Sunday, August 12, 2012

Maybe you CAN go home again

There are several types of vacations -- the visiting family sort, outdoorsy recreational, kid-focused, city glamour, beachy relaxation. I've enjoyed all of these over the years, and the one from which I just returned, ended up combining several of them.

We weren't really visiting family, but we were going back home. We lived in Portland for almost four years, and during that time it was home. Amanda was born there. We didn't mind the ever-present drizzle (yes, it truly rains 9 months of the year). We traversed the entire Pacific Northwest, enjoying apples, blackberries, skiing, books, and more.

It always comes back to books, doesn't it?  Last year I wrote about my favorite bookstores in the cities in which I've lived, and reflecting on it made me realize that after 10 years away from Portland, I still missed Powell's. I knew that, but until visiting there on our trip last week, I didn't even realize what I was missing!

When we lived there, I was going through a cookbook phase. I had quite a collection, and I loved browsing the cookbook section. If one that I purchased didn't meet my needs, I'd just sell it back on my next trip to further feed my habit. I bought novels too, of course, and non-fiction bargains that I stumbled across. Powell's has rooms and rooms of discoveries.

The store is so big, it needs a map! Kyle loved helping us find our way.

I wasn't reviewing books then, and now that I am, buying books for myself doesn't hold much appeal. While Terry browsed the sports and finance sections, I happily stayed occupied in the children's/YA room. This area was the size of a small independent bookstore in itself, and it was really awesome. I know that I bought Amanda a few Dr. Seuss books when we lived there, and I probably found some board book bargains as well, but since we left there when she was two, I didn't understand what Powell's truly had to offer children and teens. It was amazing.  You can read about what I found there in my Mailbox Monday post at 5 Minutes for Books.

Amanda and I both loved this cover on a mass market paperback copy of The Mysterious Benedict Society (look in the middle of the bottom shelf in the photo above). I'm not sure if it's a foreign version or what, but it's pretty cool. We also looked at the traditional covers and talked about the white-washing of Sticky, and looked at the new versions in which it was corrected.

As we were browsing the YA section together, she was looking for John Green books. I didn't think she had read his books, but I found out she's familiar with him through his YouTube channel.

I told her that I had copies of two of his audiobooks: The Fault in Our Stars and An Abundance of Katherines, which was one of the books on her list, in addition to Paper Towns. I remember An Abundance of Katherines as having a lot of bad language and more mature teen behavior, so in spite of the fact that I found it a pretty delightful book, it's not one I'd want her to read.  When I reviewed The Fault in Our Stars in February, I even mentioned that I had hoped I could pass it on to Amanda, because it didn't seem quite as mature until one plot twist at the end. I said there that I decided to wait until she was in high school.

Well, now that she's asking and is about to start high school, I told her that she could listen to that one. She wasn't thrilled because she fears it will be "too sad" since it's about cancer kids, but since I've read it and loved it and find it mostly appropriate enough (I must let go sometime -- I'm trying), and we could discuss it, I told her that she should start with that one. I might re-listen to An Abundance of Katherines, but I've told her I think she should wait on it. I will be on the lookout for a good used copy of Paper Towns (which we couldn't find at Powell's), and I'll read it first, which won't be a sacrifice at all.

The combination of the awesome selection, finding books for both kids and having some good chats brought up by the selection, made the hours we spent there so special. But it was the nostalgia that pushed me over the edge. I so vividly remember years of pushing Amanda around in her stroller while I browsed.

This bookstore trip was one of the highlights of a very nice family vacation. Is that weird?


Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

Awesome. And no, it's not weird. The cozy bookstore we found in Toronto last year was one of MY favorite parts of that vacation! So therefore, you are perfectly normal. :)

Loved seeing the pictures and reading about your bookish adventure!

morninglight mama said...

How I would love to have a bookstore in our town, and this sounds AMAZING. I didn't know you lived in Portland, or even on the west coast-- you have had quite a variety of home towns. :)

Elizabeth said...

A year ago we moved away from a city in which I did not enjoy living. However, there was a small chain bookstore in the mall that we frequented. It was the only place in town to buy books! The 3 kids and I would sit in the back and read for an entire afternoon. Those memories are precious to me.

Carrie said...

How could Powells NOT be a highlight?! :D So fun!

Livia said...

What a wonderful vacation! I should check out some of those books...

Shannon (gidgetnfroggi) said...

got your comment on my back to school book picks! :) I don't want to think about high school yet :) my oldes is in 6h grade so it's around the corner and I just might have to cry all over again like I did when both my girls started kindergarten.

love your blog! new follower