and got comfortable, I knew I had a winner. If they were impatient, fidgety and acted like flight risks, I would judge them slightly. That was one of my litmus tests.

I miss bookstores man. Libraries are cool, but they are a little stiff and antiquated--plus they don't serve beverages and the magazines are never up to date. The Borders I used to go to not only had books and beverages, but one time I saw Dianne Reeves and Terence Blanchard perform a mini-concert there as well. I felt cool, avant-garde and hip all at the same time. I want that old thing back...

1 comment:

Jazzbrew said...

I work on 1900 K Street and I can't count the number of times I used to walk down the block to the old Borders bookstore on L street. I would sometimes spend lunch just looking at books or browsing their jazz section. I miss it too. Big time.

I have recently gotten into the habit of not buying electronic versions of books. I'm going back to physical copies. It just feels better. I do enjoy using my Kindle for reading research/tech materials (search function is great for this) but nothing else.

...and don't get me started on how much I miss the old Sam Goode record store near GW...