Tuesday, October 8, 2013

In the Emergency of an Event

It's a quiet weeknight after a long, hectic day. You're through putting up with people for the time being, and maybe it's starting to rain, but that's nothing a pumpkin spice latte and an hour of bookstore browsing can't soothe away. Nothing more therapeutic than sinking into the hushed hum of a new novel on a cool Autumn night - until 450 fans come stampeding in.

Last night, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jhumpa Lahiri graced our store with her presence, signing copies of her new book for a line of fans that snaked its way up and down all the aisles and almost reached out the front door. I love these huge events; Booksmith staff keep a tight rein on the chaos while giddy readers meet their heroes face to face.

But I always feel a sympathetic twinge for the innocent browser caught up in the bustle unsuspectingly. It doesn't happen often, but if you find yourself in a quiet store one minute and thronged by voracious readers the next (on, say, October 22nd, October 30th or November 7th), just follow this simple guide.

1) Don't panic.

2) Stick close to the walls and edge your way toward the front of the store. With a crowd pouring in this may feel like spawning upstream, but if food can do it so can you.

3) Across from the front register you will see a doorway. This is your escape hatch. Go through it.

What's this? Suddenly the teeming hordes are gone. You descend the stairs in a slight daze. While the main sales floor fills to capacity, you have the Used Book Cellar all to yourself. Chairs, laid-back music, one-of-a-kind scoops... paradise at last. Consider it your fallout shelter from the mayhem up above.

Some new finds:

Calaveras: Mexican Prints for the Day of the Dead

Classic and antique postcard art from the Holiday Most Envied by White People. Printed on heavy, removeable card-stock.

Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom

And you thought Trekkies were obsessive.

The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey into the Wondrous World of the Circus, Past and Present 

It was the Lautrec-esque cover that caught my eye, but the subject matter couldn't be more sordid and captivating. Check out the NPR review.

Harry Dickson: Les Spectres Bourreaux

Hardcover reissue of the classic pulp magazine. Great practice for French language learners, though the Parisians might mistake you for a gumshoe detective.

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