The clerk in the aisle of the huge used bookstore asks, “What are you looking for?” What am I looking for? It’s not so much a matter of looking for something. It’s more a matter or narrowing it down to the one book that I will let myself take home with with me today. I answer, “Just browsing.” To my friend, I say, “Okay, when can I move in?” He points to a couch near the children’s books and informs me that it comes furnished.
A dual-language Spanish novel from the 16th century? Or how about a Spanish Bible? I am familiar enough with parts of it to not need a side by side translation for learning purposes. Better use that book of Neruda in both English and Spanish and return it to the library first, I tell myself. How about an antiquarian Boy Scout book? I don’t seem to be able to find any old veterinary texts, but there is an interesting old histology book wedged on a shelf between the biology books and the medical texts.
“Why am I thinking about taking home a Spanish-English dictionary when I have Google Translate in my pocket?” I wonder aloud. My friend shrugs, “You like real books.”
After browsing to my heart’s content, I return to the stacks with books labeled “Literature” to pick up “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”. I read the first few pages of it on my Nook the other day, a downloaded sample. I choose an inexpensive used paperback version for to buy, leaving an older hardbound copy on the shelf. If It call out to me again across a few days, I might go back for it.