Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bookstores provide the perfect de-stressor

I had one of those weeks. You know the ones - where the work piles up with the stress and the days stretch on and even when you're finished and everything's okay, you still can't calm down.

By Friday afternoon, my stomach was knotted like a necklace at the bottom of an old jewelry box. I could feel myself growing snappish. So my daughter and I took off to the one place where I knew I could relax - the bookstore.

I love bookstores - any bookstores. It doesn't matter if they're filled with dusty, used tomes housed in hundred-year-old buildings, or if they're bright, shiny titles in chains with coffee shops in the back. There's something about being around books that changes me; it's like I'm meeting a room full of friends. I actually think I get friendlier.

Sure, I love online bookstores and I admire the accessibility of e-books - of course I do. I consistently and persistently hawk my own offering (see blatant plug for Death on Deadline at top of page) on But sometimes, I need that tangibility of seeing print on pages. Maybe it's all those years working at newspapers.

So this weekend, off we went. While my daughter made a beeline for manga (which, I'll admit, I'm still trying to embrace) I trolled the aisles, seeing what my friends were up to.

I explored. I found out that John Grisham has a detective book for kids, which looks pretty interesting. And I read a few pages from the new book "Sh*t my Dad Says," by Justin Halpern, which, if you follow Twitter, you'll know is one of the funniest accounts ever, and if you don't, then Google it and you'll see why it's now a book.

Then, I found it. A new fiction offering by Laurie Notaro. My stress disappeared like it had never arrived, and I could feel my excitement mounting. Notaro is one of my favorite writers(she usually writes hilarious, biographical non-fiction), and I couldn't believe I'd missed the arrival of one of her books.

It's called "Spooky Little Girl," and I snatched it up like one of the grabby ladies you see fighting over the last designer bra at a New York fashion sale. I was so excited; it was like an old pal had arrived in town unexpectedly and now we had the weekend together to catch up.

I started it last night. I didn't mean to - I was in the middle of another book I need to finish. But I couldn't help it. And just as I expected, it's really good.

Oh, and that stress ... what was that even about? I can barely remember.

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