inspire us! Yes, they are. This is cliche now, but the first time my sister and I saw The Motorcyle Diaries we were overcome by an immsense feeling of goodwill and ambition to contribute. It was electric, we were so psyched. To make the experience better, you could feel the theatre’s vibe bringing us all together (even though there were only a few of us!). The energy united us. That’s what movies are supposed to do. Unite us, give us a sense of purpose, and inform us we are not alone. My little sis is setting out to apply to film school (cross your fingers!). That’s what a movie did to my sister – it inspired action. Or it can inspire you to research and learn more. So, even though the movie, Impromptu was not very good (it was boring, I wouldn’t recommend it), I was inspired to go out and read some George Sand because of her dynamic personality. Other than Strand (I know! I know! I know!), there are only two other bookstores (outside of Amazon.com, of course) where I prefer to make my literary buys. These fine establishments are the Mercer Street Books and Records at 206 Mercer, across from NYU Coles gym and Alabaster Bookshop (no website!) at 122 Fourth Ave a couple blocks below Union Square. If you’ve ever been in either of these shops, the organizational system is not clear or even present, as is the case in Mercer Books. But, I think that’s what I enjoy about them. In a way, someone might find that slightly hostile, a horrible inconvenience. Or you can re-frame the haphazardness as a sort of invitation to peruse and discover a gem you wouldn’t ordinarily pick up. If you want to emerge unscathed or do something quickly (poo on our rushed ways) go to Borders (sheepishly, I must admit I do have a fondness for this one, but only in S.F. and Emeryville) or Barnes & Noble (ew!). These tangents of mine are a real problem.
Anyways, these two shops, I imagine, are how bookstores ought to be. They remind me of my favorite ragtag of a joint on Telegraph, Shakespeare & Co. that smells musty and has horrible lighting. Besides the obvious benefits of supporting local business, it’s the helter-skelter atmosphere that really does it for me as I said before. The clerks are silent witnesses to your frustrating but, ultimately, rewarding journey which is great because those nitwits at the Strand information desk on the first floor are incredibly condescending and they should all be replaced (excuse me, for asking a question)! Now, if I could only remember that creaky disorederly bookstore on Charing Cross Road that seems to be a kindred spirit to these aforementioned stores, it would certainly round out the dossier of this slapdash family.
Now, if I had the time and capital, I would own a shop like one of these. I would stack books on the floor, chairs, random tables, in boxes and bags. Maybe, even on a bookshelf, if that suited me! Perhaps, I would move the books around from day to day, and it would become this endlessly titanic struggle of a game for the patrons. Oh, what fun! And, my friend, it would be up to you to find what you need, self-reliance and all that. You know, they say, “True discipline comes from within.” On a serious note though, regarding my business strategy, none of the books would be priced over ten dollars, unless the book happened to weigh in over 500 pages (in this case, the price would be $11, ‘because these go to 11, not 10’ <i’m an idiot, no one is going to get that joke>), rare/out of print, or an art book. I do wish these places had a few spots for reading, however. Yes, if I were to make an improvement – I would keep one bench clear for customers who would like to read the first or last page of the text. Maybe, even a upholstered smoky wingback chair for those who really want to snuggle up and dig in. And, I would serve tea. To spill on the books, of course.
Anyways, as you may have guessed all of these joints are used bookstores which occasionally carry new titles, but that is not their mainstay. It’s just not the point. The point is to explore. And, this is what movies do, they inspire you to explore. Well, at least, I hope movies inspire people to read. Or take action. Or something.